Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday afternoon...

Sasha and I got ready to go and went downstairs. We took a taxi to the Hgoc Ngoc to see if anyone was downstairs. I was hoping to run into one of the other parents from WC. No such luck. So I walked to baby street (Lan Ong) and found the baby stores. They were packed with people. They are really narrow stores anyway and with the heat it wasn't much fun. I bought a little pink cotton vest like thing for under $3.00, which will be perfect for California. We walked around aimlessly for a long time and then walked to the lake. We walked over the red bridge to the pagoda. On the way out we bought a couple inexpensive toys for the preschool office and Brayden and Brookelyn's school. I have bought so many things that I needed to buy another duffel bag. I think that means I won. So we walked over to that area and I bought a big one for $15 that seems to be pretty durable and got a cyclo to go home. It was already dark and it's fun to ride them at night. I made him tell me how much he would charge me before we got on. It was a fun ride, especially after all of the walking. I thought about having him take us to a restaurant, but I just didn't feel like it. He wanted to drop me off by the hotel, but not right by the door, so he could rip me off. I made him take me to the front door by the bellman (or whatever the man is called who opens to door for us and calls us the taxis). He wasn't happy about it, but he did it and then actually charged me what he said he would. We were very happy to be home. We came upstairs and again I thought Sasha could play on the quilt while I cleaned her bottles. No. So I put her in the front pack a little while later and we walked around some more. We bought some things at the Citimart. The girl who rang me up saw my room card and said I get a 10% discount there. I heard later we get discounts at all the stores. I got a loaf of bread, two cans of Coke, a package of bakery like cookies for under three dollars. I saw Julie in the lobby with some families from Ireland who are adopting. They said the process in their country takes four years. One lady said it took two years before they heard anything from the agency! Sasha fell asleep while I was talking with them and has been asleep since them. She likes being on the go, which is great since our lives are pretty busy at home. Speaking of home, I packed up all of the things I bought, wrote a list of THINGS TO DO for tomorrow and I am hoping go to my second interview will be one of them. The U.S. Consulate will call Kenny who will then call me. I am planning on having it tomorrow and being able to leave Tuesday night. I may be dreaming, but we'll see...
The pictures are taken in the Old Quarter.

