Saturday, December 13, 2008

A post, at last!

Yes, we kind of fell off the planet for a while. It all started with our "wonderful" adventure at the Hanoi airport and continued from there. Actually the flights weren't bad but on the ground I didn't feel like we were flying the friendly skies at all. Annie managed to sleep on the plane (thankfully Rie and I had an extra seat between us), Rie and I on the other hand, watched too much TV. We kept waiting for sleep to come and it never did.

Once home Annie decided she had had enough change and went from my adventuresome trooper to a "don't ever put me down" 14 month old. Thank goodness she's a petite little thing. I had to put Annie down at one end of my parent's family room and run to the other end just to show then she can walk (and scream while doing it too). Things are getting better and my jet lag would be gone if I could just get her to adjust just a little bit each day but no one makes Annie sleep when she's not ready to sleep (and I swear she'll fight it just to prove that she can). I think one night at 4 am I may have promised her a car if she went to sleep but it's a blurry memory at best.

Tonight's the first night I've been able to really get on the computer but don't ask about photos, I'm not totally sure where my camera is right now and we never got the USB cable for my sister's camera so I suppose she'll have to send me a CD of them at some point.

Over the next couple of days I hope to find my camera and take some pictures of Annie in her new digs, that is if I can convince her that being on Mommy's arms isn't the best way to see the world. :-)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Leaving for Hanoi

We leave for Hanoi soon and all I can say is bring it on. I'm tired of the heat and very ready for some cooler weather (should be in the low 70's there). Annie needs to get on a schedule and I'm looking forward to not feeding her on my lap. Rie is out doing some last minute shopping and I'm in the room trying to pack. If Annie wasn't being so helpful it would probably go quicker. :-)

Posts I owe everyone -

Waterpuppet Show
Cu Chi Tunnels

Internet access is not free in Hanoi and although Thuy told us about a cafe close to the hotel that has wifi I don't know if I'll partake. I'm pretty worn out and I'm really starting to the like the idea of "when the baby goes down, momma goes down".
Monday is our Visa/Immigration interviews (more paper signing), Tuesday is a free day and Wednesday we head back home. Home sweet home!

The Zoo

Friday was the Zoo, the history museum and shopping. Let me just say first thing, Rie and I weren't thrilled about the zoo going into this adventure. Annie's really too young and we had the "you've seen one zoo, you've seen 'em all" attitude. Well we were wrong, we had a blast because you can get much closer to the animals in Vietnam than back in the states. So after thinking we'd stay maybe a half an hour, we stay up to our limit. There were lots of small children at the zoo on field trips and it was fun to watch them try to feed the elephants. We watched several types of deer being fed (since it's near christmas there were all reindeer to us), there was a hippo and some very cute bears. At one point, my official photographer (aka Rie my sister) was a bit behind Annie and I snapping pics so we sat down near the bears to drink some water and munch on cheerios. A few minutes later I heard Rie call my name, I answered but I doubt she heard me because at that point, Rie's friends the Gibbons Monkeys began to shriek. If you never heard them they sound like a car alarm but louder. Sure enough I turned towards the noise are there was Rie scurrying towards us saying "they aren't in cages this time".

The history museum was not bad but there's that A/C issue and after carrying Annie in a carrier throughout the zoo, we were both pretty wiped out. Shopping, let's just say it's always an adventure.

Yes I actually managed to grab a quick photo of Annie before she realized I wasn't within three feet of her.

Mekong Delta

I'm only on Thursday? How did I get this far behind? Oh yeah, we are going all day long and when we are in the hotel room, I'm playing with Annie, feeding Annie, trying to get her to sleep (it's definitely getting easier) or just plain watching her.

So Thursday we went to the Mekong Delta. Our tour guide was great, she knew five languages and happily she knew english well enough that she was even able to joke with us. It was very interesting to see the houses on stilts in the water where people live and farm fish (below the houses the water is netted so that they can stock it with baby fish and hopefully a good portion of them will grow to maturity for them to sell). Saw quite a few houses boats and yes the people live on them and now they aren't two stories with all the amenities. We saw coconut candy being made (yes mom I tasted it and I'm happy to report that the peanut version doesn't even taste like coconut therefore it was quite yummy). We also were able to sample some of the local fruit, some I liked, others not so much. However the highlight had to be seeing the gibbons monkeys. We were warned prior to approaching them that they are VERY quick and have deceptively long arms so most of us steered cleared. That is all of us but Rie. Yes they grabbed her leg not once but twice. She wasn't hurt and both times it happened so fast that only the tour guide had time to react. Yes we all laughed a lot over that. In fact, we are still laughing about it. The last part of our trip we got to ride part of a canal in low riding boats which hold about six people. It was great to be that close up to everything. Although a bit surprising to float by a young man who was crawling along the shore looking for fish.

The only bad part of the trip was that the road was very bumpy and it was quite a long car ride and Annie's stomach couldn't handle it get the picture. Thankfully another family traveling with us had an extra onesie because although I kept saying I needed to bring extra clothes, saying isn't doing. Unfortunately, I didn't have extra clothes and she was sitting on my lap at the time of the "incident". I think that's the only time in my life when we got back to the hotel and I got into the shower fully clothed. Woolite and some handscrubbing work pretty well.

Enjoy the pics (my camera is still giving me fits but I managed to take a few).

Friday, December 5, 2008

The sweetest.....

Just a couple of the cutie

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Meltdown, it had to happen eventually

[Yes I know I'm a bit behind. Let me just say that I have a new found deep respect for those who came here before and managed to post something each day.]

Back to the rest of Wednesday......

