Friday, September 28, 2012

All the Junk We Love!

Today we went to the Onelink International Toys and Gifts Wholesale Market in Guangzhou.  Eric heard about it and his inner child was soooo excited to go!

Seven floors of all the wonderful JUNK you can imagine - toys, purses, make-up, dishes, jewelry, phone cases, etc.  You name it, they had it in one form or another.  It was pure bliss!

As you all know, Hannah and I love little doo-dads - you know the ones you find in catalogs or at Anthropologie, or Urban Outfitters.  Well, they had all that stuff right here - for cheap!

Good thing we have to fly home or we would have bought A LOT more.  I'm not joking.

And we never made it past the third level. 

And we only had 2 hours because we had to meet our guide to get our consulate paperwork.  So sad..

But, we did manage to find a few things we just couldn't live without:

That's right 5 phone cases!  They were like $4 each, so we decided to stock up!  And OPI nail polish for a buck?  What woman in her right mind wouldn't buy at least 10?  And a blank Rubiks Cube - come on!

 It was too much fun!  We were like kids in a candy store - or adults in a toy store!  Happy! Happy! Happy!

Unfortunately, the euphoria was a bit depleted when it took us an hour to find a taxi that would take us back to the hotel!  A million passed us by and none would pick us up.  Something about lunch breaks...Whatever!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dead Kings and Bright Lights

Today was a great day!

We had our consulate appointment!!!  Yue Lan will be an official American citizen as soon as we hit American soil!  I love that about China adoptions.  Everything is neatly wrapped up.  It makes all the paperwork worth it.

After that, we went with our guide Lili to The Kings Tomb - an ancient burial that was discovered beneath Guangzhou City!  Pretty interesting, but the kiddos did not love it as much as the adults.  I guess you need to be old to appreciate other old stuff!

However, later that day, our family took a trip to one of the modern wonders of the city.  Just a short taxi drive away is the Canton Tower - a huge radio tower.  You can go up 108 floors to view the city from an indoor viewing room.  And then you go up a few more floors and you can view the city from the world's highest Bubble Tram!

The tram made it feel like you were floating over the city.  And it had some awesome acoustics for singing!

It was amazing.

The weather on top was perfect too - warm and windy!  We got some great pictures up there of Hazel and Hannah blowing in the wind!

We went at sunset - just in time to view the city in natural light, and then in all it's LED glory!  Seriously, this city is lit up!  And the tower has MILLIONS of individual light bulbs that light the tower in brilliant hues.  And it constantly changes colors and patterns.  We all unanimously thought the rainbow pattern was the best!

I think it was definitely one of my favorite places in Guangzhou - maybe in all of China!  So worth it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kaolas, and Tigers, and Shopping! Oh My!

It has been a busy couple of days.

But they have also been pretty fun. 

We met three other Wasatch families the day of our medical exam and we have spent the last two days doing fun stuff with them.  I like having other families so much more than being on our own.  And, it would appear, so does Yue Lan. 

Of the Wasatch families, two others are on their second adoption like us.  The other family is a Chinese woman ( who now lives in Texas) who is here by herself while her husband is back home with their son.  The awesome thing is, the two families who are here on their second adoptions both have 8 year old girls who were previously adopted - one when she was 15 months old, the other when she was 4 years old.  Both girls are very American and only speak English, but the universal language of being a kid breaks down all the boarders and Yue Lan has a great time with them.  And the bonus is, the one family with the girls who was adopted at 15 months is back adopting a 7 year old boy who is only a couple of months younger than Yue Lan!  It is especially fun to see the two of them playing, chatting away in Chinese and even holding hands when they walk!  I think they are both so happy to have someone to talk to!!!

Our first day as a group, our guide Lili took us to a pearl and medicine supplies market.  Basically the medical supplies were a bunch of dried up, disgusting things that are used to make soups and teas.  There were things like snakes, earth worms, bugs, sea horse, roots, etc.  I am sure there are some medicinal value to using such items, but I think I prefer medicines that come in little pills full of ingredients that I do not know about.

