3:27 PM




We are trucking on with mostly good days and a spattering of bad days, we only had to call daddy home from work once. It is hard to know what is causing the bad days, they are both a result and the cause of bad sleep. An over tired baby is a sure recipe for a grieving baby. Although many things about her meltdowns are the same, one big thing is diffrent most of the time she will cling to me when she is sad where as in the begining she was fighting me off. I guess it is like an adult where you move from denial to anger then sadness, I think we are leaving the anger stage with her more and more it seems to be just a deep sorrow. There are still moments where she would rather not be snuggled, but they are becoming less and less. I think we can say that she is offically reached anxious attachment to me as well at this point.

I thought now would be a good time for a little disclaimer. This blog is written with the adoptive parent as the main audience. I guess I don't take the time to explain what these terms are that I use when we describe our families progress, mainly because I assume you all read the same books I did and you know where we are at. In case this is your first fore into the world of international adoption let me just say that in the over all picture when you step out the the moment every single thing we are experiencing is completely normal. I guess along the way I forgot to let the readers know that, and also to let them know that we were prepared for this and we also immediately recognized Elora's journey to us for what it is, grieving, normal 18 month old grieving. When I say we were prepared also we did our very best but one can never really be prepared to see your child in so much pain and the complete feelings of helplessness that come with this type of pain. I will also say that although things we have been through the past few weeks have been hard, they are by no means the hardest thing I have ever done, it does rank in the top ten, but waiting for her was a thousand times harder. If some poor misinformed person told you that adoption was the easy way to have a baby then they were very, very wrong, but I would say that that caring, birthing and rearing a newborn is a similar level of hard although completely different. The frankness you read here is not for sympathy for us or her but simply to pay it forward and tell it how it is for those who are travelling along behind me. I would not have been ready for this with out those in front of me. We love our girl to the moon and back and she is an amazing, brave, joyful girl who we are in love with. Its just that I only get about one half hour a week for this blog and I thought I would focus on the educational stuff for the moms in waiting and not the prose and praise for my adorable family. There are a million other blogs about cute families, and although we are a very cute family, that's just not what this blog is about.

4:01 PM

Update




We have had a series of good days. She has an anxious attachment to Jeremy now and that is an overall good thing except that he goes back to work tomorrow. We have been trying to prep for this as much as possible with me doing several hours with her in the carrier each day, all the feedings and less of the things she hates, but I am still nervous for tomorrow. Speaking of things she hates, washing is a big one. We are attemping our weekly bath again tonight and we have tried every thing, nothing is truly working but over all her freakouts are getting shorter. This girl hates any thing that is remotely moist, even a wet wipe on her hand will cause melt downs. Dry kleenex is working well now, and about 50% of the time we can wipe her fountain of snot that is her nose with out a melt down. She gets mad when she sees a bathroom, hears running water, sees water, has clothing removed (but is perfectly happy once naked as long as she remains dry and away from bathrooms). The orphanage told us she was happy to have a bath each day, and that it must just be our large bathtub upsetting her.... hrrrmmm.

During these series of good days we have managed a few outings, that has been really nice since we are an overall active family and the hermit style was wearing on me. The secret to successful outings seems to be to strap a snack trap full of cherrios to her. Her appetite seems to have increased recently, I think she is a stress snacker like her mom :)

Mommy and daughter are having some increased sweet bonding moments especially at bed time, I have discovered that she loves me to sing her to sleep. I love finally having her in my arms while I sing these lullabies to her, I have been sending these songs across the ocean for so long, it's hard to believe that she is finally home. On the flip side she fits in here so naturally, from that very first moment I laid eyes on her, playing on a large mahogany boardroom table in China, she was just simply MINE, ours. It is a daily joy to see her come to believe we are hers too. It is like watching a flower bloom, when I really take the time to look it leaves me full of awe at the simple things we see in her every day.

Things between the siblings are growing stronger as I see them actually play a few times each day and Emery is actually reaching out and inviting her to join him. He also has developed his own ways of finding space to him self and with us when needed, I am amazed at his adaptability and his ability to meet his own needs and become the leader and big brother. In some ways though he seems so much older because of it, there seems very little baby left in my first born.

So this is where we stand in this moment, the next week will be another adjustment for us all again as we cope with out the best daddy in the world. Only two adult hands and two active toddlers.... daunting to say the least.

4:56 PM

Thank you !!!

