Our Yummy, Little Muffin

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Life As We Know It

First of all, I need to apologize for leaving you guys hanging for so many days.  Especially those of you who don't live near and haven't visited.

Life with Parker is grand.  We had a good flight home from China.  Parker wasn't really interested in watching the movies (must be because the foster family only allowed him to "watch 30 minutes of cartoons a day as to protect his eyes.")  We still get a chuckle from that!  Instead of watching tv on the plane, he shredded his headphones and then wanted us to fix them.  Repeatedly.  As in every 5 minutes.  It was ok.  After awhile, I got so good at that I could do it without taking my eyes off my movie!  :o)

He only slept for about 4 1/2 hours total on both flights so by time we got home, he was exhausted.  It was 4:00am China time, by the way!  We were greeted at the airport by neighbors and friends and it was so awesome to see everyone that prayed this baby home get a chance to finally meet him and love on him.  

Since we've been home, Parker is really struggling with potty training.  He's getting used to our big potties here in the US and isn't crying or resisting as much as before.  We've actually had some success yesterday and today so I'm hoping we're on the road to a diaper-free lifestyle!  

His temperament is great.  He's very happy and content most of the time.  He still gets angry when we tell him that he can't do something or when we tell him no.  But we've been showing firmness with kindness and he's showing less and less anger.  I know part of it is just being a 3 year old and part of it is being part of a new family.  He loves to talk on the phone and has his hand out every time one of us is on the the phone.  He will say, "Ky-lo" when he gets on the phone and then attempt to repeat what you tell him to say.  He also just talks in Chinese, which cracks me up because he leans back and starts chatting on the phone like he's talking to an old friend.  So cute!  He says I love you so much (I law bu soooooo macheeeee) which is my favorite.  He also gives kisses and hugs, usually at bedtime when we're snuggling with him or first thing in the morning when he wakes up.  

He L.O.V.E.S. his daddy, whom he calls Ba Ba.  When he sleeps with us, he loves to put his head on his daddy's pillow.  But, since he doesn't really like to sleep on a pillow, he ends up sleeping sideways in the bed between us. Thank goodness he's short!  He's had some bad dreams and has been kicking, punching, pinching, and scratching whatever he can grab.  Vuong actually has a pretty big scratch on his back from Parker scratching him one night.  Since we've been home, Parker has been suffering from some jet lag.  He's been waking up between 1 and 3am and wants to get up and play.  Vuong got up with him the first night and stayed up for about 2 hours.  The next night I got up with him but I didn't take him out of the bed.  We talked for a while and then he went to sleep.  The third night,  he was up for about an hour in the bed talking and playing and wouldn't get quiet when I asked him to.  He was also trying to wake Vuong up.  This was also the night before Vuong had to go back to work.  So, I moved him to his own room and we fell asleep in his bed. The following night, we started out in his room which he did NOT like.  This was Tuesday night and he had started crying about almost anything that day.  Taking a nap, taking a bath, getting in his chair for dinner, going to bed.  It could be some grieving  or just that he's really tired.  Either way, I just loved on him until he felt better.  He got up at 1:40am and didn't go back to sleep until about 4:30am.  He was back up at 6:30am.  Last night, he FINALLY slept ALL NIGHT!  Whew!

Many of you have asked about his bath.  He LOVES his bath now.  He still sits in one place and asks me to help him get the toys that have floated to the other end instead of getting them himself.  But he's learned how to move the water around with his hands to get to the toys to come closer.  He's also gotten much better as letting me rinse his hair.  Bath times are no longer stressful times for him.  Thank goodness for that, because for those of you who know me know that I am the QUEEN of baths!

The dogs came home from Mary's on Monday afternoon.  He was terrified of them.  He was cringing in the corner of the sofa and wouldn't take his eyes off of them.   By the end of the evening, he was kind of okay with them sitting on the same sofa, though if they looked at him, he would start whining.  He's very particular, and so he was upset that the dogs weren't chewing on the bones or toys that HE wanted them to.  Then he was upset because the dogs were leaving their bones and toys on the carpet and not putting them back in the basket.  Sometimes I wonder if he might have a bit of OCD.  He worries about things all the time-- the doors and drawers aren't closed; buttons on coats or shirts have to be buttoned all the way from the top to the bottom; jackets and sweaters have to be zipped to the top; there can't be an food or liquid on the table and if there is, you have to clean it RIGHT AWAY; he doesn't like ANY food on his face or around his mouth on the plastic bib we've been putting on him; and the list goes on.  We'll see if these are just behaviors he's learned from his foster family or if there really is a problem as time goes by.

Anyway, back to the dogs.  He still doesn't prefer for them to be near him, but as long as they aren't jumping on or near him, he's ok.  He doesn't want to walk around when the dogs are out because he's afraid they will jump on him.  I do think that with time, he'll learn to love them. 

And that's it for this post.  I could go on and on with more, but I'll save something for next time.  Next week, we'll be going to the dentist and maybe a few other specialists to see how he is and if there's anything we can do to help him catch up.  I'll elaborate on that more later when I have more information.

Thanks to all those LURKERS who've been reading my blog daily but haven't had the guts to comment.  I do feel blessed to have so many caring friends who've shared this experience with me!

Steph

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 15: Goodbye from China

Well, folks.... we are nearing the end of an amazing adventure.  We've loved every minute of it, although some minutes were better than others.  We're heading to Hong Kong bright and early tomorrow, where we'll stay one night and then start the L=O=N=G journey home. 
 
For those of you interested in meeting us at the aiport, our plane from Detroit will land in Atlanta on Saturday, December 4th, at 3:49pm.  If you're there, you will see another baby coming by escalator! :o)  We do look forward to seeing everyone.  We also can't wait for you to meet Parker.  He is so awesome!
 
Thanks so much for following along on our blog.  I've definitely had fun sharing it with you. 
 
I probably won't post while we are in Hong Kong so this will most likely be my last post until we are home!
 
Remember, this Saturday at 3:49pm!
 
I can't wait to see you guys!
Love from China,
Steph

Day 14: Last Full Day in Guangzhou

Today has been a sad day of sorts.  A day full of goodbyes to new friends that you hope to see again.  A day when we all will leave the place where our families were made.  A place where our families grew.  A place that brought us all together for a common goal:  Adoption.
 
