Saturday, June 30, 2007

Our second full day at home

Well we finally got our luggage yesterday at 5:30 pm. We are so thankful it made it. We were really worried we would never see it again.

We were still pretty exhausted yesterday. Mary Louise got a few hours sleep Thursday night and got up and relieved me about 3:00 am. I tried to sleep but managed only 2 or 3 hours. Last night Mary Louise stayed up with him. They both eventually fell asleep on the couch. Today we all feel better and are up and at it with clean clothes and showers. We gave him his 3rd bath since we got him. Bathing him gives new meaning to the old cliche, "I have to wash my cat". It finally feels good to be here.

FengFeng is a typical 3 year old. He is exploring everything in the house and testing us to see what he can and can't get into. Overall he does pretty well. He has a STRONG will and when he makes his mind up about something he is very determined. We hope he holds onto that trait. It will serve him well in the future. He seems comfortable being here and being with us. He still wants sweets all the time and we are working on that. The sleep issues will take some time but we will eventually work that out as well.

We have never been so glad to be in our little house in Decatur.

More later . . .

Big Greg

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We made it! We are home!

Have you ever had one of those moments when a thought goes through your head about something bad happening and as soon as it does you think, "I shouldn't have thought that, now it will happen"?

Somewhere about half way over the Northern Pacific Ocean, as our Boeing 747 cruised east, I thought; "this entire trip has gone perfectly. Not one single tiny glitch". OOOHH, I didn't think that. I really didn't think that. Please let me have that thought back!!! Too late.

We arrived in Detroit to rain and flight delays. The Huntsville flight is pushed back then pushed back again. Finally it is cancelled. Steve Carter and I descend upon a Northwest gate agent to find out what our options are. The next flight to Huntsville with seats for 4 or more people is not until Friday night!!! No way. Where else can we go close to Huntsville. The Carters opt for Nashville later in the evening and we opt for Birmingham a little earlier. Then it really started going downhill. Flights are being cancelled and pushed later right and left. The Carters finally depart Detroit around 11 pm or so and we are still being told the Birmingham flight will happen it will just be very late. I call and reserve a rental car at the Birmingham airport. I shouldn't have wasted a call. Around 1:30 am everyone waiting on the Birmingham flight notices that ALL the Northwest employees have disappeared and the flight has been taken off the status monitors. Until now we were just simply mad. Now everyone left waiting for the Birmingham flight are forming lynch mobs. We have to call the Northwest toll free number from cell phones to try to find out what's happening on the ground at THEIR hub!!!! Finally the annoucement that we all new was coming, flight cancelled. We have now been in the airport for over 12 hours. We have been traveling with a 3 year old for over 30 hours. We are exhausted, hot dirty, hungry and fuming. We are given vouchers for meals and rooms at the Ritz Carlton. Great hotel. It's a shame we only used the rooms for 4 hours. We were able to take a shower and put on the same dirty clothes we had been wearing for a day and a half and get in a short nap. Back to the airport and finally catch a flight to Nashville arriving at 10:30 am. Our friend Theresa was kind enough to pick us up at the airport and loan us her car to drive to Decatur. We finally arrived home today at 1:30 pm. 45 hours after leaving the hotel in Guangzhou. We have never felt this type of exhaustion. Paul William is going great guns tonight. We think it's just a 3 year old that is so tired he can't do anything but full speed. The 3 of us are walking (staggering) zombies.

We are so very disappointed that we missed one of the things we were so looking forward to, that being arriving at the Huntsville airport with our family and friends waiting to greet us. For that, Northwest Airlines will always hold a "special" place in our hearts. Particularly when we saw on the Detroit news this morning that the biggest cause for all the chaos yesterday was the Northwest employees who are apparently doing everything they can to destroy the very company that pays their salary. How stupid can people be? It's like they are saying "hey, I know how to get even with management. Let's make as many of our customers mad as we can. We don't have our luggage tonight. It was lost in the chaos. Northwest claims it is currently on a flight from Detroit to Nashville and will be delivered to us early Friday morning. We'll see.

We want to thank our friends and family for the food and gifts we found when we walked in the house today. Thank you so much. Driving down from Nashville we were dreading the prospect of having to go to the grocery store after what we have been through.

I will post more late, including pictures and updates. I have to go now since I keep falling over the keyboard from lack of sleep.

More later . . . .

Big Greg

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Goodbye China

Where do you start the beginning of the end? Or is this the end of the beginning?

Today we had a late start to the day after another hard night of not wanting to go to bed. Other than not wanting to go to bed or sleep, Paul William is a very happy little boy. He loves to laugh and play. Especially with his new big brother. After finally waking up and having a little breakfast we left the hotel and explored Shamian island where the hotel is located. To our friends who told us while we were in Wuhan to hang on that things are better once you get to Guangzhou, thanks, you were right. Things here have been much better and the adjustment has become smoother.

