Friday, August 31, 2007

Not so Sleepless in Shanghai

Actually posted on Friday, August 31st, 9:10PM

Hi again. We managed to get ourselves out and about a little earlier today. We walked to Old Shanghai and that in itself was quite challenging and adventurous... avoiding construction, dodging cars, buses, mopeds, bikes, etc. Old Shanghai is a feast for the eyes with its wonderful architecture and its vendors selling everything under the sun. It is a shopper's mecca! We stopped to watch dumplings being made by experienced hands moving so quickly that it was nothing but a blur.

In the center of Old Shanghai is the Yu Yuan Garden, a maze of walkways, bridges and old buildings built in 1559. It is hard to believe that such a quite, contemplative oasis exists in the middle of such hustle and bustle. Extremely awesome!

At this point, Gordie and Cara-Li decide to head back to the hotel for a nap... well, actually, I think that it was Gordie who seemed real keen on this idea! They head off with the stroller after much discussion as to how they would get back... cab, walk etc. Both enerved me... how would he manage to get a stroller and our purchases in the cab while hanging on to Cara-Li in this bustling environment? Best to walk back... hmmm... that too is not such a great a idea! Anyhow, they made it back safe and sound (these Pandaphones are prooving to be very handy).

Laure and I decided to continue on with our shopping with a stop at a Starbucks. I know, I know... some of you may be saying ''don't do it!'', but when in China, do as the Chinese. So we had green tea frappuccinos... very interesting! After consulting our Starbucks guide (who spoke very little English!), we decided to head out towards the Jade Buddha Temple which boasts the world's largest piece of carved white jade (sorry no pics... not allowed). Our timing was impeccable... as we were heading out, we heard the sound of distant bells and chants as several locals were gathering with bunches of big red paper bags. Monks appeared and some sort of ceremony began. Very cool to have experienced a Buddhist rite.

We then headed off for shopping at Nanjing Road, a street very similar to Time Square in New York. Here we experienced a very modern Shanghai with all the lights, sounds and smells of a bustling North American city.

Dinner was at the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower in the revolving restaurant which served very traditional Chinese dishes and spaghetti. My theory was once again confirmed... it seems to be more impressive to look up at the tower than to be in the tower.

Cara-Li has caught what one would call a Chinese cold/cough... the one you get from sweating like a pig outdoors and then entering a frigid cab or hotel. And of course, Cara-Li is being her usual reasonable self as she is refusing to take any medication that we have schelped over from home. Nice!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sleepless in Shanghai

Actually posted Friday, August 31st 6:06AM

I thought that if I stayed up late enough last night (1AM) that I would sleep later in the morning. Well, I was wrong. Cara-Li, Gordie and I were up at 4AM. We tried to get Cara-Li back to sleep but to no avail. Auntie Loula on the otherhand was sawing logs. Gordie finally decided that he would take Cara-Li in the bathroom so that I could fall asleep again. Did I mention the large and beautiful bathroom we have here at the Westin? Deep bathtub, an amazing shower with waterfall showerhead, separate room for the johnny. Really chic... lots of granite, glass and mirror. Anyway the smell of coffee got the best of me and suddenly I was starving. I rembered all those snacks I brought for situations such as this and now I was totally awake. Enter the bathroom to discover that they were having a picnic on a bath towel and playing Go Fish. Cheese, crackers, peanut butter, granola bars, coffee and milk were served next. Yum, yum.

Here's a funny Cara-Li story from yesterday: We ordered a couple of Pandaphones (cell phones) for our stay in China. We were in a taxi on our way to the zoo and a cell phone started to ring. By the look on the driver's face, it was not his phone that was ringing so Laure and I started fishing through our backpacks for our phones. As we had not received any calls to date, we did not know what our ringers sounded like. By the time we located our phones, the ringing stopped only for it to start up again a couple of minutes later. All of a sudden Cara-Li stuck her hand in her backpack and pulled out her Ariel cell phone and exclaimed, ''It's my phone ringing!''. Well, we all started to howl with laughter included the driver. Even with hundreds and thousands of miles separating our two countries and a complete lack of communication capability, a child's practical joke allowed us to share an amusing and special moment. Child's play is truly international.

