Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

August 22nd, 2006-2008.


It's hard to believe 2 years passed since we met our precious girls. Lili-Cai is doing great, she has a great sense of humor and is an overall cheerful little girl. She loves her pre-school and playing outside with all the neighbor kids. At the moment she is also very excited to meet (shortly) her new sister.

Love to all the girls and families from Lili-Cai + Cornelia + Marcel

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer Fun with Whitney

We have had a truly wonderful summer! In early August, we spent some time Bermuda at the Pompano Beach Club. We met several lovely families with children from Korea, Guatemala, and Paraguay! On the weekends, we have been visiting Whitney's grandparents in the Berkshires and Fire Island with Whitney's cousins. She cannot get enough of the water and sand! It is hard to believe that Labor Day is just around the corner and school will be starting in just a few weeks.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Andy's Final Day In China!

Shanghai - Thursday
Today we went to the Shanghai Zoo. We saw everything there, and my favorites were the pandas and the tigers, Mom's favorites were the monkeys.

We went to a Japanese lunch and I had really good beef. After lunch we went to the 400 year old Yu Garden and then the Shanghai Old Bazaar. The Bazaar is over 200 years old. We did a lot of shopping, and Dad did a lot of bargaining with the vendors. Then we drove through the Bund which is a famous architectural area in Shanghai, and we saw the Hero's Monument.

We went back to the Xintiandi Pedestrian Area for dinner and ate at an outside table. It's been a great trip, but we're all looking forward to going back home tomorrow.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Andy revisits Zhangjiajie SWI

Chinese way of Greeting - Red Banner "Welcome Home"

American Way of Greeting - Andy hugging Director

Reunion after 13 years - Andy meeting his little friends

Shanghai - Wednesday
By Andy

Today we went (on a 2-hour drive) to the orphanage where I got to meet the same Director who was there 13 years ago when I was there, and she remembered me! We had lunch with her and I thought everyone was really nice. They had a really nice banner that said "Welcome Zhang Nan to the Parents Home" (Zhang Nan was my Chinese name). I had my picture taken with 4 other children that were also there in 1995.

The Director gave me a jade pig necklace since I was born in the Year of the Pig, and 2 Olympic pens. I brought her a suitcase of baby clothes (from Jennifer & Anna Marie) and a package of diapers. We also gave her a photo album of pictures of me from over the past 13 years. The Assistant Director rode with us to see the town of Zhang Jia Gang and then we went to Nan Feng Zhen which is the actual town (village) that I'm from. He showed us the "finding place" which was a small road that doesn't even have a name. I didn't' think that much about it at the time (I was tired & just woke up from a nap in the car) but now I'm glad we saw it. It was pretty neat.

To follow along on Andy's China adventure, please click here.

Andy in Shanghai

Shanghai - Tuesday

We arrived in Shanghai today. It took about an hour to drive into the city where we had lunch, then went to see the Oriental Pearl Tower which is the 3rd tallest tower in the world. Great views! We went up to the viewing area where we could see our hotel and all the skyscrapers in the city. Mom was terrified of the height. We could also see the Shanghai World Financial Center which is the tallest building in China and among the tallest in the world. After the viewing area we went down to the base of the tower and went to the museum about ancient Shanghai.Then we went to Xintiandi pedestrian area for the architecture. My parents said it looked a lot like a European street but I didn't know for sure because I've never been to Europe.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Andy Travels To China--X'ian Day Two! August 4th

Xian - Monday
Today on our way to see the Terracotta Soldier Museum we stopped at a factory that makes terracotta soldiers. I got to make a soldier with clay and a mold. Mervyn gave us some history on the Qin Dynasty - Qin took the throne as King at age 13 and assumed power at 22. He then conquered the other 6 states of China and declared himself the first Emperor at age 39 under unified China. China is named after Qin, and the Chinese name for China means "Middle Kingdom." He planned his mausoleum and ordered 720,000 slaves to make the terracotta army of over 8,000 soldiers to guard him in the afterlife which for Qin came at age 50. Each soldier is an individual with a different face. Qin died before the mausoleum was completed. After he was buried with this army the peasants rebelled and destroyed most of the terracotta soldiers. The site was discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well, and every evening when the museum (which was built on the site) closes and archaeologists reconstruct the statues.

Next we went to the Huaqing Hot Springs which were the Emperor's Garden and bathing palace. The hot springs are dried up, so we could not get in them. The Emperor had a big pool called the Star Pool which was open & when he bathed he could see the stars.

We're going to bed early tonight because we're getting up early tomorrow to fly to Shanghai.

To follow along on Andy's adventures, please click here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Andy Travels To China--August 3 in Xi'an!

Sunday, August 3, 2008
Xian - Sunday
We left Beijing on another beautiful, clear day this morning. We were met in Xian by our guide, Mervin, which means "to keep a low profile" in Chinese. Mervin gave us some background & history on Xian and pointed out a couple of Emperor's mausoleums from the Ming Dynasty. We went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda where we saw real Buddhist monks. This Pagoda was build around 700AD during the Tang Dynasty. We also saw people lighting candles, incense, and bowing to the Buddha statues.

After that we went to the city wall of Xian which has an 8 mile perimeter. We rented 2 bikes (one was a tandem) and rode all the way around which took over an hour, but was a lot of fun.

