Monday, March 31, 2008

Dinner Anyone?

We had our last tour in Beijing today - We went to the Lama temple - A Buddhist temple which has the largest Buddha in the world - over 26 meters high - built out of a single piece of sandalwood. It is in the guinness book of world records and it is huge. A good time was had by all - Benjamin kneeled to pretend he was praying to Buddha - so I think he has seen this sort of thing before. We then went to Silk Street - a large market where they sell knock-off everything - I mean everything - It is a nice place to visit if you like to be accosted by people trying to sell you things - It was fun - We bought Benjamin a T shirt and shorts - and bargained the price down by 2/3 - I think we did OK. Then we quickly left. We went to Dairy Queen for ice cream - which was great and then to the night market where they sell all sort of yummy foods on sticks - like eels, centipedes, scorpions, squid, snake, silkworms, etc. You get the idea - the kids loved it - just as I suspected. We had to stop Wesley from making vomitting noises - we discussed later about trying to be culturally sensitive - I don't know if it helped. We are now off to McDonald's - we are still trying to do one Chinese and one some other type of meal a day - See ya!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beijing - The Marathon Continues

We are now on day 59 (Ok - well maybe day #8) in Beijing.  Most adoption trips to China last about 10-14 days.  Ours is going to be 21 days long.  Benjamin is in Beijing - so everything is done by the book - for example - 2 years ago we met Claire and adopted her 5 minutes later.  This trip we met Benjamin and were required to do 2 days of bonding before we could adopt him - The passport last trip was done in 5 days.  This time they will not rush the passport and so it takes 7 days.  All the extra days lead to a very long trip - we are still finding things to do - but it would be easier to make dinner than to drag all 4 kids to a restaurant 3 times a day.  Today we went to visit our adoption agencies office in Beijing (Holt Internatioal).  They are the best agency in the whole world (that might be a personal opinion).  We then went to a Chinese Christian Church in Haiden - which had an English language service.  It is pretty cool to see christianity alive and well in this country which has been without religion for so long - The pastor said they had 60 baptisms last Sunday.  He spoke of having catechism (?spelling) class prior to being baptized - so they are a little different than the christian church at home - The music was great and was exactly what you would hear in a contemporary service at home.  We then went to the bookstore - We got 6 books for 34 yuan (our first good deal here - less than $5).  We had Pizza Hut carry out for supper (they don't deliver).  I can't think of one more interesting thing to say - Have a nice Sunday.  An explanation of the photos - The bird's nest olympic stadium, the Holt office - Benjamin in the Holt office, the Chinese church, and Claire's pants after a day in Beijing (do not bring light colored pants when you visit here - you will never be able to wear them again).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Near Death Experience

It is so relaxing traveling with the whole family! After getting out of the van today, Benjamin was apparently bored with waiting 5 seconds for us to get out so he decided to dart into the street - That was exciting! Anyhoo - everyone is fine - we went to the Summer Palace - former home of one of China's not-so-nice empresses. It was very cold - but, beautiful with lots of magnolia trees blooming. We also went to the panda zoo and were pleasently surprised to see a vigorous panda chasing some birds (last time we came they just slept). Benjamin was very upset we would not buy him a stuffed panda and pouted for quite a while - at least until we had a snack. We also took a rickshaw ride through the hutong and visited with a local man - on the way out of the hutong we looked at a porcelain exhibit - can you guess why (with 4 kids) we didn't but anything? We also went to the acrobat show tonight - Kendell, Mom, and I fell asleep for a little while and the kids really liked it. Benjamin still prefers Kendell and will give him a hug and kiss now - He is not speaking much to us in English - but it using a lot of sign language now - he has finally figured out that we are dumb and don't speak Mandarin - he really likes talking to our driver about cartoons and other things he likes. You will notice in the photos that Benjamin is not much taller than Claire who is 2 1/2 years younger than he is. I also put in a picture of our favorite sign at the panda zoo - I would hate to see the awful results of panda suddeness. Good Night.

