An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.
- Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

China Adoption Packing List

I feel the need to post our packing list in case anyone else out there decides to take this same journey. I stressed so much over what to pack and scoured the internet for a good list and never found one. Please pass this along to anyone who may need it. Everyone else...just skip over this post. I know it is boring stuff.

We took 2 large suitcases, one carry-on suitcase, one carry-on bag and 2 backpacks. Here is a picture of our luggage for our 2 weeks minus the backpacks.

We adopted a little boy age 2 in October so some of this may be different if you have a smaller or older child and if you go during a different time of year. We traveled to Beijing, Guizhou province, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Beijing was cold but all the other places were very warm upper 60's/70's. We did not need jackets just took layers.

You are allowed 1 free checked bag per person that weighs 44lbs or less on China in-country flights!!!!!!

We were told not to bring anything nice. I stressed that I really would need something nice to wear to the civil affairs office or at some point, but I truly never did. Everything is very casual. Jeans, t-shirt and tennis shoes type stuff. We were also told to only take clothing for a week and wash things, which we did.

I'm the worst packer ever on a trip. I tend to take way more than I could ever use. I forced myself to be strict.

I took 6 pairs of pants: 3 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of khaki's, 1 jean capri and 1 khaki pair of shorts.
I then took basic tops that I could layer and stuck to one pop of color. It was boring but worked perfectly on this trip to save space and weight. Black/Grey/Pink is what I stuck with.
I had 2 tank tops - white and grey.
1 White and 1 Black short sleeve t-shirt
1 White and 1 Black long sleeve t-shirt
1 long sleeve striped shirt
2 pink pullovers.
1 grey zip up hoodie.
1 short sleeve nicer printed t-shirt
1 blue jean button up shirt
2 sets of PJ's
7 pairs of Socks
Undergarments for 7 days
1 pair of Tennis Shoes
1 Black pair of Flip Flops
1 Black Mary Jane type walking shoe
1 Black Blazer
Everything was easy mix and match stuff.
I also wore on the plane a grey velour jogging suit (jacket, pants and a t-shirt). Thought I could use it to go to the gym if I had time while we were there. It was comfy for the plane and I could also use the jacket to layer if I needed it. Wore my tennis shoes on the plane too since they are heavy and bulky.
Bathing suit -it was too cold for us to swim since most of the pools are outside and not heated. But, I'd take it again just in case.

I will not even try to tell you what Jason took but I do give him props for also packing light. I think he had about the same amount of clothing as I did or maybe even less. His was a bit bulkier than mine just because he's a guy.

For Landry I really worried about sizes. I got his up to date measurements just a week or two before we left, converted them, and came up with size 24 months and a size 6 shoe, but had been told by others that I should take smaller clothes just in case. For some odd reason the measurements never seem to add up right and the kids are usually smaller. I took three 18 month outfits and three 24 month outfits, 2 fleece pull overs/zip ups, one size 5 shoe and 7 pairs of socks. My thinking on shoes was that he would come in shoes and if I needed to get another pair I could while we were there. CarreFour is like a Walmart Supercenter. They have clothes and food. Basically anything you could need or want.

Landry actually ended up being a size 18 months and the size 5 shoes fit perfect. Do wish I had gotten pants with the adjustable waist and NO onesies. Children in China are potty trained at a very early age and Landry was already using the potty. He was is not a pro and still has accidents so pull ups were a must but onesies are hard to get on and off if you've got one going to the potty. I also wish I had packed layering tops for him. It was alot hotter than we thought it was going to be.

Snagged this idea from a list on the net somewhere and would totally do it again. Buy 2 travel size items of all toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant etc.)and make 2 toiletry bags. One that has your make-up in it for your carry on and the other one in your checked luggage. Large containers of shampoo/conditioner and such are bulky and can add too much weight. 2 travel size are plenty for 2 weeks.

Cotton balls
Disposable Razor (2)
Travel shampoo (2) - (all hotels had soaps, but I like my creature comforts)
Travel conditioner (2)
Face wash (2)
Travel size soap (2)
Baby shampoo/body wash (2)
Travel size tissue packs (4) - great to have on handfor paperless squatty potties
Floss (1)
Baby Lotion (2)
Baby Wash (2)
Baby Powder (1)
Desitin (1)
Hand sanitizer (2) Many of the bathrooms have sinks but no soap. So strange.
Chapstick -something about the air there dries you out terribly

Some people I talked with took a pharmacy with them but I tried to take the bare minimum and we were fine. Don't let people tell you that you can't get medicines or really anything else that you would need there. They have EVERYTHING you could need for purchase. It just may not be the brand you are familiar with. And if you need medicine your guide/translator can help you find it.

