Saturday, November 10, 2012

What a long strange trip its been....

....and yes that was another musical reference, now name the band! We landed at JFK this morning a little after 6:00 am and Declan became the newest United States Citizen with that touchdown!  We have now landed at Newark (Savannah), Chicago (Adien) and JFK (Declan) on our return from adoption. What an experience! Oh yea, and there was snow on the ground! We are pretty sure Declan has never seen it before, so I wish we could go out and play in it! So we made our way to United States Customs and Immigration with our 3 kids, or torrent of carry on bags and a lack of sustainable sleep.

As many of you parents know, navigating an airport with kids is difficult, and I am here to tell you its even more difficult with 3!  Thank goodness for the mega stroller! It kept the boys close at hand and with Savannah rolling her suitcase, it was quite uneventful (except for one small mishap!).
The flight in from Vancouver was smooth and trouble free and the kids were no trouble at all. The biggest issue was with Aiden not wanting to be in the toilet as it was flushed as it was too loud! He told me "Dad, do not flush that thing while I am sitting on it please", and I almost cried from laughing as he was so serious! I also thought that the meals served by Cathay Pacific were good as well, so lets hear it for descent airline food this time around!

And speaking of time, since we left woke up in Guangzhou on Friday morning (7:00 am), we have been up for a total of nearly 37 hours, with 5 of those in a van and 16 on planes so far. When we get home today just before 3:00 pm I am thinking that we will be just a little worn out! With that in mind Ann Marie and I will not summarize our trip until we get some sleep and can really digest it, but it definitely has been special. When Declan gives you a hug, you can feel the love he already has for us, and he is quickly growing into begin a special little man in our family.

So with that, I think I will go and enjoy the quiet creature comforts of the American Airlines Admirals Club here at JFK and give Ann Marie a break as she watches the kids. Onward to Raleigh-Durham and home!!

So till next time....

Michael (Are you going to eat your carrot cake?), Ann Marie (I am beginning to hate the Thomas song), Savannah (Can I ride in the stroller too?), Aiden (Is this airport home?) and Declan (one more airplane ride till I am home!) Kennedy

Thank goodness for the kids room and the constant cartoons on the TV!
Yes sir, that's snow on the ground!  Didn't they just get a hurricane a week or so ago?
Aiden was a true fan of the great selection of movies and free drinks on the airplane!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hello from Vancouver....

and the halfway point, at least we hope so!  It was a pretty uneventful flight from Hong Kong to here aside from a little turbulence. The kids did great although we had to sit in separate sections. Savannah sat by herself right in front of Aiden and I and Mom and Declan sat about 10 rows in front of us. The service was good and I am very grateful to the lady who sat beside Savannah and helped her with her food and other items.

We deplaned for a quick crew and plane cleaning and we will shortly be headed to JFK where we will experience another several hour layover. I will give us a chance for a short break after US Customs and preparation for the last leg of the journey!

We will post more photos from there.

So till then....

Michael (Does Ben Stiller make good movies anymore?), Ann Marie (Lets get to RDU soon!), Savannah (Can I turn on my iPod yet?), Aiden (Do we have any snacks?) and Declan (I don't know if there is a word for over tired in Chinese, but he needs this one!)

On our way home....

....with one more seat than we came over with!  We started our venture this morning in a jovial mood and preperations for the travel day ahead!  We are currently at the Hong Kong airport getting ready to board our flight to the United States and home! Its a bit busy here and we are struggling along, so this one will be short. We will post more once we land at JFK or maybe Vancouver if time allows, but for now I will leave you with some photos!

Our family all dressed up!
The boys strike a pose!
Yes, this scares us!  She is so beautiful!
Last time out of the room at the China Hotel
Passing time in the lobby 
I look cool right?
You can add your own caption here. Only we know the truth! 
Now where is our van? 
Dinner at the Hong Kong Airport.
Chopstick proficency.....

Not so much 
Our future gymnast 
The blogger trying to get something posted before we board our flight!

So till next time.....

Michael (are we home yet?), Ann Marie (thank you for the Starbucks!), Savannah (did I really ask for another brother?),  Aiden (is this guy for real?) and Declan Kennedy

Sorry about last night....

