Monday, April 21, 2008


Saucy Tomato isn't going to be updated any more. Why? because I can't keep up two blogs for two kids.

I've been keeping a parallel blog for Laina at Bang the Drum and Shout, and it's really hard to try and keep them both up. So I've made a new blog with everyone's story included.

To read more about the adventures of Laina and Min you can visit them at:

Two Sugar Plums

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hokey Pokey Got nuthin' on Me.

"You do the Hokey Pokey and You turn yourself around....That's what it's all about".

Well Hokey Pokey, you can cram that in a very small hole, because THIS is what it's all about--

My girls- my daughters- playing together without doing great bodily harm to each other

The only things getting ripped apart are the camellia blossoms

Easter egg hunts in Grandma and Grandpa's back yard.

Yeah...that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Virtual Twins

Min and Laina are virtual twins. They are one month apart in age. Laina is older. Her birthday is in December and Min's is January. There are some big differences in them, though. Laina has superior language ability and motor skills at this point in time. Laina is also more assertive and opinionated. Laina is smaller and more compact. You would guess she's the younger one if you only would look at them, but she is in fact older.
Min can do many things that Laina can't. Min can use chopsticks and sing on tune. Min recites little poems. Laina has trouble remembering the words to "twinkle twinkle little star" but can talk your ear off about other things. Laina can spot several different kinds of cars and tell you about them when we're driving. Min can tell you whenever there's an airplane flying overhead. Laina likes to help empty and load the dishwasher. Min can draw for a long time if no one interrupts her.

Today at the Costco a woman asked me, "are they twins?". I said, "No, they're not." She said, "Oh, I thought they might be twins, they look so close in age".
"They are close in age. She's a month older than her".
"Oh. I thought they were sisters."
"They are sisters! Figure that one out!"
The lady smiled (this was all a very pleasant exchange, no irritation on either of our parts) "hmmm...that's a puzzle, I'll have to think about how that might work".
I didn't mention adoption. If she couldn't figure out they were adopted, then a little thinking might be good for her.
Since the girls are so different in size and I don't do too much of the "twin" dressing, I haven't had to answer the "twin" question except for that one time. I haven't even had to address the "sisters" question. My guess is that people assume I'm the baby sitter. I've had one person ask me if I'm babysitting, (this was before Min came home) and I said, "No, I'm the Mom." they looked puzzled and said, "oh...she must look like her father". I made a "thinking and puzzling" face and said, "you know, she doesn't look like him at all. Her daddy is German". This blew the poor little brain of the dear girl who was working at Big Lots. I could see the stripped gears of her little mind spin and try to grasp this information and make sense of it. I smiled my biggest, winningest smile, swung my baby to my hip and said, "thanks, bye!". She's probably still wondering what kind of girl I am. Poor dear.

Kiss me I'm Irish...

There's not a drop of Irish blood in my family. We did follow the tradition of the "wearing 'o' the green" on St. Patrick's day and our Mom's club met in the park with all the kids wearing various shades of green. Lucky for my daughters, green is a fantastic color on them! Here's some snaps of them at the park yesterday:

Challenges: Laina is still struggling with the idea that there's an intruder in the house and she's trying to keep her "place". I'm somewhat dismayed that Laina can be as mean spirited as I've seen her be. She can be downright mean. Min is on to Laina's behavior and when Laina is being timed out or is in the middle of a screaming fit, Min will just shake her head, smile and say (in Chinese), "Laina is a naughty little child".

Sleeping is getting better. Min is comfortable in her bed and each day is getting more and more easy for her. I think she's learning that she actually can sleep better when she doesn't have someone always in her sleeping space. She is still nervous when she wakes up, so I try to be to her room as soon as she wakes. She gets up 2-3 times a night to go pee and will always cry out for me to take her in the middle of the night.

Eating hasn't been a big problem. The main problem is that Min is a major carnivore and loves to eat a LOT of meat. Our family tends to be vegetarian, more by habit than by anything else and I don't really know how to cook meat. I've discovered that I can buy pre-cooked turkey breast at costco and I can also get rotisserie chicken there that is really very yummy.

Today I bought her some shoes. I thought I had sizes that would fit her, but as it turns out, the largest size of shoe I had on hand was 7.5 and she really needs to wear size 8. So today I went to Mervyns and bought her 2 pairs of shoes. One pair is a very cute black sneaker type maryjane and the other is an adorable pair of canvas polka dot shoes with elastic straps. I showed her the black sneakers first and asked her if she liked them. She said that she did and seemed very happy to have new shoes. Then I showed her the canvas ones and she squealed and jumped up and down. She loved them! She handed me back the black sneakers and said that she didn't want them, but she wanted the canvas ones. I asked her if she liked the black ones and she said that she did, but that she didn't want them. She wanted the canvas ones. I told her that she could have both of them. She looked puzzled and said "All of them are mine?". I told her that yes, the black ones are hers and the canvas ones are hers. They were all hers. She smiled very big and took them back into her room and put them under her bed. Then, over the course of the evening, she would take one pair off and put the other pair and on, switching between the two.

