Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sophie sleeping

Man, that girl can sleep! Here she is for nap. She usually falls asleep in my arns, with a bottle or sometimes not. For nap I put her in the crib, though I've been  keeping her in our bed at night. Last night she went to bed at 9 p.m. (she had only one nap yesterday) and she's still asleep at 8 a.m., with only a little fussing during the night.
Yesterday was another milestone: Not only is she warming up to Ed more and more, not crying when he takes her, but he took her out on a 1-hour walk without me yesterday! I stayed in the room and did some grading online that I still needed to do for my class.
Last night we met some from the group for noodles and sat outside. It was a beautiful cool night (daytime was pretty hot and humid) and there was a huge full moon. Shamain Island is like a vacation spot. I keep saying that Beijiing reminded me of Manhattan; Nanchang was like Detroit or Cleveland (but much bigger), and this is like Bermunda.
But we are very antsy to get home and have our little family of four all together. This morning we are going to try calling Sam on Skype (without the video). We haven't had any contact with him yet, thinking it would be confusing or harder for him. But he has been crying for us more and more and think this may help. Wish us luck. I'm sure I will bawl after hanging up.

Old Chen House

Next we visited the Old Chen House, which is now an art museum. We saw sculpture, beautiful embroidery and ivory carving. I bought some carved bracelets, but theyr'e camel bone, not ivory (now illegal).
This trip also included a visit to a government store (like the ones we went to in Beijing) but this time I succumbed and bought a nice piece of Jade for Sophie. I wanted at least one thing was that real jewelry for her from China. (though tomorrow we visit the Pearl Market, where supposedly there's lots of nice jewelry too.) I got her a small jade circle pendant, which is supposed to stand for long, happy family. Our guide says that's what most parents buy for baby girls. When they get married, they get a bangle. (Bangles also cost $200-$400 so that was out!)
We hit a supermarket across the street from the government store and stocked up on noodles, cookies, crackers. I also found an interesting liquor for my dad!

Baby blessing

For the Buddhist blessing, we had to stand in line for a awhile, then entered the main hall with the there Buddha huge statues (representing past, present and future), then took off our shoes and knelt down. Some Buddhist monks chanted, rang bells, and sprinkled us with water while we prayed. It was hard to get a picture since I was in the middle of it, but here's Sophie during the blessing. And the statue of Kwan Yin. She represents the feminine face of the Buddha and is sometimes called the Compassionate Buddha. I'm trying to find some Kwan Yin statues for gifts, but so far no luck. I must work on my gift shopping in the next few days.

Buddhist temple

We did a short sightseeing trip with our group today that included a visit to the Six Banyan Buddhist Temple. I was sad to learn that some in our group didn't come because, as evangelical Christians, they saw a visit to a Buddhist temple as contrary to their religious beliefs. While I respect anyone's decision not to participate in another religion's ceremonies (though the Buddhist blessing of Sophie was one of the trip's highlights so far for us),  I can't imagine being so closed to even learning about a religion that is very important to your child's birth culture.
OK. Off my soapbox.
The temple was very beautiful but crowded because today was the 15th day of the lunar month, which is a worship day for Buddhists. (Also, we learned it is Chinese Valentine's Day!) We got some incense to pray to the Buddha, and I prayed for a long, healthy life for Sophie, of course. But I also said some special prayers at the Kwan Yin statue for my friends Karlin and Charles, who are trying to adopt from Nepal. That international adoption program is sounding very similar to Vietnam, and I worry it may close soon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Smiley girl

Sophie is such a happy girl. She is outgoing with strangers and will flash a smile that is adorable. She loves to play and has already learned to do "Peek-a-boo" with her dress. It cracks her up. So does "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." She also is very happy around other kids and babies. She had a good night on Saturday night. We're off today for some touristy stuff of Guangzhou this morning, then are free the rest of the day.

Food market

Next to the medical market was a food market, where we saw live turtles, frogs, eels, and lots of fish and meat for sale. Lots of the fish were dried and hanging; I saw a whole bin of chicken feet. Our guide in Nanchung told us this saying about Guangzhou and Catonese food: "They eat everything that flies, except the airplane, everything that goes on the ground, except the car, and everthing in the water, except the boat." Indeed. I had vegetarian at the Thai place that night.

Antlers and snake skins for sale

Medical market

Across the bridge is a medical market full of all kinds of interesting sights. Here is a woman selling dried seahorses, and the street full of various fungi and other things.