For dinner Mervin took us to a famous dumpling restaurant - Xian is famous for it's dumplings & noodles, and I really, really like dumplings. I think they served us 18 different kinds, and they were decorated in different shapes (the duck dumpling looked like a duck).

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Andy Travels To China--August 2nd!

Beijing - Saturday
Today we went to a Pearl factory where they harvest fresh water pearls and make jewelry. I picked an oyster that she opened - it was a 7 year old oyster and there were 10 pearls inside, we each got to keep one. 7 years old is considered a baby oyster and the pearls were not precious. We learned of the 4 different colors of fresh water pearls.

Then we went to the Summer Palace which is where the Emperors stayed on their summer vacations. It was a very large garden on a big lake, also where the Pearl Factory gets their oysters. There was a long corridor with hundreds of painted pictures. Thousands of tourists were visiting the Palace and many rented paddle boats on the lake. We took a dragon boat across the lake. Dad made a friend at the Palace - a little boy asked him where we were from, what hotel we're staying at, do we like Beijing (yes), and are we staying for the Olympics (no). He spoke good English for a little Chinese boy.

After lunch we went on a Hutong tour and rode in a rickshaw which is like a tricycle with a bench for two in back - Mom & I rode in one and Dad rode in the other with Nancy, our Hutong guide. The Hutongs are several homes with a shared courtyard in back. Hutong is the Mongolian name for water well which is how the villages were created. We invited in to one Hutong home and met the lady who lived there and visited with her in their courtyard. The family were artists, her husband had a studio in the front and he is a paper cutter. I bought a tiger painting on a scroll that was made by her brother.

At the end of the day Jonathon took us to a grocery store that was a lot like a Walmart back home. On the drive home we saw sites of 2 more Olympic venues - one was for basketball, and the other was for soccer. We have free time this afternoon and tonight, and I'd like to go to Pizza Hut...we call that comfort food.

Friday, August 1, 2008
Beijing - Olympic Update
A few observations on the Olympic activity that we've noticed in the area - yesterday we drove past the new stadium, a fantastic architectural building that looks a bit like a bird's nest and can seat 90,000 people. Also drove past the huge indoor aquatic center for swimming & diving. At the Great Wall we saw the finish line for a bike race or possibly the triathlon. There were also about 20 Olympic volunteers in blue wind suits coming down the wall while we were going up. We saw members of the Croatia team at the garden area of the Forbidden City. The Olympic mascots, statues of different games, Olympic flags & banners stating "One World, One Dream" are EVERYWHERE. At the jade factory yesterday we were told that the Olympic medals would, for the first time, be encircled with a ring of jade.

Last night on CNN we heard reports of the poor air quality. However, the air here is MUCH better quality than it was in Hong Kong, and yesterday it was quite clear. Today it's even better with clear blue, sunny skies. - Hank

To follow Andy's trip to China, click here.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Andy's Travels In China--July 31st and August 1st!!

Beijing - Friday
Today we went to a jade factory and learned about the 3 different types of Jade. I thought it was really cool how intricate the carvings were, and we saw the carvers in action. In the store some of the sales people were making paper airplanes, so I made one, too. They thought it was pretty neat and laughed, so I made them an origami crane before we left.

Next we went to the Great Wall. We were concerned because the forecast was for rain, but the weather was perfect & clear. There are 1600 steps to the top of the wall. Mom & I didn't make it all the way to the top, but Dad did. Then he RAN all the way down. We were all amazed at how they got all the bricks that high up the mountain.

After lunch we went to the Ming Tombs and walked the sacred pathways which is a mile long. There are 13 Ming Emperors buried there from 1409 to 1644.

Before dinner we saw a Chinese acrobat show which was one impossible feat after another that they made look easy, plus lots of music, and laser lights. Tomorrow is our last day in Beijing, then we fly to Xian.

Posted by Andy at 5:40 AM 0 comments
Beijing - Thursday - Adoption Day!
Today we went to Tienanmen Square. Our guide, Jonathon, told us it is the largest square in the world. Jonathon also told us it's said that 1 million Chinese could stand in the square...or 500,000 Americans...or 2 million Japanese. Jonathon and my Dad joke around together. One building has the mausoleum of Mao Zedong, and another has a large poster with his picture on it. The square was quite crowded with lots of tourists and was decorated for the Olympics.

Then we walked under the street to the Forbidden City. It was forbidden because common people couldn't enter it. Most of the walls were red, and there were several courtyards before we actually entered the City. There are almost 1,000 buildings, and it was home to 24 Emperors over 2 dynasty's.

After a traditional Chinese lunch we went to a silk factory to see how silk is made and how strong the silk fiber is. Dad bought me a silk embroidered dragon for my room.

Then we we went to the Temple of Heaven. I thought was neat how the temple was built symbolically. It is a circle that represents the Heavens, surrounded by a square that represents Earth. The levels of the temple have pillars representing 4 at the top level for the 4 seasons, then 12 on the next level representing the 12 months, then 12 on the lowest level representing the 12 parts of the days. There are 360 banisters around the temple to represent the 360 degrees in a circle. We walked a lot today.

We went back to our hotel for a short rest. I played Scrabble with Dad - he won. Jonathon & Yao (our driver) picked us up for a traditional Chinese dinner and then a Chinese Kung Fu show. It was like a play with a story and some singing, but it had real Kung Fu moves. I liked it - it was exciting, entertaining & cultural. Best of all, it was in English.
Posted by Andy at 5:20 AM 0

To follow Andy's blog, click here.