Saturday, November 21, 2015


Today was the day for final goodbyes to my dad. I had a dream last night that nobody came to the service except Taylor, the boys and I. Not a great start for the day.

We had a small ceremony at the Columbarium in the Memorial Garden at the church and then the memorial service in the chapel. Several of my dad's friends were there representing different areas of his life and several of my friends also attended as did Taylor's best friend. Many wore gold and black for the Iowa Hawkeyes and in memory of my dad. Both Taylor and I spoke at the service and she did a great job! I know her Papa is proud!

The pastor was impressed that my dad had left behind a 10 page typed packet of notes from many of the years of his life that detailed his most important memories. It is a treasure that I have it. The pastor encouraged all of us to sit down and do something similar as we give thanks this coming week. To leave behind such memoirs is a gift for our loved ones and friends.

I managed to get through my part and thought I would include my tribute to my dad here. As I begin to move forward with life again, I know I will miss him dearly, but I know that he and my mom are together and watching to see what life brings us next.

My dad was a huge sports fan. The Iowa Hawkeyes were his passion. He followed college sports and loved to banter back and forth with so many friends and their rival teams. We often scheduled things around when the Hawks played. He is certainly smiling now with the Hawkeyes being undefeated and my standing up here in a Hawkeye shirt. Today is an Iowa Game day as well as my grandfather’s birthday, so it is a fitting day to celebrate my dad’s life.
This is the second time I have stood up here. When I lost mom in 2013 it was hard, but since she had gone through the ravages of Alzheimer’s I had lost her slowly over many years and her passing was more expected and a release from the bonds of a disease that took her memories and mind. This time it is much more difficult. Dad was still active and sharp as a tack. He had recovered very well from his gallbladder surgery and was expected to only need some physical rehab for a week. Instead he was talking to me one moment about emailing Chris about stocks and options and gone in an instant.  It has truly been a shock to my system.
With mom I lost my confidant. With my dad I lost my advisor, my rock, my hero.
I remember my dad telling me that he felt like he traveled too much as I grew up. He was afraid that I felt he wasn’t there enough. But I don’t remember him as always traveling or being gone. He made sure that the time he was not traveling was family time. I remember looking up and seeing him cheering me on at the swim meets and at the soccer games when I was a young child in Ohio. I remember building huge snowmen with him and going sledding and ice skating. He was my biggest supporter and always cheering at my softball games when we moved to Atlanta. He came to watch me at football games as I performed in the marching band. He sat through many concerts through many years as I was in a couple of bands during high school. I remember going to Hilton Head and Sanibel. I remember Iowa bowl game trips especially going to the 1982 Rose Bowl.  I remember family vacations whether on our own to places like Disney World or with other family friends to Mammoth Caves. I remember election night parties and holiday dinners.  I remember him as always being there.
My parents were not huge disciplinarians with me. My dad told me I was a very good child with only a few months of “drama” when I was 13. If there was ever a time I may have gotten in trouble, my mom would say the words I dreaded “We will talk about this when your dad gets home” I would have much preferred the yardstick to be brought out and used than to get the lecture from my dad. I never wanted to disappoint him….
