Sunday, December 02, 2012


We took the kids to see Santa this weekend.  We weren't sure how Cam was going to react to the man in the red coat but he was fine since he had his big sister to protect him.

Sorry for being so lax about posting updates on the blog but two kids are a lot of work.  I have all kinds of things I want to post about just no time to do it.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Halloween 2012

Hurricane Sandy postponed Halloween in our town so we didn't get to take the kids trick or treating until yesterday.  We were much luckier around here with the hurricane, just a couple branches down.  This year Grace decided that she and Cam should dress up as Micky and Minnie Mouse.  How could we say no to that!!!

Our Halloween started last Sunday with a visit with the cousins.   We were able to do a little trick or treating on Halloween in a local city that did not postpone.  Just a couple friends' houses that don't see the kids that often.  Last night it was trick or treating in our town with the Shahs.  Cam has a cold so he stayed home with me to hand out candy while Grace went out with the girls.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Family Photo

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Travel Group Reunion

Our trip to the zoo today got rained out but one of the families was gracious enough to have a couple of us over for a mini-reunion.  Our get togethers seem to get a bit smaller every year but we always have a good time just the same.  The girls always seem to pick up where they left off the last time we were together.  Couple pics below of the three princesses.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Catch Up

It has been a while since I last updated the blog but we have been pretty busy around here.  What have we been up to?  We celebrated Grace's 5th birthday and had Cameron baptised.  I went back to work last week after 5 weeks off.  We are settling into a nice routine now and getting used to our new normal.

Cam is doing great!  He continues to eat and sleep well and is about 5 pounds heavier than when we brought him home.  Grace was a very happy, easy baby to care for and we fully expected Cam to be the opposite,  So far so good.

Cam started Early Intervention this week so we are looking forward to seeing some good progress in the coming months on him reaching some milestones. 

This weekend we have annual reunion at the zoo with Grace's travel group.  Something we always look forward to in the fall.  A few pics below from the past couple weeks

School Picture

5th Birthday

Cam's first trip to the beach

Cam in Jen's family's 100 year old christening gown

More Birthday Celebrations

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bringing Cameron Home

Jen put together a little adoption video for Cameron.  There is a clip in the video of the moment we  met Cameron.  Please excuse the shakiness, Jen was a bit excited and nervous.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I feel like I haven't been taking as many pictures of Cameron as I should so we took the opportunity of nice weather yesterday for a quick photo shoot on the swing set.  It was Cameron's first time on a swing and he seemed to enjoy it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Welcome to Chicago

I mentioned in a previous post that we were greeted not so warmly by some TSA, Customs and Immigrations officers when we arrived in Chicago.  Maybe we were a bit sensitive having been awake and traveling for over 24 hours but does it really take that much effort to be polite?  Having just flown from China to Hong Kong where even though there was a language barrier everyone was very polite and helpful to us.  Even the man in the Hong Kong airport who pointed an odd looking gun point blank at Cameron's forehead was polite.  The gun turned out to be some type of thermometer, probably a SARS related precaution.

Rude Immigration officer #1

So we had just deplaned in Chicago and had to go through immigration and security to board our next flight home to Boston in a few hours.  We each had a backpack and a bag, Cameron was in a stroller and we were dragging Grace sleepily along behind us.  When we got to the customs and immigration checkpoint we were faced with a couple flights of stairs and an escalator.  I turned around and asked the immigration officer at the desk if there was an elevator we could use.  She barely looked at me to acknowledge me and said "Nope" and went back to whatever she was doing.  Jen and I kind of looked at each other incredulously and one of us sarcastically said “Welcome to the USA”.  

Rude Immigration Officer #2 and #3

One we made it through the first step in immigration we had to hand over our brown envelope from the US Consulate so they can process our paperwork.  This usually takes a little while but we were in no rush.  There was another couple who had adopted a child from China as well who were waiting with us who were in a rush as they had a flight that they needed to catch in less than an hour.  As we were waiting the immigration officer processing our paperwork announced that he was going on break and would be back in 10 or 15 minutes.  The woman waiting with walked up to the other immigration officer, told him that they had a flight that they needed to catch and asked if she was going to be able to catch her flight in less than an hour.  The immigration officer didn't even look up at her, he just shrugged his shoulders.  She walked away looking pretty irritated and sarcastically said to her husband "Welcome to America".