The best part about our day out was the outdoor pet shops we ran across.  There were kittens, puppies, birds, turtles, fish, etc for sale on the streets.  I know what some of you are thinking...and no they were NOT for food:)  Appearantly, Yue Lan likes animals.  It was difficult getting her to move on - especially from the birds.  She kept telling our guide she wanted to take one home!  (I think she is going to love the Patten's house!)

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make your own picture slideshow

The day would have been perfect except that it was about 93 degrees and 100% humidity.  After a couple of hours we all felt like we were melting.  And the kids began to drag.  And it was the most crowded shopping center I have ever been in.  Lili took us to McDonald's for lunch (none of  us Americans actually wanted to eat there, but she thought we would like it and we didn't have the heart to tell her otherwise).  It was the most crowded McDonald's I have ever seen.  And there were two levels.  No tables available anywhere, so we had a good excuse to leave:)  Luckily, after a long, hot walk back to the island, we ate at a yummy Italian restaurant instead!

The next day (Monday) was the day we were all looking forward to.  We were going to the Safari Park and Zoo!  Again, it was super hot and humid, but we all came armed with drinks and snacks to help beat the heat.  And the good news is, since it was a Monday, the place was practically deserted!  What a welcome change!!!

The Chimelong Zoo was absolutely amazing.  Very well done.  We started with a walk through a dinosaur exhibit with animatronic dinosaurs that were even better than what Disney has to offer!  The problem was, they were so realistic that all of the kids, except one, were scared witless!  The adults loved them, though.  And it was air conditioned!  (Bonus)

Then we went on a safari train ride.  It was pretty neat because this zoo did not have just one or two of a kind of animal.  They literally had herds of them!  We saw more zebras and giraffes than I have ever seen!  The same goes for tigers, lions, hippos, white tigers, etc. 

Even the animals in the exhibits outside of the safari train were huge in numbers!  There were probably 2 dozen elephants.   And of course the pandas!  There were probably 20 or 30 of them.  Unbelievable!  We even saw baby pandas in incubators!  How cool is that?

Lili took us to the White Tiger Show.  It was ok, but I find that kind of stuff disturbing.  I can't help but wonder if the animals are treated well.  And I wonder why anyone would want to kiss a lion on the mouth...Yuk!  Yue Lan really liked it, though.  

The best part of the day was being able to feed and touch some of the animals.  We had fun feeding the giraffes, and planned on feeding the elephants, but it began to pour down raining!  Luckily, the rain didn't stop us from feeding baby tigers (thought of you, Jennifer!) and petting a koala (my favorite part of the day!!!).  Yue Lan was a bit afraid of the tiger, but she loved the koala once she got used to it!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
This slideshow generated with Smilebox

The day was super fun.  We were all exhausted and soaked on the way home, but it was worth it!  It was a great way to spend an afternoon with some new friends as we try to patiently wait for the time when we can  go home.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And Here We Go...

Yesterday was a down day for us.  Hannah was on the mend and we were all tired from the loooong day the day before.  So we spent most of the day hanging in the hotel room and walking around Shamian Island doing some shopping for gifts. 

The other thing we did was take Yue Lan swimming in the hotel pool.  The cool thing about the pool is that it is a rooftop pool that overlooks the city.  I bet if there wasn't so much smog, we could see for miles!  Unfortunately, that was not the case, besides, we had better things to watch right there with us.  I'm not sure, but it seemed it was Yue Lan's first time swimming or at least she hasn't gone very much.  She was super excited and after a little while even tried jumping into Baba's arms from the side.

Today was the opposite of yesterday.  It was the Medical Exam Day - a not so popular day among adopted children.  Basically we were bused to a clinic on the other side of town (for those of you have been here before for adoptions, you will be sad to know that the convenient walk to clinic on the island has closed!) and spent several hours in the overcrowded and loud facility. 
Check out all the people at the clinic!  Yikes!

We are happy to say that Yue Lan did fabulously at the clinic and didn't even cry when they gave her the TB test! 

