The Law/George Family

The Law/George Family

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gotcha Day!!!!

Walking down the hall with the Orphanage Director!

We were up early, 5:00a.m. and flew out of Beijing at 7:30a.m. arriving in Taiyuan at 8:45. A brief check in at the hotel and we were off in a taxi with our new guide, Emily to the Civil Affairs office to meet our daughter for an earlier than expected greeting. We were, nervous, hyper, sweating, pacing, flashing back to the last 2 1/2 years of waiting and waiting and waiting.

Sebbie kept glancing out into the hall, to see if they were coming yet and after some more waiting, this time only about 30 minutes, Maggie Xu Di came walking down the hall with the orphanage director. Her eyes were big and she looked a bit nervous, warmly dressed in ski pants and a sweater. The director handed her over to Cathy tears, no screaming, just nervously staring at all of us.

Hello Maggie Xu Di Law

Mommy sat down on the couch and started bonding with her new daughter. Then, after a few minutes the blubbering began (Mommy and Daddy - not Maggie). Mommy kept remembering the strong feelings over the last 2 1/2 years to not give up because our daughter was in China--how she had always been our little girl, just waiting for us. Daddy was thinking about what a long process this has been and now it was finally a reality and how today would have been his father's 74th birthday (and how much his Dad would have loved his granddaughter). Since we were both crying we only have a few, slightly blurry pictures of that moment (Sebbie was intuitive enough to take them).

Our guide, Emily conducted business with the Orphanage director (who was very nice and seemed to really like Xu Di) and handed over many more pages of official documents that we had to sign, while we visited with our little one. We learned some more valuable information from the director: Xu Di has spent most of her 2 1/2 years in a foster home, and we have the foster fathers name for sending photos. She likes to use the potty and arrived in our arms not wearing a diaper. We were given her daily schedule and what she likes to eat and drink. When she realized she was going to leave with us, her lip began to quiver and she had 3 tiny tears that rolled down her face, and that was it. Reassurance from the orphanage director really seemed to help her.

We went back to the hotel in a taxi and went straight to eating lunch. And boy, does she like to eat!! Mommy could hardly get a bite since she wanted Mommy to keep feeding her. Then she had a good nap while laying next to Mommy on the bed (the crib was a little scary that soon). She spent most of the rest of the afternoon and early evening just staring at us. But Daddy got her to smile and giggle by tickling her. We had a delicious dinner at a local restaurant with the help of Emily. Now she is fast asleep in the crib next to Mommy's bed with her new doll (given to her by her new big brother), which at first she seemed reluctant to acknowledge and now she likes to touch it (as long as we don't look at her).

Sebbie has been an absolute champ about the whole thing. Although there is a little naustalgia about having all of our attention, he absolutely adores her. Even after geting up at five this morning he was reluctant to go to sleep in his bed because he wanted to sit next to his sister's bedside and watch her sleep.

The last 24 hours or so have had a lot of similarities to labor--waiting for that pivitol moment that you know is coming so soon and then embracing the wonder and joy of meeting your new child for the first time. We are all exhausted now, but extremely happy to finally be a family of four.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 4 in Beijing

Sebbie Hackeysacking with his Grandmother fan club. Everyone loves Sebbie and always want to touch him. He takes it in stride and is a good sport.

Family Hackey Sack in the Temple of Heaven

Famous Oregon Juggler. Traveled all the way from Corvallis to entertain the masses in the Temple of Heaven

Cathy learning Tai Chi

Temple of Heaven -- just one of the buildings.

Cathy dancing in the park. Just because!

Slow dancing in the Park.

Ready for our Chinese foot massage.

Sebbie loves his new silk bath robe and really cool fan.

Today we had another nice breakfast in the Debao Hotel restaurant. I love it. I sit down, they pour us a cup of tea, and within 5 minutes I have my own special gluten free fried rice and fresh steamed vegetable. Usually Chinese kale or bok choy. Quite yummy and fresh. Sebbie loves the buffet too, eating his fill of sausage, a bushel of watermelon and topping it off with rice krispies. One morning they had cocoa puffs. And of course, Mommy always loves a good buffet, with a mix of Chinese food and western style food.

Marsha, our most excellent and wonderful guide, picked us up at 10:00a.m. sharp and we were off to the Temple of Heaven. Another massively huge complex where the Emperor would come to pray for a bountiful harvest. The buildings were huge and colorful, the prayer circles were made of marble with impressive carvings of dragons. I don't know the exact dimensions, but maybe at least 1 mile square - very impressive that they have kept it up for the last 600 years, since Beijing is so crowded. The building/prayer areas are surrounded by groves of old growth cedars, some as old as 500 years old. You don't see any big, old trees anywhere else in Beijing except here or other parks.

After walking through the Temple, the grounds just off of it have been preserved as a gathering/recreation area for the people. 1000's of people gather here in the morning to recreate, Chinese style: playing cards, Chinese chess, karaoke, dances, playing/learning to play music, dancing/learning different dances, hackey sack. All of it is outside, exercising mind and body. Oh, and all of it is free. The instructors are all retired citizens who volunteer to teach their skills to anyone interested. A pretty impressive way for senior's to spend the day. They do this 7 days a week. Everyone here is happy and very content. Good karma in the air.

