Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Last Post

Now that Pearl has made it home and has begun to settle in as a member of our family, and our journey is over, I think it is time to join Chloe's blog and Pearl's blog into one. Click on the link to the right entitled "My family blog" and don't forget to bookmark the page once you get there.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lovely Miss Pearl

Playing in the Pumpkin Patch

Visiting Friends

Chloe, Mom, Wolfe, Pearl & Winter

Getaway Weekend

This weekend was our first extended journey from home since Pearl joined our family. In just 3 days, we managed to pack in 4 visits with family and friends as well as major clothes shopping on Saturday for the girls. Pearl did beautifully on the entire trip, but Chloe reached her breaking point on Sunday and was full of tears and tantrums, not her usual bubbly self.

First stop was Paso Robles (1.5 hrs from home) where we visited with our ex-SIL Cindy(now just honorary SISTER), our nieces and nephews and her new husband Josh. Their new baby Quinlan is doing wonderfully well and was just starting to crawl. We took a lot of cute pictures and I hope to post one within a day or two. Later that night we dined at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Monterey, Chongs. It's not much on atmosphere, but we just LOVE their food. It has been a tradition for us since 1987.

After a leisurely morning in beautiful Carmel, we ventured on to our friends Kevin and Christie's home in Hollister. They just became foster parents to a beautiful 4 week old baby girl, who we all hope to see become a permanent member of the family. She is dainty and adorable. I used to work with Kevin at a structural engineering firm in Salinas about 15 years ago. Kevin is still there now and I have been employed with the City of Shafter for the past 12 years. We had a wonderful visit and they presented baby doll gifts to Chloe and Pearl, which were of course, a big hit!

Next was a business meeting in Gilroy followed by shopping at the outlet center in Gilroy. We only went to one store, Carters, and found tons of everyday clothes suitable for daycare. Now they are set for Winter casual wear. I won't tell you how much we spent.

Onward and upward to San Jose we traveled. After checking into our hotel and giving the girls a much needed bath, we went to my Cousin Bruce and Lorene's house. We totally love visiting them and try to get up there any chance we get. Fortunately for us, their daughter and son-in-law were also in town for the weekend. Their daughter Brenda is my age and we always have a good time when we get together. Chloe and Pearl had a blast visiting neighbors, picking flowers in the garden, and ravaging the toybox. One of the neighbors even gave the girls matching beaded necklaces, which of course, they loved. My big regret is that we did not take many pictures of this visit, but I know Pete got some video. Hopefully, it is good. Visiting the cousins is like a trip to Grandpa and Grandma's house.

So far, the girls survived two days with no naps, other than the occasional snooze in the car seat. The stimulation has been high, but everyone managed to get a good night sleep Saturday night. Sunday morning brought one more pleasant visit as we stopped by our internet friend's Chris and Rebecca's home. Chris and Rebecca have also adopted two children from China, so this was an opportunity for the girls to spend time with other Chinese adoptees, not that they noticed. Our hats are off to Chris and Rebecca for their amazing toy collection (and we didn't even see the kid's rooms). Chloe's favorite toy is anything to do with trains and when she found the play table with the full Thomas the Train setup, she was crazed. They even had a toy train that you could ride around on a small track. At this point, Chloe lost all sense of control and could not manage to see anyone, especially Pearl, playing with any of the train toys.

I really wished we had more time for conversation as Rebecca and Chris are a fascinating couple with two beautiful children. Their son Haowen (American name Wolfe), age 5.5 just came home from China a month before Pearl, so it was nice to hear how well his English language has progressed. He is speaking in sentences and understands pretty much everything. Their daughter Winter Hope was only 3 months older than Pearl and she is a lively ball of energy, much like our Chloe (on a good day). As it was, just keeping an eye on all of the activity of four young kids was enough distraction to make carrying on a conversation challenging. We took a few pictures, but Chloe was not in the mood for cooperation, so ours weren't the best. I will try to post one anyway. Hopefully, Rebecca got a good one. I guess this just means we will have to get together another time if we want to finish the conversation and the photo shoot. If you are reading this Rebecca, thank you for your hospitality!

