Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cast Away and other great movies to Watch While Flying

I might have written about this on a previous post, so forgive my short term memory.  When flying, movies are a great way to pass the time.  That is unless it has to do with a plane crashing or sicknesses passed through air travel.  In the older days, it was movies like Airplane (a comedy making fun of those disaster movies), Airport, etc.  In those days, you had to either watch the screen ahead of you or close your eyes.  

Now we have screens in our chairs.  Most or some, give us a pick of many movies.  Now we have films like Turbulence, Snakes on a Plane and Cast Away.  Those concern airplane disasters.  One movie that mirrored our last adoption was Contagion.  In the movie, an airborne illness is contracted in Hong Kong and spread through a plane.  

Angie experienced this movie first hand.  She was going through the titles and thought that this looked like an interesting movie.  Remember, we had just boarded our plane to America from Hong Kong.  She liked the movie.  Later in the flight, people started acting weird.  One person fainted.  Another person started vomiting and people started to call for a doctor.  Angie started to freak out a little.  She had just seen a movie with this same plot.  

She calmed down when she realized what was going on.  On a long flight like this, you have to drink water.  If not, you will get dehydrated.  The air circulating dries you out.  Stewards are constantly bringing around cups of water.  So remember, drink lots of fluids on a long flight.  If you watch a movie about disaster or illness, just tell yourself "It's just a movie".   Who knows, you might learn survival skills or not.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Earthquakes and our Adoption Areas

Although we have never been in an earthquake in China, they have happened during or before our process.  After seeing Nepal, Angie asked if that were near Harbin.  It is not.  Chengdu is closer.  A couple of years before adopting Mia, a big one hit their province.  When we were there, there was still rubble in areas that had not been rebuilt.

During Michelle's adoption, we got news one or two days prior that an earthquake had hit her region.  None of the children had been injured.  As we embark on this latest trip, we have to keep in mind that earthquakes hit this part of the world.  From what I've seen, they can hit anywhere.

Keep the people in the affected regions in your prayers and help if you can.

Weight of the World on my Back

Now I may have written about this before, but our trip is quickly approaching.  When you fly nowadays, you have to think about the weight of your bags.  These airlines are just looking for ways to charge you extra fees.  In our case, we will be going by what is acceptable in the US to what is acceptable in China.  The problem is that it is a difference of about 10 pounds.  You need to equally distribute the weight.  A great thing to use is a regular scale, like the one you would weigh yourself.  We have done that on all of our trips.  We have never had an overweight bag.

Besides weight, you have to think about security.  We use TSA (Transportation Security Administration) approved locks on our bags.  So far, we have not had a problem.  In addition to this, we try to put the more valuable things in our carry on bags.  I think it works when we have gone to China.  I think if anyone wants to steal, they are going to look for suitcases without locks.

Be careful with what you bring.  You have to follow the restrictions of each country.  Some may vary.  We had a big tube of baby rash cream.  We lost it in China.  The security in China took it away from us.  We should have put it in the suit case, but we left it in our carry on.  Our guide could not convince the man that it was just cream.  She did win battles over liquid medicines.  Just do your research before travelling.  By all means, stay away from snow globes and big bottles of alcohol.  We have seen many of those confiscated over our many trips.  They were not ours, but they were high on the list of things that were taken.

One final travelling tip.  Bring snacks.  If you don't like what is served on the plane or are gun shy about food poisoning, you need some backup.  On our last trip, we were not rushing for the airline food.  I think we finally gave in, but I don't ever want food poisoning on a long plane trip.  It is not fun.  You might find it hard to buy granola bars or crackers in the country you are going to.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Multi-Carrier Flying

It looks like we are going to fly on a bunch of carriers. I am actually looking forward to it.  We have mainly used Northwest, Delta and United.  This time we will be going on American, Japan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.  We will know shortly.  Then the next step is the Visas.  We are almost done with the preparations.  We just need to get the house ready.  I just hope our bags make it to each plane.  No, Japan Airlines is not the one dressing their planes like R2-D2.  I might be able to find them.

Reality Show that Shows How Miserably in Debt We Are

I was just reading that CBS has a show called the briefcase.  It is about two desperate families, in a financial quandary, who have to decide how to use a briefcase full of money.  They can either take it for themselves or share it with a family identical to their own.  Maybe we should apply.  If they gave us a large amount and we had to choose to share with a family like ours, I would have not problem sharing.  Both of us would be winners.  If they are like us, they will be bringing a child into their family.  I would not have much of a dilemma.

It would beat standing outside on a street exit with a sign that reads:  Will Write Blog for Donations! God Bless!

Finding Airfare

Angie has started looking for airfare.  It is looking expensive.  The travel agency has come back with numbers.  They have been high, or so we thought.  One flight had an hour between landing and the main flight.  Anyone who flies knows that we would be cutting it close.  Angie made a call to Delta.  They have adoption fares.  It is 50% off of the tickets for us and our new child, but Michelle will cost full price.  Our tickets were over $2,000 and Michelle's would be over $5,000.  At those rates, we could bring home another daughter for the money we would be spending on tickets.

It looks like going through an agency is better.  I just wish it did not cost so much.  Now you know why we are fundraising.

