Friday, March 21, 2014

Stuck on the Island

Not really stuck per se, well kind the day started like any other until the phone rang.  It was Liz, the fabulous social worker who has helped all of us become a family from day 1 with Frank!  She was just checking it and it was great to hear from her and fill her in on what has been happening on this side of the world.  Shortly after hanging up, the phone rang again, this time it was the front desk...when we initially made our reservations we were supposed to come in to Guangzhou on Friday, but since the passport wasn't going to be ready on time, we were allowed to fly in on Wednesday and we had to add a few days to our stay at the hotel here.  In doing so unfortunately, the hotel could not figure out how to keep us in the same room so we had to move all of our stuff (that I just finished unpacking and organizing all over the room...aarrgghhh!!!!) down 2 ROOMS  - seriously??? Seriously.  So, breakfast finished, moved all of our stuff, then it was almost lunch time.  We were bound and determined to try to stick to Yashu's schedule (at least as much as we could) so we decided to stick to the island, eat lunch, abbreviated nap time, then leave the island.  The first three phases of that plan went swimmingly - lunch at the restaurant in our hotel (not that fabulous and waaayyyy overpriced, plus we were the only ones in there so I am not entirely sure they were even open, hmmm?).  Then came the leaving of the island part.  About 2 years ago we went to a county fair, one of the best in middle TN, and we were eating, going on rides, having a great day.  The three of us got on the ferris-wheel and as soon as my feet were off of the ground I had an enormous panic attack.  Can I just ask, do you know how many times I rode the ferris-wheel on Navy Pier?  I lived on the 19th and 28th floors of apartment buildings.  A county ferris-wheel gave birth to a fear of heights??? Ridiculous.  The only way off of this island is a pedestrian bridge that is up about 3 flights of stairs hovering over the highway...I got to the bottom and just couldn't do it.  Frank just shakes his head and laughs at me at times like these, luckily Yashu is not aware of enough to know what a freak her mother is yet.  My amazing husband even tried to get a cab to take us across the street, a request that was met by frantic pantomiming and yelling in Mandarin and finally "IT IS JUST RIGHT THERE - NO WAY!!!!".  Seriously. Sigh.  We did however find directions to a store somewhere in the middle of the city to pick up some every day items and found a cab to take us there at least.  Finding a cab on the way home was a different story but we did finally make it.  I never thought I would say this, but man do I miss the smelly Walmart in Nanning.

To be fair though, China is the least wheelchair\stroller friendly country I have ever been to.  There are cobblestone sidewalks, giant curbs, huge staircases with no ramps, multi=level stores with no elevators but strollers are not allowed on the escalators.  I may be even more aware because of our daughter but man the ADA would have a field day with this place.  My arm muscles are getting huge just from lifting one side of the stroller to walk down the street.

Meanwhile, Little Miss is really realizing that she is stuck with us.  Even more so, she is realizing that we don't speak the same language.  That makes her mad.  Really M.A.D.  Today, she is more upset with me, which as long as I am kept fed, doesn't upset me too much.  I get it.  She called three wonderful women "Mama" and doesn't feel like she needs a fourth.  Three women who she could speak to (literally) and I fall way short of her standards of care giving in that regard.  John is a HUGE novelty and she has never called someone Baba before.  I get it.  I feel for her in a way that only a mother can.  I also look at Frank and see how Daddy is his favorite playmate on the planet but at the end of a bad day, he calls me into the other room to talk.  When Frank is angry\scared\confused\sick, he wants his mommy to hold him until he falls asleep.  Someday, I hope our little 5 going on 17 year old, will feel the same way.  Until then, we take the smiles when we can, remove as many tears as she can squeeze out and wipe the snot with whatever we can find - this is being a parent and I wouldn't trade our little critters for anything in the world.

xoxo - n.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Life on the Island

This place is stunning! Imagine a huge park with Euro\Victorian buildings and cobblestone sidewalks that is surrounded by a canal - that is where we are staying for the next week.  Our hotel is really nice, we are staying on the wing that has been recently updated so everything here is really modern and air conditioned (a vast improvement over the last hotel).  Today we had breakfast here and set out to explore the island.  To be fair, we covered the whole thing around the perimeter in about an hour or even a little less but have an idea of where we would like to go and really check out at a later time.  Found a place for lunch, nap time for the little one then some more relaxed strolling around, had dinner at a fabulous place called Lucy's then wandered back to the room to put the little one (and mommy) to sleep.  A few cool things about the island - there are tons of these really sweet\funny\beautiful bronze statues all over the place, even the locals come and take cheesy photos with them; there is an old church here, again just quaint and yet beautiful; oh yeah, according to John, a rather well known (most) reclusive country (ever) has their consulate here too.  I wasn't sure I believed it until I saw it with my own eyes - unbelievable.  For everyone who knows of my fascination with the unnamed reclusive country, you can imagine my reaction...