We slept a little later again today and then got up to take a cab to the Dim Sum at a restaurant that our guide, Lily, said was 'famous'.  I don't know about famous, but we were just excited that they had the carts we are used to ordering from.  I forgot to mention that our first Dim Sum experience wasn't so much fun because the menu was entirely in Chinese with NO PICTURES!  Such a sad day for us!  :o)
 
After breakfast, we walked around in the same shopping area on 'the other side of the bridge' because that's where the restaurant was.  It was, amazingly,  the same stuff that had been there the day before and the day before that.  (I'm being sarcastic here!)  We walked back home and decided to put Parker down for a nap.  He looked so nice and cozy on the bed that we both decided a nap sounded like a good idea.  Mmmm, I could get used to that!  We played with Parker for a while, then went out for a walk.  We had to return our stroller that Dong at Susan's Place has let us borrow.  It was kind of a sad walk because I knew that tomorrow I would have to leave.  It has really been nice and relaxing to be here.  Parker has been a joy and has settled into our family nicely.  It's hard to imagine what life was like without him!  Since we've been in Guangzhou, his personality has really come out.  He's a silly goose most of the time.  My favorite thing he likes to do now is pretend like he is cracking up at something.  He throws his head back and (fake) laughs and laughs.  Sometimes he slaps his leg or chest because it is just that funny.  He also does that little sigh at the end, like he's is catching his breath and thinking about how funny it was.  I just love it!  Tonight he was pretending he was sleeping.  Snoring and all.  So funny!  I hope that once we get home, Vuong can still be relaxed and enjoy all this kid has to offer.  God wanted us to come to China to get Parker because He knew that Parker was the perfect fit for our family!
 
Tonight, we are working on packing up.  It's a amazing how much junk is in this room!  We do have LOTS to pack.  I did send our laundry out yesterday so it's all nice and neatly packed in plastic bags in the suitcase.  Now, just to find room for all the OTHER stuff!
 
I should go!  Lots to do but not a lot time!  We're leaving for the train station back to Hong Kong tomorrow morning at 7:30am.
Love to all!
Steph

Day 13: Shopping with Ann

Today, we met Ann in the lobby of our hotel for a morning of shopping.  First, we headed to the pearl market where I got a necklace, bracelet, and several pairs of earrings as well as two strands of unstrung pears.  Then we went to the jade market where I got a pendant.  There was another shopping area nearby where we got some ornaments for our Christmas tree.  Later we went to the toy market where strangely we bought silk items and clothing.  We really enjoyed shopping with Ann.  We'd read online that she walked very fast and that it was hard to keep up with her, but Vuong actually set the pace and Ann and I had to run to catch up!  He was carrying Parker in the carrier, too!  When we finished shopping with Ann, we walked around the island to finish up with some things we'd looked at earlier in the week, but decided to wait until after shopping with Ann to be sure we'd be getting a good deal.  All in all, we think we got some pretty good deals.
 
Parker played in the hallway area with the little girl down the hall.  Her name is Anna, and she's two.  They played with a ball for awhile, both of them learning how to share.  They were both on their best behavior and I didn't have to leave embarrassed because Parker was beating her up because he wanted the ball all to himself!  :o)
 
We started packing up tonight and trying to find places to put all of our treasures from today.  Vuong is leaving a few clothing items behind and we've freed up some room by eating the instant oatmeal, ramen, and goldfish we brought with us.  We're pretty sure we can leave China with the same luggage we came with and no more!  That's good!
 
I'm sad that tomorrow is our last day in Guangzhou.  Although I AM ready to come home, I'm just having so much fun here.  Every day feels like Saturday.  Even through we do have places to be and things to do, it's just nice to be able to walk around as a family and have no other worries.  I know once we get home, life with start again and we'll be busy all the time.  It will be good for Parker to be home.  I'm sure he thinks we live in a one room hotel room, eat out every night, sleep in the same bed, and keep our clothes in or around the suitcases.  There are a few surprises for him at home! 
 
Happy Wednesday to you!
Steph
 

Day 12: Consulate Appointment and Oath

This morning we slept in a little later than usual because we had no place to be or anything to do.  Our guide, Lily, was at our Consulate appointment and we had to say in our room until about 11am in case she had to contact us.  Fortunately,there were no problems and we were able to go out and about for a while before we had to meet some families from our group at the White Swan Hotel. 

We went to lunch at Lucy's and then headed down to the White Swan.  There were lots and lots of families there waiting for the 1:45pm bus to the Consulate.  We all got on the bus and took the 40 minute ride there.  We went walked up to the 5th floor and then went through security before being hustled into the waiting room.  We waited there until 3:30pm which gave us the opportunity to visit with other families that we hadn't seen before.  It's always so interesting to hear how we've all been brought to the same place, although we've not all taken the same road.  One mom has adopted 3 deaf children.  Another family is made up of all little people.  The mom and dad are both little people and their new Chinese daughter is a 9 year old little person.  Some families have lots and lots of adopted children.  One family was in China to adopt two children.  It's just amazing to see how God has worked in our lives.  I love it!
 
Once we got back to the island, we decided to 'walk across the bridge' to Guangzhou which is very different from the island.  The island caters to adoptive families.  There are lots of shops selling adoption souveniers like t-shirts, dresses, shoes, etc.  The island is also pretty western.  Most every one speaks English or at least just a little.  As I said in an earlier post, it feels like Savannah or New Orleans here.  The buildings are Western, there are huge trees that line the streets with Spanish moss swaying in the breeze, and people walking everywhere.  The thing I've noticed about Shamian Island, it is THE place to have your wedding pictures.  Every day, with the exception of today strangely, there have been no less than 5 bride and grooms having their pictures made.  The dresses are beautiful.  Not all of the girls have veils, some have little teeny tiny hats with feathers, lace, or some other kind of doodads on them.  It's kind of cool.  But not only can you have your wedding pictures taken here.  No, you can have some MODELING photos taken, too.  We've gotten a few giggles watching the girls either try to change in the street or climb into the little pop up tent that serves at a wardrobe room.  It certainly makes walking around more fun!
 
Ok, so back to my original thought.  We decided to walk across the bridge.  I had only been over there by foot once before and it was getting late so I didn't get to stay long.  It was also getting late when we walked across tonight, but it only added to the circus like atmosphere.  We walked through the Chinese medicine area where you can find all sorts of herbs and things, from mushrooms to dried lizards splayed out on sticks.  All of the shops are very tiny, about the size of a master bedroom closet, and the walls and sidewalks in front are lined with either jars or large bags filled with stuff.  Once you get passed the medicine market, you get to the pet area.  There are the same kinds of shops but these people are selling pets.  Cats, kittens, puppies, fish, turtles, lizards, you name it.  They have it all.  They also have 50 lb bags of dog food that are open and you can buy by the scoop or bag.  There are pet beds, toys, mats, leashes, collars, and bowls.  And I can't leave out the fish bowls, aquarium decorations, and plants.  It's very interesting. 
 
Once, you get through all of that, there are lots of real shops that sell clothing, shoes, sock, undies, jewelry, street food, books, makeup, and I'm sure more, but I've drawn a blank.  The streets are closed to cars and there are hundreds of people walking around.  The buildings look fairly new and there are brightly lit signs on them.  Some stores have people standing out front clapping and yelling to try to get you to come into their store.  And then, there are some alley ways in between the stores that also have things to buy.  They are a little bit scary so we only went down one.  Anyway, we walked around for awhile.  Our friends, Karen, Ethan, and Mei Mei, were with us.  She bought a few things.  Then we ate at McDonald's and while we were there, we saw our friends, Kimberly, Abby, Wei Me, and Grandma.  It's nice accidently running into people you know when you feel like you're a million miles away from familiar.
 