Friday, March 28, 2008

It Never Rains In Beijing

"It never rains in Beijing" - That is what our agency representative said to us as we rode from the plane to our hotel when we arrived. In a freakish turn of events today, however, it rained all day, except of course at the top of the wall - where it was snowing. We had a good time anyhow - and everyone apppreciated the impressive structure - except Claire who had to go to the bathroom (luckily we had a handy-dandy pull up in the bag for just such an emergency - I don't think the guards at the wall had to use a toilet - they were probably all boys!, by the way - anyone who thinks their 3 year old won't have a better time staying at home with someone while you are in China - you are wrong - although our 6 and 8 year old seem to be having a good time - and Claire has a good time occasionally - especially when I carry her everywhere!). So I digress, back to the point of the story. We also visited the jade and cloissone (?spelling) factories today. We supported the local economy at these establishments. We were stuck in traffic trying to get back to the hotel for about 2 hours - that was fun - all in all we had a very good day! I had to add the photo from the cable car we rode up to the great wall in - I am not sure what they mean by "No Smoking or Scratching in the Compartment". It is late now and I must go to sleep - It is nearly 7:15 pm!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Now We Know They Call It The Forbidden City

We had a very full day - After a delcious breakfast at the hotel (yes, it is really that good) we went to the Forbidden City - Home of all the emporers of China from the time it was built in the 1400's until the last emperor in 1925 (remember that movie?) It is an amazing structure which has remained largely intact until today when my kids came to visit. Our guide complimented us on how fast Claire could run away from us in an attempt to escape. Wesley then proceeded to start pulling up the cobblestones which were loose from the courtyard in the city. And to think that courtyard has been there for 600 years, largely intact, until Wesley came. I am so proud of my little archealogist - if only China was as proud. We left there and went to Jianshen Park - This is the wrong spelling - but I am to tired to find the right one. And really, how many of you will know the difference anyway! The kids had a great time running up about 4000 stairs to the top - which had a spectacular view of the Forbiddden City and Beijing. The rest of us did not die or have any sort of stroke during the hike - so that was good - In my opinion this is really a not to be missed park - The views were well worth the hike. We ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant which didn't even give us chopsticks - It was good - but a little weird! We then went to Behai park - also very beautiful with step and a good view and a cool Tibetan buddhist temple at the top. All the trees are blooming here and everything is just starting to turn green - so it was very pretty! We also visited a pearl market on the way home and the kids bought some trinkets - silly me - they were spending their own money that they got doing chores - I didn't think and didn't get Benjamin anything - He was busy entertaining the staff and didn't act like he wanted anything - He started crying in the van when he didn't get anything. Luckily our guide pulled out a bracelet he happened to have and that made Benjamin very happy. I will try to remember to buy something for everyone next time - even if they don't look like they want anything! Mom and I went to Walmart after we got back to the hotel - We took a taxi all by ourselves - so brave of us! Dinner later was hot pot - which was fun - The kids were then immediately ready for bed and so am I after I get this written. About Benjamin - he seems to like/bond with Kendell more than me so far (Claire is glad about that and would not have it any other way) He is a show off and likes to talk a lot to everyone where we go - We are a little worried about what he is saying! He will stay with us and hold hands. He will usually not answer us when we try to say something to him in Chinese (probably our problem, not his) He understands some things already like - go brush your teeth, go to the bathroom/bed. I don't feel he is attached much yet - but does tell people we are his mama and baba and gets along great with his ge ge, jie jie, and mei mei - as he calls them. They are already starting to fight about toys! Enough for now - I must go to sleep before we scale the Great Wall in 40 degree rain tomorrow (jealous, aren't you?). Good night from Beijing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Does the Tooth Fairy visit China?

