Final night in Guilin

The Internet access is still terrible. We’re hoping for better once we reach Guangzhou tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s some pictures to prove we’re really here in China.

Here’s Lauri and Alex on Gotcha Day, moments after Alex was handed to Lauri. The orphanage had dressed all the girls in matching red outfits.

The next morning Alex demonstrated that she could stand by herself, and had apparently never experienced carpet beneath her feet before. A couple of minutes after this picture was taken, she showed us that she could walk as well.

This is two days after Gotcha Day. Congee is a thing of the past. Getting her to eat is not a problem.

We went to a Buddhist temple in Nanning for a blessing of the babies. There was a large pond filled with koi in the same park, and Lauri and Alex watched the koi feeding. Alex really likes watching fish, and wants to stop at every fish tank and goldfish bowl.

Yesterday we took a 4-hour boat tour of the Li River. Lauri and Alex sat by the window and watched the scenery.

Last night we went to Elephant Trunk Hill Park, one of Guilin’s signature attractions. Here’s a picture of all three of us, to prove that I’m actually in China, too. That’s Elephant Trunk Hill behind us.

We haven’t been able to get any email yet, so nobody should feel like we’re ignoring them. Hopefully, we’ll be able to stay in touch in Guangzhou.

Gotcha

We have her. She’s amazing. She’s walking, has six teeth, and quite a personality.

Internet access is terrible here, so other postings will have to wait. There’s a story about ham sandwiches you all should hear, as well as all the details of gotcha day. I hope we’ll have better luck in Guilin.

Keep us in your thoughts.

The Kendalls,
Lauri, Jay and Alex

We’re here

We made it.

We’re in Hong Kong, and safe.

We’re exhausted.

More to follow, including which one of us is the new poster child for the Transportation Safety Administration.

We meet Alex tonight.

First stop, Newark

The World Tour has begun. We’re at the Marriott at the Newark airport.

It’s been a long couple of days, getting everything packed and in order. I don’t know if everything is in order, but everything that can be packed, is. There isn’t a spare cubic inch left in any of the luggage. If we forgot something, we’ll either have to buy it in China or do without.

We’ll continue to do postings, but we may not be able to upload them until we get to a hotel with internet access. If you don’ t hear from us, don’t worry…just keep checking back.

If you want to communicate with us, the email address is [redacted]. We’ll share the best emails here with everybody (unless you ask us not to).

So here’s the situation: we fly out tomorrow afternoon. The next time you hear from us, we’ll be in Hong Kong. Keep us in your thoughts, please–I can’t tell you how grateful we are for your support.

Once is a fluke, twice is a tradition

We went to brunch at Dakota with Pam, Jerry, and Katelyn today. It was our send-off, similar to the Sunday before Pam and Jerry traveled to China.

And just like that day, we posed for the traditional “good luck picture in front of the bear.” This time, however, Katelyn got into the act. Is it just me, or does she have the same expression as the test pilot bear?

Revised itinerary

Here’s the revised itinerary we received this past Tuesday. The first thing to notice is that it’s wrong–we’re returning on November 5th, not the 4th. Confidence-inspiring, ain’t it?

As I understand it, we’ll be in Hong Kong on the night of the 4th, giving us an extra day there. We didn’t think we’d have much time for sightseeing in HK, so this actually works out better for us.

The other interesting thing is the trip to Guilin. While the guidebook doesn’t have anything nice to say about Nanning, it takes 4 pages to rave about the scenery around Guilin and the Lijiang river tour.

Flight 99, October 23rd/Flight 98, November 5th

Today, the FedEx driver delivered an envelope to my office. We’ve gotten quite a few deliveries like it, but this one might be the most important. It contained the plane tickets for Lauri and me, and a one-way ticket for a flight from Hong Kong to Newark in the name of Sheng Jian Li.

Welcome to America, courtesy of Continental Airlines!

Scenes you won’t see on a home improvement show

SCENE 1

It didn’t occur to us to mask off the outlets and light switches when we painted Alex’s room. Even if we hadn’t gotten kiwi green paint on them, they were almond, and didn’t go with the white trim.

So we bought a new switch and three new outlets, and I read up on how to swap the old ones out. It didn’t seem too difficult—hot wire, neutral wire, ground wire.

I plugged a lamp into one of the outlets, and sent Lauri downstairs to trip the breakers one by one until the lamp went off. When it did, I tried the other two outlets. No light.

So I removed the plate for the wall switch, and removed the switch from the box. As I went to loosen one of the screws holding the wires in, I was greeted with a Fourth of July-style shower of sparks. A little smoke, too. Verrry impressive, if you’re not the guy holding the screwdriver. There might have been some kind of bang, too, but I seem to have developed a little memory lapse on that score.I have no idea what circuit that wall switch is on, but from now on I’m turning off the master breaker before doing any electrical work.

SCENE 2

We discovered that the doorknob had an in-knob lock. That just struck me as a bad idea for a toddler’s room. So we picked up a replacement set.

Lauri removed the old knobs and bolt, and, concerned that they might mark up the new carpet, placed them out in the hall. I handed her the new bolt, and she slid it in place.

“Don’t close the door,” I told her. “Without the knobs, we’ll have no way to get it open.”

I moved closer, to make sure that the bolt was recessed enough into the edge of the door frame. It sat just a little above the surface. I thought it would clear, but figured the only way to check the fit was to…close the door.

“[Click],” suggested the door.

“Oh, [BAD WORD],” we replied simultaneously.

This is the kind of situation that tests your initiative (not to mention the strength of the marriage bonds). In my mind, I saw myself grabbing the emergency evacuation ladder, lowering it out the window, losing two out of three rounds of “rock-scissors-paper” to Lauri, climbing out the window, and plummeting to my demise. I could very clearly see the next day’s headline: “MORON FALLS TO DEATH IN FREAK HOME IMPROVEMENT ACCIDENT. Last words: ‘This ladder sucks’”

Fortunately, before I could embarrass myself further, Lauri spotted the new doorknobs nestled neatly in their package. She calmly released us from captivity.

Hey, we’re going to try installing the car seat now. If you don’t hear from us in a day or so, we’re locked inside the Windstar. Send help.

Welcome to Baby Central

It’s now less than 21 days until we meet Alex. Things are kicking into high gear as the baby preparations continue. Alexandra’s furniture finally arrived. We spent the weekend arranging her room, washing loads and loads of baby clothes, and sorting her clothes for China. We still have quite a few finishing touches to add to her room, but we are making progress. Finally, it looks like a baby’s room instead of a warehouse for Babies R Us!

The past several months have been quite an education for us. We never dreamed that one little person could have so many things. We have learned about carseats, strollers, diaper genies and pack and plays.

And oh yes, we learned how to have fun in the toy store. Jay says that when the stickers on the interactive toys say “press here”, it is merely a suggestion, not a requirement. But what fun is it if the toys are not making any noise? I’m sure my philosophy will change after a few months with an active baby and a whole conglomeration of toys that make every noise known to man.

Last weekend we had a taste of things to come. We got to meet Katelyn. She had been in the states for just under 48 hours, but you would never know it. She was amazing. Her parents told us that she is shy, but you couldn’t prove it by her behavior or the pictures!

Katelyn took a little while to warm up, but once she got going, she was pretty funny. She had a blast scrunching up her nose and making funny faces at Jay. And she loved it even more when he made funny faces right back at her. Yes, we were the dignified party of five at the table in the center of the pizza parlor on a Saturday afternoon. Soon, that will be a party of six.