We headed back to the island late and the babies were a littel cranky.  We got Parker ready for bed and of course, no matter how tired he is, he wants to talk it up at bedtime.  That, of course, is how I know he is MINE!  :o)
 
I hope you have a great day!
Steph

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 10: Touring Guangzhou

{ I originally posted this on Sunday, but apparently it didin't make it to the blog, therefore setting off a firestorm of worry!  We're fine.  Thanks for letting me know you aren't getting updates! }

Today we went with several other families to tour the King's Tomb.  Maybe it's called something more elaborate than that, but that's what Lily called it.  And since she's lived here her entire life, I'll stick with that. 
 
In 1983, the tomb was accidentally unearthed.  After finding all the rooms and relics in the tomb, they made a museum.  We got to actually go down inside the original tomb.  It was very interesting.  The museum had all of the relics on display and was actually a pretty big museum.  The ironic part is, all around the museum is city.  Huge highrise apartment buildings, stores, markets, etc.  And right in the middle of it all is a huge piece of land with lots of grass and trees.  The museum actually sits on top of a hill so you can go down into the tomb with is 60 feet below ground.  We enjoyed it a lot.
 
Then we went to a jade market.  And then to the pearl market.  A few families bought things, but we're saving our jade and pearl buying for Wednesday when we go with Ann from Red Threads.  We looked around a bit and got some ideas. 
 
After that, we came back to the island and took Parker to the park for a while.  He had fun running around, but his gross motor skills are a bit lacking.  He still 'toddles' when he walks and has trouble climbing stairs and running.  Vuong helped him up the stairs, and then he finally got brave enough to come down the slide.  He was so funny when he came down the big spiral slide.  Vuong would send him down to me at the bottom.  When he got to the second curve, he would slow down and then slide ever so slowly until he got to the bottom.  The entire time, his face was like, "What is happeing to me?  Help!"  So funny!
 
We came back to our room and order pizza.  I know, I know.  But after being out all day, Parker missed his nap and we just needed a low key kind of night.  He is a GREAT eater!  He had no problem downing a whole piece of pizza.  He'll eat anything.  He loves vegetables, and meat, and of course, rice.  He has no food issues at all so I'm very happy.  He also drinks lots and lots of water.  Yay!
 
He is, however, having some trouble with going potty.  At first, he was reluctant to sit on the big potty at all.  We sit him backwards so he can hold on to the seat.  Things have gotten better since the first day, and sometimes he goes with no problem.  But sometimes, he won't go when he gets up in the morning.  Today was one of those days.  We took him several times before leaving this morning, but no luck.  I took him at the museum.  He even told Lily in Chinese that he didn't have any pee pee.  So, no luck again.  Lots of times to go, but he waits until we are at an older mall with only wholesale like vendors to decide he has to go.  This bathroom was SO nasty.  The entire floor was wet and I do mean entire.  And you have to practically undress the kid to get him on the potty.  And these were Chinese potties.  So, I told Vuong to take him because I couldn't bear the thought of knowing what parts of his clothes or body had touched the floor.  Vuong came back wtih a thumbs up!  Score!  I'm looking forward to being home so I can help him overcome that little fear!  Waiting until 2pm to go to the bathroom for the first time for the day is just wrong!

Tomorrow is vaccination day.  I'm hoping that since Parker's vaccine book has lots and lots of vaccines written in it, he won't have to have too many shots.  Tomorrow evening, we're also going on the dinner cruise, although we're going dinner(less) because we've heard from many of you as well as other's we've met while we've been here that the food isn't that great. 
 
Hope you have a great day!  Only a few more days until you get to meet our little muffin!
Steph

Day 11: Vaccinations, Shopping, and Boat Cruise

Hi Friends,
 
Fear not.  All is well and good here in Guangzhou.  Yesterday, Parker had 5 vaccinations.  He cried, but as soon as Vuong brought him back, some friends offered him some raisins and he was fine.  We gave him some Tylenol just in case, but he never acted like he needed it.  Vuong and Parker got ice cream and went to the park while I went with some new found friends to a book store that had books written in English and Chinese.  I got Parker a few Spot books as well as a few pictures books.  Then we went to another shopping area and walked around for awhile.  There were 3 different families, so we were gone for quite a while.  We got back to the island around 5:30.  Parker was just waking up from his nap.  Vuong said that Parker LOVED his ice cream.  He got it for him in a cone and he said that he would show his daddy where to wipe his mouth after every single bite.  He does NOT like to be messy!  Funny boy! 
 
We went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant (again!) and then went with another family to the night boat cruise on the Pearl River.  It was nice.  The buildings line the river and were lit up with different colors and pictures for the Asian Games that ended here on Saturday.  It was about an hour long and Parker really enjoyed it.  We were joking that we probably aren't going to see a big reaction out of him when we take him to see Christmas lights.  Every day is a light show here in China!
 
We are having a great time making new friends here.  Everyone has such different stories, but somehow we are all alike in so many different ways.  It's so fun to see the new families being made and wondering what it was about that child that made that person know they were 'theirs'.  The kids are having a  great time playing together.  There are babies all the way up to 12 year olds.  The big girls love to pick up Parker and carry him around.  There is one girl who is ten and a half.  They rode the train from Guilin to Nanning together and she told her mom she held Parker all the way.  They were both in foster care at the same orphange.  She makes me laugh when she sees him.  She yells his Chinese name and then comes and snatches him off my lap.  She's really rough with him but in a nice way.  You can tell she's used to mothering little ones.  He gets so mad at her when she grabs him.  But then he settles down because it probably feels normal to him.  Their history makes me smile. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rockin' the 'Hawk

We decided we would see what Parker would look like if ihe'd been adopted by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
 
He's be mighty cute, if I DO say so myself.

Our Consulate appointment is this afternoon so we're headed out for a bite.  I'm sorry I didn't post yesterday, but I'll make up for it today by posting twice!
 
Have a great day!
Steph

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 9: Visa Photo and Medical Checkup

We got up early this morning and met Lily in the lobby at 9am.  There are several other families staying at the Victory as well and we all went together to get our children's visa photos and medical checkup.
 