Cipro - We did not have to use this but it was FREE from Publix with a prescription from your doctor and I was glad we had it. It will basically knock out any stomach bug you could get there. Just call your regular physician and tell them that you are going over seas and they will usually write a scrip easily for you.
Tylenol PM or your preferred sleepy pill
Cough Drops
Vitamin C
Infant Tylenol - including dosing chart and syring
Infant Benedryl - think plane ride home
Small travel first aid kit with bandaids and such
Cold Medicine -didn't have and had to borrow from someone else.
Visine - the smog does a doozy on your eyes
Nail Clippers
Swiss army knife
I took everything out of the box and cut out the directions and stuck it all in a large zip lock baggie.

House Hold Supplies:

Tide sink travel packs (4) We had our laundry done while we were there and we also washed clothes in the sink several times. You can get these at Target on the isle with the travel items. Just know that it takes about 3 days for jeans to hang dry. Trust me!!!!
Several dryer sheets to make clothes smell nice. Just make sure you don't put them near your ziploc baggies that you want to put food in. Baggies tend to soak up odor and can make your food taste terrible.
Downy Wrinkle Releaser (2 travel size)
Ziploc Baggies, lunch size (14) You can stash fruit or a few snacks from the breakfast buffet everyday in these. We did this in every hotel. Even took back yogurt and put it in the fridge for Landry.
Ziploc Baggies, Snack size (10)
Ziploc Baggies, Large size (5)
Reusable shopping bags (2) - We didn't take these and totally should have. You have to pay for plastic shopping bags at the grocery. Just take these with you when you go.
Clothes pins (16)- for hanging laundry - hotels have clothes lines in the bathroom.


1 package of diapers/pull ups (30 or so) - you can buy more when you get there. I know they have Huggies for sure.
Swim diapers (4)
Bathing suit
Baby Wipes - Baby wipes are super heavy so I decided to do a little research and found a super easy way to make baby wipes once we got there that was very inexpensive and light weight. Click HERE to watch the video. I did have a hard time finding a container deep enough but ended up finding a great one at Lowes in the painting isle. I altered her method a bit too and just used Johnson's baby wash and baby oil. I also went ahead and precut my paper towel roll. I only took half of the roll with me but wish I would have had the entire roll. These were great!!!
Tip: Stash granola bars and snacks you don't want crushed in the container in your luggage for the trip there.
Huggies Travel Wipes (2) I used these alot more than tissue packs for squatty potties and bathroom visits. You can buy more of these at CarreFour or Walmart. I bought Johnson's while I was there.
Snack Trapper and D ring to clip it onto your backpack
Take and Toss Bowls (3)
Spoon and Fork
Toothbrush and children's toothpaste
Bibs (2) plastic ones are easy to wipe clean
Soft, comfy blanket
Toys - Beach ball, stacking cups, light weight books (3), coloring book (1), crayons, small mirror (loved looking at himself), bubbles, matchbox cars (6), small stuffed animal
Kids Preschool Backpack - I loaded this with all of Landry's toys and then packed it in one of our large suitcases. Took it out once we had him. He was considered an extra person and he was able to take the backpack on the plane as his carry on. Freed up tons of room in our suitcase for us to bring treasures home.

The more the better unless you are an adventurous eater!!!! Fill light weight plastic bins with snacks. Great to be able to bring goodies back home in when empty.
Goldfish (2 packs) I emptied these into a large plastic ziploc and then put them into a plastic bin.
1 box Cheerios. Emptied these too and put them into a large plastic bag and then into a plastic bin.
1 box granola bars. Put these into the wipes container.
Individual oreo cookie packs. Also put these in the wipes container.
Individual packets of Peanut Butter (6) Was able to find them at Walmart. -snagged bread at breakfast and made PB&J's in the room.
Individual drink mix sticks for water. Great for all the bottled water.

