Welcome to The Virtual Drive
Friday, February 23 2024 @ 05:13 PM UTC

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Lauren/Noah at the Winter Picnic

General NewsA late afternoon in the woods behind the farm is a great place for a winter picnic. Some hotdogs and marshmallows, throw in a few lawn chairs and a fire and you have a picnic. Noah doesn't normally wear a helmet but he was waiting for his dad to take him out on the snowmobile. He reminded of a cross between that famous Sasquach video and Kenny of Southpark in that final shot.

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A few pictures

General NewsA few photos shot in front of a church in Kurtzville ON. We just attended a parade and were taking a few picture before we left. Lauren was really serious for some of these pictures and seemed to play to the camera a little.

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Canadian Citizenship Granted

General NewsYesterday Lauren's citizenship paperwork arrived in the mail granting her full Canadian citizenship. We had applied for it a few months after we arrived home. It was much less involved than he immigration paperwork that we filled out before we left for China.

Bill C-14, which received Royal Accent on June 22, 2007, amended the Citizenship Act so that children adopted abroad by Canadians could get Canadian citizenship without first having to become permanent residents and thus avoiding the usual immigration process. The amendment represents an important move to end the differential treatment of adopted children vs. children born to Canadians.

A foreign-born adopted child would acquire Canadian citizenship as soon as the adoption is finalized, as long as the parents have applied for citizenship in the child's name before they leave Canada. More information can be found here on the C-14 citizenship billl.

Our American neighbo(u)rs have a similar system already in place under their Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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Summer is almost over

General NewsIt is hard to believe where the summer has gone. We have had so much fun with Lauren, exploring lots of new things with her. Having Paul home with us has been wonderful and a help to me and has allowed us to do more things together as a family this summer.

Fall brings changes for us as Paul returns to work. He has accepted a position with the University of Waterloo as Manager, Science Computing and starts on Sept 5th. He is very excited about this new opportunity and especially happy he is only 5 mins from home - no more commuting to Toronto each day. This will be an adjustment for both Lauren and I not having him around during the day but will be good so we both get into a better routine before I go back to work in January.

During the past two weeks we spent a day at the African Lion Safari and the Toronto Zoo with friends. Lauren just loves animals so she had lots of fun. Daddy taught her to roar like a lion!

We also spent a day at the farm with my Grandma and Papa. Papa was combining but Lauren would not go for a ride but did sit on the combine. She also spent time with the kittens.
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6 Months: The BIG Update

General NewsWe are getting close to our six month post placement report that we must submit to the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA).

Life at home has changed a little (so, it's changed a lot) and there is not as much free time (we are on a schedule now) and things are a little messier (until we clean them up). Grocery bill is a lot higher (a lot of fresh fruit) and we are not as mobile as we use to be. Aside from that, everything has been wonderful. Lauren has been a unbelievable joy for both Sandra and I. She is happy and healthy and full of wonder.

We had a busy summer with many events including a 5 day camping trip and a week at a cottage. We have taken her everywhere with us and she travels well and we schedule around her sleeping patterns.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

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Day 15: On Our Way Back Home

General NewsInternational Hotel in Beijing, China (40.044438,116.367188)
Click the LAT/LON coordinates (WGS84) for our current location
Sunny, 3C, Winds NNW 10 km/h

Summary: Last minute items before we head out for the bus to go to the airport.

Details: We are in the final hour in of our hotel stay in Beijing. Our bags have already been transferred to the airport and we are awaiting our 11:00 AM bus transfer. It is a little sad leaving China but we are ready to come home. Sandra is feeling the effects of a cold that is running through our group, but the baby and I are doing great. We are not looking forward to our 13 hour flight as the children will make an already long trip all that much longer. Hope to see some of you are the airport in Toronto tomorrow. Sandra and I will both write our reflections and thoughts on our trip after we get back. Thanks for joining us in our journey.

These shots were taken in the hotel restaurant and in the lobby as we waited for the other families to check out and meet us at the bus. We are very releaved to be finally traveling home.

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Day 14: Happy Valentines Day, Shopping Day and Canadian Visa

General NewsInternational Hotel in Beijing, China (40.044438,116.367188)
Click the LAT/LON coordinates (WGS84) for our current location
Sunny, 6C, Winds NNW 10 km/h

Summary: A non-tour day to do some shopping at the local department and Friendship stores.

Details: Another non-touring day that let us go out on our own. After breakfast we headed out across the street to the Henderson Shopping Mall to buy some last minute items. We ended up at the Starbucks having coffee with anther family in our group. Later in the after noon we made the 20 minute walk to the Friendship store, which is sort of a government run store that has all types of Chinese gifts. We ended up buying a number of things. We have 1 suitcase that is full of items we have bought. We got Lauren's passport back today with a freshly applied Canadian Visa on one of the back pages. We now have all the paperwork and clearances now to return back home.

In the evening we headed back to this area to have dinner in a western restaurant. Sizzler, TGI Fridays and Pizza Hut all had wait times over an hour. We ended up eating back in the hotel. After dinner we packed our suitcases for tomorrow mornings 9:30AM pickup at our hotel room. We need to be checked out and on the bus for 11:00AM.

