Isabel is going back to China.....and now we are home

Isabel is going back to China.....and now we are home
we will be here until all our kids have a family of their own

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Home Sweet Home....by Isabel

As Mom said, the journey home was very tiring and we were quite exhausted upon arriving at our hotel.  I phoned Dad a while after we had come in to check up on things.  Dad told Mom to get me room service, lol.
We went to bed that night around nine (though Mom had dozed through the afternoon) and I slept well for the most part.  I woke up because Mom had switched the light on to do some reading.  I actually thought it was seven or something because of that, but when I took time to look at the clock, it read 3:00 AM.  Finally, Mom turned the light out and told me to try and get some sleep- even though it was afternoon back in Xi'an.  At five, I announced I couldn't do it so we admitted defeat for sleep that night.
Mom and I had breakfast together and settled down to some TV and Nintendo until Dad's arriving time.  Mom bet me he wouldn't come on time, but we headed down to the lobby and about ten minutes later, he showed up.  Wow!
We were to spend Easter in Vancouver with my Uncle, Aunt and cousin, Emily.  Dad and Uncle Ian showed up to take us back to the city with them.  I guess that was where our adventure truly ended, but not our journey!
We had our big reunion after- in a coffee shop actually!- and Mom and I showed everyone our pics of all the kids and of Starfish and our adventure.  The girls were thrilled by the pandas and instantly insisted that they would like Lily the best.  For some time after, thinking about her gave me a little heartache.
Emily is laid-back, I'd guess you'd say.  She was interested about our journey and everything we'd been through and accomplished while in China, but she was mostly quiet about it.  A trait you come to like. :)
It was Good Friday when we returned to our family so Dad went off to Mass and the girls went off with Auntie Rosemary to do some shopping and get some fresh air.  Mom and I- traveling buddies as Mom called us- went off by ourselves to just walk a little and get a whiff of clean, Canadian air.  Nice to be home, but at the same time I do miss the children.
We went to a bookstore, then looked in a few shops- Mom's desire, not mine- and had a bite to eat.  Then we walked through some neighbourhoods and headed back.
We had a really good dessert that night.  We had chocolate volcano cakes.  For those who don't know what they are, they are brownie-like cakes that have chocolate liquid inside so when you bite into them, chocolate pours out.  Hmmm!
On Holy Saturday, we went downtown to get some cupcakes from a cupcake store called Cupcakes (lol!).  We took a water taxi and walked some ways on a beach.  It was wonderful to be able to see the sea again and smell the salty, but fresh air.  Mom took some pictures so we could send them to Brittany.  I miss her as well as the kids.  I wonder if we'll ever see any of them again.....
We arrived at the cupcake store and took our pick.  I had Mint Conditioner- same as Beth.  Grace had this caramel one that had caramel in the middle of the cake.  Emily got one she explained to be peanut butter.  It looked good!
We headed to Starbucks and ate our cupcakes while the adults got drinks and talked.  When we went to get water, some people took our seats so we had to switch from window ledges to tables.  There, we got wrapped up in conversation for about two hours.  We went home after that.  The girls raced each other to the house and there, they argued about which route was fastest.
That evening, we watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is about aliens coming down to earth to experiment with people, etc....  We had brownie sundaes with peanut butter chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream.  Yum!  The movie went until about ten when we went to bed.
Lately, I have been going to bed very late and waking up very late.  I don't know what's going to happen when school starts again next week. :P :o
Easter Sunday!
In Vancouver, we always find our goodies in the morning.  In Victoria, we always find it after church.  So we went on an egg hunt and found our baskets all under the kitchen table.  They were filled with chocolate and chocolate eggs.  We sat at the table and ate a couple eggs while we waited for breakfast.
The church is always so beautifully decorated, especially in Vancouver.  There were flowers all over the alter and a little fake brook with rocks and reeds all around it.  The candles were all lit and all the statues were uncovered (for those who don't know, the statues around a church are covered during Lent and Good Friday).
The mass was very joyful- though the girls said it was tiring of course ::)- but we weren't very happy to find out that we had to walk home.
It was cold that day and we were in our Easter clothes, dresses and skirts, plus our sweaters were quite thin.  The girls and I were huddling for warmth all the way home, lol.
We had a big brunch that day made by Auntie Rosemary.  There was a fruit salad, croissants, sandwiches covered in melted cheese, scrambled eggs and other assorted goodies.  Grace and I had a couple of croissants each.  They were good!
My family and I also left that day.  At two-ish, we said our good-byes to Auntie Rosemary, Uncle Ian, Emily and some visitors they had for Easter brunch.  Then, we drove off to catch the ferry.  I knew that I was now going home.  I was going to see Lily and Smudge again.(our cats).  But I also thought this.  I was returning to a Lily, but I was also leaving a Lily behind.  I am scared to admit it, but I think the memories and images of Lily are slowly fading from my mind, becoming less fluorescent and clear- fading to memory.  The ferry ride was short- or maybe it's because the plane ride was so long....
The moment we pulled into our driveway, I snatched up my share of bags and bolted for the door.  Smudge leapt away from the threshold the moment I burst in and, from the stairs, Lily flinched at the sudden entrance.  Grace came in close behind me and immediately, ran up the stairs in pursuit of the cats.
I dropped my bags at the bottom of the stairs and went upstairs two steps at a time.  Grace had Lily and she gave her to me.  To tell the truth, I couldn't believe how soft her fur was or how cute her face was.
Truly, I think this marks the very end of our trip.  I'm back home and reunited with Lily and my family.  But I still have a part of the foster home in me- even a bit of the orphanage.  And especially a part of Lily.... and Patrick.  Someone told my Dad that Patrick will live on through me and I believe that.  I believe he will live on as long as I keep him in my memory and prayers.  I guess that alone is how you keep a bit of someone alive.  Same with my Lily.
Thanks for following along everyone. Stay tuned for Return to China 2009 when it will be Grace's turn. I will be jealous  but happy for her!!!

alright...I can't stop now.....

This is Rachel........so smart and so sweet.

ok...and one more...

Gabrielle...........without a doubt the best kisser in the house.......but only when he gets to know you. Is he not adorable.

and.......

Nathaniel loves to eat and then lays on the floor like a total milk drunk! He is just learning to walk.

and.......


So when are you breaking out of this joint??? (Erica & Cailean)

The Starfish....

The beautiful Jade

Monday, March 24, 2008

Just a memory now...

