Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Day Down

Whooo, finally a good night’s sleep! Seriously, the beds at our hotel in Jinan were like sleeping on a concrete floor, okay, maybe a concrete floor with a blanket over it. They were so hard. Plus our room was like a sauna for a week. It was so hot, and we could not get the thermostat to work. We even had the hotel staff come “fix” it, but it still was very hot. Here at the Victory the beds are so much more comfortable and the room is much more bearable plus we can open our windows if needed.

We started off the day with breakfast. Let me tell ya, Kalia is a good eater. She fills up with every meal.

Yes, all three plates are hers, and yes, she finished all but a few of the tomatoes.


From there we headed to get her medical exam done. We were there fairly early and did not have to wait in a massive line.


This was during her hearing test which obviously was normal.


After the hearing test she had the physical exam which she did NOT like. She was NOT happy at all. I can’t say that I blame her. She had to take off her pants, shoes, and socks and have some strange doctor examine her. Then, they focused too much on her left foot which is an unrepaired club foot (I think). They kept making her walk back and forth and calling over more doctors to look at it. She walks pretty normal, has a slight limp, but they couldn’t figure out how to describe it in her paperwork. All I can say is that she and I were both relived when it was over.

She had her height and weight checked and a vision test. If that wasn’t enough trauma for one day, she had to get a TB test as well. So far it looks good, we go back on Monday to have it read.

After the medical exam, our guide, Richard took us to a shopping area that reminds me of Times Square in NY. There is a big jumbo tron and a McDonalds on tow of the four corners. There are shops everywhere, and shops within shops. Kalia got a few Barbie movies; the girl LOVES anything Barbie and Princess, especially moves and books. She also found a pair of boots. I have been trying to get her to buy a pair of boots but she couldn’t find anything she liked. I was thinking maybe something like the fuzzy lined, suede boots, but she apparently had something completely different in mind. She picked out a pair of white boots with bows up the side at first, and we were able to compromise and she got the black one. Still not quite what I wanted to get her, but they will work and more importantly, they made her happy.


After that we ate McDonalds and headed over to the fabric district. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was So excited. It did not disappoint. There was fabric everywhere; I didn’t even know where to begin. I picked out three different fabrics, and several buttons and trims. I cannot wait to get home to start sewing again. (I may even need to make one more “quick” trip back to the fabric market). This stuff is so cheap here, at least half, if not more of what I would pay back home.





Other than that, it was a pretty dull day. Below are pictures that I took today around the city. Oh, I was able to find a new lens, again more than half of what I would have paid at home.

In the Cannon store making sure the new lens worked


Yes, McDonalds delivers here!







Friday, December 30, 2011

Halfway Done

Thank you all for your prayers. Blake is home and doing well. He was pretty sick. The doctors told Matt that he was about 4-6 hours away from going into a coma. So THANK YOU all for your prayers. He is doing much better and glad to be home.

The last couple of days we did some sightseeing in Jinan. On Thursday our guide took us to DaMing Lake which is a huge lake and park. It is a place that scholars and poets would go to thousands of years ago to write and have writing contests. It was beautiful, but very cold so we didn’t stay too long. I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the spring and summer.





I LOVE this picture...


This may be a picture I frame. I am not a photographer, but I just love the way this turned out.


After we left the lake, our guide took us to a school. My father in law is the Superintendent of a school corporation back home and I thought it would be cool for him to tour a school to see how Chinese student’s lives may differ from Americans. So, our guide was able to get us in to the school that is 13 year old daughter attends.

The school is surrounded by a locked gate and there are security guards as well. At first we weren’t sure we were going to be able to go in, but our guide spotted his daughter’s teacher and was able to talk his way in.


Middle School students


Elementary School Students


We were taken into the school to a room with about eight 8th grade Chinese students, and some teachers. Steve was able to explain how our schools back home work, the classes that were offered, sizes, extracurricular activities, length of day, etc. The kids asked questions and there English was very good. They shared with us what a typical day is for them, school starts about 7:30 a.m. and ends around 5 pm. They do get an hour lunch are some stay at school to eat and some go home. Most of the students live very near the school. This particular school was attached to Shandong University so most of the students were children of the professors. There were some (including our guide’s daughter) who were not professor’s children and had to take an entrance exam to get it.

It was very interesting and I think the kids enjoyed it as well. I will say that from the moment we walked up to the gate, Kalia did NOT want to be there. In fact, our guide even asked her and she said she didn’t want to be there. I had him explain to her why we were there and that we would only be there for a short time then we would go back to the hotel. She was quite nervous and fidgety while we were there, but once we left, she was much more relaxed. We are not sure why she was so uncomfortable, but she is fine now.

