48 hours from now, we’ll be in the homestretch of our flight to Beijing. Wow, we’re almost there! Suitcases are out, lists have been made, and clothing is being packed.
Today, I embarked on a cleaning tornado to whip the house into some sense of order before we leave. I won’t tell you how many vacuum canisters of cat hair I dumped, but I think that I might have enough for something here. Just kidding! Although I still have a bit to wrap up tomorrow, I promised myself a little quiet time before the craziness begins.
In packing-land, I’ve managed to organize our suitcases using really large ziplock bags. Since our entire time in Beijing will be pre-Alexander, I wanted a way to differentiate between our stuff and his gear without totally wrecking each suitcase. We’ve accepted the fact that we’ll have laundry done at some point (which I’ve never done before when traveling), but I also packed some travel packets of handwash detergent for small things. We made our umpteenth trip to Target in the last 5 days. I think the cashiers are starting to recognize us…
I met with our neighbors today who will assume “Cat Command” while we’re gone, and Brian dropped off car keys with our good friends for our eventual pickup on July 4th.
The long, long list of things to accomplish is getting shorter. The end is in sight!
The countdown has begun. In less than 30 days, we’re going to become parents to a 15 month little boy in a foreign country. Are we excited? Absolutely. Are we a little terrified? As if you have to ask!
We recently received an update on our little Alexander which has given us a lot of comfort. He’s gained a fair amount of weight and is now the height and weight appropriate for a 6 month old– a tremendous gain for our little guy. Armed with this update, we hit the stores to make sure we’ll be able to clothe our new son once we gain custody on the 24th. Brian spearheaded the efforts this weekend, and the photo above is indicative that no one will mistake Alexander for being anyone’s son except for my loving husband!
In the paperchase news, we drove our passports and visa applications to a courier this afternoon after much drama. Three trips to Office Max, two different UPS stores, and one FedEx later, our passports will soon be in the hands of the Chinese Consulate in order to be issued visas.
Though the time will clearly be flying by, we are blessed to spend the next two weekends gaining new Godchildren. Brian will be the Godfather for our dear friends’ daughter Allison Claire tomorrow afternoon, and we’re both blessed to be able to travel to Kentucky to be Godparents for our cousins Bart and Catherine’s newest daughter Aoife Frances next weekend. I know life tends to be a series of ebb and flow… I’m grateful to be in a period of such joy in new life!
Late last week, I had a text from Brian that read “Baby shower today!” When he came into work that day, he was greeted with the following:
Apparently, they also glitter-bombed his desk, too. We’re still finding glitter in our house!
There was cake (really, really good cake!), snacks, and a lot of gifts and well-wishes from Brian’s generous co-workers. Brian also got to share in the fun experience of the amazing clothespin gift bag.
Here’s Brian beginning to open his surprise bag from shower-gifting ninja Sheryll (at right).
And to wrap up the event, Brian’s programming team took a “family photo” holding the baby clothes line gift. Everyone is quite excited about the arrival of our son.
The Computershare Programming Family– let’s hope Alexander is a Perl man, too!
In other exciting news, our flights are booked for China! Our agency is wrapping up our itinerary and hotel reservations, but things are continuing to roll along.
Things are getting real.
We are now at the point in our paperchase where we don’t really have to do any more “work.” After checking in with my newest friend, the National Visa Center, we got word that Alexander’s application and our petition has been logged in and will be cabled to Guangzhou within the next two business days. (For those who need a map– our little man’s application was mailed to Texas, where it was forwarded to Missouri to the National Benefits Center, then forwarded on to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire (?), and will finally land at the American Embassy in China.) We’re incredibly grateful that with only one minor hiccup, our paperwork is still all together and headed onward. From this point, our agency and the American and Chinese Consulates take over– the end product being a formal letter to us inviting us to travel to China within a specific 90 day window (called a TA- or travel approval). So now, we just have to sit back, relax… and pace our home in anxious anticipation of our big adventure.
Back at Casa Kelly, Alexander’s room is beginning to fill with baby gear and clothing, almost all of which is the result of our generous family and friends. Brian’s sisters, neither of whom live in Chicagoland, hosted a baby shower in honor of Alexander last weekend at the home of one of Brian’s cousins. Family and friends drove and flew in for the occasion, and we were truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for the little man waiting for us in Shanxi Province. We can’t wait to share with him the stories behind all of the thoughtful and handmade gifts he’ll be surrounded by once he comes home.
I thought about posting a photo of my first attempt to wear our new soft baby carrier (compliments of my good friend Teresa), but it was just too embarrassing. I tried strapping in a stuffed polar bear unsuccessfully. I think Brian and I have several hours of reading instructions ahead of us before we attempt with a human!
No, that is NOT Alexander’s current weight! Our little guy, like many internationally adopted children, is very small for his age. Although he turns one early next month, his measurements and weight are much more in line with a child less than half his age. Though that caused some initial panic from us, our medical team ensured us that he’ll sprout up and fatten out as soon as we get him home and on a more advanced diet. Additionally, because of his medical condition, eating is a much more laborious task.
So back to the 44 lbs! As Brian mentioned in a previous post, we attended our first travel meeting this past week. We focused primarily on the itinerary and logistics of our upcoming trip. We were handed a huge suggested packing list with one caveat– for our several week trip, we can each have only 44 lbs of luggage (based on the luggage restrictions for in-China flights). Yes, 44 lbs is a lot of weight, but that has to include a fair amount of baby gear, enough clothing for at least a few days, and several small gifts for ceremonial gift exchanges with various officials. We also hope to do a fair amount of shopping during our journey to gather some things from Alexander’s home town and province.
Does anyone have any suggestions for packing light and packing smart for international travel? Especially you parents out there– do you have any creative ideas on essentials to include and what to just leave at home? One thing we’ve definitely decided is to bring a soft baby carrier to help with attachment rather than to haul a stroller.
It only took one trip to a baby superstore to realize that we have absolutely no idea what we actually need for our nursery. Luckily, we were able to escape the store before the sales associates started circling us like the weak prey that we are. Thanks to some great suggestions, I’ve now made my way through both The Baby Gizmo Guide and Baby Bargains, but I’m still a little unsure of what is essential vs what is “nice to have.” How do you find a price point for items that is somewhere between this razzmatazz and something that should have been recalled last month?
So I call upon you, experienced parents, for your sage wisdom. What are the absolute essentials we need to be hunting down? Do we need a glider? How about a humidifier? Baby’s first espresso maker? We know we need a crib, but do we need the super Optimus Prime edition? (“It’s a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl!”– two points for the knowing that movie quote). Please keep in mind that we’re looking at a child who’s probably at least a year old– I know that already knocks down our punch list of items quite a bit.