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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chatterbox

I cannot tell you how many times I've attempted the following video.  Countless, fruitless tries.  Today was the best of the bunch so here it is...Kate saying her ABCs and counting to 10!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick followup on Luohe

So it turns out that Lucy is in Luohe and has been since she was 2 months old. CCAI confirmed and in reading back over the paperwork that we received upon her referral it does say that she was sent to the Lily Orphan Care Center at Luohe. It just wasn't clear whether or not she was sent back to Xuchang so we just assumed she had been since that was listed on all her other paperwork as well as the mailing label we received in order to send her gifts.

She was apparently not doing well at all (basically failure to thrive) and the LOCC and Luohe SWI in general has about 90% special needs kids. So, since Lucy probably needed a lot of extra attention for feeding with her cleft this was a good move for her. The LOCC is also sponsored by our agency so the care is much better than we expected.

Luohe is about 30 miles from the Xuchang orphanage where she spent the first 2 months of her life. We have requested a visit to Luohe while we are in Zhengzhou but we won't know if we can visit until we are actually there. Luohe is about 1 1/2 hours from ZZ but there is a bullet train that would shave off about 1/2 hour. Fingers crossed that we will have the opportunity to go!

Oh, I did ask about what may have happened to the things we've sent and CCAI said that a lot of times they will forward them on to the correct place. I sure hope so as we were really wanting her to have our family pictures ahead of time. We'll find out soon!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo mixup?

Blogging sure can make the world a MUCH smaller place.  I received an email from a mama, Gail, who had just returned from China with her little boy Eli.  Turns out, she was fortunate enough to receive an entire book of photos of him as an infant from the orphanage. (Can you imagine??  What a gift to have received!)  He, too, was at Xuchang City SWI where Lucy is supposed to be.  Then she noticed something odd.  One of his baby photos was the exact same photo we had on our blog. 
I had always thought this picture didn't look quite "right".  The hairline was different and the face was a little more square and the eyebrows weren't quite as arched.  But, it's a strange angle, the cleft was on the correct side and really, it's a baby so I just let it go. 

Then I got these pictures from Gail in Denver.
Hmmmm.  What do you think?  I mean, to me, this looks like Eli, not like any other of Lucy's baby pics

But wait, there's more.  Yes indeed there is.  She was also fortunate enough to be able to go to Xuchang City SWI while they were in Henan.  And while she was there she looked for Lucy and did not see her anywhere. She started asking questions about Eli's timeline of where he was and when in his short life (he was born a month after Lucy) and as near as she can tell, he was only at Xuchang for a short while before being sent to Luohe SWI. So we got to comparing notes and pictures and backgrounds of pictures and it looks like Lucy may also be at Luohe and not at Xuchang at all. 

This is not the first time someone has gone to Xuchang to take pictures and not found Lucy.  2 others have been kind enough to look for her on their visits in the past several months and have reported back that she was not there.  I do have paperwork that said she was sent to Luohe when her cleft lip was repaired but it was never clear what happened to her after that and I just assumed she was sent back to Xuchang.

So, the search is on.  I've sent an email to CCAI and to Ann at Red Thread as well (she has been the person who has gotten us the last 2 updates on Lucy with pictures) asking if they know where she is.  I know that we will have her in a little over 2 weeks but it would be nice to know where she has spent the majority of her life thus far.  The main reason is we are really hoping to visit her orphanage and I'd like it to be the one where she has actually been for the longest time.  I'd love to talk with the nannies and thank them for taking care of her.  I have so many questions and if I have even the smallest chance of having some of them answered then I'll keep pursuing the visit.

Many thanks to Gail for the email and subsequent long phone call!  Your description of your 2 weeks in China has really helped pave the way for us.  We are really looking forward to it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Travel Update

We have secured our international flights and now CCAI is working out the actual in-China itinerary which we hope to have this coming week.  For now, here is what we know:

Depart O'Hare airport on 9/14.  Arrive in Beijing 9/15.  Tour Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong, The Great Wall and possibly take in an acrobatics show on 9/16-9/17.  This part is all optional and we could have forgone it and arrived in Beijing on 9/17 but you can't go to China and NOT see the Great Wall for heaven's sake so we're going early!