These are the individual classrooms


The kids loved saying “hello” to us in English


After that we went back to our hotel for lunch (McDonalds) and then Kalia and I ventured back into the alley of the unknown and Steve went back to the room.

The whole alley was mostly food places. There were a couple little shops here and there, but mostly just different types of places to eat.



We decided since it was out last night in Jinan we would try one more Chinese restaurant. Our guide told us about a place that was just across the street from our hotel and was one of the 10 best places to eat in Jinan. It was called the Sunflower Restaurant. I asked the hotel to write down a couple of dishes in Chinese for us so we would at least have an idea of what we were eating.

Kalia ordered a couple of dishes and Steve and I ordered Sweet and Sour Chicken. Let me just say, the portion sizes here are enormous. We had 4 dishes plus rice and there was still a ton of food left over.

This was the first dish to be brought out. It was chicken. Kalia dove right in, and Steve has a few pieces as well. As I was picking through to get a piece, I found this.


That my friends, is the head of a chicken. As soon as I saw that, there was no way I could eat it. Sorry, but I just couldn’t do it.

This was the second dish to be brought out which is something Kalia ordered. It is clearly shrimp, the whole shrimp, eyes and all. Neither Steve or I are fans of shrimp so this was also a no go for us. But Kalia liked it.


They also brought out the sweet and sour chicken which was really good (sorry I forgot to take a picture). Lastly was a spicy beef dish which was really, really good. It was my favorite.


We all left stuffed.

Friday morning we took off for the airport to fly to Guangzhou. Kalia was so funny to watch. While Steve and I were finishing up packing, she was close to the door, coat on, and bags in hand. She was ready to go.

She did great on the flight. It was about 2.5 hours from Jinana to Guangzhou.


We are in Guangzhou now and staying at the Victory Hotel. The weather here is so nice, 60’s. Once we got settled in to our room we headed out for some dinner. We ate at Lucy’s. For those not familiar with GZ, Lucy’s is a resturaunt that caters to adoptvies families. There is anything from cheeseburgers, pb&j, to steak, and Chinese food.

After that we walked around a bit then headed back to the room. Today we have our Medical exam so I am hoping Kalia does okay with that. After that our guide is going to take us to a market. Tomorrow is a free day so I am sure we will find something to do.

My camera lens broke, not sure how, but I think I am going to have our guide, Richard take us to the electronics market to see if I can get a replacement.

I will say that Kalia’s personality is coming out more and more. She is smiling more. Her smiles are more real and not forced. Her mood is definitely much more relaxed since we have been in Guangzhou. It is almost like it is a relief for her to be out of Jinan. I would love to know what is going through her head.

She is a beautiful girl and I am thanking God for allowing me the chance to call her my daughter. She is going to fit in quite well with the other kids.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Smooth Sailing, So Far

Things are continuing to go smoothly. Yesterday was a free day for us so we just hung around the hotel. Kalia went swimming again, which she loves. We also went for a walk at a nearby park and saw a water show they do to music. I got video, but it is taking forever to upload.

Kalia is pretty much your typical pre-teen.



We have SKYPED with Kalia’s friend that was adopted last month and both girls have enjoyed seeing each other. I think it also helps Kalia to know things are going to be okay. Her friend is also speaking a lot of English. Since they were here just a month ago we asked where some good places to eat were, we have been eating Pizza Hut and McDonalds for the most part and we are all ready for a change.

Our hotel is in a pretty “swanky” area that has a mall with stores like Rolex, Versace, etc. Kalia’s friend’s mom told us that behind the stores across from our hotel there were some great Chinese restaurants. So, we ventured into the alley of the unknown yesterday for dinner.


My father in law is not a very adventurous person in fact, he does not like Chinese food at all (I know, I know). So, we tried to find the “best looking” place to eat. You could tell as soon as we walked in they weren’t used to seeing many Americans, if any.


Kalia ordered and I translated that Steve and I wanted spicy Chicken with white rice (trying to play it safe).

They first brought out this dish which is what Kalia ordered. Steve and I decided there was no way she could eat it all so we decided to help her. It was actually pretty good. It was corn, carrots, and cucumbers in a sweet sauce.


He’s pretty proud of himself for being able to pick up the kernel of corn with chopsticks


Then they brought out a gigantic bowl of this soup. It was a brown broth with tofu, green leafy stuff, and what looked like eggs like in egg drop soup. This was also something Kalia ordered. Steve tried it right away which really surprised me. He said it wasn’t bad so I tried it too. I didn’t like it at all.


While we were trying to figure out if this was something we ordered or Kalia I thought I better see what spicy chicken actually translated to. It translated to Chicken Mordacios, which neither of us had any idea what Mordacious meant. As we were laughing about that, they actually did bring out a chicken dish that didn’t look too bad.


