Sunday, January 21, 2007

Growing Closer: Getting to Know Each Other

Grace and I are still learning about each other. She has such an amazing personality. She is happy and easygoing (except when she is hungry, all bets are off when hunger is involved). She is a sweet, sweet baby with the nicest cheeks I have ever seen. Gracie is very social and she will let anyone hold her. I have been waiting for the day when she would hold out her arms to me. Today I got something just as good. My sister was holding her and I walked up. She leaned for me. It's a good thing that Terri has good reflexes or she might have gone tumbling. Instead she dove right into my arms. A great mommy moment. Another great thing. She slept all night last night! 8pm-8am, that's two nights in a row.

A little tidbit about Gracie - she loves to sleep on her stomach. Her cradle in the orphanage was small and there was no way to turn over. She is digging her crib. She has the rooom to sleep however she chooses. Watch this and find out some other things about Gracie.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What a Girl!!

Grace went to bed at about 7pm last night. She didn't nap much at all yesterday and there was a lot going on. She was very restless, fussing for no reason. At 11pm she took about 3oz of bottle and fell asleep. She slept until 8am!!! I kept looking in to make sure she was still breathing. I guess it was a combination of not much napping, a busy day and lots of whining and fussing before bed. Whatever it was, I am very appreciative.

She is such a good baby. She only cries whe she is hungry or sleepy. Hunger is a big deal for Grace. She does not like to wait when she is hungry. When she sees the bottle coming she stiffens out, starts shaking and makes a perfect O with her mouth.

She is doing great with food. I don't think that they even ate cereal at the orphanage. She eats cereal, applesauce and green peas now. She loves the food. She also does the shaking and O thing with food. She just cracks me up.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Last Post From Vietnam

We are leaving Vietnam in 4 hours!!! Yea!!! We have arranged flights home a day earlier and are thrilled to be heading to America with our new little American.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

We Got Gracie's Visa!!!!!

We got Gracie's visa and are ready to come home! We are trying desperately to get out of here early, but I am doubtful. However, we are all packed and ready to leave at a moment's notice. I know this is hard for Terri, she has never been away from her James and the kids for this long! No matter what I know that I will be home in Tennessee on Saturday morning! I can't wait until Grace meets the rest of the family.

I hope that she rests on the flights. I know that it is going to be difficult for her. She did very well on the two in country flights. She slept the entire flight from Danang to HCMC and was a good girl on the flight from HCMC to Hanoi.

She is very fussy today. I think she is kind of over all this travel too! We have also stayed in all day, waiting on visas and hoping for a positive email from the travel agent. That might also be a factor, she is very social and loves to be out among people.

One of my favorite things about Vietnam is the politeness of everyone here. The level of customer service is amazing here. When you call for a bellman to come to your room and get your bags, they are coming down the hall by the time you get to the door!!! It would take forever in the states!!!!! I have NEVER been called Madame so much in my entire life. They are very eager to make you happy. Go Vietnam!

Since hotels have been my life, here's another tidbit. All the hotels we have stayed in have had a complimentary breakfast buffet. Not continental breakfast consisting of coffee, Fruit Loops and stale danish. We are talking real breakfast buffets with omlet and waffle stations, twelve kinds of juices, a variety of Vietnamese foods and strangly enough - baked beans.

My daughter is wonderful, the shopping has been great, but I am ready to come home!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wild Friday Night in HCMC

Wild night consists of dinner and running back to the room to bath baby, feed her cereal and a bottle until finally she sleeps. She just doesn't want to sleep. I think she and I will stay in tomorrow and have a calm day. I have been spending too much money anyway.

I went shopping again today. I have been working on buying gifts for Gracie. I have 15 gifts. Some more expensive than others. I bought a great Asian Barbie, a jade necklace, a few ao dais/dresses, musical toys, etc. Even if she doesn't appreciate them when she gets them, I know that she will someday.

We had coffee at a little Starbucks-ish coffee shop by Saigon Center. There was a man sitting at a table with a couple of other men, very business looking. He got up and came over to where Terri, Kelly and I were sitting with the girls. He asked to hold Grace and he held her and told her she was a very beautiful girl and kissed her on the cheek. Then he handed her back to me.

I am ready to head on to Hanoi and get her visa. Everything has run very smoothly, just alot of waiting. But hey - that's nothing new. And I have Grace to keep me company.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Shopping Day!

Today we went silk shopping. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! We found all these silk dresses, scarves, etc. at INCREDIBLE PRICES. Terri and I went nuts and found lots of stuff for friends and family.

We are having so much fun in HCMC. There is so much to do that the days go by quickly. Gracie loves the hustle and bustle of the city. Until now her entire life was lived in a little country orphanage in Que Son. She hates to go to sleep now. In Danang I had angel baby and here I have a little one that FIGHTS to stay awake. She will kick her legs, flail her arms, pull her hair and rub her eyes. Anything to avoid sleep! I think the babies are all so stimulated by the new experience and they don't want to miss anything!

