Friday, June 8, 2007

Roadtrip - Visited Family in Sa Dec

Today we left Saigon early and headed for Sa Dec. This is where Julie's Mom grew up. It is about a 4-hour drive from Saigon. This was a long trip for all of us, but Jenna did remarkably well. We won't get too many opportunities to meet family members that live half way around the world...this was a great trip. Many of them remembered Julie only as a 1-year old the same as Jenna now. The family was very gracious and hospitable. They made a nice lunch for Julie and me and some special Fish soup for Jenna...she loved it - this was good as she was being fussy about the rice soup at the hotel.

If I have not mentioned that Vietnam is hot and humid - it is ! Ever wonder what grows good in these conditions ? Rice, Bananas, Coconuts, Grapefruit, Oranges, Sesame Seeds and pretty much whatever you want to grow. Fertile soil, large amounts of rainfall and tropical temps really make for some really good growing conditions. There are a lot of rivers throughout the Mekong Delta Region that allow for transportation of these crops. If you haven't figured it out - I'm pretty interested in the farming methods and marketing system that are used here. However this is Jenna's Page.

This photo was taken just outside Sa Dec and shows some brick ovens. This shows only a small # of the total. I'll bet that is a really hot job.

The map below if you click on it will show you the primary cities that we have or will be traveling to during our time in Vietnam. You can see that Sa Dec is Southwest of Saigon.

You won't believe this - Jenna let me hold her and Julie was able to capture a smile with the camera. She let me carry her all the way from breakfast back to the room - that is quite a distance. Jenna is definitely bonded to Julie (which is very good), but she is beginning to accept me as well. The trip to Sa Dec helped - There were a lot of Aunts that wanted to hold her so if she wanted that Fish Soup then she had better let the Aunts hold her...I can tell you - She wanted the soup !

Next stop - A day at the beach in Vung Tau on Saturday...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Saigon Zoo

Thursday morning started off with the usual breakfast buffet - It is a good selection of food. After getting filled up on breakfast it is off to CIS (US Immigration Service) in Saigon. Jenna did great waiting for our turn to interview.

After a short nap we went to the Saigon Zoo. It is fairly good sized zoo right in the city and we saw elephants, giraffe, wild horses, crocs, monkeys, porcupines, black squirrel (biggest one I've ever seen) and hippos. Jenna was not overly interested - It was slightly warm at about 98 degrees and 125% humidity. Well maybe the humidity was a little higher than that...
That is Gracie with Mechelle, Julie and Jenna outside the giraffe pen.

Friday will have us heading to Sadec where Julie's mom lived many years ago. It is long trip, but it will be a wonderful opportunity to meet Julie's family that she will not have many chances to meet. They last saw Julie when she was Jenna's age.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Site Seeing in Saigon

Today we had the opportunity to get in some local site seeing in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

We started out at a Chinese Pagoda which was very ornate and was very different from any that I've seen in the States. I was able to take a few photos - they don't really show the detail that was there in person or the incense that was burning.

Next we visited the Vietnamese Museum of History. I'd been reading about some of the historic battles prior to the trip and they did a nice job of displaying the different dynasties in place over the past few 1000 years.

When we returned to the Rex (hotel) Jenna was ready for a nap. We put her down and Julie's Mom watched her so that Julie and I could grab a quick lunch across the street at Monaco's Pizza...Yep - Not just any Pizza - Pizza Margherita - Julie's fav...Little Italy's in Vancouver has nothing to worry about at this point, but it was still good.

I picked up Jenna's Passport this afternoon. We still have one more interview on Thursday in HCMC. It should be pretty straightforward. Children's Hope Intl (CHI) has really made this a smooth process. We can't even fathom how you would even begin the process here, let alone figure out how to get around. They are Great!

Jenna was feeling a little grumpy this afternoon, but was a lot better in the evening. She was playing on the bed with her toys by herself - THIS IS A FIRST - Prior to this she was like a dryer sheet clinging to Julie or she was crying.

Good News - I think that Jenna is seeing that we are sticking around and she started to warm to Daddy a tiny bit more today. She only cries sometimes when I'm around. As long as I'm on her terms, she is okay with me being around now. She still doesn't want me to hold or carry her. It is a good thing that Julie has the Ergo Baby Carrier - She has had no neck or back issues and she has had to do the majority of hauling Jenna to this point. (Does this sound like an advertisement for this baby carrier?)

Jenna was smiling quite a bit today ! She definitely has a personality. She outlasted Julie today.

As for me - I'm making formula, running errands, handling paperwork, taking photos and video and writing some of the Blog. Occassionally I even get to entertain Jenna - I'm getting better (slowly) at that one.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

She's a screamer, but we love her anyway

Today is Tuesday, Jenna slept the whole night and so did I. She hates getting her diaper changed or changing her clothes, and she lets you know it (and the neighbors as well). She's got some lungs on her. Today we rushed through breakfast and then went to the market and did the tourist thing. It's been so nice having my mom here - especially when bargaining for the best price. I'm sure she was able to get a much better price on things than I could have. On the walk back to the hotel we went into a shoe store and I bought some of the cutest shoes ever for Jenna. The price was equivalent to $4 US dollars for each pair. I'd definitely like to go back and get some for myself as well.

We had lunch at a restaurant in the Rex Hotel where we're staying. It was nice and Jenna did pretty good. She'll be ready for our traditional Sunday lunches at Chevy's with the Corley family.