Next we headed toward home with only one more big stop, Pete's favorite destination, Casa de Fruta, on the itinerary. It is a 100 year old fruit stand that has grown to epic proportions, including a train ride and carousel ride. There is a large fruit stand, a fancy deli/wine shop, a cafe, a candy shop and lots of other stuff. Pete has done a lot of engineering work for the owner in the past. Pete wanted to pick up some pumpkins because Halloween is his favorite holiday. The girls and I just played in the yard where some small railcars were set up as playhouses for the kids. We also took the girls on the train and carousel rides. Next door to the fruit stand was a Renaissance Faire, so there were many lively characters walking around.

Only 2.5 hours later, we arrived at home, still daylight and we let the girls play on their tricycles in the front driveway. They were so excited to be home and Chloe turned back into her sweet self once again. Pearl managed to keep her even temperment the entire weekend and had no potty accidents.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Halloween Sneak Peak

The girls try on their costumes for size.

First Day of Dance Class

Back to Work

This week marked the beginning of our "normal" schedule. I returned to work on Monday and then promptly took most of the morning off to take Chloe and Pearl to their first dance class. Pete went too and we had a great time. Chloe was scared at first and one of the teachers had to hold her for the first 10 minutes, then she stood there for the next half hour just watching everyone else, and then finally the last 20 minutes, she joined in, in her own unique way, giving the teacher high fives and bouncing around.

Pearl, on the otherhand, also appeared to be nervous, but she joined right in from the first step and followed along without hesitation. Even though the class has been going for a few weeks and the girls just joined Monday, Pearl is already one of the better students at following along and participating. I can hardly wait for next Monday to see the girls on their second day of dance class.

Tuesday brought another first. Pearl began preschool which will occur on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for about 3 1/2 hours in the morning. Her daycare provider, Robin, dropped her off and picked her up, so I just got the report that everything went just fine. The preschool, Robin's house, our house and my work are all within a few blocks of each other. Life in a small town can have a lot of advantages.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pearl & Chloe Meet Cousin Faith

We all went out to support our local Kiwanis organization by purchasing pancake breakfasts on September 23, 2006. Pearl and Chloe had a fun time and played with Cousin Faith. After breakfast, we all moved on to the playground for another hour of fun and excitement.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pearl shops for new toys
Pearl models Elmo costume

Dad buys matching PJs for Halloween

Pearl starts Daycare with Chloe

After a few days home, Chloe returned to her regular daycare on the following Monday. This gave me a few days to spend some extra time with Pearl alone. Since I had so many things to take care of this week (including one day of bed rest), we decided to take Pearl to daycare with Chloe. She loved it instantly and all the kids greeted her with hugs and excitement. When we go to pick them up, they both come running with big smiles and happy faces. The first couple of days, we just took Pearl half time, but she is already happy to spend the day there.

Yesterday, we picked them up a couple of hours early and took them to the Kern County Fair. It was a little hot and Chloe was too short for even the kiddie rides (Pearl was just at the line), so the rides were not too fun. They did enjoy the animals and I think the girls really loved all the bunny rabbits in the barn. We spent a fortune on bad food and silly toys that quickly broke, but it was still a fun adventure.

Every evening is playtime with Mom and Dad. The girls love watching the Wiggles and Pearl is a master at immitation and picking up things. She can repeat the dance moves to perfection while Chloe just bounces around hysterically laughing. Pearl loves learning and she can already count to five in English, ahead of her younger sister, Chloe.

Last night was the first time Pearl and Chloe shared a bath. I think it was the first time both girls truly acted like best buddies and friends. They have had a lot of fun together since meeting, but bath time last night was on a whole new level.
I have to say that two girls really isn't much more work than one (one Chloe, that is). The extra time invested in getting Pearl dressed, fed, bathed and put to bed is balanced by the time saved when the girls play together, occasionally giving Mom and Dad a reprieve. Plus, the additional fun of two laughing, jumping giggling girls is an added bonus. I can hardly wait until Pearl starts talking in English sentences. I noticed that when Chloe hands Pearl something, Pearl says "Xie Xie Mei Mei" which means "Thank you, little sister". So cute!

Pearl and Marty become friends

Pearl on her way home from her first US haircut.

Finally an Update--Home 2 weeks

Well, first of all, I apologize for leaving you hanging. We did receive Pearl's visa and made it home safely from China. She had her first major meltdown at LAX. I think she was a bit airsick from the 13 hour flight and she refused to walk. We had been waiting for Chloe's stroller to appear in the luggage carousel for an hour and a half and we finally decided to ditch it since we had the rest of our luggage. Many of the other passengers were still waiting for their luggage. Now, how to transport our luggage and two toddlers who cannot walk out of the airport and on to the shuttle to our car. I carried Chloe and we stacked Pearl on top of the luggage on one of the airport carts. As we left the secure area, Pearl screamed and kicked hysterically as we made our way out of the airport. Everyone was staring wide eyed. We finally found the shuttle and made our way to our truck, ready with two carseats. Pearl didn't mind the carseat too much, but she did manage to throw up at some point on the way home.