This afternoon we made the trip to the US Consulate Guangzhou. After having our identities checked we were given a brief talk and then took a short oath. We then picked up James Paul William's US immigration documents and his Chinese passport with US Visa. This marked the end of the "paperchase". All that is left is flying home tomorrow.

When we returned to the hotel we met up with our friends from Athens, the Carters. Above is the customary "Red Couch" photo of two sets of proud parents with their new children Lily Mei and James Paul William. It's been great to have friends here to share this experience with.

The "Red Thread" is now unraveled. We followed it through a maze of paperwork, waiting, and then half way around the world to an amazing place called China. We have seen and done things we never dreamed of. We have walked in Tian A Mein Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. We have walked on the Great Wall. We cruised through the 3 Gorges, and locked through the new 3 gorges dam project. We rode in "Pea Pod" boats, visited the "Ghost City" and strolled through the Chinese Herbal Medicine market. We have met and encountered an amazing nation of people. The Chinese are hard working, resilient, kind and open. We had a Chinese woman, a total stranger, that we shared an elevator with, say "Sweet boy, you do nice thing", then pat "Baba" on the shoulder. They know the children that are adopted will have a much better future than they would otherwise. They seem to appreciate what the adoptive families are doing and don't seem judgemental. For that we are thankful. But more than anything else we've done here, we have met a wonderful little guy named Wu JinFeng. What a personality! Strong willed, smart, and a great sense of humor.

Today in a little gift shop one of the sales girls began talking to him. After he said something to her she asked him to repeat it. She then looked at Baba with a suprised expression on her face and said, "He told me he wants to talk like his Baba." We can't wait for that to happen.


When we first came to China, I was so overwhelmed at how big it all was-the country, the culture, what we were doing. I started to have doubts about taking a child away from his culture, his heritage. I had thought about it before but being here really drove home how ancient this land is, the culture, the uniqueness of the people. It was all so different. The longer I traveled in the country, the more I found that we had much in common. Also, the more I learned about the life that my child would lead here, the more I realized God really did send him to us. We are more than ready to bring home this wonderful little boy and have everyone meet him. Be prepared for a little whirlwind!

Mary Louise

Monday, June 25, 2007

Both our babies are napping right now. Greg(son) deserves a nap-he has truly been wonderful since James Paul William joined our family. He has walked him up and down China, played with him, tried to comfort him when he has been unhappy, and done it all with a smile. We have been very proud of him and of his attitude throughout it all. We would not have made it through yesterday and the night before without him, when our little one was so unhappy. After staying up all night and then all day yesterday, JPW finally went to sleep last night about 11:00-with his shoes on, of course. He has only slept one night without them on and that was the first night. It is ok with us if that makes him feel better right now. Today he woke up happy and has eaten like they told us he would-like a little tiger. He has eaten like crazy since he found chopsticks last night that came with our take out. Duh!! We had not had any until then and at every meal he has insisted on feeding himself with the biggest fork or spoon available. (It was not working really well.) BTW, Greg bought a set on our shopping trip this morning. It is all but impossible to have a regular schedule but we are trying. It is hot but I am ok with it. The shopping is fun here and it is easier to do with the less traffic. Lifeng took us to the "shopping street" where all the Chinese were and it was unbelievable the amount of shops and people. The street is closed to vehicles and completely covered from side to side with people. Greg thought that there were more people on the street than live in Decatur! China has been so different than Europe, it is great that he has gotten to experience it with us. We do go tomorrow to the US Consulate, about an hour away, and take our oath and get his visa. We can then leave Wednesday morning and be in Decatur Wednesday afternoon!:O Please pray for us(and everyone on our flight) because did we tell you? he travels worse than I do!! We will fly from Guangzhou to Tokyo, Tokyo to Detroit and then to Huntsville.
Our friends from Athens, Monica and Steve Carter, arrived last night from Chongqing with their new daughter Lily Mei and her two older brothers. We think they will be on our flight home(they may regret that decision). :) They are right down the hall from us in our hotel. We "know" several families here who were with us in Wuhan. It is like a small support group, we are all encouraging each other and have empathy for each other when we tell our stories of how it is going. It is actually rather amazing.
Mary Louise

Hot Monday in Guangzhou

Not much going on today. Lifeng took our paperwork to the US Consulate. Everything was almost in order. Our Homestudy was not sent to the Consulate so Lifeng is having Cradle of Hope send a copy from the States. We should take the oath and pick up James Paul William Ogle's US visa tomorrow as scheduled.

It's hot here in Guangzhou so we are just hanging out at the hotel during the middle of the day. We did a little shopping this morning while it was just hot. Before it turned very hot.

Here are some more photos from Guangzhou. It's very hot here.

Actually this first photo was taken in Wuhan. It was taken in front of the gate at the hospital. This is the spot where Wu Jinfeng was left on July 8, 2004 four days after his birth.

