Dani’s Gotcha Day video

Here is the video I put together of Dani’s Gotcha Day. It was such a different (and more relaxing) experience to have her brought to our hotel room.

Thankful Thursday – Free Tuition

Global Chinese Education
Global Chinese Education (click to see album)

As most of you know, we attended Global Chinese Education while in Beijing, so I won’t go into great detail again. They arranged everything for us from airport pick up and drop off to our apartment. They helped get our wireless Internet set up and took us on field trips and out to dinner. They arranged my tutor Kiki to come to the apartment each weekday and so on. I think that we were a new type of customer for them – a family with a small baby.  And a baby adopted from China. Our time there was wonderful and so today’s TT is to share with you a wonderful program they started up a couple days before we left.

Lily from the school and her son joined us on our visit to New Day Foster Home. After going on the tour and speaking with one of the head guys, she went back and told everyone at the school about it. The school then decided to form a relationship with New Day, the first step was to order books for all the children and to arrange for the staff to go and visit New Day.

One day when I arrived at school to attend my Chinese painting class, Ethan, Lily and Nancy wanted to talk to me. They said that Mike and I had inspired them. They said that our adopting Nadia and our love for the Chinese children who still don’t have parents moved them to want to do something for orphans, and for other adoptive parents. So they launched their new program to offer free tuition to those adoptive parents and families who would like to come to Beijing and do the same kind of thing that we did.

I just think that this is so cool!!! Mike and I will definitely be going back to China sometime in the future – once Nadia is a little older, so that she can start on Chinese immersion classes of her own. And I think that a lot of families, who didn’t think they would be able to do what we did, might be able to now. That would be so awesome! To live in the culture where your child came from, even for a brief time is SO valuable. If you attend the school, you will not be in the middle of the touristy areas that you saw when on the adoption trip. You will be able to meet and interact with Chinese people going about their everyday life. And you can experience that life too.

For us it was an adventure, as neither Mike nor I had ever lived in any kind of urban setting. The apartments we lived in when we were first married where 2 levels, not 20 story buildings in the middle of the city. Using public transportation or walking everywhere was new for us too. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

For me it was so valuable to experience China in the time that Nadia was abandoned. Once she gets older and starts to question how and why she became part of our family, I think China is going to be a very different country (not saying that’s good or bad, just different). Capitalist ideas and their opening up to the world for the Olympics is changing China and its people. I am glad that we went now and were able to meet with and talk to people from the country where she was born. She is an American now and will be raised as an American, but we want her to know the language and people of the country where she was born, and therefore I feel this trip and future trips are important.

And if you do go, tell them we sent you 🙂

Edited 2012-8-20: It looks like this school may no longer exist. I’ve removed the dead link to it. -Mike

We’re HOME!!

Home again

The first thing I would like you to notice here is that Nadia is in short sleeves and her legs are EXPOSED!! It was a beautiful first day home and 85 degrees. We headed up to church tonight for the mission trip fundraiser and I wore a skirt and sandals. After 30 days in a row of jeans, it was awesome!

Second, sorry if anyone had any trouble getting to the blog. After a year our hosting service decided with no warning to change a technical setting and didn’t let us know. So it’s been down almost 24 hours without us realizing it. And our email went down at the same time!

The trip home was long, but uneventful. The flight from China seemed to go fast and Nadia did great as usual. We are so blessed that she is such a good traveler. We nearly missed our connecting flight in Chicago because it took so long to get our bags and through customs. And NO ONE told us we would have to go through security again. That really annoyed me after traveling for so long. And I forgot that I had a coke in my bag from the plane and Nadia’s sippy cup. So we got pulled aside for 2 bag checks by the TSA. We got through security and Mike asked what our gate was and what time it was. I said B2 and 5:50. The flight was supposed to take off at 5:59 pm. Mike said, I bet we can make it and started to book it. I told him, go, go. I didn’t even have my shoes tied and was dragging 2 carry ons. He kept getting farther ahead and I said, “Keep going, they will hold the door if you get there.” As he rolled up with Nadia they were calling the final boarding call. We thanked the guy and ran down the jet way. As we were running we heard the door SLAM behind us. They told us, “Leave the stroller and get on the plane.”

I was panting and totally out of breath and everyone on the plane was just sitting there all peaceful. So thank goodness that we didn’t have to sit around Chicago for hours for the next flight and we landed early at DFW. When we came to the baggage area and saw Joy and Janis I nearly teared up I was so excited. We were home! Nadia went right into her car seat, which was great. I was a bit afraid that she would resist since she had been free to go from person to person in taxis in China.