After Annie's medical exam, Rie, Annie and I made it down to the Ben Thanh Market. I had seen the market from the van (I've seen a lot from the van believe you me) and the american in me thought "Oh it's big that means air conditioning". I'm soooo naive. Yes, actually it's more than big it's huge. But there's no a/c and it's packed with tons of different vendors. There's no such thing as ADA compliance here so at times Annie and I could barely walk down an aisle with her in the carrier. When we first walked in, we were in the clothes section but that's not what we wanted so we ventured out. Well we found the food section and that's definitely not what we wanted. Remember the market is jam packed full and their no a/c. Well it was much easier to find the food section than to get out. I think all of us (Annie included) were breathing through our mouths to avoid as much of the smell as possible. Finally we found an exit and flew for it only to be hit by a ricksaw driver who really, really wanted to know where we wanted to go. Once we had recovered our senses we ventured back in and found a few great treasures. Many of them are gifts so I won't elaborate but I will say that Annie will have a great tea set when she's older and I think it cost me less than $10 US (I bought several items from that vendor and the grand total was $14 US). After a while though Annie started getting fussy from the heat and it's very hard to keep moving when you really have no place to move so although the adults weren't done, the kid was so back to the hotel we went.

And then the meltdown occured. Annie is great at everything but going to sleep. I don't know if she's afraid she'll miss something or has just never gotten the comfort she needed but she cries and kicks and generally turns herself into a mess. I'd had a sample of it before but this was definitely classified as an A-one meltdown. The fact that the only nap she'd had was in the van coming back from the exam didn't help matters of course. So Auntie Rie and I missed dinner with the group and Annie and I walked, we rocked, we laid on the bed, I rubbed her back and scalp (one of Annie's self-soothing mechanisms is to scratch/rub her head) and then we did it all over a few more times. Finally we gave up and ordered room service. Rookie mom move, I can't eat without her on my lap (no high chairs here) and what do I do, I order spaghetti. Let's just say the way I ate is not how I would do it at home. And yes Annie likes spaghetti and no I didn't drop any on her. She also decided that night that it's cool to feed mommy. Yes cool but hard to eat a full meal want piece of spaghetti at a time.

Shortly after dinner (which was capped off my a bottle of formula). we began the whole walking, rocking and head rub routine. After close to an hour, Annie was asleep and within 10 minutes I was too.

No pictures (do have some for Thursday's post though) but here's a link to a picture of the market.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pizza and Medical Exams

Last night the three of us checked out the pizza place around the corner (only one small street to cross this time) and we were not disappointed. It was cheesy, had a decent crust, quick and cheap. Annie too enjoyed gnawing on pizza crusts and entertaining the staff. Quite the ham my little girl. After that we walked across the street to the Saigon Center (an office building by day I think) that's all decorated for Christmas. Santa and his reindeer were there with many, many lights but I think Annie was more interested in the crowd. Definitely an observant kid. She misses nothing (including me trying to sneak some chocolate without sharing).

After dinner she had a bath in the bathroom sink. It's an oversized sink and well she's an undersized kid. Considering it was her first bath since the babies in the orphanage are cleaned in a shower type basin she did great. I think she would have had more fun if the water hadn't drained out so quickly. Tonight I'll see if I can get the water to hang around a little longer so she has a chance to splash.

This morning was the medical exams and as always she was a trooper. The Dr was surprised to hear she sleeps through the night (and yes I have my baby monitor ears going full force so I hear everything). He said she's tiny but strong. Also found out another tid bit of info on Annie's past, she's been walking since she was 10 months old!!!

Still haven't figured out the inability to upload photos. Rie's memory stick fits into the camcorder but last night I still couldn't get the pictures to upload. My camera is giving me fits (and if it doesn't start behaving it may find itself left behind when I leave). I did get pictures of Annie in the sink BUT now I can't find the USB cable. Last I remember I took it away from Annie last night...sigh

When I find the cable I'll add a few pictures to this post so be sure to check back.

Have I mentioned was a joy this little girl is?

It's Official!!

At about 10:30 am local time, Annie officially and legally became my daughter. The G & R (Giving and Receiving) Ceremony turned out to be quite anti-climatic. Just some signing of papers and that was it. Getting Annie at the orphanage yesterday was the "real" thing for me. She was brought to me, we got to sit with the Assistant Director for a little while and she told us a few things about Annie including how much she was loved and enjoyed, that she's a good eater and that she's very smart. They are so right on that one. She doesn't miss anything. She's also an entertainer. We spent pretty much all day yesterday either playing with her (because we wanted to, not because she can't play by herself) or just simply watching her in fascination. So yes that's why all everyone got yesterday was a picture. That and the fact that she only took two 15 minute naps the entire day.

It's hot here in Vietnam as you can imagine. Doesn't bother Annie of course but the rest of us are oh so happy for air conditioning. As I mentioned earlier I have never seen traffic like this in my life. Thuy, our in-country facilitator, says that there are 10 million people living in Ho Chi Minh City but she thinks there are more because it's very easy for people to come here and find a job to support themselves on $5 dollars a day! One of the tours that she has arranged for us is to see the real Vietnam. The Rex Hotel is definitely 5 star here and we are quite sheltered. We (there are two other families traveling with us) are all looking forward to seeing more. Although I already feel like I saw a good sampling going to three different orphanages on Sunday.

Now pictures, we are going to have a bit of a delay with pictures. Rie forgot the cable to her camera. When I found out I said "no worries I have mine, they are pretty universal now" Wrong. And yes she's taken the bulk of the photos. However here are a sampling from the few I've taken . Enjoy.

Talking on my phone, got my keys, what more could a girl want?

Minor (very minor) traffic

The courtyard of Annie's Orphanage

Can you imagine seeing wiring like this in the USA???

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hello? It's me Annie.