Sunday we visited the Chinese Herbal Medicine Market in Guangzhou. It is the largest market of it's type in China. What you can find here is truly amazing. Roots, barks, mushrooms, fungi, dried sea creatures. The list goes on and on. It was very hot walking through the market.

Below are bags full of some of the offerings in the very hot market.

Below is a shot looking up the very hot street in the market.

We assume this man was promoting some business or product. Or maybe he just likes to dress up like a chicken on Sunday afternoon when it's very hot. He didn't actually play music on his horn. He just blew it very loudly at random.

Oh yeah. Did I mention that it's VERY hot here?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hello from Guangzhou

This is the view from our hotel room window.

This picture is a little out of focus but I couldn't resist a shot of our "little" boy asleep on our "big" boy.

Chinese Dragon Boats

Well, we made it. The wait at the airport in Wuhan was no fun. Special thanks go to Lifeng for helping out on our first plane trip. Once the plane was in the air things calmed down and we had a pretty uneventful flight.
Feng Feng fell asleep in the van on the way from the airport to the hotel. We were able to get him to the room and in bed without waking. Then "baba" got real "smart" and tried to remove his shoes. BIG mistake. He was back up for hours. We (I) won't make that mistake again. As we say at home; "let a sleeping dog lie."
This morning we had a nice walk around Shamian Island where the hotel is located. It's a very nice area. We agreed that there were similarities with parts of New Orleans, one of our favorite cities. We stopped and had his picture made for his US visa. We then had his medical exam. He did pretty well. The nurses and doctors were great with him.

We explored inside the hotel. There is an indoor waterfall. (Pictures later.) And the pool at the bottom is full of big goldfish. He loved it.

We have spent most of the afternoon in the hotel. The temperature outside is hovering right at 100 and it's humid.

We had a final appointment this afternoon with Lifeng to complete the LAST of our paperwork. The adoption was finalized with the Chinese government yesterday and the only thing left was US Immigration paperwork. WOW, there really is an end to the "paperchase". (We think.)

This afternoon we started hearing booming drum beats and went outside to investigate. Our hotel is right on the Pearl River. Today was the Chinese Dragon Boat races. Above is a picture for our friends back home who are celebrating the Dragon Boat races with their Chinese children today. The picture is of 2 boats being towed back. The race was actually this morning. It sure was neat to see the real thing but at this point I think we would all have chosen to be at home with all of you.

We are all tired and ready to wrap this trip up and come home. Wednesday can't come soon enough.

More later . . .

Big Greg

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Yet Another Trip to the Civil Affairs Office

For the third time this week we went back to the Civil Affairs Office. The first day to pick him up. By the way, the orphanage director brought him there that day. ( He is also on our video.)The second day to do all the paperwork and again, today, to pick up his Chinese passport. We can finally leave Wuhan! Our plane is this evening about 5:30. Before we go to the airport we are going to the spot where he was abandoned. I think it is a gate by a hospital. The Baofeng Police then took him to the orphanage after he left the hospital. He stayed at the orphanage until he was 10 days old and then went to his foster family where he stayed until only 2 days before we met him on Monday. (Our previous information was incorrect.)
He slept all night again last night and woke up pretty happy and hungry! Our helpful Chinese waitress met us at the breakfast table with not one, but two, lollipops. I think that is what everyone needs to start their day, don't you? BTW, by the time we left the table he had 3 of them!! We are anxious to go on to Guangzhou and finish the final paperwork and head back home. He is very active and we want to get to our toys and yard!
Mary Louise

Day 4

We did make it to the zoo today. After the last two days of rain and being cooped up in the hotel, I thought it would be a great outing. He has been grieving pretty hard and hates being in the room. Our hotel has a little playground outside, probably because of all the adoptive families who stay here, but we haven't really been able to use it because of the weather. So off to the zoo and hopefully to see a Panda. As we got closer to our destination, he became very agitated and finally through our guide we realized we were near his foster family's house. He must have frequently gone to the zoo. There was one spot in particular he became upset and kept looking for his foster family. It didn't turn out quite as I expected,however, he calmed on the way home and we had a good afternoon and evening. We are all looking forward to leaving tomorrow to go to Guanzhou.
When he is happy, he is very, very happy. He loves to play with the inflatable ball we brought. His first day he played with our deck of cards, and I told him they were Grandma's cards so he started saying "Grandma" when we get them out. He is sitting in GeGe's lap going to sleep right now and I guess it is poetic justice but he sucks his thumb. He is still Baba's boy and he likes to tell me to "go on", I just tell him to go on back and laugh at him. He has terrible table manners and Greg keeps saying he eats like a pig. He hated the bubbles I brought-at first. Now, we have to hide them. He truly hates water so we will really have to work to get him over it because we all love it so much.
I didn't know how ready I would be to come home after we picked him up on Monday but I am very ready!! Believe it or not, I even found myself saying "we can do that next time we come."
Mary Louise

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A few more photos

Day 3 with James Paul William

All in all the transition is going pretty well. We do have our moments however. Some we are sure are related to the separation from his former life and some from being a 3 year old.

