Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Blog and new news for the New Year!

Well, hello there! Yes, it's me.....

Just wanted to say that I have started a new blog along with the new chapter in our lives--I have taken the password protection off of the posts there for now, but may reinstate it at some point.

If you're interested in what's happened in our lives recently, go on over and take a look!

Hope everyone is having a great 2009!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Hi, everyone!
Yes, we are home now--sorry to leave you hangin'!! We made a pit-stop to visit family in Los Angeles on the way home and have just been home now (at our house) for a week and a half now and are finally getting our feet under us a bit. The adjustment has been pretty rough, especially for the buttercup--so, hence on us too!! Just haven't had the energy to post--put I think we have turned a corner and things are looking up with the schedule and the sleeping. Stay tuned.....I have more pictures and more home update and will post more when I can. Right now....sleep is in my immediate future!

Just wanted to let everyone know we are home and okay!! Buttercup is healthy and happy and getting used to her new digs--she is a source of joy and entertainment to us for sure and we are getting to know her better and better each day.

More later......

Also a shout out to my friends, who leave this week (one tomorrow!) to go get their daughers!!! Go get em', girls!! bon Voyage and safe travels until we see you when you get back!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hanoi Update with Pics

Well, we went to the airline office to see about adjusting our flights on Saturday, but they were unable to view the availablity of the US portion of our flights and we are trying to schedule a stopover in L.A. to visit my brother and his lovely family on our way through so they can meet little miss buttercup. We managed to accomplish nothing on that visit--the last bulkhead seat with bassinet was taken by the family that we went to the airline office with (but they have graciously offered to share if we need it--Our travel agent reissued itineraries for flights out on Tuesday for all the families since the visas are supposed to be issued tomorrow and pretty much everyone has decided to take them, so we will do the same to make things simple. It's hard to leave knowing there is so much more we wanted to see and do, but hopefully we will bring her back someday soon.

We walked around yesterday with Bethany and Kevin and their daughter Leah and went out to Hoan Kiem Lake, which is in the middle of the city and has beautiful parks and walkways all around and a little pagoda in the middle and a temple on an island on one end that is tied to a legend of a tortoise and a sword. There is a huge preserved tortoise in a glass case inside and a pretty red bringe leading up to it-definitely a big tourist spot, but pretty cool. We bought some art to take home at the shop next to the temple.

We ate at a great french restaurant called the Green Tangerine that we have heard good things about from families traveling before us. Then we made our way to the Silk shop where Matt had a fitting for his suit jacket--we had to wait a while for the tailor to arrive with the jacket, so we rested on little wooden stools and the babies were very patient.

The little drama queen had a meltdown though back at the hotel--I think she is working through processing all the change she has and is going through and is grieving her losses a little bit, so the nights are much harder for her. We weathered through it and she fell asleep in my arms until she woke up for round two and then finally gave up and slept for the night. Needless to say it was a room service night again. Tonight went much better--we had very little screaming to speak of and we actually walked down from the hotel to a wonderful restaurant called Koto that was started by an Australian in order to train street kids in the culinary arts and the food is awesome. We met an extremely nice couple from NY at the table next to us that just loved the buttercup and they only realized that we had adopted her after we had talked to them for quite a while--I usually assume that is obvious, so I don't feel like I need to make that clear--perhaps we are all starting to look alike! :) They have grandchildren her age and were very tolerant and helpful when she decided she had had enough. The staff was great too and one of the hostesses took her for a walk around the restaurant and introduced her to the kitchen staff so I could finish the last of my pumpkin ravioli in peace. It feels kind of weird to let them take her, but that is very common here, and I could see her the whole time. The Vietnamese LOVE babies and everywhere we go they will smile and talk to her and clap and cluck and want to touch her face and hands-the latter gets a little old though, as we would like to keep her from getting sick as long as possible. There comes a point where you just want to dip her in Purell, but it is just the culture difference and I can accept that.

