Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We're Home

We arrived back home on Sunday afternoon. The whole trip from hotel to home was 34 hours. Needless to say it was not pretty. The first leg of the trip to Tokyo went really well. Daniel slept in the bassinet, we cleared Vietnamese customs no problem (but did have to show all of our adoption papers) and they gave us the two aisle seats from the three seat section in the middle of the plane which meant we had three seats. As well in Vietnam they let us through the gate with a thermos full of water plus 5 small bottles of water - no questions ask. We actually didn't have a problem bringing liquids through any of the gates as long as it was for the baby.Even the 3 hr stop over in Tokyo went well. We played a bit, Daniel finally did a #2 - everybody was happy (except when changing the diaper)Then we got on a packed plane to Chicago. No empty middle seat this time and the seats where actually smaller. I almost had to squeeze into it. Daniel did not want to sleep at all. He cried for most of the trip and we could not console him. The only thing that helped was to walk around with him and occasionally Dave, the baby whisperer, managed to calm him down. Daniel could have negotiated practically anything - no bedtime, no more prunes,cell phone with unlimited minutes, a sports car.... I felt so bad for the people around us and want to apologize to any parents with a screaming banshee baby I've ever shot a look at. By the end of the 11 hour flight we were almost delirious.
I also know how to get a seat at an airport waiting lounge area now - just mention to your partner that the baby's needs to be changed and start making preparations to do it there. People clear out really fast. Now I was just talking about changing his clothes but hey whatever works.
I wish I had brought disposable bottle liners on the plane because there is nowhere to wash the bottles. The best I could do was to rinse them out really well with the hot water on the plane.
Once we got to Toronto, they made us go to immigration. Only because our custom agent was not familiar with the new citizenship regulations. Thankfully a woman there let all Cnd citizens go to the front of the line otherwise that would have been another 1-2 hours.
Once we cleared our customs our parents and Dave's brother were there to meet us. It was really exciting. I just started running towards them, sobbing, pushing the empty stroller and leaving Dave who was carrying Daniel who by this time would not go any other way, in the dust. It must have looked pretty funny but like I said, I was completely kaput.
Then came the car seat ordeal where Daniel screamed for another 1/2 hour during the car ride home with poor Oma and Opa. When we got home it was incredibly emotional. We finally had our baby in our house. It was for real.
Daniel did not sleep well that night and I don't blame him. I can't imagine what was going through his mind during that hellish trip. But when we woke the next morning the sun was shining and the birds where chirping and Daniel was smiling.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time flies

The days are flying by and everyday there are little changes in Daniel. He's sleeping much better now and even taking some naps. As well, he doesn't need to be constantly held. I think it's because he's becoming a but more used to everything and a bit more relaxed. Yesterday he almost lifted up on all fours. I'm sure he'll be crawling very soon. He also does this nodding thing when you sing to him - kind of like a little head bop.
An eating action shot

Today we went to the Jade Emperor Pagoda. It was quite spectacular. It's a Buddhist and Taoist temple built by the Chinese. There were incense sticks burning at every alter and also offerings of fruit and flowers. People would come in and light the incense sticks at the alter of their choice and hold them in front of their foreheads in a prayer for a few minutes and then stick them in the containers with the rest of the burning sticks. It is an incredibly ornate temple but unfortunately the symbolism of everything was completely lost on me. It was just really neat and smelled good.
Jade Emperor Pagoda
An alter.
The main alter (I think)
ornate wood carving

For dinner we ordered delivery from Chez Guido's on Leslie's suggestion. At first when I saw they had 250 items I wondered how good could this be but I must say it was delicious. I ordered a hot and sour soup which rivalled that of Tangerine's and a Hawaiian Pizza - wood burning thin crust (still getting cravings even though the SAP project is over) Dave ordered a curry fish and fried vegetables with pesto - all for about $15, including delivery and tip) It probably sounds gross but it was really good. www.chezguido.com If you check out the menu $1 = 18000 dong

Looks like we may be leaving here on Saturday. It's not hard to get used to this lifestyle of lounging with baby, eating and shopping so I'm a bit sad about it but I guess the sooner we get him home the better.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Odds and Sods

Yesterday we ran across a demonstration at the city hall. We walked right in the middle of it. To us at first it just looked like a bunch of people waiting for the bus until we noticed they were holding yellow sheets of paper with writing on it. We were waiting to cross the street and a woman gave me one of the pieces of paper. We started looking around a bit more and then noticed many many army and police. Sorry - no pictures of this as I didn't want to risk losing my camera and memory card or going to jail! Later when I showed it to the taxi driver he said it was a protest against taxes or he said someone taking too much money. He also said that next time not to take the paper because they may be watching you. Interesting.
Had dinner at The Sushi Bar. It was very good. Prices were close to Canadian but if you're craving sushi I would recomend it.
For anyone making a packing list I would bring some prunes. (I got this suggestion from Bev's blog) It gets things moving and although stinky diaper changes aren't fun they'r still a necessary evil.
Daniel in front of the credentials room at Reunification Palace ( or Independance Palace. It was kind of hot in there.
At the gardens across the street behind Reunification Palace.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sleep Oh sleep, wherefore art though?

