Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gotcha Day for Little B

Mission Log Day 5
Stardate 3/18/2013

Day 5 was scheduled "Gotcha Day!" There were 2 other families with WACAP also going and the lobby meet time was 2:00.  Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister went down early for their first breakfast buffett at the Garden Hotel. What a spread! There was a great mix of Asian and Western foods. They even had bacon cooked very crisp (just the way Forever Mama likes) and uh...limp which is apparently the way China likes it? (, thanks!) There was an omelet station and noodle soup section, as well as congee and porridge, fruit selections, waffles (but you have to ask for maple syrup!), and the hot section with breakfast meats, steamed buns, rice dishes, and a daily vegetable. The beverage selection had several juices- apple, orange, watermelon, tomato- and milk and soy milk. Yogurt was also available. On this day, the duo tried several different dishes, but more or less just picked at the food. Both were nervous and excited for the afternoon event. After another currency exchange it was back to the room to pack up the 3 gift bags to take and Little B's backpack full of activities and treats.

Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister tried to relax, but the excitement and nervousness kept building as the meeting time grew closer. The pair headed down to the lobby around 1:45 and met Lori Saylor and her friend Sonia Martin who were there to pick up Lori's son Mycah and also Charlie and Toni Jones who were there to pick up their son Jeremy. All found it interesting that the group were all picking up "older" kids (in China that is over 3) Mycah was 4 and Jeremy was 13 ( he would age out in November, so seeing this one was really awesome!) and of course Little B was 6. The group introduced themselves to each other and met up with Elsie, our guide. They all went out front and loaded onto the van (note- Forever Big Sister was NOT thrilled to be getting into another van! This ride however was not a white knuckle, we're going to die trip!) Off to the Civil Affairs Ofice the group went. There were smiles in abundance, but the excitement was also tinged with nervousness as they all were finally going to meet the child whose picture they had been yearning over for so long! The van dropped the group off and they set off toward the elevators.

Up they went and out they stepped into THE room that had been pictured in so many blogs. There was the colorful curtain that closed off the playroom. Behind that curtain, in that playroom, Little B, Mycah, Jeremy and over 20 other children waited! ( Forever Mama cannot remember if she was told 23, 25 or 26 children were meeting their Forever Families that day!) It was very hard to not rush that curtain and grab Little B (Lori and Sonia had an even harder time as they caught a glimpse of Mycah behind the curtain!) But, first things first, the paperwork for temporary custody during the "Harmonious Period" had to be signed (China requires a 24 hour "Harmonious Period" before the finalization of the adoption) So sign they did!

And then the wait began. They bring the children out 1 at a time. The first of the WACAP group was Jeremy. Forever Mama had tears in her eyes as she watched this precious first meeting. The smiles on all of their faces told the whole story and of joy!
Next from this group was Mycah. The babies crying distracted him and his caregiver as Lori waved  to get her attention. Then they were introduced. Sweet, quiet but with a small twitch of a smile. No tears from him. He was ready to quietly and timidly get on with the show.
 That just left Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister waiting. Nervousness and emotions were building and Forever Mama just hoped that she would not burst into tears and scare Little B. And then... there he was. He was headed right toward Forever Mama. Wow it was really happening! Little B and Forever Mama were just feet apart. With a slight grin, Little B came right over to Forever Mama and leaned into her as Forever Mama greeted him quietly and introduced him to Forever Big Sister. No tears for him either, he was ready to go! Interestingly enough Little B's friend from his orphanage, who was in Little B's birthday celebration pictures, was also being picked up that day (although he tried to follow Little B first and join the happy group <3  )
With the initial papers signed, Little B was now Bobby Guanxiong Baird. Orphan no more. He now had a Mommy and a big sister named Taylor. Awaiting him at home were 3 cats(Lilo, Angel, and Maddie),a dog(Mickey) and Lao Ye (also known as Papa)

.The now trio were ushered out of the way and set up camp on a seat close to Lori and Mycah. Bobby's friend brought over his bag of stuff from the orphanage and first off Bobby had to show Mommy his schoolwork with all the red checkmarks(which meant good job) He was a bit hesitant so Mommy pulled out the mission message sent from Bobby's teacher who now lives in Georgia.
He enjoyed the Mickey Mouse magic coloring book, sticking stickers on the paper and the spinning light toy.

 He did stop long enough to look up for a first ever family of 3 picture!
Then the time came for pictures in front of the sign. The new family of 3 was first followed by the 2 boys from Bao'an and then the 2 new families with the boys from Bao'an.

