Henan Trip – Orphanage Visit on Friday

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I’m cross posting this from our adoption blog since it is also part of our Henan trip.

Puyang SWI Visit

If you haven’t been by our adoption blog, that’s where all my blog time is currently being spent. :)

Adoption Adventures

- Jill

Henan Trip – Shaolin Temple and Luoyang

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[Written 10/10/2011, published 11/8/2011.]

We started our day early (at 7:30am) with our Chinese tour. We loaded our “little” American family on the bus and, to the surprise of the guide, were not a Chinese family.  She had spoken to “Jia Wen Bin” (aka Todd) on the phone and didn’t realize he was a foreigner. :) Our kids were also the only children on the tour.  Thank goodness we’re in China where everyone loves kids—even noisy ones.  (Actually, the kids behaved quite well.)  The tour bus wasn’t too bad. The driver drove it like it was a motorcycle—flying down the highway along the center stripe between oncoming traffic and the lane going in our direction. Oh, and there was smoke. I forget that all the no-smoking laws have yet to make their way to China. People—men especially—smoke everywhere. Restaurants, restrooms, elevators…crowded tour buses with children aboard.  On a positive note, the kids were great, the company was friendly, and we made it to Shaolin in record time. :)

We visited Shaolin Temple with the girls last year, but it was the boys’ first trip there. It was neat to see hundreds of young boys in formation and practicing all over the grounds. We saw groups of them everywhere we walked. We really enjoyed the scenery, the pagoda forest, and the Kungfu show. I think the kids’ favorite was the Kungfu show. There were some younger boys, maybe 6-10 years old, that performed. Impressive! (Sorry, will have to get the Shaolin pics from Todd!)

Fancy lady serving our fancy lunch.

We headed out to lunch at a very showy, traditional Chinese restaurant with our tour group. They rang the gong as groups entered the room, and all the servers were in traditional Chinese clothing. As is customary, way more food was ordered than we could possible eat. So we stuffed ourselves silly and saw that half the food was still on the lazy susan in the center of the table.

Next was Luoyang. We visited the Longmen Grottoes—a series of caves, carvings and statues–both big and small–on the side of a cliff along the river. Amazing! We saw the first set of carvings and were so impressed!  Then, wondering what could be further down the walkway we continued on with the group.  To our astonishment, more caves, more carvings, more statues.  They went on and on and on.  I cannot imagine how long it took to carve every intricate details on hundreds of feet of cliffs, sometimes many feet up in the air.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  On a sad note, many of the statues have been defaced–literally.  Over the years people have removed the faces to try and sell them. :(

- Jill

Henan Trip – Train to Zhengzhou

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[Written 10/10/2011, about 10/9/2011.  Published 11/03/2011.]

Hello from Henan! Today was a great day! But as tempted as I am to begin this entry about today, I should start with yesterday.

We thought it would be a lot of fun to take a train across China so this was the perfect opportunity! After 1 bus, 3 subway transfers, and about a 1 mile walk carting 5 children and luggage through the middle of Beijing, we arrived at the train station. Only 2 hours after leaving our apartment. :) The train station was very large, and very crowded. The kids were completely worn out after the long trek and there was not a seat to be found. Well, actually, there was exactly 1. So we squeezed two tired kids into the one seat and the person next to us was kind enough to offer up their seat. So we squeezed the other three kids onto that one. Then, daddy made everything better by buying everyone an ice cream treat. We all gobbled it down while the masses gawked at the only foreigners in the station. (Being foreigners with FIVE kids never ceases to create a stir in China.) We only had about a 15 minute wait—just enough time to sugar up—until it was time to board.

The train ride itself was fairly uneventful, except for a little altercation between a couple passengers and then a security guard. I tried to get a little video of it with my phone but Todd was afraid I might get my phone confiscated. :) We ate a little Chinese meal on the train, had a few snacks, and played with media. I was really excited about seeing the countryside, but hadn’t thought about the fact that the sun would set only one hour into our 5 hour ride. Oh well.

We arrived later than scheduled at 11pm and headed outside with a thousand other people to find a taxi. After making our way to the front of the line we had 3 or 4 taxi drivers in a row tell us they didn’t know our hotel OR the street it was on—never mind the fact that Todd was speaking Chinese and showing them a Chinese map!  (I honestly think it was because we were foreigners.) Anyway, the 5th driver said he knew, and we didn’t want to risk not finding another willing driver, so we decided to perform the “circus clown car” stunt to fit our family of 7 (and our luggage!) into the one taxi.