After the Temple of Heaven, we took off for the Silk Factory. We learned how the silk worm's cocoon is spun into a single long strand of silk - over 1 mile long per cocoon. Cocoons with a double larvae can't be used for silk strands and are turned into silk quilts. Oh so soft and nice.
Our best Chinese food dinner yet, including a whole, steamed fish that was fished out of their aquarium and presented to us flopping in the net for approval. Sebbie ate the eyeballs and the brain (Mommy tried not to grimace and even helped him fish out the brains). Our meal was followed by an hour long Chinese foot massage, and holy cow did that feel good. Marsha must know that we need to be relaxed and ready for our Gotcha Day, which is tomorrow at 4:00p.m.

Now, in less than 24 hours, we will finally be a family of 4! It's taken Cathy and I almost exactly 10 years to achieve this. We are ready. Tomorrow when you read our blog we will have photos of little Maggie Xu Di Law for the first time ever!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Great Wall

Today, after stopping at a jade factory, we hiked up a VERY steep part of the Great Wall. It was an incredible site and accomplishment. Getting down was even more challenging--our knees are still shaking. Oh, and did I mention it was snowing!! Here are some of the photos:

At the bottom

Looking up

Preparing to hike

It's getting steep

The sea of people who joined us at first

Then, the amount of people started to die down.

We are feeling pretty good about our trek!

This is the point that my knees, asthma, and fear of heights prompted me to start back down.

Steve and Sebbie ventured up a little further to this cool guard tower.

On the way home we stopped at the Cloisonne factory (very interesting), a fresh water pearl factory, and then we took Sebbie to this Chinese McDonald's that he has been wanting to visit.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Today Sebbie and I went out sightseeing (with our guide) to the Purrple Bamboo Park and the Summer Palace. Wanting to be healthy for Tuesday, Steve decided to stay at the hotel to rest and nurse his terrible cough.

The Purple Bamboo Park is an amazing place. Because homes/apartments are so small in China, most people come to places such as these to get fresh air, exercise, and socialize when they can, especially on weekends. All along the park are large and small groups of people sharing their skills with others, including total strangers such as us. Many of the "teachers" are retired people. We saw groups doing Tai Chi, Mongolian dancing, ballroom dancing, singing, and yoyos. This women did amazing tricks with Chinese yoyos and taught Sebbie how to use one.

Here is a picture of Sebbie and our wonderful guide, Marsha, in the park. And, one of Sebbie and I enjoying a ride in the children's area.

After an awesome lunch at a non-touristy restaurant in the park, we headed off to the Summer Palace. We walked a fair distance around the Palace grounds, viewing some amazing architecture, art, and blossoming trees, and then boarded a "dragon boat" which took us across the lake to an island with some historical information about some of the rulers in China. Then we followed the Seventeen-Arch Bridge back to the mainland where we learned how to use colorful Chinese ribbons before we headed back to the hotel. It was a great day (except we missed Steve).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Beijing Zoo

Today we visited the Beijing Zoo. A big feature there are the pandas.

We all liked this really beautiful pheasant.

Sebbie seems to be a big attraction in Beijing. He gets lots of attention from the locals and has received many requests to have his photo taken.

After the Zoo, Marsha took us to a local restaurant where we had some "crunchy shrimp". You are meant to eat them whole--exoskeleton, eyeballs, insides, and all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

We Made It To Beijing

Relaxing in LAX before our
long leg to Seoul.

Seoul, South Korea airport.

We arrived safe, sound, and a wee bit tired in Beijing at 9:45a.m. (Beijing time). It only took us a total of about 34 hours of travel time from when we left Corvallis. Marsha, our guide, hired through Journey's of the Heart (our adoption agency) greeted us. She and her driver dropped us off at the Debao Hotel in Beijing, where we checked in and then headed straight to the 3rd floor hotel restaurant that specializes in Cantonese cooking. I thought my gluten-free diners card, written in great detail in Mandarin, would be a real help in keeping me well fed and safe from gluten contamination. We showed it to our server, who called over another server and then a manager and they talked to each other at great length and still seemed perplexed about what to do with it. I managed to point to rice and steamed vegetables and had a great, light lunch. Cathy and Sebbie ordered some much more exotic dishes and really enjoyed them. Marsha picked us up a couple of hours later and we enjoyed an awesome tour of

Tiananmen Square and then the Forbidden City. We were surprised by the literally 10's of 1000's of Chinsee tourists visiting at the same time as we were. Today isn't a holiday, and there is no school holiday this week either, just another busy day here in Beijing. After that tour, we went to the Dr. Tea Tea House and had a tasting of 5 of their best teas: White, Oolong, Jasmine, Green, and Puer. We bought a container of each and needed the small caffeine boost to get us through the rest of the evening. After she dropped us off at the hotel, we went for a quick swim, enjoyed some takeout in the room, and then Sebbie fell asleep, Cathy, and now it is time for me. Only 4 more full days of being a family of 3. We are all quite looking forward to meeting little Maggie Xu Di on March 31st - which would've been my dad's 74th birthday. He would have been so proud to share that day with her.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Seoul

We have landed in Seoul and are waiting for our flight to Beijing. Our long flight across the Pacific was on Asiana Airlines (a Korean carrier) and Steve and I both agree that it is far and away the BEST airline we have ever experienced--awesome food (including gluten-free and kids meals), great amenities, and superior service. We highly recommend it! Now we are off to find some tasty Korean food.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We've reached Los Angeles

We have arrived in Los Angeles and are waiting in the International Terminal for the Asiana Airlines ticket counter to open. We took a great picture of us in our team shirts (tie dye) but will have to wait to post it since we realized the gadget we need to download the photo is in our unavailable luggage.

We are tired after a couple of nights with not a lot of sleep as we prepared for our departure and Maggie's arrival back home, but we are SUPER excited. So, the adrenaline is keeping us going!