Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Grouchy Ladybug

Claire is beautiful. Claire is brilliant. Claire is full of love, but...when Claire wakes up from sleeping, she is nothing more than The Grouchy Ladybug! Ever since I got her in China, she has been a very difficult sleeper. She has gotten much better over the years, but I attribute this insecurity to the many changes she had to go through during her first year of life in China. Claire was found in a box in the train station. She was 5 days old. She was then taken across the street tot he police station and they transferred her to the local orphanage in Nanchang. There she spent her first 3 months of life. Then she was placed in a foster family for 6 months. Then, she was returned to the orphanage for 3 months until she was placed in my arms. Claire is a very strong-willed child and I adore her. She has been with me for 3 years and has grown in leaps and bounds. She has made a world of progress but nonetheless, she still wakes up grouchy!

A Mother's Love

In a California zoo, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, the cubs were born prematurely and they died shortly after birth.The mother tiger, after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve. After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only orphans that could be found quickly, were a litter of weanling pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger. Look what happened!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ups & Downs

China is a myriad of experiences, some good, some not so good, but all highly memorable, especially since you are bringing home your child. On both trips to China I had my fair share of ups and downs, but the ups far outweighed the downs, thank God! It is a very emotional journey and the cultures are so different. China has taken hold of me and I will always have the desire to go back and visit. I know that you all will feel the same way about your child's birthplace!

Here are a few things to keep in mind during your travels:

  1. Sleep Well! Try and sleep as much as you can before you travel, on the plane, and while in China. You are going to really need the sleep in order to feel well. The excitement of getting the baby is so overwhelming, combined with the travelling, that your body will be exhausted and you may not realize it. Sleep whenever the baby sleeps!

  2. Remember, Home Sweet Home. Take a few comfort items from home, like your favorite soap, a bag of M & M's or Hershey kisses, or whatever you like, and also a book or magazine or two, as you will have some down time when you will crave something in english.

  3. Don't overpack! You can buy just about anything in China. Streamline your travel. Make it easy on yourself. There is so much other stuff to concern yourself with, why make lugging around suitcases an issue?

  4. Be comfortable! Take a comfortable pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothes that can be washed in hot, hot water! I sent all of our clothes to the laundry and had no problems. They did an awesome job!

  5. Stay well hydrated! This may be the most important thing of all. Drink a lot of water. Don't buy it on the street. Stock up at the grocery store and drink, drink, drink! Make sure baby drinks water, too! If you don't like water, then mix it with something. But remember to hydrate your bodies!

  6. Take Cipro antibiotic. Don't leave home without this or you may be very sorry. Make sure all of your travel partners in your family have it, too. If you get sick from water or food in China, take this right away and you will most likely be better in a few hours. Ask your doc for specifics on this. I used mine both times in China and gave some to others who got sick. They were extremely grateful!

  7. Get a massage and get your hair washed. It is dirt cheap and very relaxing! Go outside of the hotel for the best prices.

  8. Take extra money with you as they are very picky with what they accept from us. They scrutinize our bills as if they are all counterfeit. They flat out refused to take many of ours in one province. They said they didn't like the bills that started with the letter C! Go figure!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Today we babysat for Emily who belongs to Dr. Jean, whom many of you might remember as the super nice and very comical pediatrician you met at my house on the GOLF weekend. Anyhow, we had Emily here with us and she played right along with the big dogs, blowing bubbles, eating SpongeBob cheese crackers, and watching Noggin. At first when her aunt left her here, she was hysterical and very sad but that only lasted two minutes. Then my Claire handed her a My Little Pony in each hand and she stood among the big girls and watched Noggin. Then I went in and handed her a bottle and she carefully maneuvered the pony in her right hand over to join the pony in her left hand and she grasped the bottle immediately. She didn't miss a beat. She felt much better with her hands all the way full!

