Monday, December 25, 2006

Emma's First Christmas

Andy and Kathryn after the ceremony
Emma lounging on the stairs on Christmas Eve
Grandma and Emma

Christmas morning

This has been a big week for us. Thursday was Kathryn and Andy's wedding, and many relatives were in town and saw Emma for the first time. The wedding went great, and Emma looked divine in her black and white gown. We didn't get any pictures of her at the reception, because I was standing in the line, and Denny was chasing her around the building for a couple of hours. She lasted until 8 o'clock, and I didn't get home until 10:00 PM.

The wedding breakfast turned out great, with just over 100 people in attendance. Emma stayed at home with her Aunt Barbie, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. It was the first time we have left Emma with anybody, and from what I can tell, they both had a blast. Thanks again to Barbie.

Last night (Christmas Eve) we went to my folks house for the family party. Emma donned her Christmas dress and was an instant hit. It is probably the only time she will be able to wear that particular dress, but she made the most of it. It is totally different attending a party with a toddler. Emma was doing great for about 1 1/2 hours, and then the wheels came off. We made a hasty exit and got her home quickly. She had a rougher than usual time going to sleep last night, probably due to over-stimulation being around so many new people, and playing six rounds of bingo.

Christmas Day has been wonderful. We ate breakfast and opened presents with Denny's folks, and Kathryn and Andy who are living with us until their apartment is available next month. Emma took the prize for having the most gifts, because we wrapped up many of the gifts she received at her showers, and put them under the tree. What a wild time!
I'm sure that Emma doesn't grasp any of the Christmas concept. Hopefully she is not now expecting parties and gifts all the time. I don't think so. She is such a happy, busy little person, that she takes each day as it comes, and makes the most of each one. She and Denny are bonding more each day. Thanks to Denny's efforts, Emma is learning and showing great progress. I think they were MFEO. OK then.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"They're Gettin' Married in the Mornin'"

The countdown for Andy and Kathryn ends tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. after a 310-day engagement. Can't imagine a more fetching couple. I think they look alike (and that's a good thing). After the ceremony and photo snapping, we'll lunch at the Joseph Smith Building (I believe menu is green salad, chicken parmesan, and brownie a la mode), and the couple will receive well-wishers in North Salt Lake from 6 to 9. Apparently the cultural hall is adorned with 30 Christmas trees, which Andy has been helping decorate today.

Aunt Barbie is being kind enough to watch Emma at our house during the daytime activities, but Emma will sport her reception dress (see our "Need Sleep, Can't Focus" post for a photo) in the evening.

We're looking forward to tomorrow's big events. Let's hear it for Andy and Kathryn!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ribs is Tasty!

Pretty good photos, eh? We were up at Uncle Matt's and Aunt Erin's place to partake of some baby back ribs from the Caja China, with three of Emma's cousins. We weren't sure what she would be able to eat, so Denny started spooning some of the potatoes into her mouth. Poor cousin Josh was sitting to Emma's right, and lost a rib off of his plate to some good old fashioned sleight of hand, and the next thing we knew, Emma was cleaning every scrap of meat off of that bone. That's my girl! The picture of Denny is of said bone after Emma went on to her next rib. Thanks to Matt for some great ribs.

I figured out why Emma is such a good sleeper. It takes a lot of rest to wear out two adults. As I am writing this, I can hear Emma singing to her mother, who has been lying down trying to get Emma to sleep for the last 25 minutes, from the dark confines of her crib. I was in there momentarily, but it seems that I am something of a comical diversion to her, and she keeps laughing, so I left.

Every night we give her some milk (which she has little interest in), brush her teeth (a two-adult chore while singing "This is the Way We Brush Our Teeth"), say prayers together, and then try putting her down around 9:00 PM. Somewhere between 8:30 and 8:45 she puts on the full-court press, trying everything she can to delay the inevitable. She drags out books, her favorite ball, blocks, the big bear, and even her special empty box for a ride across the room. Denny puts on a CD of children's tunes playing softly (I prefer the soft rock ballads) and Emma goes down for the evening. It's good to get her into a routine. After four weeks back, things is settling in to a nice monotony.

The doctor's office called back after some samples were left, and it seems our little girl picked up some kind of bug that requires medicine to be administered three times a day. Our process for squirting the pink goo into her mouth includes a full nelson with head-lock, while we are both singing the first chorus of "Bad Medicine" by Bon Jovi. It seems to work, because she keeps most of it in her mouth, and she is feeling better. I suppose we could sing "A Spoon Full of Sugar," but I have my limits, besides I don't know all of the words. OK then.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Alright Already....