Who was I kidding when I thought the teething pain was gone. Daniel is actually sleeping a bit more than when we first got him. During the night he sleeps 2-3 hours at a time and then it's not hard to put him back to sleep. I always wondered what mothers did all day long - now I know. It's hard work keeping your baby entertained and happy while washing bottles, getting formula ready, changing diapers etc. I have to admit we've already resorted to using the TV as a distraction but only for a little while. The dryer works well too. He doesn't like to sit still for too long unless there's a lot of visual things to see. Don't get me wrong though he is a joy to be with. His smile just melts your heart and when he looks at you with those beautiful eyes I ask myself how did I get so lucky.
A little afternoon nap
The food court at Diamond Plaza. We ordered Daniel a big plate of spring rolls. One thing that impressed me was they didn't use a lot plastic dishes and plates.

This morning we met two other families staying at the hotel that aer adopting and also beautiful Meg. Right now I think there are 7 or so families here in HCMC from TDH. Loan - the TDH representivie here is very busy.

Mobile basket vendor on the street.

Mekong Delta

Daniel's teething seems to have magically gotten better. Yeah! He took 2 naps today. Tomorrow we're off to the Canadian Consulate to get his passport.

Here are some pictures from the Mekong Delta region that Tra Vinh is in.

Thankfully the Mekong Delta is not hilly.

A market in a small town we passed through.
A house. We saw houses that ranged from quite large to very small shacks. This one may be in the middle.

This is a rice field. The structure is where family members are buried.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Some Daniel pictures

Rock and Rollin

First feeding of cereal
Playroom at the hotel

First slide

Hi everyone,
I'm really enjoying all of the comments. It makes us feel very connected to you. We're doing well. Trying to figure out a schedule and how to help him with the teething pain. We found a nubby kind of teething toy and he seems to like that. Today's mission will be to try to find some numbing gel to put on his gums so he will sleep a bit more.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Daniel Simon Hoang Xuan

First Family Photograph

Father & Son

Nou nou and Daniel

Yesterday we received our son, Daniel Simon Hoang Xuan. A big name for a big fella. We left for Tra Vinh at 4:30 am and 5 hours later we were at the the Tra Vinh Social Centre for Social Assistance. We travelled through the country side and small towns of the Mekong Delta but more on that later.
We got to the orphanage and met very quickly with the Director and Vice Director then were asked to wait outside. We saw a van pulling up and there they were - our babies! There was another couple from Montreal with us. We were supposed to travel separately to the government building where the official ceremony took place but we when we saw them we just had to meet them right there and then. To heck with official rules.
Wow - what can I say. He's a beautiful baby and Dave and I are fully, completely in love with him. He's a very active little guy that does not want to miss a thing. He really needs to see everything all around him. His eyes and head are constantly moving and he fights to keep himself from falling asleep. He's a 20 lb hefty fellow and pretty strong. He smiles very readily and likes to babble. When we were waiting for the official signing of papers the other family pulled out some teething rings for their son. I forgot to bring such things - being a new mother so was searching for something I could give to him. It took him about 20 seconds to grab those rings from the other baby. The nou nous were just laughing. Thankfully he didn't cry when I took the rings from him to give back to the other a baby.
After the official signing of the papers we headed back to the Tra Vinh Social Centre for Social Assistance. It's hard to call it an orphanage because it's really a centre for seniors that have no one to care for them and our agency, Terre des Hommes (TDH) built a baby house there. The building had about 4-5 rooms including a kitchen/bathroom/laundry area, a dining room with a long table and two rooms that had about 5 cribs in each room. There are just babies - no older children. There weren't very many babies there. It was very clean. A few special needs babies with disabilities, which was really sad and a few very young babies including one that was just a few days old. The nou nous (caregivers) gave the babies a bottle and told us about their feeding schedules, disposition, sleeping habits and answered any questions that we had. Then they changed them into the clothing we had brought. They really liked the outfit for Daniel that Shanta gave him at the baby shower. You could see how loving these women where towards all of the children and how attached they were as well. Some of them were crying when we were about to leave. We all said our thank-you's and goodbyes and then we carried our babies down the courtyard to the van. One of the seniors came out to say good bye to Daniel.
Then we went for lunch. Daniel showed us how to bang the table like he's playing a bongo drum. We learned quite quickly to keep things out of reach and out of his mouth. I'm not sure it that means he's getting ready to cut teeth? Afterwards we went past the hospital where he was born and then made the 5 hour journey back to our hotel. He didn't sleep much but also did not cry either. He was just content to lie on his Daddy's and Mommy's lap and soak up the attention.
We took hundreds of pictures and I'll post more of them later. Right now, I think someone's hungry.