Surae!

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Surae is doing wonderfully!  She has been the most easy going baby you could imagine and we are so thankful for her.  All of these years of waiting have soooo been worth every second.  I cannot wait to bring her home.  Here are a few shots of her getting used to us and us enjoying her.

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Gotcha Day

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Can you believe it?  After over 2 years of paperwork and waiting, we finally have our baby girl, Surae Yaxue and boy was she worth every second of the wait.  She is absolutely amazing.  She has been an angel baby so far.  I keep thinking I need to knock on some wood.  The gotcha process was a whirlwind.  We landed in Nanchang and got whisked to the hotel.  We only stayed at the hotel for 10 minutes and then went straight to the Jiangxi Center for Adoptive Services Office in Nanchang where we walked into a room full of babies.  It was crazy and chaotic and my heart was racing!  Surae was placed with us and although she whimpered, she never really cried and hasn’t since.  She has been wonderful.  She has taken to Michael and I both so far and doesn’t seem to prefer one over the other.  She is very curious and loves her toys we brought.  She can examine a toy for hours.  She can already stand without any support too.  She seems really healthy and loves eating her cheerios and biscuits.  We’re already making her smile a little too.  We are in love!!
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Happy Birthday Surae and Beijing Recap

First of all, Happy Birthday to our baby girl. She is one today! Tomorrow is our Gotcha Day. We fly out of Beijing around 10:40 in the morning and are scheduled to pick up Surae at 3:30 in the afternoon. I can’t believe the big day is almost here. Our time in Beijing has flown by, but we have really packed in lots in a short period of time.
Our first day here went by rather quickly. We went into the Houhai area which surrounds some beautiful lakes. People ride around on bikes and rickshaws there and life has a much slower pace. There we stumbled into a much less touristy version of the Quanjude Duck Restuarant which is a famous Peking Duck Restaurant in China. We were some of the only non Asians in the place and they were having some kind of a talent show there. It was incredible. People were singing, dancing, doing acrobatic routines, martial arts, and tons of other traditional Chinese arts. It was fantastic and added to the great ambience of our meal. The duck was mouth watering and that crispy skin truly melts in your mouth.
The next day we tackled the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square. The Forbidden City was beautiful and we got kind of lost wandering around in the great palace.
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At night, we returned to Houhai again and went for a rickshaw ride with this great driver. He showed us a really cool temple where a ceremony was taking place and rode us all around some of the back areas where the Chinese people were playing heated games of cards.
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After that, we ate dinner in a traditional Hakka restaurant called Kejia Cai. This was one of the best meals we ate so far, if not ever! The Hakka people are a minority group from Central China. Their food is so wonderful and different!
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On Friday, we took a 3 hour bus ride out to a less touristry area of the Great Wall at JinShanLing. We began a hike there and ended up at Simatai. It was about a 7 mile hike that consisted of a lot of steep uphill climbing up really primitive sections of the wall that have not been restored. The views here are absolutely incredible and I’m sure because of the difficulty of this hike, there were not that many people out there. We were able to get so many pictures without a soul in them which I didn’t think would be possible. Being on the Great Wall was truly a dream come true. It is as beautiful as it looks in pictures. When we arrived back home, we headed out for some sushi at Hatsune. Oh my gosh! How delicious. I was thinking about my my good friend and sushi partner Jill and wishing she could try some of this sushi- It was so yummy!
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Today, we went to the Panjiayuan Market and for a girl that loves markets, this market was hands down the best I’ve ever been to! I could have spent all day there, but we had to move on. It was filled with all kinds of cool Asian goods- paint brushes, jade jewelry, clothing, original art. What fun! Then, we headed to the Temple of Heaven and the Park there. The Park was again pulsing with Asian energy. People were all over singing and dancing. The Chinese are not afraid to sing and dance and I love that! We went to the Silk Market next and that was fun too. The Chinese love to bargain and Michael is getting pretty good at his bargaining skills. They might start at 220 Yuan for a shirt and he’ll talk them down to 20! He loves it and they think he’s funny. I feel too guilty to bargain though like I’m cheating them out of their money, but they really don’t seem to mind and applaud his skills at the end most of the time. Tonight we are off for more roast duck and tomorrow we are headed for Nanchang to finally meet our baby girl! We can’t wait!!

Shanghai- The Old and The New

Shanghai is definetely a mixture of the old and the new. The future of Shanghai is no where more evident than strolling along the Bund looking at the Pudong section with its high rise towers. We took the Bund stroll during the day and then ventured into Pudong at night. In Pudong, we checked out Jade on 36 in the Pudong Shangri La and sampled very tasty tapas and an incredible 36th floor view. We also went to the 87th floor of the Jinmao Tower for some more tapas and and another amazing view.
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In sharp contrast is the Old Town section of Shanghai with the Yuyuan Gardens and the adjoining tea house with its
zigzag entrance to ward off evil spirits. The gardens have beautiful rock formations throughout and are truly a place of serenity within a fast paced city.