She still doesn't get that all of the clothes in the dresser are hers. I took her into the room and opened the sock drawer and said, "All the socks are yours". She proceeded to touch every sock and ask, "who's are these?". I would answer, "they're yours". Then we did that for all of the shirts, all the pants and all the dresses. I still don't think she believes me. She'll get it in time.

About this blog, before too long I'm going to start a new blog that is a merging of Laina's Blog and Min's Blog. I have to come up with some name and just do it, but it'll happen before too long.

Tomorrow we're going to park again!! Yeah, parks!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

knock down drag out...

Let's over the last few days:

Min and Laina have been sleeping in their own beds for the past 3 nights. Last night was the first night that Min slept in her own bed all night long. She had to wake up around 2 am. and afterwards she was not very willing to go back to sleep in her bed. I put Min in her bed and slept on the floor until she fell asleep and then went back to my own bed. She woke up happy and smiling at 7:00 the next morning. She's not happy that I'm not "Bao baoing" her to sleep. She'd love it if she were in bed with me falling asleep on my chest and sleeping next to us all night. Yes, it's cozy and warm and nice, but it's not going to fit into our reality. She cries and I check in at intervals, every minute for 2 times, every 2 minutes for 3 times and then every 5 minutes for 3 times. She was asleep after the first 2 minute set tonight.

Today I had to let the girls come to an understanding. Min is naturally a sweet tempered child. She doesn't like to rock the boat and would never pick on anyone. Laina is more of an aggressive personality and I have had to break up a few scuffles that were started by Laina. Today I had to let Laina know that Min wouldn't be a pushover. Min had a toy, Laina wanted the toy and went over to take it. Laina pushed Min. Min looked over to me to see if I would intervene. I told Min to push Laina back and tell her "NO". Min did. Laina hit Min. Min hit Laina. Laina pushed Min. Min pushed Laina. Laina hit Min. Min hit Laina. Min grabbed Laina's hair. Laina grabbed Min's hair. Push, hit, grab, scream, push. It was a regular cat fight. It ended when they both stopped fighting and started crying. I comforted both of them and then had a little talk with Laina about why she should use kind actions and gentle hands. It was hard to see them hurt each other, but I can't be watching them each and every second, and Laina needs to know that Min is capable of standing up to her. Min is gentle and kind, but when pushed to it, Min will win in a fight with Laina. (Baby cage fight...get your tickets now, show starts at 7:00). Seriously though--Laina played nicely with a good deal more respect for the rest of the afternoon.

For the most part the girls play well together and really enjoy each other's company. I really am enjoying both girls for their very different personalities. I couldn't ask for anything better.

Oh yeah, and the hair: It's not a great picture, I didn't get a good picture of my my new 'do. But you maybe can get the general idea. If not, enjoy a lovely picture of my husband and Min. They far outshine me, anyways...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Whew...finally a sec with the 'puter

OK, short story short-- we got home on Thursday. All safe and sound. Min slept for about 75% of the flight and was happy to play at her chair the other 25%. She was a real trouper and an easy traveler.
She's been sleeping in bed with us and just today, Monday I have both girls in their own beds in the same room for nap time. I got it on video as proof. I'll have to post that later on.

The weekend was busy, we went to the park, my brother came to visit, we went to Mexican food with my aunt and uncle and my parents. I've chiseled down the loads and loads of laundry.

Trials: Laina is a wee bit jealous and is fearing she's being short changed on everything. I've read "siblings without rivalry" and I'm trying to remember some of the techniques. Min is an anxious sleeper and has never learned to sleep by herself in her own bed without someone holding her while she falls asleep. I'm grateful to her foster family for this loving and sweet treatment, but reality needs to step in here pretty soon. We'll work on it once we're all off letlag and she is more comfortable with the idea that she's not here on an extended vacation.

Hmmm...a picture....I'll have to post one later on.

Thanks so much to everyone who has commented and followed our journey. I'll keep updating and you keep following!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Friday and Saturday-sightseeing

On Thursday morning, Jorg left on the train to Changzhou. He's visiting one more business contact there and so Min and I went sightseeing with our guide in the mornings.

Friday in the morning, I had asked our guide to help us out with getting a "baby fleets" to help with Min's "throughput" problems. It worked like a charm! 10 minutes later, Min felt much better and her demeanor also changed. She spent the day happy and enjoyed our outings.

On Friday morning, we took the tour boat in the Xi Hu (west lake. Xi= west Hu = lake) to visit two islands that were famous for being beautiful and inspiring poets and love stories. The weather was warm and the flowers are just starting to bloom on the fruit trees and it was really very lovely. At one time I decided I would like to try one of those goofy, "dress in song dynasty clothing and take a picture here" things with me and Min. Min flat out refused. I dressed in the clothes to show her it wouldn't hurt. She still refused and I was still dressed in goofy song dynasty clothing. What else can I do but take a bunch of goofy pictures!

