Thursday, May 29, 2008
**The four preschoolers are Ryan and Logan, both 3, plus 2 delightful little girls, ages 5 and 21 months, who spend Wednesday afternoons and Thursdays with us.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Hannah Mei, Logan, and Jack. Hannah is a DARLING little girl whose parents met up with us in Guangzhou. We were using the same agency; Hannah is an NSN girl. Jack is an amazing 5 year old from Logan's orphanage. We traveled with his family from the time we left Beijing to the end of the trip.
Another picture of the children
And our "group" : Dave, Julie, and Hannah Mei; Victoria, Hailey, with Ryan on her shoulders, Emily, Jim, Jennifer, and Logan; and Pete, Jack, and Jess. It was a most delightful travel group--we will miss everyone.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
We've been blessed by friends who have provided delicious meals, and my motion sickness induced vertigo is finally subsiding. Jim's taken the last 2 days off so we've had time to relax and recuperate from the travel. I think by the time Tuesday rolls around we'll all be ready for the "new normal."
Ahhhhh...life is good. :)
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
After sleeping fitfully until 9, I decided to move forward on the day. Ran a few errands, refereed a dozen squabbles, and hung out here. The boys are back in bed for the night, and I'm headed there too. Hopefully tonight is better--I can't do too many like yesterday!!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Now, 5 loads of laundry, 4 showers, a trip to the grocery for some staples and a new pair of shoes for Logan, I am so glad to be here!! Jim and the boys are napping; Emily just went to bed for a bit. I am up after a 2 hour nap, feeling quite a bit better. The girls visited school for lunch but are glad to be home the rest of the day. We have some wonderful friends providing dinner tonight, so I don't have to think at all. Logan's handling all the change very well; eating grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup with gusto and trying new english words every time I hear him. He's going to be a great fit here!
Some thoughts about our trip that I wrote sitting at Narita airport in Tokyo:
Some things I won’t miss:
The horrible stench of the public bathrooms. Every visit with Ryan became a race—could he empty his bladder before his stomach emptied itself?? I think his stomach only won once, but it was not a race any of us enjoyed…
Brushing my teeth with bottled water. There’s something awful about using bottled water to brush your teeth. Somehow, when I was finished, I always felt like my teeth weren’t clean yet.
Feeling dirty, even right after a shower. Washing up in water that smells vaguely of sewer gasses makes it hard to feel clean. Ever.
Humidity. I can’t wait to walk outside and feel like I have at least a few minutes before I’m dripping with sweat…that doesn’t go away. Plus, I don’t really enjoy the “damp” feeling of sheets and clothes when I put them on. And being able to be someplace without continual air conditioning sounds heavenly.
Air you can see. The air has improved since we were here last, but it’s still pretty gross. Visibility was low—probably about ½ mile much of the trip. We had only one clear day the whole time, and it was lovely. The rest of the time you couldn’t see the buildings down the street much less the sky or the sun. Not a fun way to spend 2 weeks.
Eating out. As much as I love to eat out on occasion, 3 meals a day for 2 weeks is a bit much. I’m ready for my own kitchen, and am even excited about going to the grocery store.
Living out of a suitcase, and doing laundry in the bathroom sink. Hotel rooms are great, but they really aren’t designed for long term living with 2 three year olds. I think I’ve decided that my washing machine can be my new best friend. J
Cup of noodles. Because there were 7 of us, we went the “cheap” route and ate cup of noodles from the store every day for lunch. Can’t beat feeding 7 for about $5 or less…but if I NEVER see another cup of noodles it will be fine…
Some things I WILL miss:
Great Chinese food. We had some excellent Chinese food in
The people we traveled with. We had the most incredible travel group in
The opportunity to spend time with
The best of the trip:
Best hotel: Victory Annex,
Best breakfast buffet: Tie between
Best experience: Having the girls and Ryan with us on this trip. I am so thrilled that we were able to bring them. God provided abundantly for all our needs, and we are so grateful. Their help was invaluable and the time with them was irreplaceable.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
It's time to go home. I am definitely ready, and yet this is much more bittersweet than it was with Ryan. Logan is old enough to truly be leaving his life behind...and still, he's headed to something much better. He doesn't know that yet. He thinks we live out of suitcases in hotel rooms and eat cup of noodles every day for lunch! Dinner is in restaurants every night, too. He's in for another big surprise! Fortunately, he's been an awesome flyer, and he is amazingly well behaved. Connie, our guide here, says he speaks very clearly and that he is very bright. It's going to be fun...
It hasn't been the easiest transition, but it hasn't been as difficult as it could have been, either. Ryan has done wonderfully (THANK YOU for your prayers--they were answered in a mighty way!) and the boys are quickly becoming fast friends. Logan has warmed up to Jim and the girls, and tonight we got to send the boys home from dinner with the girls and enjoy a 5 minute walk back to the hotel entirely alone! A slice of heaven, for sure...
