Monday, January 26, 2009

This and that...

I've been reflecting back a lot about our trip once Lauren is tucked into her crib at night. I look at her sleeping and it just seems unreal that we've been there and back and our wait is actually over. I thought the trip would drag on with almost all our time spent in Guangzhou, but it actually went by in a flash. They had us running here and there for appointments and tours every day...there was never a dull moment. We had an amazing guide and a great group of families to spend our time with.

China is an amazing country filled with such wonderful history and beautiful old buildings maintained for generations to enjoy. There were so many things that impressed me about China and I can't wait to take Lauren back there someday for a heritage tour. We feel she needs to experience her birthplace. A couple of the things that impressed me about the Chinese culture is that people seem to take a lot of pride in what they do and that families seem to be very close. Every evening when we would take walks in the park areas, there would be families out playing together...badminton, hacky-sack, etc. It was very heart-warming to see families having so much fun together.

For those of you still waiting, please know that everyone's experience is different based on the child's age, physical condition, personality, etc. There are no two families who have the exact same experience. I can also say that this journey is not for the faint of heart, but for those of us who are determined to bring our child home no matter what it takes. We had the added degree of difficultly with Lauren's age (21 months) and her deep attachment to her caregivers and life at the orphanage. That first week was harder than I had ever imagined. All the books, videos, seminars and stories from other families prepared me to know what to expect, but until you are actually in the situation you don't realize how hard it will be...both physically and mentally. Also, the fact that we are new parents who went from zero to toddler in disress in a blink of an eye didn't help matters.

I'm happy to report that Lauren's transition over the past 2.5 weeks is nothing short of amazing. She is a smart, happy, healthy little girl who seems to pick up on things very quickly and repeats lots of basic words that we say. So far I've heard her say "uh oh", "yeah", "doggie", "baba" and "mama" (although she doesn't direct those at us yet) "good", and "all gone". She eats like a champ and especially likes strawberry yogurt, scrambled eggs, mandarin oranges, watermelon and graham crackers...oh, and of course her rice crackers from China.

We went to the pediatrician for her well-baby visit this morning and the poor baby had to get six vacinnations, a TB skin test and lots of blood work. She was not a happy camper and I was close to tears watching her scream. The doctor said to give her Tylonel and watch her for a fever tonight. It was just too much trauma for one day!

I wanted to give those still waiting some tips on items we brought with us and didn't use and items we used daily. Also some info on how many of certain items we here it goes...

Items we took and didn't use:

  • Small funnel for transfering the powdered formula from the travel dispenser to the bottle...worked fine without the funnel.
  • Cherrios...Lauren didn't want anything to do with them.
  • Disposable wash need since we used hotel washcloth while in the room and diaper wipes when out and about.
  • Disposable diaper changing pads...just used the real thing from our diaper bag.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste for Lauren...there was no way we were approaching that trauma on top of everything else.
  • Disposable razor for me...time to shave...ha, what was I thinking.
  • can just use what you wear over there...this is no fashion show.
  • Travel shopping bag...every shop owner we encountered gave us a bag. Even Carefour (the Walmart equivalent in Guangzhou) had cheap re-usable grocery bags to buy at the registers.
  • Travel tiolet paper...the two times that there wasn't toilet paper, I left the darn travel roll outside with Joe in the diaper bag so I never got to use it anyway.
  • Stuffed bunny rabbit toy for Lauren...she wouldn't even give it a second look.
  • Instant soup, granola bars and beef jerky...there is plenty to eat in Guangzhou
  • Since Lauren wasn't sick, we didn't even touch the well stocked bag of over the counter meds or antibiotic we brought for her.

Items we took that I couldn't live without:

  • Scented diaper disposable bags for the poopie diapers.
  • Plastic baby spoons in a cool travel container (thanks Kim & Scott)...Lauren used them at every meal.
  • Gerber baby the plumbing working right away.
  • Travel formula dispenser.
  • Playtex drop-in bottles...they were SOOO convenient and work like a charm.
  • Diaper pins for cinching Lauren's waistbands on her pants (Nancy, thanks for the tip)...otherwise several outfits we brought would not have worked for her.
  • Tights for her to wear with dresses and pants that rode up...kept the local clothing police away...God for bid a babies legs show in China! ;)
  • Long johns if traveling to Beijing in the winter!
  • Thermos for keeping hot water for baby bottles...used this daily.
  • Stacking cups...Lauren loved them (tip...get the ones with little holes in the bottom so it can "rain" in the bathtub).
  • Shoe box sized rubbermaid container for cleaning the bottles, nipples, sippy cups and plastic spoons every day in the room.
  • Dish liquid and plastic tongs for doing the dishes.
  • Travel packets of Tide detergent for cleaning clothes with stains you can't trust to the laundry. Lauren had sticky lollipop stains all over her coat a couple of times and Tide came to the rescue.
  • Laptop computer and headset for making phone calls on Skype...this was my only connection to friends and family and I don't think I would have made it without this stuff. /li>

How many did we take?