Min and her home city

Aren't we a beautiful picture?

Who needs a song dynasty princess anyways? We have Min!

After we went sightseeing, our guide helped me with watching Min while I got my hair cut. In the 2 years that I have lived in China in the past, I never had gotten my hair cut and just on Friday morning it reached critical length and I HAD to get my hair cut. Here, in China. I was also inspired by Mutha Mae from Word to your Mutha: the show. She got her hair cut in china, too. Anyone who reads this should be inspired to get their hair cut in China. Don't worry if your hair will turn out-it will, they are very good hair stylists here. This is what happened at my hair cut. First the washing. I was sat down in a styling chair and the washer squirted some shampoo on my dry hair and little by little added water from a squirt bottle and started working the hair into a lather. It took about 10 minutes. Then I got an ear massage and a scalp massage. We walked over to the rinsing station and I got rinsed and conditioned. More scalp massage. I walked back to the chair and she gave me a face massage, neck massage, shoulder, arm and hand massage. She got some q-tips and cleaned my ears out on the inside. Some people would be afraid of this, but I thought it was GREAT!! You probably could ask to skip it.

We walked down stairs and I sign languaged/broken Chinese explained how I wanted my hair. The stylist went to town and gave a great cut. He blew my hair dry and gave me a nice style. It took about 90 minutes from start to finish and cost me 40 yuan. FORTY YUAN!! Devide that by 7 and that's roughly the cost in dollars. Beat that supercuts!!

Min has been mostly happy the last couple of days. We're settling in together. It's going to be so fun to have her and Laina together. At least I think it could be fun, if the girls like eachother. I've just finished reading "Siblings without rivalry" while we were in Nanjing and I'm going to try and take those principles to heart.

Jorg came back on Saturday afternoon and we walked to the supermarket for some snacks to take to the airport for tomorrow. Tomorrow at 8:30 we leave for Guangzhou. As lovely as Hangzhou is, it's been a long trip and I'm ready for the next stage.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

To the temple

Today we went to a famous temple in Hangzhou. As far as temples go, this one was very large and beautiful. There weren't too many people there (in comparison to the "busy season") and so it was fairly easy to get around and see the many Buddhas.

Min hates to walk and is always asking to be carried. This is turning into a little problem, because she is quite heavy despite her thinness. She's very tall! Tall, skinny and heavy.

OH yes, I meant to add in my previous post that Min's thinness is in no way because of lack of food. She was offered all the food she could want. She's a picky eater.

Here are some pictures of our adventures today:

Buddha says, "Do not wait to be a Grandmother to have blue hair".

Min has done a fair amount of crying today and feels very sad. She misses her foster family. She looked at some pictures of herself from a couple of months ago that the orphanage gave her and she broke down in sobs. She wants to be held while she's crying so we hold and rock. Hold and rock. Hold and rock.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Unpeeling

Yesterday we went to Min's Orphanage. Min cried when we came into the gate and while we were talking to the director and the assistants. She calmed down after a bit and was happy to meet her teachers and the staff members who knew her. I was hoping to get some pictures of the kids that will be coming home to their families soon, but the kids weren't there. They have a longer break for the mid-winter vacation and actually the kids won't start school again until March 3. The staff knows that the waiting kids are placed and are looking forward to meeting the families. All of the kids are well taken care of and the staff love them. I gave greetings from a few families and told them that T.A.A's family and B.Y.C's family are doing well and send greetings. The staff was happy to hear that things are progressing well and encouraged us to send pictures and updates when we can. We took some pictures but they're not that exciting.

When we got home (home meaning the hotel) and had some lovely dinner (can you eat too much Jiaozi?) I decided that against much protest, it was time to strip Min naked and give her a bath. We waited for 2 days, at it was time. She had a "special smell" and it wasn't getting any better.
So, the "peeling" began. One sweater, another sweater (the smelly one), a long sleeved cotton shirt, socks, one padded pant, another padded pant, one pair of cotton leggings, and boys underpants.

As her clothes came off her size decreased and I could see what a whisper of a little body she had. She looked as thin and fragile as the last five minutes of a bar of soap. She screamed and was extremely unhappy that I had taken to her this insulting level of vulnerability, but she really needed to be washed. I did the quickest bath ever in the world for her, including washing her hair, which she also really, really hated. After I washed her, I picked her out, wrapped her in a big fluffy towel and sat her in bed where she whimpered loudly, and sucked her finger. Poor thing. I dressed her in her soft pajamas, brushed her hair and put it into a sleeping braid and turned on the TV. She calmed down, snuggled close and fell asleep. she slept very well that night.