Emma went out in the recent snow to play minutes or so until she decided it was cold and wet and did not meet expectations.

This is Emma pre-snow experience when she had high expectations. Took longer to get bundled up than she spent in the snow.

Part of the group at the fun shower Joe's work threw for us.

And their message on the whiteboard....Thanks, Distribution Center!

High time we posted. Sorry it's been so ding dang long (in case you've been checking in...) Bad blogger form.

Things are going well in Emmaville. She's a happy little girl, except when she wants something she can't have. Then she's irked 'n' peeved. But mostly happy, chortling, cackling, running around, babbling. She's learning sign language from the "Signing Time" DVD's ("It's signing time with Alex and's signing time with Alex and's signing time with Alex and Leah..." Try getting that tune out of your head. You can't. ) Emma can sign "more," "dog," "eat," "cold," "hungry," "apple," "cheese," and a few others. And I think she knows what most of them mean, too, as she has started using them appropriately, rather than just mimicking them, in the last few days. Bright little girl. It's fascinating to see her pick up things. She says "baba" when Joe's around. She imitated me saying "uh-oh" the other day. She shakes her head "no" when she doesn't want something and sometimes says "Ni ni ni ni" (she'll get the right vowel sound one of these days...)

We've gone to a couple of fun showers in the last two weeks, one at Joe's work and one in our old ward. People are so nice. Emma has received many beautiful toys and clothes. She is going to be outstandingly well dressed between the ages of 2 and 2-1/2. Her closet is a sight to behold.

Annie the dog continues to be watchful, as Emma likes to pull fur, pat hard, and leap unexpectedly onto the dog's tummy as she reclines. Annie's been very patient and will go directly to dog heaven someday (hopefully not as a result of anything Emma does to her). I must confess that we mix up the names "Annie" and "Emma" sometimes.

Speaking of the dog....Joe cooked a chicken in the dutch oven on Sunday. We ate half of it for dinner and then made the mistake of leaving the other half on our kitchen island when we went out visiting later that evening. The island is high and our dog is short, but apparently Annie, when properly motivated, can leap high enough to grab half a chicken off a cutting board on the three-foot-high island and devour the whole thing...except for the breastbone, which was licked clean and then buried under our pillows in our bedroom. When I turned down the bed that night I got quite a fright--couldn't tell what that was in our bed. A dead bird? (well, sort of). Blech blechety blech yuck yuck. Then we figured out what had happened. Annie seemed fine until the next day when the whole sorry incident caught up with her in the form of all manner of gastrointestinal anomalies. Pooches. Can't trust 'em when you don't put your leftovers away.
Life is good and we love our little Emma. We are blessed. She is the most adorable little girl and every day is a new, fun adventure. We'll try to take more pix and post more often.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Random Observations

Liberty Park Swinger

- The degree to which we have had to adjust our environment to keep 19-month-old fingers out of drawers, cupboards, light sockets, toilet bowls, TP dispensers, dog food bowl, fireplace, computer keyboards, furnace vents, the pooch's nether regions, and potted plants is startling. Our child---does not stop. She's "exploring her world."
-I've never been so aware of those twangy doorstops on the bottoms of our doors. Previously happily oblivious to them, I now find myself in amusing daily power struggles with my youngster over how frequently and vigorously to twang them. And they do indeed twaaannnnggg. Two of them have been completely removed by our mighty daughter.
- Trying to get wiggling feet into footy pajamas, snap the 2nd and 3rd snaps on onesies (as Emma wriggles and giggles), get a fresh diaper on as Emma does revolutions on the bed, get the
head hole of a shirt over the head and one arm in before the shirt comes right back off the head again, or untangle the arm loops on carseat or stroller and get them somehow latched into their correct compartments before Emma decides to just get out and walk back in the house --all kind of remind me of dreams where you're trying to run through quicksand...or piano playing dreams where I'm trying to find the right page number of a hymn as the congregation waits...but the book's upside down, and then you knock it off the piano, and then you flip through the pages and still can't find it....
- But it's all so amazingly fun I can't stand it.
- Emma has a high-wattage, movie-star-worthy smile.
- She is also amazingly limber. She can do the splits, no problem.
- I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Emma's foster mom, who I believe had Emma on a firm schedule. Nap and bedtimes appear to be a familiar inevitability for her. Although Emma usually screeches with indignation when I put her down (and stands right back up again), after I place her in reclining mode the second time she realizes that resistance is futile and stands up no more. There may be a few minutes of resigned whimpering, but then....she's out.
- Emma yearns to have a hands-on experience with food. Being spoon-fed is for babies. She wants to hold the spoon herself (and then fling it away--it no longer amuses her). Better yet, she wants to hold the jar of applesauce and place her fist inside, then lick the applesauce off the fist. The most successful (shriek-free) method of feeding Emma is to place bite-size portions of food on her highchair tray and let her mix and match as she wishes.
- Emma says mama, baba, da da da, booya, gives a great Bronx cheer, rolls her tongue around loudly inside her mouth, cackles, growls, and occasionally grinds her teeth.
- Her favorite song is "Bandstand Boogie" (the incomparable Barry Manilow arrangement!). We played this for her on Napster every night when we were in China. She stands between Joe's knees, holding his hands, and runs back and forth in time to the music, chortling with glee. We believe she's got the music in 'er!
- We realized that Emma will completely skip a generation in learning about pop music from about the 1980s on...She'll grow up listening to classic country, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Mozart sonatas, show tunes, and the Carpenters' Christmas album.
- We're all having a great time -- wouldn't change a thing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