Yashu is doing really well all things considered.  Today however, she took her usual tentative steps and then without thinking about it, kept going a little further and then a little further.  She plopped down and stared at her legs with a look of utter disbelief like "Wait a second - these things work???" Then she looked mad, really mad, that she hasn't realized this before.  While it was heartbreaking it was also incredibly endearing and even a little funny to watch her facial expressions.  So now we know what we will be working on as she is very feisty and independent and now that she knows what she can be capable of, I fully believe that there will be no slowing down this freight train known as our daughter.  Eating with her is a full contact sport.  She gets so excited at every meal (much like her mommy) and shares her food - whether we want it or not, and usually whoever has her on their lap ends up with food in their hair, definitely lap, and sometimes even in our ears - but we also have never laughed so hard watching such a tiny person eat like she is an animal in the jungle!

We have been able to Skype with Frank almost every day but it doesn't make it much easier.  I miss that little guy more than anything and held it together for the first few days but then one day I saw his handsome face and his big toothless grin and lost it.  I can't wait to get home and squeeze him and love him and kiss him 8 million times...if he will let me :)

It was a rather low key day but totally what this family needed and we are so grateful that we went against the grain and chose to stay on the island where it is a bit slower paced on days like this when we need it most.  Here are a few photos and hopefully I will have better adventures to share with you tomorrow. 

xoxo - n.

View from our room


Down one of the random streets

One of the MANY statues

Clips stayed in all of 5 minutes, but at least you can see her precious face for a moment

Start of mealtime...sigh...

Park that runs along the river

Note the building to the right...John was not amused at my feeble attempts

Another view from our room

And one more just to make sure you really get a feel for it :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Heading to Guangzhou - Bittersweet

Woke up early again this morning, we had a lot to do before we headed to the airport to begin the USA portion of this process.  Breakfast at Starbucks (I just could not eat anymore fried noodles and buttery eggs for breakfast), Little Miss ate close to half of her body weight in panini which was wonderful to see.  Went back to the hotel and started packing up...right after we went to the Walmart to buy some duct tape - for our suitcase - yep, we were that family...sigh... Somehow managed to get everything packed up and then headed downstairs to wait for Hannah to come say goodbye.  Everything went smoothly with the checkout and there were plenty of cabs around so we had a few moments to hang out and relax.  Hannah arrived and she had a small embroidered bag in her hand.  She knelt down to Yashu and spoke to her for a bit then pulled out a gorgeous embroidered, colorful ball\decoration.  She went on to explain the significance in Yashu's local culture and that the bag was hand made by people of her ethnic group.  Man, the tears were flowing at that point - myself, John, even Hannah was tearing up.  She was such an incredible person that I don't even have words to explain our gratitude for what she did for our family.  We said a long, sad goodbye then hopped into the cab and headed out for the airport. 

So, remember the story where John was stopped at customs because he doesn't really look like his passport photo anymore and they took several photos of him when we got to China?  Yeah, keep that in mind for a moment.  Walked up to the counter, check-in guy spoke English fluently, it was a little warm in there but air was moving, all things going as planned.  Then we handed over our passports...he typed in John's info then picked up the phone and made a call, then made another call, then one more to be safe.  I am glaring at John and mentally willing him to take off his glasses or look more tan, something to make this go by more easily.  Finally we ask him if something was wrong.  He responded with "There is something weird about your passport number and info, but my boss said to go ahead and let you go through.  If you have any problems at the other checkpoints, just come back here and I will stamp you through."  Sigh...Made it through security (sans glasses and puffing out the cheeks a bit) waited for our flight that was a bit delayed then arrived safe and sound in Guangzhou.  Even our luggage made it!!!  Duct tape dangling off of the side, but in one piece none the less!

Our hotel is beautiful as is the area, Shamian Island, that we are staying on.  Since we got in so late, we just ordered room service and called it a night.  Can't wait to explore more tomorrow!

xoxo - n.