I am feeling much better after starting some antibiotics, and thanks to a pharmacist on the trip, Ryan is also on antibiotics for his sinus infection. Both of us should be good to fly. Logan's tummy troubles are much better and he's learned well how to communicate his bathroom needs to us. Everything is set--THANK YOU for praying! Our last prayer request would be for smooth flights--13 + hours of travel with 2 three year olds is enough to wear anyone out. :) But we'll make it. God has been so faithful thus far!
Because China has imposed a 3 day period of mourning in remembrance of the earthquake victims, I cannot access blogspot right now. The mourning includes a complete blockage of all public entertainment and non-Chinese websites. I am posting this through my mom (thanks Mom!) and will post more as soon as we get home and settled. Thanks for your patience--I promise pictures as soon as possible!!
Off to bed--5AM comes early!!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Our flight was uneventful (except for the lovely dancing flight attendants and the in-flight exercise class) and we arrived in Guangzhou to heat and humidity. Drippy humidity--like about 1000% humidity. Or at least that's what it feels like here.... We went immediately to Shamian Island (where our hotel is located) and took Logan for a medical exam and visa picture. THose things must be completed so that we can do our consulate appointment tomorrow morning. THen we checked in to our hotel. It's AWESOME! The rooms are large and lovely, and very comfortable. I think the Victory Annex wins the award for best hotel on this trip. :) We're very happy here. When we adopted Ryan, we didn't stay on Shamian Island, which is where most adoptive families stay. We really didn't visit the island at all, except for the medical exam and visa picture. We missed out!! This place is amazing. We are loving it here. Not so much that we want to stick around longer, but it's definitely a great place. Our guide is awesome too, and very competent. Connie won the girls' hearts right away when she offered to take them (and the rest of us, too) shopping tomorrow afternoon. Can you feel the excitement?? It's flowing in the room next door...
Today we visited the wildlife safari. It was fun, and Logan loved it! Connie said he speaks very clearly and is obviously quite intelligent, given his very inquisitive nature. She was impressed. After the last day or two, that was such a treat to hear! Today was a much better day overall for him, too. He's finally put together that the signs we've been trying to teach him actually mean something, and he's begun using them correctly. He took a ride on Daddy's shoulders and did well. He played on the playground with Daddy and Ryan and didn't flip out that I wasn't there. He rode on Hailey's shoulders adn let the girls swing him around while we walked. Those are huge steps forward. He still gets very whiny if he can't have exactly what he wants from me immediately, but progress is being made. It's much easier to like him when he's not screaming all the time... :)
Last night we had a treat, too. A gal from Portland, Oregon, who is waiting for her referral from China using the same agency we used for Ryan was in Guangzhou on business. Kelli and I have emailed back and forth over the last few months, and she came by to visit yesterday afternoon! That was such fun!! I loved meeting her and visiting with her, and I think she had fun too. She got to see our crew in action, and maybe decided that 5 children is a bit much. :) I'm glad she came by and will definitely look her up the next time we head south. And she'd better email when she's up our direction, too!
No pics tonight--the connection is slower than dirt--but I do have a couple of prayer requests for you. I have a sinus infection, probably from the combination of being sick when I left, the air pollution, and the constant air conditioning. I started taking Zithromax today, so hopefully I'll feel better before we fly home. Prayers appreciated that way! Ryan's feeling quite crummy too; probably the same thing. I don't have antibiotics for him, so pray that we can find something to help him get better before we get on the plane. I have some options, but so far I'm striking out... Also, Logan's had some tummy issues, and because communication isn't the greatest we've ended up with some real messes. I think learning and understanding the sign for "potty" will help tremendously! In the meantime, pray that we'll have an "eventless" remaining few days and flight home. I can think of few things worse that a child with diarrhea on an airplane for 13 hours... Plus, we don't have the clean clothes for that!!
Thanks for the notes and the prayers. We'll post again a few times, I'm sure, before we head home on Wednesday. And I promise loads of pics once we get home and can use the computer there. It'll be so much quicker. Thanks for your patience!
And one last thing: HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEC! SPECIAL WISHES COMING YOUR WAY FROM CHINA! LOVE YOU BUNCHES.