Today at lunch the hotel wait staff "helped" us. He was being fussy and they began talking to him in Chinese. Very shortly one of the waitresses carried him to the buffet to let him show her what he wanted. Watermelon. After returning to the table with his watermelon he asked for something else in chinese. The waitress was happy to oblige. She returned shortly with a pack of SUGAR which she helped him cover his watermelon with!! This boy has a sweet tooth and then some! We were trying to hold off on the sweets until the end of the meal and put some "real" food in him first. Oh well, as they say "When in China . . .".

This morning we were allowed to visit the Wuhan Social Welfare Institute (SWI). Also referred to as an orphanage. We met one of the assistant directors and presented them with a gift of a rice cooker. We were then given a tour. We visited the 5th floor which is dedicated to Special Needs children. There we saw children from only a few days old to close to 5 or 6. There were a good number of caregivers/workers present. Some were simply spending time with the children and interacting with them. We also saw some that were providing physical therapy to others. We also visited the nursery. There appeared to be around 20 infants there. All had some type of special need. We saw several little girls, (almost newborn age) with heart defects. There were other children with various physical and/or mental special needs. It was one of the most moving things you can ever imagine experiencing. Some of these children would be in neo-natal ICU if they were in the U.S. Some of the problems would be pretty simple to solve in the U.S. These children just need someone to come and get them and give them that chance.

One of the earliest photos we recieved of Paul William was taken of him standing in front of a low iron fence in front of the SWI. The fence is heart shaped. Today we were able to take a family photo in front of the same fence. The small figure in the background to the left is a monkey. Paul William was born in the Chinese year of the monkey.

Early on during the adoption our agency sent us a DVD with Paul William and some other children playing together. One of the scenes in the video was of the children playing in a ball pit. Below is a picture of "Baba" and Paul William at the ball pit.

The man with us below is LiFeng, our facilitator and guide with Cradle of Hope Adoption Center. Lifeng has made our trip very enjoyable and easy. He knows and understands the process and takes care of all the paperwork and details for us.

Below is photo of the Wuhan SWI.

Greg Jr. came down with the sinus infection that Dad just finished getting over. We started him on a z-pack today. He is sleeping this afternoon as is his little brother.

Tomorrow it's a trip to the zoo. Mary Louise will finally get to see the Pandas she's been wanting to see for so long. Lifeng asked us yesterday if we wanted to go to the zoo. We asked him if they had pandas and when he said yes, we told him the zoo is a MUST DO stop.

Thanks for checking in on us. We enjoy your comments. Keep them coming.

More later . . .

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Slow day in China

Hello everyone,

Thanks to all who have emailed and left comments on our blog. We have really enjoyed reading them.

Not much to report today. We made a short trip to the Civil Affairs office this morning to complete the adoption paperwork. It only took about an hour. Other than that we've just been hanging out in our hotel room getting to know one another. We took Paul William down to the hotel restraunt for breakfast and lunch today. It went very well. All in all the transition continues to be pretty smooth. Generally he's a happy boy. Every now and then something we do will set him off for a few minutes but he usually gets over it pretty quickly.

We are going to the store to buy a few supplies later and then dinner here at the hotel and that's pretty much it for the day. Tomorrow we visit the orphanage.

Thank you,

the Ogle family

Monday, June 18, 2007

We Meet Wu JinFeng

After some early morning jitters, we made it to the breakfast buffet where several other adoptive families had also arrived. We left a little early for our 9:30 appointment ( about 8:45.) We were the first family at the Civil Affairs Office but there were several little girls already there. They were calmly walking around in their squeaky shoes. ( This was the calm before the storm). By the time Wu JinFeng arrived, some of the babies had figured out what was going on so there was some noise and commotion already in progress. He walked in smiling and confident to this room full of people. He looked just like his pictures ( I had had this fear that he would have changed beyond recognition and I would not know him, silly I know.) We were at the far end of the room and had to wind our way through other families to get to him. Of course, we didn't take our eyes off him as we did this. As soon as he spotted us, there was a look of ( Greg (son)wants me to say pure terror at this point) however, it was recognition, he definitely knew our faces. His face fell, he started to cry and actually tried to leave the room. They had definitely been showing our pictures to him and telling him what was to happen. I just don't believe he thought it would be today. We didn't spend too much more time there and Greg had to carry him out to our car. It really was pitiful but we knew it would probably be like that. Our ride back to the hotel had him in high volume but when we got out he calmed a bit. I carried him to the elevator and into the room. I took him as far from the door as I could (having read other families blogs about what their children did) however, he was able to find his way back to it so he could kick the door and scream occasionally. Blessedly, this did not last very long. I put out a few small toys in different parts of the room so he could find them as he walked around. We were soon playing with him and the toys. We started to get a few smiles, then some interaction from him with all three of us, then laughter. He played very hard all day, refused to eat real food, is scared of the potty, and is sleeping right now. We expect him to wake up with a vengeance. I'm sure he will not be happy that he is still here and not back where he wants to be. However, we have made a good start, I think. He did fall asleep in my arms, while he played he would "read" his books and he was saying all kinds of Chinese but interspersed we could hear him say "mama, baba(daddy) and ge ge(big brother). He would also get his little photo album we had sent him and point to our pictures and say the same things. More later.
Mary Louise