The first stop was a little hole in the wall shop for Parker's visa photo.  It was quick and painless and we were out in no time.  Then we walked a little further down the street to the International Travel Healthcare Center for the kid's checkups.  First stop, the doctor did a general checkup.  He was concerned because he couldn't find Parker's scar from his surgery.  He looked and looked and looked, then called Lily in to ask what his special need was.  We didn't know all of this at the time.  Then he asked us to follow him to another room and he spoke with another doctor, who then checked around on Parker's tummy.  Vuong and I were gettig worried because we didn't know what they were saying or what the problem was.  Then the second doctor asked us in English if Parker had had surgery and where his scar was.  We had to pull down his pants and show him the scar. which I will say is in a rather unusal place.  It's from his anus and up to the top of his little crack.  It seems like a very unlikely place for them to go in to fix his colon, but of course I wasn't there that day to tell them that.  Anyway, after we provided proof that he indeed did have surgery, we had his hearing checked.  Then they weighed and measured him, and finally he had his TB test.  I almost cried because he let out a horrific wail that broke my heart!  He settled down very quickly, thank goodness. 
 
We met more families staying in the area, which was really nice.  Parker is enjoying playing with someone closer to his age instead of these old people he's calling MaMa and BaBa.  Once he gets up from his nap, we hope to be able to get together with them again.
 
Many of you have asked how Parker is doing, both with his bronchitis and behavior.  I'll start with the bronchitis.  He still wheezes from time to time and has a cough, but he seems to be a little bit better.  Today is only the 2nd full day of medicine, so there's hope.  His illness doesn't seem to be bothering him at all.  He still enjoys running and screamng and playing.  He takes his medicine very well.  Sometimes he gags, but trust me, this stuff doesn't taste good.  He's on Ceclor, Azithromycin, hydrochloride, Theophylline, and the brown stuff that says something like Mitt Brown (?).  Every morning and night, I'm crackin', mixin', and stirrin' it up here in the room.  Thank goodness for the Victory swizzle stick they leave every day.  That's been a lifesaver as far as crunching up those pills that have truly been guesstimated!
 
Parker still has his moments when he tests us to see if we're going to let him continue doesn't something he shouldn't.  But they are WAY less than they were the day after the hospital.  He's a very good boy and does what we ask of him.  He only gets mad when you tell him 'No' or when you make him stop doing something he wants to do.  Usually, he's very easy going and is sweet and friendly.  The days have become so easy that I can't even remember my life without him.  He is our precious Parker!  I'll post more about him next time!
 
The pictures are of our afternoon walk yesterday. He was quite the little celebrity and everyone wanted their picture made with him.  That was even before they knew he had American parents! 
 
Well, I should try to catch a few winks while I have the time.  I'll write again later!
Steph

Nanning (Part 4)

Here are some pictures of the view from our hotel room.  It was a regular day.  Not raining, not cloudy, not foggy.  Just a regular day.

Nanning (Part 3)


Here are a few hospital pictures.  I look ragged and Parker has a dirty mouth from the few M&M's that Vuong dug out of the bottom of the backpack.  But you get the idea.

Nannng (Part 2)


Parker and daddy at the computer, playing with the magnetic farm set that Sheridan loaned him, and our sleeping angel.

Pictures (Nanning Part 1)

I can only upload about 3 pictures at a time!  (sigh)
 
This is our first dinner as a family, Parker's teeth, and Parker leaving his footprint.
 
By the way, his teeth do look much better, though I'm sure there's TONS of decay.  :o(

Pictures (Nanning Part 1)

I can only upload about 3 pictures at a time!  (sigh)
 
This is our first dinner as a family, Parker's teeth, and Parker leaving his footprint.

Pictures (Guangzhou)



Here are a few pictures from Guangzhou yesterday.  I'll upload more later!  Enjoy!

Life is Good in Guangzhou

Life is good in Guangzhou and here is why:
 
1.  We got up bright and early so we could Skype video call my family in Oklahoma.  After some technical difficulties and a miscommunication about the time, we were able to get it together.  My mom, sisters, niece, and nephews were all able to meet Parker in 'person'.  I know my nephew Carson enjoyed meeting his 'cousin from around the wolrd' (sooooo cute!) and Jackson was excited to meet his 'best friend' (love it!).  It was also great to see some familiar faces and hear everyone's voice.
 
2.  We ate breakfast at the hotel and they had BACON.  Real (not live) BACON.  Sometimes, you just don't know whatcha got until it's gone. 
 
3.  We enjoyed some Starbucks.  MmMmMmm!  It was delicious!
 
4.  We had a nice little walk around Shamian Island this morning.  We posed for lots of pictures.  Not only for each other, but for curious onlookers.  :o)
 
5.  We borrowed a stroller this morning.  Parker loved riding in it. 
 
6.  And finally, A&M beat Texas!  Heck, yeah!  That makes any day GREAT, even if I'm really a Sooners fan at heart! 
 
Pictures coming next.  Vuong got the problem solved! 
Steph

Thursday, November 25, 2010

On The Road To Recovery!

We saw the doctor today and got 5, yes 5, prescriptions for Parker.  One liquid, one pill that's about the size of a pea seed that has to be cut into thirds, (really? no, but it get's worse), a small oval pill that has to be cut in half, a packet (or sachet) that has to be divided into fourths, (seriously? can you make this any easier?), and another packet. 
 
We stopped at the 7-Eleven on our after dinner walk around GZ.  I got some yogurt, but didn't realize it wasn't like the yogurt at home, but instead was very runny.  I kept trying to hide these jaggedy pill pieces in the yogurt, but everytime, Parker would swallow the yogurt and spit out the pills. After several attempts, we finally got those down.  Then we used the lid off the sugar bowl to 'mix' up all the packets of stuff with the yogurt.  He swigged that down with the straw she gave me for the yogurt.  And, sadly I saved the best for last and gave him the liquid medicine which was brown and tasted like a mixture of licorice and tar. It did have a familiar taste though I'm not sure why.  Anyway, we have to do this for seven days.  Yippee!  I guess I'll have my pharmacy skills honed by the time I get home!
 
We're headed to bed so we can Skype with my sister and mom tomorrow morning.  We're still trying to figure out why the card reader won't download my pictures to the comptuer.  I see a new card reader in our future! 
 
Happy Thanksgiving Friends!
Steph

We Made It To Guangzhou!

Hello Y'all
 
We made it to GZ in one piece.  Travelling with a toddler certainly makes life interesting.  Parker was great on the plane.  He had a window seat but was too short to see anything.  Besides, we had to fly up above the smog to see the sun and then he was like a
vampire all squinting and retracting from the light.  I had to pull his shade down for him.
 
Lily, our guide, met us at the airport.  We rode to the hotel and got checked in.  We're staying at the Victory and I feel like I'm in either New Orleans or Savannah.  I know I said I didn't want to fly half way around the world and feel like I'm some place I've already been, but after the hospital and the smoggy sunshine-less days in Nanning, I'm glad to be some where that feels comfy.  The Victory is beautiful.  And our bed, so far, is NOT hard.  :o)  Not that I'm complaining, with the exception of last night, I've slept great every night of this vacation! 
 
At 3:20pm, Lily will meet us and we'll take a cab over to the Garden Hotel to see the doctor there.  She kept telling us is was Rmb 1000 to see the doctor and that didn't include the medicine.  We're ok with that.  We just want this little guy to feel better.  He actually does sound better today so whatever they gave him at the hospital must have worked.  I just hope it was something like turpentine and vodka. 
 