Friday, May 16, 2008
All that is not to say that the trip has been without issues with them. It hasn't. There have been meltdowns over homework. There have been tears over the perpetual stares our group of 7 garners every time we go out. There has been the typical teenage sister frustration on occasion, but overall the girls have been incredible. I am so grateful that we made this work. Without them along, I would be very torn with missing them. But they're here and we are having a ball. My only regret tonight? That Brent is not with us too. He is greatly MISSED!! But the fun thing is that he'll be HOME for the weekend after we get home. I can't wait!!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Anyway, after we were done, we decided to get lunch since it was about 12:30 and the boys were very hungry. So were the dads! Off we walked to the bus. Once on board, it seemed that we stopped at every gas station on the road. Finally we ended up at this great Chinese restaurant with an excellent lunch. Ryan was exhausted and slept through lunch, but the rest of us enjoyed delicious food: lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, an excellent beef dish, broccoli, a celery based vegetable dish, noodle soup, and rice. Yummy!! It's fun to watch our girls eat so well--and so adventurously!--with chopsticks. After lunch and a trip to the restroom (ALWAYS an adventure in China) we got back on teh bus. That's when the day took an interesting turn...
On the way to the Grottoes, a belt started squealing and making "interesting" noises. When it was time to head home, this belt basically said, "No way!" So...off we go to find an auto repair shop. Once there, we all trooped off the bus into the lounge area (thankfully air-conditioned) and sat around for an hour while the mechanics replaced the very frayed belt from the bus. Once done, we reboarded the bus and headed back to Zhengzhou. By now, though, everyone is hot and tired and starting to get grumpy. Some napped, and that helped. By the time we arrived back at the hotel--about 6:15 pm--we were laughing hard from the combination of funny jokes and exhaustion. Today, it doesn't seem like a very wonderful day but I know that it's one of those we'll all remember forever....
Logan's doing amazingly well, all things considered. He eats like a champ and sleeps like no Kassebaum ever has (well, except Hailey!) He's resigned himself to the fact that we're NOT going away, and he even lets Jim do things for him once in a while. But today both Jim and I hit the wall. I cannot even go to the bathroom without fussing and pounding on the bathroom door. Usually I find it humorous because he'll let Jim take him to the bathroom, and he's okay playing in the tub if I'm not right there in front of him, but today it was part of what pushed me to the wall. The combination of Logan pinching me and slapping me for my attention on the bus and the guide's providing him with treats every time he cries sent me to the edge. I bit my tongue with the guide--she's only trying to help--but her "help" is making things more difficult. She frequently gives me parenting advice and has let me know more than once that I'm not doing a good job because Logan has a drippy nose. Plus, I let him drink COLD water! That's nearly unforgiveable here (which I know, but don't really care about) and she is CONVINCED that he's sick because I'm not giving him warm/hot water.
On a positive note, we saw some great things in Logan today. He's very inquisitve, asking the guide great questions about the carvings and truly wanting to know. We looked through his picture book on the way home and discovered we have another "Daddy's boy" in the making--he LOVED the tools page in the book! He knew "saw" and "hammer" and quickly figured out "screwdriver" and "ladder." His eyes lit up when I told him that Daddy had those tools at home and that when he gets bigger he can use them just like Daddy. He's trying hard to speak English, adn we're getting a few new words every day.
And now I"m off to bed. It's been a long day, and I'm beyond tired. Mentally and emotionally I'm spent. A good night's sleep ought to help...
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
And yet, as I watch the construction here, the basic daily maintenance, the things like street sweeping and basic paperwork, I wonder how it is China is where it is. For an American, so much seems totally backwards!! We watched on Monday as 8 or 10 workers dug--with shovels!--a huge hole in the street so they could repair some broken pipes. Once the hole was dug, they proceeded to slide bricks down a bamboo ramp into the hole and hand-set each brick in the hole to support the new pipes. They built a cage-like structure out of the bricks, then refilled the hole, again by hand. (Yes, we were at the building several times over the course of the day!) It was so strange. The streets are swept by individuals using straw brooms and makeshift dustpans... Construction seems haphazard at best, with no apparent plan, and generally involves much hand labor rather than machines. We watched a woman in patent leather dress shoes digging a trench for a water pipe--by hand with a pick-axe and trowel. It seems so crazy! As China continues to become a world power, much of what they do seems stuck in the 19th century. And nowhere is there safe tap water! The amount of bottled water used in this country must be staggering! I know that for our family of 7 we go through significant amounts of bottled water...for everything from drinking to brushing teeth. To my (uneducated!) mind, it only seems appropriate that having safe clean drinking water readily available at the tap should be a priority. But...what do I know? Just don't get me started on bathrooms and sewers!
And our adoption paperwork processing...OY!! Let's just say that yesterday's 6 hour adventure would have been handled in the US in about 20 minutes. It was a horrible day of "hurry up and wait" for what seems so straightforward and simple. It's not wrong, and I truly am not complaining, but I simply don't understand why it is so difficult. Furthermore, I probably never will. :)
Like I said at the beginning, I have LOVED both our visits to China. I will return at least one more time: when the boys are old enough to appreciate a visit but still young enough to enjoy a long time with Mom and Dad. Jim has been here for business, and there's a (very slight) possibility that we could spend some time here while he worked for Boeing in China. I would love that! Even so, I know that I will never understand the way this country works. That's okay. But I can say for certain that our two visits have fostered a new appreciation for just how fortunate I am to live in America. I would live in China for a time, but I would be hard-pressed to consider living here permanently. I am spoiled--I like clean water and western bathrooms and streets without open sewer lines...