More pictures

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Introducing . . . James Paul William Ogle

At 9:30 AM June 18, 2007 James Paul William Ogle joined our family.

A few tears were expected. (And recieved.)
But things turned around pretty quickly.
Then we started getting real laughs and smiles and pretty soon there was a full blown soccer game in the room with big brother.

Tomorrow is the day!!

Tomorrow is the day!! Mom has already said she probably won't sleep tonight and I am starting to actually get a little nervous myself. I think it will be a very exciting day tomorrow but maybe a little difficult to get adjusted to, but I am sure we can handle it all quite well. As long as my mom doesn't cry everytime the baby does it won't be so bad, but if she does it's going to be a LONG day. Haha. I think she will do fine though and we are all looking forward to it!!!!

Greg Jr.

T-Minus 14 Hours and counting

We waited 14 months for tomorrow to finally arrive. These last 14 hours may be the longest of the entire wait.

We've done all we can do now. We will finally do what we set out to do last year tomorrow morning at 9:30. Are we anxious? Sure. Are we nervous? Definitely. Are we excited? Absolutely. Are we prepared? Who knows?

We can't help but wonder what he's doing tonight. Packing? Probably not. We don't think he has anything to pack. They tell us we get him with the clothes on his back and maybe the few personal items we sent him. Not much packing required. Saying goodbye to everyone he's ever known? We doubt it. We don't think he can comprehend the fact that he will most likely never see the people and children he knows again.

What We do know is that tomorrow morning around 9:30 am he will be handed to 3 strange looking people he's never seen before. Will he be frightened? Definitely. Will he be sad? Absolutely. Will he cry for his friends and everything he knows in his life? We're sure he will. Will he get over it and become a member of our family? With time, yes. Will we have the patience to give him time to grieve? Yes. Will we be there for him when he's sad? Yes.

In your excitement for our family please remember that there's a 3 year old that's about to have his life turned upside down. It's time for us to change gears from the excitement of finally bringing James Paul William into our family and get down to the business of caring for a 3 year old that needs a lot of love and understanding. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers for the next few hours, days, weeks, and months. He has a tough road ahead. We think we're ready to show him the way.

The Ogle family

Sunday in Wuhan

We visited a local park( it is huge, we are not talking about Delano) with a magnificent view of the city from the very top. At the top was some sort of Chu temple, and at the top of the temple you could see a "bird's wing":) view of the area. (Quote from our guide who really does speak excellent English just got this expression a little mixed up.) I did climb the stairs up to the temple top but could not go out on the walkway to view. However, I could see through the windows. We were above the tree tops, for real. I looked out and saw the tops of the trees! We also attended a concert there with traditional (Chu) music and instruments. They had the bells, flutes, pan, drums with a long flat stringed instrument that our guide does not know the name of. We have seen it several times already but he says he is not very musical. This afternoon we will go to a store across the street just to see what they have that we might need after we get James Paul William tomorrow. We have been told he will just have the clothes and shoes he has on. I brought some things with me but, of course, just guessed at the sizes. LiFeng says he has been back at the orphanage for the last 7-9 months. We did not know that he had not been with his foster family. All these months we have been waiting for him, I used the thought that at least he was with his "family" so it was sad to think that he had not been. We are just hours away from getting to finally meet him!! Even if our beds were not made of concrete, I do not believe I will get much sleep tonight. I have had several restless/sleepless nights since we have been here anyway but tonight definitely expect one. I may not post again until we finally have him with us. Does he have any idea what is about to happen to him, I wonder?
Mary Louise

Saturday in Wuhan

When we disembarked from the boat, they had rolled out a red carpet for all the passengers and different crew members were dressed in uniforms (band). The 12 or so band members played while all the passengers disembarked. They had drums,flute, trumpet, saxophones. LiFeng met us at the dock and we rode to our hotel. I am still amazed to have only seen one accident since we have been in China and it was a little fender bender. Lines on the road mean absolutely nothing, even double yellow lines with traffic coming at you from the other direction! We are at the White Rose Hotel and we have a real bathroom with tub and western toilet. (For anyone who has wondered-yes, we have become quite familiar with the "squatty potty".) Our whole floor is decorated with Disney like decorations and Greg posted a picture of our room. Walking into our room was rather like being in a movie. It just didn't seem real. The mattresses on the beds are made of concrete, we think.
Mary Louise