Depart Beijing for Zhengzhou 9/18.  This is the capitol city of Henan Province where Lucy is from.  Her orphanage is in Xuchang City which is about 1 1/2 hours from the capitol so she will be brought to us shortly after we arrive in Zhengzhou.  We are really hoping to get in a visit to the orphanage but we won't know if that's possible until we get there.

We're also not sure when we depart Zhengzhou for Guangzhou yet but our consulate appointment in Guangzhou is scheduled for 9/26.  We depart Guangzhou for Hong Kong via rail on 9/28.  We depart Hong Kong and land back in Chicago on 9/29.

Whew!  I've almost completed gathering everything for packing with the exception of clothing and an extra suitcase (or 2).  And I have pared down the packing list by a few items that I just feel we won't need (famous last words...). 

In the meantime, I'm really trying to focus on enjoying my last remaining days with Kate as my only child. That includes teaching her to go up and down the stairs over and over again!  She has been able to go up by crawling and finally yesterday I got her to go down by holding onto one of my hands and bracing her other against the wall.  She really wants to hold the railing but alas, it is just too high.  She's doing quite well at it though and was so proud of herself that we spent the better part of 1/2 an hour going up and down the 24 steps to our unit. 

Motherhood is so bittersweet.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making Travel Arrangements!

We have our consulate appointment in Guangzhou scheduled for September 26! That means we have to be in Beijing by September 15. We will depart Beijing for Zhengzhou on September 18 and should have Lucy very soon after that. Not sure when we will leave Zhengzhou for Guangzhou yet. Len is working on our international flight arrangements and once we have those secured we will be able to finalize all of our in-China flights and accommodations.

Kate blessedly is taking a nap this afternoon allowing me to work on securing doctor's appointments for Lucy.  Her first appointment will be with the international pediatrician (Dr. Ochs) on Oct. 5.  Then she will have her initial cleft team appointment (Dr. Vacari) at Children's Hosp. of Chicago on Oct. 12. 

Speaking of Kate's napping: this is the first week without her nanny and I must say it has been a breeze.  Her napping is much more regular, going down at noon every day (except yesterday which I botched by getting her home too late from the park--she catnapped in the stroller on the walk home and never went down again) and sleeping about 2 hours.  I don't know if it's just the regularity of having only one care-giver or what but it's a welcome change, especially considering all the balls we have in the air this week!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Well, THAT was fast! We have Travel Approval!

I just opened my email to find these lovely words:

We are very excited for your family as you are one step closer to traveling to China for your little one! We would like to request Consulate appointments as soon as possible so we look forward to your prompt and concise reply. Please thoroughly review the tentative travel dates below and let us know via email if this will work for your family. Please note that the travel option below is according to the earliest possible dates to travel based on Consulate appointment availability and the closure for the Mid-Autumn Festival from September 10-12, 2011.


Leave around September 14-September 16 and return somewhere around September 29-October 1.


Please note that travel dates will not be confirmed until we have a Consulate appointment for your family. The Consulate takes anywhere from 1-5 days to reply but they try to respond within 1-3 days. Thank you so much for your prompt emailed reply and know that we are so excited to help you plan your trip to China! We will email you as soon as we hear back from the Consulate regarding your confirmed appointment.

Well, YES! Those dates look wonderful! Now I guess we really need to get packing!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lots of upheaval around here

So we're moving right along with the packing list, the paperwork, etc. All is well.  EXCEPT. The only nanny Kate has ever known let us know she was leaving us for another family.  Wha???  I know, right?!

Just as we're about to leave the country for 2 weeks and then return with a toddler who will need a huge amount of medical care.  And now we have to figure out what to do with Kate during the hours-long appointments with the cleft team and the international pediatrician appointments and the speech therapy and then the surgery and recovery.  And and and...

Under normal circumstances (like earlier this summer) the parting would be sad for all concerned but would not be the major stressful trauma for our family that it has turned out to be.

Thank you to all of our friends, both local and not, who have emailed and phoned with offers of help and words of commiseration and encouragement. Those of you who know what will be involved in Lucy's treatment over the next several months know what a huge PITA this will be for us to juggle finding trusted care for Kate as well as helping her through the emotional process of gaining a sister, losing her nanny and losing her parent's undivided attention.  The timing simply couldn't be worse for Kate or for us.