Forgot to put, we are also limited by where we are flying out of.  Not many big name airlines.  Looks like we will have to connect to a bigger city.  It's funny because this city claims to have an International Airport.  By the way, it's not Orlando, but we had to connect up north from that airport.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Setting up the Itinerary

We have been checking into air travel.  It seems prices have gone up already.  Hopefully, they will lock in before they go up too much.  Our guide sent us a sample itinerary.  Some things were expensive.   A safari park was priced at $50 - $60.  It looks like the train is out this trip.  They suggest a van ride to Hong Kong.  Maybe we will get to see more of the country side and Hong Kong.  As soon as we get our tickets, we have to tell the guide, who will set up in China travel and hotel.  At this rate, I need to sell more posters or keep my fingers crossed for a large donation.

Trying to save money, I suggested we stay at the Hostel in Guangzhou.  But, due to the movie Hostel, she does not want to stay in one.

What's red and black and goes 100mph?

Stop me if you heard this one.  It does not have the same punchline.  Last night, we were elated by our good news.  We fell asleep pretty quickly.  Being in Florida, the air conditioner was our constant companion.  At about 1:30am, we heard some loud sounds coming from outside the window.  It just kept making that loud whacking sound.  I got on my shoes and went outside.  At first, I could not see anything.  I did feel a branch.  I found a light and was able to see what it was, besides the partial branch.

The punchline to the joke:  The poor frog that got into our air conditioner.  They whacking was the frog hitting the air conditioner fan.

More Great News!

Last night, we got confirmation on our consulate appointment.  This week will be dedicated to getting flight arrangements and Visas, etc.  Now we are getting to the point where time will fly by.  The agency has already started to check on all paperwork.  They want to make sure everything is ready.  We will continue to gather our things and sell on Ebay.  The reason for the confirmation last night is that it is morning in China.  Angie was hoping the consulate would send their response.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekend . . .Progress was made, to a point!

This weekend was supposed to be about gathering yard sale materials.  I did make some progress, but it has slowed a little.  Tomorrow we celebrate Mia's 6th birthday.  Kids are growing so quickly.  Besides the birthday, Angie informed me that the yard sale will be in about two to three weeks.  Next week, the girls are going to a birthday party for a friend.  We still have time to gather.  I did go through the kitchen and filled a box.  I need to go through again.  I also found some books to get rid of.  They will probably go to the library as a donation.  I need to go through CD's also.  I can upload some to the computer and condense onto a DVD disc.  

My air is fixed in my car.  Luckily, we have insurance for repairs on my car.  It only cost us a deductible.  It would have been close to $300.  This may not fix it.  If my compressor goes, that will have to be repaired.  Living in Florida, you need air.  The last couple of days I have been driving with the windows open.  Summer is here and it is only April.  I wonder what summer is going to be like.  

Tomorrow we celebrate Mia's birthday and visit Kayla.  Don't know if I will have to fix a special dinner.  She prefers Pediasure to solids.  

Today has been a great day for Ebay.  We have been selling some posters.  Mainly, they have been selling for $3.50.  Any money is great to us.  The trip is coming quick.  I'd like to sell these posters.  

Born in China

I was looking at my Facebook page and saw a preview for Disney's next nature movie.  It is called Born in China.  It follows a panda, a monkey and a snow leopard.  I told the girls I will have to take them to it next year.  Also, I probably should see if I can get the poster.  I can frame it and place it next to the framed Mulan poster.  If you'd like to check it out, I have placed a link you can copy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The TA has Arrived!

We got the call we were waiting on.  The agency has received confirmation of our Travel Approval.  Shortly after, they sent in the dates we would like to meet.  They will agree on a date.  Then, we will be setting up our travel and Visa information.  The agency said that it should not be hard to get the dates because it is a couple of weeks out.  We probably could go sooner, but we are waiting for the end of the school year.  Now we are getting a clearer picture of our travel dates.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Not only is this a great movie, but it looks like we may be doing it again.  On our last adoption, we did get to travel by all these vehicles.  I was talking with Angie and she has been conversing with a travel agent.  They say if we fly out of Hong Kong, it would be cheaper.  I just hope when we do, I do not have to try and bring 6 suitcases down some stairs.  Michelle should be able to help with some.  Not only that, but we may have to hang out at the airport.  That would be okay.  I think they had a bunch of eating places and stores to walk through.  I wonder if they have those cubicles you can rent to lie in?  I told Michelle that was the kind of hotels we would be staying in.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Donations keep rolling in!

Reece's Rainbow is now past the $300 mark.  Between that and everything else we are doing, we are getting some money.  Posters are selling.  I have around 20 bids on posters.  I am hoping some people will bid them up,  but as long as I get rid of them.  We need the space.  I don't know if it is next weekend or the weekend after, but we are going to be holding a huge yard sale.  After that, all things not sold will be donated.  Either to Goodwill, the library, etc.  I will be happy to get it out of the house.  We might even sell some plants.  I have a ton of Aloe Vera cactus and Mexican Petunias.  I should dig some up and get them ready.

After that, we will probably start packing some things.  We have gifts to give the orphanage that can be set in suitcases.  I'm just hoping not to bring too much.  

