We’re Home


Yeah, we’ve been slacking – no posts in 3 whole days!!! 

We finally made it home to Perry at 9:00pm on Thursday Evening to some very happy big sisters.

According to our calculations, we started our day in China at 4:00pm EST Wednesday – hmmm, 29 hours start-to-finish, and Lydia slept for maybe 4 hours total.  It was brutal & exhausting and everything in between.  Lydia was a trooper, but at times a real handful.  Thankfully, United’s roomy economy seating provided plenty of room for the three of us and all of our gear (sarcasm!).  We arrived in Chicago to find out that our flight to Cleveland was CANCELLED(!?!?!) and we were bumped from the standby list on the next flight out.  We finally made a flight back to Cleveland after a long 5 hour layover at O’Hare. 

Note to self for next time – carry-on only the bare essentials and the breakables.  We were frazzled enough with a little one and 3 security check hassles (Guangzhou, Hong Kong  Chicago) – the extra burden of our carry-on items got my panties in a bunch more than once.  ME?  Panties in a bunch?  Nawwww… 

Now home, Lydia has been as great as we’d hoped after our first week together in China.  Very outgoing, funny and playful.  She LOVES her big sisters and the family who has stopped by.  Sleeping has been good, as we think the exhaustion and lack of sleep coming home jump-started her getting used to our time zone.

Not much else to share just yet, but we got the girls dolled up for a quick holiday shot:

We’ll probably cut back our posting to a weekly basis, so stop on back the next time you think of it. 

The blog was fantastic to keep in touch with you all while we traveled, and we thank you for checking in and for the prayers, e-mails and support.  We would ask everyone to keep the folks at New Day and the children there in your prayers, as well as the thousands orphans of China, many of whom may never get a forever family.

For those who wondered how the heck we pulled the blog off with a new little one – we’ll just say that after-hours television in China was a bit lacking, so it was blog and e-mail time when kiddo was down for the count.  ;^)

Take care and we’ll check in soon.

~ Andy, Tami, Alexa, Abby & Lydia ~


Grab Kleenex


We’ll be home on the 7th, and CANNOT WAIT!!!

Much love,
Tami, Andy & Lydia

Hello all in snowy Perry, Ohio!  We’d love to say we feel your pain, but we almost had to reach for the sunblock today – baha!!!

We cannot WAIT to come home!  While we love it here, we’ve had our fill of travels and hotel life.  Tami and I cannot wait for some American cuisine…Grandma’s meatloaf, carrots and iced tea (LOTS of ice!).  REAL Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi…ditto the ice…

We did, however have a kickin’ Chinese meal tonight, and Uncle Zhou wasn’t even there to help us order!  Yes, Pappy, they DO have Sweet and Sour Pork here, and we had some great shrimp and garlic broccoli.  Lydia loves all things green, so she made a meal of mostly broccoli and we tried to sneak in some pork where we could.

The only drawback to the meal was a couple Cambodian 20-somethings sitting next to us chain smoking like a room full of Kirby salesmen on a bad lead day.  Whew.  Fork in one hand, cigarette in the other hand.  Answer cell phone.  Repeat.

Where we are staying in Downtown Guanzhou is pretty much contained to a 2 or 3-block area and is mostly shops selling the same variety of collectibles and souvenirs.  We found that by shopping around, we could really save on sweet moolah.  We’ve got a great booty of goods coming home with us.  Let’s put it this way…we’re buying a huge piece of luggage for $10 U.S. to get everything home.  Shwing!

I’d best head out – we’re going to get an early start on the day tomorrow – we’ve got our U.S. Consulate appointment at 3:00pm and we also have to wedge in some last-minute shopping before and after.

We had really hoped to post a few more times than we have here in Guangzhou, but the wild child (video below) and awful Internet connection here has made lie a little difficult.  Enjoy the vid and the pictures.  Check the Videos section above for something I put together back in Beijing (Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City)    Am also adding a BubbleShare link or all of our photo collections.

See you all in a couple days!!!


We hear you’ve been waiting for a post…..

Hi friends and family!  Sorry it’s been a while since we updated.  The computers here are a bit slow (Andy says there are hamsters on wheels running the internet over here).  It’s been a great day here in Guangzhou.  The weather here is beautiful (sunny and 65 degrees), and it feels and looks like Florida.