On the drive home I was weirded out that all the drivers stayed in their own lanes and no one was honking. 🙂 Further, I will be honest that when we got home I laid my head down on the kitchen counter when we got all the bags in and said, “Oh kitchen, how I have missed you.” Also, Nadia was MANIC for her toys. Janis got right down on the floor with her to play. Her and Joy got her the Fisher Price Little People in Easter eggs that are so darn cute! Janis also brought it to our attention that Nadia kept stopping playing to rub her hands on the carpet. It was cute since she hadn’t seen any carpet for a month, she liked how it felt I guess.

We visited with Joy and Janis for a bit, then they left and we ordered pizza a little while later. Nadia went to sleep and we crashed soon after. Laying down on the soft bed was the most wonderful thing!!! And in a quiet house. Ahhhhhhhhh. Jet lag had Mike and I up from 3 – 6 am and Nadia up from 4:30 – 6 am. But I have to be honest that this time I am tired, but I don’t feel like I was run over by a bus. Mike says that is seems like only a taxi ran over me. 🙂

Observations on our last morning

Last cold morning in Beijing

This has been a great trip and so wonderful to immerse ourselves in a different culture. Here are some random thoughts about our time here and China.

  • I read a couple of weeks ago that “Snacking is a food group in Beijing” and it’s true! Everywhere you turn practically you see snacks. In stores and on the side of the road. From candied fruit to sweet potatoes baked in drums on the back of a bike. They have all kinds of filled crackers, cookies, and chips. We embraced the snacking culture while here and tried all kinds of items.
  • Corn is popular here. Very popular. It comes on pizza, you can get a cup of it instead of fries at McDonald’s and they have little juice boxes of corn juice that you can buy.
  • Many people here have expected Nadia to be potty trained because of her age. Of course we don’t have split pants or a culture that would accept children squatting to potty in public places at home, so what can you do? 😉
  • Staring is accepted in China. Everywhere we have gone, we stick out because we are a white couple with a Chinese daughter. People openly stare, gawk and grab their friends and point so they can look at us too. The Chinese love to come up to Nadia and say hi, make clucking noises and in general just smile at her. The most common questions we got were: How old is she? Can she speak Chinese? and Is she cold?
  • Pushing and shoving is also accepted on buses and subways. It’s not a mean thing, it’s a necessary thing because of the major crush of people. If you don’t force your way in, you will never get anywhere. And the Chinese are not mean about it, so there is no reason to get upset.
  • I would never, never drive here. No way, no how. But I will tell you that the Chinese don’t talk on their cell phones, eat, read, etc. while driving, from what I have seen. They concentrate on driving. I only saw one wreck the entire time we were here and it was close to the orphanage and involved a motorcycle. The very strange auto ballet works here because everyone drives that way.
  • Lots of the horn honking comes from taxi and bus drivers warning pedestrians and bicyclists that they are coming.
  • When we first got here I was scared I would get run over because it seems like no one follows the rules. Now I start crossing with or slightly before some of the Chinese because I know the patterns of traffic and lights near our house. I am totally confident to just cross all the streets that are near the apartment.
  • We are ready for a weird sort of culture shock when we get home. We had some last time because of traveling with a group of 30 or so for 2 weeks and doing so many things together. This time I think it’s going to be even more pronounced because we have been living here. Grocery shopping, cooking and doing the day to day things. Everywhere we go, we only understand each other. It’s going to be odd to come home and be able to read and understand everything. Seeing different races of people will be odd too. We have grown so accustomed to being the minority here.
  • I’m going to miss the cheap pastry shops. And the orange Ritz.
  • The Chinese people have been wonderful and treated us with such respect. It’s really wonderful to have been welcomed in by the school. And to have been able to go to dinner at Kiki and Jing’s was an awesome treat that we didn’t expect in advance. It was a great honor and lots of fun.
  • The sales of Coke Light are going to drop drastically at the Lotus. The first week they kept running out and now they have it on the shelf and in 2 coolers. Coke and tea are just more popular here than Coke Light.
  • I think in some ways the Chinese are a happier culture than America. Even when they seem busy and rushing to get somewhere, they are more apt to smile at you or at least project a friendlier attitude. Young girls walk around arm and arm almost everywhere…..way past the age that happens in America. The Chinese just love to wave and smile at children. But I also get this feeling more in Fort Worth than anywhere else I have lived.
  • Snoopy and Mickey Mouse are hugely popular here. Within walking distance there is a Snoopy store and a Mickey store. They are filled with all kinds of things that you can’t get in America. We have also seen lots of Hello Kitty.
  • Nadia will no longer have to look like she’s departing for an Arctic expedition every time we go out.

That’s all for now. I am going to pack up the computer and we will head for the airport soon. Thanks for following our journey. Our next post will be from Texas!