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Two months since we’ve met

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Robyn reminded me that Saturday was two things: First it was the two month anniversary of us meeting our little darling marshmallow and second it was her birthday!

Now, before you go thinking me to be a horrible parent you need to know that I *knew* it was her birthday. We had the parents over, but the party was kinda low-key. Ellery hasn’t been feeling the super-best for the past week and a half or so. It started with her getting a slight cold, which turned into darn-near pneumonia and now the biggest issue is that her little cute tongue is covered in sores and ulcers. And we have no idea why. It’s pretty painful for her to eat, but she still gamely tries to muster up a good attitude. I also notice that she’s got a little trouble talking as well. I think Robyn is debating taking her to the doctor today if they don’t look any better. Whew, you’d think after having two kids prior to Ellery we wouldn’t be the "nervous" parents who take their kids to the doctor for every little thing. But you’d be wrong there.

In lawyer news we haven’t really heard a thing. So, not sure what the deal is with that. Her citizenship seems like it’s going to be a long difficult road.

Apologies for the lack of updates, we’ve just had a lot going on it seems like. I’ll post more when I know more.

Bloodwork back!

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

And there is no Hep, no HIV, no TB, no other parasites (aside from Giardia – which the wife and I both think we have). We’re going to be waiting a little while on the Giardia test to come back, but I think it’s a sure thing. Since I’ve not been able to eat much of anything for a while now without some rather "unfortunate" side effects.

Anyway, a healthy Ellery means we don’t have to put her down.

Kidding! :)

How we got home

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

One thing that I didn’t mention earlier was how we just barely managed to avoid spending an extra ten days in Guangzhou. Seems we had some paper work complications. Due to an understanding with our agency we thought we had an amended I-600A form, but we didn’t. This form is required for the US Consulate in Guangzhou to give us our "packet" so that Ellery would be allowed into the US and made a US citizen.

And we didn’t have one.

So, the US Consulate and our agency (and our local guy Samson) all worked diligently to come up with a way for us to avoid staying in China for an extra ten days. A B-1 Visa. Which is typically a business-related Visa. Well, that did manage to get us in-country but unfortunately it didn’t allow for Ellery to become a U.S. citizen the second we stepped foot into Detroit.

So now is where the lawyers come in. Seems we have to get one to figure out what to do next. Since Homeland Security in Memphis is telling us that need to keep her here two years and then fill out these other forms. Which means that she’d be an illegal alien for a year? No, not doing that.

I suppose I just needed to spend a whole ton more money on legal fees and I didn’t know it. Since, I’m flush with cash after a trip to China for four people. :(

I’ll let you know what we find out from the lawyers.

Oh, and the Flu is gone now. Thank goodness, that was a rough patch in my life – let me tell you.

Yeah, Flu

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Ugh. Aside from only being conscious about twice a day – I’m having some of the most insane dreams. Oh, and I recommend the Flu to anyone looking to lose weight. I haven’t eaten since… oh… Wednesday. Okay, off to bed to go shiver, sweat and shiver some more.

Home, Sweet Home

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

It was a BRUTAL last few days in China for me. I’ve got the Flu and it was a punishing 17 hours in airplanes to get home yesterday. But, I took a bunch of medication this morning – and if that doesn’t help me soon I’m going to bite the bullet and go to the Emergency Room. I’m just sitting here now praying the meds work.

In other news, seeing Ellery play with all of her new toys and walk around the house is a surreal experience. We sat her down yesterday in the living room with a small pile of a few things and she said “Xie Xie” (which sounds like shay shay) which means “Thanks” in Chinese.

I almost cried.

And speaking of crying, I did, yesterday when a lot of our friends and family were waiting for us there at the airport. My Dad, Wicked Step Mother, Uncle Larry, Aunt Sue, My cousin Melissa (and her two boys which were NOT happy to be there – but were there anyway), The Edwards (Ken was working, but he got his notice in) and The O’Hanlons (who graciously drove our truck to the airport and let me drive it home).

We smelled bad, looked bad, felt bad – but none of that mattered. We were so happy to be home. The emotions of seeing everyone were overwhelming and had I not felt like I was dying already, I would have probably been a lot more overcome. We have days worth of pre-prepared meals and a nice sign on our garage welcoming our dog home (Thanks O’Hanlons!). Our friend Ken (who was working yesterday in the Nashville Tower) made sure to pass along his congratulations, and the congratulations of the rest of the tower as he was the first one to officially welcome us home. The pilot made an announcement to the plane about our family and our trip, we got a nice applause. Again, overwhelmingly amazing friends and family we have. I just want to thank you all for the warm wishes and the good thoughts while we were gone. EVERY SINGLE comment was poured over and appreciated as we battled with home sickness (and regular old sickness as well). In the next few days, providing I don’t die from whatever I have, I’m going to be sharing a few stories of the return and other things you may find interesting.

But now? Ellery is home – and I can hear her downstairs saying “Uh-oh” every few minutes as she is discovering her way around. :)

On our way home

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today – caught up

Monday, February 18th, 2008

This morning we got up late and had breakfast disturbed by a ummmmmm, what’s a nice way to describe it…. number two moment. So, we quickly left breakfast to go downstairs to our room. After a quick change we met Sarah to go to the passport office (we were trying to pickup Ellery’s passport), but it seems that it wasn’t ready yet, so, we’ll go again in the morning.

We then went to the mall, not the touristy mall, the REAL mall. Where the locals go. Which was nice. We had some nice people come up to talk to us, one really nice older gentlemen who spoke perfect English. Robyn bought Ellery a few outfits (wow, it was like being at home!). Anyways, we boguht some lunch there at the mall and brought it back.