She's a Dunker!

It is now official. Emma is a member in good standing of the "Dunker's Club." Although considered a novice, she took to dunking like a politician to a fundraiser. With just one example, she pushed us aside and started dunking with both hands. She even had the "let one soak while I eat the other" system perfected. The doctor said to get whole vitamin D milk in her any way possible, and we have found this to be a fool-proof method.

Emma is sleeping very nicely, thank you very much. We put her down at 8 or 9 PM, and she doesn't wake up until 7:45 AM or so. At that time, she stands up and puts her arms out, ready for the lift-out. Not a cry or anything. She sure is a sweetheart.

She went to church Sunday, and made quite a splash. Everybody there was so nice and anxious to finally meet her. Denny and I traded trips to the foyer with her. Church sitting is not one of her strong suits (nor is it one of mine). She made it about 1 1/2 hours, which isn't bad. We will work on building that time up, and maybe even give her a shot at the nursery. Watch out nursery!
Another first. Emma was introduced to Hires Big H. What an eventful week we have had. She enjoyed "double dipping" her fries in the special sauce, and occasionally taking a bite of her grilled cheese sandwich. I guess the only other major "first" we are lacking is a trip to the Home Depot, which may happen some time this weekend. Kinda makes me cry to think of it.
In conclusion, just a couple of observations. First, you can never have enough spoons. I don't know how many we have, but it is not enough. Second, you cannot brush baklava out of a child's hair. It's too sticky. OK then.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Need sleep.......can't focus...

On an earlier post, we included a photo of the dress Emma is going to be wearing at Andy and Kathryn's wedding reception in December. We are proud to give an updated photo with Emma dancing in that very dress, It's a great fit, and Denise can't wait to accessorize with pumps, purse, tights, haircut, scarf, and a late-model vehicle.

We have been back for four days now, and need to give an update on Emma's progress for transitioning into her new world. I am sure she is wondering where all of the people, tall buildings, breakfast buffets, humidity, 90 degree temperatures, and the nice attendants outside the hotel room went. We have slipped into the alternate universe known as "The East Millcreek Zone."

Sleep is still up for grabs. Denny and I catch it when we can, which hasn't been real consistent. I was hoping to get a solid three hours straight Sunday, but I missed church. Emma seems to enjoy any kind of wheeled conveyence, stroller or car, because she has yet to arrive at any destination with her eyes open. The trouble comes on "the transfer." After a walk yesterday, we rolled the stroller into her room, propped up the front wheel, and let her sleep while she was still strapped in. That lasted about thirty minutes. She finally went down for a real nap yesterday about 2 PM, and when we tried to wake her up two hours later, she had trouble waking. We think she was in her nine-hour sleep phase, which would have her waking up We still got her up, fed her, and walked her around four a couple of hours until she dropped off again. Denny just woke up again, so we are both in the can't-sleep-but-still-groggy waiting stage.
We have had trips to the pediatrician, and to the lab at the hospital, where much screaming was had. Once for a TB test, and the other to draw blood for a battery of other tests regularly given to adoptive children from other countries. The doc says she looks great, with no visible problems. After we get the blood work back, we will get started on her immunizations. All of those shots into those tiny arms and backside make me cringe.

Denise has promised to give a real update as soon as things settle down a little and she can type without wondering if Emma is chasing the dog, or the dog is chasing Emma (Annie is pleased to see that food is now being eaten at her level on a consistent basis). OK then.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Emma Has Landed!

