Sunday, March 31, 2013

Safari Park Zoo

Today was probably the best day we had in China in terms of doing something fun. Our guide took us to the Safari park zoo here in Guangzhou. It was such an awesome place. When your first enter the park it takes you on a tram ride to see animals. I have done other safaris like this before but I will say this one really was great. Then from there you get off and there is a whole park to walk through waiting for you. It was amazing to see pandas, koalas, white kanagaroos, they even had a dinosaur exhibit that was really cool. I was just so amazed and impressed. I think what made it so impressive was the fact that the animals were kept  really well and it was a zoo that quite honestly exceeded even American zoos that I have been to. They seemed to care for the animals and they weren't confined. They also had a nursery with incubators for little animals. I honestly could have spent more time there if it did not start to rain. I also wish all my kids would have been here to enjoy it with us because I know that they all would have loved it.
After that Taite crashed and we came back to the room before dinner. We are still having some fits and today she had one right before we were leaving for dinner. It just seems that about once a day she needs to have a melt down. Language and age are a barrier to our communication so I think this is her way of grieving. She is super attached to me but I am sure it is still scary in her mind that for only a week she has been away from the place she called home for the last two years.
We then went to dinner with a group of our new friends that we have made here. As great as all that was Taite has major issues with strangers and we are having a difficult time dining with people because she turns away and will not look at anyone. What ends up happening is that she stays facing my chest and eats while she hides her face. When people try to talk to her she cries. I am not quite sure why she is so shy and scared of strangers. I am hoping that we really can move beyond her fears because she has 5 brothers and sisters at home and a daddy to meet and I really don't want her to totally reject them now that she has had me alone for this long. beyond her being scared of everyone dinner was great and I think we have made some great friends that we can stay in touch with once we all hit the states.
Safari Park Zoo

My first Carousel Ride

Dinner with our new friends

White Kangaroos

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Yeah we have been in Guanghzhou since yesterday. It is a nice feeling knowing that you are close to bringing your child home. Plus it is nice to have people to talk to since in Hohhot most people did not speak english.
But I guess to catch up we arrived here late yesterday afternoon. The flight went pretty well for Taite and we only cried at the beginning because she was so tired. She took a nap and woke up and all was good. We are staying at the Garden Hotel and I must say it is pretty amazing. We have a two room suite so that was totally unexpected. I also have a pretty swanky bathroom so all in all it is pretty nice. Last night was pretty low key and since the friends I had made were not here Taite and I ventured out alone and ate at an Italian restuarant. She definitely is a strange eater for a toddler because I ordered some calamari and fried shrimp and she chowed down. Then (thank goodness) I went to starbucks. I was thrilled that there is one right across the street. I threw out my typically no caffeine after lunch rule for myself and splurged on a frappucino at 7:00 at night. Luckily I still managed to go to sleep last night.
Today we went to breakfast and met several other people with children. It was awesome being able to talk to other people. From there we had to do Taite's medical. She was not a happy camper. She already is terrified of strangers and for the last blood test they take the babies alone. Yeah! she screamed. After that our guide took us and the other family from our agency to an awesome lunch. I was so fortunate to have great company for lunch and good food. I was even brazen and tried the goat dish our guide ordered. It tasted like beed and honestly I really wouldn't have known any different if she didn't tell us. Taite also ate a big lunch and tried virtually everything on the table.
Tonight we also got to eat dinner with our new friends jacqueline and Gavin. I am so happy we got to meet them in Hohhot and hopefully when we do head up to New Jersey and New York to visit our family we will be popping in to say hello to them as well. Tomorrow we have a big day planned since our guide is taking us to the Safari Park Zoo. I am pretty excited and hopefully Taite will love it.
The View from our room