The blog is now current! Yay!

Currently it’s 2:33am at home, but it’s 4:33 here. So, we’re about to be thinking about dinner time. Then we’ll have a nice bath, and off to bed. Ellery has been making her displeasure with her nightly bath be known, but Robyn has been a trooper about just getting it done and letting Ellery be mad, but still understand that a bath must be taken.

Not sure what we’re going to do for dinner at this point, but we’ll figure something out. Right now the kids are in there playing with Ellery as I am typing this and Robyn is figuring out how to repack for the flight to Guangzhou.

After Wenzhou

Monday, February 18th, 2008

We had a day of rest. And it was good. We walked around the hotel, we prepared a mountain of post cards. We did a lot of little things that we had needed to do for days. Repacking, organizing, playing. You know, important stuff.

The next day we asked Sarah (our local guide) to meet us to take us for a tour of the lake area. She met us at 10am, so we had plenty of time to sleep-in, have a nice normal breakfast and not be rushed. We’re not good rushers, overall. So, we avoid it when possible.

Sarah took us for a walk through the West Lake park areas which seem to surround us here. After we initially got out of the van we were set upon by the baby-dressing police. Seems that they didn’t approve of how Ellery was only dressed in three layers of clothes (it was 45 degrees or so, and she was in a sling on Mommy, nice and warm – she was sweating). After being sure she was good and wrapped up they noticed Maureen. Oh boy, did they notice Maureen. It was like she was a rock star. There was a crowd of people suddenly around us (see pictures) that all wanted to have their pictures made with Maureen. It was pretty darned funny. She must have made a picture with ten different people. So, now she knows a little of what it’s like to be like her hero Miley Cyrus.

We saw a great many beautiful gardens and then got on a tour boat which was to take us around the lake in a lazy forty five minute tour. Just before we took off another larger group joined us from Thailand. They also seemed to have a love of Maureen as everyone in their group of twelve people or so, all made a picture with her.

We enjoyed the cruise and then we asked Sarah to take us to a Tea farm, just in the other side of the road from the park where we were started the Hangzhou tea farming area. We already told Sarah we had been to a "commercial" tea place and wanted something with a local flavor. Turns out that Sarah knew of a man who had his own tea farm there and he was less than five minute from us. He had served in the Navy with her husband and they were friends. When we heard we immediately accepted! Turns out that the locals (on the weekends) all go up to these local tea farms to have fresh green tea and lunch. They take their families and spend time talking and drinking tea and letting the kids play. We sat in with them and were given a demonstration as to how the process worked.

You see, real Dragon Well tea doesn’t have contact with machines, it’s all hand done, or else it isn’t Hangzhou Dragon Well tea. This area is known far and wide for its green tea. And did we EVER enjoy this experience. It was wonderful to sit out in the sun with all of the locals enjoying tea and chatting with Sarah. The tea was amazing and the whole experience was just magic. No cheesey sales pressure to buy or whatever, just fresh tea, relaxing environment and lots of nice locals who gave our table some candy. Sarah had said she hadn’t ever taken a family there before, but then, maybe some families wouldn’t appreciate it like we did. When we said we wanted an "authentic" experience, Sarah delivered.

After this we enjoyed dinner at our hotel and a relaxing evening of games and some CCTV Channel 9 (English channel!).

Thanks!

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

I appreciate all the warm comments from everyone, it’s fun to know you are following along. I’m going to try REALLY hard to catch up, but it’s been more difficult than I imagined with Robyn and I splitting turns with cutey and when I’m not doing that I try to spend some time with the kids. They get a little bored sometimes.

I’d also like to tell Stephani (The Boy and the Bulldog) that Robyn and I were absolutely glued to your blog during the time you were here in China – we felt like we learned so much from you.

To all of our other friends we love the notes and we’re reading them with big smiles. We miss you guys and hope to see you all very soon. We’re counting down days at this point. It’s Monday here now and we leave for Guangzhou on Wednesday. And that’s our final stop before we head home. Just wanted to say thanks and I’m going to post this real quick and work on the next portions of the story.

After the first meeting…

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

After being declared the officially official parents of Ellery Cute Butt we were informed that we were missing one set of pictures that we needed (an extra set of passport like photos for some paperwork). So, we walked to a small photo place that was conveniently located on the corner of our hotel. Oh, and all of our luggage was waiting on us too, since we had to just leave it in the van, oh and we weren’t checked into the hotel yet. Oh yeah, and we had a baby in our arms who had known us a grand total of 45 minutes. So, we were REALLY wanting to get back to the room for a little play-with-the-new-person time.

We walk into the photo place and they take a minute to grab a camera and adjust a background for us. Meanwhile Robyn is slowly but surely losing her mind with impatience, because she’s sure that at ANY moment Ellery is going to start screaming bloody murder and demand that she be taken back to where she came from and for someone to save her from the whole family of big noses.

The photo people fumbled and stumbled around for a good ten minutes and finally managed to snap a picture of Robyn and myself. At long last.

How was Ellery? Perfectly fine. Didn’t make a peep.

We checked in and were taken upstairs to be reunited with all of our ninety thousand bags of luggage and our two separate hotel rooms. We just basically dumped everything and started playing with Ellery on the bed. You can see pictures of that fun time here.

Robyn removed her twenty layers of clothing and put her in a nice comfy onesie. Which was like a dream for her, she immediately seemed relaxed and comfortable. She only cried a little on that first day, when she was going to sleep that night. That’s been pretty much the pattern so far, she cries a little at night and is more or less content during the day. However, we know we’re living on borrowed time. But, we’re prepared for it. We just hope it doesn’t surface on the long plane ride home.