As for donations, we are happy with anything we get.  We had never tried on this level.  Angie had a couple of sales, but we thought we'd try.  Angie has seen stories of families that are just getting ready to go to China, and they don't have the money they need.  As our trip comes close, we are not worried.  We have things set.  Even after we go, I plan to keep selling posters.  After that, I have comic books, and baseball Cards.  I don't want them anymore.  They take up space.

Chen Family Temple, Guangzhou China (Now with Pictures!)

Like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, this is a place we have visited on all three adoptions.  It is a place where arts and crafts are on display.  You can even see the artisans preparing some of that art.  There are sculptures, paintings, ink drawings, sewn pictures that are very intricate.

Each of the visits, you enter a wide double door that has sculptures guarding it.  In addition to all that is on display, they do have things for sale.  The prices can run very high.  But, the art is amazing.  The sewn pictures actually look like a real picture, until you get close enough to see that it is needlework.

Another great place to visit in the temple is where an artisan is creating very intricate pictures with ink and his hand.  He makes pictures of Chinese waterfalls and mountains, pandas, and other interesting scenes.  It was fun to watch him create pictures.  In other parts of the temple, there are artifacts from the past on display.

Finally, they do have a gift shop with many things that you can buy.  Like I said, things tend to run a little high.  They do not bargain.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Flying and a fear of Small Places

I really like flying.  I even wanted a job in the field, but I found it hard to get a job and the pay did not sound great for the amount of time you were away from your family.  I was thinking on the level of the movie theater.  When we worked there, free movies were part of our benefits.  I've heard most companies make their employees fly standby.  Flying out of Orlando is not that hard to do.  It is flying back where you would have a problem.

Flying for 18-25 hours is not that most fun, especially when you are bringing home a scared baby/child.  Once a flight is finished, the worst part is getting off.  The air usually goes off and everyone is in a rush to get off.  I usually am trying to grab 4-5 carry on bags and juggle them.  A part of me starts to feel claustrophobic.  I just want to get out or use the bathroom.

I said that I like flying, but I do have a line that I do not like to cross.  I am not a big fan of those small connector flights.  I have only been on one of them.  I did not like it.  When I got on the plane, I had to bend my head.  I could feel the claustrophobia setting in.  Once I was in my seat I was a little better.  Luckily, during an adoption, the planes have all been of a decent size.

Email Confirming Article 5

In addition to the bad news, we also had some good news.  We got our confirmation that Beijing received our Article 5.  Now we wait for the next step.  We also sold a bunch of posters.  I checked and we have some more bids.  If you are in the market to buy a poster, check it out.  Time is running out.  Then, we have to wait until next week to list again.  We have hit our selling limit.

Fool Me Once, Shame on you, Fool Me Twice. . .

We got some bad news this morning.  I poster we shipped internationally was damaged.  Not only that, but because the person did not want to pay a lot for the shipping, there was no insurance on the poster.  He wants his money back.  We have no other choice.  In the future, all future international sales will either go through Priority Mail or through Ebay's International shipping.  At least, there will be insurance coverage.  Be careful if you sell something and ship without insurance coverage.  We are not refunding the shipping and if he insists on it.  Then we will require him to send back the poster.  Depending on the damage, I could still sell it.  I have sold damaged posters for over $50.  I did mention that they were damaged, so I did not hide that fact.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Today's the Day or Yesterday's the Day

Today, or yesterday in China time, our Article 5 should have been delivered.  We are on to our next period of waiting.  Hopefully this wait will be short.  I'd really like to start finalizing the plans.  My busy time at the insurance company is about to start.  They really don't like us taking off after the start of July.  I am hoping that we will be going in June.  I am hoping Guangzhou is not as hot as it was in September.

The Economy of Things

As I clean out the house, I realize how much we waste money on junk.  From this point on, we are going to try and exert better control over what we buy.  By the end of all this, I hope that our house will be more open.  You should look around and decide the same thing.  Do you really need things that do not get used sitting around your home.  The only thing I really like to get is movies on DVD.  Besides that, I don't really need anything.  I like seeing my children happy when they get things, but I see how quickly that happiness disappears and they stop playing with that toy or wearing those clothes.  When we go on this trip, I am only going to get things that are special.


There is a documentary and an MTV show called Catfish.  This is where a person starts a relationship with someone on the Internet and they are not as they describe themselves.  If that is incorrect, I am sorry, I have not seen either.  I had just read information about it.

About a week or two ago, a person friended me on Facebook.  I did not know if they were someone that was a friend of someone that I was friends with or a reader of the blog.  It turns out it was neither.  She was looking for a person to marry.  I had to advise her that I am married.  I even told her she might want to add more information on her page.  I do not know if it is real or not.  She has one picture and no other information.  A big red flag for anyone looking for fraud on Facebook.  She keeps sending out hello messages.  I say hello.

The other day, she says she needs to talk to me.  She says she needs help.  I quickly point out that I do not have money.  I wrote that I am as poor as the homeless man that sleeps in front of my workplace.  She says she does not want money, but wants me to send her a laptop for school.  I tell her I do not have one to give.  Then I played Devil's Advocate, I asked her if I did, what was she going to give in return?  Anyone that would give her something would expect something.