More pics of Sunday morning

Sunday Morning, Sept 30

I had the hotel wake me up with a call at 7:00 am and somehow Sasha was still sleeping. I was able to get ready before I got her up. We ran downstairs for a quick breakfast (Trim and Tasty -it's two poached eggs on a piece of thick toasted sesame bread with a few pieces of cooked asparagus and a grilled tomato with the sauce that comes with eggs benedict on the side. I had that and tea for $6.00. I went down to the lobby and the travel guide was there. It was the travel guide, a driver, Sasha and I. The first stop on the tour was Ho Chi Mihn's mausoleum, his first and second houses (both very small and very simple), the pagoda, and the museum. I understood the tour guide a little in the car on the way there, but less and less as the day went on. I should say the HOT, HOT day went on. We got in line for the mausoleum, where I found out you cannot bring a baby under one year old. He held Sasha while I went through. I know I had just met him, but the hotel knew him because he was a friend of one of the guys who works at the front door, and it is not like in the states. And it was for ten minutes. So I waited in line and went through. The line keeps moving so it goes quickly. It was interesting to see Ho Chi Minh there and how many people were there to see him. We went to the museum then and the tour guide stayed down stairs while I looked around. Some of it was in English, luckily. We got in the car after I was finished and we drove to the first university in Vietnam. Or so I understood it to be. I understood less and less as the morning when on. It went something like this, "SMenimly an rudkxlf fafidlng tre sfiemlgong chair skcuplwent." I think I was understanding about every tenth word. He was a realy nce young guy though. He just had a strong Vietnamese accent. I nodded and read whatever signs that were English that I could find and hoped that some knowledge was sinking in even if I didn't understand what he was saying. (That sounds a lot like my time in high school now that I think about it). Anyway, we saw the university and it was really interesting and I would like to read about both places and learn where I went later. I bought a book about the first place while I was there (yes, it is in English) and I hope to learn about the second place on the internet. In an air conditioned room preferably. With a cold bottle of water. Some days I feel a trickle of sweat run down my back every now and then. This wasn't one of those days. Today I felt whole families of sweat rolling down my back. The grounds of both places were very pretty and I really did like what I read about them while I was there. Sasha didn't make a sound, she just happily sat in the front pack. The tour cost $40 for half day and I would have gladly paid an extra $40 to go back to my room right then. Luckily, the tour was over! It is supposed to end at the lake, but since I have been there almost every day I didn't feel the need to go again right then. So he dropped us off at the AIR CONDITIONED hotel and we went up to our room.
My plan was for Sasha to take a nap and I was going to read a little. I bought several books I haven't had a chance to read. Sasha's plan was for me to hold her, hold her, and then hold her some more. I tried to work on a compromise, but she won. (I know you are thinking I am spoiling her, but I think she deserves 100 % of my attention now. And the one time I didn't get her right away when she cried a little in her crib, she knocked down this bar in it that keeps it from folding up and it had hit her in the head.) I finally decided to walk around inside the hotel with her in my front pack until she fell asleep. We went down to the restaurant to see if anyone I knew was there (they weren't-a lot of Aussies were though), we walked around by the pool area and playground area, and then went down to Highlands Coffee, which was perfect because that was one of the things on my list of THINGS TO DO. I had been told to have an Innocent Passion and french fries. The drink has raspberry syrup (I think) on the bottom of the glass, a clear soda for the rest with ice and a bit of whipped cream on the top. VERY GOOD. I'm not usually into fries and never finish them when I get them with a burger, but these were good. Kind of one of those things when you eat one and then need to eat one more and then just one more. I ate about half. Very good. The bill came to around $3.50. Great, because I'll be back for another Innocent Passion! ( I didn't think to take a picture of it until after I drank it). I sat by the window so I was able to watch the traffic, which is always entertaining. I also met a nice couple while I was there. He is originally from the states and she is from Vietnam. We talked for a while until I noticed that Sasha had fallen asleep so I left to try to lay her down for a nap. Crazy now that I think of it, I have been looking for people to talk to for days and then I leave when I finally meet people. Oh well. I tried to put Sasha down but of course she woke up right away. Finally, I lay on the bed with her next to me and we both took a nap. It was perfect! We woke up just a few minutes before two nice women from housekeeping knocked on the door to clean our apartment. Again, nice life.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday, Sept 29

Big day today. I got up and out of here pretty early today. I wanted to see if the teddy bears we ordered were ready yet. They weren't. They are supposed to be ready Tuesday, which is fine unless some miracle occurs and we can go home Monday. Anyway, I went to Mediterraneo's for lunch and LOVED it. I was the only one there when I walked in besides the employees so I sat by the window so I could watch people and the traffic. I ordered a Coke and ravioli. The presentation and the food was wonderful! They decorated the plate with vegetables that looked like flowers and the ravioli was really good. The portions are small for what Americans serve, but more than enough for me. I also had a fruit dish with lemon sorbet. It was really good. Almost all of the fruit here is good. I have eaten the watermelon, dragon fruit (like kiwi but white with black seeds and not as sweet), and pineapple every morning. I don't usually like pineapple that much because it is too sweet, but it is really good here. While I was at the restaurant I met two women who are with the Community Aid Committee of the Hanoi International Women's Club. I asked them about how we can help to get the 15 year old girl we are sponsoring at one of the orphanages to attend university when she turns 18. We don't want to send money without knowing it will go towards her education. We met the director of the orphanage and liked him, but just want to make sure she gets a good education. They told me that they know someone who can help me with that and to email them. We kept talking and it turns out that they raise money to help minority children go to university here. It costs about $20 a month per student. They also raise money to donate food and clothing to government orphanages in Vietnam. Not orphanages like the one we got Sasha, but ones where the children have special needs and are going to spend their whole lives there. She said that their basic needs are barely covered. Of course, I want to help with both of those projects, so she gave me her business card. Sorry, Ray, another project....
After lunch Sasha and I walked around and looked at the stores around there. (This is the area by the cathedral). Some of the stores are really high end and some are selling the usual things (like wall hangings, chopsticks, fans, pretty boxes, embroidered purses and wallets...). The art here is really good. There are a lot of places selling water colors and oil paintings. There are also a lot of stores selling things made out of silk. I have never really been into silk, but it is beautiful here. I can't believe how man colors and patterns they have and what they can make out of it. The pillows are beautiful! We took a taxi home after awhile because we had to meet in the hotel lobby at 2:00 pm to go to Pottery Village with a few other families from the adoption agency.
We got home, I reloaded the backpack with more formula and clean bottles, changed Sasha's diaper and outfit and ran down to the lobby. It was me, two other families, and Martin and Kenny (agency employees). We got into the van and drove over to the Hgoc Ngoc hotel to pick up a few other people and went to Pottery Village. I wasn't planning on buying anything, I just wanted to be with other adults and see something new. The ride was interesting (as usual) and it turns out it was pretty interesting watching them make the pottery. Some of it were priced really low and some were antiques and very expensive. The bags they put our purchases in were almost as neat as the pottery. I bought three little tea sets for $120 each. Just kidding, Ray, it was $12 for all three of them. Shopping is my only source of entertainment right now besides sightseeing and eating. Luckily most things are pretty inexpensive here. We left that village and drove over to see a pagoda, which was nice. I enjoyed seeing them and really enjoyed meeting the new people and talking to the others in the group. It was a little warm outside though and I every now and then a bead of sweat would roll down my back. Nice. After that they drove us back to the hotel. I went to my apartment for awhile, but decided to go out for dinner around 7:30 pm. The last two days Sasha wants me to hold her if she is awake. Of course, I love holding her, but I have to do things like shower, clean bottles, fill up her formula container, brush my teeth, wash clothes...Sasha says no to all of that. She will cry unless I hold her. So I may as well be outside experiencing something new with her in my front pack or sling. I usually have her in the front pack unless I know she is going to nap. Then I put her in the sling. She seems to like them both. We took a taxi to Luna d' autunno for their tropical pizza (ham and pineapples). I have hardly had any meat after seeing a lot of little piggies being brought to the market in baskets on the back of scooters. I am pretty sure the ham for my pizza was made of store bought ham that was always ham and never part of a pig. Leave it alone, otherwise I can only eat cereal or peanut butter and jelly. Once again, it was really good. Thanks, Paul and Anh, for showing us the place. I was going to take a taxi home, but decided to walk to see if I knew the way. I figured I could always get a taxi if I couldn't find it easily. There are taxis everywhere. I wound up finding it though pretty easily. Sasha fell asleep on the way home and I put her right into her crib.
One story. A taxi driver tried to con me today. He drove me to the restaurant in a roundabout way because it cost too much. Pretty much every place you go around here is about 15,000 dong, so I give 20,000. Well, the meter said 22,000. I only had 10,000 dong bills and I wasn't going to try to figure it out when I knew he was trying to rip me off. Nice guy ripping off a lady with a baby. Anyway, so I just got out of the taxi and handed him 20,000 and walked away. He kind of yelled something but he and I both knew I was right so he drove away. Yesterday I couldn't find the 20,000 I had put in my pocket for the fare, so I asked the driver if he had change for a 50,000. I knew it was chancing it to not have the right change, but I couldn't find it (until later). He tried to rip me off by shorting me 10,000 dong. I counted it out and saw it was wrong and banged on the window. When I asked for 10,000 more he apologized and gave it to me. Of course, it was an accident.
Great day overall. I have to go to bed. I am meeting a tour guide in the lobby at 8:00 am for a four hour tour. I wish it was a group tour, but it's just Sasha and I.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Friday, Sept 28

We had a busy morning. Sasha woke up at 6:30 am. My fault, I forgot to close the blackout curtains so it was very bright in the room. I decided to go down and have breakfast a little while later. I guess I didn't time it right because Sasha did not want to be put in the stroller at all while I ate. I managed to drink some tea and have a little fruit, but I didn't get to eat much else for breakfast. Which is too bad because the breakfast here is good. I wanted to get a few things done because I feel like I am running out of time. I got a taxi to the cathedral and then walked inside it for a few minutes. It is beautiful. I walked around and looked at streetside stores for a while and saw a lot of things. I had already written a list of what I wanted to buy and where to get it but looking around at other things was fun. I went into a really nice jewelry store to ask about a baby bracelet for Sasha. $278. I didn't buy it. No good deals to be had in that store. I bought a bunch of Christmas presents for a good price. Sasha and I took a taxi home. It was so great to walk into the hotel with the air conditioning! It was a hot day, not overwhelming, but having a fronpack with a baby as well as a backpack warms you up a little when you're walking around. We set our bags in the room and decided to go do one more thing. Walked around the corner to the old Hanoi Prison and looked in there and read about it for a little while. It is not very large, because only part of it is still there. The hotel I am in is built on part of the grounds of the prison. It was very interesting to read about the history and sad ot see how prisoners were treated (or mistreated actually). We went on another little walk and then went back to the hotel.
Sasha kept waking up during her nap and crying so I wasn't able to take a nap at the same time. I wound up holding her for most of her nap so she would keep sleeping. At 4:30 pm we decided to go on a walk. I don't really know where I was headed. I wasn't hungry for any food I could think of, but I just needed to get out for a while. We walked up toward the lake and then walked most of the way around it. It is a good time to be out people watching. Well, it's always a good time to people watch here since there are so many people outside, but I like being there in the evening. I was thinking about going to the Mediterraneo restaurant, but I wasn't really in the mood for Italian. I had gone in today and taken one of their cards in case I wanted to take a taxi there later. I sat down on a bench and gave Sasha a bottle and then decided to go to Bobby Chins on the way home. I had been there the first night we got into town, but wanted to try it again. It is such a pretty place with the rose petals, hanging silk, and hanging flowers. The lighting is really nice too. By then it was dark so it was pretty watching the bikes, cars and people go by as we sat there. Sasha was great! I ordered macaroni and cheese (I have heard 3 recommendations for it)and a local beer, Halida. I liked the bread a lot, I like the beer, but I didn't really like the macaroni and cheese. Too rich for me. I wasn't that hungry when I went in there though, so that might have made a difference. Sasha and I enjoyed being out somewhere new and were in no hurry to leave. I was planning on taking a taxi home, but decided to walk instead. It was pretty busy outside tonight since it is Friday. We got home at 7:oo pm. I was glad we had gotten out and happy I was able to check of several things on my HAVE TO DO list. I gave Sasha a bath and she is sleeping now. I am about to go to bed too.

Thursday, Sept 27

Today was a mellow day. We had an appointment to pick up Sasha's passport in the morning. That took about an hour. Not too long considering all of the people in the room. Kenny handled it all really. He just asked us to come up and sign a form before we got the passport. Sasha and I went back to our place and relaxed since we had an appointment at the SOS clinic at 1:30 and I didn't want to be late. I like the nurse and the doctor at the clinic. It is a nice, clean place and the doctor was very knowledgable. Sasha was still 12 1/2 pounds, I had thought she would have gained a little. She did have a couple days of hardly taking any formula so that was probably why. She looks bigger and seems to fill out her diaper better. I found out from the doctor that the mongolian spots on their back and bottoms (very commom dark blue marks on their skin) are already noted in their paperwork. In case you don't know, you should have your doctor at home note them down when you have your baby seen. I worked in a preschool for years and twice had an employee come to me suspecting abuse and showed me the mongolian marks. It is very common with asian children. I think the docor said 90% of the babies had them or some high number like that. She is on the small side percentage wise-3% on the chart for babies worldwide. The doctor asked me a few times if I had any questions and was definitely not rushing me through, which was great. My only questions were about a small rash she has on her head (he said they have sensitive skin and don't do anything to treat it-it also may be from the heat) and the shape of the back of her head. She doesn't have a flat part, but it isn't quite rounded either. He said it will be fine and change shape as she gets older. I think he said by the time she is 18 months old. We paid our $65 American dollars at the counter and left. I decided to walk home, it's only a few blocks away from the Somerset and Melia. Sasha and I walked around for a while and then went through this market place between the Melia and Somerset. I had been trying to find pajamas for Sasha and hadn't had any luck. I found some in one of the booths on the left side almost as soon as you walk in the market from the Somerset. They were the thin kind with the baggy pants and cartoony character on them. She wrote down 250,000 on a piece of paper. That was way too high, so I asked again. She wanted me to wrtie down what I wanted to pay on the paper as well, but I asked again and she showed me a bill to show me how much-20,000 duong. About $1.25. I bought them. I am going to wash them tonight so she can wear them tomorrow night. They are pretty cute and look really comfortable.
I was planning on going to the Hilton Hanoi today or out shopping by the lake, but when we came home Sasha fell asleep. She stil hasn't woken up. I am going to wake her up as soon as I finish this or she won't sleep tonight. I was also thinking about going to this restaurant by the teddy bear store, Nagu, but knew that I had a better chance of eating a warm dinner if I ordered in. So I called Luna d'autunno (11b Dien Bien Phu) and ordered some pasta. It was here in about twenty minutes and was great! It cost about $7. I have eaten there four times, but this was the first time I had it delivered. They brought it right to my room and it was still hot. Nice life I have here!
Sasha took a really long nap and when she woke up I was ready to get out of here. It was already about 8:00 pm so I just walked around the neighborhood for a liitle while. I watched some of the people close up their stores and other people on the sidewalks just hanging out. It was so nice outside! It was cool with a great soft breeze and the air smelled good. The rain really helped, before it rained it was warmer and the air smelled so polluted I didn't feel right being outside with her too long. We went back inside our building at sat on one of the lounge chairs. It was so peaceful and nice, we were the only ones by the pool but there were a few people playing tennis nearby. After a while Sasha let me know she was hungry so we came back upstairs. We played for a little while before I gave her a last bottle and she fell asleep. I leaned her up against some pillows on the bed to take pictures and she can almost sit up on her own. She can roll over from front to back and back to front and is good at scooting around on the bed and floor. She has started to get more vocal the last day or so which is fun.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday Sept 26

I had a fun day today. Sasha (and I) woke up around 7:00, I gave her a bottle and then we talked to Ray, Brayden and Brookelyn for awhile on Skype. It was nice because it was the first time Brayden sat still for a couple of minutes and talked to me. Brookelyn looks so big now that we have Sasha. Ray was exhausted and hoping the little kids would put themselves to bed so he could pass out. We heard it can take a couple of weeks to adjust back. We talked for a while then Sasha and I headed down for breakfast. I really like eating there. I like the tea and all of the food has been really good. I also like the $6 price of it. We went back to our room for awhile and Sasha took a nap. After that we met Julie and her family downstairs in the lobby and the shopping began...
It was only Julie, Lillian, Julie's mother in law, myself and Sasha who went shopping. First we went to the silk place Nicole told us about, Phuong Anh (56 Hang Hom). We each ordered jackets for ourselves and the babies. The jackets for adults are $30 and the ones for babies/children are either $10 or $13 depending on the fabric it is made with. Wow, there were so many pretty things there. Silk ties (nice ones) were $3 each. We had a lot of fun and the babies were great. The things should be ready Monday.
We then headed over to Vietnam Quilts (16 Hang Tre). I think this was my fifth time going. You will know why as soon as you pull up in front of the store. The quilts are beautiful! And every time I have gone Sue (an Austalian woman who volunteers there) has hung up new quilts on the wall. The inventory keeps changing. They have some standard things and then there are new things or the standard ones in different colors. Only a small amount of the inventory is posted on the interner. For instance, they have Christmas stockings, Christmas placemats and runners, ornaments, wallets, notebooks, purses, pillow cases...I included a few pictures so you can see some of the things. The quality is great and it is such a great cause! You have to go there! Oh, and they have small quilts the size of a crib comforter for $30 (or $35, I forgot). Great keepsake for your baby! Great prices too-the small comforters are $55 to $60, the tree skirts are $45, wallets $6, ornaments (of Christmas tree, hearts, or little girls with conical hats) $1.50. Throw pillows for the couchor bed are $12.
The next stop was Nagu (20 Ngha Tho) where Nicole suggested we buy personalized teddy bears. Very cute and a good price. A medium bear (10 about ten inches high) that is personalized with your child's name is $15. And you chose the fabric of their vest and what is embroidered on their other foot. It is a nice store and has a lot of other really nice things like purses, wallets, book covers, cell phone holders...for good prices. The bears will be ready Tuesday.
Right next door or two doors down is a nice restaurant. I ordered tomatoes, mozarella cheese, and basil and it was wonderful. It was about $3. We went down a street and over and bought some fans for $2 each. Really nice ones too. I am sure we could have gotten a better price, but I am not haggling when the price is already so low.
It started to rain, which was probably a good thing. We could have shopped for hours...we headed back to the hotel. It was nice spending the day with them. They are a nice family and her boys are wonderful.
Sasha and I stayed in our apartment for a few hours and then went on a walk in the evening. It was so nice outside! It has been raining for the last couple of days and it smells so good out now. It makes taking walks much more pleasant. We walked around for about a half hour and I suddenly started to understand why people missed Vietnam and are drawn to return. I didn't get it when I was rushing around from place to place, but now I get it. It feels good to be here. We walked around until it started to rain again and then went back to the hotel. We went to Highlands Coffee in Hanoi Towers and ordered a beef and rice dish. $3.35! We sat down and relaxed while we were waiting for it to be ready and then took it home to eat. The rice and vegetables were good, but every piece of meat ( I gave up after a while) was really chewy. Still good though. Also, the portion was smaller than what you would get in the US, probably a healthier size portion. Perfect for me. We came up and I gave Sasha another bottle and then a bath. She likes taking a bath, she doesn't even mind me rinsing the shampoo out of her hair. She went to bed soon after that and I had my dinner. Martin called me a few minutes ago to tell me he would meet me in the lobby at 8:40 am to go get Sasha's passport.

Vietnam Quilts

The brochure for Vietnam Quilts states that it ia a non-profit organizaion that aims to develop rural communities. The program provides training to women in rural Vietnam, which leads to employment and regular income. By fostering independent skills, these women can be self sufficient in supporting their families.

More pictures of quilts

More pictures of the day we got Sasha

Pictures of Day we got Sasha

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

G & R Ceremony

I keep forgetting to describe the day we got Sasha. Kenny and Kim (?) called us from the lobby of our hotel and then came up to her room at about 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening of the 18th. Kenny said that he would pick us up at 5:30 am in the lobby and we would pick up another couple from the Hgoc Ngoc and then head up to Lang Son. At first we were going to bring all of the donations, but Kenny called us a little while later. He said he had spoken to the director of the orphanage who said all of the older children were going on a picnic the next day and wanted to know if we could bring them another day. So we brought with us a diaper bag, three care packages from other families, gifts for the staff, a big box full of baby blankets and baby clothes, as well as some picture books, diapers in all sizes (mostly small), baby soap and shampoo, and some wipes. It was a lot of stuff, but we figured we were only going to be doing this one time. I had gone to the store and just bought what I think they needed. Since I didn't know, I had to guess.
We picked up other couple (very nice people) and headed up to Lang Son. It is a very pretty drive and gets prettier as you get closer to Lang Son. It was a great trip since it was FINALLY HAPPENING! I think it was about a three hour drive. We pulled up in front of the orphanage gate and then drove in. It was very quiet there and we only saw maybe one woman outside. We went into a building and Kenny showed us into a room where we were supposed to wait. It seemed to be a conference type room. He said the caretakers would bring in the babies. Some time went by while we waited nervously. Finally (I have no idea how much time passed. Five minutes? Ten?) I turned and saw and small, older woman holding a baby. I kept hearing the other man (the other family) saying how pretty whe was. The woman and the baby were looking right at me. Both of them had this calm expression on their faces. Kind of interested. The baby (Sasha) was wearing a hat, a long sleeved shirt and pants and a jacket like thing with no sleeves. I walked over and took her from the woman and she went right to me. She wasn't scared or happy, she was just very calm. I think I kind of walked away with her while talking to her. I sat down so I could hold her and get a good look at her. It was such a strange feeling. Kind of like being outside of myself watching it happen. I remember looking at the baby while the caretaker was still holding her and thinking, "So this is my daughter." Sasha ( we were not sure about her name and wanted to look at her and spend time with her to make sure it fit her) just looked at me calmly. The caretaker sat down in a chair near mine and just watched. It wasn't uncomfortable at all. I think it was because Sasha wasn't trying to reach for her and the caretaker was just calmly watching instead of hovering. It also helped that we didn't speak the same language so there was no pretense of trying to talk with each other. I did hug her at some point, I don't remember when. I looked at her for a long time and just held her and talked to her. After another five minutes or so another caretaker brought in an adorable little boy and handed him to the other couple. We all just spent a little time with our babies before Kenny came back into the room. I had written down a bunch of questions for the caretaker and had them translated into Vietnamese. She went and got her glasses so she could read them and then told Kenny the answers and he wrote them down. I got some of the information, but couldn't really take it in. I thought I would just read it later but it didn't all really make sense. He told me he would take notes and tell me what they meant later. By the time I looked at them later that evening Kenny had left and I thought I would figure it all out anyway. They were just questions like, "When does she sleep? When does she eat? How much does she eat? Does she share a crib with anyone? Does she have a nickname?"...things like that. I did find out she slept alone, they called her Bui or Bui Thuy (her name is Bui Thuy Duong). I was surprised since I thought they would call her Duong Thuy, but they told me again and again that that was what they called her. (I kept making sure since I wanted to include the name they called her in her new name)
After the speeches from the lady lady from the justice department and then the director of the orphanage, we signed the book. We handed Sasha to her caregiver when we went up to sign the book. After the G & R ceremony, which we felt was done very well, we took pictures. We took pictures with the caretaker and the orphanage director and then another one on the steps in front of the building. Before we left the room we said goodbye and hugged Sasha's caregiver. She was obviously a caring, calm woman. We both liked the director of the orphanage as well. Kenny took all of the presents for the officials at some point and then we left. It was odd that it didn't feel odd to be driving up without a baby and driving away with one. It seemed so easy, then I quickly remembered how hard the paperwork and wait was. Neither of the babies cried at all on the way home. Sasha just looked at us then fell asleep and slept most of the way home. Sooo cute!
We got home and decided to bring her to the SOS clinic right around the corner to check on her cold. We wanted to make sure she didn't have an upper respiratory infection like we heard a lot of babies from Lang Son had. The doctor said she just had a cold. She weighed her (12 1/2 pounds) and measured her (almost 26 inches) and checked her ears. We were happy to hear that her lungs were clear.

Tuesday, Sept 25

This morning the Somerset hosted a Mid Autumn Festival celebration for the children at the hotel and the children who attend the international school located on the 3rd floor. It was great. Very colorful and the children enjoyed it. Many of them were wearing store bought masks and some of the girls wore butterfly wings and antennea. Many of the classes had made different types of lanterns out on constuction paper. We all sat down on the tennis courts on the 4th floor and watched the performance. It got pretty windy and looked like it was about to rain so the teachers decided to have the children have their parade inside the building instead of outside.
We all met at 1:00 to go over to the U.S.Embassy for the first interview. It didn't take that ong considering it is a federal office. Afterwards a few families made plans to go out to dinner. We took Nicole's suggestion and decided to meet downstairs at 5:00 to go to Green Tangerine (48 Hang Be). It is a really pretty restaurant and the food was great. The only thing is that it took a REALLY LONG time to get the food. Several of us ordered the Vietnamese special and it comes with several courses. It ook a long time between each one. But the food was good and we enjoyed getting a chance to sit and talk with eachother. Most of us are sick with colds or various things like it. Most of the babies have colds as well. All seven babies did really well for how long we were there. I had several dishes including scallops, beef and rice, egg rolls, and a banana dessert for $17 American dollars. Definitely worth it.

Mid Autumn Festival Celebration at Somerset