Saturday, June 16, 2007

At last, Wuhan

We have finally arrived in Wuhan. You know on the boat you are in your own world. No TV, radio, newspaper or anything. Plus the countryside and the gorges are like being on another planet. On our first day, when we did stop-Fengdu-The Ghost City-also known as the capital of Hades(no joke, for over a 1000 years they have called it the capital of Hades), we truly were in another world. You have to climb over 400 steps or go up in a chair lift(guess which I did). The walk up was really wonderful, beautiful plants and trees and you could smell the earth-it smelled like red clay! The views were incredible, terraced land where the gorge people grow their corn, potatoes, peanuts and a view of the new Fengdu city. It was built to accommodate the re-location of some of the gorge people. We saw some of the rock carvings on the cliffs, they were re-creations of the originals. The original carvings were cut out of the clifts and put in museums because the flooding was going to cover them up. They have tried very hard to preserve their history but much has been covered up by the flooding for the dam.

On the second day we traveled through the gorges. I have never seen such views. In the river between the gorges one seems very small. We traveled by ferry boat to a tributary of the Yangtze, Shennong Stream. We rode in "pea pod boats" up the tributary and a local guide told us of many of the Tujia customs ( the Tujia are a minority people who live there). The "trackers" who paddled our boat also pulled us over some very shallow shoals with beautiful rocks in the stream. The trackers are famous here and in ages past (and really just a few years ago) they pulled many boats upstream in the Shennong and on the big river. Otherwise the boats could not have gone upstream. The Tujia men were very wiry and strong but not very big. They speak their own dialect and cannot speak English or Mandarin. The water was very clear and they gave us some of the colorful rocks. This boat trip was the neatest thing I think I have ever done. Oh yes, we passed the boundary, it is actually a tributary, that begins Hubei province. I made Greg take a picture of it. He thinks his mom is nuts anyway but I thought we needed to have a picture of it since it was our first "step" into Hubei province.

On Friday we actually toured the Three Gorges Dam. It is big and it will produce massive amounts of hydroelectric power but compared to some of the sights we had already seen it did seem to pale in comparison. We have seen and learned so much, I have tried to write it all down. I want to be able to talk someday with James Paul William about the country of his birth.

Mary Louise

Anyone ever seen a hotel room that looks like this?

In addition to the decor, the room is set up with almost everything you would need to care for an infant or small child. The entire 12th floor of our hotel is dedicated to adoptive families. There is a play area with toys where you exit the elevator to the 12th floor. Greg Jr. has a room adjoining ours. I will post a picture of Greg Jr's. room later. (Same effect, just all PINK!!) Thank goodness he's a good sport about it all. ;)


The new "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium in Beijing. This picture was taken in the middle of the day. There were no clouds in the sky. We were less than a mile from the stadium.
Life in the 3 Gorges
Greg and Mom at the Ghost City at Fengdhu
River life
Entering the double 5 step ship locks at the 3 Gorges Dam. The lock on the right is for downstream traffic and the lock on the left is for upstream traffic. Each side is actually 5 separate locks in stair step formation. Traffic goes directly from one lock into the next until passing through all 5. The total vertical distance will be over 300 feet when the river reaches final pool level in 2009. We had dinner while passing thru the 3rd lock on the downstream side.


The night lights of Chongqing Entering Wu Gorge
Pagoda at the "Ghost City" of Fengdhu
One of the 3 "Little" Gorges at Shonneng Stream
"Trackers" who pull the "Pea Pod" boats through the rapids of Shonneng Stream

Hello from Wuhan

Hello Everyone,

We just wanted everyone to know we are now in Wuhan. We arrived today, Saturday June 16, 12 noon local time. Our guide Lifeng met us at the dock and arranged transfer to the hotel. This afternoon we are just relaxing in the hotel by enjoying a real shower for the first time in 5 days. Our first illness hit yesterday and it hit me. Bad sinus infection aggravated by the worst pollution in the world. We had heard it was bad but had no idea how bad until we saw it, smelled it, and tasted it.

The trip down the Yangtze was amazing. We started in Chongqing. I take back everything I said about the "little" town of Beijing. Beijing only has a population of 12 million. Chongqing is now over 33 million!

The 3 Gorges were spectacular. Some of the most amazing scenery on the planet. We had dinner in the third step of the five step ship locks as the boat locked through.

We toured the ghost village at Fengdu, rode the pea pod boats up and down Shennong stream, and toured the 3 Gorges dam project.

We are now at the White Rose Hotel in Wuhan.

We are experiencing computer trouble. Hopefully I will have everything resolved in the next few hours and will be able to post some pictures.