Emma looking for a diversion to get past me into the aisle
Denny trying to Explain to Emma about the "no more than 28 Cherios-at-a-time in your mouth" rule

We made it back. After a 12 1/2 hour flight from Guangzhou, a one-night layover in Los Angeles, and a 1 1/2 hour flight this morning, we arrive on time in Salt Lake at 12:35 PM. Our flight didn't leave Guangzhou until 9 PM on Friday night, so we had to hang out at the airport from 5 PM until we boarded the flight at 8:30 PM. Emma fell asleep in her stroller just before boarding, and we thought perhaps the flying gods were smiling down upon us. Just a fleeting thought. Although she woke up with the bright lights in the cabin, at least she wasn't upset about it. We almost had her asleep a hour into the flight, when the flight attendant shook a boney finger at us and said that babies sleeping on the floor were not allowed (we spoke with other parents after the flight, and they told us of the glorious feeling of having their kids sleep for hours on the floor). Give the Governor a harrumpf! Between Denny and I, we held Emma while she was sleeping for about seven hours.
We arrived in LA just after sunset, three hours before we left. There were five other adoptive parents on the flight, and it took just under two hours to get through immigration and customs. Not too bad. We had a room booked for the night at an airport hotel, so we made the transfer over and luxuriated with a large room, ice, diet Sprite, soft beds, Dominos Pizza, and Conan O'brien. Emma slept from 11 PM until 1:30 AM, and from 5 AM until we had to wake her up at 6 AM to get ready for our next leg. She was a trooper through the whole deal.
Upon our arrival in Salt Lake, there was a welcoming committee of Aunt Barbie and Uncle Dennis, Cousin Tony and his wife Cindy, and kids all over the place with balloons. Quite the welcoming comittee for us! We were also surprised by Denny's friend who had finished Emma's 100 good wishes quilt and presented it to us. It is beauty (there will be more on the quilt in a future post, with pictures)! Andy and Mac were there with a couple of vehicles to help us get ourselves and all of our stuff back home. Amazing how much room you loose with a carseat. What ever happened to rope? Anywho, when we turned the last corner into our block, we saw that our garage door was decorated with a welcome home sign, compliments of Kathryn and Andy. What a treat! I was hoping to lay low for a few days, but I guess that option is out the window.
Grandma and Grandpa came over with Boo, Alex, Jason and Allison, but they had to just look, as Emma fell asleep just before they got here. She woke up about 8 PM, but went back down at 11 PM, and is still sleeping. Denny and I are tag-teaming it, so she is now able to get some sleep. The next few days may be a little strange, but we got her, she's a beaut, and everything went as planned. Murdock of the "A-Team" couldn't have been more pleased.
Thanks to all for your interest in our China experience, and I assume the writings will continue when Denny can find a moment to collect her thoughts. OK then.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Guangzhou Gallery

We're getting geared up to leave tomorrow evening. Have a consulate appointment this afternoon to obtain Miss Em's visa and tomorrow morning will be spent doing some last-minute shopping and packing. This will probably be our last post from China, so wanted to leave you with some more photos (including a couple extra of 2-year-old Nathan, his dad Steve, and Steve's parents. Nathan's mom wasn't able to travel to China, so she's going to check our website to see some photos)

Nathan, Steve, and Grandparents
Steve and Nathan
Ladies doing their morning dance routine on Shamian Island

Joey, Denny, Emma

The amazing Judy Wu sitting on the famous red couch (where all babies staying at the White Swan must have their photos taken) and the five children in our travel group, from left: Alyssa, Nathan, Emma, Lydia and Anna Mae. The three other girls are all about a year old. Nathan just turned two (I think he and Emma have a crush on each other. We've planned for them to attend prom together some day; will have to arrange for travel to or from Minnesota). And yes, Kristen, we did get our complementary White Swan Barbie Doll (a curvey blonde holding a dark-haired little girl; Nathan's doll is holding a little boy).

The entire group: Paul, Staci, and Anna Mae; Joey, Denny, and Emma; Todd, Patty, and Alyssa; Steve and Nathan; John, Sheila and Lydia.

On our way to McDonald's yesterday, we walked through more "real China" and saw this collection of dried seahorses for sale, spread out on the street corner; take your pick.

Alley with laundry drying above.

Emma playing in the "Swan Room"; she's a pretty good speller!

We took Emma to the Guangzhou zoo Thursday morning. As you can see, she wasn't impressed. She decided to take her 1:00 nap at 10:30, just to mix things up a little; fell sound asleep five minutes into the zoo and woke up promptly as we were leaving. I think her cheeks have plumped up some after the last 10 days of abundant eating. In the last two days, though, she has decided she does not like some things as well as she used to. Watermelon, for example. She used to consume it in huge, lip-smacking mouthfuls. Now? Ack phooey!! Forget it.

