Saturday, June 16, 2007


Happy Birthday Jenna -You are the Big '1' today.

Today was actually mostly a quiet day - unpacking, organizing, cleaning, grocery shopping and other fun post travel stuff.

This evening we had a Birthday party for Jenna attended by Kinley, Rylee, Jackson, Scott & Kara. Birthday cake was an angel food cake with whipcream frosting and red raspberry topping.
Jenna can't believe that she got Angel Food Cake for her Birthday...
We opened presents and it was time bedtime for Jenna.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Day One - Jenna is Home

It is Thursday and we have made it successfully through Day 1. We got some necessary sleep and actually went for some supplies. Jenna did better in the car seat today...actually fell asleep in it. We'll pray that she continues to be more comfortable with the car seat.

Our Dog, Beau seemed happy to have a new family member. I kind of wonder what he is actually thinking at this point...he has had 12 years of quiet quarters...that has changed a bit overnight. One thing is for certain - if food falls to the floor he'll be happy to cleanup.

We all went for a walk this afternoon - the weather was beautiful.

Beau ran point to make sure there were no squirrels to block our path.

We are sure glad that the park is complete and has nice trails and fields to walk in.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jenna's on her way to America

Today is Wednesday. We are packed, Jenna has been fed and we have checked out of the hotel.

We take a van to the Hanoi Airport and Thuy goes along with us. She has been great with handling the details of the adoption and planning events during our time in Vietnam. The Children's Hope International staff in Vietnam is great and adopting Jenna would not be possible without their dedication to the entire process. They will be missed by all of us in the group !

The 1st Flight was from Hanoi, Vietnam to Hong Kong. Jenna did well on this 2-hour flight. The photo below is from the Jet as we are approaching the Hong Kong airport.

We transferred from the Vietnam Airlines terminal to the Cathay Pacific terminal and had about 30 minutes to spare (perfect). Our gate was about 100 feet from Starbucks (I got a picture this time, but no coffee - long flight ahead)...

Below is the Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 that takes Jenna to America (LAX to be specific). What a beautiful airplane...

2nd Flight was the Hong Kong to Los Angeles segment. Very long flight @ 12.5 hours of which Jenna slept the majority of it. Julie & I were not quite as successful on sleep, but we did manage to get a few hours. We were able to change seats with a family from Vietnam so that Julie and I could sit together and we got the bulkhead seats. We did have some baggage issues at LAX, but everything eventually made it. We also got hit with the dreaded SSSS (Extra Security Screen)...Not Cool after flying for many hours with a baby...

3rd Flight was from LAX to Portland. Again Jenna did well during take-off and slept most of the flight. We learned from the first flight (Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi) that we must figure out how to get her to drink during take-off and landing.

Awesome Surprise when we arrive in Portland !

We are welcomed by best friends in the World ! Thank you !

It was awesome to see all of you !

Jenna did really well meeting everyone and is the little charmer.

Car Seats Required in America

Jenna is not a fan of car seats...She can fly halfway around the world without a problem, but the 10-minute drive from the airport to our house (in a car seat) was a scream...I'm not kidding ! Once out of the car seat and into Julie's arms she quickly (15-seconds) returned to the normal loving Jenna.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hanoi - US Embassy Visit

Monday started out with a big Thunder and Lightning Show. It was welcomed as it helped to cool down the temps...the humidity stayed, but it dropped the temps from 90's to probably the high 70's (comfortable).

Below is a photo of the Guoman Hotel where we are staying. It is a very nice hotel. The view out of window is also posted (you can see it was raining).

We had a wonderful breakfast buffet at the Gouman Hotel. Jenna was being picky about what she wanted. After breakfast we walked to the Cathay Pacific Airways office in Hanoi Tower to make some changes in our flights. Hanoi Tower is a very tall and modern building about a 5-minute walk from the hotel. It has a shopping center in the lower levels and offices in the higher floors.

After breakfast we visited the Cathay Pacific Airlines office and they adjusted our flights to the 13th so we'll be home Wednesday night. We did a little shopping in the Hanoi Tower and found some baby food that Jenna loves...Apparently it is not available in the States...Rats!