Later that night, Facebook had shut her page down.  I guess someone had reported her as fraud.  The next day, her page had been reinstated.  I have not seen any posts.  She may not send anymore messages if she thinks I complained.  I held off posting to see if I got any more messages.  None.  I unfriended that person and they have not tried to re friend me.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A day of work

Today was spent in the garage.  We cleared out everything and tried to pack the yard sale stuff better.  We took out all the garbage.  Now we are ready to start moving the stuff from the house to the garage.  When the big yard sale happens, we will be prepared.  It was hot.  If feels like summer and we are only in April.  Wonder what summer is going to be like?  We will miss one month of it.  July-September are hot months in Florida.  At least we get rain on a more or less consistent manner.  I just hope the hurricanes stay away.  The way our state is, they will let the insurance companies gauge us to "recoup" their losses.  Unfortunately, I think they also try to recoup their CEO bonuses, etc.

I did get some posters listed for sale.  Remember to check if you are interested.  The sales have been picking up a little.  Hopefully, this will be a great week of sales.

Ebay and other things

We have sold a couple of posters.  I have been updating since yesterday.  I wish there was a magic button to list all these posters.  By the time I get to 200, I will probably be tired of entering.  I hope it will let me go past the limit, but I am not holding up my hopes.

Today we prepare for the big yard sale.  We are going to clean out our garage and start storing things that are going to be for sale.  That means I have to get rid of more things.  I think the kitchen will be a great place to look.  It is another hot day in Florida.  I will be back later with another post.  I have an interesting tale of something that happened to me.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ebay report

We sold a bunch of posters yesterday.  I have bids for some of my new auctions.  This weekend, I will be adding as many as their system will allow.  According to an email we received, we can add up to 500 posters, without insertion fee.  But, I think my limit will come into play.  We'll see.  If I can add a lot, it would be a great boost at the right time.  In a week or so, we are going to find out when we are going to China.

Also, I found a plane I'd like to fly on.  Nippon Air is designing their planes to look like R2D2.  Angie said no.  I think their prices were a little high, but one can dream.

Geeking Out!

Yesterday was a great day for movie fans.  Two trailers were released.  I can not wait for these movies to come out.  I grew up with Star Wars.  I remember the long lines when I went to see Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  This preview looks like it was cut in the same mold of the original three movies.  I think the best way to see it will be in IMAX.  Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a real IMAX screen near you.  We have one in Orlando.  I saw Avatar with my daughter at that theater.  I might have to go back there.  Don't know if my daughters will want to go with me.

On the other hand, we have Mad Max.  Another movie I have been waiting for.  This new trailer shows the evolution of the character.  It looks good.  I have told people that this year would be a great year for movies.  It looks like I was right.  Check out the previews.  You will not be disappointed, unless you are not a fan of these movies.          Mad Max Legacy Trailer               Star Wars Trailer #2

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Do you want to build a Sandman?

I was looking at Facebook yesterday.  CCTV from China had a story about a massive sandstorm in Beijing.  I'm glad we did not experience that.  It look like that scene from the last Mission Impossible movie.  At the same time I see this, my daughter is listening to Do you want to Build a Snowman from Frozen.

Check it out:

Another Opportunity

Ebay is picking up again.  I am almost done selling Shawshank posters.  They have been very profitable.  I wish I had kept more of them.  Ebay just sent out another selling opportunity.  We can list up to 500 things for bid.  I do think that is limited to what ever our limit is.  I might have to call about that.  The selling opportunity seem to start charging once I hit 100.  That was supposed to be for up to 1000.  We'll see.  I might have a lot to list this weekend.  Sometimes, it seems opportunities open at the right time.  I have a bunch I can list.  We may have to call in more tubes if they actually sell.  Luckily, they can have it to us in a day or two.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Blogging from China

I have written about blogging from China in the past.  I think most people who can use some kind of computer trick to bypass the firewall in China.  So, I need to find out how to get around it myself.  Blogger has an email address I can send my blog to.  So, I decided I would try.  I would like to post every day.  It would be better than playing catch up.  If this works, I can share our adventure as it happens.  I usually have down time during the day or at night.  You can only watch so much of CNN or Mandarin language shows.  I might watch some music videos channels if they have them.  They did 3 years ago. 

Article 5 is getting ready to be issued

We received news from our agency today.  On April 20, the agency will be going to the US Conculate to pick up our Article 5.  Article 5 verifies that our adoption case meets all of the Hague requirements.  It will be delivered to the CCCWA (China's Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) and they will issue our Travel Approval.  We are still hoping to leave in June.

Reece's Rainbow . . .Stalled, needs a push

I checked our total.  We have 250.00.  I thought this would be a great way to raise money.  It is not really moving.  We'd appreciate anything you could give, but I understand.  It's not like I have money to donate to others.  Rest assured, we are going through this adoption whether we raise money or not.  It just means we have to juggle our finances.  This is what happens during an adoption.  I have seen were people set up an adoption and got to the travel phase and were begging for funds.  You can not do that.  You have to think of how you are going to pay before you start.  What if you made it to the travel phase and had to decline because you did not have the money you thought you were going to have?  You would be devastated.  We have an attachment to Elana.  If we had to give up, it would hurt.  She may not be hurt by it.  I don't know what or when they tell the children.

Any donations to our FSP on Reece's Rainbow are tax deductible.