I loved the sight chart...the kids would turn their hand to match the picture...very clever!

She was very brave, wasn't she?

I wish I could say the rest of the day went as well.

On the way back from the clinic, Yue Lan was especially over excited and obnoxious.  It got so bad that Eric decided to give her the Parental 1-2-3 Countdown when she refused to come back to our room.  This led to her first Time Out, which led to her first crying fit, which led to her first time being mad at us.  It was all a bit stressful, but probably needed to be done.

 The orphanage workers told us that Yue Lan was stubborn and they were not kidding!  Not only is she stubborn, but she can be soooo obnoxious - pulling on people, hitting in a playful, yet still painful manner, licking, etc.  You get the picture.  I suppose it is time to set down some boundaries and establish some rules.  I am sure there will be more Time Outs and crying in the days, weeks, months ahead.  But isn't that all part of raising kids?


Friday, September 21, 2012

Good Bye, Nanning

Yesterday we left Nanning and headed for Guangzhou. 

Guangzhou is where the American Consulate is so all American families who are adopting spend the last part of their trip there.  This time around, because of that huge Expo in Nanning (they got all the adopting families out before it officially begins on Friday), we are spending 9 days in Guangzhou.  This is actually quite a long time, but we are looking forward to it.  Guangzhou is a lot more modern than Nanning and offers a lot more places to visit since it caters to American tourists and business travelers. 

Yue Lan was excited to leave, too.  She asked our guide, Cindy, if she was going to America now:)  She was a bit disappointed to learn it was not time yet.  She also told Cindy that she is excited to go to America because right now she is a Chinese girl, but soon she will be an American girl!  How cute is that?

We spent our last few hours in Nanning shopping for pearls - Guangxi is famous for it's ocean pearls.  Supposedly, ocean pearls are better quality than fresh water pearls.  They are rounder and have better colors. 

They all kind  of looked the same to me...guess I am a disappointment to (Chinese) women everywhere.  Oh well...

Any way, Yue Lan had a great time at the Pearl shop.  The sales women were offering her EVERYTHING!  We couldn't understand them, but it's quite obvious when a salesperson is trying to get your kid to ask Mama and Baba to buy them things!  Luckily, Yue Lan handled it like a pro and was happy for the things we did buy and didn't get upset when we told her "no" to other things.  Whew!

Could not get a picture that did not have a glare...Sorry!

Lady selling eggs outside the Pearl Shop.  It reminded me of a book we have at home by Jan Brett called "Daisy Comes Home". 

After shopping we went to lunch with Cindy who wanted to take us to a restaurant that served local specialties like lemon duck (it took me forever to figure out what she was saying...I thought she was saying "lemon dark" which I took for a type of cooking technique!).  The food was really good and I am happy to report I have now learned to hold my chopsticks near the top so that I look more Chinese like.  And poor Eric has had to learn to use chopsticks this trip.  He's getting better everyday!

The Lemon Duck is the dish in the silver pot.  It was quite good, but a bit hard to eat - you had to eat around bones which is hard when you are doing it with chopsticks!

Being the 12 year old boy at heart we all know he is, Eric quickly found the duck feet in the pot and made this beautiful centerpiece for us to enjoy for the duration of our meal!

It was a long day.  And Hannah was sick. 

She bravely made it through shopping for pearls - she even perked up enough to pick out some things for herself.  But, lunch was not so good for her.  At one point she made me go to the bathroom because she was sure she was going to throw up.  We spent about 15 minutes crammed in a squatty potty stall together with her leaning over the hole.  I kept praying she wouldn't pass out and land face first in that thing!

Happily, she did not.  She did however, end up puking in the taxi cab on the way back from the restaurant.  In a paper shopping bag from the pearl shop.  And it leaked.  All over her and me.  We had to stop on the side of the freeway to get rid of the evidence and clean her up as best as possible with baby wipes.  Yue Lan, who had wanted to sit by Hannah earlier, avoided her like the plague after that!  