We left last Wednesday March 19th...China time. We made a decision to not go up at breakfast time and say goodbye to the children. It would have just been too darn sad and we used the excuse of the chaos of breakfast time, which was true. At best it would have been more quick kisses and hugs and the kids would have been upset with just a short visit. That was our rationale.
We also didn't want to have to say goodbye to Brittany so we let her sleep.  Amanda came down to get the mail...she said...but had a note to thank us for coming. By 830 am we were in a cab and on our way.......or so we thought. After a 2 1/2 hour delay due to winds off the Gobi dessert we officially were too late for our connection in Beijing and  ended up in a pretty seedy hotel there courtesy of Air China...........until the next day .....24 hours later. Ended up in the police station at the airport because we thought the airline had paid the cab driver and we refused to. He was all set to beat me up and big scene etc etc. Just more excitement on our trip and we sorted it out and laugh about it ........now.
Flight home was good and not as torturous as I had thought.........only 11 hours long!!
Before we left I had booked us into a hotel in Vancouver to get over some of our jet lag before we began our usual Easter celebrations at Derek's brothers home in the city. We had so lost track of time we were moving forward in time and were shocked when we arrived to find we had gained and not lost a day. More importantly we still had our reservation and if we hadn't missed our flight we wouldn't have had the hotel because I booked it for the wrong day. Ha, ha,ha. seemed hard to believe it was thursday and not Friday.
so we stocked up on goodies and magazines and books and headed to our lovely hotel. Fluffy clean pillows and duvets and pristine bathrooms with water we weren't afraid of. Bliss.
We had room service and watched TV and read and slept and it was lovely!!!
A little piece of our hearts are with our children in a province in China nad will be until they all have a home. If things go according to plan I pray I can fulfill my promise to Grace and next year take her to meet the kids........and then it will be Beth's turn. Isabel would love to go back but she may have to do that when she is bigger........maybe with her sisters for a summer?
I will be forever grateful we had this opportunity. It has meant so much on so many levels.
So now it is time to wrap up our blog. Isabel has her final thoughts and I would like to add some more photos  but we are closing the page on this most interesting chapter. Thank you all for following along on the journey and excuse any typos or thoughtlessness on my part.
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Our Last Day in China

Today, we spent a good portion of time with the children upstairs. We were up there a little later than usual, so most of the children were gone on their walk. I found Lily and began playing with her, keeping her occupied. Saying good-bye to her, maybe forever, will be hard.
After lunch, we retreated for some down-time in our apartment. During lunch though, we were informed that Jack would be returning today from the hospital in Shanghai. He had been very seriously sick and had been gone for about two months. Mom and I said we'd be up by the time he was back.
But Mom went for a nap and I began playing my Nintendo DS and time just went by. When Mom woke up, she began packing for our trip home tomorrow. By the time we finally got upstairs, it was just after five.
I played with Lily, Danielle, Cailean, Brianna, Nathanial and Callum. I also said hi to some other kids. Dinner, then bath time came and went and I settled down with Lily on my lap to watch Shrek.
Our parting was so quick. Lily's nanny came along and took Lily in her arms then swept her off to bed. The last time I saw her, she was looking directly at me with a bottle in her mouth. Then she vanished behind the wall. That'll probably be the last memory I have of her.
After, we all gathered by the door and the nannies crowded around to say their good-byes. One said, "Thank you." and Mom replied the same. That'll probably be the last I see of Amanda for a while as well. She wasn't around for the good-byes though.
I said bye to Danielle and held her hand for the last time. I also did the same with Brianna before I followed Mom out through the door. I can still remember the day when I first saw Lily nearly two weeks and half ago. She was drawn to me like a duck to water the first moment she laid eyes on me. I can't forget the awkwardness of holding her for the first time that day. Maybe, I will meet her again one day and maybe I won't. But I like the memories I have of her and all the photos we took.
I also can't ever forget my first encounter with Danielle. She looked so timid and scared with her huge eyes. But I've come to love her as I have with all the kids. When I held Cailean for the last time, I thought of how I'd miss his adorable face and his charming smile. Same with Brianna. All the children of Starfish are wonderful and anyone who volunteers falls in love with them eventually. They're a part of your memory that you can never erase or forget about.


Mom and Brittany have gone out to spend one last evening eating dinner together. I had a noodle bowl. I hope I'll be able to bring some candy back!


Well, this marks the end of our adventure in China, I guess. I'll be telling everyone I know about my experience once I get back to make up for this short blog. See you all when I get back! May write tomorrow. ;)


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Monday, March 17, 2008

Crazy day....

Today we tried to spend as many hours as we could upstairs with the kids. the morning was fairly peaceful. Usually there are "only" about 8-10 of the little ones around. The nannies take the older ones out for walks and to the playground. They come home dirty and tired and have a quick bottle and into bed for a nap. After lunch we played for a while and then had our customary downtime in the apartment. i am trying to organize some of t he many many photos I have taken. I am making a DVD for Sarah's parents of what I had before they came and at the actual adoption and a few from afterwards. I also want one of all twenty one of the kids I have met here and of course our travel/tourist shots. Thank goodness for digital photos.
In the afternoon there was a going away party for Sarah and her family. It was chaos! There must have been 50 people in that small space and there was cake and pop and chips and popcorn all over that place. Very little of it went into those little mouths but rather scattered about. Pretty festive atmosphere but then things turned and Sarah's nanny was crying again and Sarah had a bit of a meltdown and looked a like a deer in the head lights. And everyone was sad and weepy and it was time to get out of Dodge. The family leaves tomorrow and I think that was the final goodbye.
We hopped a cab to go to the market to get a phone card for Our new girl Louise. It was also mobbed so we came home pretty early. I guess we are getting tired now and are ready to start the long journey home. I will begin packing and try to spend as much time as we can with the kids. It will be sad to say goodbye. Today Gabriel gave me a big old kiss on the lips and I danced Jeannie around as she laughed and my big buddy Benjamin and I had a good old cuddle on the couch and Heather and I put our foreheads together and looked into each others eyes. I made raspberries with Cailean and played stick your tongue out with Erica. I spent my usual 1-2 hours feeding Caitlyn...in the 3 weeks I have been here she has put on only .5 kg and she has a very poor suck. Danielle and I had a moment and Callum and Brianna got a pet. Sean and I played cars. Jade and Rebecca and Rachel and Olivia and Nathanial and Lily and Jasmine and Rose, and of course, Sarah. I just moved
amongst them and touched a little hand here or stoked a tiny head there. Oh I am sad tonight.


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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Quiet day at Starfish....