Parker has had a good day today.  I think it's because he's tired and he hasn't had too much time to get worked up anywhere as we've been on the move all day until now. He's taking a nap, so we'll see how things go later. 
 
We're going to try to find something interesting for our Thanksgiving dinner tonight. I kept thinking, "Wow, these people really just skip right over Thanksgiving and go straight for Christmas around here."  But that was before I remembered that the Pilgrims didn't land in CHINA!  Wow!  Yes, I'm tired!
 
I'll report back later tonight. 
Steph

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thank You!

Thank you, my friends, for all your comments.  Your encouraging words of wisdom are greatly appreciated.  We are off to Guangzhou this morning.  Our flight leaves at 10:15 am.  We will ask our driver to take us to the Garden Hotel so that Parker can see a doctor.  I think we'll be ok without the expedited visa.  He will most likely feel better once we get some antibiotics (that I've at least heard of) and a couple of breating treatments in him. 
 
Reading your comments this morning made my heart smile.  Parker had a rough night last night.  He must have had a lot of bad dreams because he was scratching, punching, and kicking in his sleep.  Needless to say, today I wish I was in Hong Kong so I could take one of those ladies promising a good massage up on their offer.  At this point, I'd lie down on that dirty old street for some relief! 
 
Parker's behavior escalated all evening last night.  He is now screaming when he doesn't get what he wants.  He is still yelling at both of us in Chinese and pointing that little finger at us.  Sometimes he makes this little sucking through his teeth sound as he looks away, kind of like 'whatever'.  I know for sure it's not a medicine thing now.  But we do also feel like he is getting frustrated because we don't understand what he is telling us.  Of course, no matter what he says, we just say "uh huh" or "ok" and I'm sure he's just thinking, "That's not the answer I'm looking for, guys!!!!"  We're using our Baby Signs book ALL the time as well as referrencing our Positive Discipline for Toddlers like its on the Bestseller List!  We'll make it!
 
Thanks for your prayers and comments.  We love y'all!
Steph

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 6: CrAzY Day (Part 2)

We woke up this morning bright and early to be ready to meet Mary in the lobby at 8am so we could take Parker back to the hospital for more treatments.  However, after checking my email and reading some comments from other adoptive mom's who'd already been there, done that, we decided not to go.  I made Vuong go to the lobby to break the bad news to Mary.  I didn't want to hurt her feelings or make her think that we were too good for her favorite hospital.  I'm saying that sincerely because Mary is so kind and sweet and helpful.  I was resting with Parker on the bed when Vuong and Mary (surprise!) came up to the room.  Mary wanted to talk to me about why we didn't want to go to the hospital.  She was very concerned because the doctor told her his case of bronchitis was extremely serious.  She wanted to know how our doctors back home would treat it.  I finally had to tell her that I just felt very uncomfortable not knowing what they were doing to Parker or what they were giving him.  She did understand after I told her that I would try a few of the remedies that friends had emailed me and that I would call her if he got worse, or if we wanted to go to the hospital tomorrow because the things we tried here in the room didn't work. 
 
A few hours later, Judy (our in China coordinator) called about Parker.  She was concerned that if we waited until Friday to fly to Guangzhou, that we might miss our opportunity to see a doctor because of the weekend.  She wants us to take him to the International Hospital in Guangzhou.  So, we're leaving Nanning tomorrow morning instead of Friday.  That way he has time to be seen somewhere before the weekend.  Vuong has been on the phone all morning trying to get our reservations changed.  Judy also wanted to know if we wanted his visa expedited so we could leave for home sooner.  We decided to wait and see what happens in GZ.  If they can patch him up until we get home, then we want to stay.  But if he has to stay in the hospital or get anymore of those scary 'infusions', then we'll try to leave sooner. 
 
Today, we've spent the day in our room.  We're not sure if Parker is just getting comfy with us, if the medicines he took yesterday at the hospital are having an effect on him, if he's tired, or a combination of all three, but he is being a little stinker at times.  He has hit me twice (only on the arm) because I wouldn't do what he wanted me to do.  He and Vuong had a knock down drag out because Parker threw his cars on the floor (from on the bed) and was commanding Vuong to get them.  I've been using some Baby Signs with Parker.  So far, he knows "more", "please", and  "thank you".  When he commanding Vuong to get his cars, Vuoung was asking him to say please.  He threw quite a fit, as well as a book and he tried to throw the blankets on the bed, before we ignored him and he settled down.  I asked him to say please to Vuong and he did, and then Vuong got his cars.  He's been like that all day so I'm not sure what's going on.  He's taking a nap right now so we're hoping for a better afternoon once he gets up!
 
Vuong ran out to get some lunch.  We can't get the card reader to transfer the pictures to the computer for some reason.  Vuong is going to play around with it when he get's back. 
 
So, so, so sorry for the lack of pictures!
Steph

Day 5: One CrAzY Day!

Hello Friends and Family,
 
This morning we got up early, not by choice, but because Parker was coughing and wheezing all night.  In addtion to that, he was thrashing around and being new parents, we had to check on him every time.  We met Mary in the lobby at 8:40 am and went back to the Civil Affairs Office for our interviews and then to the Notary for more interviews.  Once we finished there, we headed over to the largest hospital in the Guangxi Province.  When we got there, we found out that they weren't taking any other pediatric patients until the afternoon, so Mary said we could go to the Nanning Hospital instead.  She said she liked this hospital better anyway because she'd been there as a child. 
 
Let me just preface this story by saying, don't ever complain about what kind of medical care we get at home.  Even if we have to pay higher premiums or copays, at least it's clean and safe and you don't feel like you need a hot shower once you get home.
 
We got to the hospital and Mary spoke with the ladies at the desk to tell them why we were there.  It was 4 yuan or $.80 to see the doctor.  We went upstairs to a hallway waiting area to wait to see the doctor.  The walls were lined with colored plastic chairs and almost all of them were full of parents and children.  There were rooms with doctors down the hallway.  One side of the hall opened up to a larger room where lots and lots of children were watching cartoons on a black and white tv while waiting for their IV's to finish.  It was so sad. They had bars across the top of the ceiling with hooks to hang the IV's and several rows of the same plastic chairs from the hallway.  Vuong and I were trying not to stare, but it was hard.  Most kids had the IV's in their hands with a cardboard box taped to it to keep it in place.  The babies had the IV's in their foreheads.  It was extremely noisey-- kids were crying and screaming when they got their IV's, some kids were running around, and the tv was really loud.  A lady was holding a baby wearing some split crotch pants.  The baby started to pee on the floor and nobody even noticed.  They just moved the baby so that the pee wouldn't get on them.  No one cleaned it up.  Nothing.  Which does explain why the hospital smelled like an animal shelter.  The floors were very, very dirty with crud in the corners.  I kept thinking I didn't want my baby to have to be treated here, but then I remembered, he's always been treated some place like this.  It made me feel so sad for the people who only have that kind of place to recieve treatment.
 