Thanks Mamas!!! You and your advice is exactly what I needed. That link about holding is really ringing true with me. I was hesitant to be honest about all the hard parts but I am so glad I was because I have been rewarded with your amazing wisdom, THANK YOU!!! and keep it coming.

7:51 PM

Over all positive

The past two days have been very good, we were in a routine, a groove. The head banging is continuing but the violence of them was lessening. The main issue we continue to have is that she does not cry or in any way ask for comfort, or food or any thing. Any time she has a need she just quietly starts head banging. Then if we don't catch her and fill the need the banging gets harder and harder, sometimes injuring herself. We were learning to anticipate her needs much better and some of the banging was going away. We have one main challange though, she needs plenty of dark to sleep, but she also can not be left alone because she will head bang in her sleep and also upon waking. At night time this has not been much of an issue since the whole house is dark so she just falls asleep where ever and then we move her to our room. In the day it is much harder to get a safe spot for her to sleep that is dark enough. Today we tried her room since it is the darkest in the house, all seemed to be going so well, until it didn't. She must have woken up lonely and we had a BIG set back. That lead to no real nap and that lead to an hour and a half long melt down today after a poor dinner.
It is two steps forward and one step back right now, but the good news is that we are heading in the overall positive direction.
A few things are frustrating me though, firstly the lack of support from our family doctor. We saw him today hoping to get a lead to some professional help regarding the banging. We got nothing from him, nothing, not even sympathy, just a blank stare and excuses. I have since taken some time away from this crazy day to seek out my own resources online and help is now on the way, but I just expected that we would get more from him.
Attachment is clearly a two way street and although I do love Elora very much she has made me a bit gun shy of her. I am having a hard time sometimes when she is upset, I literally flinch some times because I have been hit by her so many times. Every jerk she makes has my body on high alert, it makes it very hard for me to give her the calm energy she needs in those moments. I find my self wishing she was smaller so that her poundings would not hurt so much. Don't get me wrong, I really understand the how and why of what is happening my mind is calm and loving but my body is still jumpy around her. It is facinating in a way because her melt downs are due to a lack of trust in me and now I need to build my trust in her too, we are both learning through this experience to trust and love each other.
Elora's relationship with Emery is going very well so far. He has been very possessive about his toys, but she has little to no interest in toys so there has been very little conflict on that front. The biggest issue is that she hits him, mainly to gain his attention, she copies him and loves him, but he is aloof. She has not hit him hard enough to make him cry, and he tells her "NO HITTING!" he loves to enforce all the rules and keep her in line. Still though there needs to be some progress in this department. When he does choose to grace her with his attention they play well together, especially peek a boo.
It has only been two weeks since we met this precious girl, but already it seems we have travelled so far with her. We are looking forward to each passing day, as she unfolds her trust and personality.

12:57 PM

Packing list and tips

Here is our packing list, and what we did and did not use in the end.

Over the counter medicines, glad I had all of these, there was nothing more we needed although some were not used:

Scabies Medicine -did not use

Pink eye medicine - did not use

Night time Kids Benadryl

Kids Gravol

Kids Tylonol and Advil -almost ran short on advil, should have brought 2 to be safer

Orogel

Pepto pills

Immodium x2 - did not use

Adult gravol x 3

Niquil x 2

Sylvia’s allergy medicine

Daytime cold meds x2

Adult advil

Sleeping pills

Cough drops x2

Vicks for kids


Elora

12 outfits
10 pj's
hat/hair bows - did not use :(
12 pairs socks
swim suit with 5 swim diapers - she hates the water, but the pool looked amazing, did not use
2 Bibs -forgot them, but made due with out just fine

3 pairs of shoes

Travel place mat - forgot this too, but again no need
1 pack diapers diapers/3 packs of travel wipes - we downsized to 2 packs of wipes and 20 diapers, we needed more wipes but got them no problem in china. I also bought diapers there but even the largest sized pampers were too small for her and her blowouts, I wish I had more size 6 ones that I brought from home.
beach ball - forgot this one too
stacking cups - amused her for about 10 mins, could have done without
travel fork/spoon set - very useful
snack cup container - big hit!
2 bottles - playtex drop ins, rock for travel

5 nipples - I brought two flow levels, she would only take the fast ones

Diaper bag back pack
travel sun screen - we were hermits and it was raining nonstop so we didn't use it
travel shampoo/lotion/powder - you only need baby ones, the hotels are extremely well stocked with toiletries
baby snack puff - these were a very big hit, only had 2 cans and had to ration them for emergencies only

Baby food x 3 - Very handy to have, I got the toddler microwave meals since they are flat and not breakable. Some times we had to choose to go out for lunch and miss a nap or eat in the room, we often chose to stay in and these were great for those days. PS there is no microwave in the room but I just plugged the sink with almost boiling water and they warmed enough after about 5 mins for our girl who hates cold food.