I guess the trip took it's toll on us because we were tired and kind of slow today. Met the "new" girl from England and chatted and helped her get oriented.
We hung out with the kids and got quite a greeting on our return this morning. I will miss them and worry about them for a long time and wish I could bring home every single one. I heard from Benjamin's Mom. I have no idea how she found our blog but the adoption community is like one big family and people have a knack for finding what they need at any given time. He is the sweetest boy, kind and gentle, and he will be so happy with his 3 new brothers. I took my usual time feeding Caitlyn. Still not eating well or gaining and she had a fever last night but I still think she is better than when we got here. Cailean......his usual happy self and same for the lovely Erica. Jeannie and Jasmine look like they got in a fight with scratches and bruises on their little face. Heather nearly jumped out of her walker at seeing us and Danielle let Isabel give her a cuddle as did Lily. Jade and Gabe as remote and wary of me as usual but Sean gave us a big old smile.
Brianna as happy as ever and ditto for Callum. Rose was dancing to Shrek on the TV. Nathaniel...drinking a bottle as he usually is. Rebecca came over and stroked Cailyn's head as I fed her. Rachel and Olivia were out for a walk and then into bed for nap time. Hope to see them tonight. Lunch was interesting and we had quite a discussion about the whole abandonment issue.
After lunch ....it was Mongolian pancake and mushroom soup with a couple of stir fried chicken dishes....we headed to the electronic market so Isabel could get her charger, which we cooked at 240 volts on our first day here, either repaired or replaced. It cost us $5 for a new one. The nintendo itself costs pretty much the same as at home. Isabel was ecstatic and will now have something to do on the long plane ride home, so I will also have some peace. We bought several DVD's also...for about 40 cents each...that is not a typo!!! Normally we don't have a lot of DVD's but hard to say no to that price. I tried not to buy too much because that was not what we were here for. And most things are junky or knockoff or you have to fight too hard bargaining for them.
Church was great. No palms but evergreens. I guess they aren't allowed palms brought in. Now we are going up for bathtime ......my favourite....the kids are just too sweet in their jammies.


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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Back in Xi'an...

Yesterday was our first of rain but we didn't let it stop us. We were up and out to see the beautiful temple of WuHou. Another breakfast at Sim's and another cab ride through the bustling streets of Chengdu. The temple is thousands of years old and the gardens were incredible. They had the most amazing collection of bonsai trees. Lots of Tibetan monks around and very few westerners. I think it is the time of the year. We were back at the guesthouse to pick up our cab for 1pm. after a quick lunch and a char with Sim. We met a Mom & her 9yr old from Australian.......her name was Isabel too. We had a nice talk. Another good reason to travel off season. Quick ride to the airport and another uneventful flight to Shaanxi. We have a new British roommate who just came in. Looking forward to talking to her tomorrow. Can't say how lucky we are to have had Brittany with us this whole time. I am not at all sure our trip would have been as great without her. She has
been our guide and interpreter and our friend. We have been blessed not only to have had the chance to do this but to have had the bonus of meeting some really nice people.


In our time here we have seen only two near miss accidents....a bike cut off a motorcycle and a cab we were in cut off another cab. No one in China will reverse. We were centimeters from touching the fellow I mentioned last and yet he just would not back up and our guy had to move past him....he to wouldn't back up....at millimeter by millimeter until he was clear. I think that since there are so many people in China that it has become a mob mentality and they have become desensitized to a lot. No one lines up for anything. If you don't push forward you will be trampled or left in the dust. Get used to being jostled roughly and crowding into buses, planes, supermarkets, you name it. Any small act of kindness is so appreciated. A gentleman on the shuttle to the plane helped me find a space for my bag! Another guy when we were out walking the babies in a stroller would have run has over rather than let us scoot in front of him. I find the Chinese very
suspicious of everyone. They think you are trying to cheat them at every turn. Shopping is exhausting because you have to bargain for everything and for such a small difference. I know the Chinese have very strong family bonds and that their friends are also important to them but they are very wary of westerners. The men seem so stern and unfriendly and scowl at us for the most part. With women you get a little more eye contact and the occasional smile. I feel better when I see them interacting with their children and being tender, or laughing with their family and friends And I have seen the nannies with the children and each other and how they have warmed up to us..So there is more than meets the eye here and I think you would have to live here a while to have them as friends or have any understanding of their reality. It is hard to say China is a welcoming country because for the most part it is not. I think because the people don't understand us and
because the language barrier is there. It is difficult to communicate. Chinese are not big on gestures. Sichuan province alone had 100 million people in 1999. I will say it again...everything here is cheap and you have to be strong to survive from the beginning. From the airport we passed many farming villages....every scrape of land is worked...which are owned by landlords and rented to peasants. There is often no water or electricity and the buildings are in terrible shape with dirt floors. These are the poorest of the poor and they make 1 yuan a day....14cents...so Brittany says. We can't believe it and Isabel had some interesting questions about our poor and homeless when she heard this. In contrast we drove past so many car dealerships...Lexus, BMW etc. My mind is having a hard time processing it all.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thatched cottage of Du Fu....

Yesterday was a non stop adventure. From the pandas in the morning to dinner at our favourite restaurant in beautiful Chengdu.Pandas lasted from 830 to 1130. The reserve is housed in a very well run and lovely park and at this time of year it is not very busy so our little group felt like we had the place to ourselves. It goes without saying the pandas were adorable.
As soon as we got back we turned around and headed out again. A quick cab ride and we were at the historical home of the famous Chinese poet, Du Fu. We spend the entire afternoon exploring that and wandering around the Tibetan quarter. It was all very colourful and interesting.
By 6 we were home again at Sim's Cozy Guesthouse. We played with Dian Dian (meets tiny) the sweet little Jack Russell. He follows all the guests around looking for hand outs and he was darting around with a fish from the pond in his mouth. too cute!!
All the back packers here were in a spin because they were banned from going to Tibet because there are serious problems there this week.
There are people from all over the planet here. Wish we could stay longer. We really like Chengdu but we are also missing the kids and spend a fair amount of time talking about them.
We sampled some of the fiery Sichuan food here at dinner. Tofu and veggies and rice and lots of mushrooms of all kinds. The food is so good and we are eating well including all kinds of fruits. The menus are 2 centimeters thick and have pictures which is helpful if there is no English.
If there is English it is often very funny. We had fungus with cow disease as one of the items!(mushrooms and beef) Pretty tasty too!!
It was a day I will remember.



Our Day in Chengdu..by Isabel

Today, we awoke in Chengdu, in our room at Sims Cozy Guesthouse. We had to get up earlier than usual so we could meet Brittany at 7:30 AM for breakfast. We had to have breakfast early so we could catch our ride to the Chengdu panda reserve.
Sims has wireless Internet which is a nice change after all those wires back at our apartment. We really enjoy Sims. It is a hostel and guess what? It only costs us fifteen dollars a night. We have a room with a double bed, a bathroom and a TV. Plus, they serve western food here. There's also western books and DVDs for free. It has a really nice atmosphere and has people from all over the world. There is a playful puppy, some hamsters and even some rabbits. According to Mom, there is apparently a pig here too, though we haven't glimpsed him yet.
I've been sick lately, but I'm getting better. I ate a pretty big breakfast this morning and continued eating and drinking throughout the day, which is a good sign.