We all dug in and to our surprise, it was pretty good once you got past the chicken bones and gristle which you are apparently supposed to spit out right on the table if you don’t like them.

After that we returned to our room where we all crashed before 8:00pm.

Today we had to meet our guide in the lobby at 8am because he was taking us to DeZhou which is where Kalia’s orphanage is. During breakfast I sensed there was something wrong and noticed her mood had changed pretty quickly.

She was very quiet on the ride to DeZhou (it was about 2 hours) and listened to her iPod the whole time. I was pretty nervous about what would happen when we got there. I was scared she would have another meltdown when it was time to leave, or flat out refuse to leave. She completely surprised me and wanted nothing to do with any of the orphanage people including her nanny and nurse who brought her to Jinan. She wouldn’t even let them help her out of the van. In fact, she would not talk to hardly anyone that tried to talk to her. She tried to ignore all the orphanage staff.



This is actually the building Kalia stayed in


We were greeted by the director which was a woman about my age, Kalia’s nanny and nurse, and some guy who had a camera. They led us into the entrance of the orphanage and then up to the third floor which is where the younger children slept. We were first taken into a “play” room for kids. There were about 20 kids in there that looked to have some sort of mental disability and a couple of kids with downs syndrome. We were then taken next door to where the kids slept. There were about 20 or 30 cribs but only about 5 kids in them including a fairly newborn baby. There was one nanny trying to bottle feed all the kids while they laid in their cribs.

From there we were taken to Kalia’s room that she shared with Yiera (the little girl who was adopted last month). It was a very nice room with two beds, a closet, and a desk. All of the kids Kalia’s age were at school so we didn’t get to meet any of her other friends. I did ask how many kids were in the orphanage and was told that there were 65 and they had just sent 3 kids’ paperwork to CCCWA to be ready for adoption. Kalia was only the third to be adopted from this orphanage.

Kalia’s bed is the one closest to the window, the other one was her friend’s that was adopted last month.




They took us down to the 2nd floor to the exercise room which is where Kalia was able to dance. In there we stood and talked about the differences between China and America and how they handle their children. I explained to them about how our foster care system works and they all agreed that they think China needs to adopt the same policies as America.

This is where Kalia practiced her dancing


I asked how far away the school was that Kalia went to and how she got there. I was told they walked to school and that it was only 10 minutes away. So of course I asked if we could drive by so I could take pictures which they said was fine.

It wasn’t long before both Steve and I noticed that this was no 10 minute walk away, more like 45 minutes to an hour. Once we got to the school I got out to take pictures and was told that the new orphanage that we had just visited was not where Kalia actually lived during the week. Because the new orphanage is so far away from the school, they decided that the school children would stay at the old orphanage (which only a few blocks away from the school) during the week and go to the new orphanage on the weekends.

Kalia’s school


So, once again I had to ask if I could see it. They were totally open to taking us there and giving us a tour and letting me take pictures.

The old orphanage is now mostly for old people so the school kids slept on the top floor during the week so they could walk to school. Across the courtyard was there the boys stayed and where the kids played.

This is pretty much where Kalia has spent the last 9.5 years.

This was her building that she slept in


This was where they played and the boys slept


This little girl was too sick to go to school so she stayed home with the nanny


You never get used to the sights like this. It is truly heartbreaking to see that this is where my daughter had lived for 9.5 years. I will say that it was obvious that her nanny cared for her very much. They did say Kalia was one of the favorites and helped a lot with the younger children. But to think that this is where she has slept for basically her whole life just breaks my heart.

This was her bed


There were a total of 8 girls in this room




From there we said our goodbyes and there were no tears shed whatsoever. In fact, all Kalia did was wave goodbye, no hugs, nothing.

Steve and I both agreed that Kalia did not like being there. She was nervous the whole time and jittery. Once we were on the road back to Jinan, you could see her instantly start to relax. I would love to know what was going to through her head while we were there.

Once we returned to Jinan, the guide dropped us off at the hotel and we wet to lunch at McDonald then over to the supermarket for some water and snacks. Boy can my girl shop. Loooove it!

Tomorrow we will go to Diamond Lake and tour an Elementary school (my father in law is in education).

Please keep Blake in your prayers. I posted over a year ago that he had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Well, when we SKYPED home earlier today Matt said Blake was sick and vomiting. We figured he had the flu or just ate something that didn’t agree with his stomach. I asked what his sugar was which was 118 which is good. So, as we were driving to DeZhou I got a text from Matt that he needed the doctors number because Blake’s sugar was 408 with high ketones. The next text I got was they the doctor wanted Blake to go to the ER immediately.

He was pretty dehydrated which for a Diabetic can cause big problems. They are keeping him overnight and going to continue to do IV fluids.

Please keep Blake in your prayers that he will heal quickly and go home tomorrow.