We waited for the doctor for about half an hour.  Then we were called into a little room with one doctor and lots of people standing around waiting for their turn.  They had all the kids medical record books lined up on the doctors desk, so people that were next or pretty close to next just waited there.  Vuong sat down with Parker on his lap and the doctor listened to his lungs and checked his throat.  He said, through Mary, that Parker has severe bronchitis.  He sent us to get some blood work done before he could decide what his treatment would be.  We walked back downstairs to an area outside with windows to pay.  We payed for his blood work, then took the receipt to the 'lab' which is also outside.  Parker had to put his little hand underneath a half piece of plexi glass that made a window.  The lab guy was behind the window.  It was very odd and impersonal.  He pricked Parker's finger and got a sample.  Parker never even cried.  Then we sat and waited for the results which was about 30 minutes.  While waiting we saw a man who had some kind of head injury walking around with a huge piece of gauze taped to the back of his head (right on his hair) and a big blood stain on it.  We also saw a lady who was carrying a little cup with a yellowy swab in it and trying to show or tell the nurse something.  It was bizzare.
 
Finally his blood work was finished and we went back up to the doctors area.  We showed him the blood work and he told Mary his treatment.  Vuong and Mary went back downstairs to pay for the treatment while Parker and I waited upstairs.  Once they came back, Mary showed the nurse who would be giving him his treatment.  It was then that we realized that the medicine that Parker would be getting would be through what she called 'a transfusion'.  That meant that he was going to have to be hooked up to an IV.  We noticed that there was also another room behind the first with a TV and places to hang an IV.  We waited in that room for awhile before they called his name.  We went up to an old table covered in plastic with medical supplies lying all around.  Parker kept pointing to all the trash on the floor under the table.  He was saying something in Chinese, probably something not so nice, so I had to distract him from the trash.  They finally called us up to the table and I sat down with him on my lap.  There was another person next to me at this table which was maybe 3 1/2 to 4 feet long.  There was also another table of the same size to my right with 2 children also getting their IV's.  The nurse put an elastic band on Parker's lower arm to find a vein in his hand.  To backtrack for a second, I've noticed that he had lots of little holes on his hand but couldn't figure out where they came from.  I think it might be from IV's which makes me sad that he's already had so many!  Anyway, as soon as she put the band on his arm, he started to cry, silently of course, some huge crocodile tears.  I kept kissing him and telling him he would feel better soon.  The nurse got his IV in and he really started to cry, outloud!  She gruffly told him something and he stopped.  :o( 
 
We went to the chair to watch tv.  I held him as he watched some cartoons.  His personality is really starting to come out.  He apparently likes to have his head  and neck scratched.  So he started telling me in Chinese very sassy like and pointing to his head.  Of course, I did it!  And then he wouldn't let me stop.  Every time I had to take a break because my fingers felt like they were going to be stuck in the form of permanent claws, he would say it again and point.  Funny guy!  During this time, Mary and Vuong had gone down to the pharmacy to get his meds.  I'm not sure what they are, but Mary wrote the directions in English.  Once liquid that he's supposed to take 5 ounces of 3 times a day.  And two different kinds of pills we're supposed to deslove in water.  About 20 minutes later, his IV was empty so we were able to move to the next treatment.  Mary kept talking about a spray for his throat.  It ended up being a breathing treatment.  By this time, he was wiped out.  He fell asleep in Vuong's arms during the 10 minutes he was hooked up. 
 
We finally got home at 2:30, which was about 3 1/2 hours after we got there.  It was a long day!  We came home and had some lunch and then all took a nap.  Parker was coughing a lot when he got up, but I think it's because he'd been lying down.  He didn't seem to cough as much this evening, although he still has a very loud wheeze and rumble when he breathes. 
 
We have to go back to the hospital at 8am for the next 2 days for the same treatment.  It probably won't take as long this time because we don't have to do all the blood work and running around.  If he's not better by the time we get to Guangzhou, we'll have to continue his treatment there. 
 
And that was my day!  What did YOU do today?
 
I'll post more pictures tomorrow.  I think I'm going to have to post one at a time because the internet is so slow that it times out before it can upload.  Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging! 
 
Love to all!
Steph

Monday, November 22, 2010

"The Harmonius Period"

Yesterday, after we got back to the room, we finished up some paperwork for Mary.  Part of the paperwork was for the first twenty four hours called "The Harmonious Period".  During this time, even though Parker isn't ours yet, we promised to take care of him.  When we meet at the Civil Affairs Office today, we will tell them if we will keep him or not.  Let me tell you about our first twenty four hours before I tell you what we've decided and why.
 
This boy is a dream come true.  He is so easy going and still hasn't shed a tear (except for the bath part).  He has bonded to both Vuong and I equally and enjoys being with both of us.  Yesterday, after Parker's nap, we took a walk down to the area with the restaurants to find something for dinner.  Vuong carried him in the Ergo baby carrier and he was snuggling on Vuong and smiling.  Once we found where we would eat dinner, Vuong wanted Parker to sit with me (he said he was scared to have him on his side of the table because he didn't know what to do.)  I helped Vuong out by making Parker sit WITH him AND feed him.  We ordered Parker some wonton soup and although we were told he can feed himself, Vuong enjoyed feeding him with the chopsticks and the soup spoon.  He was a very well behaved boy.  He was saying things in Chinese and talking to us, but we have no idea what he was saying.  We're hoping it's not, "See my rich new American parents!" (hehehe, that's a true story, by the way!)
 
After dinner, we went to the mall to try to find some jeans that would fit him.  Sadly, after having at least 10 of the department store employees trying to help us find his size in jeans, we decided he would just have to grow into the 24 month jeans he has on.  Then we walked over to Walmart to get some water.  We also got Parker some new shoes because the ones he came in, although they DID fit, looked more like slippers.  We decided to try to find him some medicine, which was a scary experience.  After the help of several people, I finally found some with English directions that said it was for cough due to colds, flu, or upper respitory infections.  We decided to get it because he was really coughing a lot by then.
 
We came back to the room and got Parker ready for bed.  By this time, he was wheezing pretty badly.  His breathing was quite labored and we decided that today we would either have a doctor come to the room or that we would take our chances at the hospital emergency room.  I sat in the chair again and gave him a sippy cup with water.  The tip is shaped like a bottle nipple, and as soon as he started drinking, his eyes immediately started to close.  I held him that way for quite awhile and he fell asleep.  He stayed asleep even after I wrestled that nipple from between his clenched teeth!  He slept in our bed between us and slept all night.  He's a dreamer like his mommy and talked and made sounds all night.  He did cough a lot too, which kept both us up.  For those of you that know me, I don't EVER get up this early unless I have to!  :o)
 
Soooooooo, our decision is.....(drumroll, please)
 
We're keeping him!  I know, I know.... Like you thought we'd say anything else.  He's just perfect and I can't wait for you all to meet him!  Prepare to fall in love!  We did!
 