The lovely Guangzhou zoo. This was one of our favorite outings of the whole trip. It was just beautiful -- so peaceful, with tall palm trees and a variety of exotic foliage. And there were surprisingly few people there (for a city with 12.5 million of 'em....)

The north end of a southbound Guangzhouvian elephant. Are they not the most unusual creatures??

Well, folks -- This will wrap up the China reporting. Thanks for joining us on the most wonderful, amazing, thrilling trip of our lives. We feel so blessed to be able to welcome Emma into our lives as our dear daughter -- and we are grateful for our family and friends who have been so supportive. We love you!!

See you soon,

Denny & Joe

PS. Our adoption agency writes a newletter every month, and this month's features Emma. If you would like to take a look, go to:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Outpost Guangzhou

.....Provisions running low...We haven't had any Fritos for about a week. We were then left with only bean dip, licorice, and beef jerky (teriyaki style). Have you ever tried eating bean dip with red licorice? How about bean dip and rice cakes? Not a pretty picture. We would have had some Jiff smooth peanut butter, but apparently according to our good friends at the TSA, it qualifies as a "gel." Right. If any of you are passing through security at the SL airport, check the breath of the screeners. If it smells of peanut butter, you have us to thank.

Denny and Emma are now in the deluxe play room here at the White Swan Hotel. All of the electronic toys have batteries, and work like new. I now have many familiar old tunes going through my head from many years ago, songs I haven't heard or thought of for years: "This Old Man, The Alphabet Song, Rock-a-bye Baby, and I Don't Give a Damn About a Green Back-a Dollar." But Emma seems to enjoy them, as do the other forty kids and parents in the play room.

I guess it is now official. We are the parents of a toddler. We were out to dinner with our adoption group a couple of nights ago, and the first thing everybody talked about was the kids' bathroom schedules. So much for the "Would you please pass the shrimp and sweet and sour pork?" Let's just skip the preliminaries and find out about the digestive tracts of everybody around the table. That's ok though. Emma's worth it. She's a sweetie. She can really work a room with her smile.

There is an appointment at the US embassy today at 11:00 AM, and the swearing in ceremony tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. We have the amazing Judy Wu in our corner, fighting the red tape in both China and the US. She is doing a great job, a good part of which we never see. We signed some final paperwork last night, and she is now running with the ball, taking on all obstacles and barriers. You go Judy!

Our flight out is on Friday at 9:00 PM. We hope this bodes well for Emma going to sleep right off, and staying asleep for a good portion of the first 13 hour flight to LA. We will then get on a plane Saturday morning in LA to fly home to Salt Lake, and be there around 12:30 PM. We are not looking forward to the long flights, but getting back to home base will be nice. OK then.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Seeing the Sights on Shamian Island

A sign we saw in a park alongside the banks of the Pearl River. Although I had been tempted to spit a few times, after I saw the sign the fear of being "amerced" deterred me.

School kids on an outing. When they saw us they all shouted "Hello!" and then "Bye-Bye!"

An exercise park where young and old can stay physically fit.

Joey, Denny and Emma. Not sure why it has a green frame around it.

Apparently the Chinese and Utah pronunciations of "sale" are the same.

Emma anticipating lunch at Lucy's restaurant, wearing her Winnie the Pooh bib.

Mmmm....chicken congee!

The White Swan Hotel is located on Shamian Island. This is what Wikipedia has to say about Shamian Island: "Shamian Island, formerly known as Shameen Island, from its Cantonese pronunciation (Chinese: 沙面岛, pinyin: Shāmiàn dǎo) is an island in Guangzhou city, Guangdong province, China. It was originally a concession given to European and American traders operating in the Guangzhou area by the Qing Dynasty government in the 19th century. The island's name literally means "sandy face" in Chinese.

The island covers an area of 24,000 sq meters and is a gazetted historical area that serves as a tranquil reminder of the colonial European period, with quiet pedestrian avenues flanked by trees and lined by historical buildings in various states of upkeep. The island is the location of several hotels, a youth hostel, restaurants and tourist shops selling curios and souvenirs.
Various bronze statues are scattered around the island which depict life as it was during earlier periods on the island, as well as from more recent times. For example, one statute entitled "A gentleman, a lady and a darn woman" shows a Western couple watching a Chinese women darning cloth. Another depicts the changing appearances and stature of Chinese women, with a woman from colonial times in traditional clothing, a slightly taller woman from the early or mid 20th century wearing a cheongsam, and a relatively tall and slender young Chinese women wearing shorts and talking on a mobile phone.