51 Days and Counting

I write 51 days, but this might be off.  We won't know until the agency calls to let us know something.  I feel that it is 51 days because that is the number of the countdown that I have started.  The song was 51 Days by No Use for a Name.  Other than that we are in the dark.  This creates an issue when you are trying to get things done.  They could come back and tell us it will be in May.  At least we have a tentative date to go by.  In the past, we came up to certain dates and thought it was not going to happen during Thanksgiving.  Of course, three to four weeks before they come back and tell us you are leaving the day after Thanksgiving.  You got to remember, China does not celebrate our holidays.  They have their own.  While we were there in 2005, we did see some Christmas decorations.  I think that was mainly in the hotels and they tend to serve people from other countries.
As our days tick by, we keep gathering for the big yard sale.  I keep listing on Ebay.  I did sell another Shawshank.  The posters for auction are not gathering any bids.  I just keep wondering why.  I guess people are not into posters like I was or am.  I understand a lot of them are generic, but some stand out.  I want to start on the baseball cards, but I don't think they will sell for much.  I'm not wasting lots of money to get them professionally graded.  I do have comic books, but I am waiting for the right time.  I mainly have DC versus Marvel.  Maybe the Batman V. Superman trailer will spur interest.  Depends on what they show.  I did read that it might come out next week and in front of The Avengers.  Word was that it was supposed to be in front of Mad Max.  I guess they see a lot of comic book fans going to The Avengers.

All we can do is keep waiting and checking our email.  I'm hoping for a big week end getting things into boxes so we can prepare for the sale.  I keep going over things I can get rid of.  It can be hard.  I have a mental attachment to things.  I have to get over it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Luggage . . .How to prepare for our adoption

We are going to start getting things ready.  One thing you have to think about on a journey like this is what you are going to pack.  What we will probably do is bring three suitcases.  We will try to condense our stuff in one bag.  In the other two, we will bring donations and gifts.  Angie has been keeping out an eye for things that we can donate to the children.  If you look at the right time, you can get stuffed animals at a reduced price after a holiday like Easter.  We did ask our agency the types of things needed, but I don't know if we can provide them with things like Cleft Lip cups.  They might also be expensive.  You probably can look for a donation of things, but just be aware of weight and bag limits.  You have to consider both your country and China.  China's limits are different from the US.  You don't want to exceed that limit.  Those fees can be outrageous.

On coming home, we will be able to add another suitcase.  Usually, it is a suitcase per person.  Elana will count as one.  Seeing that she is two, I believe that we will be shooting for a lap child.  You still have to pay for that.  Like I have said in previous posts, you can find an inexpensive suitcase that will hold up until you get home.  Past that, don't be surprised if it falls apart.  Make sure you bargain that price down.  You will be disappointed if you pay the full price.

I am hoping that my daughter will be assisting me with the bags this time.  Last time, Kayla was with us and she needed assistance.  I was dragging four to five suitcases everywhere.  Also, remember, you can buy things in China.  Medicines are probably priority.  But, be careful with the liquids.  All airports seem to have some kind of limit on them.  Beware snow globes.  Unless they are under the liquid limit, they will not allow them on planes.

Taking Pictures (Now with Pictures)

On our first adoption, we took about 300 or so pictures.  Mainly they are of Michelle.  When I look back at the pictures I noticed that I did not take enough pictures.  For me, I'd like to look at them and be able to tell day by day what we did and what we experienced.

The second trip, the pictures increased to about 2000.  We also had to spend one extra week in China.  This time I was determined to get more pictures.  I feel like I succeeded, but probably could have taken more pictures.

The third trip, we took over 3000 pictures.  This was only a two week stay.  I was determined to take many more pictures.  The best part of digital photography is that you can upload them to a computer and then pick and choose what you want to keep or print out.  Back in the day of film, you could not do that.  Every picture you took was going to cost you to get developed.

In addition to the family pictures and sites, I have started to take pictures that tell a story of the surroundings that we are in.  Pictures of the locals relaxing, dancing, walking with their children.  These pictures help to develop the surroundings around us.  Not just the buildings and sites.  I hope to add more on this trip.  Maybe I will shoot for 4000+.  Just remember when you go on a vacation take many pictures. You may never go back to that place.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ebay Listings A lot for sale

Copy and paste this link to see the posters we are selling.  Most are below $10.00.  All money goes to the adoption.

Countdown Continues

The countdown has continued.  I have had some good songs like 57 Channels (And Nothin' On) by Bruce Springsteen, I Can't Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar, and Sixty Minute Man by the Dominoes.  Some have not been that great Poem 58 by Chicago and 56 Bars by DMX.  I think the title is the only place the number is mentioned.  I have more to come and I have a public playlist on Spotify.  It is called Elana's Countdown.  I am going to add more today at lunch.  It stops at 44.

Book Reports . . .Done!

We finished our reports.  I will say that if you are thinking about adoption, this would be a great first step.  As part of your research, read books about the subject.  I liked the fact that they also let us watch a documentary.  I have watched about 4 or 5.  They delve into different subjects.  Be careful, they may be biased in one direction or another.  You will be able to tell by how they present their material.

Since Angie wrote about Dark Matter of Love, I wrote in It's a Girl.  Overall, this documentary made me glad that I do adopt females.  We are giving them a opportunity that they would not have in China.  They might, but it would depend on who they married and how that person/family treated them.  As for me, I don't want my girls to rush into a relationship.  They should establish what they want to do in life before settling down.