Adoption Paperwork
Travel neck wallet- to carry passports and large amounts of cash
Credit Cards
Converter (needed this for curling iron and such)
Travel Pillow
Tylenol PM for flight and Tums
Hand Sanitizer
Video Camera
Chargers and connecting kits for all three
Lipgloss and Chapstick
Reading material for plane

We were told to bring 7 but were left a little in the dark as to who they were all to go to once we were in country. We asked our guide but she had no clue. We just decided to hand them out to who we thought they needed to go to.
We took boxes of GooGoo Clusters because they are made here in TN. A small novelty from your home town is great. Just make sure it doesn't say "Made in China" on it. Hee, Hee.
We also took Jelly Belly's to give out.
Took red bags and red tissue paper to wrap them once we got there.
Other ideas are:
Bath and Body Works products (can be a little on the heavy side)
American $2 bills and give them out in Red envelopes (this is such an awesome idea and totally light weight)
Sports hats
Some agencies have things set up where you just give a donation in advance. Totally like this idea better but we didn't have that option.

I think that is about it. If you've been and see something I left off please chime in. Would love to help others out however I can.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Welcome Home!!!

A sweet return from family and friends.
A big THANK YOU for all of those that came to the airport.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leaving for Hong Kong

We leave for Hong Kong today. We take a van on this 4 hour trip. Will only spend the night in Hong Kong so we will not get to see this amazing place but just maybe I can get a few pictures while we are there. We will leave in the morning on our 19 hour plane ride back to the states. Looking forward to seeing my other two babies.
Landry is all packed and ready. His backpack is as big as he is and he can barely carry it. Someone should tell him he needs pants on this journey. Hee,hee. Here he comes America!!!!!
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Shamian Island

We visited Shamian Island several times while in Gaungzhou. This was where the medical checkup was and many gift shops. It is also the home of the famous White Swan hotel but it was closed for renovations. We were able to sneak into the lobby to snag a couple shots. A beautiful sight. Again Landry was in heaven with all the water and big fish.
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It was wedding portrait central too while we were there. I think we saw at least 15 brides in wedding dresses. No exaggeration. They were on every corner, every street and in the park.
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After wading through the sea of brides we ate at Lucy's. Yay for American food!!!! Who knew hamburgers could taste so good.
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Lucy's is named after I Love Lucy. The Chinese love American TV.
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Next on the "to see" list was the outdoor gym. Every machine was busy. Seemed so strange to see people working out on these but I think I really like the idea.
Shamian is also home to a children's school. Older kids were running laps in the inner park and these little ones were being lead somewhere outside. Thought my mom would enjoy seeing how they keep the kids in line here pulled by a long piece of cloth.
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Our last culture event was getting a massage on Shamian. One of our guides told us we needed to try the foot massage. The chinese believe that massage is vital to good health. Our guide says he sometimes goes twice a week. It was only 10 US dollars for 70 minutes. Ahhhhh! What a nice treat. We lucked out because Landry slept through the entire thing. Serenity.
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Guangdong Folk Art Museum

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This is Lilly showing me how to use a traditional art set from China for calligraphy. You bet I had to get one.
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This is of a woman carving a chop. A chop is a personal stamp artists use to sign their work. In China, the chop has the same weight and authority as a signature does in America. They are traditionally carved out of soapstone. The ladies in the gift shop at the museum carve these while you wait. I'm just floored by the creativity by the Chinese.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Medical Exam

Update: TB test cleared!!!!!

First on the list in Guangzhou was a Medical exam and TB test. This place was a zoo with all the families in line. How those doctors and nurses go home sain is beyond me.
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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
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All tuckered out after a long day.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Bouillon clothes and a plane ride.

After our visit at the Inn it was time to pack up and head for Gaungzhou. We had a little mishap with our clothing the day before. We desperately needed clean clothes so Yifei asked around and found a place we could take them. Jason returned stunned that he left our clothes where he did. He said he handed our clothes over to a guy in a nasty alley way. We were just hoping we got everything back and in time to get it packed. Unfortunatley when Jason returned after picking them up they smelled like they had been washed in bouillon. The entire room stunk. was washing in the sink time. Only hiccup was that everything had to be dry by the next morning so we could pack our bags to leave. This is a picture of our room as you walk in. We had things hanging everywhere.
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We had no luck getting things dry by the time we needed. Even tried using the blow dryer in the room, but it was as powerful as if I just blew on our clothes. Jason headed down to see our new friend and manager Ken Low. Ken is from Singapore where he says they speak English regularly so he was the only other person we could talk with other than Yifie during our stay. Wish I had thought to take his photo but I never did. After hearing our crazy sob story Ken agreed to dry what was still wet. We also were wanting to pay to have them rewash our jeans. We did all our running around that day and came back to nice smelling clothes and Ken didn't even charge us. What a guy and what a nice ending to a very stressful night and morning.
We packed our things away said our goodbyes to our sweet and generous guide Yifei and then we were off to Guangzhou. Just a 2 hour flight with no delays. Yippee!
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The first plane ride for Landry. He was not a fan of the seat belt. We found out that he rode on the arm rest in the car with his foster family. Every time we catch a cab he points to the arm rest and says "my seat". Boy is he going to hate the 5 point harness car seat. That should be fun.
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Back to Room #3