More posting later....


Well, we were up at 4:30AM this morning after a deep but fitful sleep. While Laure and I got our stuff organized, Gord went off with Peter, the hotel trainer, for a run around Shanghai. All this was done before 7:30AM! We then proceeded to go for breakfast and by the time we sorted out our issues with our Pandaphones and figured out how to get to the Shanghai Zoo, it was already 10:00AM. Six hours had gone by and we hadn't done a whole lot! The zoo was nice... we saw the giant pandas which are quite cool and we saw squirrel monkeys with one monkey actually carrying her baby on her back. Very cute!

Cara-Li then got hold of the site map and insisted on seeing the penguins. Who knew there were penguins in China. Aren't they an arctic animal?

Once back at the hotel, we all went for a swim and a hot tub. Did I mention how hot it is here in Shanghai? It's freakin' hot! We needed this just to rejuvenate ourselves. Once we regained some consciousness, we went for a walk along the Bund (Huangpu River) in search for the Peace Hotel. Several people have mentionned that we should go for drink and a jazz show there. After we finally located the said hotel, we were informed that it has been closed for renovation for 2 years. Ugh!!! So much for our cold pijius! We then proceeded to find the restaurant that the concierge suggested, the Shanghai Uncle. It serves typical Shanghainese (sp?) cuisine. It was somewhat difficult to order (thank goodness for pictures!) but Gordie did a great job (except for the crispy duck carcass that appeared).

We are now back at our room and have managed to stay up (it is now 10:00PM) so that hopefully we will be rid of our jetlag. We have touched base with Mary and Eric who arrived this afternoon and are also adopting with us. We shall meet up them tomorrow for dinner at the Oriental Pearl Tower.

It is great being back here in Shanghai again... it brings back many wonderful memories of when we were here last time before Cara-Li. We have come full circle, retracing our steps through Shanghai with our first daughter on our journey to meet our second.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Travel Day #2: Arrival in Shanghai

Ni hao! We have arrived in Shanghai after a 14 hour flight. All was great until less than 2 hours into the flight, Cara-Li started to ask ''Are we there yet?'' I started to panic! What am I going to do with her for 12 more hours? Finally, she watched a couple of movies, listened to some music, ate and slept. We then took an cab for over an hour to downtown Shanghai. It is now 3:30 PM on Wednesday and we are sitting in the Westin Bund Center sipping some pijius (beer) while trying to decide where we are going to eat. It'll have to be quick as we are starting to fade. Tomorrow we are going to the Shanghai Zoo as Cara-Li wants to see some pandas.

Stay tuned....

Monday, August 27, 2007

Travel Day #1 & 10 months old

The first leg of our trip is done. We are in Toronto after a very long 1 hour flight.... HEEHEE! Everything went super well and even though we are not much further ahead in our journey, we are one step closer to Alexia. Tomorrow we will certainly make some headway.

It is now 10:00PM and we have a very wound up 5 year old who just wants to be in China right now. So I best try getting her to sleep as we must be up at 6:30AM!

And Alexia turns 10 months old today! Happy Birthday sweetiepie!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Best Week Ever!

I must say that at first I was really disappointed that we were unable to travel last week as we had planned. I thought that an extra week of waiting would have killed me. So in order to keep sane (or at least a little sane), I made lots of plans for the week. First, I had dinner with my darling husband on Wednesday at a very chic Chinese restaurant (Le Piment Rouge), followed by a fabulous dinner with my girlfriends on Thursday at a hip restaurant (Monkland Tavern). Friday was MY day... got my hair done, a pedicure, a facial and a massage. Saturday was packing day followed by a lovely dinner with travel partner, Laure, and her family at a local pub (Ye Olde Orchard). On Sunday, we had breakfast with friends and their lovely daughter at a local bagel shop (St. Viateur Bagel). As you can see, we have no food in the house! And finally... a lupper in honor of my baby brother's engagement to long-time girlfriend, Tanya. Congratulations!