Anyways, back to the beginning topic. The pandas. We were actually part of a tour that led us around the panda reserve. So our taxi ride and everything was done with other people too- from all around the world. The drive was about twenty minutes downtown and to the reserve. Once there, we walked a little ways before coming across our first panda.
I don't think I have ever seen a panda before- or have memory of it- or seen it as close at it was today. The pandas were meters away from us, in a huge enclosure. We got there early enough to see the pandas having a huge breakfast of bamboo stalks. We saw two adult pandas first and everyone took about ten minutes to take photos and videos or just admire the creatures. The compound included a large grassy place for the pandas to play and tussle, swings, climbing walls, trees and a large shelter where I think they live the rest of the time.
The next one we saw was another adult all on his/her own. She/he was eating breakfast too. We arrived at a good time since pandas usually sleep most the day.
The next ones were two young adults (teenagers) and two adults. The adults were eating while the two youngsters were wrestling with each other. They were play-fighting by nipping each others ears and fur and trying to see who could push the other over the edge of a climbing wall. After a while, they got bored though and just walked away. Brittany took a huge video of most of the tussle.
After, we saw a mother and her cub. They had just been let out from their shelter and the mother was playing with her cub by nipping her ears or grabbing her with her paws. We had to move around a lot to get a good photo since the mother and her cub kept lumbering away from a good shot.
We saw the rest of the cubs after. The first one I noticed was one little one in a tree which I pointed out to Mom. These were only a few months old and were playing with their trainers and eating bamboo. The trainer ran away from one and we wondered why she did that. We found out soon after. The cub liked to snap at her ankles playfully whenever he/she had the chance, so whenever she was around her/him, she always made sure she was either well out of range or picking him/her up. That station was a fun one to watch.
Red pandas were glimpsed after and I have to say, they aren't very good at being photogenic. For instance, they never look up, so you can never get a good shot of their faces. Mom and I had to make cooing sounds to attempt to coax them to look up, but that didn't work. Finally, we got this little guy who decided to cooperate. He made a pretty good shot.


We have to go to dinner now with Brittany. It was a really eventful day today. Mom will write more later. (We haven't forgotten it's report card day, Beth and Grace. ;))


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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good Morning Canada...

We are having a lovely breakfast here in Sims Cozy Guesthouse in Chengdu,province of Sichuan...China. Scrambled eggs and toast, fresh OJ and a pile of fruit. And coffee, of course. We had an uneventful flight of 1 1/2hr from Xi'an. Isabel was a little off colour so we settled her in our room and she slept it off. Brittany and I went for the most fascinating walk. I really like Chengdu. The air is better and there is lots of greenery and flowers. The city seems newer and more affluent than Xi'an. The traffic is even more civilized. I could write all day!!
We have a 830am pickup to see the pandas. Isabel is her old,wonderful self, thank goodness, so we are back in business. Will fill you in tonight. Love to all and thanks for your messages. Laurie I will pass on your kind donation and thanks.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Photos...

Erica,Jasmine (parents coming in April) with Jeannie, Nathaniel, Heather

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Notes...

Yesterday was pretty amazing. At the government offices we say two lives changed forever in seconds and we saw two families born. It was something to see them all walk away together. the kids looked a little shell shocked but in the next couple of days they will begin to think "Hey, this is pretty good!". Sarah's family stopped by in the afternoon and Sarah was fine. Her Dad and Mom were picking her up and carrying her around and she was cool as a cucumber. It was great. They are coming back today as well because it helps her transition they think.
The house was pretty raucous in the afternoon. There were a lot of visitors and lots of crying and squabbling amongst the children. They all seemed extra tired and cranky too. Had fun playing with the boys.
Amanda heard yesterday that two of the children who have been matched for several months could be adopted as soon as April and May.
Also that someone had seen Heather's picture posted in the US and they were interested in her. We were worried about her because she has some neurological deficits so is more handicapped than some of the others. she is bright and happy and very sweet and with some good therapy will thrive I have no doubt. I will post some more photos. Can't show many of Sarah's now because that would be up to her Mom and Dad. We want to get some time with the kids this morning before we head out to Chengdu after lunch.

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Happy Adoption Day...by Isabel


Today's morning routine was a little different than usual. This morning, I slept in a little (must of been those pills Mom gave me to clear up my nose...). Then I got up and brushed my teeth, got ready, had my breakfast and we were off upstairs with Brittany. But today was different. Sarah was being adopted today! And better yet, we were going to witness it.
When we got up there, the place was in chaos- literally. Babies were crying, nannies were hustling about making breakfast and Amanda was getting Sarah ready for her big day.
When she came out, she was wearing a nice little velvet dress and little brown shoes. Her nanny was carrying her and she was crying. It must be hard for her since she spends twelve hours a day caring for the children- and Sarah was one of her assigned kids. We took a lot of photos with each nanny having their turn holding Sarah and then Mom took my picture with Sarah and her nanny. After that, we said good-bye and were off.
Sarah almost fell asleep on the way if not for Amanda who was showing her pictures of her new family. Her family has five people in it. Her mother, father and three older brothers, one of whom was going to be there today.
When we got to the place where we would meet her family for the first time, there was a teenager- her brother, Luke- standing by the doorway, video taping us as we pulled up. He didn't immediately fuss over his little sister, just stayed back and let his parents do that- but I could tell how excited he was.
Sarah's new mother met us at the door along with her husband met, but let Amanda carry Sarah until she got used to them. There were lots of smiles and cooing, then the mother began pulling things from a bag behind her such as a book, a teddy bear and some cheerios. All for Sarah only. After so much time spent sharing with many other children, it must be nice to have something all to yourself. Amanda put Sarah down so she could play with her family, then Amanda went off to talk to some people doing the adoption. Sarah loved her new sound-making book. She pressed button after button and ate cheerio after cheerio. She looked quite content, but she kept glancing in Amanda's direction as if asking her what was going on.
Though, I think that Sarah knew that something big was about to happen for the last few days. She's been pretty clingy to Amanda and throwing lots of tantrums. Also, she has barely slept or eaten. Funny how kids just know.
Mom, Brittany and I pulled up some chairs and sat a little ways off to give the new family some privacy. Luke continued his filming. After a while, Sarah's mother left her to play with her new father and went to fill out some adoption documents.
We stayed in that building for a good hour or so. Not only did we see Sarah's adoption, but there was also a guy adopting a two-year-old toddler from the Xi'an orphanage. Two new families right then and there. Wow.
Soon, Sarah, her new parents, the other new father and Amanda departed to take some photos of the new family in a hotel nearby. Mom, Brittany and I decided to return to our apartment and rest a little before lunch. We said our good-byes to Sarah and returned to the building and out apartment.
At twelve, we headed upstairs for a bite to eat. Today, it was rice, chicken and some veggies including some strange type of mushroom I'd never seen before. After, lunch, we played with the kiddies for a time.
Lily seemed really tired today. She woke up from her nap and immediately tried to go back to sleep on my lap. I kept moving though to see other kids such as Cailean, Jade and Danielle, so she couldn't get a decent sleep. I have to say, she cried a lot today. Whether she was in a bad mood or just tired, I couldn't really tell.
After a while though, I began to feel drowsy myself so I went downstairs with Brittany for some down time while Mom stayed upstairs with the children.
As of now, we are just relaxing for our big trip to Chengdu tomorrow. It's going to be a big day! Write more then.
Luckily, our computers will work there, thank goodness. I don't know what we'd have done with the computer without Brittany. I wonder what Grace and Mom will be in for next year. I'll bet Grace'll love it here.