Since the early 2000s, Shamian Island has become well known for the many Western couples who reside there while seeking to adopt Chinese babies and young children, most of whom are orphaned and female. The White Swan Hotel is perhaps the best-known hotel in Guangzhou, having been in operation for many years, and is usually the hotel of choice for these couples. One reason for this popularity is that the hotel was once adjacent to the United States consulate, making it convenient to file paperwork and handle bureaucratic matters. The consulate has since moved (about 40 minutes away by car), but the hotel is still the most popular destination for adopting couples."
Happy Election Day in the U.S. We're kind of glad we're missing the whole thing, frankly.
More later....

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Emma Has Her Mandated Medical Exam

This morning we visited the local medical clinic for the exam that's required for Emma to get her visa and come to the U.S. We were there with a whole bunch of other families. The exam didn't take too long. The docs checked her ears and throat, listened to her chest, poked her a couple times (one doc said "Strong" when Emma pushed him away), weighed and measured her. She's 22-1/2 pounds right now and I didn't catch the length measurement.

It's Monday about noonish. We're here until Friday. Tomorrow we fill out more paperwork and Thursday we have an appointment at the consulate, where we get Emma's visa. We'll pick up a day coming back -- so we'll get back to L.A. (still on Friday), stay over one night, and be back in SLC Saturday a little after noon.

Emma's doing really well. She's got us wrapped around her little finger, I'm afraid. She's got tons of personality. Last night we discovered a fun thing to do -- let her toddle down the wide, carpeted hotel hallways to her heart's content. Doesn't hurt when you fall down and go boom. Emma enjoyed "showing off herself" to the floor attendant stationed in the foyer. She'd crawl backwards and then look over her shoulder to make sure she had an audience.

She's babbling up a storm now and I'm sure there's some Chinese in there. When she plays with the phone she picks up the receiver and says "Wei??" (which Judy says is what you say when you answer the phone). She says "BA! BA! BA!" a lot ("baba" means daddy, but I don't know if that's what she means). She also says "mama" when she comes up to pat me on the knee sometimes. This morning after she woke up she was babbling all kinds of exotic sounds. We may try to record some of it tomorrow, if she does it again.

Emma does melt down from time to time. Must be a combination of her age, her circumstances right now, and her temperament. She had a fit last night when I tried to feed her a before-bed bottle and she decided she wanted to do that by herself, thank you very much. Hooeee, watch out! We also opted out of a group dinner last night when we realized she was not about to sit demurely for an hour and a half while the adults ate and chatted (the other families have younger kids who are placid lapsitters). Emma is no shrinking violet, but tons and tons of fun and so sweet and funny. She's also tough as nails. She took a tumble off a booster chair the other night and hit the deck. She just kind of looked around, got back up, and shook it off. She is the energizer bunny and a half and goes goes goes goes until she drops. We're crazy about her.

We got her some stacking cups, which she likes. On the box, part of the instructions say, "The numeral charactered in the bottom of the bowls let your baby enjoy the fun when playing of them, and help to explore. The intellect & imagination inside the baby. Therefore it's your right hand to bring up the baby. Caution: guided by adults when using." Hmmm. Okay. I think we got 'em figured out.
This afternoon we're taking her to a nearby restaurant that has American food (and toddler food!). She may experience her first PB&J today. Then we'll stroll her around for awhile. We discovered if we take her for a stroll at naptime, she'll fall asleep and we can bring her home and make the transfer to bed without too much complaint.

That's it for now....hope you've had a wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Portal is Back Open...For Now

The view outside our hotel room at the White Swan Hotel, Guangzhou.

Dinner at a nearby Cantonese restaurant with the complete travel group, Emma leading the pack. The cute little boy in the picture is 2 years old and from Inner Mongolia. His name is Nathan. He's just as good an eater as Emma! (Those are his grandparents sitting next to him.)


We made it to Guangzhou and discovered we're able to get on our blog, no problem. So no need for a middleperson at the moment. Thanks Amy, Angie, Barbie, Boo Boo, for helping us in the interim! We sure 'ppreciatecha!

The flight to Guangzhou went pretty well...couple of little meltdowns going through security and when we were getting on the plane, but we plied Emma with food during the actual flight (which was about an hour and a half) and she did well. Way to go, first time air traveler!

We are now at the fabled White Swan Hotel, the mecca of Chinese adoption travel. Families who have just adopted their little ones from the provinces are now here, enjoying the famous breakfast buffet, and asking other families, "Where ya from? How old's your little girl? Is she sleeping/eating/talking/walking/smiling?"
The hotel is beautiful and we have a very loverly room, although the marble floors in the foyer and bathroom make me nervous, as I am afraid of toddler heads going "conk" after a falldown. Emma is cutting a wide swath in her new surroundings, and really likes taking the phone receiver off the hook and waiting for me to put it back on so she can....take it off again.
It's Sunday morning now and we're going sightseeing with the group in a few minutes -- not sure where; we just show up when they tell us to!
Will write more later -- Love you all!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Emma Loosens Up!