Bad Hair Day

New Friends Taite and Jason

Making noodles

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

I can brush my teeth

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Inner Mongolian Museum

Today started off being a pretty quiet day. We ate breakfast, played, ate lunch, and then napped. After Taite's nap our guide's dad (she apparently had to pick up the passport) took us to the inner Mongoliam museum. It was nice to finally get to do something that didn't entail local shopping or eating at the hotel. I have to say it was a beautiful museum and had some really interesting Chinese and Mongolian history. Taite was a bit young to get any of it but of course the social studies teacher in me loved it. I know Keith would have loved it too and it stinks that he is not here to experience any of it with us.
Tomorrow we leave for Guangzhou. Thank goodness. I feel like we are one step closer to home. I cannot wait to see Keith and the kids because this feels like an eternity without them. Today we got to facetime with them since Keith was home from work and has an I-phone and it was nice to get to see all of them. I know they miss us and we miss them.
Taite also is picking up a little english. She now can say no no, she did say button that one night and I haven't gotten that word back out of her, she can say mama and she did say her name at dinner tonight a bit. She seems to be understanding me too. Tonight when I said let's go take your bath she just strolled into the bathroom. When I tell her that we need to put on her shoes she goes to get them. She seems to be a pretty smart kid. We are still having bouts of sadness. Today she had 2 of them. She just out of nowhere will start crying and go stand by the door. I am not quite sure what she is thinking when she does it but it is saddening to watch. I expected a hard transition and beyond those occasional episodes she really is doing well. I know we will also have some big adjustments when we get home but we will take everything one step at a time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Warming Up

Today was a very low key day and we just had to go do the passport stuff so we can get Taite home. But I will say it was a big day for bonding because baby girl said mama. Yep my heart melted. I know she is a shy little one and has not said much so this was huge. It is amazing how much she has bonded in such a short time. We are almost done here in Hohhot and Friday it is off to Guangzhou and I am bit disappointed that we haven't really done much exploring. Tomorrow our guide is supposed to take us to a museum. Hopefully it will give me more insight into this area so I have more to share with Taite when she gets older.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Final

Today we held the official adoption proceedings. It is just more signing the paperwork and they ask a few questions and boom it's finished. Actually I was really happy because they gave us a traditional Mongolian outfit for Taite and the orphanage had been putting together an album of Taite since she was there. It has dates of when she did things and a lot of photos. The only thing is that I will have to get it translated but it was absolutely beautiful and I am thankful that we have all of this information about her.
After the adoption I was very blessed with company. Jackie, Rich and Gavin stayed and ate lunch and had some playtime with us. I was so happy to have people to talk to and they are great company. I am so thankful that I have met them and we will get to spend more time together over the next 9 days. Their son Gavin is a real little cutie too.
After all of that Taite took a nap and our guide was supposed to take us to go shopping. Unfortunately the paperwork took longer to register and she was unable to meet us so I took Taite up to the pool. That did not go over that well with her and hopefully over the next few months she will warm up to the water since we all love the beach and the pool so much. Then we just had some girl time and ordered room service for dinner. We wound down with a bath and some play time and soon it will be bed time for little on. Right now she is fixated on a mini magna doodle. I thought she would never put down her toy phone and play with something else. She has definitely warmed up to me today and even said 4 words now. Now she did finally say one word in english and that was button. I guess she keeps hearing it from her toy. I amalso  amazed that I asked her to do hi five and she knew what that was. I put my hand up and she did it. I think she will pick everything up quickly.