Hiya again to everyone from St. Pats, especially 6B. I miss everyone!


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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Happy Day....

First I have a correction to make. The nannies make 1000 yuan ( also known as Renembi or RNB) a month....so that is about $142 a month. A little more than I had thought originally. I have made it a project to learn all the nannnies names before I go home. They don't seem to ever get introduced and they work so hard and care so much about the children. We should at least know their names. I have mastered 5 so far.
We were invited out to dinner last night by members of Amanda's Church. They live in the building next door and we were treated to salmon and spuds and Chinese pickles and watermelon. Yum.
Isabel wants to write about the two adoptions we witnessed this morning later.
Todays pics are of Olivia sleeping and Rachel behind a glass door.


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Terra Cotta Warriors...




Another beautiful warm spring day. We were up and out early for our cab drive to the Terra Cotta Warriors about 1 1/2 hr away. It was a fascinating ride just watching the city give way to the country side and seeing some farm land and smaller villages. It seems they are tearing everything down to build it up again. For a country with very little crime it has more serious gates and guards than most. We went from super highway to gravel and dirt roads....and no one will give anyone the right of way. Our driver was a lady and spoke some English...she was very nice. Once we arrived we did as it said in the "Lonely Planet" and did without an English guide and watched the little movie and then wandered around on our own. Typical tourist attraction but still 3000 years old and discovered when farmers were digging a well in 1974...so interesting. People from all over the world were there and most were older. I guess that is because of the time of the year. Not a
large crowd either which was lovely. Best part was lunch. They had a cool restaurant which they said was a buffet so we got a few things and then they kept bringing food to our table. It was excellent and we enjoyed eating and chatting together. A cart came around with drinks and I have included a picture of turtle or snake wine.......we had water and sprite, thank you very much! I think the entire day was $50 if that. Good memories. We also approached a couple with their new daughter who they had received just 3 days ago from the Xi'an orphanage where we were and we were able to tell them about it. We were diplomatic and said it was a great orphanage. There were two other couples with kids but I didn't want to push it so I didn't talk to them. Tomorrow we are up early to see Sarah meet her new family. She has been very upset these last few days.....cuddling and clingy and then crying and acting out. I guess in her little mind she senses something is
up, but I am so happy for her because I know how she will be loved and nurtured and how she will blossom.


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Terra Cotta Warriors....photos

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Monday, March 10, 2008

.....and!!!

Heather in pink and in brighter pink Rose (for Jens who sponsers her). .. And one of the two bedrooms and the change room.


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Just a note....

We are unable to see the comments on our blog from here. We have had emails forwarded but can not reply unless you send your e-address.
Hope that helps with any confusion. Here are more of the kids....trying to get them all posted. Feeding time and bedtime. Off in a cab to see the Warrior!


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Photos...

Of course........this is the Starbuck's staff and Rachel and Lily!!! Costs the same as at home though.
This is Jasmine and Jeannie....they look alike and I get them mixed up.
 And this is the very sweet but devilish Benjamin. He is tender with the babies.
The bottles are all colour coded and he helps give them out and knows whose is whose. (Jas & Ben are matched and waiting for their families.


Our Outing...by Isabel


Today, we got up as usual to do our routine. We were up with the kids at around 9:30. Brittany's been locking the doors lately, and Mom and I spend a good amount of time attempting to open them in the mornings. Usually, it's me who manages to unlock the door at last.
Mom is trying to get more pictures of Jasmine since we only have one of her. After being upstairs all morning, we took a break and came back downstairs again. Brittany said that she was going to take two kids and go on a walk with them and Mom and I volunteered to help her out. We decided to take Lily and Heather since they don't get to go out much.


I am now going to list all of the kids in the foster home so that you all have an idea of the mayhem up there and also of the children's personalities.


Lily: Adorable, sweet, young-natured, easy to love, she is photogenic
Sarah: Sweetest face, curious, adventurous
Shaun: Mom says he's a bit of a thug, but he can be soothing to upset children sometimes, mischievous
Benjamin: Curious, can be naughty and persistent
Jasmine: Don't know too much about her except that she looks like Jeannie
Rose: She chases after attention, but she is very sweet and friendly
Rebecca: She is friendly and good-natured
Heather: She smiles easily; has a lovely smile
Caitlin: She is very cute and sometimes even tries to make conversation with you in baby talk
Callum: Don't know much about Callum
Cailean: He can sure smile and laugh and he makes you laugh too; he is very lovable
Jade: Photogenic, she bonds easily and chases after attention, she takes time to entertain herself
Gabriel: He is very mischievous and can be naughty sometimes, but also sweet at times
Danielle: She has a precious face, a trusting nature and can look professional at times
Nathanial: He chases after attention a lot and can be sensitive
Brianna: I can tell you this: The nannies all want to look after dear little Brianna because of her laid back and tranquil nature
Erica: Adorable, tranquil nature
Rachel: She is very smart, tranquil, sweet and good-natured
Olivia: Don't know much about Olivia


Well, there are all the babies up there. Even though it can be mayhem sometimes I love them all. There are a few I don't know much about, but probably by next week, I can say some things about them too.




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Sunday, March 9, 2008

More Photos....

These are also of the grounds outside our building. We are on the first floor and Starfish is on the fifth. For you Grace I put in a picture of the local candy store. There is Chinese sprite and skittles and starbursts and ice cream that is very good indeed.......Isabel is getting lots of attention and loving it. She has read three books this week plus her excellent blogging as well as writing stories, but not so much math. Sorry Mr Card. But, boy, has she had some lessons in life.
One day it will be your turn, Grace and Beth.


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Photos....etc...

Many thanks to Christine, who at the eleventh hour came thru with the address to the Church..from Canada. It was exactly what I needed.
Balm for this battered soul. It is a beautiful and very old building in the midst of tear downs and I hope it doesn't meet the same fate. When I get home I would like to do some research on it. It was a comfort to hear the same old hymns as at home sung by a group of young Chinese who led the Mass and it was all in English. There were very few westerners. Afterwards I felt at peace. This situation is too big for me and it was a comfort to give it up to God.
We got to phone home and that was good. We heard from many friends yesterday and that was also good. We walked in the sun and the warmth of a spring day and had a good old girls talk. We got a cab there and back all by ourselves....pretty big deal. How lucky we are to be having this experience.
I spent quite a while talking to a 10 year old boy named Cannon yesterday who visited the foster home with his parents. He was practicing his English.......excellent by the way. He gets up at 630 and finishes school at 530 and does 1/2 days on Saturday. He says he is under a lot of pressure and has hours of homework assigned for everyday...........including summer holidays.
Here are some thoughts.......for all the orphans here there are many times more in Africa; Isabel gets more in a month for her allowance than the nannies make; millions of Chinese don't have access to Drs. or dentists. Count your blessings people.
Here are some photos of some more of the kids. The first is the one and only manny who works here. He needed a job to put his son thru school and approached Amanda for a job. He is so good with the children and they love him. We met him coming back from his walk with some of the little ones. The others are of the neighborhood where we are living. Brit tells me it is not middle but upper middle class.....class is big here. It is everywhere really.