Overall, this has been a great experience.  I may have picked up a thing or two in the books I read, but I did see a lot of biased opinion or writing from a particular point of view.  By that, I mean one author talking too much about IVF (Invitro Fertilization).  Not everyone goes through this process or even has the money to do so.  To me, it seems like a waste of money.  People make comments about adoptive parents "buying their kids", what about the people that pay for IVF?  Seems to me like they too are paying for their kids.

Ebay. . . Reach for the Stars!

This week end, we achieved a blue star.  A blue star represents 50+ good reviews.  I think it's a way for buyers/sellers to see that they can trust this person.  I don't know if there are any real savings or other advantages.  I will let you know if there is.

The sales have been going okay.  Mainly Shawshank.  I have sold a couple of other titles.  That has come from the Buy it Now's that I listed.  Bid wise, I have not been getting any bites.  Maybe a nibble in the form of a watch, but it has not translated into a bid or offer.  I guess I just thought there would be more of a market for movie posters.  It's sad that only a small amount are in demand.  I wish I could say this is for an adoption, but they would yank our sale.  We do try to let people who buy the posters know through their invoice.  That is a great way to try and build repeat customers.

Recently, I sold a Jurassic Park Poster.  This poster had some wear and a tear on the corner.  I did not know if it would sale, but I thought it might.  It did.  Now, I feel bad about selling a poster in this condition.  I decided that because of the condition of the poster and the fact that they are a repeat customer, I threw in a bonus poster for Escape from LA.  It was sort of a thanks for repeat business.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Great day to Celebrate

Yesterday, we spent  the day at a friends house to celebrate their daughter's birthday.  This friend is special to our daughters.  She too was adopted from China.  We met them at day care when our daughters were young.  Angie had seen the daughter and the father at day care, but we did not know if the mom was Asian.  When we saw the mother, we knew.  From that point on, the girls have been friends.  I think it is great for the girls to have a friend like this.  They share a very special bond.  The family welcomes all our children.  I remember when Mia first went over to their house, she was in a stroller and not really talking.  Yesterday, she did not want the stroller.  She ran around with the girls and talked to most of the guests.  She also got soaked at their pool.  She did not go swimming, but she put her feet in the pool.  She kept splashing until she was thoroughly soaked.  At the end, she had a major tantrum when it was time to leave.  Lucky for us, the rain held off until night time.  It did not ruin the party.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Guangzhou another Hotel

Our agency has opened another hotel.  It's the Marriott.  Not just any Marriott, but the Marriott that we stayed in the last trip.  Depending on cost, that may be the hotel we stay at.  It is in a nice location.  There is a great park across the street.  We know of a dumpling restaurant that has some great and inexpensive food.  We'll just have to research our choices.  It is nice that the agency is allowing people to choose their hotel.  Our last agency did not give choices.  They set it up and said this is where you're going to stay.  Not that the choices were bad, but if you need to watch your spending it's nice to know that you can price check.  I believe all hotels they are letting us choose from are nice.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Fundraising with an assist from a famous person

In the beginning, I thought we had a great fundraiser.  I thought people would give a little to assist in our endeavor.  I was wrong.  I did send off some requests to some actors/actress/writers.  I only received one response.  It was a writer.  He said he could not mention our fundraiser because he would have to mention it for everyone.  If you have an in with an celebrity, go for it.  I wish I had.  I have seen where Samuel L Jackson has retweeted for some Go Fund Me campaigns.  I did not want to bother him with ours.  Those children had an illness like Cancer, etc.  I did not find our need as great as theirs.   If you do your research, you might find someone who would help get the word out on you fundraiser.  We did not find those people.  If you tell a compelling enough story, they may just write back.  Wish I could have sent my Blog to Adam Sandler or Drew Barrymore.  No one in Hollywood accepts ideas for movies unless they are a someone who is represented by an agent.

End to Work Fundraising

I ended my fundraising at work.  I thought I had something when I moved the display, but it did catch the attention of two coworkers and a visitor.  I would not say it was overly successful, but any money we got is appreciated.  I just thought people would be more supportive or maybe I did not.  I really don't even like bringing in my daughter's school fundraisers.  We don't have tons of money for others.  I guess I can not feel that bad.  At least I will not have to depend on them for the yard sale.  If you do a fundraiser at work, good luck.  It works for some, but maybe it was the fact that I am adopting that turned people off.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Another day. . . another problem!

To start, I have found out the hotel that is used in Harbin.  It is the Gloria Hotel.  It looks nice.  It is centrally located to some things that we wanted to see.  We are still mulling the Guangzhou situation.  The Garden sounds great, but it is more expensive.  The Victory is located in an area where we are very familiar.  It also has a subway stop close by.

Last night, our fridge started giving us trouble.  The ice maker was not making ice.  Not only that, but my air does not seem to be working in my car.  Living in Florida during the summer, you need air.  I have said this before.  It always seems to happen where things start breaking near the end of an adoption.  Let's just hope that this is it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hotels in Guangzhou

Of our three trips to Guangzhou, we have stayed in two different hotels.  The White Swan was the main adoption hotel.  We got to visit there on our first two trips.  On our third trip, the hotel had closed for renovation.  By renovation, I mean they redid the whole hotel.  On our third adoption, we visited the hotel.  They had boards on the windows.  You could walk into the lobby.  We went and took Mia's picture on the Red Couch.  I hope we can do that with Elana, but that will depend on our access to the subway system.