Aren't they cute?

Now, husband is probably asleep on the couch (what else is new!) and I am off to bed for a final dodo in this house as a family of three. Next time we are here, there will be another little being living with us making us a family of four. Crazy stuff! Here's a final picture of us taken just hours ago.

Good night!

Saturday, August 25, 2007


It is a little bit nutty around here this morning. We have been up since 6:00 AM doing laundry so that we can actually pack our clothes later today. We are in the final preparation stage. As we were sipping our coffee, I gave Gord a tour of our paperwork file so that I would not be the only to know where everything is. Will he remember? Maybe I will give Laure the same tour later to be on the safe side!

OK... things are really nutty! My darling husband is in the garage armour-alling the stroller wheels!

Will post again later as the day progresses...

Friday, August 24, 2007


A little while ago, a fellow blogger wrote a post about how she was in awe to learn that other adoptive parents were so special, generous, helpful and kind to one another even though most of the time these are people that we don't even know that well. Having already been through one adoption process, I was already aware of this. Other adoptive families that have already been there, done that, are always SO willing to share their stories, help with issues and make sure that the new adoptive family has a great experience. This brings me to my story.

Some months ago, during our waiting process, a fellow adoptive mom, whom I originally met in a Yahoo group only to find out that she was a Montrealer and that her first daughter was from the same orphange as Cara-Li, offered to lend me her mei-tai sling (baby carrier) for the trip to China. I received an e-mail from her earlier this week informing me of the fact that she was unable to locate the said sling. Too bad, I thought as I would have liked to have it for the trip. No biggy. But as I continued reading her e-mail, she proceeds to say that she decided to sew one for me (she is great at sewing). I was dumbfounded! Here is a person that went so much out of her way. Not only that... she delivered it and demonstrated how to use it using her own very lovely daughter, SQ. This act was not necessary, totally unexpected and so, so much appreciated! Thank you so much, MM!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Is it Monday yet?

No, I guess it isn't :(

Time is just not going by fast enough. I wish we could just start our journey towards China. I want to be in my daughters' country of birth. I know we will have to wait another week before we actually get to meet Alexia but I think that being on the same side of the earth as she, it will make us all feel closer to her.

Did I mention that my dear, dear friend, Laure, will be joining us for this voyage? Yes, she is coming with us to experience the magic of adoption, to enjoy the beautiful country, its people and its culture, and well, to help us with the kids should the need arise ;) ;) Heehee! Someone may need a vacation after this trip! And, it won't be the girls running her ragged... it'll be her super-high-maintenance friend (moi!) that'll get to her!
Sorry, Laure... I pre-apologize!

PS: Our itinerary has changed somewhat. We will be flying to Nanchang only on Sunday and receiving the babies as soon as we land. Laure has already started doing her job... she was right there for me when I started to freak out and talked me down from the ledge. Heehee! Thanks Auntie Loula!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The 'TO DO' Lists

Once you get that long-awaited referral call, the 'to do' lists begin forming fast and furious. I keep a notepad next to my bed as I inevitably wake up in the middle of the night with something to add to it. Of course, it is a miracle if I could understand my own handwriting the next day! We are now 11 days away from departure and I must say that my 'to do' list is rather small.

Book airline tickets... DONE
Book hotel in TO & Shanghai... DONE
Get Visas... DONE
Complete vaccinations... DONE
Go to Immigration... DONE
Prepare all documents needed... DONE

Packing has begun. All medications and toiletries are already packed. This part usually stresses me the most so this time I packed it first instead of my usual last minute. All snacks/food for the kids and us are packed. Toys are packed. We just have to pack our clothes and we are off!