Then the WACAP new families had their turn.
It was then time to head back to the van for the ride back to the Garden Hotel.
Back up to room 1110 where Bobby found the lego and workbooks and immediately sat down to work. He allowed his big sister to sit with him and share the lego, but did not speak much. He was able to put together one of the lego sets following the pictures in the direction booklet independently. Mommy and Bobby quickly established that "Niao niao" meant pee pee and "La ba ba" meant poo poo. A big thanks to Kenlyn who sold the Simple Language for Adoptive Parents-Mandarin when fundraising for her adoption of Xavier and Evan! Soon it was time to head back down to the lobby. A group was going to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. The guest list included the Snell's, the Jones' and the Baird's. Good food and good company made for a great first meal experience for the new family of 3! Mommy was a bit worried that Bobby would pop from eating so much! Most likely this meal had more food than he had ever seen before! With full bellies, the group made their way back to the Garden Hotel and headed back to their rooms. After a bit more lego time, Bobby had his first bath. His squeals of delight most likely were heard in the lobby!
Mommy and big sister had moved the nightstand between the 2 beds and then pushed the beds together with one side up against the wall/window. So when bedtime came all 3 were in the "same" bed( the beds are a little wider than a twin, but smaller than an american full, so this was the only way to try sleeping the first night.) As you can see Bobby took up most of the room and had his big sister smooshed against the wall!(the lump with a little bun of brown hair sticking out of the covers is big sister Taylor!)
Up next...It is officially official!!


Star Command, we may have a problem!!

Mission log Day 4
Stardate 3/27/2013

After a good night's sleep, Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister were up and on to another buffett breakfast, Disney style. Forever Mama enjoyed the Asian steamed pork bun, chicken sausage with onion gravy, and fruit pastry along with the western fried egg, bacon and Mickey Waffle! Forever Sister really enjoyed the bacon and Mickey waffle and Asian pastries.

After a few quick pictures around the restaurant, the duo headed to the gift shop for a last look (and a couple of purchases) and then back to the room to pack the last few things.

Forever Mama and Forever Big sister managed to get all 4 big suitcases and the 4 carryons down to the lobby and Forever Mama checked out by 10:45 am. The van to the next location of the mission was due at 11:00 am. Forever Mama had confirmed the transportation before departing Atlanta and had her cell phone on so that the company could contact her should any questions arise. There had been no internet connection available at the hotel since the pair had arrived. As 11:00 came and went, Forever Mama became a bit worried. She checked her phone and lo and behold there was now Wi-Fi available. A quick check of her email made her heart sink. Apparently, unlike America, a confirmation does not necessarily mean anything in Hong Kong/China. The company had sent 2 emails asking did the pair still require their transportation services??!! Uh....YES!!! With shaking hands Forever Mama emailed them yes, but got no response. It was then that she realized she had no phone number to contact the company (can you say PANIC!!) True to Disney style one of the young men from the concierge desk saw that Forever Mama was obviously in great distress(and that Forever Big Sister was in tears- stuck in a foreign land, not speaking the language , and no idea what to do) He approached and kindly asked if the duo was okay. After hearing the story, he told Forever Mama to see if she could find a phone number and that he would then call to see what could be done. Also he said that if she couldn't find a number, he would help to find a way to Guangzhou. Forever Mama checked all her emails, but no number. Next was Google and finally after searching 20 minutes, a phone number! The concierge called and then handed the phone over to Forever Mama. The man at the company first asked why they had not heard from the pair. Forever Mama, not so calmly, explained there had been no internet and that comfirmation was made before leaving. He told Forever Mama he would see if he could re-arrange and to call him back in a few minutes. So Forever Mama waited 15 minutes (the longest 15 minutes ever!) and then had the concierge call back. They would have a driver there in 30 to 60 minutes and to please be waiting outside! Whew, the mission was saved! 20 minutes later Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister moved everything outside to wait. The young man from concierge came over to check that everything was good and the pair profusely thanked him for his help!
     The van arrived about 35 minutes after the call. The driver was very nice, spoke English and the van was new and clean. The drive to the China border was very pleasant. At the border the driver unloaded all the luggage and explained that Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister had to go in and fill out a form and go through security. He would meet them on the other side. So in the confused pair went. Obviously their confusion showed and the guards pointed them in the right direction to get the small entry forms to fill out. A show of the passports, Visas and entry forms led the pair to the conveyor belt for the luggage to go through the security machine. Forever Mama got 2 of the suitcases and 2 of the totes on the conveyor belt when another leady came up and put her luggage on before Forever Big Sister could get hers on. Forever Mama helped her get the last 2 bags and carryons onto the belt and then the started walking toward the other side of the machine. All of the sudden there were shouts, yelling and loud discussion all in Chinese. Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister froze (and probably looked like deer in the headlights!) Neither knew what to do! Forever Mama risked a glance at one of the security guards, who said "No, you good. You go!" The pair needed no further invitation and grabbed all the bags in record time and hurried out to where the driver waited leaving behind the security guards still yelling at the other lady! The duo obviously looked shaken as the driver asked what had happened and was very concerned that they were upset. ( All Forever Mama can now say is "That was one of the scariest things I have ever been through!") 
       The driver loaded everything back into the van and on they went. Forever Mama knew that they would have to change vans in Shenzhen so when the driver pulled over into a rest stop(??) she knew that it was time to switch. This driver did not speak english and the van was semi clean. Both drivers helped to load the many bags into the other van and then off they went. Let's just say that this leg of the journey was not for the faint of heart. Forever Mama had jokingly noted in her blog that during all van rides in China she would just close her eyes and hang on for dear life. Well, turns out that is exactly what she had to do! This driver drove extremely fast and liked to weave in and out of VERY small spaces, so Forever Mama whispered into Forever Big Sister's ear "Just close your eyes and hang on."  Forever Mama did just that, but Forever Big Sister was not able to. She was afraid the driver might understand what she said so she wrote on the notepad on her phone and tapped Forever Mama. The note said "We are going to die!!" Forever Mama closed her eyes again and held on, about 30 minutes later Forever Big Sister tapped her and showed her another note. "We have literally almost died 3 times!!" Forever Big Sister was shaking and had tears rolling down her face, but would not close her eyes and just hold on. This part of the journey is one that neither Forever Mama nor Forever Big Sister EVER want to repeat again!!!
      It was quite the relief when the pair arrived at The Garden Hotel in Guangzhou, China. This was to be their home base for the duration of the mission in China. A bellhop put all of the luggage on his cart and waited while Forever Mama checked in. The check in was smooth and quick, so onto room 1110!
      The room was spacious and sparkling clean. The rooms that WACAP's adoptive families get are almost like suites. There are 2 rooms and a bathroom. One room has the beds with a TV and nightstands. No dressers. The bathroom was off of the bedroom with a shower room that also included a tub and a separate toilet stall (and yes it was a western toilet!!) The tub/shower is surounded by glass and there was a shade that could be raised or lowered for privacy. The other room had a desk, small table with 2 stools, sofa and a cabinet with a small refrigerator and a kettle to boil the water. The cabinet was filled with snacks, a bottle of wine, several small bottles of assorted alcohol and the fridge held sodas and beer. Needless to say the cost of these little conviences was very steep, so Forever Mama unloaded the whole cabinet and put them all on top out of reach!