The third adoption we stayed at a Marriott.  It was nice.  We liked the area around the hotel.  It was located right next to a subway stop.

On this trip, we have the two choices I mention in an earlier post.  Those choices are The Garden hotel in Guangzhou and Victory hotel in Guangzhou.  The Victory is right down the road from the White Swan.  We have not been to the Garden hotel.  Both hotels have websites, if you want to see them.  I tried asking Angie about Harbin, but she does not know what hotel they use.  We are leaning towards the Garden, but like I said, they want some money.  I'd be happy with the Hostel that is between the White Swan and Victory hotels.  After seeing the movie Hostel, Angie has said she will never stay in one.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Show me the Money!

This is the part of the adoption that drives me crazy.  I know it's going to cost money, but you have to save where you can.  Angie was telling me prices of two hotels in Guangzhou.  One charges $160 and the other $90.  Guess which one I'd learn towards?  Then you have to take into account its location and eating/shopping around the hotel.  The $90 hotel is on the same island as the White Swan.  We know the area, but it sounds like it is small.  The other hotel is big and has many restaurants.  The White Swan did and we did not eat there.  On top of this we have airfare, fees, other hotels.  Just like the Jerry Macguire film Show me the Money!

Work around the house

Yesterday and the start of the day, the workplace was dark.  A power outage happened.  I got to go home early yesterday.  I did some yard work I had been neglecting.  I also wrote an adoption book report.  If you go through an adoption, you find your mind going over what needs to be done to get ready.  I tend to forget things that need to be kept up.  I'm sure my back would have liked me to just go home and rest, but I have to get things done.  Next up will be forcing myself to look at things to get rid of.  That creates another issue because I don't like just giving away things.  Those things cost me money.  For me they have value.  It's too bad people buying it don't agree with me.  I still have one more report to write, things to gather for the yard sale, a room to get ready, weeds to pull, plants to water, and posters to sale.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Finding airfare for an Adoption

Adoption Airfare is an organization we are currently checking out to see if we can get a good deal.  In the past, we used Delight Travel has set up our last three adoptions.  We are trying to shop around.  When we look up the tickets through the airlines, it's expensive.  Maybe our Reece's Rainbow account will get some more adoptions before we leave.  If not, I will still be selling the posters.  After that, I may try the comics and baseball cards.  I probably should see what Daredevil by Frank Miller is selling for.  With the new Netflix show, I hear they took some ideas from his take on Daredevil.  Maybe the Batman V. Superman preview will give people an idea of who or what the villain is.  If Domesday, then I could sell the Death of Superman comics I have.  Getting back to the agency, they are busy, but will be getting back to us this week.  I will let you know the outcome.

Travelling with children on planes

We have all been there.  Even if they are not our children, we have had to endure screaming babies, kids kicking the back our your chair etc.  We have been fortunate with our children.  They are usually well behaved.  Kayla is autistic and we worried that she would not be able to handle air travel.  She is one of the best I have ever flown with.  She loves flying.  Let her sit near the window and she is content.  She has been to China two times with us.

Michelle is going on the next journey.  I think she will be fine.  She has gone back one time since we adopted her.  This will be the second.  I can only think of one trip where she was not happy.  We were lucky enough to go to Paris, France.  We were trying to save money, so we listed her as a lap child.  Big mistake.  She felt she was old enough to have her own seat.  She spent most of the flight at our feet.  At least she did not cry.

Kiersten was great.  She had no issues.  The only one I could think of was that she kept requesting things from the stewardess.  We did not know what she was doing because we did not understand Mandarin.  But, the stewardess did.  We finally told her if she asks for soda, the answer is no.

I have talked about Mia.  Her trip was good for the most part, until the stewardess made us put her in her own seat.  She did not like that.  I still think she would have problems, but she may be happy in her own seat.  Only time will tell.

Elana will be our next.  How she will react is any one's guess.  She will be scared.  Since she can not see, that will be another issue.  With the pressure changes, who knows how she will take it.  We are ready.  We have seen/heard children that have had really bad flights.  I am just keeping my fingers crossed for a quiet one.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Travelling. . .the Next Step

As we wait for dates, we are checking into travel agencies.  Our previous adoption agency had an agency they used.  This time we are going to shop around.  We have miles with Delta, but I am not married to that choice.  I'm willing to go where the deals are.  I look forward to this.  All this waiting and now the time is quickly approaching.  Once we get some figures, we will know how much we will have to come up with.  Maybe one of our fundraisers will pick up soon.  I did sell another poster today.  Starting next week, I will have to list more.  I hope I can pick some that will sell.  These current listings are not faring very well.  If I repost, it will take away future posting.  I need sales.  I don't think I will be done until way after the adoption.  Then I have comic books and baseball cards to get rid of.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tom a to or tom ah to a difference of opinion

We got some feedback on Ebay today.  It seems someone thinks I misrepresented a sale of a poster.  I have a disclaimer explaining that Angie and I worked in movie theaters in the 1990's.  That should be any one's first clue.  The second clue that this poster is not an earlier poster is that it is rolled.  I do not know if they rolled many past posters.  When we started, they were sending us folded posters.  Believe me, I did not like the folded posters.  If it was I say so.  I am even selling a Jurassic Park poster that got damaged in shipping.  I stated it has a tear and some wear.  You can see it in the picture.