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St. Francis Cathedral....by Isabel

Today, we followed our regular routine. Get up, have breakfast (me play on the computer), get ready and head on upstairs. By the time we got up there this morning, it was 10:00 AM. I was off, playing with Lily when Amanda called me over. She was holding a tube full of smarties. "Give these out to the kids, will you?" she asked. "They'll love you." And love me they did, I had six or seven children on my tail yelling, "Mama!" and holding out their hands for more. Lily even stood up to get some!
We had some visitors today. There were some ladies, searching for a job and some other people- former English student of Amanda's and his parents.. The women thought that Mom and I must be very rich since we are from Canada. I guess most Chinese people think we are. There were also a couple of university students there, helping out with the babies.
Lily was totally intrigued by this guy's cellphone. She was playing with it- under his watchful eye- and playing music.
Sarah looked really pretty today, in a nice little outfit. I keep thinking, she's being adopted on Wednesday (Tuesday for you guys). Plus, I may get to see the moment when she finally meets her family. That'll be so happy.
It seems unfair that such a happy thing should happen right after something terribly sad. I can't believe Patrick passed away just like that. My Mom says that his mission on earth may have been to show me how precious life is. And I realize that too. When we went to church today, I dedicated my prayers to young Patrick.
And getting to that, we went to church today. A Chinese church with Mass said in English. It was at 3:30 this afternoon. Mom and I returned from upstairs to have a little down time down here with Brittany. One of the best things about Brittany is she can take my constant chattering. I like that. We watched a video the other night with Erica in it. She is the baby Pat and Cindy want to adopt. Brittany hadn't adjusted the music yet, so it was set on default. It got annoying after a time, but the annoying thing was, it was catchy. Catchy guitar music. Grr! Right now, I cannot help but hum it in front of Brittany just to make her laugh, lol.
Mom and I set off at about 2:40 to the Chinese church. We hailed a taxi and drove down to the old wall where the church was. It cost under $2.50 in our money to get there. Whoa.
Mom set about taking pictures of the church, be it front or back. It was called St. Francis Cathedral. It didn't say a specific St. Francis, so we just assumed it was St. Francis of Assisi.
The mass was beautiful, mom said. I thought the music was wonderful, but since there were men singing, I had a hard time singing along. We sang songs that, strangely enough, are the same as back home. There were songs such as these, 'Sing to the Mountains', 'Shout to the Lord' and 'The Power of Your Love.' It was really nice. The mass was exactly the same as back home. Only difference was the Chinese accents in the priest and reader's voices and the gospel was really long. Today, it was about Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead. Whenever I read that story, I think it's amazing the things He did.
Outside the church, there is a little neighbourhood. Probably for poorer people in China since all the houses seemed rundown and a little battered. The children playing outside look happy enough. There are these two teens playing ping pong using some bricks as their net. It's creative I think.
Mom and I went for a little sightseeing walk after mass, to stretch our legs and get a bit of fresh air. We talked a little as we walked. It was quite enjoyable for me. I got to see more of the poorer bit of the city though. Made me feel lucky to be where I am today.
Mom said as we were walking, "Sometimes I wonder why God allows so many children- thousands- to live without parents, to wind up in orphanages."
"I said, "Well, maybe they're better off in the orphanages because they have a chance to be adopted and have a better life- like me"
"Well, sometimes, I just say to myself, it's God's will," replied Mom.
I am thinking of that now, as I write. Why DOES God let so many kids suffer. Take Patrick for instance. He could've had a wonderful life where he was healthy and happy. But here he is, the poor thing, suffering with malnutrition. But he is happy now. I guess, I've just got to leave it up to God. Besides, he has answered most of my prayers, the ones that matter a lot, and I am happy.
There's this huge square just inside the old wall. It's beside a giant river and in the square, there are tons of people and tons of kites. There are kites everywhere. They seem to light the whole place up with their many colours. There's even some children and adults flying kites. I wasn't really surprised by all this. Kites were invented by Chinese people, right?
Brittany, Mom and I all love this ice-cream shop just around the corner from our apartment. Brittany loves her vanilla ice-cream. There was this guy who told Mom the price of our popsicles. Mom told him, "Tell her the price." She meant me.
The guy said, "Shi san."
I said, "Shi san?"
He nodded and I told Mom, "Thirteen."
When we walked out of the store, Mom said she was proud of me for using my Chinese like that. I said, "Mom, you are proud of me for saying thirteen in Chinese? That was the first thing I learned in Chinese. Numbers."
She kept on though about that at least I had used my Chinese speaking skill. And guess what? She is laughing right now that my first conversation in Chinese was to say, "Thirteen." Huh.
Well tomorrow is a brand new day! Write more then. ;)


Btw, I just wanna say hi to all those St. Patters out there reading this. And a big thank you to everyone for all their kind words and for supporting me here. Really appreciate it. :D


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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Thoughts on China...

Here I am early in the morning...usually I am up by 530 or 6am...trying to sort out my thoughts on China. We have had the merest of glimpses into this very complex society. It would be very arrogant of me to pass judgement. I can tell you what I think. The people are shy of foreigners and curious about what we think of them. They don't have the confidence we do. The apartment we live in is large and fully serviced but it is only 5 years old and looks 25 because it simply isn't maintained. You can have a shower no problem but you must keep your mouth closed and never brush your teeth with tap water. You will get sick! They open the windows but there is no fresh air really. They will run you over or come within inches of it. They will shove past you and no one ever lines up for anything. Spitting is ok, even in a restaurant. So is picking your nose and smoking. Dinner for 6 with beer was $18 the other night. Everything is cheap including life. Still if no
one taught you that this was not acceptable wouldn't we be the same? Are the educated different here? I am sure they are and I wish I could see it from their side. We are living in a very middle class area of Xi'an but are spending our days with nannies who come in from the countryside every day and work 8am to 8pm six days a week for more money than the average workers gets in China at around $25 dollars a month.....plus one big meal a day. There are 21 children at Starfish. Did I mention that the orphanage had 600 kids plus or minus? And that it is one of thousands of orphanages. I am not to offend the Chinese government so am limited in what I can say. We are trying to find out where the Catholic Church is here ,but anything with Catholic is blocked on the internet and there are no yellow pages, and I am sure I don't know how anyone finds anything here because if you ask they say "I don't know". We are glad we came and are having a fascinating
time. Everyday is a real adventure. I am glad Isabel blogs...she sees things differently than I. I would not like anyone to base their opinions on the people of China or the country on my thoughts. I am after all a guest here.


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A Blue Sky Day.....