After surveying their home base, the duo called one of their trusty guides, Sarah, and let her know that they had arrived and were settled in the room. A little while later Sarah arrived at their door to welcome them and to give them an itinerary for their first week. She also invited them to join another family for dinner at a Malaysian restaurant. The duo agreed, but first needed to get some snacks, water and soda. After a stop at the counter to exchange some currency, off they went with Sarah to 7-11! Forever Mama was pleased to shop there as the 7-11 company has always been a huge supporter of MDA and thus would be helping Little B as well! After getting back with provisions the duo unpacked and rested a bit until dinner.

Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister headed down to the lobby to meet up with Sarah and met the Snell Family who was in their second week of their mission in China. That meant that they already had their new daughter. It was very re-assuring to see this new family interacting. Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister let Sarah order for them and enjoyed their dinner of great Malaysian food and the company of new friends! After dinner it was back to the room to try to get a good nights sleep.

Up next- Gotcha day for Little B

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Regulating To China Time

Mission log Days 2 and 3
Stardate 3/15 and 16, 2013

As the winged transportation device landed in Seoul on Friday 3/16 and the second leg of the journey landed at 10:55 pm on 3/16, Day 2 of the journey was practically non-existent due to the time difference  in the Mission area. Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister were easily able to find the green cab stands at the Hong Kong transportation hub and arrived at Hong Kong Disneyland a little after midnight on 3/16, so day 3 of the journey had officially begun. The cab ride was fast and furious and in the darkness the city was lit up. But the ever coveted Welcome to Disney sign picture could not be procured that night. The ride was short and inexpensive and check-in at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel was easy and quick. In no time Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister were stepping into their home base for the next 2 nights during the regulating to China time phase of the mission. The room was true Disney style and felt very familiar and comfortable to the pair.

There was a towel animal waiting to greet them in the bathroom as well as cups with a Mickey ears top that was filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste, showercaps, and qtips. The duo had not come across these at any other Disney resort they had visited.

Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister managed to rest/sleep from around 1:30 am until the alarm went off around 8:00am. This is regulate to China time, so no sleeping in! Breakfast was included in the package and what a spread it was! Both Asian and Western cuisine were represented. Forever Mama tried sweet corn congee (eh,pretty bland) dumplings(not sure what kind of meat, but yummy!) a sweet cocktail roll (?) and banana bread shaped like Mickey Mouse!