But boy, do we have fabulous friends.  My friend Kelly B. jumped right in and set up a help-calendar through the site Lotsa Helping Hands to coordinate child-care and meals for us.  She will email and post on FB when the site is up and running (and when I have dates that are more firm to input onto the calendar) and I will post the link on here as well.  Thank you also to my local mama group for offering to rotate care of Kate as we negotiate Lucy's treatment plan. And finally, thank you to Jackie for offering up sharing your nanny...we are trying her out this week!  You have all made a stressful situation a lot easier for us.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Fun at the Air Show

Len got tickets once again to the Boeing tent for the Chicago Air and Water Show.  Fortunately, the tickets were for today and not yesterday as it stormed a good bit on Saturday and most of the show was cut out.  Today had to be THE PERFECT WEATHER.  Breezy, 80 degrees, sunny, no humidity.  One of those days that makes you love living in Chicago.

We packed up and left the house early, took the train downtown and walked the mile or so to the tent.  They cater the entire time the show is running so we didn't have to pack much, just some veggies and milk to round out Kate's lunch. 

We also just got a new camera in preparation for our China trip so we were trying it out today.  It's not super fancy but the zoom is 100x better than our old camera.  Still had trouble getting the Thunderbirds in the frame though!  700 mph is a bit too fast for my shaky aim.  See?
Anyway, here are some pics of the day in no particular order:
 
 
 Navy Seals parachuting onto the beach
 
 
 
 Kate loved seeing the planes and was quite the trooper.  We were on that beach from 11:30-2:45!
We were very happy that Kate kept her earplugs in--she did balk at first but then we let her hear the noise very briefly and she quickly agreed that the earplugs were a great idea!
 
 
 
 
We figured the train home would be a zoo so we caught the bus instead.  Kate was asleep before we even got to the bus stop.
The bus was fine when we got on but steadily was jammed so much that we got off about a mile from home and walked, stopping for an early supper at a cafe.  Home, bath, stories and bed.  A fabulous day!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Indian cooking

Thursday night I had a Groupon for a cooking class at Naveen's Cuisine.  We started out by making homemade Paneer which was super easy.  Paneer is basically just cheese. Once the cheese was done Naveen turned it into Paneer Bhujiya with tomatoes, ginger, onion, cilantro, turmeric (that's why it's yellow) and a few other spices I can't remember.

Next up was Fish Tikkas which he made with catfish marinated in garlic, ginger, oil, garam masala, coriander, and cayenne.  Convection broil to perfection.  Yum! The Matar Chawal is basmati rice thrown in on top of sauteed onions, garlic, ginger, peas and I'm sure I'm leaving stuff out of this too.  Lastly, the green loveliness is Dhaniya Chutney which is just garlic, chilis, cilantro, ginger, tomatoes all whizzed in a blender.


Naveen is such an entertaining teacher that the 3 hour class and subsequent family-style meal went quickly.  I went alone but there were 10 people there so it was a lively bunch (the BYOB helped loosen things up and turned it into a party).  I look forward to going again and this time bringing Len with me.  It would also make a great gift to give to friends who enjoy cooking.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Challenge Day 15 – What was your college experience like? Were you involved in any clubs, groups, etc?

I had two college experiences.  The first one was right after high school at UCF in Orlando.  I ended up there mainly because a few of my good friends ended up there.  And they ended up there because their older boyfriends went there first.  I dithered on deciding on a major for 2+ years before eventually settling on English Education because...yeah. My friends did the same.  I really wanted to be a fashion designer and go to Parsons in NYC but A. I had never sewn so much as a button on successfully B. my parents paid my way and NYC was not in the budget and C. I have a tendency to change my mind a lot (refer back to B).

I did take one senior level law class as a sophomore and really enjoyed it.  The professor tried to get me to drop the course b/c I was taking spots away from seniors who needed to graduate.  My response was, If they are seniors who are that close to graduating they would have had first choice on registering which means that if they didn't get in they were just procrastinating and/or lazy. Why should I be penalized for their lack of planning? I'm staying.

I must say he did not make it easy but I managed a C+ in the course nonetheless (there were quite a few who failed--the finals consisted of defending a client using past law cases from memory, written out in longhand...for 4 hours).