Monday, March 25, 2013

She is here

Yep after a year of waiting we finally have Taite. It has been a long day and a whirlwind. This morning we all met downstairs in the lobby of my hotel. I waited eagerly downstairs for them to bring` the babies.  I am not the only person in Hohhot who is adopting. There is another family here who I actually connected with before I left and they were getting their son Gavin this morning.
The babies showed up right at 10am and it was hard to believe that there Taite was in the flesh. She seemed very timid and sad. The nanny shared with me that she was sad to be leaving her friends. After a few minutes the tears set in. I think she was terribly scared. I knew that adopting a toddler was going to be rough because of language and just that age when there is so much unknown but yet known. After we completed some paperwork it was time to bond. I brought her up to the room and she did cry for a while then she fell asleep. Finally when she woke up we went to go have lunch and I think we bonded over food. She seems to have a big appetite. She was much happier yet still very reserved. When came back to the room and she took another 20 minute cat nap and then played. She is addicted to the toy cell phone I brought for her. Thank goodness because all the other toys could take a hike for all her cares right now.
Tonight for dinner her and I went to pizza hut and again she ate extremely well. She seems to love food. She was so cute too because at first I started feeding her and blowing on her food then she wanted to take over. She was doing exactly what I was doing. She would put a piece of food and her fork and blow on it. Then she wanted me to say it was ok to eat and she would eat it.
Taite has not spoken a word to me all day. I know they said she was shy but hopefully at some point she will say something. She doesn't like her diaper changed and she loves to drink water.She is also a thumbsucker. I was hoping Taite would not be a thumbsucker since we are still trying to get Lennah and Delylah to quit sucking their thumbs.  Hopefully more of her personality will come out in the next few days.

At lunch

Meeting for the first time

Ready for bed

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 2 China

Today was a very quiet first day. I stayed in the area and just looked around and shopped a little. There is a ton of shopping here some I will wouldn't be able to afford in a million years (the Louis Vuitton store is in the shopping mall connected to my hotel). But I just did the local shops and I was able to pick up a few gifts today for friends and family. I also ate McDonalds for lunch. Yep I am in China and ate McDonalds. My guide was only with me for a brief time today so I was solo and had no idea where the good local restaurants were. There do not seem to be many people around who speak english so it would be really hard to go into a restaurant and have no idea what you are ordering. There is also a KFC and pizza hut in the area. KFC will only be eaten if I get desperate. I did eat dinner at the hotel tonight and that was good but it definitely was not as cheap as McDonalds. I will say a Big Mac combo cost me a whopping 19 yuan, actually is was $3.19 in US money much cheaper than in Dallas GA. I was excited about my shopping. I found a kitchen apron with Keith's name in it. It seems that there is some popular dog something or other and they go by Oscar, Keith, and Bobby so it has a picture of 3 dogs with each name on it. Keith's dad is Bobby so it was kind of a hoot to find an item in China that had both their names on it. I also picked up these lotions for 3 of my students. I happened to do this project with my kids in school where they had to open a business in Africa and create a product from a resource. Anyway they choose petroleum and were making lotions (yes there is a small amount of petroleum in some lotions). They had used a picture of there product from some hand lotion that came in a bee that they found on the internet. So I was in this shop and low and behold there was the lotion. I had to get it for the girls and can't wait to give it to those student when I get back. That was really it for today. In a little more than 12 hours I will finally meet baby girl. Hopefully I will be able to sleep tonight.
My hotel