  • Playtex drop-in liners - 200. We used about 125 including the 40 or 50 we gave to another family who ran out. We used them for formula, water and juice bottles.
  • Diapers - 20 Huggies Over-nights. We bought Pampers in China and they worked out fine for day-time use. We used the Huggies over-nights each night and saved about 6 for the flights home. We bought two packages of Pampers in China and brought about 10 home.
  • Diaper wipes - 2 refill packs of Pampers Sensitive Skin wipes. By the time we got home we used every one of them, but we used them a lot as multi-purpose wipes when we ate out.
  • Spending money - $4,500. We used about $2,500 on souveniers, Chinese outfits and shoes for Lauren, pearls, gifts, meals that weren't included and a couple of minor adoption expenses that popped up along the way.

Oh, and one more thing that I didn't realize before we went...they don't use napkins as we know them in restaurants in China. They have a tiny pop-up box of what we would consider to be tissues at the table...or sometimes they would have a couple of packets of what we would consider travel size Kleenex. When you are dealing with a messy baby, these are no help whatsoever. Plan on using diaper wipes or antibacterial wipes a lot while you are out eating. Only a few times did we encounter restaurants that actually give you a cloth napkin. Even Lucy's with it's westernized menu only gives you one tiny paper triangle shaped napkin per person.

Well, it's time to get dinner started, so that's all for now. If anyone still waiting has any questions about our trip, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. You can find an e-mail link on my Blogger profile.

Here's a few digital scrap pages I wanted to share and below is a little video snippet of Lauren's first meetings with Lucy (our furbaby)...


Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

Love all the great tips....
I will need your help again when it is my turn..
Sounds like overall you had a wonderful trip..
Lauren is soooo cute..
How is she liking her room and her playroom..
Have a great week..

Natalie said...

Oh my gosh! She is so cute. What a beautiful, happy, little girl. I am so thrilled for both you and Joe. You did it. Now you have your daughter. Congratulations again. I wish for you to have a wonderful life together.

Carol and Taylor said...

Welcome home!

It so nice to see little Lauren smiling and happy. She's just blossoming in your loving care.

Kind regards from Miami,

Carol and Taylor

Mardi said...

Thank you soo much for all the details and tips you have posted here! I know you are so busy and much be exhausted and I really appreciate you taking the time to think of us who will be going soon! Our LID is 3/7/06, so we are very close to beginning this adventure! :)

Thanks again! and your Lauren is beautiful!! So glad you are all home safe.


PIPO said...

Love the scrap pages and the news that you are settling in quite well!

Lauren is simply beautiful.

Thanks for the notes on what you took and used versus not. Helpful :0)

Anonymous said...

So very sweet of you to take the time to offer your tips on the packing. With our match coming next month, we are especially grateful!! Thank you so much! It is wonderful to see you all settling in so happily. You have worked so diligently and lovingly ... still are, I know!

Thank you again!
lisa in sacramento

Jodee Leader said...

So glad to see Lauren is bonding well with you. She is absolutely adorable! You are sooo blessed!

sweet momma said...

I am so glad that you posted all of your tips! Now I just have to remember to look at them when our time comes.

Lauren just looks so very happy! Her smile is just priceless! Hope she continues to open up and have an easy attachement time with you .

Lori said...

Thank You for the tips, I am a waiting (waiting, waiting) mom to be. This will be very helpful. I followed your journey and am sooo happy that Lauren has adjusted to her family and is smiling. Her teeth are beautiful.

Enjoy your family, I can tell it was worth the wait.


Christi and Abbey said...

So great to hear her laughing and see her smiling. How wonderful that she is already starting to talk. You guys are doing great!

G's Momma said...

She's gorgeous!! Isn't it wonderful to be home? I felt so happy to sleep in my own bed and finally be able to have a real kitchen to use to make bottles and feed. Loved China, loved coming home.

Funny, we have the exact same chinese style outfit your daughter is wearing in your first layout. So pretty!


MeiLi's Adoption Journey said...

Thanks for all the great tips! You know I'll be using them shortly:)

Love all of Lauren's giggles and laughs. She looks so happy.

Allie said...

Thank you so much for the lists of what/what not to take... We are still at the very beginning of the process (also an "AHH" family), but I am copying and saving your lists for use when our time comes!

Julie said...

Oh my heavens, that laugh and smile is AWESOME. So glad you are home. Enjoy being a family!

Sophia's Mama and Baba said...

Love the pictures and the video. Lauren looks like she is doing really well. keep up the good work MOM! and Dad! The tips are great good job..


Diana said...

Lauren is just adorable!!! I can not get over the change in her in such a short time!! She is just blossoming right before your eyes (and ours thanks to your blog:)
Her smile and laugh is just to CUTE!!!

ShaggaBear said...

Found your blog through "Salsa in China" she had you listed as "in China" and I started reading then. Your daughter is beautiful.

thanks for the packing tips! We're leaving in two weeks and I woke up this morning thinking about airline weight requirements, etc. We adopted in 2004 and I think I've forgotten everything! Well, almost everything. I read through your list and said, Hmmmm I wonder where that thermos is?

Time to start a new list!!

Carol said...