When I became pregnant with my daughter Taylor, my dad was looking at property in the mountains that they would move to. He told my mom “We won’t be that involved in our grandchild’s life” My mom laughed at him and told him that his granddaughter would have him wrapped around her little finger as soon as she was born. Boy was my mom right and my dad wrong! Taylor had him wrapped at first sight. They were an integral part of her life. Once I divorced and became a single mom, they stepped in and lessened my mommy guilt for working long hours by picking up Taylor from daycare a few times a week and having her spend a night a week with them. My dad loved having Taylor around and delighted in all of her antics. She was one lucky girl to be able to spend so much time with her grandparents.
My dad also delighted in his first grandson, Bobby. He was impressed with his Lego creation abilities and loved to wear his Lao Ye Chinese shirt when we would meet for a meal. He loved that Bobby and I finally found the prized shell of Sanibel that dad and I had been searching for since our first visits to the island.
 Dad also enjoyed meeting David and David cheered him on as he got up and walked the first couple of times after surgery. My dad would smile as David said “Good job Lao Ye!” I am so sad that my boys did not get more time to spend with such a positive male role model. My dad would have loved that David shares his love of sports and would have become his game watching buddy.
As I have received notes about my dad, I am beginning to realize that while I am very much like my mom, I am also very much like my dad. I learned from what was modeled, by how his life was lived. My heart for helping others came not only from my mom, but also I am finding out from my dad. My desire to help others, but to do so quietly and behind the scenes is very much like him.  Doing my best at everything I attempt and knowing that we all make mistakes that we can learn from also comes from him. One time I had to admit to him that I had not followed one of his life lessons he had tried to teach me. It was harder to tell him that than the fallout from my not following his advice. He reassured me that he hadn’t always followed his own advice on that one either and had made the same mistake. His “fatherly advice” was to just move forward and know that everyone makes mistakes.
When I decided to adopt a child, I got up the courage to tell me dad. I wasn’t sure what he would think since I was already a single mom and older and because I wanted to adopt a child with special needs. I remember him smiling and saying “This does not surprise me at all. You have the heart for these kids” He even wrote the family reference letter. When I decided to adopt one more son he was fully supportive.
My parents both taught me about the joy of adoption by the way they raised me and told me my story. Adoption was never a taboo subject in our house as it was for many back in the 60’s and 70’s, rather it was something that was normal and to be celebrated. I was and will forever be their chosen one. I am so very grateful and thankful to have been adopted by my parents. I know how lucky I am. I know that I got the best. I know that my dad was the best male role model I could ever have had. He was a great teacher of life lessons and of how to treat others. He gave me a solid foundation to build my life on and made me the strong person I am today. He gave me the confidence to be a single mom and to continue to take on challenges. Genetics may be strong but he proved that the environment can be just as strong if not stronger. He never considered me his adopted daughter. I was just his daughter and in the end when I was discussing the validity of some of the things I read about adopted kids he finally realized I was talking about myself. He said “Oh, you are talking about yourself. I forget that we adopted you.” Yep, any man can be a father but it truly takes someone special to be a dad.  My dad was very special and I will miss him greatly