We're having a little problem pottying. She hates the western toilet and is loathe to use it. Of course she will because I lift her onto it and tell her to go, but she cries. She has not used the toilet for any "solid" purposes yet and I'm getting a little worried. It's not because she doesn't need to go, I think she's trying very very hard to keep everything inside. If we don't get some sort of "movement" by tomorrow, I'm going to take medicinal action.

Jorg's gotten a chest cold and is coughing a lot.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Now on day two

We're well into our 2nd day with our daughter, Min. We are now, in the eyes of the Chinese government, her parents. We went to a ceremony this morning and we were handed her official adoption certificate.

After we went there, we had to go the police precinct near her social welfare institute to get the paperwork for her passport. We had to get her passport picture taken there. She was very unhappy with the idea of sitting in a chair to get her picture taken and she started to cry. Our guide tried to stay with her and hold her had, but she still cried. They told me to try and stand with her and hold her hand, and you know what? She stopped crying! She didn't smile, but she was at least not crying.

In all of the photos that we got of Min before we met her, she was quite stoic and didn't smile for any of the pictures. I have heard from Adriana that she was quite animated and talkative, but there was not proof on film. Until now. Here's some hard proof that once her stoic shell is breached, little Min is quite a goofy little girl:

On the other side

Well, it's 7:00 AM right now and we met Min at 10:00 yesterday. We hung out in the room yesterday and had a quiet day. She started to become somewhat comfortable with us, but is very sad and wants to leave the hotel. She's tried to get her shoes and coat on a few times. She wants to be held all the time and we're happy to hold her. She slept in the bed with me last night (we have 2 slightly larger than twin beds in our room). I haven't had any chance to download pictures yet, but I'll hopefully do that soon. we have a big day of appointments and then some more rest in the afternoon.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thoughts about right now

So here we are in Hangzhou, finally. We have our appointment time: 9:00. At 8:30 we will meet our travel guide and she will escort us to the Provincial office and then we will meet Min. I'm going to let you know about some of my thoughts right now.

Today in the hotel lobby, I saw a woman with a little boy, he was about 3 years old. They were walking across the lobby towards me. The little boy was being carried by this woman, he was holding her around the neck and they were chatting about something. I started imagining that this woman walked up to me and put this boy's hand in mine and told me that he was mine now. I imagined how this little boy would feel, being handed off to a stranger and then being walked away from by this woman who he felt very happy and comfortable with. I imagined the little boy crying and struggling hard to get away from me, I imagined him crying and calling out. I imagined the woman crying and looking back at us but still walking away. I felt my own struggle with the situation of wanting to protect this child and look for his best interest. What was it? What was his best interest? It's a question I can't answer, because this was imagination. It wasn't real.

I struggle with this question of "best interest" and I know it's been struggled with before. Bastard Nation and International Abductees have very strong opinions in this area, I know. I'm feeling sad for Min because she won't know what it's like to grow up in China in her home culture. I feel sad that her life as she knows it is gone. I wonder sometimes how I would react if I find out tomorrow that at the last minute someone here in China decided that they would adopt her and that she will stay here. I know this is just a pretend hypothesis, but I wonder anyway. I would be sad at the idea of not having her in our family. I would be happy that she won't be leaving here. I would be happy that she had a family.

Family. Min has a foster family. Many kids grow up and that's all they have, a foster family. I'm not discounting them at all. I'm sure they love her. She loves them, too, I imagine. But in the end, she's still a ward of the state. The state determined that she was going to be a child eligible for international adoption. The state sent her file to the CCAA. If we didn't adopt her, for sure she would be adopted by another family. I like to think that our family is a good and nice family. We have our faults, but we're OK. We will be a family without a tag, hyphen, category or subclassifications or modifier. We will be what she doesn't have right now. Family. Full stop.

How does this weigh compared to staying in ones home culture? I don't know. Suppose I was given this choice: I can stay in lovely Orange County, home of Disney, Irvine and parallel streets, but I will never, ever see my family again. I will be in my own home culture forever and ever without my family. OR I can choose to go to a remote Polynesian Island where the people don't wear clothes, eat strange meats, talk a different language and stage elaborate dances, but my family, including my extended family will all be there and we're expected to try and absorb into the Island life. What would I choose? I don't know. Again, I don't have to know, it's pretend.
Family. Culture. Family. Culture. Little Min...I don't know the right answer. There is no right answer, for you little one. Your life has been thrust in the hands of us bumbling grown ups that don't have the right answers for everything and in the end the only thing we can do is the best we can. So, now it's 11:00 PM China time and we have only a handful of hours left until it's our turn to try and do the best we can. People will say you're lucky. We know that lucky children don't have these traumatic things happen to them. I really hope that in 20 years or so, you can look back on this and feel lucky. I feel lucky. Scared, nervous, a little bit sad, but very, very lucky.

