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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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pictures!

Here is the grandmother and her precious granddaughter and dog. Can you see how she's fussing or telling someone what to do?
Here is the Jumbo floating restaurant.

And here's a close up of a ferry dropping off some people for dinner.

Here is another floating restaurant AND where she picked up her friend.

Some of the Chinese Junks


And a few more.

And even more.

Some guys repairing their nets

A bird in a cage.  (Or just a bird.)
Vuong wanted to visit the bird park which is similar to a dog park.  It's a place to take your birds to let them socialize with other birds.  We didn't make it there.  This was down by the boat ride.

Here is the inside of our boat.

And the outside.

This is a cemetery we say.  There was another one that was carved out on a hill but the bus was going to fast to take a picture.  This one will have to do.

The China Sea

S
A very cool boat

Some homes in Stanley

Part of Stanley Market.  It goes down the street and then under ground. 

More China Sea
And that's it for tonight.  I'll post touring Day 1 pictures next time.  I thought they were on this flash drive but I can't find them!

Day 2: Touring in Hong Kong AND Wearing the Same Pants As Yesterday

Today, we finished up our touring of Hong Kong.  After taking the train to the station to buy tickets for our trip tomorrow from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, we caught the tour bus and headed for the Aberdeen area.  I had read in the Frommer's book that there were lots of fishing boats and floating restaurants here.  What I guess I missed was the part about taking a tour in a Sampan with a little old woman who will vie for your business to keep you from riding in another boat.  This was part of our tour package so we just got on the first one they hustled us to.  More than once, I feared for my safety.  The lady was older and had her granddaughter who was maybe 4 and her older granddaughter who was about 12, along with her dog on board with her.  Getting on the boat was scary.  There really wasn't a dock so she just pulled the boat up to the stairs and we climbed on. She was revving up that engine and kept in gear so that it would stay up against the stairs while we all hastily scurried on.  That was my first red flag.  The second red flag was the way she was yelling or what seemed like yelling to her friends (?) in other boats.  Really loud yelling.  I told Vuong he needed to get the video camera out because there was no way we could really retell this adventure without proof.  The third red flag was that she was incredibly distracted throughout the part of the ride that she navigated.  I was pretty sure we were going to run into something or someone because she was very busy talking to her friend, whom she picked up at some random location.  Maybe it was supposed to be on our tour, but I'm not sure.  And then, we stopped at another stop so she, her grandchildren, and the dog could get off and her friend finished up the tour.  Weird.  Anyway, back to the tour.

This place was so interesting.  We saw the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.  Vuong said he ate there the last time he was in HK, so we passed.  But it was cool.  I'll post a picture in my next post, which will be right after this one.  (Are you happy, Donna?)  There were also tons of Chinese Junks where people lived on the water.  Back in the day, it was not uncommon for someone to be born, live, marry, and die on the boats without ever setting foot on land.  But today, most young people leave the boats for an education and career.  All of these boats were very old and raggedy looking.  They had lots of make shift things about them.  And the ironic thing is that they were floating all around these HUGE and I'm sure expensive yachts. 

After our adventure in Aberdeen, we got back on the bus for a tour of the Stanley Peninsula.  The houses here are the second most expensive real estate in HK, with the exception of the homes on Victoria Peak.  We saw some spectacular views of the China Sea, which is beautiful.  We also saw some beaches and gigantic homes.  We got off the bus at the Stanley Market and kind of poked around there for a while.  We also ate an outdoor cafe right across the street from the beach and it was great.  I loved every minute of it.  

Once we got back onto the bus and back to our original starting point, we headed back to the hotel.  Currently, Vuong is in the room repacking us for tomorrow while I scratch out this post for all you guys back home.  Tomorrow, we're catching a cab to take us to the train station.  From there, we'll go to Guangzhou and then catch a plane to Nanning.  I told Vuong I would like tomorrow to be a very down day.  I want to relax and rest and get myself collected before Monday, which is our Gotcha Day.  When I spoke with Judy, our in China coordinator, she said that Parker is excited about being adopted.  Now, I don't know if she says that to everyone, but we did feel good to hear that.  Of course, we are still prepared and expecting a show down once we meet him on Monday.  Hopefully, the M&M's and matchbox cars will help him warm up a little sooner.

Following this post, I'm going to do a picture dump.  I'll do my best to tell you about each one, but we'll see.  I'm tired and I've got about 300 pictures so far that I need to decide which ones to post.  

Oh, if you were wondering about the second part of my post title, let me explain.  In an effort to pack light, we only brought 4 pairs of pants/shorts.  Today, I did something that really I've only done once or twice.  I wore the same pair of pants again today.  Now, I'm sure there are TONS of you guys who do that all the time, but I NEVER do.  It just grosses me out too much.  But today I did it and I survived.  The scarier thing was going to a bathroom and not realizing there was no toilet paper until AFTER I'd gone to the bathroom.  (Actually, there was paper but you had to get it by the door before you went to the stall).  Now that was scary!

More adventures tomorrow, I promise!