This afternoon we took Jenna for a medical exam. This exam is done by a Vietnamese doctor at a Vietnamese hospital for the American government. Little did I know the waiting room was outside. Have I failed to mention how hot (and humid) it is here. Like your traditional doctor's appointment the wait was long, but unlike your traditional doctor's appointment, we were sweating - and I mean really sweating. Jenna passed with flying colors, but her screams were heard by all when we had to undress her for the exam. Luckily they were pretty quick about it and she calmed down quickly once she was dressed and in my arms.

Jenna has really bonded to me - which is a good thing. But, it can be difficult when she won't go to someone else. She hasn't yet gotten to the point where we can set her down and have her play by herself. She wants me holding her all the time. Tonight it was really difficult putting her down. She was so tired, but she didn't want to go to sleep. I'm so glad she finally fell asleep and I could put her in her crib. Unfortunately, Stacey and my mom both fell asleep too! I guess I get to work on this blog instead. btw - Stacey is the picture guy, so no pics until he gets around to it.

I do need to mention what a fantastic job Stacey is doing. He changed his first diaper today.

Also, the dates on this blog are so messed up! The dates and times are Pacific Time Zone, not Vietnam's (I think we're 11 hours ahead here).

Friends and food

It's funny how in this technological age, that you can actually become friends with someone who you've only communicated with by email. I became friends with 2 such women who were also going through this crazy adoption process. We had been communicating for months by email. But, on Monday afternoon the 3 of us, with babies, were all able to get together in my hotel room and spend the afternoon chatting and laughing and sharing. I think everything happens for a reason, and God, in His perfect timing, brought all 3 of us all together in Vietnam. It was a special time for us all to remember. And rats - I didn't take a picture!

Jenna took a 3 hour nap - wow, I thought she'd never wake up. I think she's been a lot busier than she was at the orphanage. It's hard to believe we got her only 24 hours earlier.

Later that evening all 6 families went out to dinner at a restaurant on the river. It was really beautiful - and really hot! Jenna was hot and tired, and so was I because I held her most of the time. Luckily she let my mom take her for a walk, so that was a nice break for me. That night Jenna got her first bath/shower from us - she hated it. Hopefully that will improve in the future.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Giving & Receiving Ceremony

Monday morning we all went to the Giving & Receiving Ceremony. It was in Ho Chi Minh City about 15-minutes from the hotel. The local government officials were very friendly and helpful and it was a very pleasant experience for all of us. After signing a lot of papers we had this photo taken with all three of us together.

Jenna likes riding in the Van - she finds the traffic about as interesting as Julie and Stacey. We have never seen so many motorcycles going in so many different directions - it is plain wild.

Jenna was quite hungry this morning and drank her entire bottle faster than I possibly could imagine. We later went for breakfast and she had some Rice soup and yogurt along with some Banana muffin and watermelon.

Julie and I took Jenna to the top of the Rex Hotel to see the pool and we found a beautiful area with Fish and tropical plants. It was pretty hot up there so we'll head back in the evening.
Jenna almost smiled a couple times , but figures that she will wait until she is sure about us first. She is bonding to Julie quickly and wants Julie to hold her unless she is ready to sleep. Daddy is okay to hold her as long as we are walking, but Momma is #1 the rest of the time.

Suprises ahead - Now that's a good thing

We finally arrived in Vietnam and met the other families and prepared to go to the orphanage to meet Jenna. We had all been told we would visit the children today (Sunday) and get them the following day. Boy, were we surprised when they said we were actually getting them the same day we arrived! I had to rush back upstairs and pack Jenna's diaper bag.

We went to the orphanage. Jenna was the first baby they brought down. She was in a pretty dress - which was quite a surprise since most of the pictures we have of her are in boys clothes. I think she seems to be a sensitive girl. She cried, but when the other babies cried, that brought it on even more. We haven't seen a smile yet, but expect we will soon. She has two teeth on the bottom and at least 4 on the top. I haven't really had a chance to examine them yet as she has no patience for me poking around her mouth.

The orphanage was nice and the children appear to be well taken care of. I had heard this before from other adoptive families and it was nice to see with my own eyes. I do think it's heart breaking to see the older children, watching us leave with the babies. It breaks my heart to think they may never have a family to grow up in. We are very thankful and blessed to have Jenna become a part of our family.

Jenna enjoyed the van ride from the orphanage to the hotel. We gave her a toy at the orphanage and she hasn't let go of it the rest of the day - she's got a good grip.

We went shopping in the evening for some necessities - formula, juice, yogurt, cereal, water and - oh yeah, coffee for Stacey - big surprise there! Jenna loved riding in the Ergo Carrier. She cried when we first put her in it, but once she was used to it, she did just great. There was lots for her to see at the little shopping mall across from our hotel. She was a very good shopper - typical girl I suppose.

She also got to meet some of her Vietnamese relatives - as did Stacey and I. They hadn't seen me since I was Jenna's age. We're hoping to get out to the country to visit my mom's relatives before we leave the south.

We had been warned by my friend Dana that we needed to double check the type of formula listed on Jenna's discharge sheet with what was actually fed to her. I was so caught up in the moment I didn't do that - much to my chagrine. The formula we bought doesn't seem to agree with her, so we'll go to the store in the morning and try another formula - the same type Dana said her son is on.

Jenna went down at 7:30pm last night and it's currently 2:00am and she's still asleep. Now that's a good thing.

I'm leaving on a jet plane

We took off Friday evening PDX to LAX. The LAX airport was a big disappointment. Old, no signs telling you where to go. The bathrooms in the international terminal need to be totally demolished. There were actually holes rusted through in the stalls - no Hollywood glamour here. LAX to Hong Kong flight was long, but uneventful, which is a good thing. The Hong Kong airport was great. Stacey loved it when he got off the plane and there was a Starbucks - just a little bit of home in Hong Kong!