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Delicious Food

We have really been enjoying the food here in China, even more so than we ever thought we would. One of the highlights in Shanghai was the Crystal Jade Restaurant. We had dim sum there twice and it was outstanding. Their barbecue pork was amazingly tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Another place we ate at in Shanhai was called Shanghai Uncle. It was also superb. We had these green beans that were coated in some kind of ginger/soy/peanut sauce combination that was mouth watering. We also had prawns in chile sauce there which seems to be a Chinese specialty because we’ve seen it pop up on a lot of menus here. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
On another note, at the Ye Ole Station, we attempted to partake in the Chinese delicacy of hairy crab. A plate of hairy crab drenched in sauce was placed in front of us with nothing to eat it with, but our fingers and chopsticks. We went about trying to tear it apart with our fingers, but couldn’t figure it out at all. The servers mostly stood around and giggled at us. We couldn’t figure out how to get any meat out and just made a huge mess. Hairy crab remains a mystery.
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Shanghai Cricket Market

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In the Old Town, we discovered a bird and cricket market that was truly fascinating. Throngs of Chinese men studiously poured over little containers containing crickets, carefully prodding and testing their potential purchases for their fighting abilities. Vendors hawked microscopic baby crickets to be further raised at home, all the way up to massive 4 inch long fighters. Other vendors sold cricket accessories, and cricket homes ranging from altered matchboxes, to special hand made clay crocks, presumably to house a long standing prize cricket. Towards the back of the market, past the cricket accomodation shopping area, dozens of groups of men crowded around 6 inch round “arenas” where two crickets would be inserted, and the fight operator would brush each cricket’s head with a mysterious brown powder, using a small wisp of bamboo shoot. The men would gamble, argue and comment like a bunch of American guys gathered around a football game. The fight operator would then determine a winner (although we could never figure out how this was determined, we observed no cricket injuries.) and the men would gesticulate wildly, arguing good naturedly, and then move on quickly to the next battle. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Fuxing Park

PhotobucketFuxing Park is located in the French Concession area of Shanghai and it is fascinating. We walked through on a Sunday morning and were able to gather such a great slice of the Chinese life. Throughout the park, people were dancing, exercising, singing, playing cards, and walking around. There was a lot of dancing going on and that was my favorite part. There is a truly a lack of self consciousness to these people which I need to pick up on! The park was filled with evergy and it was difficult not to walk around with a smile on your face.
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Meilongzhen Restaurant

Last night, we had our first authentic Chinese meal and it was amazing. We went to one of the most famous restaurants in Shanghai, Meilongzhen. This place has been around since 1938 and after eating there I could see why! Michael and I shared everything and we had the sweet and sour sour soup, prawns with chile sauce, and fish with chile sauce. It was all delicious. The soup especially was divine. It was not at all like the sweet and sour soup at home which I normally am not crazy for, but so much more subtle and with a perfect hint of sweetness, not overpowering. If you ever come to Shanghai, try this place!

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We’ve Landed!

It’s only 5 am in the states, but it is 5:00 pm here and we are ready to roll!! We had a great flight. Michael came up with this brilliant plan that I thought was rather insane at the time of staying up all night Thursday night. The thought was to go ahead and adjust to China time early, so that when we arrived here our bodies would be somewhat adjusted. We went for it and it was rough, but there was really a lot to keep us busy all night. I had cleaning to do and last minute packing. At around 2:30 am, we actually watching survivor China and the Office to get us through the last little bit. Then, we headed to the airport and Michael’s brother brought the car back. We had a straight shot to Chicago, a slight delay getting out from there to Shanghai, and then it was smooth sailing. Michael and I were so exhausted that we both slept for the majority of the trip and only woke up for the delicious airplane meal service.
We then landed in Shanghai and jumped into a taxi. The driving here is insane and scary and I am really glad that Graham is safe at home. They just swerve in and out of lanes and I can tell you that we won’t be renting a car! We are heading out for dinner now and feeling pretty good so far. So, Michael’s plan might just have worked! I’ll check in soon and hopefully have some pictures by then.

We’ve Landed!

It’s only 5 am in the states, but it is 5:00 pm here and we are ready to roll!! We had a great flight. Michael came up with this brilliant plan that I thought was rather insane at the time of staying up all night Thursday night. The thought was to go ahead and adjust to China time early, so that when we arrived here our bodies would be somewhat adjusted. We went for it and it was rough, but there was really a lot to keep us busy all night. I had cleaning to do and last minute packing. At around 2:30 am, we actually watching survivor China and the Office to get us through the last little bit. Then, we headed to the airport and Michael’s brother brought the car back. We had a straight shot to Chicago, a slight delay getting out from there to Shanghai, and then it was smooth sailing. Michael and I were so exhausted that we both slept for the majority of the trip and only woke up for the delicious airplane meal service.
We then landed in Shanghai and jumped into a taxi. The driving here is insane and scary and I am really glad that Graham is safe at home. They just swerve in and out of lanes and I can tell you that we won’t be renting a car! We are heading out for dinner now and feeling pretty good so far. So, Michael’s plan might just have worked! I’ll check in soon and hopefully have some pictures by then.

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