Tomorrow is the Big Day

We arrived safely in Kunming today around 4:00 pm.  We walked around and enjoyed some shrimp stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut for dinner.  Tomorrow we will meet Titus Yong Hui.  He will be brought to our hotel around 4:00 pm here (that’s 1:00 am Sunday morning in Oregon).  We don’t know yet whether we will be able to go to the orphanage or not.  There will also be a 12 year old girl coming from the same orphanage to another family here.  I am filled with mixed feelings.  I cannot wait to meet this little boy, but my heart hurts for him.  I’m sure he will be confused and scared, but I’m trusting God to be working.  Thank you all for your continued prayers.

Our first look at Kunming.  Somewhere in this city, my little boy is spending his last day and night without a forever family.

Our hotel (Green Land Hotel).  More on this later (hopefully).

Kunming business district at night.  There is a GIANT TV across the street that we can see from our room.  And outside our window next door they are doing construction to put up a 333m tall building.  It will be a hotel, shopping center, and office building.  It’s amazing.

I’ll end with a funny story that happened tonight at dinner.  We were having trouble figuring out the correct Chinese way of getting the waiter/waitress’s attention.  So, I busted out my Chinese “FOO-OO YAR!” (which means “waiter/waitress”) and it was so loud it was like I was trying to get attention from across the restaurant.  The waitress who it was aimed at had a priceless reaction of “what the heck!?”, followed by “O MY GOSH IT WAS THAT WHITE LADY”.  It was so awkward.  We all nearly died laughing but it got the job done.  My shamelessness remains intact.

In Beijing

First, picture catch-up.  I think we packed just about the right amount of stuff, but I’ll get back to you in another week and let you know if we all smell like middle school gross-left-way-too-long-in-the-bottom-of-a-gym-bag socks.  We feel pretty good about getting everything into carry-on bags.  The real test will come tomorrow when we fly to Kunming.  We may have to check our larger bags, but that will be alright.  A picture of the four of us who began the journey, I can’t wait to post pictures of the fifth who will join our adventure!

 

Today, we visited the Great Wall.  It was as amazing as anything you think about it.  Climbing it was truly a workout.  It was the kind of workout where your legs tremor for the whole climb down.  We are all beat, except for Sunita because she a) didn’t climb the wall (she was in the ergo), b) she got a looong nap, and c) she is a 3 year old who never seems to run out of energy.  More then once tonight each of us adults have said, “Is it time for bed yet?”.  After I finish this I will be heading right to bed and it’s only 7:25 here.

OK, so it isn’t true she never runs out of energy.  She is sleeping now and fell asleep promptly in the car on the way “home” from the Great Wall.  It’s more that she never thinks or appears to need sleep.  I, on the other hand, am about to fall asleep writing this.  So, goodnight! (Or good morning for most of you reading this!)

P.S.  I apologize if the grammar/spelling/other literary functions are terrible.  Usually Husband edits blogs for me, but while in China – you get them while they are hot.  This means ZERO editing and I’ll just try to keep posting!

We’re off!

We left PDX yesterday around 4:30pm.  We are in China.  We arrived in Beijing around 10:30pm, China time (15 hours ahead of us).  For those of you who are math/number-challenged (like me), our long flight was about 12 hours.  We had a smooth journey without any complications.  It was long, but good.  Sunita was a champ!

Our itinerary from here on out includes a luxurious 2-night stay in Beijing at the Lee Garden apartments.  The “room” we are staying in is bigger then our house.  It was the only good option our Chinese coordinator could find for us.

After seeing the Great Wall, eating Peking duck (personal goal), and most importantly sleeping (while in Beijing) we will fly to Kunming around 11:30 am on Saturday.  We will arrive in Kunming around 3:30, maybe explore Kunming a little and probably go to bed early.  The next day we will meet Titus Yong Hui, who will become an Ocker.  That will be on Saturday (Oregon time) and Sunday in China.  He will be brought to the Green Land Hotel (where we will be staying).  We will stay in Kunming 6 nights and then fly to Guangzhou.

In Guangzhou, we will stay in The Garden Hotel.  These hotels are all high class places.  So far, we are having a wonderful journey.  I will post pictures (hopefully) tonight!

thanks

#31 snuggles

#32 easy time through the airports

#33 sunita enjoying the adventure

#34 food being plentiful and good

#35 being able to walk around the plane

#36 meeting 3 other adoptive families I had previously “met” only online (2 on the airplane and 1 in the hotel)

#37 only one connector flight

#38 being able to bring sunita (and for marsha’s help)

#39 beds – to stretch out in

#40 we are in china!!

“The Pen”

While in Idaho we visited the historic Idaho State Penitentiary.  Sunita had to be woken from a nap, so she was not excited at first.