Now my Claire who is going to be 4 in two weeks, still sucks a pacifier. It is the NUK brand so we call them nookies, in our family. Claire loves her nookies and has a plthora of them stashed away in a special place. Well, Emily was very tired and began to fuss so Claire went to her room, pulled one of the many nookies from her stash and popped it in Miss Emily's mouth. Then Claire gave her specific instructions, along with a hands on demonstration for sucking the nookie and within seconds, Emily was sucking the nookie like a pro. When I saw them they were so cute that I had to take a picture and send it to Jean at work, in which I admitted to perhaps having ruined her child in the first opportunity I had to babysit for her! The baby had never seen a nookie before and now I couldn't pry it out of her mouth. So, the nookie went home with Emily and hopefully Dr. Jean won't mond too much! LOL

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Back to the Sun

In China there is a saying that the Chinese will eat anything with it's back to the sun, and in Canton that is particularly true. They waste no part of an animal or plant. They are excellent cooks and the food is great for the most part. There is a big difference between foods from the north, south, east and west cuisines in China. But my advice would be to try as much as you can. You will find all cuisines quite wonderful. Chinese do not do milk and cheese, so remember that. Hot tea is served at every meal, which you will come to love. I took instant coffee, sugar, and creamer in plastic bags so that I could have my morning coffee. It was so great to have our coffee in the morning! I have to say that much of the food in China was fantastic. The long beans, which are a cross between a green bean and asparagus, were awesome. The vegetable soups and dumplings were great. The noodle dishes had the best flavors.

And I loved, loved, loved the congees, which are rice porridges, as long as they didn't have thousand year old preserved black eggs in them!

Having said that, there were some things on the buffet tables that I just could not do. I am pretty open to eating things in China as long as they are not your typical house pets.
One day, we went to have lunch at the buffet and in a dish covered in sauce were tiny little turtles. The whole turtle, shell and all, like the ones we used to have as pets, remember? A whole baking dish filled with little saucy turtles.

They also had a pan with little fried birds, again the whole bird. Wings, beaks, feet, etc... About 3 inches long, the whole bird, all lined up in a pan served with white rice. Again, I passed on this dish.

Never turn your nose up at the food in China. It is extremely offensive. Wait until you are in private to discuss the rarities you might find on the table. Use the manners your mama taught you!

You will be pleasantly surprised by how many wonderfully fresh and flavorful foods you can enjoy if you just take a leap of faith and try them!

Friday, June 22, 2007

A girl and her kitten!

Kate has a kitten named Chance. He will be a year old on Aug. 22, 2007. He is absolutely spectacular and he and Kate love each other. Claire has a kitten named Star, you gotta say it with a Savannah drawl, Staa ahhh rrr! Claire and Star have a love/hate relationship. They love each other when they are in the mood. Chance sleeps on Kate's bed and Star sleeps on Claire's bed and no one really taught the kittens to do this. Kittens and children are amazing, both creatures of God! It's funny, the two kittens are siblings, and they are totally different. Kate and Claire are also very different. They each got to pick their kittens and they picked the kitten that is just like them! Who would have known?

Susan R. and I agree that someday Claire will become a doctor and Kate will marry one!

Prickly Pears

My three year old, Claire, is a girl of great knowledge and depth. She absorbs everything. She is always saying something that absolutely floors me! Today, Kate, who is 6, came in the kitchen and asked me about roadrunners. I thought she had seen Bugs Bunny on TV somehow. She didnt really formulate a question and I didn't really give her an answer, but all the while Claire was standing by listening. Then when Kate walked out of the room, Claire said to me, "Mommy, Kate was not talking about Bugs Bunny, she was talking about prickly pears." I replied, "Oh really?" And she continued to tell me, "Prickly pears are in the desert. They are red and they grow on a cactus. Cactuses are green and roadrunners love to drink the juice from prickly pears. Roadrunners can run fast and they run in the desert and when they get tired they drink prickly pear juice and then they can run some more." At this point, I am astounded, as usual when Claire speaks, and I tell her, "You are the smartest girl I know!"

About Roadrunners
1. Roadrunners live in deserts of SW US & Mexico.
2. They are a type of cuckoo bird.
3. They can run up to 15 mph.
4. They are monogamous.
5. They lay pale yellow eggs that hatch in 20 days.
6. They can fly but rarely do.

Family Watchdog

In today's world, children face plights of all kinds. In our country, we have a particularly horrendous plight to contend with and that involves the child predator. There are many ways we can keep our children safe and a good place to begin is by searching the National Sex Offender Registry. This is not 100% but it is a good place to start. You can search your state, city, and neighborhood for sexual predators. You can find their names, pictures and their crimes. You can find lessons to teach your children, videos, tips and many things here. You can also set up your email account so that Family Watchdog notifies you in case a predator moves into your neighborhood. There is a small fee for this service, but I think it is well worth it! Make this website one of the most frequently used by your family. By keeping a watchful eye and following some of these tips, you will have a much better chance of protecting your children.

