Saturday, February 13, 2010

Flights booked!

Since 7am this morning I have been on the computer trying to get a handle on our trip to China. After weighing all the dates, commitments, and schedules, I finally booked our tickets! I was on the phone with Continental Airlines for an hour, but it's booked. I couldn't book the flights myself online because of the two one-way return tickets originating in Beijing. Those had to be booked directly with the airline. And the trip is scheduled! Hooray! We might end up having to change them at the last minute, but at least we now have a date to tell everyone. We are leaving March 17 and returning April 2nd. Yes, we have to now ask for an extension for BingHui's Travel Notice; however, the adoption agency tells me that is easier to get an extension than trying to expedite FengHong's documents. Also, we just found out that Marcia and Mike, who agreed to let Cheng stay with them while we travel, are going to be leaving for Florida on March 31st. We have to work out someplace else for Cheng to stay for at least a few days. Hopefully, he can find a friend to stay with from March 30-April 2nd. I also spent hours and hours and hours, with Cheng's help, looking at hotels in Beijing. Cheng was great, guiding me to the most convenient and safe areas to stay. I'm leaning towards staying at the Ascott hotel. It is a 5 star hotel, has a children's pool and playroom with toys, and is located in the 3rd circle around Beijing. In Guangzhou the hotel the adoption agency recommends is the Garden Hotel, which also has a children's wading pool. Wow! Progress...I think!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Foiled again

I just spoke to our caseworker at our adoption agency, and our
proposed early March travel date won't work now. The way the US
Consulate is set up for the Visa appointments, we have to travel
Friday to a Friday, 2 weeks later. We need to spend 6 days in Beijing for the first phase of the adoption, then fly to Guanzhou to our consulate there. It takes 48 hours in Guanzhou for the medical exam and the T.B. test, which needs to be completed prior to a Tues.or Wed.
The Visa interview appointments in Guanzhou are only on Tues.and Wed.
Then the swearing in oath is the next day, and we can pick up the
Visas on a Thurs. or Friday and fly home on a Friday or Sat. Looking
at airfares (we want to fly Continental because they fly nonstop from NYC), the best fares are available if we wait until March 19- April2nd. Almost 2 weeks later than we intended, but at least I can
book our flights now with a firm date! We just have to extend our
Travel Notice for BingHui and re-arrange David's calendar. Oh JOY!

Article 5 received

Last night we were informed that our Article 5 letter was just received. Normally, the Travel Notice takes 2 weeks after the Article 5 letter is received. With the Chinese New Year next week, theoretically we should receive our Travel Notice on March 5th. Hmmm. Cutting it a bit close now, aren't we? After discussing everything with David, we decided to just proceed as planned. The flights that I wanted to book on March 5th (nonstop from New York) are no longer available; however, they are available on March 7th. So---I sent an email to our caseworker that we are planning on traveling March 7th, and I'm going to go ahead and book the flights. If we wait until we have the Travel Notice, and then book the flights, we won't travel until the end of March. We are not opposed to the end of March, but that complicates other matters. David has already cleared his calendar for the beginning of March, and we'd also have to ask for an extension on our Travel Notice for BingHui. It expires March 10th. Grrr. Just when we think we have everything all set, something changes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Photos and packing

I checked out the Polaroid "Pogo" thing, that instantly prints digital pictures (after connecting via USB port) today. I also went to look at Fuji's new "instant" camera. The Fuji camera is HUGE, and almost laughable. The instant printer only prints 2x3 photos, and I'd have to mess around with connecting my camera to the printer and then printing. One more thing to carry. I'm not thrilled with any of the existing choices. Inventors---pay attention. An instant light-weight camera would be nice right now. I did buy plug adapters today, so that I can charge my camera battery while we are in China. I also received a call that our Visas are approved, but there is a blizzard in NYC so we won't get our passports back with attached Visas for a few days. Our caseworker emailed me that she inquired about our article 5 last week. She received my call on Monday, and still there is no news. With the Chinese New Year coming up, if we don't get approval this week we are not on schedule to leave March 5th. Bummer. I packed 3 suitcases today. BingHui's, FengHong's and another suitcase just full of presents for the various people who help us in China, plus toys for the kids! I have a ton of clothes for BingHui, but not too many for FengHong yet. I haven't received his updated measurements; therefore, I'm not certain what size to buy for him. The last weight I received said he is 68 pounds. However, the date on the medical report was May 2009. I'm certain he's grown a whole lot in the last 18 months! I'm guessing FengHong might be a size 12, and I bought 3-4 sets of clothes in that size range. We may just have to shop when we get to China for more clothes for FengHong. He might want to pick out his own clothes anyway. I also have no idea what size shoes to get them either!

More shopping

This week I spent hours and hours online reading "suggested packing lists" for Chinese adoptions. Some of the items listed are obvious, but I found a whole list of things that never occurred to me. For instance, White-Out. When filling out a bunch of documents in Chinese government offices, it is helpful to have White-Out to correct mistakes. Duct tape is another item I wouldn't think of packing, yet it was highly recommended. Our Pediatrician already told us to buy and pack a million different medical items, such as lice shampoo, and I spent all day yesterday at Target stocking up on antibiotic cream, Benedryl, children's Motrin etc. etc. etc. I also bought travel pillows (even if they have them for free on the airplane, I'd rather not risk it), snack foods, and a bunch of small toys for the boys to play with in the hotel. After dinner, there is a whole lot of free time hanging in the hotel, and it'll be an opportunity to bond with the children over a game of Checkers. One of the blogs I read also suggested bringing a Polaroid instant camera. Apparently, one traveler was a big hit with the Chinese locals (orphanage directors and foster parents etc.) because she took instant photos and gave them to the people as gifts. It took me a few hours to figure out that Polaroid is out of business. I could still buy a Polaroid instant camera on ebay, but there was no way to buy the film. Today, I called a photo store and discovered that Fuji makes an instant camera. Another option would be to buy a small portable printer, to instantly print photos from my digital camera. Radio Shack has these hand-sized printers for sale. I'll go check them out later today or tomorrow.