This city has a much different feel than the other 3 cities we’ve experienced in China.  We are on a small island called Shaiman Island, where we can walk around at our leisure.  It is a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle that we’ve experienced the past week.

We woke up today, went to another AYCE buffet, and then headed out to tour the island and do some window shopping prior to getting Lydia’s medical exam done.  I should have been more prepared for the screaming fit when we walked into the clinic.

The medical building was full of Chinese children and adults, as well as Americans who are adopting, just like us.  It is necessary for us to have a medical exam done which includes a quick physical, an ENT check, and a height and weight, in order to obtain Lydia’s Visa.  Lydia passed with flying colors.  We don’t know if she looked really good, or if they just wanted our screaming spicy girl out of there!  No, really she is doing just great and weighed in at a whopping 25 pounds (fully clothed).  She is 84.5 centimeters tall (sorry…haven’t had time to convert that yet).  Needless to say, Lydia is scared to death of doctors and clinics.  We can’t blame her since she’s experienced so many traumas already in her short life.  We will have to work on this when we get home, and know that Dr. Taylor and Betsy at LCFP will change her mind about doctors.

After the medical exam we went to Lucy’s…a famous American burger joint, here on Shaiman Island.  I thought I could go a whole 11 days without American food, but I didn’t make it.  I’ve eaten rice and noodles for 7 days straight and have to admit that the burger, fries, and the cold iced tea tasted pretty good.  Lydia loves the French fries and is already in love with ketchup.

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel for Lydia to get her first nap in a bed since we’ve had her.  While she took a 2 hour nap, Andy and Zhou headed out to an electronics mall.  As you can imagine, Andy was a happy camper when he returned.

Next it was time to complete our final pieces of paperwork for our embassy appointment tomorrow.  Zhou will take all of the necessary documents to the consulate tomorrow to file them.  Our official “swearing in” ceremony there will take place on Wednesday.

We headed off to a great Thai restaurant and had curry beef (Dad…you would have loved it!), sweet beans with garlic, and spicy Thai noodles and rice.  Andy was in heaven.  It was a bit spicy for me and Lydia, but we survived.  They have something there called iced coconut milk that is just delicious.  It was worth the trip just for that!  After dinner we headed back to our room, and unfortunately missed our Skype call to Abby and Alexa.  We are sorry girls!  Dinner took longer than planned but we will call you in the morning!!

Andy gave Lydia a bath and tucked her in to bed while Zhou and I headed off for a “foot massage”.  Let me tell you something folks…you haven’t experienced a “foot massage” until you’ve received one in China!  The “foot massage” was 90 minutes long and started out by placing your feet in scalding hot water with Chinese herbs and medicinal products of some sort. The water was so hot I thought I was going to have blisters on my feet!  Zhou didn’t have a problem, but they had to bring me some cold water to cool it down a bit – and I like hot water!

While my feet were soaking, the guy doing my rub down started on my shoulders and neck, then worked his way down my back.  I haven’t had Andy check yet, but I probably have bruises on my back.  He was rubbing so hard, but it was awesome.  Mocki, Pocki, Pappy, Tim and Pat….I thought of you the entire time!!  After about 45 minutes of neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and back, I moved around, took my feet out of the now just hot water, and he started rubbing my feet and legs with scented oil.  Oh, I forgot to mention that we were served watermelon and hot tea during this experience too. About an hour into it, I started to doze, but awoke to our friend Zhou snoring!  He loved it so much it put him right to sleep.  We love Zhou!!

It was 10:00 p.m. by the time we got back to the hotel, and now it is 12:15 a.m.  Andy has put some photos below that we hope you enjoy….and now we’re off to bed.  Did I mention that the bed here at the Victory Hotel is the best bed in China?  Last night was our first really good night’s sleep since we’ve been here.

Well, I’m off to bed now.  I just want everyone to know that we miss you all and are quite ready to head home.  We can’t wait for you to meet Lydia and know that you will love her as much as we already do.  We are blessed beyond measure!!

With love from China,
Tami, Andy and Lydia

Yo!  The videos are FIXED!  Head to the videos link above for all vids in one place.  We’re working on new ones, but access is SLOW here, so we might need to wait until we’re stateside to post the longer Lydia Day video.