The good news is we still had our suitcases so once we returned to the hotel where they were being kept for us, we were able to change and clean up better in the bathroom.  Eric went with Cindy to pick out some medicines for Hannah to help calm her stomach.  Chinese medicines are quite different and we had to trust Cindy that she knew what to get.  Seemed to work out fine - even though Hannah hated the taste!

Then, it was finally time to go to the airport where Hannah finally made her dream come true and got to vomit in a squatty potty.  At least I wasn't crammed in there with her this time!  After that, we boarded the plane, grabed every puke bag we could find for her and headed for Guangzhou!

I am happy to report that she did not get sick on the plane.

And Yue Lan had a great time flying for her first time.  She was super excited!!! 

So, now we are in Guangzhou, on Shamian Island staying at the Victory Hotel (the White Swan is closed for renovations).  Hannah is on the mend and all is well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Playing at People's Park

Yue Lan Helps Eric buy tickets for a ride. 
One of the best places to go to in NAnning is The People's Park.  It's like Central Park in NYC...only a bit more Chinese!  And by that I mean there are no rules or regulations for rides and such.  So, of course we love it!  The only occurred to me as we were pedaling this crazy bike-like contraption on a track that was fifty feet in the air, that we were the only people riding the rides.  I wonder if there is something the locals know that we do  not!  Oh well, we survived...

Riding the Carousel.  You can't tell very well, but Yue Lan chose a pink unicorn...very girlie!
This is how the locals steal your money...the vendors lure kids in to play games one after the other and then, at the end when your kid is done, they demand payment.  Luckily they are only about .$75 a game.  Still, it adds up!  You have to learn pretty quick how to say a firm "No" or they will pester you FOREVER!
This is the crazy bike contraption I talked about earlier...kind of crazy!

After we rode all the rides we felt were okay for a child with a still undetermined heart condition, we decided to explore the park.  It is HUGE and has everything: play grounds, a petting zoo, an aquarium, a bird feeding place, lakes you can take boats/paddle boats on, walking trails, and even exercise areas which we played on for, like, forever!  It was all too fun! 

Yue Lan "won" a bottle of bubbles after playing a bazillion games, and I could not believe how much she enjoyed them!  Seriously, you would think she had just won the lottery or something.  She even found some little kids to blow them at to triple her fun!

Walking around the park was okay for her, but after climbing a few stairs (like 8), she was panting and loosing energy FAST!  So, Baba came to the rescue and offered to be her personal mule.  At first she was hesitant, but after she tried it, she had a great time!  As a matter of fact, she kept wanting to be carried the rest of the day!

The exercise areas really were a blast.  And there was this one piece of equipment (which Hazel is posing on below) that was great for stretching my back on!  I tell you, the beds in China are HARD - like, why don't we just stop pretending and just sleep on the floor, hard!  Thankfully, my back felt great after sprawling out on this thing!

Hannah is doing the back stretch, too!
She may be part Monkey like the rest of the kids in our family considering how much she liked climbing all over everything!

After about 4 hours of playing in the park, we were all very hungry.  So, we decided to take Hazel to Pizza Hut for her first pizza, EVER!  Now, I have to tell you, the Pizza Huts in China are really nice restaurants.  They have a really large and diverse menu, but we decided to stick to the basic pepperoni pizza.  And she really liked it!  Although, I think she liked the chicken wings better.  No worries, we have plenty of time to train her in the fine art of pizza appreciation.  

I haven't told you about the best part of the day yet.

It occurred as we were winding our way through the park heading towards an exit.  We stopped to look at something and I said "Wo ai ni, Yue Lan" (I love you).  Trust me, it was not the first time I said that.  I probably say it 50 times a day.  She usually just looks at me and turns away.  No worries, I expect that.   

But this time, she looked at me, then kind of buried her head in Hannah's side and said shyly "Wo ai ni, Mama".  

I was too happy!

Then, Eric jumped on the bandwagon and got one too.  So did Hannah.  We were all thrilled!  Looks like we just took a giant leap forward.

I love the miracle of adoption!