....when we posted a little prematurely.  The Internet crashed (supposedly) right in the middle of me finishing the blog, thus you got the unscreened version with very little in the way of photos.  So here is what was supposed to be attached:

Antigone and Savannah before her family left for home in the United States
You think they like Starbucks?
We wish this was on the island the back in 2006 when we were here for 10 days! 
Jenny's Place was our first shopping stop!
Shamian Island is still beautiful
Hanging on the island
After the purchases at Master Wangs
The mascots on Shamian Island at one of the local restaurants
Lets eat duck! 
The shop owners love Savannah!
The boys doing their best Bono impersonation!
Pile on Daddy!
In the zone!
Finally, some time to relax!
Dad and his girl on the playground
Little Miss Magic
Happy as clams!
Tell Uncle David that we are ready for some chicken wings!!
Savannah on Skype with her classmates!

So till next time......

The Kennedys

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I ate the last mango in Paris….

….and took the last plane out of Saigon, I took the first fast boat to China and Jimmy theres still so much to be done. Well, technically it would have been the last peach in Guangzhou and took the last plane out of Hong Kong, we took the first connecting flight to Raleigh, and we will be so glad to be home! I think Jimmy Buffett and Steve Goodman would be proud!

This morning came way too early on the 17th floor!  I, unlike everyone else, decided to stay up and watch a movie last night (Tower Heist, verdict – 2.5 out of 5 stars), so the 5:45 alarm came as quite a surprise!

This morning at 7:45 we met Leigh downstairs for our visit to the US Consulate for Declan’s paperwork and swearing in ceremony. We were one of the first ones in this morning so we had to wait until our 8:30 appointment at which time we were joined with some of the other families from our hotel who are traveling as a group. It did make it a little nicer to have adults to talk with and we even met a couple from Asheville, NC. Its such as small World, Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh were represented at our hotel alone, and who only knows who else could be here in process! After we met with the Consulate official and had one of the clerks review all of our paperwork (through the plate glass window much like the late night gas stations in the United States!), we were done with our paperwork and on our way out of the building. It was interesting to see the line of people outside cued up to apply for US Visa applications. They are wanting to visit the United States and we are wanting to get home to the United States. I wonder which one of us wants it worse?

Since this was our only official function of the day we decided to head back to Shamian Island for some shopping and lunch. For one we can never get enough of walking through the little shops of the island that have been supported for so long by adoptive parents….Jennifer's, Andy’s, Sherry’s, Michael’s, Jenny’s, Master Wang’s….all of them within just a few blocks. The shops are hurting with the renovation of the White Swan Hotel and the decrease in the number of families traveling to China for adoption, but they are still just as friendly and willing to wheel and deal! Its so much fun and we buy way too much, but its worth it.  Tell anyone you know who is traveling to Guangzhou to visit these shops as they are great treasures and fun to experience! Aside from shopping, we also indulged in some Starbucks when we first made it to the island. Even the kids enjoyed one of the new coffee free drinks, and by the looks of it the little coffee chain from Seattle instantly hooked another one!  After a final lunch at Lucy’s we were headed back the hotel via cab (very economical), and setting up for the afternoon and evening.

After the island we once again decided against putting the kids down for a nap.  It worked so well last night, why tempt fate! We lounged a little bit once we got back the room and then Savannah and I went downstairs to see off one of her friends from the previous day. We then proceeded to play outside on the playground until dinner. Both on the playground and at dinner we noticed many new families arriving. Dinner tonight had roast duck (head on!) and many new items that were a treat. Afterwards we rushed the kids off to bed, except for Savannah who had a special engagement tonight.

Tonight was the second of two Skype calls between Savannah and her classroom back at Thales Academy in Apex, North Carolina. Mrs. Gainer once again had the kids gather around and ask Savannah questions about her trip, China, and what she was learning. Savannah did a great job and told her class all about her time here in China and that she would share lots of items when she gets back on Monday!

Tomorrow is a free day for the Kennedy’s as our guide will go to the consulate and pick up our paperwork (the sealed envelope for US Immigration) and then will meet us for transport to Hong Kong at 4:00 pm. It should take about 4 hours by van to get to the airport, then we will have some time to get settled in before the flight.

Our flight will leave Hong Kong at 1:00 am, at which time I am sure we will loading sleeping children into their seats. We arrive in Vancouver, British Columbia where we have a on the plane layover of little less than 2 hours, at which time we depart for JFK in New York.  The final leg of our flight has us on American flight 4404 taking off from JFK at 12:55 pm and arriving at RDU at 2:35 pm. I am sure we will be a little wiped out, but happy to be home none the less!

So tonight we fall asleep in mainland China for the last time. I will comment more on the overall trip tomorrow night as we sit in the airport waiting for the flight, but I think we can all say that we are ready to be heading home. With that, we bid you adieu from the China Hotel in downtown Guanzhou, China.

So till next time….