Bye dad, I love you! Give mom a hug from me! Go hawks!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

2 Weeks and Blank Lines

It’s been a little over 2 weeks since my dad passed away. I still expect to see his name pop up on my caller ID as it did almost every day or to check voicemail and have 2 or 3 from him. Instead the phone is relatively silent with only a telemarketer here and there and the occasional call from Taylor. My voice mail is now empty with no new “words of fatherly advice”.
Dealing with my dad’s death has been vastly different than dealing with my mom’s death. She had early onset Alzheimer’s and we had been slowly losing her for a long time. At the end she did not recognize any of us and so while I grieved I also knew mom’s suffering had ended. Dad had made it through gallbladder surgery and was doing well.  He had just been discharged and I had just gotten him settled in at the rehab facility that we thought he would be at for maybe a week. He had been talking to me about the list of things he needed to do and for me to bring my computer so I could get him hooked up to his email the next day. As the boys and I were saying “seeing you tomorrow”, he had a seizure like incident. The ER doctor said it most likely was a blood clot and just like that he was gone. It was so sudden and so unexpected and I was just numb and in shock.  I still am and it seems like I can’t stop the tears.
At the rehab facility as I sat in the hallway waiting as they attempted CPR and called in the paramedics, I could hardly think. The boys had been shooed into the internet cafĂ© room and I am sure were very confused. The head nurse came to me and asked if I wanted them to continue CPR. I said yes because just a few seconds earlier he had been just fine. They told me it didn’t look good and that I might have to make some decisions when we got to the hospital. My dad and mom had made me promise to “pull the plug” when the time came. There hadn’t been a plug to pull for mom and I wasn’t sure if I could make that decision for my dad. I am so thankful for the kindness of strangers that day. One man stopped and asked if he could pray with me and put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. Another lady stopped in and checked on the boys a couple of times and then would come and just stand by me. Several times, by various people I was asked if there was someone they could call to come or that could come drive me to the hospital. All I could answer is “There is no one. There is only me. I am alone.” 
I know I am not truly alone, but at times it does seem so right now. I am really an introvert. There have been several articles circulating FB recently that are spot on about those of us who are introverts. I need alone time to recharge as social situations drain me. I don’t like small talk but will talk for hours about topics I am passionate about. I don’t like to talk to people I don’t know (in person or on the phone.) I don’t particularly care to be in large groups and do much better in one on one or small group interactions. I am an observer and a listener. I often run through dialogue in my head first and think things through before I speak. Most of my life I have had to step out of my comfort zone in order to participate in social interactions. I prefer to have a small core group of friends and am very loyal to those I let into my circle.  Unfortunately I have also tightened up that circle as I have had a few people I thought were good friends turn into something else and my walls went back up. Since I retired I have had very little adult conversations as I no longer go to work. I am not good at reaching out to others to initiate or keep in contact. I prefer to be a helper and do not ask for help myself. I am no longer sure where I fit in society. Most of the people I knew before adoption are now retired with grown children or still working with grown children. I am a retired single mom with one grown child and 2 elementary aged sons with special needs. All of this leads to feeling alone. I am surrounded by support and friends on FB, but when it comes to “Who can we call to help you?” or now that dreaded line for a local emergency contact person on the school paperwork, I feel alone. Now with my dad gone, that line is blank. There are 4 lines on the afterschool program registration form. If I can’t fill on the one emergency contact for the school form, there is no way I can fill out the 4 for the afterschool program registration. So the lines are blank and the boys aren’t registered for the afterschool program and thus no back up plan is in place if I am ever running late or something happens.
I know I need to rebuild my village locally. I have great people in Cincinnati who will make sure that my kids are taken care of if something were to happen to me, but what happens in the interim, until they can get here? Or what if I am delayed and can’t meet the boy’s bus one day? What if I need outpatient surgery? What if….. I know I need to step out of my comfort zone again and start to build a local support system for my boys. I just don’t know where to start. I don’t like to ask for help as I don’t want to put people out or make anyone feel obligated to say yes. Probably another reason is I am also afraid that no one will want to be a part of my village. If you build it they will come…..but what if they don’t?
I have to mention that I am so lucky to have a friend like Jamie who knew I would not ask for help, who dropped everything and would not take "No" for an answer and came and stayed with me for those first few days after my dad passed away. She cleaned, cooked and just sat with me. I am also still in awe that another adoptive mom that I only know through FB also dropped everything and headed my way only to be stopped by mechanical issues. Priscilla did that even though she was traveling to pick up her son this past weekend in Bulgaria.

I did take a step forward locally and have reached out to a fellow DMD mom. Gretchen and I enjoyed a great lunch and good conversation. So maybe one line is filled, but the others are still blank. 
I am hoping that maybe once I can get through these next few weeks of dealing with all that comes along with a parent’s death, I can figure out how to start rebuilding my village locally. I need people to spend time with as do my boys and those blank lines need to be filled. So I will try to build it. Will you come?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Tour of a 2 Bedroom Apartment at the Garden Hotel In Guangzhou

I know as I was trying to plan travel for our trip to China, I scoured the internet to find apartment pictures for The Garden Hotel in Guangzhou. I did find a few on a friend's blog and a couple others, so I could get an idea of what one looked like and could decide if it would be what would best meet our needs for the trip. Before we left to come home I took several pictures so I thought I would do a post just on the apartment itself so others could take a look before they take their journey as well.

