Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finally Back Home

We left Taiwan on Saturday night. Our flight was at 11:55 PM so we knew we would all sleep for a few hours at least. Te plane was a double decker and we were sitting upstairs. I had to have someone from the airlines help us get our carry on baggage to the upper deck since the kids already sleeping. They reluctantly helped. The seats on this flight were smaller and the plane was not as as the leg from LAX to Taipei. About an hour into the flight we were served a meal. They bypasses the kids since they were sleeping but when they awoke, we asked for their meals and were told they couldn't have them. I asked for snacks and was told they didn't have snacks on the plane. They offered us buns with butter so we took that. At one point Marybeth took Owen to the restroom and they were occupied so she went down to the first level and she was told that she had to go back up to her level and that the lower level was for business class only. She let them know that she was going to use the business class restroom or someone was going to clean pee-pee off the rug. They agreed to let her use business class. The flight on this leg was not nearly as accommodating as the trip over. The kids did fantastic. We were pleased with that.

Whe we got to LAX we were told that going through immigration, customs and transferring luggage could take 3-4 hours. We were done in 30 minutes and decided to get a hotel. It tool the hotel shuttle 30 minutes to pick us up. We were waiting under a sign that read "hotel and off site parking shuttle" or something to that effect. I had to call the hotel and they said they couldn't find us. Finally they picked us up and we had a good night sleep and breakfast in the morning.

The flight from LAX to Dallas was easy and the kids were great. When we got to Dallas we missed our connecting flght to Orlando. We had about 40 minutes to change and after bathroom stops and food pick up we realized we were at the wrong gate! We were 31 gates away. The gate we were at was going to orlando at the same time as our flight because it was delayed from an earlier time. We asked if they could hold the plane as we had about 5 -10 minutes to get there. they told us there was nothing they could do. We ran to the correct gate and the plane was just backing awayfrom the walkway terminal. We were rescheduled on the next flight 1 1/2 hrs later.

When we arrived in Orlando at 10:00 PM Sunday night we were very tired. I think it was like 36 hours to get home. We got hme at 11:30 PM or midnight and we put the kids right to bed. Marybeth and I unpacked, seperated the laundry and just got organized and Owen woke up at 2:00 AM and Rebekka at 2:30 AM! They were hungry and wanted a bath. We had mac & cheese and put them to bed at 4:00AM and Owen was back up at 7:00AM. I got up with Owen and Rebekka got up at 10:30 AM. Marybeth slept in, as she was not feeling well. When she got up, she went to the clinic and received some antibiotics for a sinus infection. I finally laid down and got up at 4:00 PM when my in-laws came to visit. We went for pizza. We are so out of whack schedule wise. I think we went to bed at midnight to trying to get everyone back on track. All in all Rebekka and Owen are doing great and getting along just fine. They fought over the guitar and Rebekka convinced Owen to play the keyboard instead. Rebekka said they were writing a special song for Mom. As of today I have not heard it! Rebekka and Owen communicate in two different lanuages but somehow meet in the middle. We are blessed to have Owen in our family and are excited to have everyone meet him.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Final Day inTaiwan

This morning we received confirmation that we could chage our flight and leave tonight. We will be back in Orlado at 8:25 PM Sunday flying on American Airlines. We decided to change since we were able to get Owen’s Visa yesterday.

This morning we received confirmation that we could change our flight and leave tonight. We will be back in Orlando at 8:25 PM Sunday flying on American Airlines. We decided to change since we were able to get Owen’s Visa yesterday.

Since this is our last day we went to the Taipei Zoo. It is pretty nice and a decent size. The kids were free and it was 120NTD for both of us. We saw lots of animals such as: Giraffes, black bears, camels, panda bears and koalas. Rebekka really enjoyed it and Owen was only interested when the animals were actually moving. I think this was the hottest day so far. We took umbrellas with us for shade. A lot of people take umbrellas everywhere.

Owen is fitting in very nicely and Rebekka is a tremendous help even though she doesn’t know it. This getting up at 4:00 or 4:30 has to stop. They can nap but we get exhausted. They are up when the sun is. When we were at breakfast this morning, Owen kept saying the same sentences over and over. A lady came up to us and asked if we knew what he was saying. We said “no”. It turns out he was saying, “everyone has juice and I don’t”, “They tell me no all the time” and “sister didn’t eat all her food”.

Pray for us on our way home. We may need it on the long leg!

Thank you for following us and sending all your well wishes.

Steve, Marybeth , Rebekka and Owen.

Friday, July 16, 2010

AIT appointment and Steve makes history (honest)

Today we went to the AIT to get Owen’s Visa. IF you are an adoptive family you may want to take note of this. We had an 8:00 appt. When we got there, there were a million people there waiting all outside. Since we had an appt, we went in and through security then to the THIRD floor. It is quite difficult to figure out where to go. The security guard told us to go to the second floor. We went to window 4? To check in, then sat down. They called us by name (listen carefully) and then to window 8. Had to answer some questions and sign some papers. The glass separating you and the worker was opaque-ish and I had to listen closely to understand her. The supervisor had to step in a few times to clarify the question for me. I didn’t want to answer anything wrong. Then down to second floor to pay. It was $404 USD. The worker asked if I was paying in USD or TWD. I brought $400 like we were told…good thing I had a $10.00 with me. I paid with crisp 50’s and a not so crisp folded 10. We were there for 1 ½ hrs. I asked to pick up the Visa today and they told me to come back between 2:00 & 2:30. When I went back, the room was empty and half of the rooms’ lights were out. I went to the window and the same lady came to the window and said “your paperwork is not complete yet, please have a seat”. I thought “how long is this going to take” and she literally came out in 60 seconds. Really no need to have a seat. They give you a packet of papers only to be opened in the U.S. on your arrival in customs.
The cab ride was 20 minutes / 140 NTD

Later we went back to Taipei 101 and went to the top, really it was 89th floor. The view is spectacular from all four sides. I took lots of pics and video. The elevator goes up in around 35 - 40 seconds. It is really fast.