The grounds surrounding and within the Pen were beautiful.

 


The first cell block was finished in 1871.

This is what used to be the cafeteria.  Riots in the early ’70s burned and destroyed some of the buildings.

The roses there were beautiful and have been there for a long time.  The prisoners tended to them while it was still a functioning prison.  Ironically, most of the hangings (7 of the 10) took place in the middle of the rose garden, and by time they actually constructed an official gallows, all but one of the hangings had occurred.

A more “modern” cell.

Prison has certainly changed.  The isolation rooms were extreme.

There was no light source except what could come through the bottom of the door and through a little soup can size hole in the ceiling.

The space was narrow enough to brace our backs against one side and reach the other side with our legs.  They weren’t any too deep either.  I was standing at the back taking the picture of Sunita in the doorway.

The next step in solitary only had a little door which, if closed, was the kind of dark where you can’t see your hand in front of your face.  Sunita doesn’t mind the dark at all.  She would go in cell all by herself and shut the door.  The prisoners often went crazy after spending much time in solitary.  It wasn’t hard to imagine.

 

Levers for operating the cell blocks.

The old cells were tight.  Four to a cell and when the bunks were down there wouldn’t be much room to move.  They also had a chamber pot just tucked in the corner.  I’m not sure if those historical prisons were more of a deterrent to crime than today’s prisons, but I bet the gallows (and the isolation cells) on site might have helped decrease prison violence.  It was an interesting place to visit and the stories they had throughout the spaces were morbidly fascinating.  Fun fact, it’s supposedly one of the most haunted sites in America.

Visit to Idaho

We had a great time visiting my folks in Idaho.  We played outside a lot and enjoyed the sunshine.  Our summer has been so cool, it was nice to get some 80+ degree days.

Sunita had a great time in the kiddo pool.

She loves G’ma’s & G’pa’s swing.

Looking at quails.

Doing somersaults with the exercise ball.

And, of course, playing with the dogs.  She loves the dogs!

Sunita loved to see the garter snakes sunning themselves on Grandma’s fountain.

When inside, she played legos or read books and she ALWAYS had a willing playmate or 2…or 3.

This is where Husband and my dad went 4 wheeling.  A whole lotta nothin.

Jared had a good time.

 

And was a dirt ball when he got back.

Camping @ Silver Creek

Catching up from this fall…  We hadn’t taken any camping trips all summer and were itching to get out.  At first we intended to stay in the Bend area but ended up taking a detour to Silver Creek.  We were able to get a cabin and it was wonderful.  There was a playground in the campground and Sunita loved it.  Of course, she went every day.

I have a confession to make.  I forget to bring any pants for the munchkin.  I brought jackets, but no pants.  Now, we were planning on heading further south where it would have been warmer, but still.  I went camping without packing pants for my daughter.  Shameful.  On the bright side, I did pack my Thai shorts which have a drawstring waistband and are knee length.  These just happened to fit like long pants and worked fine, although they did look a little silly.

Since we seemed to be the only family with children there, dad felt comfortable letting out his inner child.

We found lots of fungi.  I love to eat mushrooms and would love to gather the wild fungi that grow native here in Oregon.  Too bad I’m not any good at identifying which ones would make me vomit.

We took very few pictures of the falls, mostly because we’ve been there and done that several times before.

Wooly bears.

And the main attraction along the paths for us was the caves.  Our daughter (who went to work with me in the dark portable planetarium and is less scared of the dark than I was at that age) wouldn’t stay out of them.

This is a ?? Alien from outer space.

We took a side trip to Ankeny Hill Wetlands.  There were hardly any birds but we did see a nutria.  Yay.  Creepy swamp rats.

It was beautiful for almost the whole trip, just a little cool in the mornings and evenings.

Beach House 2010

Our annual beach trip with Husband’s family is always fun.  This year, unlike almost all the other nine years, we had beautiful, sunny, warm weather.

And Halloween (the night we came home) was fun too.  The girl loved it this year.  As soon as she got candy at each house, she would immediately say “I want to go next house”.  Obviously, this year she “got it”.  Bock, bock!

Seattle with the Family

We celebrated my brothers’ birthdays in Seattle a few weekends ago.  I have two younger brothers, both punks.  As the oldest, I happen to know they were more spoiled than me.  They were born on the same day, 4 years apart.  I got to come home from school when my baby brother was born.  I was eight at the time.  My mom’s best friend was managing my middle brother’s birthday party,  while my mom birthed my baby brother in the next room.  He was born at home on purpose.  We all love that story and almost every year someone new asks about it.

We enjoy Seattle.  The munchkin wanted to ride this pig at Pike street all day.