Baby rice - only brought one, it was easy to get more but she preferred our home brand so I wish I had packed more

Blankie - It was needed since only one of our 3 hotels provided bedding for baby, but I wish I'd had the sleep sack instead. Now that we are home we are using that and she much prefers it, I think it is better at mimicking the snowsuits she slept in at the orphanage with their padding and restrictiveness. She is like an infant that way when she is in just a sleeper her hands and legs flail and jerk waking her up.

Mai Tie - must have for us, we used it as a makeshift highchair too since there were very few available and even if there was one it had no straps

baby Snow suit - used it only in Beijing but we were still glad to have it

Sunglasses

Other items

Ziplock Bags - used for every thing under the sun

Doggie pop bags - for tieing up dirty diapers to mask the smell

Travel sized Dish washing liquid - forgot and just used shampoo

Hand sanitizer - had one in every pocket and bag

TP and Kleenex - ran out but it was easy to buy more

CLIF bars - again great for the times we had to eat in the room

Crackers

Umbrella - forgot it, but got a cheep and good one in Hangzhou

Travel pillows - one popped on the first plane trip but we got another one for about a dollar at the mall in Beijing

Travel ponchos

First aid kit

Iphone + charger - used for audio books so many times when insomnia and jet lag hit

Playbook + charger

Laptop stocked with movies and tv shows. Great help, we would get baby to sleep and then plug in our headphones and watch a movie. We got dual head phone jack that worked well for us.

Camera + charged batteries and cable - wish I had a better camera, I feel like our photos of Elora are very limited because of her light sensitivity and our camera. I worry that some day I will really regret not having more good photos of us all together

Tuna

Juice packets

Beef jerky

Ensure meal replacements for kids - we ended up drinking them

Pedialite powder to add to water

One can of formula - We ran out with 3 days to go and wish that we had brought more, it was expensive to buy (around $55 US for a large can) and none of the babies in our group came with any formula. Be sure to take some with you to the first meeting

We brought enough socks and undies for every day for the adults and enough shirts and pants to get us to Beijing and then we used an outside laundry guy to wash 4 sets of items each for us. It was not super cheep ( I think it was 170 yuan), but kept us under the airline weight limit. That was hard to do with all the winter clothing we had to bring, you may not need to in summer, or maybe you do since you would sweat more.

Wish we had a travel alarm clock, none of our hotels had any clock what so ever. I also wish we had bought a VPN we had so many internet troubles and we were feeling very isolated at times because we could not communicate with the folks at home and our support network.

So all and all, there were somethings we wish we had more of, some things we had to (easily) buy in China but for the most part this list worked well for us.

5:15 AM

Home sweet home

We had an incredibly easy flight. A very sweet flight attendant moved the 3rd person from our row so we had the whole bank of seats to our selves. The flight was timed with bed time but we gave her some gravol as well, and with all those factors she slept most of the trip. Tip: we made a little nest for her at our feet which worked very well since she kept rolling off the seat and that made us too nervous to sleep ourselves.
THANK you !!! every one who helped support us during the trip, your comments and emails kept us from feeling too isolated. Thank you to the incredibly warm welcome home, the care packages, the welcome banners and the impeccably clean and well stocked house. Your support is amazing and so valued by all of us.
After arriving home last night the kids had a short time to play with each other, and the initial meeting went very very well. Emery is showing incredible maturity in his first day as a big brother. Every one went to sleep at 10 and Yoyo woke up at 5 am for a bottle. Again an amazing first night considering she slept so much on the plane. Things could not be better. I woke at one point in the night and could hear one husband, two babies and one dog snoring and I was the happiest girl in the world at that moment.
As I type Elora is checking out her new environment and happily munching on some cherioos. Life has never been sweeter.

10:23 AM

Love, Chaos, and Dinner


I found a teeshirt at the store today that spells out love, chaos and dinner in gem stones. I thought it was the perfect summary of this trip. It is the end now, just one enourmously long plane trip and we are home. We had a good day today, sickness is fading and we got to get out to the goodbye china party with the other families. It was great. See you all on the other side, HOME!

Yoyo enjoying her symbolic birthday cake, she loved it.




Feverish baby who is finally sleeping, the most beautiful sight to these parents.