A lot of passers-by will say "Baby Vietnam?" and when we say yes, we most often get the response "Ah, very good!" and lots of smiles. The number one question by far that we are asked, though, and this is everyone from the market vendors to the front desk staff from Saigon to Hanoi, is "How many months?" and even though she is usually dressed head to toe in pink, with a pink fluffy coat on, they say "Boy?"---I think she looks like a girl, but evidently it is hard for them to tell and they don't have the US tendency to assume pink = obvious girl. The culture is so interesting to me, and we have been greeted by everyone with such open friendliness......EXCEPT for the cab driver we had on the way back from the restaurant tonight--he just happened to be right in front of the place when we were making our hasty exit while waving goodbye to our new friends with a very crabby baby so that they could enjoy their food and I guess he thought we looked like pretty big suckers--remember we walked to the restaurant--but needed to get back fast since baby had reached her limit and he proceeded to rudely correct our pronunciation of our hotel (when I have heard it pronounced how we said it by other Vietnamese people) and then proceeded to snake around down half a dozen streets at about 5 miles an hour and when Matt questioned where he was going, he had attitutude and kept on his merry way--I was getting a little concerned that he was taking us to the "hood" to mug us, as nothing looked familiar, but then we finally saw our hotel in the distance and instead of pulling into the circular drop off (mind you, I am trying to comfort the getting hysterical baby, so you would think he would have driven faster!) instead he pulls up to the sidewalk next to the hotel and basically orders us to get out there. I was ready to gladly oblige, and of course he charges us twice what it was supposed to be, and when Matt gave him the money, he took cell phone call and igored giving him any change. I was on the sidewalk waiting and was afraid he would drive off with my husband, so I opened the door back up and told him just to let it go and cut our losses--a classic a**hole in any culture. Ugh. Such a contrast after we had had such a nice experience at the restaurant.....

We also went to a good restaurant for lunch today recommended by my friend Jenny-thanks, Jenny!-it was really cold today walking around and the restaurant had a little fire going and they sat us right next to it. It felt so good to warm up--luckily we brought the little fuzzy pink coat that we inherited from Jenny's girls so the buttercup was toasty, but we are quickly finding out we did not bring enough warm clothes for Hanoi this time of year--it has been in the high 40's to low 50's and all I brought was a hoodie jacket. She was in a great mood and giggling, but somewhere in the middle of lunch she had a diaper blowout and would have no more happy time, so Matt took her outside while I hastily paid the bill and chugged down my nice warm cup of coffee and we grabbed a cab for the hotel for some tummy time and a nap. We would have loved to have spent a little more time, but it's all about the buttercup now and she calls the shots (have I mentioned how loudly?). :)

Also, this morning our whole group went to the Water Puppet show--I really enjoyed it. It is kinda hard to explain, but it is basically wooden puppets acting out scenes of traditional Vietnamese culture one a "stage" of a pool of shallow water. There are dragons and ducks and fish and fishermen and dancers all set to traditional Vietnamese music. There are puppeteers standing in the water behind a screen operating the puppets. I loved the music and Marin was mesmerized until she fell asleep--I did have to see most of the show standing up in the aisle though, as she got tired of sitting still. A huge group schoolchildren came in and the little rambunctious boys that looked to be about first or second grade all piled into the lower seats around where we were sitting and were so happy to practice their English. They kept all yelling "Hello!" and "How are you?" and "What is your name?" It was so cute, but they kept doing it, so I had to shush them and motion for them to watch the show. It would stop them for a bit. :) Luckily the music is pretty loud. All of the girls were sitting politely up in the upper seats behaving--ha, ha. Even those young boys, were smiling and cooing at the buttercup and wanted to rub her cheeks. You just don't see that in the US. They are also not afraid to put their arm around each other or sit on each others laps--they were all just plain adorable and when the show was over, a man with bullhorn (seriously) rounded them all up and they filed back on to a couple of buses. They were all waving and saying "Goodbye!" on their way out. And all I can figure out in Vietnamese so far is Thank You! Gotta work on that.....
So, tomorrow (Monday) is our last full day here so we will have to make our plan --we will get back by the airline office, we will pick up our things from the tailor, and I would actually love to eat at Koto again--perhaps we will see if a few of the other families want to try it--and there are a couple shops I would like to get back by....Then we will sadly say goodbye to Vietnam for now--we are excited to get home to our family, friends and pets, but I have to admit the long flight with this baby has be shaking in my boots.... :)
Wish us luck!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Interview: Check!

We had our interview today at the US Embassy--was a piece of cake! We didn't need any of our additional paperwork (just our passports!), and we were done in a matter of minutes for each family. We are supposed to be able to pick up our visas on Monday at 4--Quoc will pick them all up and deliver them to the hotel for us-he is such a gem! FYI, that is the piece of paper we have been waiting for all this time, as it gives us the ticket to bring little Buttercup home!! Yipee!! We had all been figuring if it didn't go well, we could all just set up house like a commune and live here for two years and get back that way, ha, ha--but it seems all went well! There is still some possibility the visa processing could be delayed if internet systems go down temporarily between here and the US, as they have been known to do, so Quoc thought allowing for Tues too would be on the safe side, but it seems there is not a flight on Wed, so we may settle for leaving Thurs. on the noonish flight. We are planning to go to the ticket office tomorrow in person to get things switched around--will keep you guys posted.....