Michael (In the immortal words of John Dever....I'm leaving on a jet plane, dont know when Ill be back again), Ann Marie (Do you think we have time to hit the show warehouse before we leave?), Savannah (So when are we coming back for a little sister?), Aiden (Do I really have to share my room with Declan?), and Declan (If I continue to grunt maybe I will get my way!) Kennedy

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The time is slow….

…. when you are most prepared for it to pass. The last couple of days are the worst as there is literally nothing to do and lots of time to do it!

For everyones knowledge, we did not mean for the post for Wednesday to make it to you so late, but our ability to connect to the blog was compromised for some reason for the past 24 hours, but we just connected again and hope that it will suffice until we make it to the plane on early Saturday morning!  So try and put the following post into context as it happened about 12 hours ago. Sorry!

Thank goodness for the breakfast here on our floor. There is no way we could get three kids up and downstairs for the large buffet in the main dining room. I am sure that the Kennedy family will have to undergo some schedule changes at home due to the increased headcount, but we expected that and will work on that as soon as we get back on familiar ground!

Once again at 9:30 we met Leigh downstairs in the lobby to go back to the Guangdong Travelers Clinic to have Declan’s TB test reviewed. The highlight of this trip was trying to beat the large travel group that was gathering in the lobby to the clinic so we could get through first! Hey, when you are bored you will look for excitement in any form that you can! Well, with the help of our driver we succeeded in negotiating traffic and scoring the first spot in line to have the test site read!

After the clinic we headed to the jewelry wholesale district to procure a piece of jade for Declan. As we have been to this site the past two visits we knew exactly the shops we needed to visit, With the jade pendent purchased, we walked around a few of the floors where Savannah and I made a purchase or two for ourselves. We also made sure to hit the candy store we found last visit to stock up on snacks for the room and flights home. Needless to say, we over did it and there will be snacks for all for quite a while!

After shopping we got back to the hotel for lunch, but decided against putting the kids down for a nap.  Last night the kids had a hard time going to sleep which we attributed to the late nap so we chose to keep them up and burning them out.  After some playtime in the room we headed back to the playground where we met a nice couple from Colorado Springs who had just adopted a daughter. They were a pleasure to talk with and their older daughter was fast friends with Savannah.  After the hotel playground we once again dined in the lounge on the executive floor. We noticed at dinner there was a gentleman watching us with the kids, and when we readied for our dinner departure, he stopped us with the most interesting story! His name was Declan Reilly from Dublin, Ireland! He was so intrigued to hear his name being called at our table each time we called to our son and wanted to know how we came about choosing the name! We told him of my family heritage and the choice of Declan for its significance in Irish lore and he was quick to follow up with Declan being one of the first Irish Saints. We had a great conversation concerning politics, worldviews and travel. I think Ann Marie and I could have sat and talked with Declan all night, but the other Declan as well as Savannah and Aiden had other ideas as they were on their last wisps of energy. With dinner complete and baths finished, the kids settled down to a episode of Thomas the Tank Engine and were soon all well on their way to dreamland.

With the kids in bed, Ann Marie are settling in early. We have an early morning appointment at the US Consulate in the morning and need to be in the lobby at 7:45. Looks like an early morning for all of us here…..which will lead to an early nap tomorrow!

With that we will sign off with how interesting it was to watch the election unfold while in China!  Although our candidate for President did not win, the process for electing our leaders brings to light how important your vote really is! Hopefully the divisions that our electoral process brings to bear will heal quickly and we can all work together to repair the issues that are eroding the fabric of nation. I do not have an answer for how we do this, and I do not think either of the candidates or their respective parties do either, but I hope that together we can find the right path.

So till next time….

Michael (2 days, 21 hours, 7 minutes and 30 seconds till we leave….but who is counting), Ann Marie (Election results reaction - !@%$#%@), Savannah (Did I spend all my money yet?), Aiden (How much does one piece of candy cost?), and Declan (Hello is my first clear word in English) Kennedy

Guess who!!
Not my best side, but at least Declan was having fun!
Adien is such the daredevil!
Monkey see.....Monkey do!
Waterfall in the kids outdoor play area at the China Hotel
Either mom is doing the "Funky Chicken", or she and Declan are playing airplane!
Yea, I was just feeling artistic with camera settings
The crew at dinner tonight
Lots of sharing when it comes to meals with kids!
"Little Man" had his heart set on desserts at this point of the meal!
McDonald's in China. Same look, same lines, different language!
Guangzhou Wholesale Jewellery Market - 2 buildings, 6 floors each,  out of control!