This evening we went to a great Italian restaurant. We went with Justin and Kelly who adopted their Lucy from the same orphanage that Gracie was in. Gracie and Lucy slept in cribs side by side for their whole lives! Sometimes it seems as though they look at each other like "I don't know what is going on but you're here too so I guess it's ok!"

When I first met Grace it felt as if I was meeting a movie star - I had looked at her photo for so long and now I met her in person. Now it feels like she has been with me forever. She has three cries. One when she is hungry (it is very angry and demanding), one when she is sleepy (very whiney) and one when she is having a hissy fit (very shrill, almost like a little baby's cry). What a blessing she is.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Interview, Physical and Passport

HCMC is much better. Lots to do. It is getting difficult to get Grace to go to sleep. Once she is asleep she is fine, but she fights it because she wants to see everything! We had the first interview yesterday and it went great! The lady was very nice and just a few general questions like if we were ask to pay additional fees, did we see the orphanage, when we got referral, when did we find out about travel, etc. They are trying to make sure that you had at least 2 mos. between referral and travel approval. Then just general like are you still employed, how many live in your house, do you have health ins., etc

Physical was fine - height, weight, head circ, look in the ears and ask if you have seen any problems, she has been pulling at her ears and they checked them. No infection!

By the way, she weighs 18.5 lbs and is 69 cm long! What a girl. I have cut the feet out of her 6 mo sleepers. They fit, but she is so long!! She did good for passport photos, got it on the first try. Then we went to Saigon Center to buy supplies - diapers, bibs, M&Ms.

She was very tired last night after all the days activities. Her nose was stuffy again when she got up for 3am bottle, gave her some triaminic and she slept better. I can tell how much she has grown since we got here!

HCMC is great, there is so much to do and you can walk anywhere. The sidewalks are bad, but it is so great to shop and walk around. We leave for Hanoi on January 7, until then we'll enjoy the city!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What a Great Day

It's 9:30 pm in HCMC and my two roomies have been asleep for AT LEAST an hour. Gracie is a baby, I don't know what Terri's excuse is. I am a bit bored at night after they go to sleep.

Today was a great day. We had breakfast here at the hotel and Terri was in heaven! She has been dying for "American food" and she hit the jackpot at this hotel - hashbrowns and waffles. It is a very nice hotel and a change of pace. The thing that strikes me most is the exceptional customer service here in Vietnam. Everyone at the hotels has been so nice and helpful. They have all been so polite and genuinely want your stay to be comfortable and enjoyable. It is completely different than in the US. The crib in our room at this hotel is great. Grace has been sleeping in it just fine.

Today Terri and I took Grace to her first mall! It is called Saigon Center and is more like a giant four-floor store that has everything. The fine jewelry was beside small kitchen appliances. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason. My goal for the day was to find something fun for Grace to play with, I know she is tired of playing on the bed with the small toys I brought from home. On the short walk to the mall, we walked past a store with baby stuff. I found the most wonderful thing. It is a thickly padded blanket (very thickly) that is about 3 feet by 5 feet. It has a pillow that looks like a puppy dog head and a round pillow (paw) at each corner. I also came across a Fisher Price toy at the mall and she lovesssss it. She lays underneath it and it has music and lights and things hanging down to play with. It was great to see her having so much fun, I will post pictures of her with them tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will have our first interview with INS/Homeland Security. Grace will also get her physical that the US govt requires for her Visa. After those things are done, we will just be hanging out here until we head to Hanoi for the second interview. I am very tired of just hanging out, I am ready to get the show on the road and head home! It is a shame that the govt can't do some of this while we are in the states. It would make things so much easier on parents and the babies. Not to mention all the hotel/food/airline expense just to do two interviews with the US govt.

A few things about Gracie:

She is very active and loves to jump around - she is constantly kicking her legs or something
She has verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry long legs, I had to cut the feet out of some of her sleepers!
She gets very mad if you don't feed her quick enough, she will dive for the bottle when she sees it coming
The only other time she gets mad is if you are ignoring her
She is a very good baby, really easy going and fun
She loves taking a bath

More later.......

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hooray for Ho Chi Minh City!!

It is so good to be out of Danang. The G&R was on December 28 and all we have been doing is sitting around the resort. Sandy Beach was really nice and the staff was great. But the weather was terrible. It was too windy to even walk the beach and forget about taking the babies out in that.

Here in HCMC we are withing walking distance of food, shops, you name it. We will also be getting all the babies their physicals and then we have our first INS appointments!!! It is great to feel progress.

Gracie is an absolute joy. I am continually amazed at what a great baby she is. Tonight was here first plan ride and instead of leaving Danang at 6pm, we were delayed until 8:30pm. She slept the entire way, I couldn't even get her to take a bottle during takeoff.

The ride from the hotel to the airport was great. There were lights EVERYWHERE on the drive through town. She couldn't stop staring and she just kept smiling. She is so inquisitive.

I want to go out tomorrow and find her a swing, jumperoo or some other toy for here in the room. She got so bored at the hotel in Danang. She always wants to be doing something. It would be better than me trying to occupy here with the handful of toys that I have.

She is smart, funny, strong, beautiful and loving.