Monday, April 9, 2012

Home Sweet Home

After a long day of travel, we arrived home shortly after 8:30 on Friday night.  We were greeted by two excited little boys! With some help from Grandma Kathy, the boys decorated the sidewalk, front porch and house with signs and balloons to welcome us home.  Kamea loved the decorations and immediately jumped out of the van and ran into the house.  After lots of hugs, the kiddos gave her a tour of her new home.  

Since then, we've all been adjusting to our new normal here at home.  Although there have been a few moments of sadness, Kamea is doing fabulously.  She's having lots of fun with her brothers and sister and loves to play outside.  

Our journey to Kamea has been amazing.  We're thankful to others that we met along the way that were able to share this incredible experience with us.  

This will be our final blog post.  We sincerely appreciate all of the support, encouragement and well-wishes that we've received from all of you.  We're so happy to be home!   

Easter Sunday

After church we had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard.  Kamea was more interested in the toys, so the other kids filled her bag with eggs.  

Like the boots?  She wore sandals to church, but changed right after we got home.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Flat Stanley

This post is specifically directed to Mrs. Kittleson's First Grade Class:

Ni Hao, First Graders!!  As you know, we have been accompanied by Flat Stanley on our trip to China.   We are pleased to report that he has been a wonderful traveling companion.  Stanley and Elliana are excited to get back home and share their experiences with you.  See you next week!

Leaving China Today

We will pick up Kamea's US visa and immigration paperwork at the US Consulate at 3:30 this afternoon.  From there, we will travel by van to Shenzhen with Chuck, Jennie and Ellie.  Along the way we will pass through Dongguan, which is where Dexter spent the first 21 months of his life.  In Shenzhen we will need to board a separate van to travel in to Hong Kong because only certain vehicles are permitted to cross the border.  We should arrive at our hotel in Hong Kong around 7:00 tonight.  

Tomorrow morning at 10:25 will will fly directly from Hong Kong to Detroit.  Our flight is just over 15 hours, so we will arrive on US soil at 1:25 p.m. EST on Friday.   We will process through immigration and customs in Detroit, where we have a 6 hour layover.  We will depart Detroit at 7:27 p.m., and arrive in La Crosse at 8:04 p.m. CST, just a hop, skip and a jump from home!

Leaving China is bittersweet for us.  We have tried to experience as much of China as we possibly could in these past couple of weeks, and to somehow imprint these experiences in our minds forever.  We are mournful for Kamea and for the familiar life that she leaves behind here.  At the same time, we look forward to going home and truly becoming a family of six.  We are incredibly grateful for this experience and look forward to what the future holds for us.  

Final pictures from Shamian Island early this morning:


Tai Chi in the park


Safari Park

We spent the majority of our day today at Guangzhou's XiangJiang Safari Park with Chuck, Jennie and Ellie and Molly and her family.    We began our visit by boarding an open-air train on wheels to travel through the safari portion of the park.  Between our three cameras and video camera (one for each of us!), I'm sure we took hundreds of photos of the camels, zebras, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, antelope, bears, elephants, white tigers, and multitude of other animals on the safari.   Although the rest of the zoo was impressive, the safari portion was probably our favorite part of the park.

In the zoo portion of the park Molly guided us to three animal shows, which were all a bit odd.  I think this was partially due to the fact that we, of course, could not understand a word of what they were saying.   The first animal show was a monkey show that featured several monkeys, in addition to a horse and several pigs.  The second show was an African animal show with various birds, giraffes, monkeys and a hippo.  The third performance featured 14 white tigers and was similar to what you would expect to see at a circus in the US.  

As you'd expect in China, the panda exhibit was the highlight of the zoo portion of the park.  There were at least 15 pandas in the exhibit.  We must have arrived at nap time, because most of them were sleeping while we walked through the area.

We returned to Shamian Island late in the afternoon and had an early dinner at The Cow and Bridge Restaurant just down the street.  

Tomorrow is our last day in China.  Although we love China and are now blessed to have two beautiful children from here, we are ready to return home.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Consulate Appointment Day

This morning we had our appointment with the US Consulate here in Guangzhou.  We brought all of our paperwork to the appointment for inspection and also took an oath verifying that all of it was true and correct.  As expected, we made it through the appointment just fine and now we wait until Friday for Kamea's U.S. visa. When we land in Detroit, she'll become a US citizen.  

We had a free afternoon, so we split up for a bit.  Missy did some shopping and Jeff spent some time with the girls.  He made some huge gains with Kamea today and even got a few kisses!  I guess the ice cream that he bought them this afternoon must have done the trick.

We enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Pearl River tonight with Chuck, Jennie and Ellie.  It was a beautiful night for the cruise and the view of the city's night lights was spectacular.   Despite the fact that Elli only ate bread for dinner, she loved the cruise and asked if we could do it again the next time we're in China!

Lunch at Pizza Hut

Pearl River Cruise


Monday, April 2, 2012

Another Gorgeous Day in Guangzhou

After breakfast this morning, we met Chuck, Jennie, Ellie and Molly for a quick trip to the travel clinic to check the results of Kamea's TB test.  The test was negative, so we stopped at Starbucks to celebrate.  Actually, Jennie spotted Starbucks on our way to the clinic and we couldn't resist! 

From there, we drove on to Guangzhou's Yuntai Garden, which is really much more than a garden.  It is more of an elaborate and picturesque acreage of flowers, trees, ponds and fountains.   I'm really at a loss on how to describe the beauty of this place.  We took tons of pictures and will share some of them below.   It was a great side trip, so if you're ever in Guangzhou, I highly recommend it!

This afternoon, we headed back to the little shops and mall area across from Shamian Island with Jennie, where we all seemed to find a few more treasures.  Since it is a holiday in China today, the shopping district was much busier than yesterday.  We're so happy with how the girls have reacted to the crowds of people and also to the number of miles we put on their little feet every day.  They've been amazing travelers! 

We did a little more strolling around Shamian Island late this afternoon and had an early dinner at Lucy's, where the girls love the spaghetti.   The girls are watching a couple of episodes of Kai-lan to wind down before bed.   Jeff is watching with them, a close but safe distance from Kamea, who is still warming up to him.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Free Day in Guangzhou

It was a beautiful day here in Guangzhou, probably mid-70s and low humidity, so we spent most of the day outside.  This morning, Molly took our group on a walking tour through the medicine and pet markets across from Shamian Island.  Among other things, the medicine market is full of every type of dried root and herb you can imagine, animal skins and even live scorpions.    Although we'd been through the medicine market it 2009, we were fascinated with it once again. The girls preferred the pet market, which had puppies, kittens, turtles of every size, rabbits, chipmunks, baby chicks, mice, various types of fish, as well as many other potential pets.   Molly then guided us through a large modern shopping district, which included a pearl market and a shop with traditional Chinese clothing.      

This afternoon, we strolled through Shamian Island on our own and picked up a few accessories for the girls at a few of the many shops.  (Don't worry boys, we picked up a few things for you, too!)  We ate outdoors at Lucy's here on the island for dinner.   

Overall, it was a fabulous day.  We're really seeing Kamea's personality come out now.   She is extremely independent, unbelievably adorable and sweet, with a little touch of sass.  The fun is just beginning!  
The girls at the pet market

Elli sporting some of her new accessories

Kamea loves her new shades

Our girls posing with the statues on Shamian Island