Only 2 more sleeps, you guys! I can't believe it!
Steph

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 1: Touring Hong Kong

Good Evening (and yes, I'm saying that like Dracula),

We just got home from a day of touring Hong Kong.  Vuong initially wanted to do it on his own.  I kept begging for an orgainzed tour after we wandered here and there and everywhere looking for a bus stop.  As luck would have it, we made it by bus to the long line for the tram to the top of Victoria Peak.  We must have looked like lost tourists, because a girl from a touring company approached us and asked if we'd like to buy the tour.  Which we did.  So, although we still did a bit of wandering, at least we knew where we were and where we were trying to go. 

Our day started with a walk through Victoria Park.  It was nice and cool, but of course super humid as you will see in my pictures later.  (I know, I know!  I'm in the business center of the hotel while Vuong is out trying to find something to eat.  He says it's going to be from a street vendor.  All I hope is that he makes it!)  Anyway, we saw lots of elderly people in wheelchairs enjoying the day outside.  There also some people doing Tai Chi which was interesting.  We (finally) found the bus and made it to Victoria Peak.  After we paid for our tour, we rode the tram to the top.  It was great!  Once at the top, we meandered around through the mall and shops at the top as well as enjoyed taking lots of pictures of the panoramic view from the top.  It was hazy today so my pictures of the bay and buildings across the harbor at Kowloon aren't so great.  Such is life. 

After we took the tram down, we got on the double decker bus to start our tour.  It was so nice to just sit and listen to the history of Hong Kong on the little headphones they gave us.  We saw all kinds of stuff and took lots of pictures along the way.

Then we ventured onto the Star Ferry, which I'm sure is safe, but seemed a little rickety shakes.  It was only a passenger ferry so there only people and no cars.  It was full.  After clinging to the side for my dear life (and I rode a ferry to and from work daily when I lived in Galveston!) we made it to Kowloon.  We walked to The Peninsula Hotel for tea.  It was ooooh-la-la fancy.  We waited for about an hour for our table, but the experience was worth it.  While sipping (you bet with our pinky fingers up!) our afternoon tea and enjoying our finger sandwiches and pastries, we were serenaded by a quartet.  Very nice. 

From there we got back on the bus for more of the tour, and got off so that we could go to the Ladies Market, the Electronics Street, and the Temple Street Night Market.  The Ladies Market was very crowded and lots of ladies were begging us to let them give us massages.  One lady kept trying to convince me that it would feel good.  After that curled up position I spent on the plane, believe me, ANY kind of massage would feel great, but all I could think about was WHERE would she be giving me this massage?  The street was closed and was lined with makeshift tents stocked with a variety of counterfeit goods.  I didn't see any massage tables, so I can only guess.  We DO still have tomorrow, so maybe my post will be super interesting tomorrow night.  (Or maybe not!)  We walked and walked and walked down the Electronics Street, which was fun.  Lots and lots of phones and computers for sale.  We bought a web cam because we forgot ours.  Finally, we made it to the Temple Street Night Market.  It was in the Frommer's Hong Kong book on the list of things to do.  It was mostly just little trinkets.  A few places had jade and silver.  Most places had toys.  We didn't see anything we could live without.  But then, as Vuong was talking, mid sentence I hear him say, "Uhhhhhhhhhh, ok?"  I looked to my right and all I can say is that this woman's booth would have put the Pure Romance lady outta business.  Right there, out in the middle of the street for kids to see and touch.  Vuong wanted to ask if she really made a living selling that stuff.  I told him it was possible, just ask Michele French!  That's probably the funniest thing that's happened so far unless you count the time this morning when Vuong wanted to ask for directions, so he said, "I'm gonna ask this white guy" who was walking toward us.  Then he asked, and the guy never even looked at him.  It was classic. 

So, we're having fun.  It's starting to sink in that we will meet Parker soon.  Soon, as in Monday afternoon, soon.  This place doesn't feel like I thought China would feel.  Maybe because even though it's China-like as in the people, the food, the language, all the signs are still in English.  I'm probably getting spoiled and will be in for a big shock once we get to Nanning on Sunday.  Which will be good, because right now I feel like I'm in a mix of places-- Mexico with all the vendors (both food and goods), New Orleans because of all the old buildings and dirty sidewalks, and on Buford Highway in Georgia because of all the markets and stands.  I'm hoping that China will feel like someplace I have never, ever been.  Who wants to go half way around the world for the first time and feel like you've already been there? 

I forgot to mention that last night, I was extremely excited to get my first stamp in my passport.  Even though my 6 year old niece beat me last summer by visiting London, it was still a huge occassion for me.  :o)

Also, our adventures getting to the hotel last night included planes, trains, and automobiles.  And they drive on the other side of the street here which kind of freaks me out.  I'm just glad I don't have to drive here.  We'd be in bad, bad shape if I did!

I guess that's it for tonight.  I need to hop in the shower.  After walking 514 miles today, I'm definitely due for one.  Flying here, Vuong said it might be a good idea for me to try not to take any showers on this trip.  He only said that because that flight was the longest I've probably ever gone without a shower in my entire life!  I've waited 12 hours today, so it's time!

Good Night All, (Or Good Morning, depending on when you read this!)
Steph