I wasn't involved in a lot of activities, unlike high school. I never joined the band or a sorority. A good bit of my time was sucked up by the school-work in general. Those first two years were tough academically for me. As I alluded in previous posts, I never really applied myself to my studies in high school and since the work was not that taxing generally, I skated through. Then I was faced with 300 people in a western civ seminar which, you know...history? From a super long time ago with names of places that have been renamed countless times so I don't even have a geographic idea of what we're talking about?? And, AND! It's not just ONE western civ. class but TWO! And, oh yes, a big AND, I had to re-take one of them because I made a big fat F. Not something I like to admit but there it is.

Anyway, I pulled myself together, chose English Ed. as my major and my grades improved dramatically. Teaching came naturally and I loved the subject so life was good academically again.  The rest of my time at college was consumed with my search for THE MEANING OF LIFE.  Yes, it deserved all caps.  Aren't most of your early college years (if you aren't sucking down beer funnels) concerned with existential crap?

Our family was not particularly at all religious. We did not go to church of any kind. I could go to church with  my friends if I wished and I did when the lure of Sunday pancake breakfast did not beckon.  When I went to college I got caught up in a pretty zealous Assembly of God cult church.  Total control over your entire life was the fee and I gladly paid it for 3 years.  I met Len during this time and between his calm influence and the equally moderate influence of my room-mate Kelly, I extricated myself out and back into the land of the non-guilty living.  No more Saturday nights standing on street corners handing out literature about hell and sinning to all the partiers sinners just trying to have a good time...now I could join them! And oh! what fun they were having all that time I was stuck there with my pamphlets and sensible shoes.

My second college experience was at LSU.  After teaching for a few years I decided to return to school for a second degree.  I took one master's course in social work but quit after realizing I simply could not sit and listen to people's troubles all day without screaming at them to get a life or self-prescribing large quantities of prozac.

I finally settled on the Interior Design program.  LSU accepted all of my previous credits so I only had to focus on what was required for design.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Challenge Day 14 – How do you typically dress?

Also, how do you like to dress your kid(s)?

Hah. Hah hah!  How do I typically dress?!  If you had asked me that a few years ago I would have gone on at length about my fashion choices.  Now? Whatever I feel ok in knowing I will have crust and stains somewhere on it by the end of the day.  Thus, my usual attire is some comfy track pants and a gap tshirt.  In winter I will switch to fleece or sweatpants and add a hoodie to the whole ensemble.  That's it. No makeup, no jewelry. Shoes consist of sandals if we're not walking far, tennis shoes if we are, boots in winter.

Kate is the one who gets to be cute.  I mean, the girl has a wardrobe (thank you Candice and Kelly for passing on bags and bags of clothes to us).  She will usually wear some type of cute cotton dress with bloomers most days or some shorts and a tshirt.  I switch her into a onesie for naps since she's usually hot and sweaty from our morning activities and she settles better with a cooler, clean outfit on. 

Not really too much else to say in this department.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Packing List

I've been working on our packing list for some time.  After much input from many people who have BTDT, this is what we are planning to pack.



Paperwork Have # Need
2 Copies of Dossier
Brown Envelope
Passports (w/ Visa inside)
Airline tickets
Cash
copies of itinerary
2 copies of I-800A
2 copies of Provisional approval
Social worker Contact information
2 clear folders for paperwork 2 2
1 clear folder for receipts 1 1
Affidavit for vaccination deferral
Letter of Intent
Letter seeking confirmation of Adopter
Copy of Lucy's most current medical report in Chinese
2 passport size photos for Len and Lisa
notebook w/emergency numbers and email addresses 
Phone numbers for Dr. Ochs and Dr. Ettner
Phone number/email for Ann at Red Thread
Adult Meds / Supplies Have # Need
Zithromax (prescription) for diarrhea 2 2
Ibuprofen 1 1
Len--migraine meds 1 1
Antibacterial wipes / hand sanitizer 3 5 2
Jet-lag meds 2 2
Cold/Flu/Allergy meds (w/cough) 1 1
eye drops 1 1
Tums 1 1
Pepto Bismal  1 1
first aid kit (latex free bandaids, etc.) 1
Immodium tablets 1 1
Baby Meds/Supplies Have # Need
Digital thermometer (ear and underarm) 1 1
Antibiotics (Zithromax)
Baby Ibuprofen (100mg/tsp) (5ml)
Diramamine (motion sickness)
1% hydrocortisone cream (skin rashes)
Clotrimazole cream (Lotrimin) for yeast/fungal
Gentamycin eyedrops
Polysporin (antibiotic cream for scratches)
Baby lotion 2 2
Baby sunscreen 1 1
Pedialyte (powdered) 8 8
Baby Tylenol 1 1
Baby Benadryl
Hyland's Homeopathic teething gel 2 2
Diaper rash cream 2 2
ear ache numbing medicine 1 1
Suction bulb 1 1
saline spray 1 1
baby nail clippers 1 1
dosage spoon / cup 1 1