We are now less than 48 hours to meeting Paul William. That is scheduled to happen Monday June 18 at 9 am local time. That would be 8 pm Sunday June 17 in Alabama.

We are sightseeing tomorrow around Wuhan for a couple of hours and the rest of the day is a "down" day to prepare for Monday. Hopefully I will get the computer problem fixed and post some photos. I have only taken about 1500 so far. No kidding. 1500! Everywhere you look there is something amazing to photograph.

More later . . . .


Monday, June 11, 2007

Day three begins

Tuesday, June 12 2007, 6:00 am local time Beijing

We have another big day today. (I guess they all will be big days.) This morning we check out of our hotel in Beijing. We have been staying at the Traders Hotel in downtown Beijing.

A while back I saw on TV that one third of the construction cranes in the world are in the country of Dubai. We've found the other two thirds. They are all right here in Beijing. Everything about this city is immense. That's the best adjective I can come up with. Someone needs to invent a new one to describe the scale of things here in Beijing. In fact, maybe in the future we should just use the word Bejing as the adjective as in; "Today astronomers discovered a large new galaxy. They described it as "Beijing". ;)

Everything about this city is "Beijing", the population, the number of bicycles, the physical size. Construction. Construction is going on everywhere. Beijing is the largest construction site on earth right now. China consumes 50% of the concrete supply on earth and a large percentage of the steel supply. Much of the growth is preparation for the 2008 Olympics.

There is a new hotel going up across the street from our hotel. The work goes on 24/7. It looks like they are up to about the 50th floor with no sign of slowing down. Space is so limited that they have blocked one lane of the two lane street in front of our hotel so that the trucks bringing in the structural steel can stop to unload. And unload they do. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A few blocks away they are building a new headquarters for the Chinese television company. There are two towers rising at angles toward one another. It's the most amazing thing. They look as thought they will topple over at any second. Eventually they will be connected at the top. At night there are showers of red hot metal falling from the torches of the workers and the white hot flash from welders. Through the dense smog layer you have the surreal glow from the flood lights high in the upper reaches of the building and it gives the sensation of some post apocalyptic beast rising from the ruins of Armageddon.

Today we visit the Summer Palace and then depart Beijing on a 4:30 flight to Chongqing. We will be on the Yangtze river until noon Saturday when we arrive in Wuhan. I don't think we will have internet access until we reach Wuhan so this is likely to be our last post until then.

So far everything has gone as well we could have dreamed of. We are having the time of our lives and each day brings us closer to our new son.

Thanks for visiting our blog and sharing our "Beijing" journey.

"Big Greg"

The wall and the acrobats

We started the day with a visit to the Great Wall of China. Here is a picture of Mary Louise climbing the wall. Mary Louise is so afraid of heights she doesn't even like to stand up and now she has flown all the way to China and climbed the Great Wall!

We finished the day with a performance of the Chinese Acrobats.

Mrs. Ogle goes to kindergarten

As most of you know Mary Louise is a kindergarten teacher. Today we were able to visit a kindergarten here in Beijing.

Food for Thought

Our second day in China was amazing. First stop today was at the jade market where we learned the basics of jade, how to tell if it is real, what type the jade is, and special characteristics of different types of jade. Then we spent a nice bundle on some neat little jade family balls and pendants. We (and by we I mean Greg Jr.) walked to the top of the Great Wall of China, a long steep climb but well worth the effort. We then had a nice lunch at a Chinese Souvenir Shop, before heading out towards our next and best outing of the day. Rick-Shaws!!!!!!!!!!!Lifeng took us to downtown Beijing where we got to ride in the rick-shaws. We also visited a real Beijing household, kindergarten, and Free Market. We really got a good closeup to Chinese culture but it also let us see how impovershed some parts of the city are. After our Rick-Shaw ride, with our 50 Cent listening tour guide, we went to a Chinese theatre and saw the Chinese Acrobats. They are absolutely amazing!! For supper we had a nice big American Style (pepperoni and cheese) pizza from Pizza Hut. Day 2 was pretty good altogether but I can not wait to get out of Beijing because i am tired of the dreary grey smog clouded skies. Tomorrow we go to the SUmmer Palace and the Yangtze River Cruise. I can't wait!! Greg Jr.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What we did the first day

We are staying at Traders Hotel at China World Trade Center. It is fabulous. There is construction everywhere-they have many buildings to finish before the Olympics-but they just have constant construction here. Around our hotel there is beautiful landscaping, so well groomed and such a variety of plants. Even with the construction you can walk and hear the birds singing and see lots of little birds. We ate breakfast at the hotel breakfast buffet but you could get all types of local food and Western food. We left at 8 to go to Tian A Menn Square. Parking is at a premium here and as soon as we parked,we were surrounded by women selling souvenirs. Our guide said something to Greg and they took off leaving me with all the poor women trying to hawk their wares -thank goodness I did not even have any money with me -when Greg came back to get me he told me Lifeng(our guide) said to ignore them because there are so many(thanks for letting me know that!) but it was a difficult moment. We walked on the square and saw the museum and the giant picture of the Chairman-his body is still in the museum! and toured the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is enormous and of course they are trying to spruce it up for the Olympics, but it is incredible to see and realize how they built it almost 700 years ago. Inside the city we were approached by the first of several beggars-he was missing RBE just like our sweet boy and it was an emotional moment for us. Almost all the beggars we saw were limb difference men.