I opted for a 2 bedroom apartment at the Garden Hotel. They are in the East Wing and have there own set of elevators. There is almost always someone at the desk to call the elevator and enter your floor. If there is not, you do need your room key in order to access the apartment floors.

Just as an FYI. The apartments are not as glamorous as the hotel rooms. There is smoking allowed in all apartments. We were on the 14th floor and the smell of smoke hit us as soon as we stepped off of the elevator. Some days it was really bad, while others it was present but just slightly noticable. Note that there is a main entrance door for the aprtment, but also each bedroom has its own entrance door to the hallway.

The first bedroom had 2 double beds(China size which means slightly wider than twin beds in the US) There is a ton of storage, along with a TV and desk.
 This chest of drawers took up an entire wall in the bedroom. Lots of storage room here!
 There was also a dresser under the TV with more drawer storage space.
 There were 2 closets. One did have a safe and the other had the ironing board. There were a good number of hangers as well.
 This bathroom had a tub/shower combo. The showerhead could be used as a hand held. The toilet in this bathroom had a bidet seat. There was also a sink area with large vanity area and a medicine cabinet and doors underneath the sink area for storage. (See pictures of second bathroom)

                                      The living room was in between the 2 bedrooms. There was a small couch, arm chair, coffee table, end table and a large cabinet with the TV on top. There was also a dining room table and 4 chairs. There were extra leafs for the table behind the couch if you needed to make the table larger.
 As you walked into the aprtment there was a pantry/glass front cabinet and the refridgerator on the left with the kitchen on the right and the living room straight ahead.
The fridge was big with a freezer. I made my own ice with bottled water :) Yes, they do put the mini bar stuff in it. All the stuff on top is what was in the fridge when we arrived. We shopped for our own since the prices for their mini bar stuff was pretty steep.
 The kitchen had a cook top, hot pot and a microwave., That is a dishwasher under the stove top. We did not use it as I wasn't sure how it worked. The sink is to the right of the green dish soap bottle.
This is the washer dryer combo. It won't do huge loads and takes about 3 hours to wash and dry, but i did not have to send out laundry at all this trip. We had it constantly going when we were there. You do need to get the clothes out once dry as if they sit in there overnight they will be damp due to the humidity that comes back in. There were instructions on use in the drawer to the left of the washer. The  housekeeper also showed us how to use it.
 You do need to use low suds detergent. I brought the instructions with me when I went shopping at Aeon. I handed it to the ladies in the laundry aisle and pointed at low suds. They read the Chinese version and handed me this bottle. It worked well for us!
The second bedroom had a king bed(I think that was the size) I somehow did not get a picture of it and I stayed in the other room. There was a desk and TV as well as a chest of drawers. A good amount of storage in this room too. There was a perfect space next to the chest to park Bobby's wheelchair folded. It was the right amount of space between the chest and the start of the wall to the closets.
 This bedroom also had 2 closets. No safe in here but it did have an ironing board and plenty of hangers.
 The bathroom for this bedroom was also a full bathroom. Same sink and vanity area with storage underneath the vanity and in the medicine cabinet. It had just a regular toilet (sorry folks, no bidet seat in here!)
 The tub shower combo was the same as the other bathroom with the handheld shower option as well. Water pressure in both bathrooms was pretty good.

This is a picture of our lifesaver this trip! The first night i woke up in the middle of the night having sneezing attacks and completely congested. I felt awful and in the morning I went to the front desk to see about being moved, but they had no other apartments available right then. They brought this air purifier up and put it in the living room. It did help, but I asked the next day for a second one for my bedroom and that did the trick. These also act as dehumidifiers. I estimate that they hold about a gallon or a little more before turning off as full. We emptied each unit in the morning as they would both turn off and be full and then again before going to bed as the same thing happened. That was every single day! So that means about 4 gallons of water was pulled out of the air in the rooms each day we were there. If we had a 3rd unit in the other bedroom, I am guessing it would have pulled about the same amount of moisture out. So if you stay in one of the apartments and have an issue, ask for one or 2 of these. They really did the job for us! I did also diffuse Thieves and Purification essential oils during our stay which helped with any musty odor and cleaning the air.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Journey Home