I won’t go into detail about the hotel much. But can I just say that I’m glad we’re at one of “the nicest” and “most well-known” Chinese hotel chains?  Time for bed so I’ll have to write tomorrow about today. :)

- Jill

Our week: Daddy Dates, Mommy Moments, and Bounteous Blessings

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I am feeling so incredibly blessed.  More than once this week I felt the need to pinch myself and make sure my life is real.  My life isn’t perfect, but it is GOOD and HAPPY and I am so grateful for that!  What made this week so special?

First, I have THE BEST husband in the world!  (Ladies, I don’t mind if you feel the same way about your husband.  I won’t argue. :))  This week was China’s National Holiday–a major holiday–and everyone was off work.  Except Todd.  We decided that he would work this week and then take off next week so that we could do some family vacationing without fighting off hordes of people.  (As you might imagine, tourist places get INSANELY crowded when 1.3 billion people are on holiday at the same time!)  So, his manager allowed him to switch his vacation time which meant he would be mostly alone at work all week.  Well, fortuitously, Todd forgot his badge on Monday morning.  So, instead of taking over an hour to travel home and back, he had the brilliant idea to send Michael on the subway.  Michael was STOKED.  He took his first solo subway ride on Monday to bring Todd’s badge.  I sent him with his homework and he got to “work” with daddy for the day.

Well, once Michael came home and told all the kids how AWESOME it was to go to work with daddy, of course, they all wanted to go!  So each day this week Todd took one of the kids to work with him.  It was such a great week!  Each one of our kids had the privilege of spending an entire day with daddy all to themselves.  They did their school work with him, and then got to do fun things at his work when they finished.  They also did McDonald’s for lunch!  Kids said, “Yea!!!”  (Mom thinks, “Ewww!!!” But oh well.  The memories matter more.  And I didn’t have to eat it 5 times this week like Todd did. :))



Second thing that struck me this week: I have 5 amazing children.  The blessing of motherhood really sunk in this week.  I can’t tell you how many times I found myself thinking, “Wow.  I must be the luckiest mom in the world!  What did I ever do do deserve these awesome kids?”  I love each of them so much!  They are so unique, with their own strengths and talents, weaknesses and challenges.  I don’t feel like I could ever love them more than I do right now.  If you’re a normal, imperfect mother like me, maybe you’ve also experienced times when you wanted to yank all your hair out?  (I’m not the only one, right?)  There have been times I was tempted to put a child in the front yard with a “free to good home” sign around their neck!  (Obviously, I didn’t.)  So that is why this week was so special.  I don’t think I felt anything but love, and awe and a deep gratitude for the five little blessings who have been placed in my care.  At this moment, I LOVE my life. I am so happy I can teach them at home and see them all day every day.  (I couldn’t have always said that!)  Honestly, it would be hard to get much better than this week.  Although I know there will be challenges ahead, I want to continue to bask in the beauty of this nearly-perfect week, or I should say, my nearly-perfect feelings of this week.  Yes, this really was a good week, but I think it was my own feelings toward my children that made it so sweet.  I need to remember that.

Third: answers to prayers.  I wish I could share everything, but a public blog is probably not the place to “cast my pearls.” :)  (I trust my friends and family…but not the weirdos that leave their spam comments on here!)  I will say that there are things that have been in our hearts and on our minds lately, questions about the direction our family should be taking.  After much thought and prayer, and finally fasting, we we have been able to receive some answers.  We still can’t see the whole picture, but we have more pieces of the puzzle in place–big pieces.  We both feel really good about it and it has brought a lot of peace to my soul.

Fourth: preparing for our first vacation in China!!!  Money is pretty tight right now, but we decided that this was important.  If something is important enough that I’m going to spend money on it, you know it must be REALLY important!  (I’m frugal, a saver, a cheapskate–whatever you like to call it.)  I’m so happy we’ve been able to make this fit into our little budget.  We promised Jasmine that we would visit Puyang this year, so this is the week!  We leave for Zhengzhou this afternoon (Sunday).  We will spend a few days touring in and around Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province.  Then later in the week we will meet  up with friends (who are here in China adopting their daughter from Puyang) and travel to visit Jasmine’s friends and ayis (nannies) from the orphanage!  She is so excited, and so are we!  Kaylee Ann has been there before (for our first visit), but the boys haven’t.  We will try to blog about our trip this week!

 

 

- Jill