Hi all!  We’re here at the Zhengzhou Airport waiting for our 6:00 flight to Guangzhou…today is ‘Amazing Race’ day – lots of running around, but it’s all good!

Started the day in Luoyang and on drive to airport, took in the Shaolin Temple and padoga forest there – hit Wikipedia for more info…

Shaolin is the home and center of Shaolin Kung Fu and we saw the most incredible display of punked out Kung Fu that you can imagine.  Got it all on video – Dad and Nathan, Pat and Pete — three words…needle through glass.  Have to see to believe.

On the way out, we met Tony Soprano’s Chinese counterpart who talked us into a van ride high into the hills for what Zhou called a ‘countryside Chinese meal’ that the Shaolin monks would eat.  It completely ROCKED!  We got our own room to eat in and we were treated like the kings and queens of the peasant village.  The Chinese are VERY gracious, and went as far as giving Lydia a pair of warm overpants. The clothes police were in full force, so we accepted.

Abby and Alexa – Mom got pics of the chicken we ate running in the courtyard 10 minutes before it arrived on our table.

After the temple and lunch, we settled in for the two hour ride to the airport – wild girl fell asleep on my lap and we all crashed for about an hour.

Gotta go now, though…much love and will check in from Guangzhou!

The Fearsome Threesome

Halfway Home!


Hi all!  Andy/Dad/Drew here.  It’s hard to believe that we are halfway through our trip already!!!  Zhou told us this morning at breakfast that we would be taking off from Luoyang a day early to allow for a little more time in Guangzhou, which is our last stop before flying home on Thursday.   Guangzhou is the home of the U.S. Consulate and is a 2-hour flight from here.  Even though Lydia is ours, she needs a valid U.S. visa to come home with us.  Every family adopting from any part of China must make this last pit stop before heading home, and we are sure to meet up with many other adoptive families while there.

Today was another awesome day, even more so because it was a Free Day!  That’s right….no flights and no appointments!  We all slept in and grabbed breakfast before heading out with Zhou and our driver for some stops in Luoyang.  While we waited for Zhou to work out our flight change to Guangzhou tomorrow, we found ourselves in the midst of a Chinese Wedding Reception.  It was WAY cool and the bride and bridesmaids were all very beautiful.  We decided to act like dumb tourists and walk into the reception hall before the bride arrived to check things out, and it was quite a sight.  The biggest difference between American and Chinese receptions is that a) we don’t leave packs of cigarettes on the tables for guests, and b) we do not let sea turtles roam free to signify longetivity.

After our tickets were worked out, we stopped into a mall and did some power shopping.  Diapers and wipes for Lydia, the poop queen, and some much-needed caffeine by way of Diet Coke and Coffee Coke.  You read that right…Coffee Coke.  And despite wanting to like it, I have to admit that it was rank.  We also grabbed a pretty kicking stroller for $10 U.S. – shwing!

As we walked out of the mall, Zhou roughly grabbed my and threw me into a store outside the mall.  The store sells all sorts of DVDs and CDs for a fraction of U.S. costs.  Zhou knows his clients!

We then took off for the Longman’s Caves, which is very, very cool.  There were thousands and thousands of stone-carved Buddhas in a hillside along a beautiful river.  Sadly, much was destroyed in the Cultural Revolution, but the area is now a National Park and some is being restored.

After the Caves, Tami and Zhou did some power shopping.  I’d like to tell you what they bought, but I’m sworn to secrecy.  OK, girls at home.  One hint.  It’s Chinese.

While Zhou and Tami shopped, Lydia slept on my lap in the van for at least an hour.  She was a complete trooper today and still amazes all of us.

Zhou is well-aware of my fondness of anything high-tech, so we quickly hit an electronics mall that was overwhelming…anything electronic and computer you can imagine…times 25.  It was massive – 4 connected buildings each the size of an American department store and packed to the gills with different vendors.  Sadly, here were not many good deals to be found, so I walked out with a couple small things, and a happy wife who has more cash for jewelry shopping in Guangzhou.

Pappy – somewhere in the middle of all this, Tami had Zhou requested that our driever hunt down some gardens and she told me she hit the jackpot.  She was so proud of herself and took a bunch of video for you and said that you’ll be in shock at all the stuff she found to show you!  Just a warning though…the peonies are not in bloom and are quite dormant – sorry!!!!