I think Emma has more than 14 teeth. We saw them all tonight after our stroll home from dinner. She suddenly turned on the smiles like a klieglight. Smiles AND giggles. Oh my, was that fun. She’s had a good day today. She’s been playing interactively with us a lot more and making more sounds (I don’t hear much that sounds like it’s Chinese; I might have heard her say “bu” – “no” – when I was wiping her nose today, and she was saying “mamamamama” this afternoon, but otherwise it’s pretty much generic toddler cooings and squawkings).

After breakfast (steamed egg, steamed Chinese cabbage – which she adores – cold oatmealy stuff, fried noodles, watermelon), we took a walk down to what someone told us was a Buddhist temple. Never did see the temple, or the Buddhists, but there were some pretty grounds and a statue and a host of people tremendously interested in us. I got a lot of it on video. (We’ll have to have a Chinese home movie night when we get home, make it a party, if any of you are interested.)
Later in the day we tried the swimming pool. Emma didn’t like that very much. Can’t say as I blame her; the water was pretty cold. We stayed in about, oh, five minutes.

She played and played in the hotel room in the late afternoon. Packing, unpacking, toddling around, dragging sacks of stuff around, blocks in, blocks out. I think Emma’s favorite things are: 1) Food, 2) Being strolled in her stroller down the streets of Wuhan City; and 3) Packing/unpacking.

Tomorrow we’re off to Guangzhou. Will post more later. Thanks, Angie, for helping us with Blogger!


Thursday, November 02, 2006

With a little help from our friends

It’s a little after 3:30 Thursday and Emma just went down for a late nap. Nap attempt #1 was foiled when we brought her little sleeping self up to the room about 1:00 after an outing to the park and she woke up as we surreptitiously tried to change her diaper (wouldn’t you?) We are happy that she wants to try nappy again, though, even if it means a later bedtime (although the other day when she napped from 3 to 5, she still was out for the night by 9:00).

Tomorrow is our last full day in Wuhan. Emma’s adoption paperwork is being finalized by the provincial registry office; we get her passport tomorrow and then the Chinese end of things will be done. Then we’re off to Guangzhou on Saturday morning to take care of the U.S. end of things (Guangzhou is where the U.S. consulate is and where we will get her visa to come back to the U.S.)

It’s good we’re progressing through our stay here in China, but I will miss being in Wuhan. It just seems like authentic China – not a tourist destination, not full of a zillion other adopting families (like Guangzhou will be). It’s fascinating to walk down the streets and be such objects of attention. Judy told us that Hubei is not a big adoption province, so folks don’t see Caucasian parents with Chinese babies very often. People stop and stare at us as we walk by – looking at the baby, then at us. A few Chinese folks who speak English have stopped us and said the baby “looks Chinese” and when we tell them she IS Chinese they seem surprised. If Judy happens to be with us, then she explains what’s going on.

Joe and I have taken a few walks up and down the street the hotel is on with Emma in her umbrella stroller. I feel like we’ve been plucked out of Salt Lake and just dropped at random on the other side of the world. Wuhan, China! I mean, I’d never even heard of this city until we found out we’d be here for the adoption. It’s a city of 8.5 million people; huge! The streets are packed with people, buses, scooters, bikes, school kids. The street the hotel is on is lined with tall white-barked trees with sage green leaves that cast the street in a kind of eerie light. We took a walk yesterday evening and saw the little shops – many of them like booths where you just walk up to a counter – lining the street. Some people put chairs in the middle of the sidewalk and sit and watch the crowds go by. There were lots of spikey-haired teenagers, some of them buying food on the go from the shops. There are all kinds of little booths selling unfathomable looking items – odd-shaped pieces of fish and fowl, something wrapped up in what looked like a tortilla, big aluminum steamers full of dumplings. We looked in on a tae kwan do class going on in a big room opening off the street – saw lots of pre-teen kids going through their maneuvers as their instructor barked commands.

The other evening when we took a walk we saw a group of about 30 ladies fan dancing on a street corner. Their leader was in front with a headset microphone; it was like Chinese aerobics. Another group of ladies was dancing in the middle of the sidewalk. It looked like folk dancing or something, little groups of four women dancing to cymbal accompaniment. It’s just surreal. I looooove it and am kind of sad we have to leave real China.