  1. Trust your intuition!
  2. Teach your children their names, addresses, and telephone numbers, including area code. Your children should know how to use the phone number, as well as "911" or "0" for "operator" in emergencies.
  3. If your state allows background checks, look up those adults who are in contact with your child.
  4. Don't just drop your child off at sport practices or youth activities. Many predators avoid children who have watchful parents that are active in their children's lives.
  5. Volunteer to chaperone extracurricular activities like Boy Scouts and sporting events, especially those involving overnight trips.
  6. Educate you children at home! Let your child know that sexual advances from adults are against the law. Build their confidence so they can say no to an adult.
  7. Be alert to anyone who is paying an unusual amount of attention to your child or yourself – buying gifts, phoning all the time, dropping by the house, etc.
  8. Remember what your child is wearing each time they leave the house. Keep recent photos of your child on hand at all times!
  9. Learn how to use the computer! Have a family computer in a main area of the house. Do not allow children to have computers in their rooms. Limit their time online.
  10. Keep doors and windows locked in your home, especially if your child's window faces the rear of the home on a lower floor.
  11. Never let your child go to a public restroom alone!
  12. Never let your child go door-to-door without an adult.
  13. Don't let it be known that children live in the house if a delivery man, workman, and/or repairman comes.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Three women, one destination...

I was reading about China online and came across this story. I wanted to share it with you. It paints a picture of how things were, and what they have become. Let me know what you think. Click this link to go to the website with the story.

The photo is of a young mother gathering water for her family. A daily chore in rural China.

I Need A Bathroom!

When we were in Gulin, we took a daytrip "to the country" and it really was beautiful. But of course, me being me, I had a very unusual thing happen to me that kept my group in tears for days! Our guide, John, was showing us what the country looked like in China.
We saw farmers plowing fields with their water buffalos, babies tied to women's backs while they worked in the field, and lots of farmers carrying the fruits of their labor on their backs and bikes to the market.
After some time, I had to pee. I was known for having to pee all over China so I became quite intimate with the many differrent kinds of squat potties. After my first day of squatting, I realized I had muscles in places I never imagined because they all hurt like crazy! Don't worry! After a couple days of squatting, you develop strong and resilient muscles really fast!
Well, I told John to find me a place to pee and soon thereafter, our driver pulled off the road next to a little white tile building at a gas station. I was ecstatic until I realized it wasn't really a "building". From the front it looked like a regular bathroom with a men's side and a women's side, but when you went around to the back to go in, there was no wall in the back! Only a wall down the center. The building was shaped like the letter "T". The potties were open in the back to nature. The picture of a field with the man plowing with the water buffalo is what was in the background of the toilets. No wall between field and farmer! Anyhow, I approached my hole in the ground and squatted down to pee when all of a sudden I heard all the people from our bus laughing hysterically. I was thinking to myself, "What the heck are they laughing about?" My friend, Marie, yelled to me from the other side of the wall to look behind me.

When I turned around there was a big huge water buffalo standing right there watching me pee. I'm telling you right now that he was the last thing I expected to see 4 feet away from me. I quietly stood up and pulled up my 'not so Victoria Secret underwear', and proceeded to talk to him in baby animal talk, as if he were a puppy and told him how cute he was. Then, just shy of a kiss on the snout, I gently walked to the other side of the tile wall to find my cohorts rolling with laughter. I have a picture of this somewhere but I cannot find it so I have posted another one that will give you the idea of just how close the beast was to me. Anyway, that was another day in the life of Wendy in China. My sense of humor saved me on most of the trip! My brother and I still laugh about this!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Classic Gotcha Day

I found this beautiful video, on YouTube, of a family's Gotcha Day in China. I posted it because it paints the whole picture for those of you who have never been through this process before. Also, it may give you some ideas for your own video in China! Please let me know what you think after you watch it!

PS: Go and get some tissues!

Kate's Orphanage

Susan brought up a very though-provoking subject in an email today about whether or not you should go and visit your child's orphanage if given the chance. My reply was a resounding YES as this is where your child lived out the first year of their life.

Back in 2002, my first adoption of Kate from Yulin SWI in Guangxi, we were not permitted to visit the orphanage. It was a "closed" orphanage and allowed no one inside. Gratefully, I have kept in touch with Kate's nanny since she handed Kate to me in Nanning, Guangxi.