**Us celebrating with Tea at the hotel after the interview**
We went to the area of Hanoi that does custom tailoring in a matter of days with Bethany and Kevin this evening-- We got measured for custom clothes that we will pick up Monday! I am getting a jacket and an Ao Dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) and Matt is getting a suit. All custom made in fabrics of our choice--pretty cool! We left and walked a ways and ended up running into a street fair of sorts with all sorts of booths set up in the street and took in all the sites. We saw some beautiful original paintings in a shop that we loved, but the prices were a little out of our range--up in the thousands, so we had to just admire and walk away :(--we will have to try to find some more reasonably priced--the art is just beautiful--we just evidently have really expensive taste! (The gallery staff said that she had sold a pair of paintings to Bill & Hillary Clinton like one of the ones we really liked--ha, ha) We have tickets to the Water Puppet Show for Sunday morning--have heard a lot about it and am looking forward to see for myself what it's all about!
The little buttercup is doing well, however, I don't know if it's the weather change or what, but the eczema on her face has really gotten worse--this has been the case with all the Danang babies with skin issues--it doesn't seem to bother her at all, it just looks so red and seems like it would be uncomfortable, but I think it just looks worse than it feels. She just woke up this morning with a bad case of acne--poor baby--we are putting on some creme and hoping it will calm down. The doc in Saigon said she would probably grow out of it at some point.
I am loading more pics to the flickr site as I type, but as it is late, I will have to add captions and tweak later tomorrow.
And of course, what you are really looking for, the many faces of Buttercup..... :)

**When she's happy, she is so happy!**

**And Silly!**

**But, OH, when she is not happy, you certainly will hear about it--This is one of the famous screams--(we just had to get a picture) Tears your heart out, doesn't it? Really this was in a matter of getting her bottle ready--she gets testy if it's not there in a nanosecond--she was fine seconds later, when we delivered what she wanted. :)**

**Riding in the Cab, she is snug as a little bug in the carrier. She usually is sleeping**

**Naptime--She absolutely loves this little duckie named Emmit from Miss Niki--she sucks on his beak like a pacifier (which she will not have anything to do with) when she is trying to go to sleep and snuggles up with him--we have got to find another one for back up when we get home, just in case! **

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"What's up" from Hanoi!

We left Saigon this afternoon after spending the morning packing all of our junk up again--it took hours, again--and now we are in Hanoi, the capital city in the north of Vietnam. We had a little drama, after finding out the van didn't unload our carry-on bag that has all of our paperwork that we were told to bring and have shclepped halfway across the world and drove off with it!!! I almost had a coronary. Quoc says he doesn't think we need it, but I didn't care--that paperwork has been my life for the last 20 months, and anyone who got hold of it could probably assume our lives!! Crisis averted, though--they found it and the guy brought it, and another family's bag who was also left on the van as well, back on a scooter (of course) after some phone calls from Quoc. Whew--nothing like a little scare! We have kept a close eye on it, believe me, it was just some last minute shuffling to get people on the van, and it got stowed at the last minute--won't let that happen again, however that is probably the last time on this trip that all six families and all of their luggage will be loaded up at the same time. We are an unusually larger group than they are used to dealing with on these trips and we are quite the circus!

So far it seems really different than Saigon....much cooler,which is nice, and from what we saw on the way in from the airport, I think we are all in agreement that it just looks like a beautiful city. Saigon was interesting, but it was much more chaotic and crowded and while there were beautiful areas and the people were so nice and helpful, the city view we experienced does not compare to what we have seen in one drive through Hanoi. We have heard the attitude can be different here, and not quite as inviting, so we will see........we have our interview at the embassy tomorrow afternoon and Quoc says we should have visas by Monday! I will post more picures and update about the interview tomorrow--haven't really unpacked everything yet here and I am bushed! Gotta sleep some while the little munchkin drama queen is asleep--ordered room service again here tonight--
By the way, We went to the best vegetarian restaurant at one of the Buddhist temples down the street from our hotel last night with Dianne, Joe and their little Ben. Probably the best food we have had so far. (Em, Dianne said we will get you the name and address!--she has it written down--all I can remember is Viet Cay) We just let the waiter suggest things and we all tried everything. Very yummy! The temple was so peaceful, which was surprising since it opens up to a four lane road with honking traffic and neon. I wish I could have gotten pictures, but it was too dark and using the flash would not have done it justice anyway. The juxtaposition of things in Saigon is so interesting--there is definitely a melding of all kinds of culture. I am curious to see more of Hanoi in the light of day and close up--more tomorrow! I promise more pics too when I can get them downloaded....We are staying at the Horison, which is very nice, but we have to Pay for internet!! Bummer, man!

Also--Thanks for all your comments! I can't reply to everyone, but it is great to see all the support while we are on our journey! Thanks also to all of you back home keeping our fur-balls and keeping things in line! We just couldn't have done this without you and your support! Can't wait for you to meet our little Drama Queen! It has been confirmed, she is the loudest of all 6 of the babies here. Yay, us! :)

Love and hugs from Hanoi!