After breakfast, it was off to the park. The shuttle buses to the parks are very different than in Orlando. These were plush coach buses! A quick ride and the park was in sight. Tiredness and jetlag were forgotten as the Disney excitement began to build!

Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister loved all the character statues around and in the fountain before the enterance gates.

The entrance while smaller was quite reminiscent of Walt Disney World, including the landscaping!

As it happens, the park is listed as opening at 10:00, but the rides don't actually open until 10:30 (?!)!!

And then a look up Main Street Hong Kong style...
Yes, the castle is MUCH smaller than at WDW and Disneyland in CA. ForeverBig Sister found the Indian on this Main Street as well.
A closer view of the castle (smaller but still Disney!)
First stop? Winnie the Pooh! During the ride, Forever Mama looked at Forever Big Sister and asked "Are we in Orlando?" The ride is in English and exactly the same as WDW :)

The pair passed on the Mad Hatter Tea cups (didn't want to revisit breakfast!) and Cinderella's carousel.

Next up? It's a Small World (no the duo was not captured and put on this ride for torture, both love this ride!) The Hong Kong version is updated with the Disney Characters added into the scenes. The set-up is a litle different than WDW, but very enjoyable!

After exiting the ride, the pair headed off in search of Toy Story Land. Along the way was Sleeping Beauty just waiting for Princess Forever Big Sister. Operation meet at least one face character- complete!
The search for Toy Story land was sidetracked a bit as Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister came across Adventureland first. The duo decided to skip Tarzan's Treehouse (uh..jetlag, lots of stairs, cramming too many people on a raft to get to the stairs- No Thanks!)

Then came the Jungle Cruise. Here there was a choice of language for the cruise! Into the English line the pair went. Forever Mama has determined that the Hong Kong version of the Jungle cruise beats all of the other versions. The boats move very quickly, the broken english spiel is funny and engaging and there are more interesting scenes.

Also, no backside of water here! Instead there is a fire show!
After returning to land and after a turn of the corner, there was Toy Story Land! Operation meet at least one non-face character mission completed as well with the duo posing for a picture with Woody!

RC Racer was closed, so it was on to the parachutes. They go up high and give a birdseye view of Toy Story Land.

Then it was off to the newest section of the park, Grizzly Gulch, where Forever Big Sister rode the runaway mine cars of Grizzly Mountain. Her verdict? Enjoyable, but tame. Trying to blend in, Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister had their wanted pictures taken hoping that it might help in their cover for the final mission.

As the duo was leaving Grizzly Guilch, Forever Mama spotted the Mouse himself! Into the queue they went, but before they reached the front of the line, Mickey had to leave to go find a squatty potty. Soon he was headed back and "Eureka!" Minnie was with him! So the duo struck gold and had their images captured forever with Mickey and Minnie Grizzly Gulch style!
Mickey was very impressed with Forever Mama's Disneyworld shirt. He made a heart shape with his hands and gave Forever Mama a big hug!
As the pair was leaving Grizzly Gulch, they caught sight of the soon to be opened Mystic Manor which will be Hong Kong's equivalent to the Haunted Mansion. They both wished it was already open!
The duo wanted to see the Golden Mickeys show, so across the park the headed, but along the way they stopped for the obligatory in front of the Disney castle picture.
The Golden Mickeys Show was wonderful. It was in Chinese but had a monitor with English subtitles. From there it was on to Mickey's Philharmagic. Again the pair wondered if they were in Orlando! The same show and all in English!
After Philharmagic the duo headed to the Animation Academy. Forever Mama asked when the next class would take place and she was told "5 minute, but it is in Chinese" No worries! In they went and the artist reminded everyone again that the class was in Chinese (everyone else spoke Chinese except for Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister) The pair followed along watching the artists drawing since they could not understand the directions. At the end the artist stopped by to see how Forever Mama had done and in a very surprised voice said "Very nice. Good job!"

There was still time before the afternoon parade so off to Space Mountain, Hong Kong style. Forever Mama sat this one out, but Forever Big Sister enjoyed her ride.
Then it was off to find a spot for the parade. The parade was great and at the end they had a group of little kids carry the rope to signal the end of the parade.

After the parade the hunger pangs called for a meal. Forever Big Sister wanted a burger so off they went. They were given the choice of Chinese beef or upgrading to Australian beef. Since Forever Mama had not (and did not during the entire mission) seen a cow in China, they opted for the Australian beef burger and fries. Yum!! There was one ketchup packet each which did not go very far for the fries, but oh well!
After the meal, it was on to Buzz Lightyear. "Forever Big Sister are you sure we are not in Orlando?"
Then on to the Autotopia which is much bigger and better than the one in WDW.
While this part of the mission was to also include the Firework Show, the duo just could not make it until 8:00 pm and this part of the mision ended at 6:15 as they left the park and went back to the hotel and fell into bed!
Up next...Star Command we may have a problem!