We returned to room #3 on Friday with Landry. An experience I will never forget. We arrived to open arms and kisses for a little boy they had not seen since handing him over to the police 2 years ago.
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The Yingchun Inn
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This is room #3.
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While we were there the ladies up and toted Landry off. In China people just pick up other people's children. Even strangers will pick them up and kiss on them and such. Yifei said that they just wanted to go get him a drink but it made me so nervous as they headed across the busy street and never even asked before taking him. They of course brought him back in about 10 minutes but we had our eyes glued to those women the entire way.
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They returned with two packages of milk or kiddie drinks Yifei called them. This kid acted like he had candy. They put him on the ground and he immediately had to have one. We popped one open and he sucked it down in no time then proceeded to take the rest of the packages back to room #3. He also wanted me to put the packages on the little end table in the room. It was like he knew that room even though he was left there when he was only 2 months old. It is amazing what the mind remembers.
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So glad I was able to see this and experience these women in this Inn. I hope it helps our little guy as he gets older in understanding his background. What a treasure.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

First Haircut. Buzzzzzzzz

On our way home from the grocery we decided we'd stop in the Yes I Do Salon and get Landry a haircut. He was looking a bit shaggy. We had actually stopped in this salon the day before with Yiefei but she told us that she thought it was too expensive. She said it would be 5 US dollars and she thought we could get it done for 1 US dollar. We agreed to go somewhere else with her but were amazed at how cheap she thought we should get it for. Even though Yiefei was going to try and take us somewhere else we knew we were running out of time and just decided to go ahead and get it done while we had a few extra minutes.

Not one person spoke English in the salon. We just did a lot of pointing at Jason's head and Landry's hair. Hee, hee. They loved it and laughed. They went and got chairs, water and wanted pictures taken. One guy stood behind me and examined my hair. He kept pointing to my hair doing a thumbs up and wanted to fix it. I kindly declined and kept pointing to Landry only.

Landry cried at first but then settled down. Afterwards we had ourselves the most handsome little man around.

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Grocery shopping

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We hopped onto the elevator and headed to the street to make our way to the Grocery store during one afternoon without Yiefei.
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On our way I snapped a picture of some kids on break from their school day. They all wear these uniform jump suits. School begins at 8:00 a.m., though students have to be present at 7:30 for morning cleanup. There are two hours for lunch since most students go home for lunch. Students are back at 2 p.m. for afternoon classes until 5 p.m. There are 2 hours for dinner and then students return to school at 7 p.m. Students stay until about 8:30 p.m., twelfth graders until 9 or 9:30. Many even go to classes on Saturday. Talk about a long day. And we complain about our kids having too much homework.
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This is a shot of a "basket man". These men sit outside of the grocery to help people who buy too much carry it all home. They can carry enormous amounts of weight. We saw them carrying items as large as refrigerators on their backs.
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Inside the market many items are sold in single serving packages. Many things are in vacuumed sealed bags that hang on the walls. Not many boxed items.
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They are also in LOVE with gelatin. Isles of gummy jellied items.
Funny enough but no J-E-L-L-O.
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An aquarium of fish to be bought to eat.
If it is in the sea they have it for purchase. ALIVE!
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Meat anyone? They do have it on ice, but nothing in a package or under glass. Flies abundant. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
All milk products are packaged like kids juice boxes. This is a picture of Landry's favorite kind. The shelf life of this stuff is unreal and it doesn't need to be refrigerated. Yogurt is very different here too. All of it is liquidy. Landry loves drinking it.
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This is Landry riding a grocery cart escalator down to the next floor. They may have these in New York but this was our first experience with these. Really cool. I think the carts magnetize to the belt because once on the escalator they don't roll.
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Experience after experience. Who knew going to the grocery could be so cool. Many crazy looks as the American was taking pictures in the store but I just had to show you.