Thursday, May 26, 2005

She LOVES the Dogs!!!

From the first she thought they were the funniest things, and they are sure to get a giggle out of her and often distract her out of an incipient tantrum. We are very relieved and happy about this, because Zima and Iris (60 lb Samoyed/Husky and Lab/Samoyed) are solid members of our family pack, so it would have been awful if she'd been terrified, but right from the beginning she thought they were funny. Iris (the Lab) managed to lick her in the face despite our best efforts within a couple hours, and I laughed and so Isabella laughed, too, and so everything seems to be great! The dogs love her too. They wonder why we didn't get a baby before! These things throw food everywhere!!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

First days home

Sleeping with her dolly
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
The first few days back were hard because all 3 of us had colds and were suffering from Jet Lag. Sleeping was the major issue of that first week. After some trial and error and discussion we tried Isabella in the crib we had set up for her in our room, because the double bed is just too small with an athletic sleeper like her! She did cry, but she does that every time she catches on that we want her to sleep (for instance Andrea's singing lullabies usually backfires because she thinks I'm trying to trick her into sleeping--cruel mother that I am), so that didn't seem unusual, and actually she seemed to calm and drift off more easily and quickly in the crib. She also goes to sleep a lot more easily with Jeff putting her to bed, because if Andrea does it, Isabella keeps reaching for her and won't settle, but with Jeff she has her usual struggle with sleeping but less trauma.

Since the end of the first week she has been sleeping pretty much through the night, with a couple self-soothing awakenings and maybe one or two where Jeff goes to comfort her. She currently goes to sleep to Christine Kane (the last few, quieter songs of >Rain and Mud and Wild and Green<), Kate Rusby, Dee Carstensen, and Gregorian Chants! Any suggestions would be welcome.

She struggles against naps as well, so often we resort to driving around with her, which usually does the trick, but leaves us trapped in the car. Yesterday she fell asleep in her highchair and mama got her into the crib to nap--Hooray!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

We came home to our Rhododendron blooming!

"Look! There's Daddy!"
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
We were welcomed home by our neglected Rhododendron, blooming for us anyway!


Friday, May 20, 2005

Coming Home...

The Flight Home was thankfully uneventful! We had a nonstop from Hong Kong to San Francisco on Singapore Air, a wonderful airline. And the winds were with us as the flight only took 11 hours instead of the scheduled 12 (it was 15 going to China). Isabella was given a special baby meal with egg and mashed potatoes and vegetables, which she liked (as always for this girl!) and then she fell asleep and slept pretty much straight through, thanks in large part to Nora’s suggestion and lending of a down pillow to make her a bed. (Thanks, Nora!)

Jeff’s parents picked us up at the airport in our station wagon (so we had our carseat and space for all our luggage), and on the way through the airport we saw our plane and had to take a picture. We obviously weren't as together after the flight as some of our other friends who posed themselves in the picture. (click on the photo for our photo album)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

From Guangzhou

From Guangzhou
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
Just a quick note to say we are still here and still having a good time. We are in Guangzhou now, have been since Saturday. It is very hot and humid here, sort of like Kansas City in July, but Andrea's not used to that anymore and Jeff and the little caterpillar girl never were. There is a thunderstorm most days, which helps some. The hotel is very fancy, but not in nearly as convenient or scenic an area as in Nanchang. Also the internet has been giving us a lot of problems here, and unlike in Beijing and Nanchang we have to pay for it, which is aggravating when it doesn't work. So you may not hear much more from us before we get home. Once we are home at the end of this week we will be posting more detailed accounts of what we have done, so check back for updates. We have all had colds. Isabella, we think, came to us with hers, and kindly shared it, so she is doing great now. Andrea is feeling mostly better also, with the help of medicines both ancient and modern. Jeff is still suffering a bit. We have been lying low today, catching up on sleep and watching Isabella play. She is completely adorable most of the time, her sweet and mischievious nature is really coming out now that she is feeling well and getting to know us.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Isabella Youlan (Maomaochong)

We found out that our daughter has been called Maomaochong by her foster family. It means "furry caterpillar", perhaps like the wooly bear caterpillars in the U.S. The way to this girl's heart is definitely through her stomach! (Just like her Dad). The minute we got her we offered her some crackers and she started right in on them. She even fed one to Andrea which was just too cute. After our big meeting we went back up to our room where she drank a bottle of formula and rice flakes, then it was time for our dinner where she ate the entire time too. We were worried that she would be resisting us as we look and smell nothing like her foster family. But she immediately turned to Andrea for comfort and would not tolerate being put down or held by anyone else. Andrea was worried that she had just acquired a new permant appendage that eats a lot, but as we write this she is now sleeping soundly after what had to be a huge and confusing day for her.