This is not her first lemon.  She does know what they taste like.  Every single time she makes this face.  And everytime there are lemons around she wants one.

My youngest brother works in a giant cone called the Museum of Glass.  He has a cool job in a cool place.  I would very much recommend going there if you are in Tacoma or the surrounding area.  We spent all day in and around it and had a great time.

These are pictures of the “hot shop“.  You can watch the artists work during the day.   The artist we watched doing his glasswork, Gabe Feenan, is a resident at the Glass Museum.  I really wanted to see the “Kids Design Glass” days.  We couldn’t take pictures of the Kids Design Glass hall of the museum but it was my very favorite part.  You can see some of the sculptures online, but for the stories (which are typed word for word, mispellings and poor grammer included) written by the kids, you have to visit.  Kids are hilarious.  The Broken Heart Snake was a favorite of mine.  There is a picture of it on the website, but the story is really what got me.  The snake sucks love and if you see it you can’t love for something like seven years.  It made me laugh out loud.

Looking up into the dome.

Some pieces on display that you can take pictures of.  It is really incredible how they make the different sculptures.

This is one of Preston Singletary‘s designs.  His work is amazing.  It is sandblasted to achieve the two toned effect.  The work that goes into a piece like this is intense.

You can see my punk brother here at his work station.  He operates the cameras and puts up videos both in the hot shop and online.

He is about half way up the dome and has a little window to see the hot shop floor.  He knows many of the artists personally and the guys of the hot shop floor were great to us.  They all came over to say hello and meet his family.

This is right outside the museum.

The water forest.

It was warm enough that playing in the water was fun, but I wasn’t excited to get too wet.  Not pictured, my brother and father trying to stick me to a water pole.

This is the bridge we crossed on our way to lunch:

Looking back across to the museum.

These reminded me of giant blue plastic bags.

In the little hallway above, there were walls of sculptures, and above…

…was this.  It was gorgeous.

You can see Union Station on the right.  Now part of U of W campus.

We walked over there for lunch.

Husband lovingly posed so that I could take a picture of the guy on the bike.  I always feel awkward taking pictures of strangers, even if they kinda are asking for it.

After lunch and frappes we went back to look at the gift shop.  If you are looking to spend tens of thousands of dollars, this is your kind of gift shop.

This was one of my favorites.  I can’t explain why.  I just really like it.

At first I was like, “O what a sweet picture of me and my middle brother”.  Then I read the blocks.  Like I said, PUNKS.

I don’t get it.  The tent Munchkin was supposed to be sleeping in (under the quilt) is large enough for an adult person, and yet somehow she found a way to roll out of it .  She slept on the floor most of the night.  Silly girl.

The fam.  Don’t ask me what I was doing with my glasses.  I don’t know.

Malheur – A Vacation to Nowhere

My final two years of college I went to Malheur twice.  Once with my Ornithology class and once with my Ecology class.  I completely enjoyed myself and ever since then wanted to take Husband along.  Dwight Kimberly has been leading this trip for too many years to count and knows a ton about the area.  He is retiring next year and we may have child #2 by then so we decided we had to make the this year (we didn’t want to lose that expertise).  So off we went on the vacation to nowhere.  And you know what?  We drove and drove, we ate late, we walked a lot, we learned a lot, and we loved it.  We are such dorks.

Welcome to Eastern Oregon.

The Painted Hills.  They almost glow when the sun is out.

Looking out at the Painted Hills with the students with whom we traveled.

Munchkin enjoyed it, although not for the beauty of the hills – more because she could run amok.

On my first trip here I may have fallen in the John Day river, right at this location.  There are some great hieroglyphics here if you know where to look.  They are tricky to get a picture of though because you have to lean out around some rocks to see them.

Nobody decided to go for a swim this time.

It was cold and gray, the gray being unusual for that area at this time of the year.  We have lots of pictures of the white van we followed more than 1,000 miles in one weekend.  The munchkin was a champ even with so much driving.

Cant Ranch with Sheep Rock in the background.

Our fearless and knowledgeable leader, outstanding in his field.


It was fun to watch people move through the sage.  You could see them so far away.

It was fascinating how the clouds poured over Steens Mountain.

The munchkin felt no fear of going into the “tunnel” (Malheur Cave) whether we came or not.  I really expected her to have more fear.

Looking out.

This cave is still used by the Masons.  It’s a little creepy because of the seating and the dark.  It makes you think of ancient and spooky rituals.  As far as I know the Masons aren’t creepy, but the cave kind of is.

At Diamond Crater, they spotted the hidden bird in this post.

The munchkin needed some help getting over the rocks.

There were Jack Rabbits and Cottontails galore.  We managed to catch one scorpion, saw a paltry few lizards, and no snakes.  Disappointing really.

But I did get cell service…