We are still in town for 2 weekends but there will be no cottaging for us. We have our travel meeting with our group this Saturday followed by an interview with CBC concerning our adoption of Alexia. On Sunday, we will have our 'last supper' with my family followed by a visit with Baby Noah (Gord's cousin's baby) who is just a week old. Next Saturday is packing day as we will be busy on Sunday. My baby brother Michael and his lovely fiancée Tanya are having an engagement party. Congratulations!

And then Monday is going to be the big day where we say bye-bye to our little family of 3 and say hello to our big family of 4!

Monday, August 13, 2007

We're going to China.... FINALLY!

We have been desperately awaiting our TAs for all of last week and without knowing, I wore my lucky shoes on Friday. The last 2 times I were them, we got our referral call and the call to pick up our files and pictures. So when I realized that I was wearing the lucky shoes, I was certain that we'd get the TA call. Well, we did get the call. That was the good news. The bad news was that the group would more than likely be travelling on August 31st instead of the 24th as there were no seats available on the return flight from Beijing for the entire group. This would be confirmed on Monday. I must remind you all that my dear husband has done only one thing during this entire adoption process besides signing on the dotted line when asked... he booked our tickets on airmile points. However, we believed that the group would be leaving the 24th and therefore he booked our tickets for the 20th. There was lots of scrambling and we decided not to do anything until today when FUF confirmed to us the actual travel dates. Once confirmed this AM, we easily changed our tickets (with a small penalty of course) and will be travelling to Toronto on Monday, August 27th where we will spend the night followed by a flight to Shanghai on the 28th. We will be staying until Saturday, September 15th just 2 days shy of my 40th birthday. There is a huge weight off my shoulders now that this is written in stone. We are having our travel meeting this coming Saturday so we will not know when we will actually get our sweet Alexia. I am guessing it will be Monday, September 3rd. I am bummed about not getting her on the 27th which is her 10th month birthday. Oh well! Now I can settle down a little as we have 2 weeks before departure. I must say that I was pretty much ready to leave at the drop of a hat. Here we come Alexia!

Thursday, August 9, 2007


I ask you... why did God create man (if you believe in that)?

Here I am running from store to store gathering every last little item for this trip to China, washing all of Alexia's itty-bitty clothes, reducing the packaging of the food and medications for China in order to save space in our suitcase, thinking of who is going to water the plants and pick-up the mail while we are gone, planning dinner for our last weekend at the cottage (there's more, I just can't think straight right now). NOT Gord! He just sits there watching TV as I zoom up and down 3 flights of stairs with my arms filled with stuff about 100 times in an evening. He doesn't even bat an eyelash. Actually, I think he is sleeping! At 9PM, as I am running up and down, up and down (I'm going to sell this house!) His response to me once confronted by a mad woman is, 'Susie, you know that I don't have the same energy as you and you are much younger than I am. I'm tired after dinner.'

Well... if we all keep this same pace, we will make it to China with everything neccesary (no thanks to Gord), except that I may have to be carried over there. No problem... Gord is REALLY well rested!!!

And no... no TAs yet :(

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Where are those darn TAs???

OK... we really need to receive those TAs if we want to leave on the 2oth! I was betting that we would have received them yesterday but now I am confident that tomorrow is the day. Please, please! I really do not want to change our tickets.

What have we been doing lately, you ask? Well, we have been busy preparing, purchasing and organizing for this trip. Everything needed has been purchased. Purchases have either been organized in a bin by category in Alexia's room or it is in the laundry room being washed. Gordie went to Ottawa today to get our Visas and final vaccinations have been received. I am trying to tie up loose ends at work as I will not be there for several months eventhough I will be working from home. Home office is pretty much set up except for some computer glitches that need to be ironed out.

I just want to get to China ASAP... I am done with waiting... I am done with preparing... I am just done! I just want this little precious baby of ours to come home!