The Big Day!!

Happy parents
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
Today, May 9, 2005 was the day we first met our daughter Isabella. We left Guangzhou very early for a short flight to Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province. We checked in to our hotel then had the whole middle part of the day to kill (and be nervous) before meeting our babies. The bus bringing them was delayed due to traffic, but finally around 3:30 they arrived. The staff had things really organized and we each had our daughters brought to us one by one. We were second in line out of seven couples. They walked up to us, checked our passports to make sure we were the right parents for the right child, then handed us our baby. She wasn't so sure about it at first and cried a little, but soon settled down. We were able to ask the orphange director some questions about our daughter's history, and he gave us a disposable camera we had sent ahead some weeks ago. He indicated there would be pictures of important sites in Tonggu and we think there will be a picture of the foster mom too. We are lucky enough to have her name and we are encouraged to write to her via the orphanage and send photos of Isabella once a year or so.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Preparing for the big day

We flew to Guangzhou from Beijing Saturday afternoon. We were picked up by the "China Team" from our agency and taken to the China Hotel in Guangzhou. Today, Sunday May 8th (Mother's day!) we had the first meeting of everyone in our group. Our group consists of 22 couples, a small group for this agency. We'll be getting children from 7 different Social Welfare Institutes in four different provinces. We all met for an orientation meeting in the late morning over a wonderful dim sum meal. We were introduced to the staff who will be working with us and given a summary of how everything will work.

We are in a group of seven couples going to Jiangxi Province, and we'll all recieve our girls at our hotel in the capital city of Nanchang tomorrow. Tomorrow!!

Hutong in Beijing

Hutong in Beijing
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
In the evening of our last day in Beijing we went for a tour of a Hutong, which means alley. Much of Beijing was laid out this way for centuries. With the modernization of Beijing many of these neighborhoods have been leveled to make way for major high-rise apartments without the charm and community of the old hutongs.
We took a rickshaw ride through a hutong area then had dinner in a private home. It was a great meal served by a very gracious hostess.

Last day in Beijing

Summer Palace, Beijing
Originally uploaded by Isabella Youlan.
Our last day in Beijing was incredibly clear and sunny - even our guide was taking pictures all day as he said you almost never see such a clear day in Beijing. A storm the day before had cleared out all of the dust and smog that clogs the air over Beijing. We spent the morning at the Summer Palace, situated on a beautiful lake north of the City.

In the afternoon we went to the Lama Temple, the most renowned Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. It has a 55 foot high statue of Buddha carved out of a single sandalwood tree trunk and many interesting smaller temples in the complex.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Forbidden City and more pictures

This post is just to point out that if you haven't already discovered it, you can click on any of the photos in this blog and from there get to many more photos in our photo album on a photo hosting page.

Hello from Beijing

We've had a busy couple of days seeing the sights of Beijing and the surrounding area. Wednesday we went out to The Great Wall and hiked a really nice two hour loop. There was a portion of the wall that was very crowded, absolutely packed with people because of the May Day week holiday - a huge one in China. We chose to go a different way on the wall and didn't have to fight the crowds. We are both feeling it in our legs today though, as some of the portions of the wall are incredibly steep. That night we saw a very impressive performance of the Chinese National Acrobatic Troup. The men and boys did very impressive feats and some of the women/girls did things with their bodies that were clearly impossible.

Today we spent the day seeing Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The scale of these places is impossible to comprehend until you walk through them. We finished off the day with a dinner of traditional Peking duck, which was quite wonderful.

We've had a very good local guide who calls himself Jason (for the Chinese speaking impared). He knows a lot about Chinese history and presents a surprsingly balanced view of it.