Calendula gel (scrapes, cuts) 1 1
Pedilax (for constipation)
Lice treatment 1 1
Adult Toiletries Have # Need
shampoo / conditioner
deoderant
lotion 1 1
lip balm 1 1
comb 1 1
q-tips / cotton rounds
toothbrushes / toothpaste
razors/extra blades
shave cream
tampons / liners
make up 1
sun block
bug spray
hair gel
toilet seat covers
face wash cloths
tweezers 1 1
nail clippers / nail file 1 1
cetaphil 1 1
floss 1 1
face lotion/eye cream
travel toilet paper 3 6 3
travel tissues
Electronics Have # Need
Lap top computer/charger yes
iPad/Charger yes
digital camera/charger/cords yes
batteries / chargers / memory cards yes
cell phones/chargers yes
convertor / adaptor yes
headphones for iPad 1
Office supplies Have # Need
something to contain supplies
pens yes
paper clips yes
sticky notes
scissors 1 1
small notebook 1
Cleaning supplies Have # Need
dish detergent or dawn soap pads
ziplocks (quart, gallon, sandwich)
cleaning wipes
Downy wrinkle release
kitchen tongs
laundry detergent packets (bottle of woolite)
Miscellaneous Have # Need
neck pillow for plane 1 1
money/passport holders 2 2
plastic utensils
clothes pins
sunglasses 1 1
luggage strap
luggage locks
thermos/water containers 3 3
travel alarm clock 1 1
backpacks 2
odor elimator sachets 1 2 1
iodine for bathwater 1 1
Food Have # Need
veggie stix
nuts/trailmix
cheerios
granola bars
peanut butter
fruit sucks
toddler formula 1 1
pouches of baby food
Cheddar bunnies
fig/apple bars
Lara bars
instant oatmeal
cheese cracker packets
Lisa Clothing Have # Need
Tennis shoes 1 1
Teva sandals 1 1
Sweater 1 1
shirts (long/short sleeved)
skirts 3 3
brown dress 1 1
 pants
PJs 1 1
unders / bras 5 5
socks 5 5
bathing suit 1 1
jewelry
Len Clothing Have # Need
Tennis shoes 1 1
Extra pair shoes 1 1
Jacket 1 1
shirts (long/short sleeved)
 pants
PJs 1 1
unders/undershirts 5 5
socks 5 5
bathing suit 1 1
tshirts
shorts
Baby Stuff Have # Need
Diaper bag for carryon 1 1
Diaper changing pad 2 2
baby wipes
diapers
overnight diapers 23
baby washcloths 2 2
baby shampoo 1 1
comb/brush 2 2
baby blankets 4
cheap stroller 1 1
Ergos 2 2
bottles (Mead Johnson cleft bottle w/ disp. Liner) 5 5
sippy cups 
diaper disposal bags (scented) lots lots
inflatable bath tub 1 1
baby toothbrush/paste  2 1 1
disposable bibs 36
backpacks with leashes 2 2
Baby toys Have # Need
stuffed toys
inflatable beach ball 1 1
board books
rubber duckie
stacking cups
bubbles
Baby Clothes Have # Need
outfits
cloth bibs 3 3
PJs
Jacket / sweater
bathing suit 2 2
socks
tights
hats 2 2
hair bows
shoes 2 2
slippers (robeez) 2 2
onesies
Gifts Have # Need
Red Envelopes (extras) yes
Red gift bags yes
candy (hershey minis) for maids/kids
Notary officials (pen, necktie) yes
Orphanage Dir. (pen, necktie) yes
Reg. Officials (pen, necktie) yes
Guides/translators (Boeing or Chicago stuff) 4 4

No problem.

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