We visited the silk market and they took us through the whole process from the silk worms to the finished product. We saw some very beautiful material. I think our guide was Greg's age and he spoke pretty good English but talked very fast. We had a good time there. After that we ate lunch at a Beijing noodle house. That was when I felt we were Really in China now. We were the only White people there. It was a place our guide liked to eat and we walked there. There were life-sized carvings of people posed and sitting or standing around. There was some type of altar or homage to some god or person there, it was different.

In the afternoon we visited the Temple of Heaven. It was neat-very old and colorful, rich with history. We saw ancient junipers and cypress, types of cedars and pines, all very old. They seem to go to a great deal of trouble to try to save old limbs on the trees. I had seen this in pictures before.

Then we went to our room and crashed. I didn't even think I was tired until I walked in the door! It was 5:30 AM when I started this post and now it is time to get ready to walk on the Great Wall of China!

Our first picture from China

Here we are in front of the Tian A'Men Gate to the Forbidden City in Beijing China. Photo taken at 9:00 am June 10, 2007 local time. We were standing at one end of Tina A'Men Square when the photo was taken. It's impossible to understand the perspective in the picture but the gate in the background must be between 1/4 and 1/2 mile away.

I Really Did Fly Here

Flight delays, bad weather and my bags were searched-all before I even left Huntsville. It was a shaky start and then I saw our plane-you know when we were WALKING across the runway to climb in. I had my moments at the beginning but a mere 21 hours later, I was a pro( well, at least by then I figured out how to take my medicine.) In Tokyo, I actually looked out the window very briefly! Because of our flight delays, we ended up not having a wait in Tokyo and just went from one plane to the next. Then we landed in Beijing and I was expecting just masses of people there but there were less people than you would see at Kenner on our game weekends. But I really am here finally!

Mary Louise

Beijing, day one

Hello everyone

Our first day in Beijing was fantastic. Hot with a lot of walking, but fantastic!

(Mary Louise is still a bit tired. She just looked over my shoulder and asked, in all seriousness if I was typing in Chinese!)

Today we toured Tian A'men Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. Words cannot begin to describe these places. If you ever have the opportunity you must visit this amazing country. Thinking that we walked the same stone walks and paths that Chinese Emporers walked thousands of years ago and imagining being there in those days is just awe inspiring.

I will post pictures when able. I am still having a few glitches with the computer.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Informational note

The times that are shown for what time a post was made is Huntsville time since I am posting remotely through my work computer.

What day is it? What time is it?

Hello everyone. We just wanted to make a short post to let everyone back home know that we are in China. For the first time we are now in the same country as Paul William.

Travel was uneventful. Flights were slightly delayed in Huntsville and Detroit due to the weather in the midwest yesterday. We had virtually no time between flights to catch our breath. It was basically go from one plane to the next and take off again.

We didn't get out of Huntsville until 11 am Friday. We arrived in Beijing tonight (Saturday June 9) at 9:35 pm only 10 minutes later than scheduled. No problems getting through the airport and meeting up with LiFeng (our facilitator/guide from Cradle of Hope). 30 minute drive through Beijing to our hotel, the Traders Hotel in the downtown business center of Beijing.

Greg Jr. and I had to order room service after 24 hours of airline food. Sorry to say our first meal in China was a burger with fries and club sandwich with fries. We will start the culinary adventures tomorrow. Tonight was just a matter of something in our stomachs to collapse in bed with. Mary Louise opted for a more direct approach: a shower and bed in short order. We are all near exhaustion but exhilarated to be here.

We are up and at it at 6 am. After a quick breakfast we meet LiFeng for a full day of sightseeing.

We will post again later tomorrow. We will try to post a picture or two.

Question for the computer literate that might read this. Any idea why I can't access this blog directly from here in China? I am having to remotely use my office computer back in Huntsville to access and post.

That's all for now. Sleep is not calling to me, it's screaming at me.

More later . . .


Friday, June 08, 2007

14 Months Later . . . .

We thought we started this journey 14 months ago. This morning we're not so sure. The real journey begins at 8:30 this morning when we take those first steps out of our door here in Decatur.

It was a late night of packing and checking lists last night. We didn't get a lot of sleep, but hey we don't really have to do anything for the next 24+ hours but sit on an airplane, right?

You will hear from us next from China. It may be 36 to 48 hours from now before we can post again.

The Ogle family