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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
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I know, I know. What good is a post without pictures?

We did take pictures yesterday, but it's 3:30 in the morning here. I don't want to turn on the lights to find the camera and download them.

Let me start by wishing my sister a happy birthday. Even though it's the 11th here, it's the 10th back home, so today is her day. I also want to send a birthday shout out to Colleen. You will see your Hannah's face, soon.

Yesterday was a long morning and fun afternoon and evening. We woke up to rain, lots of rain, steady soak you to your bones rain. We went down to breakfast hoping it would let up as our plan was to walk the streets, take pictures, and shop. It never let up, so after breakfast it was back to our room. When Sera went down for her morning nap, I snuck out and did a little shopping. Jim and I brought jackets that we bought on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. They're reversible with fabric on one side and rain gear material on the other. I like the fabric side out better, but never wear it that way as I can't stand on that plasticy rain gear side feels. Anyway, no matter how you wear it, it's hot. It may have been raining, but it wasn't really that cold outside. With that jacket zipped up and the hood up, it was super hot.

I managed to find some things and headed back to the hotel after an hour. Just in time as Sera woke up about 5 minutes later. Now Jim is more than capable of taking care of her, but she is showing the slightest preference for me. It's easier if she sees me in the room, too. I have to say that Jim has turned out to be an amazing dad, not that I ever doubted it. I don't feel like I'm parenting Sera, and he is helping. I feel like we are parenting Sera. Granted, I've changed more diapers, but he's changed some. He spends every afternoon mixing up her formula and cereal mixture in this neat container he bought in Chongqing. It holds up to 4 bottles worth in a segmented bowl. You twist the top, remove the cap, and pour the contents into your bottle. Add hot water, and you have a bottle. He's also washing and sterilizing the bottles and nipples daily, and he's sherpa dad. He lugs around the cameras, diaper bag, and shopping bags and always keeps an eye out to help me when I'm carrying Sera. Buying that stroller in Chongqing was one of our best decisions. it's a great place to stash a lot of this stuff. She didn't care for it too much at first, but now enjoys it. I think it will help her adjust to the long ride home in a carseat, too. He also puts her to sleep so much better than I do. Jim has a good singing voice, and Sera loves music. He'll start singing to her and she is just mesmerized. She also joins in. It may not sound like singing to anyone else, but we know it is. I hope she has a good singing voice because it's already obvious that she loves it. We've been very lucky as she's bonding to both of us beautifully. I know we have a long way to go, but we're off to a good start so far. Knock on wood.

We played with Sera for a while before cabin fever hit Daddy, and he took his turn shopping. Okay, he really spent his time preparing for me to shop some more by going to the bank and changing money. He also picked up a snack at the deli for us.

After another nap, a shortened version of her afternoon nap, we met our group in the lobby for our last day of tours. We visited the Chen Family Temple. It was built at the end of the Qing Dynasty around 1890. It was not built as a place of worship, but rather for education. Chen is one of the largest family names and had around 70 families in the Guangdong Province with that name. They all donated money to build this temple, which was used to educate their children.

When the revolution happened and the government took over the building, it was turned into an art museum. The grounds and architecture as well as the art work itself are just breath taking. I hope the pictures do it justice.

While riding on the bus, our guide, Tracy, was catching us up on today's itinerary. She let us know that everyone's visa applications had been approved, except for Kevin and Jim's families because the consulate had heard about the April Fool's joke they had played on her. When Kevin's wife and I threatened to leave them with her, she promised to make sure their paperwork sailed through without problem. Tracy has been great. She's put up with the teasing and dished it right back.

Afterwards, we headed for the pearl market. This was an experience. It's a mall with about five stories. Virtually every store in the mall sells pearls or jewelry. Our guides took us to a particular kiosk where they vouch for the quality and ethics of the store. They were definitely used to getting large groups of adoptive parents. They pulled out all these little stools and a couple of cases of water. They lined the stools up just outside the door for the dads and babies, and then handed them water. The moms swarmed the store. You literally had to step over bags of pearls. Their quality varied, but even the least expensive were real pearls with natural color. They just weren't as perfectly round or had tiny discoloration marks or pits. Barely noticeable. I bought a few small gifts and an 18-inch strand of pearls that we'll give to Sera some day. They strung and knotted in between each pearl as I watched. I also picked out a silver clasp with the Chinese symbol for long life and happiness. I came out of the store quite pleased with my purchase when Jim had me return and pick out something for myself. He wanted me to get a necklace for myself, and I almost did. I then thought about the fact that I rarely wear necklaces and would actually prefer earrings. I found a lovely pair of blush tear drop earrings with a Chinese symbol on the post part. They symbol is actually for Chinese New Year. I would have preferred something more general, but it will be our secret when I wear them any time of the year. They give us wholesale prices, so we did amazingly well on pricing. I'm sure all agencies have a similar arrangment with stores as I've read many accounts of people going to the pearl market. I do kind of wish now that I had bought a few more things there though.

While we were waiting for the bus, one of our fellow Chongqing families suggested we do a hallway pizza party night. On the ride back, they borrowed our guide's phone and ordered pizza. Papa John's recently opened a few locations in the Guangzhou area. The pizza was great. I honestly couldn't tell a difference between it and the one at home. Food-wise, I would probably have preferred another night at the Thai restaurant, but companionship-wise, it couldn't be beat. We've made some wonderful friends, especially with the Chongqing part of our group. We have a special bond as our six girls all spent the first 9-12 months together. Our girls were all born within three months of each other. Towards the end of the evening, one of the dads went around the room asking everyone to describe their most memorable moment. Last night is now one of mine.

Today, we meet at 10:30 am for our red couch and group pictures. We then meet again at 2:40 pm for our consulate appointment. After breakfast, we plan to do the packing that didn't happen last night. Inbetween our appointments, I plan to spend the rest of our money. I'm buying Asian style outfits for several years worth of Chinese New Year celebrations, plus I have to load up on the squeaky shoes. They are just adorable, and you can't beat $3 a pair. At some point, we'll be buying another suitcase to lug our loot home. Our guide will be taking Jim by taxi to the airline office to try and upgrade Sera's ticket. If not, we'll be spending the amount of a plane ticket on overweight fees for our luggage without the luxury of the extra room on the flight.

My plan is at some point this afternoon to load up some more pictures, hopefully including the red couch ones. I doubt we'll have time to post another entry before we return home.

China has been an amazing experience, a rare few bad moments with a tremendous amount of good moments, and several that were just life-altering. We're ready to come home, but we'll always have fond memories of our trip to China.

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4 Comments:

Hey there!! Just checking in to see how the 3 of you are doing!!!!! I've really enjoyed seeing all of the great photos you have taken and reading your travel journal!

Thank you so much for the kind comments and well wishes!!!!! We can't wait to finally meet our daughter too!!

~Dawn

Blogger Lineberry said...

Hey Magi!
I can't believe you visited my blog while in China!

Haven't packed yet! What can I not live without?

Sera is just a doll!

Blogger Tammie said...

Magi,

I have so enjoyed reading about "The Adventures of Bringing Sera Home" as I call it. I totally understand about the luggage weight issue. We traveled with a couple who have become dear friends (almost family). They had 3 suitcases at 44 pounds each. I ended up taking home some of their stuff to help them avoid the fees. It was a great excuse to visit with them a few months after we got home.

Love the picture of your hubby kissing your daughter! So precious!

Amy C

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