We have developed a strong and loving tie to Ting in China. When we went back for Claire, I arranged for Ting to travel from Yulin to stay with us at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou. The reunion was in 2004 and it was beautiful. Kate and Ting spent a lot of time together and Ting loved her just as she had her first year of life in the orphanage. When we go to China again for Charles Aidan, we will again visit Ting.

So don't miss any opportunites in China. You will be tired but you must be the eyes, ears, mouth, nose and touch for your child. Take it all in. Try everything... within reason! Absorb China fully for your child. YOU will be their strongest connection to their birthland as they grow up.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Where's the boat?

When we were in Yangshuo, our guide, John, said we were going on another river cruise to see some of the prettiest scenery in China. We were going on the Yulong River, which is known as the "Little Li River". We were of course very excited because we loved the Li River Cruise. So we got in the van and headed toward the Yulong River. It is always interesting driving through the countryside in China. It is beautiful and provincial. Anyway, we pull up to a river and John has us get out of the car. Although he is very friendly, John is a no-nonsense kinda guy so you just follow him and do what he says. We walk through this gravel lot that has one shack on it with several people standing around. I'm thinking...where are we going? I see a river, I see a few people, but I don't see a river boat! We continue to walk closer, making our way down to the river and I'm still looking for our boat! John seems to know exactly what he is doing so we follow. Now we are standing right beside the river and still no boat, only little bamboo rafts. So finally I have to ask, "Hey John, WHERE is our boat???" He replies, "right over there", and points to the river. I say, "There's no boat over there!" Right about now, my brother tells me to be quiet, cause he knows what is about to happen. We walk down and John heads toward this little bamboo raft. I must stress the word "little". The raft was made of exactly 5 bamboo sticks. I freaked! I exclaimed loudly, "John, there is no way that boat is going to be able to hold me!" He didn't get it! He said, "Yes, yes, boat take us on lovely ride down river." I said, "No, boat is going to sink in the river if I get on it!" He said, "No, I have special chair for you all to sit in...get on boat now please. With great caution, I stepped slowly onto the little raft and quickly made it to my folding chair. All the while my brother and our two travel friends were laughing at me. I continued to crack jokes the entire time and everyone died laughing. The boat ride was great until it did get stuck in a very shallow part of the river. I said, "You see John! The boat is stuck!" John said, "No problem, we push." "WE???????????", I ask. Just then, the two guys in charge of the raft began pushing the boat with their sticks, then they jumped into the water and got us unstuck. Prepositions like "WE" don't always translate well in Chinese. The raft ride was beautiful and we laughed so much!

When we got back, we went for massages and more shopping. It turned out to be a very relaxing day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Li River Cruise

The first time I went to China to get Kate back in March 2002, we decided to do a little travelling ahead of time, so we went to Guilin, a beautiful area in Guangxi Province. We had a tour guide named John who was very well informed and super nice! John did not really understand my sense of humor, as will be revealed in my next blog post. On the third day of our trip to Guilin we took a riverboat cruise down the Li River, which was breathtakingly gorgeous!
We were served lunch which was cooked in a giant wok on the back of the boat. It was delicious!

Then they came around to see if we wanted to buy a sip of "snake liquor". It actually contained a pickled snake in the bottom of the bottle. We opted out. The river cruise was about 4 hours or so and it was just wonderful. We ended up in a little village called Yangshuo. Our adventure was just beginning!

Life Changes So Quickly

Since March, my life has been an arrray of ups and downs. At one point, I thought that I was not going to be able to go through with the adoption and I was very depressed, which never happens! I explained to the girls that I didn't think we were going to have enough money to bring home a baby brother, but that it would be allright. I reassured them that we were a very happy little family the way we were. The girls rolled with the punches, as always. I put all of the baby's clothes in storage and tried to talk myself into being "ok" with not going back to China for a son.

Then one morning, Claire, my three year old, came into my room and said, "Mama, pick a hand" whereupon she held out two little fists. I picked the one on the left and nothing was in her hand, which delighted her to no end that I picked incorrectly! Then I chose the other little clenched fist and with a big smile she opened her hand to reveal 4 pennies. She simply stated that she was giving me the pennies so that we could go to China and get Charles Aidan.