I would like to congratulate Wesley on finally losing his other top front tooth today - After messing with it for weeks, I can happily say farewell to the tooth. On to bigger and better things now. Today we toured the Temple of Heaven - I am a little sketchy on the details but it is very impressive and was built in the 1400'a. We saw lots of older people exercising in the park - It makes me laugh thinking of my dad dancing in the park for exercise. We then went to Tianneman Square - the kids were not terribly impressed by the large piece of concrete with a statue in the middle - but then again it is hard to recognize the historical significance of such a place when you are 3 years old. The last time we came to China we didn't bring Wesley and Jessie (a wise decision at the time). This time we have the kids and we had to get our picture taken with several Chinese tourists because of them. I think they really just wanted their pictures with Jessie. Our guide told us they like caucasian children because they look like little dolls (sounds vaguely familiar doesn't it). We went to lunch at Pizza Hut - I think we are trying to have one Chinese and one non-Chinese meal a day - This seems to keep the urchins happy. We are now back at the hotel room - As I suspected the purchase of a Nintendo DS lite was a bad idea - Benjamin, Jessie, and Wesley spend way to much time on it. Benjamin's first word because of this was "my turn". Kendell is torturing Wesley by making him do his journal - This involves a lot of yelling and some crying! Apparently doing just a few minutes of schoolwork a day while in China is a big burden on children - who would have thought it! Jessie really likes Benjamin - she thinks he is a toy and keeps patting his back and pinching his cheeks - It is pretty funny.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Adoption Day (AKA: A post in honor of neverending jet lag)

We officially adopted Benjamin today. We spent all day doing paperwork - I didn't get any photos of the adoption - I was wrestling with Claire during that part - We got back to the hotel and took naps - The kids naps have now lasted about 6 hours - I am a little worried about them sleeping tonight - We finally do some fun stuff tomorrow - We are going to the Temple of Heaven and Tiannemen Square. Benjamin is doin remarkably well - since we got him he has been smiling and laughing a lot - we have not seen any crying and he has had good behavior - If this lasts until we get home we will be grateful! The photos today are in honor of jet-lag - I don't remember it being so bad on our last trip here. The photos were taken at about 5 pm. It is now 9:30 pm and Claire and Jessie are still sleeping - Kendell and Wesley got up an hour ago. I also added a photo of the first meeting with Benjamin - since it was before he started crying.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 2 in China

Tired, tired, tired - If we would stop waking up at 3 am we wouldn't be so tired. We had a free day today - we went to Walmart and got some things we needed and some toys that we didn't. We ate lunch at McDonald's (shocking I know - it was my pennance for not getting Jessie a toy at Walmart). We found a really big toystore with a cool indoor playground - we will try out later this week. We laid around the hotel all afternoon and then went to dinner at a nearby restaurant - 2/4 kids fell asleep at dinner - at around 6 pm - The third was so grouchy she wouldn't sit in her own seat or eat anything - because I had to wake her up from what she thought was nightime to go and eat. I know that the excitement of the day is overwhelming everyone - and I know that China sounds so exciting as we have seen it. We have lots of tours planned - they don't start until Wednesday - Tomorrow we go to officially register our adoption - we leave at 7:30 am and our guide said to plan to be back around 2:30 pm. Another exciting day! Benjamin is doing great - he has learned - Hi, Mama, Baba, OK, my turn, and Grandma - He can count to four in English - he talks a lot now and I can understand about 2% or less. He hasn't stopped smiling since he got to the hotel room yesterday. He told our guide he was so happy because he has a family. I think things are going really well so far - I realize we haven't hit any of the hard stuff yet - but he is a lot of fun and laughs a lot - If the rest of us could get over the jet lag - we would be a lot more fun!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

All About Benjamin

Benjamin is very cute - We are told that he is very smart and that he is very talkative and outgoing with people he knows (that would not be us - we haven't heard him say more than a couple of words). He was very nervous when he was brought to meet us and began crying when the orphanage director came in - He wouldn't look at us while we were there although he did let us hold him. He likes Jessie's leapster a lot and his Samurai sticker book - He likes granola bars and he is wearing enough clothing for a snowstorm and it is about 65 degrees today. We recieved Benjamin at the orphanage at about 1;00 pm - We were only able to see the recieving room and the garden/play area - a little eerie - it was very pretty - we didn't see any other kids there - and 400 children live there. We don't know much else about him yet - but I am sure as he gets comfortable with us we will learn very quickly. I am still really tired - Kendell, Claire, and I were up at 2:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep - I can't wait to get to bed tonight and feel better tomorrow.
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