Rude TSA employee #1

Once we were through Customs and Immigration we just needed to get through security, grab a burger and a beer and take on last flight home.  By this time Cameron was sleeping in his stroller.  We got through the metal detectors and x-rays easy enough and were trying to get Cameron back into the stroller, put our shoes back on move on when a TSA officer came charging up to me and barked that I needed to keep the aisle clear.  Apparently our new sleeping baby Cameron in his stroller was blocking the aisle while we were putting our shoes back on and packing back up.  I not so nicely told the Mr. TSA officer to give us a break we have a baby, and we were moving as fast as we can.  He then told me the aisle needs to stay clear there were people that were waiting to pass through.  Which there in fact were not.  At this point I just glared at him and he glared back.   I fully expected to be pulled into some back room and strip searched, luckily he moved on and so did we.

As rude as these TSA, customs and Immigrations officers were to us Americans the way they were treating the non-us citizens was abhorrent.  We saw people talked down to and pretty much treated as sub-human.   It wasn't all bad though, the immigrations officer that checked our passports and took our brown envelope was very nice.  She got that it was a big deal that Cameron had just become a US citizen and congratulated us.  She talked to Grace and seemed genuinely nice and happy to do her job.  I realize that it is just a job for these people but you kind of expect a little smile and some common courtesy from people who deal with the public.  Kind of sad that we were treated better overseas than we were when we got home to USA

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Grace, our little rockstar

When we told most people that we were traveling to China to adopt a baby and we were bringing our 4 year old their reaction was usually horror.  Most of these people really don't know Grace though.  We figured Grace would be OK but truly expected some jealousy and meltdowns. 

A bit to our surprise Grace was awesome.  We had one incident when we were stranded in the Guangzhou airport for 10 hours where Grace woke up from a nap disoriented and cried for about 10 minutes.  But that was it. 

We did do plenty of preparation before the trip telling her that the baby is going to need lots of attention from mommy and daddy and she obviously got it.   We told her before the trip that her job was to get Cameron to smile.  Cameron smiled as soon as he saw Grace and couldn't take his eyes off her.  Mission accomplished.

We dragged Grace to all kinds of boring appointments in sweaty hot buildings all across China and not even a complaint.  We are at restaurants that had foods that she wasn't familiar with, she tried and enjoyed mostly everything and loved being able to eat with chopsticks wherever we went.  Our fellow travel mates and guides were always commenting on how well behaved and what a good eater she was.  Even the flights which are enough to make adults cry were no problem for Grace.  She colored, watched movies and then slept great, something I can't even do. 

She actually seemed to mature while we were in China.  She was no longer our baby she was our little girl.  We never considered not taking Grace with us but she surprised even us a little bit with the level of maturity she displayed on the trip.  I am not sure how much of the trip she is going to remember as she gets older but it was definitely a positive experience for her.

The best part was when we asked her what her favorite part of the trip was we figured she would say the Safari Park or Canton Tower.  Nope...her favorite part was meeting her baby brother.  You really have to just love this kid.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Grace's First Day of Kindergarten 1

Grace woke up at 5 am this morning partially due to jet lag and partially because she was so excited to start school.  School actually started last week but Grace missed it because we were in China.  Although Grace is excited about starting school she was not excited about the uniforms that the kids in Kindergarten have to wear.  Shorts or sweats and a t-shirt rather than the typical Catholic school girl skirt.

Since today was her first day we all went in to see her off, she was a bit nervous but her teachers are really nice and put her at ease.  When we picked her up this afternoon her teacher told us that she fit in great and it was like she had always been there.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Settling In

So we made it home at about midnight on Friday, that was about 30 hours of travel time for us.  Our flight leaving Guangzhou was delayed by about a half hour which had us a bit worried as that gave us about 20 minutes to catch our next flight from Hong Kong to Chicago.  There were a dozen of us on the plane that were heading to Chicago so there was someone from the airline waiting for us and whisked us through security, shuttles and temperature checks to get on our flight at the last minute.

Grace and Cameron did surprisingly well on the 15 hour flight.  We were at the back of the plane so that made it a bit easier to move around when the kids were getting restless.  Of course there was a fair share of crying and Cameron vomited on me a few times.  But, we survived.

We landed in Chicago around 3pm and were greeted by quite a few extremely rude TSA and customs officers.  I will do a separate post about that later though.  Landing in Chicago is a pretty big deal for us as soon as we are through immigration Cameron becomes a US citizen.  Dealing with these jerks put a little damper on our excitement but we didn't let them get us down too much.  We had a couple hours before our last flight to Boston so we searched out place for a burger and a beer but had to settle for Chilis.  Not my first choice but it was a damn good burger and beer after eating Chinese food for two weeks.  Our last flight to Boston was of course delayed as well, this time only for 15 minutes.  It was the longest two hour flight ever but we were greeted at the airport by about a dozen friends and family.

Jet lag is kicking our butts pretty good.   Cameron slept through the night in China but didn't go to sleep until 4 am our first night home.  He slept a little better our second night home and seems to be sleeping pretty good right now.  So hopefully we are on the road to recovery.   Yesterday we attended Jen's Uncle Coleman's 100th birthday party.  We weren't sure if we were going to make it being our first full day home but we gave it a shot and got to introduce Cameron to some family members.  I think it helped being there as it gave us a reason to stay awake.

So we are still unpacking, catching up on errands and trying to settle into a schedule.  Grace starts school tomorrow morning so we will all be up bright and early to see her off.  Next week is chock full of doctors and other appointments but I have lots of stuff to blog about as time permits so stay tuned...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Last post from China

We leave tomorrow morning at 11:00 am so this will be our last blog post from China.  We are really not looking forward to the flights as we aren't expecting Cam to enjoy 15 hours in a plane.  Our flights home are actually a little better than our flights here.  We only have three flights this time.  Guangzhou to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Chicago and Chicago to Boston.  Hopefully there will be no unforeseen delays.

It really is bittersweet leaving, as much as we can't wait to get home and get into a routine we really are going to miss China.  We really love it here and ventured out much more on our own and experienced so much more of the culture.

But this trip was really about Cam and he has come so far in just two weeks.  Our real work with him starts when we get home but we have quite a little spitfire on our hands and we think he is going to do great.  I have lots more to blog about but it will have to wait until we are home and have more time.  See ya on the other side.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

US Consulate Appointment, Goodbyes and Canton Tower

Our first order of business today was our 10am consulate appointment.  All we needed to do is turn in some paperwork and say an oath that everything on the paperwork is true.  Our guide picks up Cameron's visa tomorrow and then we are set to go home on Friday.  Compared to when we adopted Grace in 2008 our consulate appointment this time was a bit impersonal.  Rather than bringing us into a room and listen to someone from the consulate speak to us in person we had to listen to someone on a microphone speaking to us from behind glass.  Kind of odd but we were in and out of there pretty quick so we didn't let it bother us too much.

After our morning appointment we stopped by to say our goodbyes to two of the families that we traveled with.  It was sad to say goodbye but we know we will keep in touch either in person or through the Internet.

We had the rest of the day free so we decided to embark on a little adventure to the top of Canton Tower.  Canton Tower is the the 2nd highest tower in the world and Jen is afraid of heights so she was not as excited about our adventure as Grace and I were but she was quite a trooper aside from the minor panic attack on the elevator ride up.

Apparently there is an outdoor observatory and some amusement park type rides at the very top but we only made it to the 108th floor which was high enough for Jen.  It was a bit hazy as it usually is in China so visibly wasn't great but the views were still pretty impressive.  What amazed me the most was the scale of Guangzhou, this city is just huge.

The coolest part of the observation deck on the 108th floor is they have these glass boxes the jut out of the side of the tower that you can step out into to take pictures.  A little hairy standing on a piece of glass that high up but Grace and Cam were brave and came out with me.

I took this picture from inside the glass box looking straight down.  You can see our toes at the bottom of the pic.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Who doesn't like pigeon?

A couple of families from our travel group are flying out tomorrow so we all had one last dinner together at a traditional Cantonese restaurant.  When we eat at traditional restaurants we usually let our guides order for us as they know what is good so when she asked if we would like to try pigeon of course we said yes.

If you haven't seen how they serve poultry in traditional Chinese restaurants they like to serve it with the head, usually chopped off but on the platter with the rest of the meat.  Grace's initial reaction upon seeing the heads was a big "Ewwww" but we try to encourage her to try new things so I was pretty proud when she picked up one of the heads and started gnawing on it.

In all honesty the pigeon was pretty tasty.  There wasn't a lot of meat on it but what I did get was prety good. 

Guangxiao Temple

Today we visited Guangxiao temple which is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China.   It dates back to 200-300 AD.  When we were in China to adopt Grace we visited the Six Banyan temple so our Guide thought it would be nice to see a different temple. 

We all burned some incense and said a prayer for happy and healthy babies and then spent some time walking the grounds soaking in the peaceful nature of the place. 


Monday, September 03, 2012

Shamian Island

Our first stop on our shopping excursion today was the jade and pearl markets where Jen proceeded to drop a couple thousand yuan on a jade bracelet and some pearls.  After jade and pearl shopping we headed over to Shamian Island for some more shopping.  When we adopted Grace we stayed on Shamian Island at the White Swan Hotel.  The hotel is currently under renovation and we were pretty sad to see it completely gutted.  The rumors of there being a lot less shops catering to adoptive parents is a bit over-exaggerated.  We found at least a dozen shops selling souvenirs for adoptive parents.  The prices are a bit more expensive and the owners are a bit less willing to bargain but there were deals to be had.  We have a suitcase full of loot for Cameron and Grace to show for it.

Tomorrow is another off day for us.  We don't have any definite plans though.  Possibly a trip to Canton Tower or a Buddhist temple.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Safari Park

We had a good day today at the safari park.   It was really hot but Grace had a blast.  Cameron wasn't really interested in the zoo.  He took at a nap for part of the day!  They tend to be a bit more lenient at zoos in China as they let you feed and/or hold some of the animals.  They also had 12 pandas so Grace was very excited to see them.

Feeding the baby white tiger

Feeding the Giraffes

Lots of pandas

Tomorrow we have a shopping day.  We are heading to the pearl and jade markets and then to Shaiman Island.  When we adopted Grace we stayed on the island and at the time there were so many adoptions there were dozens of stores that catered exclusively to adoptive families.   We have heard that most of those stores are now gone but it will be nice to go back at least to walk around as the island is beautiful.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Medical Appointment Day

Today our big activity was taking Cameron for his medical appointment and he was not happy about it.  When we adopted Grace the clinic we went to catered exclusively to adopted parents, this clinic also served the general public so it was a bit crowded and chaotic.  Cameron doesn't do very well in crowds and he especially doesn't like getting poked and prodded so he was not a happy baby. But we all came through unscathed and Cameron took a two hour nap to make up for it. 

After the medical appointment Jen went down with the other families and our guide to organize some paperwork for our consulate appointment next week.  Then we just relaxed in our room for the rest of the afternoon.  This evening we had dinner at a Thai restaurant across the street from the hotel which was really good and cheap.  Tomorrow we are heading out to the zoo/safari park.  Grace is pretty excited as they have pandas and she has never seen one in real life.  Should be fun!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Made it to Guangzhou

Today was pretty much a travel day, most of the day spent packing and getting to and from the airport.  Luckily for us the flight from Nanchang to Guangzhou was pretty uneventful, which is good.  We arrived in Guangzhou around 4pm, got checked into the hotel and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant with another of of the families we are traveling with.

We are staying at the Garden hotel in Guangzhou, which is nice, really nice.   Probably the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in.  A little pampering will be nice for our final week in China.  Tomorrow we have a medical appointment for Cameron and some sightseeing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Last full day in Nanchang

Today was our last full day in Nanchang.  We leave tomorrow morning for Guangzhou.  While the change of scenery will be nice it will be tough to leave our children's home province.

Today was another day without any plans so we decided to take an excursion to the People's Park.  This is a large park in the middle of Nanchang.  Lots of trees, canals, bridges and trails to explore.  There was also an amusement park but we opted not to let Grace ride anything to her dismay.  The park was beautiful but it was very hot out so we didn't stay as long as we would have liked to.  Some pics below.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Adventures at the RT Mart

I consider myself to be pretty culturally open minded but some experiences in China will definitely put you at the edge of your comfort zone.  One of those experiences was our trip to the supermarket this evening.  We needed some more baby food and snacks so we asked the concierge for walking directions to the nearest supermarket.  She gave us directions to the RT Mart about 10 minutes away.  No problem one would think...

The Chinese have a different definition of personal space.  In a country with 1.3 billion people everywhere you go is going to be very crowded.  If you are claustrophobic you will not do well in china.  You have to be prepared to have people all around you even when just walking down the sidewalk.  I won't even get into elevator etiquette.

Crossing the street is horrifying.  There are crosswalks in China but they appear to mean absolutely nothing.  Cars will not stop for you unless they would otherwise hit you.  Even if you are carrying a 15 month old baby.  If you stand in a cross walk and wait for cars to stop you will wait all day.  You just need to hold your breath and walk across.  We found that it is best to wait for someone else to cross and use them as a buffer.   Not always possible though.

If you are a white person in China you will get stared at.  If you are a white couple in China with a 4 year old Chinese daughter you will get stared at even more.  If you are a white couple in China and one of you is light skinned, has curly blond hair and you have a 4 year old Chinese daughter and a one year old Chinese son people will practically give themselves whiplash trying to get a second and third look at you.  We have had people just stop in their tracks and stare in confusion at what they are seeing.  We just smile at them, usually we get a smile back.

Supermarkets in China are a bit different than what we are used to at home.  There are smells in the cured meat section that our western nostrils have never been exposed to.  Pungent is how I would describe it, Jen and Grace might say nauseating.  They love fresh food here in china.  The fish is very fresh as in still alive swimming in the tanks.   Along with the fish you can also find a nice selection of frogs and turtles.  None for us this time.

Whenever we travel we always like to get out of the hotel and see what it is really like to live in the particular place.   Just a trip to the supermarket in China is quite an adventure in cultural immersion.

Quiet Day

We had no adoption related running around today so it was up to us to keep ourselves entertained.  There was some talk within the group of taking an excursion but with rain in the forecast we decided to lay low and spend most of the day in our hotel.  After breakfast we hung in the room and played for a couple hours.  Then in the afternoon while Jen and Cameron napped Grace and I took a walk around the neighborhood.  I have to say Grace and I attract far less attention when we are out without Jen.  We still get plenty of stares but far less than if we are with Jen.  This evening we had dinner in the hotel and then went for a walk to the local supermarket for some supplies.  And by supplies I mean baby food and chocolate.  Another quiet day tomorrow, maybe we will make an attempt at an excursion if we are feeling adventurous. 

Some pictures below we took today in the room.  Cam's little personality is starting to emerge.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day Four

So we are only on day four in China and it feels like we have been here for weeks.  This morning we needed to go to the notary office to get some documents signed.  We also took a side trip to a porcelain shop and went to the Teng Wang Pavilion.  The Teng Wang Pavilion is located about a block away from the hotel we stayed in when we adopted Grace so it was kind of cool to be back in the same area.  After our sightseeing we had a nice lunch with the two other families in our travel group.

Cameron is doing well.  We knew ahead of time that he was delayed but I have to admit we were a bit surprised at how delayed he is.  He is not even at the level that Grace was when we adopted her at 8 months old.  The good news is we are already seeing progress after a couple days. Yesterday he could not hold himself in a sitting position at all and today we had him holding himself up for over 20 seconds.  He is currently refusing to feed himself so we have made it a goal to get him to feed himself by the end of the trip.

Tomorrow is a free day so we may just hang in our room for some bonding time.  Some pics below of our day today.