Those simple words and that very simple but loving gesture, warmed my heart. It also lit a big fire under my tail and I decided that I had to come up with a way to bring our baby home! After all, this was my last chance. I had every strike against me in CCAA's eyes. I am going to be 48, I am single, and I already have two children. How could I give up a spot that was so valuable? The simple truth was that I could not.

Monday, June 11, 2007

My First Fed Ex Experience


My agency shipped out Kate's referral packet via Fed Ex, to arrive on Saturday, March 9, 2002. They had to pay extra and make special arrangements for the package to be delivered on a Saturday. (first thing to go wrong...) I lived in Miami at the time, and suffice it to say, Miami lives by a different set of rules! LOL

I was so ├╝ber excited that I had cleaned every inch of the house in preparation for the packet! Crazier things have been known to happen to women getting their referral packets! I called Fed Ex to make sure they told the driver that even though he was delivering to a school on a Saturday, that I would definately be there waiting. I gave clear instructions that he should just open the gate and come into the office like he would on any other day! Well, I was sitting on the front porch waiting...and I see the Fed Ex truck getting ready to turn left at the light to our street! I get up to run (and for those of you who know me, you know that I don't do "runs") down to meet him, just in case he still thinks the school is vacant on a Saturday!

What I saw next may alarm even the most rugged of you folks! It was a truck... no, it was a it was it gone! In a quick flash, all I saw was a blur of white, purple, and orange rush by me down the street!

The truck with my baby and all of her information had just zoomed by me without even a pause at my school gate! Looked more like the Fed Ex Plane than the truck!

I was indignant! I ran back into my office like a Tasmanian Devil and called Fed Ex. They put me straight through to a supervisor after hearing the TAZ sound emulating from my body and the lady foolishly started by telling me that it would have to be delivered on Monday.
I snorted out an emphatic NO and possibly cried a little, so she called Mr. Fed Ex man who flew right by me and had him turn around and bring it right back to me. Took about 20 minutes and I stood on the street to make sure he saw me. By the way, did I mention that I am NOT hard to miss? I am not of "slight" stature!
I was so emotionally drained that I took the referral packet, laid it on my military regulation-made bed, and walked out of the room for about an hour. I didn't want one negative thing to interupt me while meeting my child for the first time, albeit on paper. Needless to say, all's well that ends well. She was completely perfect, the referral information was completely perfect and all my dreams were coming true at that moment!
Note: Break into the song from Cinderella..."a dream is a wish your heart makes" know the words!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I was reading some of the blogs of families who just got their referrals this past week and one mommy really etched a place in my mind. She got "the call" and was not home. She had dreamed of how "the call" would be and it ended up being completely different. She rushed home to see her baby's picture in the email and she took pictures of her and her husband in the moment of pure joy and happiness. She could not stop smiling!

I know this feeling. I remember the day I got "the call" for Kate and although I had a feeling it was coming soon, I absolutely was not ready! I was in the shower and I heard the phone ring, and I flew outta that shower with a towel on and grabbed the phone. It was my agency and the first words I heard were " Wendy, you have a baby!" And with those few simple words, I melted! It is the best feeling in the world, nothing really compares! When I think back and relive that moment in my memory it jumps right back to life and grabs my heart again. Kate was a beautiful baby and time flies by so quickly, it is just hard to fathom! At 7:35 pm, Monday, Jan. 28, 2002... I became a mommy!

The Year of the Golden Pig

The Year of the Golden Pig greets us on Feb. 18, 2007 and stays until Feb. 6, 2008. According to Chinese Folklore, this is an event that occurs once in every 600 years and will ensure that a baby born on this year will experience a prosperous and wealthy life. If you wish to be successful in the Golden Pig year; be flexible and open to changes, be disciplined in your finances, make sure your home has excellent feng shui energy, and tie up all the loose ends of the last 12 years. Prepare for the coming 12 years of good luck with a fresh outlook.

For all of those who are logged in at CCAA and are waiting to go to China for your babies, this could very well be your childrens' birth year! So, here's to all the little golden piglets waiting for their families to come and get them in China!

A New Day

I have found new hope for this long wait to get our baby boy in China. About 2 months ago, I was so down about the entire process that I packed up the baby's entire closet of clothes and accessories and put them in storage. Today, I feel like taking them out, washing them, and hanging them back up in the closet...but I won't, yet. Rumor has it that we will not get a referral for about 10 more months, so I have decided to use the time wisely and do some much needed cleaning and organizing around the house! I have a feeling we might be in China around the same time as the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing!