Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Almost Home...

We had a great last day in Taiwan. When the Typhoon moved back towards the Phillipines, the weather cleared up. So we traveled about an hour outside of the city to a national park. It was beautiful. Waterfalls, mountains, and volcanos...what an amazing site. We could actually see the steam coming up from the openings of the volcano. After the park we headed to the hot springs, where we spent an hour soaking in the water heated by the volcano. The Taiwanwse believe that it is a fountain of youth. Soaking in the waters makes the skin look younger, noy to mention that it heals several ailments from arthritis to digestive problems.

Then we did some final shopping and headed back to the hotel to pack up. Finally off to the airport!

It has now been 23 hours since we left Taiwan. We are on the home stretch...from Chicago to St. Louis. We arrive in STL at 8:25 this morning. We invite everyone to meet us at the airport to welcome Hadley home!

We have the best kids ever. They have been awesome the entire trip. The travel was a snap...the kids all slept about 12-13 hours of the trip so far.

See you soon!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Heading Home Tomorrow - Meet Us At The Airport Wednesday!

Today was a nasty day. It has been windy and rainy all day. Which severely limits the ability to do too much of anything outside. Unfortunately 3 kids cooped up in a hotel room isn’t much fun either.

We started out the day rushing to our 9:00am immigration appointment. We arrive right on time, only to wait over 2 hours for our final interview. Fortunately, everything went smoothly. They asked us if we met the birth mother and what we knew about the father. They seemed satisfied with our answers and told us we could pick up the visa tomorrow afternoon. We fly out late tomorrow night (11:55pm). UGH! There is an earlier flight to LA, but unfortunately there isn’t an earlier one from LA to STL (meaning at 10 hour layover in LA). So prefer to spend our time here rather than in LAX airport. If the weather is nice tomorrow we are going to spend the evening out and about. Otherwise, we may be paying for an extra nights hotel so that we can have a place to hang out until our flight.

After our appointment we hit McDonalds for lunch. With the kids here, we have had a lot of western food. We have eaten traditional Chinese food a couple of times. It wasn’t bad, but they don’t even have egg rolls and crab rangoon here. No thank you! I think I will stick with Green China in Lake St. Louis!

Chaunta and the kids spent the rest of the afternoon in the room. I went out on a quest to find a laundry service so we wouldn’t have to worry about laundry when we get home. I found one about 1/3 mile from our hotel. They charged by the kilogram – we had a boat load of laundry and they did it all for about $12USD. If we had done it at the hotel they would have charged $3 per shirt and $4 per shorts/pants. We saved a bunch of money and headache doing it that way.

This evening we decided to check out IKEA. We have only been to it once in Chicago a few months ago. We were surprised to find that it was exactly the same. We bought Hadley a few wooden toys, had dinner there, and headed back to the hotel.

In Taipei, they have 4 Costco’s. As you probably know, I am addicted to Costco. I am curious if they are the same or not. I probably won’t make it there to check it out…but who knows, if it rains all day tomorrow we will need something to do indoor. Unfortunately, most of the sight seeing in Taipei is outdoor.

I probably won’t be able to update our blog tomorrow, so I want to invite everyone to meet us at the airport to welcome Hadley home. We arrive in STL on Wednesday morning at 8:25am on flight 407 from Chicago. See you there!

Does this picture remind anyone else of Jim Carey playing
Vera De Milo on In Living Color.
I think it is the pig tales!
Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Another Great Day in Taipei

We had another eventful day. Thankfully everyone slept until 8:30am this morning. I think that is the latest we have slept since we have been here. Aiden has been getting up at 5:00am most mornings and since he has a tendency to be very loud…the rest of us end up getting up too.

This morning we enjoyed the Dunkin’ Doughnuts right outside our hotel. It was a nice change of pace. After breakfast we hung out in the room until lunch time. Hadley enjoyed playing with her brothers…unfortunately they didn’t enjoy it as much because she kept messing up their Lego fort.

After lunch visited several sites in Taipei. It has been raining here today, but not enough to keep us from enjoying the city.

First we went to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. This memorial is dedicated to the memory of Chiang Kai-shek, the former president of the Taiwan, who fought China for sovereignty. It was huge and absolutely beautiful as you can tell from the photos. We also got to witness the changing of the guards – very cool.

After that we went to a Buddhist and Taoist temple. There was some sort of religious ceremony going on and people were chanting and playing instruments. Outside the temple they had a huge furnace where people burned their offerings to Buddha.

Then we headed to the Martyr’s Shrine. A memorial built for those who died fighting mainland China and overthrowing the Ching Dynasty. We arrived just in time for the changing of the guard there as well.

Finally we headed to the National Palace Museum featuring many articles from China’s Forbidden City that were moved to Taiwan during the Civil War. Lots of really really old stuff. We only spent about an hour there. I am sure you could spend a whole day and not see it all.

After all the sightseeing, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and then we met up with 2 other adoptive families for dinner. It was nice to have some American company and we enjoyed our visit.
Tomorrow we have our immigration interview at the American Institute. If all goes well we will get Hadley’s visa on Tuesday and leave on Tuesday evening.
The latest Typhoon news is that is appears Typhoon Parma is going to sit over top of the Phillipines for the next 2-3 days. Taiwan ins't going to be hit while we are here. We will probably get some of the peripheral rains from the Typhoon, but nothing serious. It is good news for us, but unfortunately it is devestating to those in the Phillipines that were already hit so hard last week by Typhoon Kitsana.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

An Eventful Day

It seems each day Hadley does a little better. She spent a lot of time playing with her brothers today. She getting really attached to us, but is having seperation anxiety whenever we arn't right there with her.

Since we arrived in Taipei so late last night, we didn’t really get a feel for what the city was like. So after breakfast this morning, we decided to do a whirlwind tour of Taipei before the bad weather hits.

We went to Taipei 101 which is presently the tallest building in the world. We the took the elevator to the observatory deck. We did some shopping then headed back for naps mid day.

This evening we went to the snake night market. Which was really over rated. There was just one store with snakes. You picked your snake and they cooked it for you and you could drink it’s blood. NASTY! We did however pick up some nice souvenirs and get to see a parade for the Moon Festival.

TYPHOON UPDATE - The Typhoon seems to have weakened some when it passed over the Phillipines today. It is still headed for Taiwan, but may not be as severe as previously reported.

Friday, October 02, 2009

In Taipei - Preparing for Possible Typhoon

Hadley is getting better with each passing day. Today she has been great and very easy. She is actually letting us sit her down and she plays on the floor. She is crawling and cruising along furniture. She gets into everything. Nothing within her reach is safe!

We had a really long day today. We spent most of the morning packing up (which is more difficult than you think with a family of 5). We went to the agency at 3 today to pick up all the paperwork for our immigration appointment on Monday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready yet. So we waited. While we waited NiLi suggested that I go to get Hadley a keepsake souvenir – which is a wooden stamp with her Chinese name carved into it. I went with another worker at the agency and rode on the back of his moped. It was fun, but traffic busy (therefore a little scary). The paperwork didn’t arrive until almost 5. By the time we finished saying our good byes at the agency, it was nearly 6. We headed back to our hotel to collect our stuff and catch a ride to the train station. We just arrived in Taipei after a very long day. We are all really worn out.

BAD NEWS HOWEVER – Typhoons Melor and Parma are tracking toward Taiwan with landfall between Monday & Wednesday. They are classed as very severe. But just like hurricanes, they can die down over the course of a couple of days. The American Institute in Taiwan (US Embassy) has issued a warning to US travelers and requested that we register our presence in Taiwan in the event of an emergency. They have also suggested that we make provision for food, water and shelter. Please pray that neither Typhoon hits with any significant strength and that we make it out Tuesday night as planned.
Hadley wouldn't be a Davis baby if drama didn't surround her joining our family...

Our Agency's Staff

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Things Are Looking Up!

Today has gone so much better. The major crying fits have finally subsided and a much more pleasant baby is emerging. She has been playing today and smiling a lot. She is still a little fussy, but nothing like the last few days. She is finally eating and taking her bottles. And the big news today was that she finally POOPED!

This morning the skies were so bright and blue, so we decided to take a trip to the South China Sea beach. I had a tourist map that showed a photo of it and it looked great. So we hailed a taxi from our hotel and took the 30 minute trek to Cinjin Island. The cabby dropped us off and we took short walk to the beach front. Only to realize that it wasn’t a swimming beach, in fact the waves were so big, it was a little scary just being near the water. So we walked back to the park entrance and realized our taxi had left (which was no surprise). The problem was that there wasn’t another taxi in sight. We were so hot and Aiden was whining and wanting carried. We were the only people at the park. So we just started walking hoping to find a taxi. What we found was a marina and fish market. We browsed through the market which was a nice retreat from the hot sun…except for the fishy smell. The boys seemed to enjoy seeing all the fish (dead and dried), and Aiden’s attitude was improving. We hoped that someone at the market could tell us where to find a taxi…but no such luck. None of them spoke even a word of English. After walking for a while, we ended up finding a bus stop. I figured that a bus could get us to a subway stations and that there would be cabs there. I was enjoying the challenge, unfortunately Chaunta didn’t have the same perspective. Fortunately, we saw a taxi drive by and he saved the day.

We returned to the hotel and re-showered for lunch. It is so hot and humid here, you just walk outside and you are drenched with sweat within 2-3 minutes (not an exaggeration). So you need a couple of showers a day.

And after lunch the boys and I took naps. Chaunta and Hadley played. It was the first day with no screaming! This evening we went for a walk to find a place to buy formula and check out a small night market. Taiwan is famous for night markets…I can only assume that the reasons is that it is too hot during the daytime for people to shop. We bought a few small things and headed back to the hotel.

Hadley is now officially asleep for the night. One full day with no fireworks or temper tantrums. Overall, it was a great day. Hadley smiled a lot and laughed with us for the first time.

Tomorrow, we are supposed to pick up all of our immigration paperwork at 3:00pm from our agency. From there we head for the bullet train back to Taipei. We have the weekend free to sightsee. Monday is Hadley’s immigration/visa interview at the American Institute (mini-consulate).

Quotes of the Day:
Aiden told me, “Dad I kinda feel jealous when Hadley gets held all the time.”
Liam said, “When we get home and Hadley sleeps in her room, I will sleep on the floor so she don’t be scared.”
Chaunta said, “I can’t believe you let us take a cab out here and didn’t have a plan to get back to the hotel” after walking in the miserable heat for about 30 minutes carying kids while looking for a cab.
I replied, "Honey, I have everything under control. We will be fine."

Nikki - The Sling & Mei Tai Have Been Lifesavers
Such a Good Big Brother
Our 3 Beautiful Children
Hungry Anyone?
Daddy's Little Angel

Crazy Beach

So Sweet

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Little Better...

Today has been a little better . Hadley slept all night and finally drank a bottle this morning. We all woke up this morning at 4:30 again. We just can’t seem to get on the right schedule.

Hadley’s temperament is improving although still pretty fussy. She seems to do better when we are out an about than when in the hotel room. It is evident that she is spoiled rotten. She wants to be held all the time. Which is okay most of the time, except we have 2 other kids that want our attention too. Both the boys are really enjoying Hadley. Aiden is a great big brother and so helpful. Liam is warming up to her and starting to be affectionate. Hadley took a bath today with Liam and she seemed to enjoy playing in the water.

After breakfast we went to Lotus Lake and visited the Tiger and Dragon pagodas and a temple. We all really liked it, except it was so hot. Today was the first day that hasn’t been cloudy. The sun was beating down on all of us. It was over 90 degrees with 100% humidity. We lasted just over an hour and headed back to the hotel for naps. However, on the way all three kids fell asleep. When we arrived at the hotel we realized that having 3 kids was not going to be easy. How do 2 people carry 3 sleeping kids and all our bags. UGH! Fortunately the doorman helped carry Aiden in.

At 2:00pm we headed to our agency to meet the foster mother again and give her our gift. As soon as we got there, she latched on to Hadley. Hadley was immediately smiling. We told her that she wasn’t taking her bottle or eating much. Her foster had brought her some food and just shoveled it in. She wouldn’t take a bottle for her either though. She told us that she was very sad and that she didn’t sleep last night because she missed Hadley so bad. She held her and cared for her for about 45 minutes. We gave her our gift and then she left.
At about 3:00pm the birth mother arrived. She looks very young (even younger than 17). She is petite and very pretty. She brought gifts for Hadley. One was from her, one from Hadley’s father, and one from Hadley’s great uncle. It is very special to be able to have those for Hadley. She also brought a letter for us and two for Hadley (one from her and one from her birth father). The agency made copies of them and is translating them for us. We sat and talked for about 45 minutes. We had a list of questions for her that we thought might help Hadley know about her when she is older. She gladly answered all of them. At the end we asked her if she had any questions for us. She told us that she wanted us to raise Hadley as our own daughter and she wants her to learn to speak Chinese and learn about her culture when she is older.

We then let her hold Hadley and took several pictures of her as well as one of her with our whole family. After that we gave her our gifts. She first looked at the St. Louis photo book and asked about the arch. Next she looked at the photo album that we made for her with pictures of Hadley, our family, and our home. She burst into tears as she looked through each photo and asked about them. At that point tears welled up in all of our eyes (even the agency representatives). Finally she opened the necklace and we explained the meaning behind it and she sobbed even more and then hugged Chaunta. We let her hold Hadley one more time to say her final good byes. As she got up to leave, Aiden ran up and gave her a hug. She bent down and gave him a big hug back. She thanked us and then left to go to work.
It was the most amazing experience to meet her birth mother. We feel so blessed for the opportunity. We agreed to send regular updates and photos to the agency for her. The agency also copied the photos from our camera for her. When they did that, I noticed that they had some baby pictures of her that we hadn’t received so they gave those photos to us. It is great to have more photos of her as a tiny baby. Included in them were photos of her birth mother feeding her a bottle at about 1 month old.

After leaving the agency, we went straight to dinner (TGI Fridays). We were starved since we hadn’t had lunch. It was a nice break from McDonalds and Subway. She was great the entire time. However as soon as we got back to the hotel, the waterworks started again. We are having trouble getting her calmed down and settled in for the night. It looks like it will be a long night!

If the weather is nice tomorrow, we plan to go to the beach.