These are rare indeed in China but today was beautiful....warm and sunny and a blue sky. Everyone was out walking and children were playing and just enjoying spring. We did some housework and walked over to the Lotus supermarket to replenish our supplies. The guy in charge of bananas wasn't happy with me because I upset his lovely pile. I really enjoy the supermarket. Found some baked beans today so I was happy. Love the food here and we were taken out to a farewell dinner by Pat and Cindy across the road at a local restaurant Brittany frequents. We could have had a turtle in a bowl but settled on shrimp.
The wonderful Brittany helped us arrange air travel and hotel to Chengdu to see the pandas next week and she is coming with us!!! We are so fortunate to have our own private tour guide and I am not sure I could not have done it without her. We put it back because we
want to be around next Wednesday when little Sarah at two will meet her forever family and go home to the US with them.
Today Isabel was taking photos of all the kids and I will send some from the past week.
Despite the sad events of yesterday we are moving forward. We appreciate all the prayers send on behalf of the tiny spark of life that was Patrick. Safe in the arms of Jesus now.
It is bath time at Starfish now and who can resist a toddler fresh from her bath all rosy and warm in their little sleepers coming to play before bedtime. So we are heading up.
I am so proud of Isabel and her entries on the blog. She has done a great job here and learned a lot and handled herself well.
The photos are of our Brit and baby Callum, Danielle, Benjamin (he will be #4 of a family of Asian boys soon) and the ever popular and darling
Cailean, who everyone is drawn to because of his sweet nature. His nanny is Pu-wei...an ex kindergarden teacher and very nice. It is so easy to love these children.


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Friday, March 7, 2008

Patrick...by Isabel

Sadly, our little Patrick passed away last night at 3:00 AM due to his malnutrition. However, everyone should still include him in your prayers.

The Orphanage....by Isabel


Today was a little different from all the rest. The Internet was down in the morning so we couldn't view various things such as our email.
I had my breakfast, got ready and started reading. What was the reason today was different? We were going to the Xi'an orphanage (.By the way it's pronounced Cee'ann.) To tell the truth, I wasn't too keen on going. I thought it would be too sad, especially for me (I was from the Wuhan orphanage). So I read while I waited for Mom, Amanda, Ellen and Pat, the foster home director and other volunteers, to be ready. Brittany and Cindy (our roomies) had left earlier this morning for Yulin near the Mongolian border. Erica a little baby here whom they want to adopt needed to get her physical and paperwork ready for pre-adoption.
Finally, everyone was ready to go and we were off. We boarded what was supposed to be a minivan, but turned out to be more like a minibus. The scent of smoke lingered in the air and Amanda said that the bus driver had been smoking. As we got going, I couldn't forget all I had ever learned of secondhand smoke. However, as the ride continued, the scent seemed to fade so it wasn't too bad.
The drive was about forty-five minutes. Very interesting looking out the window and watching the Chinese scenery and people. Along the way, we picked up a Chinese woman called Kay. Her job was to interpret at the orphanage for Pat and Amanda. The reason we were going to the orphanage was so Amanda could renew her contract with them. The contract lets her take some severely ill children for care in the foster home.
When we arrived, Amanda, Pat and Kay went to the offices and Mom and Ellen and I explored the orphanage a bit and to tell the truth once again, I was surprised by what I saw. The kids in the orphanage were much better off than I'd thought. They each had a bed and a little play area. There was tons of space, several rooms for each age group and a miniature bathroom. We tried to interact with some of the children. Unfortunately, it was nap time then and we got kicked out of that room for disturbing and accidently wrecking a crib.
We headed over to the other orphanage and met the others in the very ill baby department where they were debating on who to take back to the foster home. There were several children in that room. It was so sad to see all of them there, some real tiny and boney and others with no ear and such. In the end, a tiny boy caught our eye. He had been severely malnourished and dehydrated. Amanda said he wouldn't last much longer if we didn't take him with us, so we did. Mom took him into her responsibility and we immediately found a bottle for him to feed. The state he was in was not good.
Today, I learned how lucky all of us are. We are so blessed to have food to eat and water to drink whenever we want- and sometimes a little treat now and then too! Just seeing all these kids would humble even the most vain man on earth. If only all those who are ungrateful of what they have sometimes could see the state of these babies.
So we took the little boy with us back onto the minibus and headed home. Mom wanted to call him Samuel because of a scripture in the bible. Then Pat made a joke of calling him Joseph then Will. He started out with Eric, but Amanda said it was too close to Erica. Finally, he made a decision. He would name the little baby after himself.
And so little Patrick was welcomed into the Starfish foster home that day.
Now to all those St. Patrick's students out there, anyone who's reading this. Patrick needs intentions for his recovery. He definitely needs your prayers. Mom said that Patrick was a special name because it sort of put him in the care of my school. So all St. Pat's students and anyone else reading this, pray for Patrick tonight. Pray that he will make it through and become healthy and also nice and plump.
We brought Patrick back to Starfish and bathed him, put new clothes on him and continued feeding him. Then Mom held him, just held him. And fed him too.
I went back to Little Lily whom I had taken to calling, little sister or mei mei (little sister in Chinese). She kept calling me Mama or sometimes ge ge (big brother). Huh.
Patrick seems to be doing better; he even smiled at us today! He drank nine ounces of milk in six hours. That's pretty darn good. We left him upstairs in Amanda's care. She asked if Mom wanted to take him downstairs, but Mom didn't want that responsibility- yet.
Speaking of Amanda, it's her birthday today. We went upstairs around five thirty to sing happy birthday- in English as well as Mandarin- and present her with the cake. We didn't feast on it tonight since most of the babies- excluding Little Sister- had been bathed and put in PJs.
Right now, we are downstairs, about to go to dinner with Pat, Cindy and Brittany. Well, actually, it is a farewell dinner. Pat and Cindy are leaving tomorrow, Saturday. I'll miss Cindy's chats and Pat's jokes. I hope they will be able to adopt Erica/Norma soon (that will be her new name because that was her Mom's name). I'd love it if they could. So one baby has my Mom's name and one has Pat's and our St Pat's.
Well all for now. Tomorrow's a new day, a new adventure! We will post a bunch more photos in the morning now we know they are going thru.