6:58 PM

Updates From Beijing

Monday: Elora is very sick today, she vomited this morning, has had a bad fever all day and little appetite. She is not a happy camper. The baby cold meds are not bringing her fever down and since she hates the water Jeremy had the ingenious idea to cool her off by stroking her with the beer cans from the mini bar. No joke, it worked very well. I am officially home sick.

We left the room a few times today to scavenge for food, and managed to join the group for a quick walk around the zoo. It was a nice day today weather wise, and we were all happy to be out of the room. Friends in the group have lent us a stroller that Elora quite enjoys. The city was not built for strollers but we manage between the two of us. The zoo was definitely different then back home, people were feeding the monkeys and zebras by hand, climbing the cages to reach into the enclosures to hand them things like French fries and licorice. The cages are all like small boxes and the Toronto elephants should count themselves lucky compared to the living conditions at this zoo. Despite all of that it was still a trip I would recommend since it is a nice park like setting very walkable and plenty to see.

We were sorry to miss out on the acrobat show that the group went to tonight this was the highlight of our other trip. It was a wise choice though as Elora is much sicker this evening and sorely needed some sleep. Tommorow is the consulate and a shopping trip, it will be a long day and we are hoping that her health will improve by tomorrow. I really wanted to get some pearls for elora as a future graduation gift from her birth country and some outfits for the kids. Priorities are quickly shifting and now I just want to get through this night and the next three safely.

To end on a happy note, I forgot to mention earlier that before she got sick Elora took her first steps all by herself on saturday. She just stood in the middle of the room and walked about 6 steps. She was making more attempts that day as well, but then got sick and has not been in the mood recently.

It is Tuesday now and Elora has not slept in 24 hours. Despite drugging, walking, soothing, rocking, swaddling she will not sleep, not in our bed or the crib or the floor or the couch or the stroller of the carrier she will not sleep. She has had a raging fever and very little appetite; I have no idea what she is running on. She is up again, make that 25 hours with no sleep.

Its Wednesday morning now and she slept most of the night hoping we have a better day today.

2:17 PM

Settled in Beijing

We are settled in Beijing but we all have a cold so we have been laying low in the hotel and skipping the group outings. We have met the rest of the group for meals here and there and it is really great to share experiences. Elora is doing better in many ways, she is showing great signes of attachment to us, she will not engage with any one else even when they try to bribe her with food or toys. She is generally grumpy because of the cold but we are still seeing a decrease in the head banging and we are able to calm her with more ease. We feel a bit like hermits and we are hoping to all feel better so we can join the group at the zoo trip tomorrow. video

8:01 AM

Pictures of Elora!





11:05 AM

Next Stop Beijing


Yesterday we spent the whole day in the hotel with only a short excursion to take the scenic boat and quick stops for food. Elora did very well, with the exception of the boat. Clearly being out and about is just not the best thing for her at this time, unfortunately staying indoors all day is a luxury we just don’t have right now since we have travel and appointments constantly. It is good to see how well she can do in the right environment though. The hardest things about the tantrums is that when we are out we have so little options for coping, we cannot stop, we cannot change rooms, we cannot put her in a safe place to work it out. I think although the carrier may be prolonging her tantrums it seems to be the best option we have at this time.
She is really turning into a daddy’s girl and it is so fun for me to watch as their relationship grows each hour. She reaches to him for comfort now instead of just accepting it. They are just smitten with each other. They both have a cold right now and are napping together before I have to wake all the sickies up and get us on the plane to Beijing.
There have been many requests for more photos, and I totally understand why since she is so cute and I know you all want to get to know her better. She is incredibly difficult to photograph, I have to turn the flash off or all you get is closed squinty eyes or a turned away head. Without the flash the photos are often blurry since she is always on the go. I am experimenting with different camera settings and lighting and I think I am getting better, but we still have about only one useable photo out of 20. The best way to get to know her is through the video we take, her eyes are open and bright and you can really see her expressions and personality. I am wishing that someone in our travel group will have a way around the firewall so we can sent some video (they are too large to email even the shortest clips).