Maybe the same company that made her shirts earlier (Hipp Hop).

The next trip was to the US Embassy in Hanoi. We had our interview to get the final process of Jenna's Visa completed, I signed the last required document and we have completed the required paperwork...there has been a lot of papers signed, notarized, shipped and reshipped, certified, authenticated and fill in the blank in this process...I felt some type of completion when I signed the last form to bring Jenna home. I realize that this is only the beginning, but it feels as though we have completed a lot to reach this moment. The final process should be complete today (Tuesday) and we depart Wednesday morning.

For all of you concerned about the search for good coffee...Turns out there are no Starbucks in Vietnam (by the way - no McDonalds either). No worries though - There are plenty of places to get excellent coffee. One of these places is Highlands Coffee They have stores that will give Starbucks a run for their money. (Introduced by French Jesuits in the 1870s, Vietnam has risen to be the second largest coffee exporting country after Brazil.
Producing between 800,000 and 1m tons per year, Vietnam only consumes about 10% of its production. The remainder is purchased by some of the world’s best known instant coffee brands.)
Who would have known...

KFC - Kentucky Fried Chicken is King here for Fast Food. They use the actual

Other interesting things seen:

FREE WI-FI all over the place...almost all new restaurants (and even some older) in both Saigon and Hanoi. The contrast of Hi-Tech and Low-Tech is everywhere. Power lines are primarily above ground and they are plentiful - I'm glad I'm not an electrician in Vietnam - They have an interesting and complex job.

We had dinner at a very nice authentic Vietnamese Restaurant with the Group...

Group photo of the Mom's and the children...this was interesting to get.

Julie and Jenna....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

We have arrived in Hanoi

Sunday we all arrived in Hanoi. We all have been curious about Hanoi as we have heard a lot about the city. Well so far here is what we have seen. After leaving the Hanoi Airport (which is pretty nice and modern) we traveled through an area that was either being developed or in farming (primarily rice). The style of the roads and bridges reminds you immediately of Europe - They were in good shape and well maintained. There are a lot of construction projects in process currently. The architecture of the homes in this region is different than in Ho Chi Minh City. We have attached some low resolution photos taken with the camcorder.

I'm not exactly sure how to explain the difference, but there seems to be much less French influence here...The styling here is very ornate in many cases and really impressive. There is noticeably less English Translation here in Hanoi, but there are still many places with English.
All of the people that we have met so far have been very friendly and the city is alive and vibrant with activities going on and plenty of traffic. There are many less scooters in Hanoi, but still plenty. One shocking fact that I ran across is that Ho Chi Minh City has 7 million people and over 4 million scooter/motorcycles. I'll bet that there are more than 4 million...The motorcycle is used to move people, food, appliances (including a refrigerator), bags of rice, furniture, pallets of bricks & anything else you can imagine and some you can't. There seems to be a competition on who can carry the most. This is holding true of Hanoi as well.
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Vung Tao - A Day at the Beach

Saturday was spent at the beach in Vung Tao. A 2-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The beaches in Vietnam are very nice and are not overly developed, but you can see that development is currently in progress. The construction that is progress consists of very nice hotels and condos from what we could tell. The beaches themselves were not crowded even while we were there and it was a Saturday and hot. The ocean water was warm - much warmer than I've seen in the Atlantic or the Caribbean (I'm guessing in the 80+ degrees) and the sand was very hot.

Jenna was okay with the ocean, but preferred the pool. There was a very nice pool right before you go on the beach. You had to pay to use the pool...the adopting families were about the only people using the pool.

Jenna did not want to keep her hat on...It was back in the water pretty quick. Julie and I wished we had purchased a hat on the other hand. We had plenty of chances...

The remainder of the time we spent under a tent system that was setup on the beach - this is almost required as you literally can not walk on the sand due to it being so hot. I tried to walk/run barefoot in it and found that I would run from one shaded spot to the next. The beaches are deep from the beginning of the sand to the water and are in very nice condition. Apparently there had been a typhoon that went through the area about a year ago and you could see some damage (trees down), but no beach erosion was noticeable. It reminded me of the beaches in the pacific, but with water you can swim in.

We saw some interesting sites on the way back to the hotel.