On Purple Mountain

We went to the Purple Mountain Park in Nanjing on Saturday. If we were in Nanjing 2 weeks later, then we could have gone to the Plum Blossom festival. As it was, there were still some beautiful flowers on the trees, the weather was fairly nice, and families came in droves for a walk around the park, picture taking, a picnic and just to relax and have a good time.

One of the things you should do is to take pictures of the trees and also have your picture taken with tree. OK, so this is one of the about 25 pictures I took of plum blossoms. Oh yeah, and me with a tree.

There is a Ming tomb there in the park. It's not unlike the Ming tomb that is very popular for the tour guides to take people to in Beijing. It's almost just as exciting as the one in Beijing, too! Among the many statues of animals that were around this tomb, there was an ancient turtle. We listened to one of the tour guides here tell us that people will get good luck by stroking the turtle on the head, and then also stroking the turtle on it's backside. Here's a picture of Jorg getting good luck by petting the turtle butt.

Here's a family taking a picture of Grandpa.

And here is Grandpa.

This is a family enjoying a picnic together in the plum forest.

This is a kind of a ride you could take at the top of a hill. For about a dollar and a half you can sit in the chair and these guys will take you for a bouncy ride around the top of the park while some traditional folk music plays. It really looked like fun, but I didn't want to do it. Maybe next time!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Let's's Saturday night and it's been a busy last couple of days. On Thursday Jorg went to work and I went walking around Nanjing. We're staying in an area of downtown called "Xin Jie Kou". I walked around and went to department stores and looked at lanterns that were made for the lantern festival. I haven't really been shopping in China for about 10 years. I have to say that I think that there isn't anything that you can't get in China anymore. There is everything here. The styles are cute and fashionable. The home products are stylish and of good quality. There is cheese and butter in the supermarkets. Would you like a bosch washing machine? They have them. How about adorable shoes? No problem. Cream cheese on your bagel? Yes. I can get that. What about rollerblades. Yep, got those. I'm trying to think of things I didn't see. I can think of Cottage cheese, black licorice, and I don't think I saw a size DD bra.

Friday Jorg went to work again. I walked to the presidential Palace where Sun Yat Sen lived and also Chiang Kai Shek hung out for a bit. It wasn't the most amazing tourist attraction, but I had a nice time walking around.

Saturday we went looking at plum blossoms at the purple mountain and also went to have a look at the Yangtze river.

On Friday night, we went to the house of Jorgs business partner and the mother in law fixed us all dinner. It was fantastic. Spicy beef, shrimp, chicken, different vegetables and two different fish dishes. Oh yeah, there was another one. The lady of the house described this dish: It's like a fish, but not a fish. It can swim very well. It can jump very well. (At this time I guessed it was a frog). Yes, it's like a frog, but not a frog. It's very big, we call it "cow frog". Hmmm...cow frog. Oh yes...bullfrog. Yes, we had toad for dinner. It was pretty yummy. It tasted like meat that has spicy delicious sauce on it. My general rule for eating in China is "Don't ask...just eat. If it tastes good, eat more". I had several delicious bites of toad!!

Let's find a picture to post--

These are from Beijing: A really HUGE abacus.

We were very put off because the temple only had a 2 star toilet. (just kidding. It was a lovely toilet, clean and with doors. There was only one "western toilet" but I don't use those in the public bathrooms anyways. I find it easier to just use the squat ones).

How beautiful are the colors in this roof?

Tonight I'm thinking of little Min. She's probably sleeping in the orphanage away from her foster family and missing them. Of course she may be thinking she's having a fun time at a big slumber party. At any rate, she might know that her American family is coming, but she doesn't really know what that means for her. I hope that she's not too traumatized and scared. I'm afraid that she'll be afraid. I'm feeling quite anxious for her. So, I'm feeling rather helpless to do anything right now. I'll just have to see how it goes. 2 more sleeps--better get sleeping, I'm tired.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Today's little bit O' wacky...

I love chips. Almost any kind of chip will be fine with me, but I have some favorites. Let me introduce you to one of my favorites that I really can only find in China. I have found a bag or 2 at the 99 Ranch, but it's rare to find it in the states. Meet Oishi brand chips. I don't think that Oishi chips are indigenous to China. I think they are actually Japanese. But I have only ever had them from China, and a couple times in the states. They're tapioca starch/potato type chips. They have a smooth texture on the outside and they're slightly shiny. My tongue sticks to the chip and the chip starts to absorb from my watering mouth as soon as it touches the chip. It's sort of like a thick, salty, spicy communion wafer. Yummy!! This chip was a sort of "comfort food" surrogate when I lived in Jinan. It's a food that I call "almost, but not quite". It's sort of like Pringles, but not quite. I know you can find Pringles here, but now, I like to find foods that bring me a nostalgic "when I lived in China" feeling. These Oishi chips do it for me.

Check out the Mascot. Isn't he cute? A cartoon of an Indian Chief with the full head dress standing next to a pile of Potatoes. There's nothing that says "Tapioca starch Chips" like a little Indian Chief with a rainbow headdress, is there? Oh yes, and these are Inca Chips. Yes, this little guy looks so very Inca, doesn't he? He's cute, though.

My next most favorite thing about these chips, aside from their salty, spicy flavor is the NAME of the flavor.

Did you catch that? Yes, these chips are ETHNICAN flavor. I LOVE this name!! The next time you want to talk about someone who is of any sort of mix of all sorts of backgrounds, you can refer to them as being Ethnican. People will smile and nod and act as if you said something really wise and still have no idea what you're talking about. Ethnican people of the world, Unite!!

Oh yes, we're in Nanjing today. We flew from Beijing to Nanjing this afternoon. Here's a Chinese Lesson: Bei means North and Nan means south. Jing means something like "capital". So, Northern Capital to the Southern Capital. We are on the 44th floor of the Crown Plaza tonight. My ears pop as we go up in the elevator. Tomorrow we will do some more sightseeing and meet a woman who lived in Shiyan City 2 years after we did!! She's from FH Ulm, just like Jorg is. That will be interesting!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Afoot and afield in Beijing

This morning we stayed around Xiao Yuan's house and talked.  Then around noon we headed out for some lunch and sight seeing.  Wrongway (who I've been told should more correctly be nicknamed "runway" and Xiaoyuan took us to a great Beijing noodle restaurant.

After lunch, Jorg and I went to a Taoist temple that depicted all the departments in heaven that had jurisdiction over the different kinds of hell depending on how good or bad your were in this life.  It's a beautiful temple with some interesting things to see.   We had a chance to push a stone grinding wheel,  that was great.  My favorite bit of wackiness was the Magical Donkey.  Since we touched the Magical Donkey, we are sure to have good health.

Tomorrow we will go and  visit Xiao Yuan's work and meet her boss for lunch and here are some pictures of the day's adventures!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hanging around in Beijing

Today was a nice take it easy day.  We all got up late, drank coffee, talked and watched some TV.  At noon we drove over to another part of town near the Sams Club and we ate a Chinese lunch (sliced pork and leak with tofu skin wrappers, mala noodles, fish poached and steamed in tin foil, dry sauteed green beans, and kung pao chicken).  After lunch we went to Sams club to go shopping.  I bought some ingredients for the meal I cooked tonight.  I made Oatmeal patties, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and mushroom gravy.  I guess it was OK, I would need cottage cheese to make it better, but that was not available.

We decided not to register with the PSB.  Xiaoyuan said it's no big deal and no one really cares.  So, we won't do that, but yes, Joelle, I remember Jonathan and the PSB--remember officer ratface?  I imagine his face in my head and I want to go poke him in the eyes. Lee Hen described him as "oily".  I just think he's a ratface.  Sorry--I'm going a little inside joke here.

I don't have any pictures to post today, but I will tomorrow.

So--I'm tired and going to bed.  Laina is doing just fine according to my parents!

Oh, No worries, Terri-  Mai/Min--no big deal!!
Kisses all around!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

already left...on a jetplane

So here I am on a flight to Beijing.  We’re in the 21st row and I’m in the middle.  Jorg is on my right and there’s a woman who is going to visit her family in Mongolia on my left.  Right now, we’ve just finished flying over Alaska and we’re on our way to the International Date Line.  There are 7 hours left in our flight.  The airplane is old and worn.  The back Lavs have stopped working and there are 2 middle ones still functioning and the rest are in the first class section and the attendant gives you a “look” when I went to use them, but what can she say?  She doesn’t want me to drop trou in the aisles, does she?  Jorg’s seat doesn’t stick upright.  The catch is broken or something and so he’s always in a reclined position.  He tried to get a different seat but he would only take one that could have us sit together.  He tried to finagle a seat in business section, but he was wildly unsuccessful in that endeavor.  So, the next leg of the trip will take us to Beijing and to Xiao Yuan’s house.  Her husband’s name is…well…I think it’s Rong Wei.  Of course I always call him “Wrongway” in my head, so I’ll call him Wrongway for my blog.  We’ve learned that in order to be legal we have to register with the local police department within 24 hours of arriving at our lodging if it is other than a hotel, guesthouse or other “public accommodation”.  So, in order for us to keep Xiao Yuan out of trouble, we’ll go to the PSB (Public Security Bureau) on Saturday.  It shouldn’t  be a problem.  Friday I’m cooking dinner for all of us.  I’m going to make Oatmeal Patties, broccoli, mashed potatoes and mushroom/onion gravy.  Xiao Yuan needs to know that this is not a typical American meal, but rather a good Adventist meal.  I think she’ll like it, though.  Sunday and Monday we’ll tour around doing something.  We may go to Tiananmen or something, who knows.  I’d rather go someplace new.  If it weren’t so cold I’d say lets to the Si Mi Tai Great Wall trip.  There’s this cool hike that my siblings did when they were here where you hire a taxi to take you to Si mi tai and then you ask them to pick you up several hours later after you’ve hiked to Badaling or something like that.  It’s too cold for that kind of thing, though.

So—if this posts it means we’re safe and sound in Beijing!!  Next post will be telling about our adventures around Beijing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's the Final Countdown...

OK cue the band..."Europe" are you guys on stage now, ready to sing your famous one hit wonder? OK and 1,2,1,2,3,4
doo da doo dooooooo.....dit da doo dooo dooooo

doo da doo dooo did di doo doo doo

It's the final COUNTDOWN.... Seriously, I think this guy can sing it better:

That hair is FANTASTIC!!! Laina was watching this video with me and her comments were; "Mommy, is that a man or a woman?" I asked her what she thought and she said, " I think that's a woman or something". I told her they were all men and she said, "How come they don't put bands in their hair, they're going to get all their hair in their eyes".

And now, Min's theme song performed by "Pink Martini" here's the song that was inspired by a ketchup advertisement that said "hang on little tomato".

Friday, February 8, 2008

Pre-Trip To Do

OK, Everything for the adoption and the trip is technically taken care of. I mean, if someone said, "You must leave tomorrow morning", we could stuff a few clothes in a bag, grab our adoption file and be out the door. But, I've got a few things that I need to remember. I'm going to write them all down here just so I can see it.

1. Empty the fridge of things that will get nasty.
2. clean the bathrooms really well
3. put clean sheets on the bed
4. vacuum the house
5. mop the kitchen floor
6. make a list of things I.'ll need to have for the dinner I'm making at Xiao Yuan's house
7. print out some pictures for Min's foster family
8. Pack up Laina's clothes for her stay at my parents
9. Wrap up the little presents for Laina for each day we're away
10. Update our Will so that my parents will know what to do in the unlikely event of a water landing.
11. Pack up Min's clothes
12. Order tickets for the "Baby Loves Disco" party.
13. Make sure I know the "direct send" address for this blog.
14. Make sure I have all my camera equipment packed.
15. Call and make sure how many "gifts" I need to bring and for whom.
16. Make sure that Oscar the Cat has all his needs met and his caretaker knows the drill.
17. Get a house key packed.
18. Figure out if my parents will need 2 carseats or just one.
19. Call Grandma
20. do all the laundry
21. Pull more weeds in the backyard if I can.
22. Find a good book to read on the trip, one that's a paperback and not too expensive so I can ditch it if I have to and not feel bad.
23. Try not to flip out, scream, rip off all my clothes and go running down harbor blvd wearing nothing but a tu-tu and hiking boots.

Yeah. That's all I gotta do. biggie. I worry about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The TODO list updated

Send LOI (letter of Intent to Adopt): (Done August 13)
Wait for PA (prior approval): (Done September 14th)
Send Dossier to China: (Done September 15)
Talk to Social Worker to get home study addendum: (Done September 18th)
Get Home study Addendum (Received on October 3)
Receive Letter of Acceptance (Received on December 14)
Sign and Return LOA back to the Agency via FEDEX (Completed on December 17th)
Apply for Travel Visas to China (Picked up from L.A. Consulate on 1/23/08)
Receive Travel Approval (Received on 1/22/08)
Agency Makes Consulate Appointment (DONE on January 28. Scheduled for March 4)
Get the go ahead to book plane tickets (DONE on January 30)
Leave to Pick up Min!!

We have a schedule! We're taking off on the 14th and coming home on the 6th. We have a very fun trip coming up and I'm really looking forward to it. We start off in Beijing and we're going to stay at Xiao Yuan's house. Xiao Yuan was my student when I was teaching at Shandong University. She was a freshman at the time and in my first class I told her class that my husband was looking for a Chinese student to talk with him and help him with his Chinese lessons. After class Xiao Yuan ran up to me and told me that she wanted to have the job if it was OK. She came to our house every Friday for the whole year. That school year we spent the Chinese New Year with her family in Chong Qing. She graduated from University in 2001 and now works in a very big language institute in Beijing. She and her common law husband just bought an apartment and moved in recently. It will be very fun to see them.
After the weekend in Beijing, we go to Nanjing to see some business contacts that Jorg needs to talk to. We'll also do some touristing around there. I haven't been to Nanjing since 1998 and I'm sure things have changed. It will be interesting to see.
We get to Hangzhou on Sunday the 24th.
Sunday the 25th is Meet Min day. From that day forward, she will be our daughter and we will be responsible for her. I hope that we will meet her expectations or at least the basic requirements for a good family. I'm gearing myself up for some traumatic times ahead. Planing for the worst, hoping for the best. Breathe, eat, drink, love, lather, rinse, repeat.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Some things change, some stay the same...