Super Lu here with the report on the journey home. Thursday morning brought the last of the wonderful buffet breakfast. David had some nervousness as shown by his light eating. He did make sure to get one last chicken sausage! Bobby was elated to find that they had his beloved sicky rice for this last breakfast in China (He later told me that he did not want to leave China because he wanted to eat Mooncakes and sticky rice every day!)

After breakfast the crew headed back up to relax for a bit before having to leave for the airport.

Soon it was time to leave their home of the last 2 weeks. The boys each helped push a suitcase.

One last elevator ride....

It was then off into the van. Today was our favorite driver and van. Bobby loved the stuffed dogs on the dashboard and thought they looked like steamed buns! Today he finally got to touch one and have his picture taken with one!

A few shots taken while on the drive to the airport. So many apartments and the buildings are so close together. Many looked close enough that you could reach out your window and shake your neighbors hand!

We reached the airport and it was time for goodbyes and a couple of pictures. The boys both enjoyed our guide Lucia and she was great with them! She did a great job making sure our crew got to where they needed to be and did a wonderful job showing us some sights.

 The boys also enjoyed our favorite driver. He had driven us around a couple of other times and drove us to the orphanage for the visit and was so great with both boys!

Lucia did acompany our crew inside and made sure that check in went well and then made sure the crew went through the first checkpoint.
 Once at the gate, the crew had to move to the next gate over due to a gate change. Both flights were going to Seoul so there was lots of confusion when the other flight boarded!

Korean Air was great about boarding those who need a little extra help or time first and took immaculate care of Bobby's travel wheelchair on all flights. Once all were boarded, there was a delay due to air traffic which seems to be the norm flying out of Guangzhou. Soon we were off and on our way to Seoul. Goodbye China! (the airplane is facing that way because we had to do a turnaround to fly out of Guangzhou)

The flight had quite a bit of turbulence, but it didn't sem to bother David as he was glued to the game screen!

The crew again spent the night at the Transit Hotel at the airport and had the buffet dinner. It was very soon off to bed for all! This time all slept well as there is only and hour time difference between Seoul and Guangzhou.
It was an early morning wake up and off to board the last leg of the journey home. Once again the food was plentiful and very good. David really enjoyed the Korean dishes with the hot sauce paste!

  David sat like this most of the last few hours of the flight. He kept putting the route map up and trying to move the airplane along faster. It unfortunately didn't work and the flight was still about 14 hours long!
No pictures were allowed entering the airport or in immigration, so the new family had to bid fairwell to Emily at immigration without a goodbye picture. She was off to catch her flight home and the family had to wait to get through immigration for David. It took a bit, but it was smooth and the officer was so friendly. It was then off to get baggage and catch the shuttle to the parking deck. Soon they were on their way home! A quick stop to pick up lunch from McDonalds and they were finally home. Waiting for them was big sister Taylor who had decorated the house and had roses for mom, presents and signs for the boys, Gigi's cupcakes and fresh food in the fridge!

 Neither boy had slept during the flight but everyone managed to stay awake until 7:30 pm. Bobby made sure to tuck me in before heading up to bed!
So the family is now home. Taylor headed back to school on Sunday and so this reporter's job is now done. This was quite the trip and so a rest is in order! Soon I will travel to Cincinnati so I can be with another traveling family as they head to a different country. After that? The schedule is unclear. Here's hoping I can return to the Baird family in time to accompany them on their Disney cruise in early April. There is rumor that a couple of other Disney outfits are waiting for me should I be able to cover the DCL cruise assignment! So for a final time on this China assignment, this is Super Lu signing off!