Jetlag, colds and coughs kept us all staying close to home and out of touch with most of the world for the past two weeks. Pearl became a little more moody and pouty for the first 10 or 12 days home. Now she is getting back to the happy smiley girl we met in China. Her first visit to the doctor lasted 4.5 hours and she was tested for everything. Her Chinese American pediatrician thinks she has asthma and she was prescribed several medications. The way health insurance works here is you cannot add your adopted child to the policy until they are here physically. It takes several days to update the records. I added Pearl after 5 days home. Day 8 we went to the doctor's and it wasn't enough time to get her in the system. Well, I managed to get her to her appointment, and to the lab for bloodwork and to the radiologist for her lung x-rays. The only place that wouldn't accept her temporary records was the pharmacist. They said I would have to pay for the medicine now and then be reimbursed later. Well, I thought, no big deal, I can fork out a couple of hundred dollars and then we can go home. Turns out the medicine bill was nearly $500 for Pearl's prescriptions, UGH! So I did what any good mother would do, I carefully explained the situation and then nearly broke down into tears. I wasn't going home without that medicine. I guess the worker took pity on me and made a few phone calls. After another 20 minutes, she got approval to manually enter Pearl's records into the computer.

Jetlag with two toddlers is quite the experience. For 9 or 10 days, both girls woke up every night between midnight and 2 AM and did not go back to bed until 6 AM (for a couple of hours). It was miserable and I thought we would never get back on track. I kept their daytime naps to a minimum and kept them outside during the daylight, but it still took a long time to get back on schedule. Now, both girls are going to bed at an appropriate time and sleeping through the night. We are also just about over the bedtime tears.

I have been sick with cold-like symptoms ever since my second week in China, so now that I have Pearl taken care of, it was my turn to go to the doctor's. I have been so tired, mostly due to a persistent cough that becomes so intense, it causes me to vomit. They checked me for everything from TB to Valley Fever. It is probably allergies, but after 8 colds this past year, I really need them to check me out thoroughly and give me some relief before I go back to work full time in another week. The good news is Pearl is doing better and Chloe and Pete are also doing well.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Day 9 Our Consulate Appointment

Today was another low-key day. We were instructed to sit in our hotel room and stay by the phone while our guide was at the US Consulate with all our paperwork. If there were any questions, they would call us. By 11, we got the call that everything was OK. The girls played in the playroom and we later took them to a playground where they played with the local children.

Pearl is starting to act more like a 3 year old. She shows distress when she doesn't get her way and she has had a few melt-downs. She is still generally happy and eager to learn. She is very smart and often reminds us when we forget things, like leaving her sippy cup on the dining table. Chloe is having nasty diaper problems today. I hope it clears up before we go home tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow, we check out of our hotel at 2, go to the US Consulate and wait for Pearl's visa. After we get it, we go straight to the airport and thankfully, head home. We will arrive at LAX the same evening 2 hours before we left Guangzhou.

Day 9 -- Pictures

Day 8 --photos

Monday, September 04, 2006

Day 8--Medical Examination

Today, we met up with the other 4 families from our agency and proceeded onto the medical clinic, where the newly adopted children must undergo a medical exam before they can be issued visas to enter the US.

It was utter mayhem in the clinic with families piled on top of each other and people frantically being escorted from station to station. They kept sending us back to the first station. I don't think there was any sense of an orderly process with everyone dashing from room to room haphazardly. The exam was pretty superficial and Pearl weighed in at 12 kilos and 91 centimeters long. Not sure what that means in US units. It was hot and crazy and way too crowded to be safe.

Afterward, we headed to our hotel for group photos, but Pete had left early with Chloe and the camera, so we missed out. Then we headed back to the playroom to let the girls have a chance to unwind. This afternoon we said goodbye to Daisy as she was escorted to the airport in the hotel shuttle.

Tonight Pearl and I played a new game. She would ask me to draw her a picture on her magnadoodle and then I would tell her the word in English, like "flower", and she would repeat it back. I think this will be a great technique in teaching her English. She is getting very comfortable with us.