Emma is a sweetie and we are besotted with her. When I wake up in the morning and look over at her in her crib I can’t believe we have her – she’s such an adorable little person. I think Joe and I have moved from the “highly suspect” list to the “I’ll just keep an eye on ‘em and see what they do next” list. We don’t get lots of smiles yet, but we can tell she’s feeling more comfortable with us and there are times during the day when she kind of lets her guard down and I can tell she’s having a good time in spite of herself. And when I blow raspberries on her stomach, she acts like she doesn’t care but I think she secretly likes it.

Emma does have a temper and she’s not afraid to indicate what’s bugging her. She is a young lady who knows her own mind. She is also a chowhound and will eat anything, in seemingly unlimited quantities, that we offer her. A finicky eater she is not. Although she seems really healthy, she’s also pretty thin. She loooves food and plenty of it and I predict there will soon be more padding on her frame. When we were out the other night, a group of Chinese ladies dancing on the sidewalk came up and gathered around our three families and oohed and ahhed over the babies. Judy was around to translate. They thought that Emma looked to be two and when I told them she was about a year and a half they seemed surprised. They examined her legs and said she is tall like me. She does have long slender legs.

We’re having some trouble accessing our website. China has a lot of internet firewalls and you can’t get on any ol’ website you want to. I think most blogs are blocked. When we first got here we were able to access the webpage where you can post a blog, but we couldn’t get on the actual website to read our comments. Then Joe, in all his computery smartness, figured out kind of a backdoor way to get to it, so we’ve really had a good time reading all of your comments. But today, for some reason, we can’t access anything, not even the page to post this entry. So I’m e-mailing this to Barbie and asking her to send it to Andi or Angie or Dave or someone who knows how to post to Blogger, so we’re hoping you can get it that way.

We’re having a great, unbelievable time, and love you all so much! Can’t wait for you to meet Emma in person.

Love, Denny

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More About Day 2WM

But first, some photos, in no particular chronological order.
Sometime during Day 1

Day 2 at the hotel, doing paperwork.

Walking out of the White Rose Hotel after we had just made each others' acquaintances.

Paul, Staci and Anna Mae finalizing the adoption at the White Rose hotel. Turns out we were just considered guardians for 24 hours when we first picked up our girls. We went back yesterday, signed the official papers, and put our red-inked index fingerprints above each signature.

Emma with firm possession of teething necklace (transitional object of choice) and half of a pineapple cookie.

It's seven o'clock Wednesday morning and Emma is still asleep. She went down at 9:30 last night and made but a few peeps during the night. I call that championship-level sleeping and doff my cap to her.
Andi -- As to your question re: potty training, here's what happened. For those of you less interested in details of poop 'n' pee, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. Having been convinced by Judy that Emma just may well be completely trained and would possibly scoff at diapers, I dutifully placed her on the pot several times that first morning (she sat contentedly and looked bewildered, but nothing else). In between potty placings, she wet her undiapered pants. Oops. Accident #1. I chalked it up to maternal inexperience, changed her clothes and thought we'd give it another whirl. Multiple trips to potty chair as the day wore on....nothing doing....and as I picked her up to try it once more, I noticed she had wet again (sorry about the pee stain on the carpet, Best Western Premier!) So the diapers are on her, and on her they will stay. Plenty of time to potty train somewhere down that long toddler road. Was especially grateful for diapers after she pooped twice within 10 minutes yesterday morning after breakfast.

But enough poopy talk! When we finalized the adoption at the hotel yesterday, we were able to meet with orphanage personnel and ask some questions about our girls' recent histories, the answers to which were translated by the amazing Judy Wu. Turns out Emma was in a foster family that had another foster daughter a little younger than Emma. They also had a 10-year-old biological son, so she's been used to having a big brother. Foster mom said Emma loves to be with people and likes big crowds. She can be obstinate sometimes ("sometimes when you tell her to do something, she won't do it. Or if you ask her to stop doing something, she won't stop". What? Not perfectly well-behaved?) She also would sometimes exert supremacy over little sister and commandeer toys, with no apology. Her favorite activity is "unpacking things". We found this out yesterday when we bought a bin of blocks for her at the Walmart. Came home, dumped them on the bed, and Emma attacked them with fever-eyed, drooling intensity. Dump them out, plop them back in the can, take them out again, back in they go, dump 'em out, plop 'em in. She did this for almost an hour, until it seemed like she wasn't so much playing as trying to work out the solution to some kind of problem and she started to get frustrated. That's when we decided it was naptime. There's a lot going on in that little head.
Will write more later, but we're off to a mandated museum visit for a couple hours.
Thanks, everyone, for all your comments. If you love our posts, we love your comments more!!
Love to you all,