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April 1 - 2, 2006
The Final Weekend
The weekend is over… On Monday when Sophie came to us, I was ready for the weekend to be over and to be back home. So much to look forward to, and I miss my boy’s at home and Tyler & Ana much. But you know, now that Sophie has settled out, other than living in a hotel room, this is pretty fun!

Some of the things we are enjoying are great friends, good food, and not working. I mean, since I am on leave from work, I am getting PAID to explore China. That is pretty cool. Since I have about 5 ˝ more months of sick leave, maybe I could just extend for another week or two….. On the flip side, there are many, many cool things to buy here, and I am sure I will run out of money before I run out of leave. You can’t walk 25 feet without people wanting to sell you something. On the way next door to get some McD’s with Lindsey, there was a guy with a little cart full of animal furs. Not sure what all of them were, but some looked like lynx, bobcat, raccoon, badger, and possibly a fox. Can you imagine trying to get them back through customs?

Saturday was a pretty interesting day. In the morning we took Sophie and the rest of all the kids to her medical appointment for a physical. TOTAL MAYHEM. Besides 50+ families and babies all stuffed into the little clinic, we also had the normal Chinese folks getting inspections and check ups for foreign travel. So in the space about the size of an AM/PM mini market, there was about 130 people, 30 doctors or nurses, and lots of crying. Both Sophie and I were glad to be out of there! The technology used to complete the physical was from both ends of the spectrum. During the hearing test, the nurse used a rattle for the right ear and a squeaky toy for the left… not very scientific. We found out that Chinese doctors have crying filters installed on their stethoscopes, they were able to accurately listen to Sophie’s heart and lung sounds while she was crying pretty loud! Amazing technology. The most accurate part of the test was the weight and measure. Now I know that some of you women readers may understand this, but Sophie DID NOT want to be on the scale, I guess that part of the women’s configuration is innate at birth! Sophie weighed in at a whopping 20.2 lbs and was 78 cm long.

On the way home we went shopping at the local friendship store. That was amazing. They had a 5 floor department store that included everything you can imagine as well as groceries. We bought some baby stuff, and groceries, and shopped in the women’s area for some clothes for Lindsey. The clothes was a bust though, we have found that most clothes here are made for women without hips and must be 5’5” or shorter. Tough luck sis, we will have to shop back in the states! After a bus ride back to the hotel, we all assumed various napping positions and rested for a bit. After a refreshing nap, I went to Liniker and Amy’s (in country guides) with one parent from each family and we finished up our paperwork for the US consulates review. That was a couple of hours of fun L. After that was over, we decided to order in and had pizza and pita sandwiches from Danny’s Bagels. It was a pretty good meal.

After the meal, everyone met up in the penthouse apartment occupied by one of the larger families in the group. We were meeting for a Saturday night church service. We got together with about 22 other families (about 60 people total). We have four pastors in our travel group as well as many other talented folks and we had a time of singing, a message, a testimony time and then we closed with a communion service. It was a really great time and seemed to be the icing on the cake for a lot of us. It seemed fairly surreal to be having a church service, with a bunch of other Christians, in a hotel, in a country that needs the Lord, but rejects premise of a personal savior. I was once again thankful that we were with a Christian adoption agency and traveling with like minded families. It makes all the difference in the world for your comfort with the others and you naturally have a common ground to meet on regardless of where you come from or what your station in life happens to be.

Sunday morning, after a great buffet breakfast (again), we headed out to the local Chen Clan museum and academy. It is a restored temple from several dynasties ago, and was complete with furniture, and artifacts to examine. In addition to the museum it is also set up with vendors that settle local art and the likes. We saw incredible embroidery, ivory and bone carving, painting, statues, and of course, a small compliment of really touristy crap that seems to ooze from the sidewalks where ever we go. We left fairly unscathed except a moment of weakness where I bought chop sticks carved from camel bones. I know, it was stupid, but how many camel bone eating utensils do you have in your house??? Hmmm???? That’s what I thought, NONE.

After we left the museum, we went to a Chinese tea house and learned the finer arts of picking a tea pot, what is important about spouts, and then we had a tea sampling and tea prep lesson. It was great. We tasted tea that cures everything from bad breath to cancer! I opted for the high energy ginseng teas… I think I will need it from chasing Sophie around.

We had a pretty relaxing afternoon, once again assuming the prone napping position for a while before we went to a Japanese steak house (in China) for dinner. We ate with the Muntz family and the Pollara family and of course Mom and Dad. We had a great time sitting in a little traditional Japanese room with sliding rice paper doors, sunken table and little girls that waited on you hand and foot. It was pretty cool. Beth and I had a great dinner with tappen naki steak, giant prawns, tempura vegetables, fried noodles (Beth’s favorite side dish), pork fried rice, and miso soup. Most of it was great, but the Miso soup left a little to be desired, like I desired to toss it out!

Dad and I ended the day as normal, down in the hotel lobby sitting on a comfortable couch, using the hotel wireless to update you all with our weekend events. We are anxiously waiting to be home, but will enjoy our last few days here. Tomorrow, Lindsey, Dad and I are jumping into a taxi, (should be like a thrill ride) and we are going violin shopping. So until then, Good Night and God Bless. - Paul
Sophie's First Flower
Japanese Meal With The Muntz Family
Watching The Gold Fish
Grandpa And Lindsey At The Gates
Enjoying The Slide
You Ain't Sticking That In My Mouth