7:52 AM

Better Day







Yesterday was a better day. Yoyo was fussy all day and had quite a few meltdowns but it was more of a normal upset baby type and not the raging from the day before. She accepted soothing from both of us and we were able to keep each meltdown to under a half hour. The visit with the orphanage went very well. She happily visited her nanny and roommates as long as I was holding on to her. She has a very close relationship with her nanny because there are only two nannies per room of 10 babies; they take shifts though so it is only ever one care giver at a time. It is very good for us and for her that she did not have a revolving door of caregivers. The kids were all very excited to see us, they were mostly all boys. The orphanage director gave us some medicine for Elora’s tummy problems, but I cannot get her to swallow it yet. As we were leaving Yoyo waved goodbye to her nanny and blew her a kiss as she laughed and smiled in my arms. I think they did a wonderful job preparing her for this transition, she really seems to understand what is going on from the first time we met her.
The train ride was bad but not as bad as the first time, we had a little cabin we shared with two other people and Elora slept restlessly for a few hours lying on top of me as long as I remained completely motionless. We were all very happy to be back in Hongzhou to our little hotel room and town we have come to know and very much like. It is an easy town to like, with lots to do at the west lake and lots of stores and food to choose from. The traffic here is like a game of frogger where I swear there must be bonus points to cars who can hit the petrified lo fan. Other than the traffic and the paparazzi it is a very friendly and walkable city.
A few things about Yoyo:
Likes: very hot milk, almost any food, the baby carrier, practicing her walking, gerber puffs!
Favorite toys: empty water bottle, baby wipes package, empty cracker wrappers, snack trap (preferably with puffs, but still fun empty)
Dislikes: cold foods, no success with any fruits yet
Although I think the measurement of 26 pounds is pretty accurate, she is not overly chubby. Her cheeks and thighs are very plump but the rest of her is pretty average. She is fitting snugly into the 18 month clothing we brought. Her feet are tiny though only in the 6 month old slippers we brought, the orphanage gave us some darling hello kitty walking shoes though so we have not needed to buy anything for her yet.
She stands very well on her own and she loves to practice and get praise for this trick. In the short time already she has gained a lot of strength and can do laps walking holding our hands now and when she came her legs would give out after only a dozen steps. She is very determined and keeps trying even when her body is obviously tired.
She has an easy smile and laugh and when she is in her normal mood she goes to sleep between us in bed in a short amount of time and sleeps long and through the night. She is sleeping much more then the orphanage reported, but time will tell if this is a pattern or a consequence of the situation.
She has all of her teeth now with the exception of one last eye tooth that is bugging her. She is a very chatty baby and is already correctly saying mama and dada for each of us. Despite my fears that she would be a bottomless pit when it came to food she communicates when she is done and is not eating what seems to be a very large amount, although she is a great eater and will accept almost anything we give her. We have already switched from baby food to just letting her graze off our plates.
We had a relaxing day today at the hotel with no appointments; we are just waiting around for her passport to be processed before we can fly to Beijing on Friday. The last few days felt like an emotional and physical marathon. We are looking forward to meeting up with our group and are also counting down the days till we can come home. We miss Emery and cannot wait to introduce you to this little princess.

8:14 PM

The Honeymoon is Over





In adoption there is a typical honeymoon where the child will woo you in hopes that you will be convinced (in her mind) to keep her. Once she is convinced hat you are ready to go the distance with her the walls come down and the grieving begins. After an ideal fairy tale first day we entered day 2 and left the honeymoon.

She is grieving and reacting to sensory overload as well as teething and some intestinal problems. The result is that we hit some unexpected triggers with her. The triggers we found so far are water/washing and the train. When we trigger her she changes from her happy easy going self to a 26 pound lashing tiger cub. They will last about 2 hours and are immensely intense in her strength and endurance. Outside of the trigger zone we are seeing so many positive things; she is smart, funny, able to communicate with us, affectionate and will take redirection easily. When the rage hits she is uncontrollable. Unfortunately although during play time she accepts us both equally during rage time only mama will do. It seems crazy but although she is fighting with all her might physically it seems the only way to stop them is to hold on to the tornado she becomes and ride it out with her.

She is definitely using head banging as a coping tool. We see it in extreme violent form during the rages but also in a smaller way several times in the day for smaller stresses like a bottle not prepared fast enough or a honking horn or to put herself to sleep. During the rage her head banging will begin at her waist and launch a full half circle of wound up force into anything in its path, mostly my head or chest but also things like a window with no indication of pain. In the rages I tie her tightly to me in the carrier because my arms often fail to catch her without the fabric of the carrier acting as a sort of straight jacket. I use sensory deprivations as much as possible forcibly burying her eyes and ears into my chest and shushing and kissing the other exposed ear. In the case of the train our guide (LOVE HER, NEED HER) got us use of a small closet so we could turn off the lights and muffle the sounds. (see below For a funny story about the room.)