We had sold a Heavy Metal poster on Ebay.  This movie came out in 1981.  But, they rereleased it in the 90's.  When I sold it, I stated that it was an Original Movie Poster.  I did not state that it was THE original 1981 poster.  When I say original movie poster, I mean it is the poster the movie company sent to the movie theater to display it.  It is not a video poster and it is not a reprint.  It is original for the rerelease.  The only thing that I am guilty of was leaving off rerelease.  I did have the picture of the poster.  They could have researched it or asked me that question.  The poster took 2 weeks to sell.    I also just look at the picture I provided.  It has the date 1996 for the artwork.  I was not hiding anything.

Another clue that this was not THE original poster would have been the price.  If I had a mint condition 1981 poster that was not folded, I think I would have asked for more than 7.00 starting.  This poster only had one bidder.  I think if others thought it was THE original, they would have been bidding also.

Lesson learned.  I need to remember little things like this.  At least the Wizard of Oz person did not think their poster was an original.  Try to include all facts, even mundane ones that you did not think would be an issue.  This can lead to a negative review or loss of a customer.  I do not want either.

Advocates for Reece's Rainbow

Today was a great day.  We attended a family day at a local restaurant.  To join, we had to be there on behalf of a charity.  So, we decided to do it for Reece's Rainbow.  The day was hot, but had a nice breeze.  We were out there to set up about 9:00 am.  At 11:00, the people started to walk around.  People actually thought we were a part of a adoption agency.

In addition to passing out info about Reece's Rainbow, we also sold blankets, buttons and bracelets.  Angie was able to give a lot of information about the program and adoption of children with disabilities.  We did raise some money, but just giving out the information to interested people made it worth going.  Next up, the big yard sale.  I just need to force myself to get rid of more things.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bargaining can be great, but there can be a downside!

A couple of weeks ago, I explained that Angie was honing her bargaining skills.  It seemed like a great deal.  Just like when you bargain in China, you have to be careful.  Some things that are sold by people that will bargain with you, may be a knockoff.

This is what happened.  A yard crew was in the area doing tree trimming and odd jobs around the neighborhood.  Angie explained to them that we were adopting from China and did not have the money.  She did have them look at some palm trees in the back yard.  They noticed that one was dead and said it was in danger of falling over.  She paid them a discounted rate to get rid of the palm and tree a tree out front.
The next day, they were back doing more work for our neighbors.  They talked to Angie again.  She again explained the adoption and our need to save money.  She did mention she would like to get gutters up.  They took a look and, low and behold, they saw a need to get it done or it would damage our house.  They quoted a price.  Angie was worried about damage to the house.  She gave them the money thinking they would come right back and put up the gutters.  They did come back, but they were too tired to do it that day.  They said they would come back.

They have been back, but not to do our work.  They keep coming up with excuses on why they can't get back to do the work.  Be aware that you must be very careful giving people money before they do the work.  I have sought the help of a news organization that investigates companies.  Angie has posted a warning on Facebook to be aware of what this company is doing.  They might find it harder to get work done in this area.

Soapbox time! and other observations

This has been an interesting week.  We have a better idea of when we are going to China.  This in turn is putting pressure to get things ready.  It happens with every adoption.  This one seems to be going quicker.  I played another song for our song of the day.  It was "December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), by the Four Seasons.

As for the fundraising at work, it picked up when I moved the notices in our break room.  But, that was one day.  I have not sold anything else.  Not only that, but we are doing some kind of fundraiser for a homeless shelter or what not.  Guess an adoption is not as important.  I will keep it up for a little longer.  I am not holding my breath that I will get many requests.

This weekend, we will be having a table at a family event that a restaurant is throwing in our area.  We will be doing it on behalf of Reece's Rainbow and the Apparent Project.  We will be raising money for Elana's Adoption, as well.  We will also be trying to get things for our massive yard sale.  I forced myself to go through towels.  I have other things I want to cut back on.  I'm hoping to get rid of a lot of things.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Countdown has begun!

Now that we now a tentative date of departure, I have started the music countdown.   Lindsey Buckingham started the day with Countdown, followed by When I'm 64 by the Beatles.  I will set up more of the songs today.  Angie loved her choices.  I told her 64 might be when our last child leaves the house.

If you want to see the countdown or listen to the songs, it is on Spotify.  It is under Elana's Countdown.  I have down to 42.  I will continue until it is done.  I have made it public today.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

65 or so days and Counting!!!!!!!!!!!

We got our word from Homeland Security.  Our Visa approval was sent to Guangzhou.  We were able to apply for the next step online.  We also let our agency know.  She said it should take about a month for the Travel Approval.  She asked which dates we would be interested in.  We are shooting for the end of school, but the girls might miss a day or two.  So much to do.  Time is speeding up.  Waiting is over.  Now it is rush time.  Tomorrow I might start the music countdown.  I might do two songs.  I can start with Countdown by Lindsey Buckingham and a song with 64 or 63.  Stay tuned.