Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Final photos from China

Better late than never, right?

Tuesday morning, Bob and Bill went to the U.S. Consulate with our paperwork to apply for our babies' visas. One member of each family had to stay in the hotel room for an hour just in case there were any questions, but there weren't -- Bob told us later that we were all heading home on Thursday.

Tuesday afternoon, we took a walk across the bridge off Shamian Island into a different part of Guangzhou.Ting Ting is asleep in her carrier here as we walked through an area where people sold mostly medicinal herbs and other items.

We also saw a lot of animals for sale.

First it was live scorpions or other bugs. Then we started seeing pets like kittens or puppies and these nice lizards.

Then we rounded a corner and saw a huge marketplace.
We kept going and ended up in an area that sold a lot of jade and jewelry.

Some of us waiting near the jade market attracted the attention of some Chinese folks wanting to ask about our babies. I had a brief conversation with this woman, and she answered my questions, so she must have understood my Mandarin. Woo hoo!

Later we crossed a busy street and went into what was billed as a pearl market. It actually was a huge shopping mall full of little shops that sold pearl jewelry. It was too much -- you couldn't even look at it all.

Lance and I and some others were ready to head back, so Bill helped us catch a taxi.

Lance and Ting Ting and I shared a taxi with Chad and Frances and their daughter Chloe.

Final cost for a 15-minute ride back to our hotel for four adults and two babies? 10 yuan, about $1.20.

Another discovery we made in Guangzhou was that Ting Ting loves noodles. I made her the Chinese version of cup o' noodles and she had a grand time.

She left a bit of a mess!

Wednesday morning, most of us met in the lobby and walked to the famous White Swan Hotel for the breakfast buffet and photos. Young Tabitha was a bit under the weather, so she and her parents stayed at the hotel, but all the other babies were there.

First, here are the moms with the babies.
A couple of moms weren't there, so we doubled up. So, from left on the top row, we have Alex with one twin (sorry, girls, but I can't tell you apart yet), Lynette with another twin and her daughter Dani, Jennifer with Leanna, Judy with Gina's daughter Karma and her own daughter Bella, and Frances with Chloe. Bottom row, from left, are Kim with Shelbi, Kate with Maggie, Tamara with Linnea and Susan with Ting Ting.
Then the dads had their turn. We have Erik with Leanna, Alex with Ava (or Ana), Chuck with Ana (or Ava) and Dani, Bob with Maggie and his daughter Karma, Lance with Ting Ting, Chad with Chloe. Front row: Jeff with Bella, Kim's mom Connie with Shelbi, and Tamara's mom Barb with empty arms because Linnea decided she'd rather be with her mother (it's only fair -- she did the same thing to Tamara in some of the mom photos).

Linnea liked the red couch photos better, though. Here she is holding court (fourth from left on couch). This is some of the chaos from the setup. On the couch we have Dani, Maggie, Bella, Linnea and twins; on the floor we have Shelbi, Karma and Chloe.
Here are Linnea, Ava and Ana, and Ting Ting.

A good number of adoptive parents stay at the White Swan, and the red couches are the scene of many group shots. We stayed at the Victory, but that didn't stop us from using the White Swan's sofas or their Christmas trees and waterfall:
It's a beautiful hotel, and we enjoyed the breakfast. I'm glad we stayed at the Victory, though. It was a bit more intimate experience, and our room was great.

Plus, they spurt mosquito medicament every Wednesday:

Ting Ting was quite casual most of the week, but I did put her in a dress and tights for her U.S. Consulate appointment. She was wearing her new squeaky shoes for the first time, and you should have seen her dance when she found out they made noise!

Most parents in our group bought squeakers for their daughters. I bought three colors in three different sizes so Ting Ting can wear them for awhile. They squeak with each step, so they help the kids learn to walk.

At the consulate on Wednesday, we got Ting Ting's U.S. visa and we all swore that we had filled out the forms truthfully. Our daughters became American citizens when we landed at O'Hare.

Here's our daughter with travelmate Judy on the bus to the consulate:
How big is Ting Ting? SOOOOOO big!

Shortly after we returned from the consulate, we had our final travel meeting. Bob passed out documents and discussed details of the early morning flight to Hong Kong, followed by the trip home to Chicago.

Then we had a pizza party.

We did some last-minute shopping, then packed -- we had to have our suitcases outside our door at 5 a.m. Thursday!

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