Link to full size version for auntie Laurie

I also took the group shots for everyone that wanted to participate. It was taken on the second floor mezzanine in our hotel. We started to take a picture of just the babies but it tuned chaotic within a minutes. We salvaged the shot by getting the Moms to hold their babies for the series. If you click on the picture it will load the full size picture into your browser. When it is finished loading, use the file menu on your browser and 'Save Picture As..." to get your own full resolution copy. Repeat for any/all pictures in this series that you wish.

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Day 13: Happy Birthday Lauren, The Forbidden City and Tian An Men Square

General NewsInternational Hotel in Beijing, China (40.044438,116.367188)
Click the LAT/LON coordinates (WGS84) for our current location
Sunny, -3C, Winds NNW 12 km/h

Summary: Day tour to Tian An Men Square, the Forbidden City and A Peking Duck dinner where we celebrated Lauren's first birthday.

Details: Cold and windy was the best way to describe today. Both Sandra and I pulled our lining out of our jackets before we left for our day trip. Today's weather was much colder than yesterday and we suffered through the entire 2.5 hour tour.

Tien An Men square is very big and flat (world's biggest public space) with the center piece being Mao's Tomb. There were many local people and tourists milling around. This square sits between the old Forbidden City gates and the current one. Both are pictured below. Many places in the Forbidden City were covered and currently under renovations for next years Olympic game in Beijing. A little disappointed about the Forbidden City but I think it was because of the cold and the wind blowing so much dust in the air. I was so bad that we have people in the group leave the tour and head back in taxis to the hotel.

In the evening we had a excellent Peking Duck dinner on the 7th floor of the Silk Market. We ordered a cake for Lauren and had the entire group of 28 families sing Happy Birthday for Lauren and Emma that were both have birthdays today.

I also successfully completed 2 geocaches, Tiananmen and Case Closed (there are only 106 in all of China) Photos are at the cache zero-out point. Information on what geocaching is can be found at Geocaching.com.

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Day 12: Visa medical at the Beijing SOS Clinic

General NewsInternational Hotel in Beijing, China (40.044438,116.367188)
Click the LAT/LON coordinates (WGS84) for our current location
Partly Sunny, 12C, Winds W 7 km/h

Summary: Medical evaluation a the Beijing SOS Clinic near the Canadian embassy.

Details: Lauren's examination was unremarkable with the exception that she is a little small. At 7.0 kg, we believe that she is the smallest baby in our group. The examination consisted of weight, height a very brief physical examination, followed by an evaluation of her hearing and questions about her motor skills development. The doctor conducting the examination was Canadian. Dr. Lucy Chen was great to us taking the time to explain about orphaned children and their potential for developmental delays. After the exam was over, we payed our fees and off we went to do a little shopping at a local grocery store while we waited for the other families to finish.

Our lunch, after we got back to the hotel was at McDonald's. There are quite a few of them in Beijing and this was the second time we have ate there since we have arrived in China. The food is very consistent. The Big Macs and fries are identical and the diet Coke tastes a little different. It's also very cheap. A Big Mac, medium fries and a drink are 18 yuan ($2.70 CDN). This was Lauren's first visit to a McDonald's and she enjoyed the fries.

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Day 11: The Great Wall

General NewsInternational Hotel in Beijing, China (40.044438,116.367188)
Click the LAT/LON coordinates (WGS84) for our current location
Sunny, 12C, Winds NW 10 km/h

Summary: A morning tour to the Great Wall and an a encounter at the hotel lounge.

Details: Another early morning that had us on the bus at 8:30 AM. Lauren has been an excellent sleeper and we have not had to get up during the night with her with the exception of her first night. We traveled about an hour outside of Beijing and stopped at a jade factory where they made and sold jade items. Sandra managed to talk me into buying her a nice grade 1 jade bangle. We have bought a lot of items back to remember this trip and to help tell the story to Lauren when she gets older. We will wait until I get back to tell you about all of them.

The wall is incredible. The section that we were in was in a fortified valley that was used as a tourist section now. The wall is very steep and very worn by all the tourists that climb this area. Since it we were in a valley it was quite windy so we needed to dress rather warmly. The last picture of this section shows a chain covered in modern locks. I don't know the significance of those locks but when I saw it I did remember an Amazing Race episode that had those locks in it.

Still where ever we go, we attract attention. I was having special daddy time with Lauren in the hotel lounge having a drink and feeding her Cheerios. We were actually waiting for Ross, Tracy's dad, to join us after a day of wall climbing Lauren was sitting in the chair next to me happily talking and eating. A older Chinese man and his 30-something son came over to us. The man, who was staggering drunk, sat in the chair opposite me and starting talking to me. I asked the son what is he saying and he said that his father does not speak any English. No kidding, I thought. I said to him, "can you translate for me". The son said, "No, he is my father". By this point I had picked up Lauren and the staff was encouraging me to move to another table. The older father would not leave even with his son grabbing his arm at least 3 times. I got up from the table and took my belonging and walked to another table out of site of the man. We never saw him again. I later asked the wait staff what his problem was. My waiter said that this gentleman had consumed 10 beer and some very cheap (500ml is $1 CDN) Chinese rice wine that was 56% (I have a bottle). I then asked him, what did he say? He said that that man was a old military soldier. He thinks what you are doing is a great thing and he wishes you much joy and happiness.