We rolled back into the hotel, hit a great dinner here and were back in our rooms by 8:00.  I gave Lydia a bath and she thought she was at the Myrtle Beach Water Park with Anna Niedzwiecki – she was tearing it up in there throwing water and making a ruckus.  She finally sacked out about 9:00 and now that she’s out, we’re catching up on e-mail and blog action.

17 floors below us, the Chinese Dance Party is going on out in the park.  It’s kind of like Asian “Dancing with the Stars” but with worse music and the chicks aren’t as sparkly.

Next stop – Guangzhou.  Since we’re rolling in late there, we may not be posting tomorrow – sorry in advance!  Things to do, people to see, planes to catch.  Thanks for stopping in!

Much love from the land of Street Frogger and bad dancing.

It’s official…in the eyes of the Chinese Government, we are Lydia’s forever family.  When we touch down in Chicago, on December 7, 2006 Lydia will be an American citizen!

We started off the day eating another delicious authentic Chinese breakfast consisting of noodles, dim sum (yummy dumplings filled with a variety of different things), fresh fruit, tea, rice, and roasted pumpkin. Next we headed to the Henan Provence Adoption Center to finalize our adoption.  We completed the necessary paperwork, got our official certificate and took some photos of the big event. Then we checked out of the hotel in Zhengzhou and were off on a three hour van ride to Lydia’s birth place – Luoyang.  The drive was beautiful beyond belief.  There were green fields of wheat, large stone mountainous areas, and a lot of rural farmland.  Lydia fell asleep about an hour and a half into the ride for a much needed nap.

When we got to the city, everyone was hungry so Zhou and Li, the orphanage director decided on a place for lunch.  We are really getting to see Chinese culture in action.  The restaurant was filled with locals, all eating large amounts of food!  Zhou tells us that the meal we at today was average.  It consisted of turtle soup, chicken and nuts, rice, noodles, a Chinese green vegetable that does not have an English translation (there are many like that), beans and hot peppers with sesame, and dumplings.  In this restaurant, there were no forks or knives, only chop-sticks, so we are getting better daily using them.  The drinks here are tea, sprite, and coke.  Many people drink hard liquor during the day with their mid-day meal, as well as beer.  It is difficult to find diet coke unless you go somewhere special!!  Smoking all over China is the norm.  It is difficult to find a non-smoking area here – where is the cancer in China?  I can’t figure this out – the life-span here is much longer than America.   And…there are a lot fewer overweight people here.  Everyone eats like crazy, but there aren’t many deserts, or snack foods.  Andy and I figure we will lose a few needed pounds here just by eating all of the fruit and veggies.

From lunch we headed straight to the orphanage.  We found out that the Luoyang Children’s Welfare Institute houses over 600 children.  Many of these children are in foster care.  Most appear to be school aged or special needs.  We observed students coming and going with foster parents throughout our hour visit.  A bus of special needs children were leaving when we departed.  We were told that they were there for the whole day (and return each day like this) to obtain rehabilitation services.

Li informed us that some students who do well academically even go to community college and return to live at the orphanage.  They are trying to do their best with the funding and facilities that they have.  It seemed to us that all of our agency’s referrals were living in foster care.  We have been in contact with another family who is waiting for their child from this orphanage, and had asked if we could meet him and take pictures for his future family.  Li told us that he was in foster care, but was gracious enough to call the foster mother and have him brought into the orphanage.  We were so appreciative of her and we know the Hedden’s are too.  We shared these pictures with them on-line already.

Andy and I are emotionally drained.  We were so fortunate to get to visit this facility and were happy to see the love that the caregivers have for the children there despite the total lack of funding and overcrowding.

Well, little miss sunshine just woke up for the day.  We’re happy to report that she slept through the night again (11 hours!!).  Today is a day of must needed rest and sight-seeing.  There are already people outside dancing in the park across the street to Chinese music that is playing throughout the park.  We can see and hear this through our hotel window on the 17th floor.  Blessings to all.  We thank all of you for your comments on the blog – we wish we could write you all back!  We look forward each day to read your comments and emails!!!  Please continue to respond as we will keep these for Lydia’s memory book.  We hope you enjoy the pictures.

With love from China,
Tami, Andy and Lydia


Oh, and YouTube and Google Video are throwing us fits – click this link for a cute video of the funny girl:


Google Video Version: