Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Min is currently living in the province of Jiangxi, highlighted in pink on the map.

Although little known outside of the province, Jiangxi cuisine is rich and distinctive. Flavors are some of the strongest in China, with heavy use of chile peppers, pickled and fermented products! Looking forward to some fabulously spicy food!

Jiangxi is the main area of concentration of the Gan varieties of Chinese, spoken over most of the northern two-thirds of the province. Examples include the Nanchang dialect, Yichun dialect and Ji'an dialect. The southern one-third of the province speaks Hakka. There are also Mandarin, Hui, and Wu dialects spoken along the northern border. With all this in mind I'm feeling less guilty about not knowing more Mandarin!

Jiangxi is well known for their incredible porcelain. Apparently the thing to get will be a tea set (child's) for Min. It'll be fun to take her around and let her choose one to bring home!

A little Jiangxi claim to fame: in 2007, Jiangxi (specifically the Zhelin Reservoir, about 40 km from Nanchang) was the filming location for the fifteenth series of the show Survivor. Too bad we don't/didn't watch the show. Maybe we should rent that series?

Our Itinerary

We have our detailed travel plans for our time in China! We'll be doing quite a bit of sightseeing and touring over the 2 weeks of our visit. So much icing on an already very sweet cake! The highlight of the 2 weeks will be on Sunday, May 11 when we finally get to meet the newest McKenzie! We are all very anxious to reach that moment.

We have 3 full days in Beijing. We'll go to TianAnMen Square and the Forbidden City. We will visit the Great Wall. We will be ferried by rickshaw through centuries old Hutong neighborhoods and visit the Temple of Heaven. And we'll get to see a Chinese acrobat show. Hopefully we'll also be able to check out the "Bird's Nest" that has been constructed for the Olympics that is 100 days away.

While in Min's province we've got two days of sightseeing set up for us and a free day to enjoy the sights (aka shopping!). Apparently there is a shop directly across the street from the hotel where we will be staying that makes the traditional Chinese silk dresses with next day turn around. We choose the silk and they will make the outfits. I believe that we will be visiting that store! Plus, they also provide free finding ad services.

We will be in Guangzhou for 5 days and have alot of paperwork and a medical visit for Min's US Visa. So far there isn't any sightseeing set up for us but I know from having followed other family's journeys that there are loads of interesting markets, great parks and a zoo. I also know that it is incredibly humid there so we may just hunker down at Starbucks sipping iced lattes and people watching.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Single Digits

OK folks, we are down to single digits in our countdown to China! I cannot believe that we are so close to such an amazing event and I am still capable of normal daily functioning. Of course a broken table this weekend could be indicative of some stress simmering within. Hmmm.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Perfect Gift

We just found out that we will be meeting Min a day earlier than what we had originally been told. We will meet her on Sunday, May 11. Mother's Day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Only 15 Days Left to Pack

Even in the best of situations I loathe packing. I'd much rather drive than fly because I can toss all those last minute things into the car. I like to have shoe options. I like to have clothing options. I'm not good with having to fit things neatly into a suitcase (or 2 or 3). I love traveling, but hate the packing.

This trip is really going to challenge my travel preparation issues. We've been told to pack light which I find laughable when you see the piles of things we need to take for Min, official paperwork, the gifts for her caretakers, gifts for officials and our coordinators, toys and activities for keeping 2 kids cooped up a small hotel room happy for hours on end, the meds that will help alleviate all sorts of ailments, and clothes and toiletries for the 3 of us. Add to this the fact that domestic China travel only allows one checked bag per person. And before you reach for that body-bag sized duffel realize that there is a 40lb weight limit per bag.

When I start posting photos of the trip I think our attire will quite nicely illustrate how we managed to get everything to China. I just hope for the sake of our fellow travellers that our return flight to the States is not full.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bridge Building State Finals

Last week Alex' Bridge Building Team competed in the state finals. The state is divided into four regions, with teams from both middle and high school at the competition.

Our bridge team spent the month in between events fine tuning both the bridge and the skit. The bridge we entered this time was 10 grams heavier than our previous entry, our engineers having determined the additional weight was a necessary trade off for a more secure structure. The face paint created this time for Yodaneer was a much nicer shade of green (that was the only change for the skit group . . . "if it ain't broke. . .").

Once again our skit crew wowed the crowd with their production of Star Bridge . They won best presentation and were awarded a check for $100 from the NC DOT! While our new bridge did much better than last time, the extra bulk on the bridge didn't translate into being the strongest of the 4 entered.

Everyone had a great time and the best part is that everyone is excited about being back for next year's team! Alex even has a title for next year's skit: Star Bridge II: Return of Darth Deadload!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt

Some pictures from our Easter Sunday at Ron and Amee's house. Alex had a great time with his friend Colin, and Colin's sisters, Alyssa and Taylor, who were visiting from Illinois. Thanks to Erin for the information on making photo collages!

World Autism Awareness Day

Our son is on the spectrum. He wasn't diagnosed until the age of 10. He has Aspergers/HFA. We love the person that is our Alex. All his amazing abilities and unique interests and ways of viewing the world make our world much more colorful. Sure, I'd love for social interactions to be easier for him but in our mind his autism is not a disease, it's a difference. A difference that makes him who he is.

We have friends who have a different view of autism. They have children on a different part of the spectrum. They love their children. Love the unique people that they are but want more for their children. The want to see more time and research put into autism studies to see what can be offered to enrich their children's lives. They would like to see a cure.

For us a cure would mean our son wouldn't be who he is. It would be like taking him away from us. But a cure for our friends would allow their children to develop into who they could be and would give so much more of them to their families.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Congratulations! It's A Girl ('s Room)!

A few signs of the upcoming arrival of Miss Min Xiu!

Travel Dates!!

We have our official travel dates and our consulate appointment! We will leave for Beijing on Wednesday May 7 and we will be a family of four on Monday May 12. Our US Consulate appointment has been scheduled for May 20 and we'll return to the states a few days later.