The lyric above is from a Pretenders song called "Hymn to Her". I don't really know what it means, but sometimes I find myself humming this song in periods of transition. I've found myself humming this song recently and so I'm posting it here just as a "remembery".

Let's see, news of progress!! Our Travel authorization came in on Tuesday the 22nd. It would have been here the 21st except that it was Dr. Martin Luther King Day. It would have been very auspicious if it were the 21st, because that's Min's birthday! So, we're going to be traveling in 3 weeks. We don't have our consulate appointment yet, we'll get that tomorrow. After we get that, then we can start getting our tickets and getting some firm plans nailed down.

This weekend we put up the shelves in the girls' room. We got the bed set up and 2 smaller dressers will replace the one big one. I still need to sort out the clothes and get Min's things into the drawers so they're ready for her when we come home.

Wednesday, Laina and I drove into Los An Hell Ease to pick up my passport that I dropped of last week. I have a brand new years pass to China!! For no extra charge and no special papers, I got a multiple entry visa for the low low price of just $100. A single entry was exactly the same price, so I just got the multiple entry just for fun. Now, Jorg and I can sit around the table on a Thursday morning and talk about what we're going to do on the weekend. "Oh, let's have brunch at the Four Seasons in Shanghai on Sunday!" "That will be grand! I'll buy the tickets and you grab our passports with the multiple entry visas in them". Yeah, that'll happen.

I got the 2 car seats for our 2 cars and also the new stokke trip-trap chair for Min. Laina's is red and Min's is black. The 2 new car seats are tan and huge. Oscar the cat is sleeping in one of them right now.

Oh and the biggest development happened last week. It has been decided that Laina will stay home with my parents. So the deal about my Mom coming along--not gonna happen. It's OK, though. I'm glad that my parents will be together and Laina will be with them. My Grandma has not been healthy recently and it will be better for everyone if my parents can be home with her, and we'll be able to have Min all to ourselves and she can have us all to herself for while before we come home.

I have a picture of Min that I got last week (thanks to A.) Was it only last week? Maybe it more like a week and a half. I photoshopped it just a little bit because it's fun to do that. So here's what miss Min looked like 2 weeks ago:

Monday, January 14, 2008

The staging has begun--

Bought this weekend:
1 8 ft board
1 6 ft board
10 L brackets
2 boxes of wood screws

Using stud finder to mark the wall where L brackets will go
Measured room to determine optimum placement of shelving

Lined up:
Grandparents to watch Laina on Sunday so that Jorg and I can work without "Help".

Oh yeah, I got an email from Adriana who is in China right now. Her son Blake and Min are from the same Social Welfare Institute and she met Min while she was there getting Blake. She said that Min was very social and liked to chat. The nannies tell her that we're coming to pick her up, so they know we're on our way!

Min turns 3 next week. I was really hoping we'd have her home by now, but we'll be there soon enough. Maybe we'll plan a birthday for when she comes home.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Still waiting on our TA

We're still waiting on our Travel Authorization. We still have plenty of time to get it and since we're not actually planning to leave for a few more weeks--we're still OK. The problem is that we can't book any tickets until that paper comes and we want to leave sometime around the 14th or so of February or something like that. So...again we wait...
On the "getting the room ready" front, we have a plan to get the shelving up. We have no shelves, but we have a plan. I can buy the shelves this weekend or something.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Happy with that!
My mom and dad came with us to go pick up Laina and I was really happy to have them along on the trip. I invited them to come along with us on this trip. I didn't expect much since my parents have done a lot of traveling in Asia this year. They spent much of the summer in the Philippines where my dad was teaching a class on business ethics or something like that. Then they took off to Vietnam where my mom was volunteering for Project Vietnam teaching doctors and therapists how they can case manage their population of developmentally disabled people. Well-that's not exactly what she did, but she gave lectures to hospital staff and not directly seeing patients. My mom is a Pediatrician with a specialty in developmental disorders.

So during the Christmas break my mom confirmed that at she would like to come along on the trip to go pick up Min. That will be so nice to have them along, both be along on the trip and also to help wrangle Laina while we get used to Min...and she gets used to us. Oh...and do you suppose there would be anything good about having a pediatrician along at all? So that will be great. We're going to be doing some sightseeing/visiting prior to pick up day. We want to go to Jinan (that's in Shandong Province) and then to Nanjing (that's not too far away from Shanghai). Then we'll go to Hangzhou.

So, tentative Pick UP day?? February 25th. This is provided we get our TA in January as expected. Although our LOA came on the 14th, the LOA packet wasn't sent back to China until the 26th because someone from our group didn't get the LOA signed and returned to the agency until then. I'm not bitter...too much, because I don't think we would have traveled until the middle of February anyways. So now, we wait--and tick off some things on the "to do" list. Notice how so many of them are ticked of them. I procrastinate like crazy.