I made history today, no, I really did. We went to Chili’s and I ordered the honey chipolte chiken tenders and the manager came over to me and said “you are the first person in Taiwan to order this”. It turns out that it is new to their menu and was just released for ordering when we walked through the door. The manager came to our table and talked with us for several minutes. Marybeth got a chicken sandwhich and the chicken was HUGE. Even Rebekka commented on the size of it. The manager told us that the chicken is from local farms and not frozen. It does have a different taste from US Chili’s.

Owen has a great night last night. He slept in today until 6:15 ish. Rebekka got up at 5:20 and sunrise is like 4:30 ish. When the sun is up, so is Rebekka. She was wanting Owen to get up so she put some cereal on his pillow thinking he would smell it and wake up. The only thing that happened was he rolled on it and smashed it in bed. He does repeat a lot of what is said but we still have a ways to go. Rebekka said “ he never stops talking”.

They went to bed early and I went out to a night street market. It was pretty cool with a lot of traditional foods. Some appealing….some not so much. I think I was the only American there, it was packed and no way to take kids in a stroller. It is more difficult to people that speak English than it was in China but you get by somehow.

We are going to try to change our flight back to US since we got Owen’s Visa. We may be in LA for a day and pick up our original flight back to Florida. Waiting for confirmation from our travel agent.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 2 with Owen...Let's see what happens next

Before I start, I want to thank everyone for e-mailing us or posting on our blog. We really appreciate the well wishes. I think we e-mailed everyone back. If not it wasn’t intentional.

Want to thank Robin Z for the leapsters and Spiderman laptop. Yes “I’m outta here” is said A LOT everyday by Owen.

Well after a long day yesterday we got both kids to sleep. Owen woke up a few times last night and got out of bed, I had to put him back in bed but you could tell he was confused but not fully awake. He tossed and turned a lot, which made for a restless night for Marybeth and I.

Rebekka woke at 5:00 A.M. and Owen at 5:30. Did I mention that are internal clocks are still a little wacky. Rebekka thinks when the sun is up it is time to get up. Sunrise is earlier here.

We went down for breakfast and Owen kept saying 2 words over and over. We asked one of the waiters what he was saying, and it was vegetables and yogurt. We were close; we had put pancakes, bacon, congee and watermelon on his plate! We got him some veggies and we had to go to a different restaurant on a different floor to get him some yogurt. The buffet we eat at has traditional and western foods but no yogurt. I tried some of the traditional foods but nothing to crazy like quail eggs.

Rebekka has embraced the role of Big Sister. Owen imitates her and repeats everything she says. Rebekka is even talking Chinese as she imitates Owen and the sayings we tell him that were provided to us yesterday at the Orphanage. Never a dull moment since yesterday.

After breakfast I took a cab back to the orphanage to get some paperwork for the AIT tomorrow. I asked them if I could buy a stroller somewhere nearby. Our social worker started to give me directions but opted to give us one as a gift and asked how Owen was doing. She reiterated how amazing Owens reaction was to us yesterday. I offered them cash or an orphanage donation but she refused.. I took a few pictures of the orphanage and some video as well.

Thanks to our friend Robin P for recommending a place called the Living Mall. It has something like 7 or 10 floors. For those of you (adoptive families) coming after us you may want to bookmark this. The cab ride was 20 minutes and 140 NTD = $4.40 USD. The 5th floor has an arcade VERY similar to Chucky Cheese and tons of kid activities and clothes. The 7 th floor has a place called the Baby Boss. It has a place for older kids (and there were tons of them) Not sure what activities were for them, we couldn’t get close enough. Another area was like a gymnastic area. If your kids likes to lump and tumble, that is the place. We went to an area that was for smaller kids. It had a slide and the ENTIRE area was filled with colorful balls. It also had a trampoline type thing, a netted room with balloons in it and a few other fun things for the kids. Rebekka made friends with a girl that spoke Chinese and English and her mom helped us explain to Owen that it was time to leave. When she spoke to him, he listened and followed direction but was not understanding us. This activity was 200NTD per child = $6.25 USD.
Funny story about the 5th floor. They have these robotic pandas you can let your kids ride through the hallway. We thought it would be neat to let the kids do this (I have never seen anything like this before). Well we put the tokens in and the panda starts walking and turning around and we didn’t know how to control the thing. I was videotaping and Marybeth was trying control the panda. It never knocked anything over but people were looking at us like we were nuts or something. I guess it is controlled by pedals by your feet and the attached steering wheel. I’m sure there was a sign somewhere that said, “don’t ride without adult supervision” written in Chinese. After that we saw others riding the pandas with a parent AND child.

For dinner we went to outback for their special we saw advertised. We were amazed that Owen eats anything (unlike Rebekka). He ate Onion soup, Broccoli, Lettuce, and a hamburger.

Tonight’s bedtime was much different than last night. We flossed and brushed his teeth and he and Rebekka went straight to bed and were out in minutes. All in all day 2 went very well.