Gotta go so I can get ready to meet Mary.  We're also going to try to brush Parker's teeth today although I'm pretty sure a soft bristled brush is NOT going to do the trick.  Maybe something with a power cord would be more like it!
 
Happy day to you all!
Steph


 



And A Few More



Day 4: Gotcha Day! (Part 2)



Mary came to get us right at 2:30 pm and we rode over to the other hotel where the Civil Affairs Office is.  I was feeling a little nervous, but honestly the whole experience was surreal.  We took some pictures of the building outside and then went upstairs to where we would meet Parker.
 
When we walked into the room, there a few Chinese ladies and one baby girl waiting on the sofas.  We sat down to wait and took a few pictures of the room.  Then a few other American families came in.  They knew each other already because they're staying at the same hotel, which isn't the hotel we're at.  I offered to take a few pictures of them when they met their kids because Mary said that Parker wasn't there yet.  As I was taking pictures of a family meeting their 10 year old daughter, I heard Vuong say, "Honey, he's here" at which point I hurriedly gave them back their camera to look for Parker.  And there he was!  He was wearing the lavender sweater we've seen in so many pictures, along with many other layers, which I will tell you about later.
 
I gave my letter to a lady and then she said I could pick him up.  When he saw us, he smiled.  Right away.  He was babbling something in Chinese and pointing and smiling.  I reached down to take his little hand and he gave it to me right away and smiled again.  By this time, I was dying to pick him up.  So I asked him if I could pick him up and he smiled again.  I took it as a good sign.  When I started to pick him up, he raised his arms as if to say it was ok.  The entire time he smiled and talked and was so happy.  I held him for a few minutes until he saw the little rocking toys in the middle of the room and then he wanted me to put him on them.  Vuong was recording during all of this so I decided it was time for him to meet his son and we traded places.
 
Vuong got on the other rocking toy and was talking to Parker and they were both rocking and laughing.  I recorded for a bit and then I was able to ask the people who brought Parker some questions about him.  Some of the questions I asked were:
 
Q. How does he let us know he needs to go potty? 
A. He says baba for poop and nao nao for pee. 
So far he hasn't gone to the bathroom so we put a pull up on him.
 
Q. What time does he go to bed?
A. He goes to be around 11:30.  (OO <~~  That would be my eyes bugging, which I know they really did as I was writing it down)
He also takes a nap from 12:30-2:00.  He had a big day today so he's sleeping a bit now.  He also sleeps in his own bed which is a nice bonus. 
 
Q. Does he have any food allergies?
A. Not that they have discovered. 
He drinks milk and eats meat.  Also, he is not a picky eater and he feeds himself.
 
He likes music and to dance.  He is always easy going and happy.  His foster family was sad when he left this morning, but they didn't cry in front of him so as not to upset him. 
 
We came back to the hotel and finished up some paperwork with Mary.  I went first while Vuong and Parker played with the stacking cups on the chair.  Then it was Vuong's turn to sign and I played cars with him.
 
Once Mary left, we decided it was time to check this kid out.  He came to us somewhat dirty.  Not filthy, but not clean.  We took 4 shirt off of him.  (One lavender sweater, one green striped sweater, one pink v-neck sweater, and a little cotton long sleeved undershirt, which was damp with sweat.)  And for the bottoms, he had on a pair of padded pants, a pair of sweater type pants and a pair of cotton pants that were similar to the undershirt.  All of the pants were split crotch.  Once we got his stirpped down, he started to get nervous and cry.  He wanted to put his coat on.  It's the yellow coat you've seen in all his pictures.  I had already filled the tub with warm water and put the toys in it so it would be ready to go.  I took him into the bathroom and tried to put him in the tub.  He didn't like it at all and kept curling his legs up so they wouldn't get wet.  He didn't cry outloud which made me so sad.  He just tried to keep it in and I didn't even realize he was crying until I turned him around.  Vuong, being the devoted Daddy that he is, put on his swim trunks and got in with him.  Parker didn't really enjoy his bath, but he didn't cry anymore.  Vuong washed him and I took over for the 'special' parts.  Then we got him out and dressed.  For all you Pitner teachers who told me that he looked WAY bigger than 18-24 months clothes, just know that the 24 month pants aren't even touching his body at the waist and that's with a pull up on!  The size 2 shirt is HUGE on him and hangs almost to his knees.  So, tonight we're going to next door to the mall to see if we can find him some pants that fit.  The shirts will be ok, but those pants are just sad!
 
After he was dressed, I filled a sippy cup with water and we sat on the chaise lounge chair in our room.  I snuggled him down like a baby and he sucked on the cup until he fell asleep.  I held him for a long time and just kept thinking about how all of this didn't feel real.  I can't seem to get myself to believe that he really is here!  The only time he has cried or even been upset was during the bath part.  Other than that, he's just so easy going!  I'm prepared for him to fall apart in a few days once he realizes this isn't just a temporary thing.  But I'm so thankful the transition was easy. 
 
He has a cough and a pretty good wheeze going on.  Our hotel doesn't have a doctor and our next option was the emergency room.  We didn't feel like he was sick enough for the ER so we've decided to wait until we get to Guangzhou to see a doctor.  We've been given all kinds of 'remedies' by both Mary and the ladies at the hotel desk.  We can give him some ginger tea and he will begin to sweat and then his cough will be gone.  The hotel lady will make it free of charge if we want.  Or we can just give him some warm water.  He will begin sweating at midnight and will sweat for awhile.  We will have to change his clothes a few times, but once he wakes up in the morning, he'll be fine.  Hmmmm...  I think we've decided to just watch and wait and see.  Seems like the safest bet to me. 
 
He's also going to need to see the dentist once we get home.  His poor little teeth look like some corn on the cob, they're so yellow.  All of them.  I mean Every. Single. One.  Poor kiddo.  Hopefully his big boy teeth will be ok under all that crud.  :o(
 
Well, I think these guys have been sleeping long enough.  I'm going to wake them so we can go out for a bit.  Thank you so much for all your prayers during this.  God really did protect his little heart today.  We are so grateful for that!
 
I'm sending the pictures in another post because they're taking HOURS to load on the email!
Steph

Day 4: Gotcha Day (Part 1)

Vuong woke up sick today.  He promises me that he did NOT eat anything from the street vendors here.  I'm not sure if I believe him.  He's had tummy troubles all night and then today.  I finally convinced him to take some Imodium so hopefully he'll feel better soon.  He's trying to rest right now and we wait for 2:30pm, when we'll meet Mary in the lobby to take the short ride to the other hotel where we will meet Parker.  She told us yesteday that he would be coming by car and that his trip would be about 5 hours.  Poor kid.  We're expecting a grouchy baby, for sure.  She also said that our time at the hotel, which will also double as the Civil Affairs Office, would most likely be 30 minutes to an hour.  That's good because we've heard that place is H-O-T!
 