I'm laughing at the diaper pins to keep on the pants....the pants I brought for Emily were too small...thank goodness it was warm and we brought dresses.....LOL

I hear you on the toddler different experience with a brand new 2 yr old....rather than a young was rough......sounds like you guys are settling well...Emily never SLEPT when we got home.....that went on for MONTHS!!!! I looked like a zombie....

amy said...

We are travelling in 5-8 weeks and this totally helped us..thanks

Stephe said...

Donna, the Layouts are FANTASTIC!! I see the duckies and bugs from me made it to the tub. How cute!!!!

I am so glad to hear Lauren is doing so well!!! Hugs!!

Amy said...

These are great pictures. You all look so happy!! I'm so impressed that Lauren is already trying english words. Great scrapbook pages - thanks for sharing.

Shelley said...

Wow ...she's adjusting so well. You guys are doing a great job, Mom and Dad!! Lauren's absolutely adorable ...and she looks like such a good-natured girl. So sweet. You're going to have so much fun with her.

Congrats Donna and Joe!

Sea Star said...

I am so glad to hear that Lauren is coming along so well. She is so beautiful and her little giggle is contagious!

Thanks for the tips! I liked the comparison of what you took and what you didn't need. It sure does help us waiting to travel.

Anonymous said...

I like what you said about bringing jewelery. I remember packing a few changes and then wishing I had the extra room on the way home.

She looks like a totally different child then those first days- she has a great light to her face.

All the best

Karsynn's Mommy...Sammi said...

Oh Donna, she looks just great. I knew things would improve with a lot of love and paitence. Did you all use A Helping Hand?

a Tonggu Momma said...

I so happy that Lauren is transitioning so well. And you are so right... it doesn't matter how much you prepare, it still won't be enough. You just have to get through it. The tips are great - thanks.

Ladybugsmom said...

It is so good to see you all at home and looking rested with the posts and Lauren is just precious.

Catherine said...

Adorable video. That little giggle is contageous!! I'm guessing Lucy will be keeping a low profile for a while until Lauren learns what 'gentle' means. :o)

Thanks for all the great travel tips. Will be bookmarking this post for sure!!

Lauren's Cousin said...

You should also add "Lucy" to Lauren's word list. It sounded like she was saying that in the video.


OziMum said...

As your Mum would atest... I LOVE ANY tips, ANYONE CAN GIVE!!! Thanks so much!!! I MUST get myself some diaper pins! I've been debating the thermos... think I'll pack it, now!!!

One question~ I thought I'd buy the plastic tub (for dishes) and the wash powder in China. Do you think they'll be easy enough to get?

Love your scrap-pages! You're very talented!!

Great video - its so good to hear Lauren laugh!

I was very keen to watch your trip to China, as not only is Lauren a Guangdong girl, like Tari Mei, but she's a bit older than many of the stories I've followed, also like Tari Mei!

I can't say enough, how grateful I am, that you've shared your experiences. I hope that everyday, in the future, is a day of laughter!

Dakota3 said...

Your daughter Lauren is so cute! Thank you for sharing about your trip to China. Best wishes, Cindy

Ivy said...

Hi and welcome home with your beautiful little girl!

I stopped b to wish you all a Happy New Year too.

Enjoy that little peanut. She's so sweet!

Hugs from NJ


rebecca/tarynsjourney said... is SO GREAT to hear her laugh!!!! What an awesome turn she has taken! And, now you have wonderful experiance to give to others that will be in your situation!
I DID have a question about the travel money though! I think you all are with the same adoption agency we are with...would you mind contacting me (when you get a chance!) through the yahoo group or my email (I should have yours but I have so many that I don't know anymore!)!
Thank you...and CONGRATULATIONS@!!!
P.S. your list suggestions were invaluable!

Jen said...

We're leaving in about 18 days for our Emma, and your tips were very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

I'm so glad things are getting so much better. I think your daughter is adorable!

Lisa and Tate said...

This so helpful!!! Thanks tons!

SO cute Lucy and Lauren meeting. That sweet voice is so adorable. Love the scrap pages!


Mia's MaMa said...

Thanks for the great list!!!!

Alyson and Ford said...

As well you are discovering. Each day home a little more of your daughter's personality pops out. It is so gratifying and awe inspiring to see them unfold like petals on the beautiful flowers they are...

Great tips for those in The Wait!

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Glad to see that all is going well... sorry about the Cardinals... I too was going for them... thanks for those useful tips... I will need to know them... it is a little late but welcome home...

Mardi said...

Hi Donna,

I have been browsing your blog and learning as much as possible from your trip, experiences, and tips. Thank you so much for all you have posted for those of us who are still to go.

I have a few questions, How did you know what type of bottle/nipple to buy? Was Lauren potty trained? How did you know what size of diapers to buy?

The information I have received about our daughter thus far is 5 months old and I'm not sure what to bring and what not to bring. :)

Thanks for your comments on my blog and pleae feel free to share any tips or advice on my blog.

Thank You!!

Mommy to a Lauren as well,

Mardi Davenport
LID 3/7/06
Lauren is 20months old now.