I know they covered head banging in class but I can’t remember what the right thing to do is. We are just going with the gut and winging it. Any moms who have head bangers your advice is most welcome at this point.

This is taking a toll on my physically, a black eye, swollen lip and bruises galore not to mention my arms and back feel like jelly. I know I am not the first mother to walk through China with these battle scars and I won’t be the last. The strength of these mothers I don’t even know surrounds me and supports me, gives me strength. The other thing giving me strength are the improvements we see in Yoyo after each rage. Her attachment and trust grows in us in leaps and bounds, so I know this is just what she needs to do and somehow it is working. No one said this would be easy, but it is helps to recognize that this is good work, with the most beautiful smile from the most precious girl as my reward.

Today will be hard, we are visiting the orphanage, a virtual landmine of triggers I am sure and then joy of joys another train ride.

I will leave you with some photos of sweet girl in her happy times although they are a false representation of the past 24 hours, the last thing on my mind during a rage would be to whip out the camera. Although that is exactly what every Hangzhouian we meet does. We are photographed constantly sometimes discreetly and often time not so much. We are a real side show.

· FFunny story about the room: After a long time on the train of raging, we were jeered and shot the evil eye by every passanger with in a 3 car radious, finally we got taken to the room since they were unable to turn off the light at our seat. I thought the sign on the door read “malfunction room” and the appropriateness of such a room caught me in the moment as unbearably funny. I think I looked like a lunatic laughing as I wrestled a screaming child into the room. Later I found out the room was really called “multifunctional room”. Fits of laughter, crazy person laughter from me again.




I





T

6:35 AM

Meeting Yoyo: NOW WITH NEW PICTURES!!!!



We went to the child welfare office building today at 9am and we were introduced to a sweaty, tired, teething baby. She was pretty unhappy with us and seemed to understand what was about to happen. Her nanny had a close bond with her and when she left our arms as we signed papers we saw a glimpse of her true personality. Smart, happy, laughing. The photos from the registers office where she is happy, that is only the case because she is nanny’s arms when the photo is being taken.

We learned some more about her schedule, almost identical to Emery’s (how lucky am I?).

Her nick name is Yoyo a short form of Qingyou (pronounced more like sing yo). We got about 5 baby photos of her that are incredibly precious.Best of all we got permission to visit the orphanage on Wednesday. Tomorrow we have more paperwork to do and then we will head to her home town of Wenzhou by bullet train.

Yoyo waved good bye to her nanny and had a bit more crying to do, but she let me put her in the carrier and we did some quick errands to the grocery store. Yoyo and I stayed in the hotel room while daddy went to the bank with our guide. I gave her some advil for the painful eye teeth that are about to burst through and we played a bit. She gave us some smiles and showed off her standing and cruising abilities. It is just after noon now and she ate a good meal of baby rice and gerber puffs and is sleeping in our bed. After her bottle she fell asleep easily.

We are thrilled at how well it has gone so far, she is just amazing. We love her so much already and you all will too, her smile lights up the room. She is just so easy to love.

8:08 AM

Pictures of West Lake, Hangzhou





8:05 AM

Hangzhou day 1

The train ride was ridiculously easy. There were line ups and order and happy police men to help. There were no scary vagrants and even an escalator and our seats were #1 first class they were like xtra large lazy boys. We arrived in Hangzhou and met our guide Vivian. Our hotel here is nice, downtown and walking distance to the west lake, Elora’s bed is in our room and I have her bag packed for our first meeting. We are on our own for now, but will meet up with Vivian at 9 am on Monday when she will take us to meet Elora!!! We have been managing fine so far without a guide we use photos to order our food and have been successful although sometimes surprised with the results. Apparently it has been raining here for 3 straight months, we are going to do west lake today but most likely it will be raining again, if not we plan to rent bikes for the day so we can see more. The internet is also spotty here and we are having issues getting around the firewall. I am receiving all your wonderful comments but we are unable to allow them to be published since I cannot get into blogger to authorize them. My friend Amy is kindly posting these words for me that I email to her, but we may have reached our communications limit as far as the firewall goes. I am so sorry that we cannot write back to you all but we are getting your words, thank you. When we have a moment of internet, like now at 4 am, we quickly post this one daily announcement and that is about all that can get done. We are having some insomnia tonight, whether it is from jet lag or excitement. Hoping a sleeping pill will give us a good night’s sleep tonight after a busy day because we only have ONE MORE SLEEP TILL ELORA!