Saying goodbye to Hannah

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rollercoaster of Emotions

Today was the day that we have been waiting for and dreading at the same time.  We were thrilled beyond belief that this little angel was going to be our daughter for the rest of time.  We were heartbroken when watching the nannies and Yashu say their goodbyes.  Grief stricken when our fabulous guide (who I don't know what we would have done without) took on the hideous task of explaining to Little Miss what was going to happen tomorrow and a few days after that.  So I guess I will start at the beginning...

We had sent a thumbdrive through Ann at Red Thread China to the SWI asking if they had any photos or documents, to please copy them onto that for us.  When we met with them yesterday they gave us the drive back.  Late last night, John and I were chatting about the day when I remembered that I had that drive in my bag.  We plugged it in and found over 100 photos and videos of the last 5 years of Little Misses life in Liuzhou - including the giant going away party they threw for her last weekend.  I can't even begin to describe the gratitude that we have for these people who gave everything to our little girl to make her life as great as they could.

First thing this morning, we met with our guide, Hannah, and went to the registration office.  We met with the 3 women from the SWI and another local official who asked us a few questions - what was our occupation, do we promise to love Yashu, etc - that whole part was very anti-climatic and over with in about 15 minutes (and that includes a bathroom break).  Next we went back to the civil affairs office that we were in yesterday.  This seemed a bit more official, they asked us a series of questions, do we promise to care for Yashu to the best of our ability, what resources do we have to address her physical needs, why did we want to adopt her or from China for that matter.  The social workers from the children's home were with us again and when the physical therapist and Yashu saw each other, they both burst into tears - queue the grieving process beginning.  Made our way back to the hotel for lunch and a quick nap then back to the Civil Affairs office to receive our final paperwork.  We were led to a room with several different country flags around the perimeter and I was really starting to wonder if they stood in front of the one representing the family for a photo op but no such luck, she just stood where ever she wanted.  It was very emotional, we are exhausted which just amplified normal emotions as they were but only one of the women from the SWI came to see us off.  She was incredibly upbeat and truly happy for Yashu and kept her laughing through most of the meetings.  When it was time to say good bye, she kept it short and sweet and turned away before Yashu could see her tears.  As we were leaving the room, I turned and went back and regardless of culture and social customs, threw my arms around her and thanked her for loving Yashu so much and she just hugged me so hard and thanked me for coming for her.  People, I was a mess - some may say that I am an emotional person to begin with but add a tremendous amount of sleep loss and hunger to the mix and train wreck is the closest thing that can describe where I am right now...

Hannah came back to the hotel with us to help us get paperwork ready to travel tomorrow, I finally pulled myself together and John was starting to pull our stuff in place to begin packing.  That is when Hannah started to explain to Yashu what was going to happen tomorrow and in the next few days - then the floodgates opened - Yashu's not mine...well not until later anyway.  John and I spent the next 20-30 minutes holding her and wiping her eyes and comforting her as best as we could.  Once Hannah left and Yashu calmed down we went to dinner and FINALLY Little Miss ate a really good amount of food!  It has been painful seeing how little she eats for the last few meals so watching her grab food off of our plates was a welcome sight.  Headed over to Parkson's (department store) to buy some cooler and smaller jammies then back to the hotel for a bath and bedtime.  The most tired little angel is snoring away and peaceful once again.

So that was our day, how was yours?  :)  As I have said a million times in the last 6 years since we first started Frank's process, adoption is not for the weak.  I have a million thoughts and opinions on what is great and what could be done differently to make this whole crazy adventure easier on everyone but am far too tired to go into that right now.  Instead, I will ask you to please keep us and the poor people on our flight tomorrow in your thoughts and please send some good good vibes towards the selfless people who are doing what they can to make this world a little bit better, one tiny child at a time.

xoxo - nancy

Monday, March 17, 2014

And Then There Were 4!

The morning started like the last 4, early to rise, breakfast downstairs, hightail it down the street to Starbucks, wandering around, eating some more...but then things changed.  We went back to the hotel, got our paperwork ready and headed downstairs to meet our guide, Hannah.  She went through everything one last time and off we went to the Civil Affairs office.  There were a few other families there waiting before us and the social workers started bringing the kids in one by one.  John, Hannah and I were on the edge of our seats, jumping every time someone would walk in the room.  It got to the point that Hannah started asking everyone who passed by which province they were from and asking around at the front desk if they had heard anything.  FINALLY, we see the most beautiful little girl ever brought into the office.  They called us up to the desk to finish some paperwork and then they brought in our daughter!  She was talking up a storm and everyone was laughing - then they translated that when she saw us she started telling everyone "I know those people, I have their photos, that is my Papa and Mommy!"  She is really smart and really funny; once she starts laughing and can't stop, she snorts really loudly which makes her laugh even more!  We talked to the social workers from the Children's Home for a bit, then they left in tears - it was apparent how much they loved her and how happy they were for her.  Hannah came back to the hotel with us and we went through more paperwork.  After she left we went to dinner, back to the room for a bath and now the tired little angel is sound asleep and snoring away.  So after all of that, here is what all of you have been patiently waiting for...

She missed her afternoon nap today which is why her eyes are rolling around in her head in most of these photos.  More to come tomorrow!

xoxo - nancy

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The People's Park and More Walking

Today was a great yet physically exhausting day.  We started with breakfast at our hotel - not sure why but our room came with one free breakfast ticket, score!  Had a mix of Asian and Western breakfast, fried egg noodles, eggs and toast - one may say that I was carbo loading before a day of strenuous activity.  After breakfast we hightailed it across the street to grab some super sized coffee at Starbucks then wandered around the shopping square for a bit, picked up some items to keep in the room and for Little Miss then dropped it back off at the hotel.  It finally looked like the rain was going to hold off and we could no longer see our breath so we decided to venture over to The People's Park for the afternoon.  I have so few words to describe the beauty that we saw in this park - it is 51 hectres and I am fairly certain we walked every square inch of it.  There are walking trails, stairs, an amusement park, stairs, historical museum, exercise stations, stairs,  fishing pond, more stairs, and then there was a group of older people standing around clipping papers to clothes lines that ran around this area.  We were trying to figure out were these missing people (there were photos on some and phone numbers on most)?  But no one looked particularily upset - in fact they seemed to be having good time and exchanging info with other people around there.  Then it hit me, I remembered a special that I watched on China and the growing disparity between the number of men and women and these are basically the parents getting together to market their children out for marriage.  John was sly about it, but he did manage to take a photo as proof!  Again, astounding to see in real life things that I have only previously seen on documentaries or the news...

After walking for what felt like days, we headed back to the shopping square for a late lunch - at Pizza Hut none the less (don't judge, I was starving) then wandered across a few more streets.  The funniest part of being here are the people taking such a huge notice in us and staring and even blatently coming up to us to chat.  One girl in line at the store as we were waiting to pay tapped me on the arm and said "Hello, I would like to make friends with you both.  Where are you from?" "The States" we replied, with eyes as big as saucers she exclaims "The States!  Can I have your mobile number?" to John - it was really cute, she has been learning English in school and wanted to practice.

Made our way back to the hotel, fell asleep for a bit and now here we are.  Resting our weary bodies and preparing to become parents again.  Hopefully by this time tomorrow you will be seeing some photos of our daughter.  It is going to be a long day, not just for us and Little Miss, but the other families that are currently in China that will be meeting their little ones for the first time too - please keep all of the little ones in your thoughts as they have the hardest day of their lives ahead of them.  Here are some photos of our day, hope all of you are doing well and we can't wait to talk to you soon!

xoxo - Nancy

Entrance to The People's Park
Other side of the entrance

Top of the longest staircase I have ever seen

Random statue in a clearing at the top of the hill
Giant palm trees - it really shouldn't be this cold in a place that has this many palm trees
The Parental "Meet\Meat Market"
John at the top of the hill
Yes, we really did walk up and down all of those stairs
More of the park
Finally found our way back to the entrance
View from Pizza Hut - the shopping square
View from our hotel room

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Nanning - Day 1...or Night 2...?

So all in all it was a fairly uneventful trip over, we are here safely and have unpacked and started to explore.  A few key notes about the adventure though - the red-eye is the only way to do this trip!  We flew at night time the entire way so we were able to sleep a bit on the plane and got here at 10am which kind of felt right to just begin our day and start to get over the jet lag.  We also flew on the most giant plane I have ever seen - 2 stories, full beds for first class and I think even 8 private rooms maybe?  So we have been teasing John on how much he does not look like his passport photo any longer, he was really tan when it was taken, didn't have glasses yet and in the last few years has begun running.  Well, I make it through customs in China with a "you cut your hair?", "Yes sir", "Welcome to China, go through."  Then I wait for John, and I wait, then I hear him say "Yes I did get glasses, yes sir, I started running, yes sir I do look different now," - needless to say they had him stare into the digital camera for a good long while and at two different checkpoints, re-took his photo!  So we are coming down the escalator to find our connecting flight from Guangzhou to Nanning and I am mocking John for the photo incident when I am stopped by two women smiling at me and asking to see my boarding pass.  I figure they are just trying to be helpful since you can't look much more clueless than the two of us at that point in the journey.  So she pulls out a list and points at my name and says "You?" With a big smile I confirm, clearly they are here to help us right?  Nope - she hands me back my boarding pass and tells me to go wait in a holding room with about 20 other people as our luggage was pulled for inspection.   Hmmm?  5 minutes after sitting in this room the same woman comes back and talks to a few other people then makes her way to me, points to the person above me on the list and asks where they are and how do I know them - I have no idea who they are as I am only traveling with John and she tells everyone in the room that they can go.  Mind you, I have watched Brokedown Palace far too many times and did not expect that to be the outcome; however, that is what I get for mocking my husband and his passport photos I guess?

We make our way upstairs to the next gate, I am standing across from a shop that is opening up when I hear one of the workers shrieking.  As I look over, I see the biggest rat I have seen since my last time in the El in Chicago running down the hall.  When John and I walk past the store we notice that there was a cage that clearly held the rodent until his great escape.  My question is this - if you see a giant rodent in a small wire cage, why open it???  Finally arrive in Nanning, grab our bags that have clearly been rummaged through (sorry mom, but they got everything back in close to how you had it!), grabbed a cab and checked into the hotel.

Yongjiang Hotel of Nanning is really nice, clean, spacious, friendly staff etc.  The only problem for us here is that very few people in Nanning as a whole speak any English but oddly enough, even have a hard time reading the Mandarin to English phrasebook - maybe today we will use the Cantonese phrasebook and see if that helps at all?  It is cold and rainy here, not what we were expecting but have found several places to shop (I think that is all there is to do here other than various parks) so we may need to get some warmer clothes when the stores open up.  It feels like close to 4 Bajillion people live in this "little" province and they all walk around the main circle at the same time.  Luckily, there is a Starbucks so we can get some caffeine first thing in the morning!

Random thoughts and I then I will let you go - some of you know of my recent fascination with Korean Drama shows right?  One of the most surreal things that I have noticed here are people using the same phones, or actors from the shows are featured on ads here, product that is heavily placed in various shows are sold right next to Clinique in the department store, etc.  I realize that this may not make a whole lot of sense, but to my jet-lagged brain it is incredibly cool to see these things in real life and it reinforces how small this world really is.  Never mind, I am exhausted and will try to explain better some other time... We did get to Skype with Little Man today and we miss him like crazy!!!  However, I know he doesn't really like crowds and this city would have been so overwhelming for him.  We are so grateful that he is tucked safely into his own bed and in familiar surroundings even if I do dream of scooping him up and never letting him down again once I see him.  Here are a few photos from today, more to come tomorrow when we have our bearings about us again.

xoxox - Nancy

Friday, March 14, 2014

Quick trip across the Pacific

Welllllll.  We made it.  After about a 24 some hours on 3 different planes, we have arrived in Nanning.  Cold and rainy, but welcome respite from the planes.   But we would recommend anyone traveling overseas, to take the evening flight.  It helped set our internal clocks.  We have eaten some lunch and we are about clean up, and then explore the city. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How Could I Forget!?!?!?!

So around 3am this morning I check my email and find that our friends, Jennifer and Todd, have finally received their travel dates!!!  They will be leaving in a few short weeks and I just want to say congratualtions to them and their beautiful boy who also has grown up with Wi!  I cannot wait to hear about your trip and see you adding to your family with your beautiful son! 

Home Sweet Home!

Good Morning Everyone!!!  We are back!!!  The flights were very long, our plane from Tokyo to Detroit was held up so we missed our connecting flight in Detroit to get back to Nashville.  However, thanks to the nicest baggage guy ever, we were put in the last three seats on the next one out, and while a bit later than planned, still made it home yesterday! John's parents drove all the way up from Texas yesterday so that they could be here to meet our first child!  I cannot even begin to describe the gratitude we have for our families.  My sister here in town went shopping for Wi as all of the clothes we have for him are way too big on his tiny body, to get us through the first few days of jet lag until we can get out to a store.  My mom went grocery shopping for us so that we don't have to worry about that, and John's parents made us several meals that are heat and serve ready,  together they got the house all ready for us and we literally wept with joy when we saw the stocked fridge and pantry...thank you all so much!  The flights were difficult at times; Wi did really well 97% of the time...ok to be fair, he was asleep through most of it.  But on the first flight mostly, he was awake and cranky and fussy and everything he should be considering we got him up in the middle of the night and took him from the one place that was becoming comfortable for him - however, he would not even let his feet touch me on that first flight much less give John a break from holding it is rough for all three of us.  Things did get better, he slept, John was finally able to get some rest and I watched some really bad movies. All total, our travel time was just under 29 hours and I slept through about 3 hours of that. Our parents met us at the airport and helped us get settled into the house as a new family.  Wi is really funny with Ruby; he knows what dogs are and is not afraid of them, unless Ruby comes within arms reach (fairly close considering how short his arms are!) then he just yells Maa Maa (Thai for dog) as if we did not know there was a dog in the house...we may need a new strategy to get them together.  The funniest part is, Wi was so tired that once we put him to bed, Ruby hopped up there too and the two of them have been cuddled up together all night!  Until Wi wakes up, lets the neighborhood know that there is a dog on his bed then falls back asleep - poor Ruby, she just wants to cuddle!!!  Both John and I went to sleep but around 2am, I woke up again and have been up since, not feeling great but so happy to not be feeling great in my own house!  We are planning on laying low today, resting and exploring the house together.  I did not expect to be this emotional when we got home, both of us were just a mess, but it is just so overwhelming to finally have our son home after all this time.  To have watched him grow up in photos that were taken on the other side of the world for two years to now turning around and having him standing behind me in person in the kitchen is just mind blowing.  I am not in denial, there will definitely be some rough patches ahead, but if nothing else, John and I have proven time and time again that we make a pretty good team and we will get through anything that we need to and stronger for it.  I am exhausted and am going to try to get some more rest before everyone else wakes up.  Last but not least, thank you all for your support, love and prayers over the years, our growing family is proof of all of that you gave, as there is not a chance that we could have done this without you, so thank you, from the new and improved Badalamenti Family - Nashville Division
Nancy, John, Wi, and Ruby

The adventure continues...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good To Go...Home That Is!!!

Another early morning...boy are we changed people, have a hard time staying up past putting Wi down for the night now.  Used to be, I would take a nap at 7pm so that I would be rested to go out that night! HA!
It is official, John is really sick, I mean REALLY.  The poor guy has the chills then burning up and is absolutely green, but off to the Embassy we went.  We arrived early and waited our turn with another family that we are traveling with.  The dad of that family took one look at John, leaned away and said "Uh, dude, you are turning colors..." I feel so bad for him, and especially now that Wi has completely denounced all things Mommy the second we step out of the elevator, all I can do is be the pack mule and lug all of our necessities and Wi's treasures around the city.  Both John and I took turns in the bathroom splashing cold water on our faces trying to pull it together in fear that they would quarantine us if they really knew how we are feeling, did I mention how ready we are to come home?  Finally we were called up to the window, re-re-verified the whole story one more time and the woman said that she was sorry but would need more time.  I think we both almost burst into tears until she asked if we could come back in one hour to pick up Wi's visa!!!  Then we really did burst into tears, we were hugging and kissing each other and Wi, John kept grabbing both of us just saying "We are going home family, we are going home!" Some people in the waiting room actually clapped for us...yes a bit dramatic, but after all of the horror stories we have heard about the length of time to get the visa and additional hoops to jump through, we knew extactly how lucky we were and also how grateful we are for the way everything worked out.  I brought John and Wi back to the hotel, managed to make it back to the Embassy one last time myself, picked up the visa and very nearly skipped back to the hotel!  I felt like I was in a Disney movie with birds singing around my head...then I realized that I was just incredibly lightheaded and nauseous again so I hurried back to the room.  John and I started packing as our flight leaves VERY early tomorrow mornining, takes of at 5:50am, and we would have to be up around 2:30am.  After lunch and nap time, we made our way to the closest markets we could manage to get to, tried to finish up our shopping, ate dinner one last time in Bangkok, then dragged our sorry bodies home.  Wi was a great helper in the packing, even though we never even made it to the pool, he loved his water floaty things and wore them while gathering up his new treasures!  Well everyone, next time you hear from us, we will be back on US soil!
Nancy, John and Wi