Speaking of hot, on our van ride from the airport to the hotel yesterday, the air wasn't on and only the drivers window was cracked.  Vuong and I thought we were going to roast in the back seat.  Our driver and Mary both had on jackets, too.  She told us that we would need to keep him in long sleeves (even throught temperature outside is in the high 70's) so that he doesn't catch cold.  We just thinking about how he will freeze to death this winter as our heat is at 68 degrees during the day and 62 degrees at night!  So, we're expecting a bundled up kid when he gets here. 
 
We went for a walk to Walmart today which other than the sign, doesn't seem anything like a Walmart.  Somehow during our packing, both pairs of Parker's swimming shorts are missing.  :o(  We don't know where they are so we're not sure if we'll get to take him to the hotel pool while were here. Walmart has all winter and I mean winter clothes out now.  No clearance racks anywhere.  Oh, and also no air conditioning.  Everyone was bundled up.  They probably thing we're crazy with our short sleeves on!  So, we didn't find any swimming shorts for him.  Vuong says he can just swim in his underwear, but then I get this horrible vision of us looking like some white trash foreigners!  We'll have to see...
 
We had some lunch at a Vietnamese place near our hotel.  We both had soup so hopefully that will make Vuong feel better.  We also walked through the mall which is behind our hotel.  We're not going to buy anything because we can't afford to!  It's all super, duper expensive stores, which is interesting to me that people that live here could afford to buy it either.  I don't know who buys it, but it must be enough people to keep them in business. 
 
Now we're just lounging in our swanky Marriot hotel room.  It's very, very nice!  (Hey Jenni, this place makes the Marriot in Savannah seem like a Super 8 Motel!  No kidding!  AND it's only $100 a night!  Wowee!)  We have about an hour and 10 minutes before we need to meet Mary.  I can't wait!  I'm nervous, excited, scared, and worried all at the same time.  But I know it's going to be good.  I can't wait to see that baby in person!  Yes, it's going to be good!
 
I'm going to rest a bit and get myself ready for the big moment!  I'll update again in a few hours! 
 
Thanks for reading!
Love you guys!
Steph

Day 3: Travel from Hong Kong to Nanning

Hello Friends and Family,
 
We woke up at the crack of dawn, (actually it was earlier than the crack of dawn) not by choice, but because we had gone to bed very early the night before and then were too excited to sleep any more.  We ate breakfast at the hotel, which I forgot to tell you about in my earlier posts.  Breakfast was interesting.  There was the usual pancakes, which were cold, gray sausage links, scrambled eggs, and ham.  But the ham was sliced paper thin and was floating in water.  Yeah, not so appetizing.  There was also hard boiled eggs, carrot balls, fish shu mai, congee, and baked beans.  And I can't forget to mention the salad (real salad), cheese and crackers, tuna salad (eeek!), and watermelon and dragon fruit.  Oh, and there were a few breads, like sliced bread, rolls, and croissants.  I had lots of cold pancakes and croissants, as well as watermelon. 
 
Ok, back to my original post.  After we had breakfast, we took a cab to the Hung Hom train station in Kowloon, which is part of Hong Kong.  We were early for our 8:18 am train to Guangzhou, so we just spent some time resting and waiting and people watching.  We boarded our train and Vuong promptly passed out and slept for almost the entire 2 hour ride.  I spent my time looking out the window and wondering about all the people I saw.  Riding through Hong Kong was pretty much the same as it had been while we were out and about, but as we got further away from the train station, I started to see lots and lots and lots of makeshift homes that were made with lumber, pieces of scrap wood and metal, and tarps.  It was very sad.  At first, these 'homes' were just nestled in the brush and trees between the train tracks and the roads.  But as we travelled further, they because almost like little neighborhoods where there were a few 'homes' and then large gardens of fruits and vegetables planted in the front.  There wasn't much countryside because the highrise apartment buildings with the laundry hanging out were all along the trip from Hong Kong to Guangzhou.  While passing through Sechzuen, we saw some fairly new and nice highrise apartments.  The one thing I noticed was that no matter how nice or old the buidlings were, everyone had their laundry hanging out.  Some buildings had so much laundry hanging out that it looked like some kinds of small flags all over it.  It was really beautiful and sad at the same time.
 
We got to Guangzhou and through immigration.  Then I decided to I should probably use the bathroom since I had no idea how long it was going to take us to get to the airport.  And there, with my own two eyes, I encountered my first real 'squatty potty'.  I really had to use the bathroom and I really kept thinking, this is no big deal.  It's just like going in the woods when you're camping.  I can do this, I can do this.  However, sometimes the best laid plans just don't work out.  My first inkling that maybe this was going to be harder than it looked was when I stepped into the stall and the floor and all the area around the potty was soaked.  It's just water, it's just water, I kept telling myself.  I squeaked my way in with my Crocs on and decided it was now or never.  Besides, what's a vacation without an adventure, right?  Right!  So, I got my clothes all situated so that they did't get messed up and went for it.  Unfortunately, I learned exactly WHY the floor was so wet.  Ewwwwww!  The good news is, most of it went in the toilet and NONE of it went on my clothes.  Whew!  I'm going to be ok if I don't have use another one of those on my trip! 

We went outside and met our guide, John.  He took us to the parking lot where our driver was waiting.  It took about 45 minutes to get from the train station to the airport.  John took us in, got us checked in, and then we went downstairs for a bite to eat.  The line for aiport security wasn't long at all.  We had heard it might be because of the Asian Games that are going on right now.  We made it to our gate, onto our plane, and to Nanning without any trouble. 
 
Once we got to Nanning, the scenenry changed.  The entire airport and all of the buildings were kind of a cream color and looked very much like some kind of a military base.  There were what looked like barracks around the runways and there was barbed wire fence all around the perimeter.  When our plane landed, we walked down the stairs to the runway, and then got on a bus that took us to the airport building.  It was extremely hazy and warm and the sky was very gray and brown.  There was no sign of the sun.  We met our guide, Mary, who was waiting for us.  We followed her to the parking lot where we met our driver and started our one hour drive to our hotel.  The airport is way out from 'town' and there were lots of mountains and trees on the way to Nanning.  During our drive, Mary shared some information on what to expect when we meet Parker. We are so ready to get him!  Once we got closer to town, we started to see buildings and TONS of people on bicycle scooters.  I even saw a whole family on one scooter.  It's very dirty here.  The roads are covered with a fine brown dust and so are all of the cars and scooters.  It's very depressing. 
 
We are turning in early because we were both exhausted from the day of travel.  We are looking forward to tomorrow and meeting Parker for the first time. We're expecting the worst case scenario when we meet him so everything else will just be a plus!
 
Looking forward to sharing more tomorrow!
Steph