Poofs and Penguins (from “Madagascar”)
Ready to go, with a stack o' luggage!

Ready to go, with a stack o’ luggage!

We made it to Beijing! This is the first chance I have had to sit down and write since we got here- after 26 hours of travel with four kids in tow (and no one slept on the plane), we were exhausted upon arrival. It was so heart wrenching to leave home and 3 of our kids behind- the two girls were in tears as we headed out and Griffin was clinging onto me, though he really couldn’t understand what was happening or communicate his fears. The longest I have been away from him is a quick trip to the grocery store while he naps, usually. I wish I could have brought all my babies, but at least I was able to bring along 4 of them on this adventure- that wasn’t the original plan. We knew early on Corin would come, as the oldest boy in the house now, and eventually we considered allowing Grace to come as she was old enough to appreciate the experience, too. We just worried about leaving my mom with all the little ones and no big kid helpers. I got the idea to bring along Charlotte and we prayed about the decision, knowing it would be difficult to travel with her (and added expense) but also realizing this change in our family would affect her the most, as she already has some understandable insecurities due to her circumstances. We thought it might possibly help her with the transition, break up the “twins” at home for my mom to be able to better handle things without that difficult duo, and we also considered how it might help Carrigan transition into the family from day 1. He would not just see two big scary white people coming to take him away, but also someone in our group who looks like the people he is used to seeing everyday. It will hopefully make our family less intimidating to him. We had hoped to wean Garrick to be able to leave him home as we know from experience now how difficult it is to do international travel with a baby- but that didn’t happen. And, who am I kidding, I couldn’t have left him, anyway. It would have killed me!

Garrick on air travel.

Garrick on air travel.

So, half our family is on one side of the world, and half it on the other, and it’s a weird and unsettling feeling if I think about it too much…so I won’t. I have enough here to keep me busy, that’s for sure! The trip started off well- with the exception of Charlotte asking, “Are we in China yet?” on the drive to the airport, and Garrick arching his back to avoid getting into the car seat before the plane even took off, it really couldn’t have gone better overall! We had a direct flight into Beijing that we got for an incredibly good price this time, and our flight time was “only” 13 hours. Compared with nearly twenty last time, it felt short! Well, okay, not short, but it was bearable. Charlotte never made a peep the whole flight despite not sleeping a wink (if you have been around Charlotte for any length of time at all, you will know she has a ridiculously loud voice that is not fitting with her petite little frame!), so this in and of itself was a miracle. Garrick was completely quiet and mostly happy for the first 10 hours, despite the fact that he only slept for 30 minutes of the entire flight- playing only with his feet and empty plastic containers from stuff we ate and drank on the plane-and devouring an entire can of poofs.

Gettin' his snack on...

Gettin’ his snack on…

...and his drink on!

…and his drink on!

oh, and watching about 5 movies, complete with headphones. Yeah, not ideal for a baby to be a total couch potato in front of the TV for that long, but you do what you have to! I was able to see a couple movies I’d been wanting to see (‘The Song’- highly recommended! and ‘Gone Girl’- a good reminder of why I typically avoid rated ‘R’ movies) The last two hours of the flight were difficult, but it really was so much better than last time! We were pleasantly surprised with United Airlines, that’s for sure!

Pass the chips, please.

I’ve got this now, Mom.

We were greeted in Beijing by a Marriott driver holding a sign with our name on it, and a van waiting to take us to our hotel for the next three nights. We were so delirious by the time we got to our room, and it was only a little after 4 in the afternoon (4AM at home- exactly a 12 hour time change from NY), so we knew we had to push through to beat the jet lag and not give in to our desire to go straight to bed. We had a 6 o’clock appointment to meet our guide in the lobby, but we knew we needed to just find food and go to bed soon after that meeting instead of trying to do dinner after 6…so we ended up across the street at McDonald’s- not adventurous or a good intro into the culture, but we knew what we were getting.

Some of us surrendered to jet lag earlier than others...

Some of us surrendered to jet lag earlier than others…

We came back to meet with our guide, David, and he advised us about some of the things to be careful of in the area, where to go to eat and shop, hold tight to our money and purse and don’t go with anyone inviting us to tea or an art gallery- adoptive families with Chinese children are easy prey, he said, because we are seen as kind and generous, and therefore easy to rip off, apparently. We were reminded not to drink the water, not to eat fruits that can’t be peeled or any street vendor food, and other things to help us have a nice stay here in Beijing. Our main goal being here is to have a couple of days to ward off jet lag before getting Carrigan, and the price to fly from NY into Beijing was SO much less expensive than flying straight into Shanghai. We are so excited to get a chance to see this amazing historic place and visit sights we’ve only read about in books and see wonders of the world that we never thought we would lay eyes on in person. What an opportunity- talk about a great field trip for our kids!

RAWR.

How we all felt after the first day.