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
We're doing well. All of us are more than ready to leave Zhengzhou and move on...it's not the most wonderful place we've ever been. But, how we feel about things is irrelevant right now. :\ We have to have Logan's passport in order to leave, and it won't be ready until Friday. So we wait.
I have some great pics to post, but with the computer in the girls' room I don't get down here as often to do things. Plus, when we put teh boys to bed at night, I can't leave the room or Logan will flip out. So, we'll have to see when I can get this done. Maybe later today...
Not much else to report, and two girls clambering for computer time, so I guess I"m outta here until later.
In other news, we're doing well. We completed nearly all the paperwork today, and we're simply waiting for Logan's passport, which we should receive on Friday. We're totally free tomorrow, and we'll spend Thursday visiting the Longmen Caves. It will be fun. We made progress today--Logan willingly wengt for a walk with Jim. :) He's doing much better overall, but still wakes up hoping it's all a bad dream. But, he's laughing and giggling with Ryan and following directions better and better. And he LOVES bathtime! I tried to take pics tonight, but two wet wiggly boys just wouldn't cooperate. Oh well.
The boys are tucked in for the night, and I'm headed there too. 5am comes way too early, and that's when the gruesome twosome has decided the day begins. Makes it simpler to fall asleep when they head to bed at 8:30 or so...
Monday, May 12, 2008
I will update as soon as I hear anything.
Tomorrow we're headed to Jiaozuo City SWI to complete more paperwork, including Logan's passport and notary work. It's a 2 hour drive to the orphanage so we'll be gone most of the day. Hopefully tomorrow evening there will be something more to post including pictures. One of the reasons I've been slow to post is that the computer is in the girls' room, so that they can do homework. Makes it much harder to get anything done, as Logan is permanently attached to my right hand and doesn't love spending time in the girls' room. Oh well...
Last night we tossed Ryan and Logan in the tub. They had a BALL together! It was so funny to see for the first time two boys truly playing together without any concerns about the language barrier. After the bath, Logan hopped out and had Daddy dry him off and put his jammies on. That's progress! He still doesn't like looking at Jim, so we were excited. One step at a time...
Logan's tummy seems to be bothering him a bit. May be all the fruit he's eating..or the fact that he eats everything he sees! Whatever the reason, we'd love your prayers for an uneventful trip tomorrow, since we're 2 hours one way on a bus. I just don't relish the thought of a 3 year old with diarrhea on a ride like that. :(
And yes, we had an earthquake today. It was felt here in Zhengzhou about 2:35 pm. Not significant--rather like the Seattle quake of 2001--but it appears that it was centered in Sichuan province, quite a ways from here. Our big concern right now is for two of our Beijing travel mate families, who are right now in Chengdu near the epicenter. We are hoping and praying that they are safe and that their babies have been safely delivered.
Jim and Victoria went to the store to get lunch and snacks. Once they return, we'll all head off for dinner, then tuck two little boys into bed. Thankfully, they have both been excellent sleepers on this trip. Logan goes down without so much as a word and sleeps through the night like a champ! I am SO excited by that!! Only one other child at this house has done this, and if the pattern continues, he will be our wonder-boy. :)
More later--the natives are getting restless and Hailey wants the computer again so she can work on her essay.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
What an amazing place! Everything is neat and tidy, and the staff was very friendly. We got an incredible package of things of his, including a CD with pics, his schoolwork, his medical history, and his IEP for school. I was totally dumbfounded. Once we finished our brief tour, we met Logan. He had been napping and was quite upset when he was handed over. He cried hard for quite a bit, but has settled nicely into a comfortable place with me. He let me feed him dinner tonight, then allowed me to put pjs on him. We put handcreme on both Ryan and Logan, brushed teeth, and put them both to bed. They're both laying quietly waiting for Momma right now. It's been an incredible transition so far. THANK YOU for your prayers!!
Tomorrow morning we fly to Zhengzhou, where we'll be until Saturday. Please keep Jim in your prayers--he's got the sore throat I had before we left. I am finally feeling mostly better, but Jim doesn't do this kind of stuff well and lack of sleep tends to put him over the edge. Pray him back to health!!
A few pics of our meeting today for you... Note the sad face, and know that it is GONE now. I just don't have any pictures of the smiles downloaded yet.
And yes, he's a giant compared to Ryan. Not so much in height, but like we decided: Ryan's a running back and Logan is a middle linebacker... He's one SOLID boy!! Best guess is that he is bigger than Ryan by at least 6 or 7 pounds and about 2 inches.Off to Zhengzhou in the morning. More later...I'm off to bed!