Street vendors

Yep it's universal

I thought it was funny that they sold TV's on the street

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In Hohhot China

After 32 hours and several hours of sleep I can officially say I am in Hohhot China. It is hard to believe in a day and a half we will finally have baby Taite. This has certainly been a long road.
I guess to tell about my journey I started with a 15 hour flight into Seoul, Korea. The flight was not bad at all. I did get stuck in front of a guy who licked kicking the seat but in between that I did manage to see some zzzz's. I then had an 8 hour layover in the airport in Korea. It is one of those places that if you are going to have to have a layover you will be happy it's there. I just hung out, got some homework done, and did get to have Starbucks (Yeah). It was an exceptionally clean and very friendly airport. While I was there they also had a cool royal family processional reenactment that I got to see.
The next flight was from Seoul to Jinan China. The flight was fine but I will definitely say the last leg of my journey became very boring and blahhhh. Jinan China started out with an extra baggage fee (yep) because I couldn't check my bags all the way through I got stuck because in country China flights only allow one 44lb bag. Since I am traveling without Keith I had to take a second bag for Taite's things. Then when I went to go pay the fee they didn't take debit cards and no one spoke english. Then for an international airport someone would need to explain to me why they did not have a currency exchange because I couldn't pay the fee in US. They then sent me to the ATM and it was all in Chinese. How do you withdraw money if you cannot read the screen? Finally the lady came back over to help me and I paid the stinkin' fee.
When I finally got around to waiting for my in country flight it was delayed. After 24 hours of travel I was not happy about this. Then I had to go use the bathroom and of course it was the hole in the ground potties in the bathroom. I highly recommended finding an alternative route to other areas in China rather than hitting up Jinan international airport. So I hit the gate and wait to get on my flight. Some guy sits down behind me and begins to eat the most foul smelling food I had ever smelled. Finally after several hours in this less than fun airport I had to do the Asia let's all run to the check in to get on the plane deal. I am not quite sure why in Asia they refuse to call people by rows and everyone does the mass exodus to the gate but it was awful when Keith and I went to Vietnam to get Lennah and things certainly have not improved in Asian boarding scenarios since then. Everyone pushes regardless if their are eldery or children; it is absolutely the worst boarding process ever. Then everyone is stopping to put up their carry ons on the plane and blocks the aisles. Common sense people board the back of the plane first and then move towards boarding the front of the plane's rows. Hopefully at some point Asia will get the memo on how to board flights.
Finally after 32 hours my plane finally landed. Thank goodness my guide was there when I got out. She seems like a lovely lady. I am staying at a really nice hotel in Hohhot and was amazed at how beautiful the city was as we drove through it. Hopefully this week there will be some great sighseeing. Whew at least I am finally here.
Royal Reanactment in Korean Airport

Yeah Breakfast in Korea

Jinan airport. Yeah it looks nicer here than it really was.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

One week

One week from tonight. I leave to get our baby girl. I am scared, nervous, excited, and just about every other emotion you can have right now. I have never been away from the kids or Keith for two weeks so I am so worried and already missing them. I am worried that they may miss me too and that is a long time for kids to be away from their momma. I am nervous about flying (yep I do get a little anxiety over flying). I am also terrified about adopting a toddler since it is an age we have not experienced. Lennah's adjustment was a piece of cake. I think Keith and I just went into fell throttle mode of becoming parents. It seemed so natural. Delylah adjusted great, I think I had a harder time of adjusting to two children under two and the worries that you might not love your other child because you loved your first so much that you thought you could never love another (so not the case because our love grew for our kids even more). Everyone is always concerned about adopting older kids but honestly I don't even think going from two to five kids that were older shook us up. Yeah they had adjustments and bumps in the road but they knew what was going on. Heather, Logan, and Zach spoke english, they were from America and not leaving every comfort they know behind. They also got the luxury of meeting us before they became apart of our family. So in a sense they have had a pretty easy going adjustment for being older children. Taite is two so I think her transition may be the hardest yet. At two you still can't fully verbalize everything you want or need and you get frustrated. Well I am worried that this may be magnified because not only can you not fully express yourself but you do not speak a lick of the language ther person who is taking care of you does. She is going to go from bonding with me for almost two weeks to come home to a house full of strangers who want to dress her up, carry her around, and play with her because they have been loving on her picture and want to be the big brothers and sisters they have been for a year and she has had no clue about them. She also will have to get used to noise from 3 loud barking dogs and a cat (yep it is certainly a loud house).
Yep! I think we have a bumpy road ahead. I know God does not put more on us than we can handle and he will certainly see us through but we already know that we love her. In just a little more than a week she will officially become Taite Annabelle Paulsen and a new chapter of her life will unfold.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Travel Approval

On Wednesday we received travel approval for Taite. It seemed to be the last step in all of our hurdles to get our little girl. We are still waiting for the consulate to confirm our visa appointment to go pick up our girl. We are also running into some snags with an issue with the way Keith's middle name is spelled on some paperwork. Hopefully all of these things will come to pass on Monday and everything will be secured that I can leave on March 21st to bring home our little girl. We need big prayers this weekend that everything will work out.
We did also receive what will hopefully be our last update on Taite yesterday. She is still doing well and hopefully she will flourish once she gets home.