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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Muslim Market....by Isabel


This morning, we followed our regular routines. We got up, had breakfast, got ready and prepared to go upstairs to see the kids. But they came to see us! We were doing a video and photos of the kids with some diapers to say thanks to the company who sent them. So the older kids were sent downstairs and we spent some time playing with them and taking photos and videos. Then, we followed through on our routine and went upstairs to visit.
It seemed extra mayhem and noisy today. Some of the children were crying while others squabbling over toys.Mom went to check up on tiny Caitlin while I set about looking for my little Lily. I had taken quite a shine to her by now.
It's funny how each day, a new baby seems to warm to me. First couple days, it was Lily, then Heather, then Danielle, then finally today it was Jade. She got so attached to me, in fact, that she wouldn't let me walk away alone. She clung to my leg and cried until I picked her up again.
We had a lunch of dumplings and went back downstairs to prepare for our next big adventure. The Muslim Market. For centuries, a population of Chinese Muslim people lived in a village downtown from where we are. Today, it is a very popular and busy market.
With Brittany as our guide, we snagged a cab and headed downtown. The city is huge with over 10 million people. Each building is at least twenty stories high, if not, higher. New buildings are being constructed all the time and there are cranes everywhere. The cost of going all the way downtown was a total of $2 dollars. Really a lot of things in China are cheap. You can have a standard meal in a restaurant for two or three bucks and we got three popsicles today for 3 yuan (¥) which is about 42 cents.
When we arrived downtown, I discovered that there were no sidewalks on the busy road between us and the entrance to the Muslim Market. Brittany said we had to go under the road. Gee, UNDER the road? Why can't it be over? We went under the road and through a gateway into the market. There were people everywhere. And there were cars too. People had just enough time to get out of the way before a car came down the road. It seems way too busy for cars to be there, but there was all sorts of traffic. Cars, bikes, motorcycles..... The air was really musty and smelled constantly of smoke. I had to breathe into my hand a couple times and right now, I believe my lungs are slightly less pink than before.
It's really exhausting to shop in the Muslim Market. You have to barter for everything you buy and when they see foreigners purchasing something, they raise the price. We're lucky we had Brittany with us. Though she doesn't have a very good sense of direction, she's good at bartering since she's Chinese and can speak the language. We bought a few presents to bring back with us before returning to the cabs. The Muslim Market really was interesting and it was something different, a new experience. Despite the exhausting shopping, we really enjoyed it. There were little colourful birds in cages hanging outside many of the shops and these were the owners pets.
Tomorrow, we are going to visit an orphanage, here in Xi'an. I do not want to though because I think that it will be too sad for me. Even sadder than the foster home. Mom say we don't have to go in, we can just stay in reception. But still, even the thought of all those orphaned children makes me sad. Westerners seldom get the opportunity so we should take advantage of that. We will get to view some of the countryside on the way there and sometimes, you have to be aware of things even if they are sad.


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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wacky Wednesday....

Today ...again up early...to a red sun rising in the sky thru a veil of murkiness. We are sharing the apartment with Brittany and also a couple of New Yorkers who have developed a Foundation to help Amanda run Starfish. They have taken it upon themselves to help with a laundry list of chores Amanda had for their visit here this time. They have painted the babies feeding area and both of the bedrooms a cheerful blue and yellow, and stenciled starfish on the walls. Most walls in China are stark white so it was a big improvement. Pat has mended and patched
and worked himself from sun up to sun down. He made the mistake of putting up wallpaper which the little ones promptly found and started picking off. They need way more stimulation than they get! Cindy has been equally hard at work taking photos and videos of the kids to post and help raise money and use later when they become available for adoption. This is but a mere sampler of what I have seen them do. It makes the little we try to do seem small. We enjoy our cuddle and play time with the kids and hope it gives some comfort.
Proctor & Gamble sent a huge pile of diapers at Pat and Cindy's instigation and I helped stack those for a photo shoot tomorrow, as a thank you to the company. We will bring down some of the bigger kids and take some shots amongst the boxes and diapers and send it off.
That should be fun and we will help bring them all down to the apartment for that. We are trying to take photos of each of the children and will include a small bio. This assuming my previous posts downloaded. Comments are also not coming thru but we are getting emails at our yahoo address.
Tomorrow afternoon after lunch we are off to "the old city" and the muslim market. We are ready for a wee break and to take in some local colour.


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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Photos

Assuming these photos went thru, they are of the beautiful little Lily and Izzy, best buddies Cailean and Brianna, and Isabel and Brittany with whom we are sharing an apartment. She is from Chicago and will be attending Harvard medical school in the fall. She has been more than good to us and introduced us to all the local restaurants and such.


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China blues....

Here it is Tuesday already and we are just beginning to get over our long journey and Isabel is fighting a cold she came with. We are trying to establish a routine and head upstairs to the babies just after breakfast. The nannies each are assigned several children and have them well in hand. There is a sort of routine but it is difficult to realize it until you have been here a while. Twenty one small bodies can be chaotic and very loud. So we feed them and cuddle them and wipe their noses and referee squabbles and play with them and pet them... It is all we can do. We are beginning to know each little character and their special traits. Even though I cannot see the blog I am hoping you will get the photos so you can get to know the kids too. Isabel makes a bee line for little Lily and I head over to Kaitlyn's cot.....the tiniest and weakest of all the kids. After another great lunch prepared by the nannies we venture outside. Bit murky due to the
pollution China is so famous for, but not cold. We stopped into Starbuck's for some home comfort and then had a walk around the supermarket which I find interesting. Isabel has taken a liking to Chinese candy..imagine that!!! Once back we got in a little more baby time and now our usual noodle dinner and to bed with a good book. I hope to sleep past 530 tomorrow. Just a reminder that our email should go to neefam@yahoo.ca. My brain was mush yesterday and I could have written it wrong. The whole foster home thing is pretty overwhelming to be perfectly honest. But the kids are great and if you have any, kiss them and tuck them in tight and tell them you love them tonight and pray for those that are here.


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Monday, March 3, 2008

Getting upset...

I so wanted to share this experience with everyone back home and I am having alot of trouble with the old blogspot. However my eye is much improved which I am grateful for.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday in China....

After almost 24 hrs of travel....3 planes and 4 airports and several layovers.... we arrived last night at around 10pm. We flew Victoria to Vancouver, up over Alaska, across the Bering Sea and Siberia to Beijing and then on to Xi'an.  ( a little geography for Izzy's class there). We are jet lagging but have started to settle in. I was up at 6 am and Isabel by 8 and then it was upstairs to meet the babies.....21 of them in a three bedroom apartment, plus 6 nannies, the director Amanda and several volunteers. Talk about culture shock!!! But children are children the world over and these are easy to love. (Christine we are doing what you asked of us and Cailean is as sweet as you said....Cindy and Pat have taken many many photos and videos and promise to send them on. He is adorable in his new duds.) We are in a near by apartment and can nip in and out of the foster home at any time. Isabel is doing great although everyone assumes she speaks Mandarin and they launch into it routinely. She has fallen for a little two year old named Lily and has made her a special buddy. I have bonded with a tiny baby who just had her surgery and needs a little TLC.  I will try for photos and videos and sincerely hope they get through ..but not tonight. We miss home and everyone but I think we can be of some service here. Food is amazing!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

We are in Beijing!!!!

After getting up at 6 am Friday morning we arrived in Beijing at 330pm on Saturday afternoon. It is now 51opm and we are waiting for our connection to Xi'an and won't be settled until around 5am Canadian time.....10pm or so here. Isabel is fading but has been a trouper and we had an uneventful and pleasant trip. I was very moved when the planes wheels touched ground and I realized it is 5 weeks shy of eleven years ago that she left China safe in our arms. I know she is a totally Canadian girl but it is such a privilege for her to come back and see where she started. I am very grateful we have had this chance and will try to make the most of it. Greetings to everyone and we will post as we can.