Around Shamian Island

Our hotel is on Shamian Island and faces the Pearl River. It is a small,  lush, quiet oasis, where a bunch of embassies used to be. We had lunch at an outdoor cafe (Ed has a hamburger!) and walked around. Lots of people wanted to speak English to us, and once again some Chinese ladies told me my child was too hot and to take off her sweater! Sophie does sweat a lot so maybe that's why they are saying that.
Here is is entertaining some grandmas in the park.

At the doctor

On Saturday morning, we met our group at the White Swan, only about two blocks away. It was so great to see the people we had met in Beijing--and now with their babies. So many cuties and lots of boys. This is a group of parents who have adopted kids with special needs, most of them relatively minor (clept lip/palate, corrected heart disease, missing limb, albinism). So it is a pretty deep group.. Sh
We went to get the kids' visa photos and then to the doctor. Sophie was weighed, measured, had a short physical exam, hearing tested, etc. Then she had to have her shots. Because we are a "Hague family,"--meaning our immigration paperwork was begun after the US signed the Hague Adoption Treaty--we have additional requirements, including a battery of immunizations. After looking at her immunization record from the orphanage, they determined she needed six shots, and they give them to her all at once. It was awful. Two in one arm and leg, and one in each of the other. I really think that's too much. She fell asleep in my arms, took a good nap back at the hotel and woke up happy, though.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sophie's first flight

We arrived safely in Guangzhou last night, but late. Our flight was supposed to be at 5 p.m., so we left the hotel at 3 and were all checked in by 4. Then the announcements about delays began. Around 5:30, they handed out boxed meals to everyone. The plane finally left around 8:30. Luckily, we had met another family from Philadelphia (they noticed Ed's Flyers cap) and we hung out with them. They were traveling with both sets of grandparents, plus their 7-year-old daughter.
Sure enough, as soon as the plane took off, Sophie took the biggest poop of our 5-day history with her. Sam did the same thing on his first flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, except I seem to remember him pooping more than once. The man in our row was nice enough to move so we could haul out the diaper bag and get situated. And unlike Vietnam, the plane restroom had a changing table, we took care of that. The flight was just over an hour and she was fine the rest of the time. Loved eating some endamame-type beans and rice, and holding hands with the little boy in the seat in front of us.
She is very social and will babble baby talk to strangers. When our guide, Grace, met us in Guangzhou, Sophie said "Hi!" Grace was so impressed, but I think it was a random babble that just happened to sound like "hi." We got situated in our room and fell right asleep. We are not staying at the White Swan, a famous Guangzhou hotel where most adoptive families stay. The Victory is right down the street, quite a bit cheaper, almost as nice and less of a zoo with adoptive families everywhere.
Today we have to go to the medical clinic for Sophie to get her shots. Because we are a Hague family she has to have all her immunizations before she can get her visa. It could be as many as 8 shots, so I am dreading this. She does have a mark on her shoulder, so I can tell she's had some immunizations already. We will bring her immunization record, and hopefully it will show she doesn't need many.
I didn't take any photos on the plane, so here are some random cute shots from Fengcheng. In the next photos we will be wearing shorts, as it is hot here (70s, maybe even 80s). So funny, as I had to buy mittens in Beijing.

Warming up to Daddy

Although she still prefers me, Sophie is getting better about going to Daddy. She may still cry at first, but she quickly gets used to him, especially if they're walking with him carrying her in the bjorn. On the way home from Fengcheng, Ed gave her the bottle and she fell asleep in his arms. On Friday, he also gave her a bottle in the hotel room and they took a nap together.
But she still clings to me quite a bit. Her papers said she loved bathtime, but was screaming for us when we tried to bathe her. We tried changing the water temperature, gave her toys, etc. Yesterday I tried something new: I got in the tub with her. It worked!

Fengcheng sights

In the city, and rice paddies in the countryside on the way home.


I'm not going to write a lot about our visit to Fengcheng exept to say that it was very emotional to go to her finding place and imagine her left there. We rented a car and driver and left early in the morning. It was about an hour and half away and very interesting, rural scenery along the way. But Fengcheng is actually a very big city ("small--less than 1 million," our guide says!) and didn't seem that different from Nanchang. We walked around a bit and had lunch, then got two baggies of dirt--one for us and one for our Belgian friends with the Fengcheng daughter.
While walking around, I was in a shop so Ed stopped to talk to these girls at a wedding photography place (we saw a wedding going on too--we always see weddings!) Anyway, when our guide and I caught up, they were holding her and said she was too hot! Nana (our guide) said I'm the first adoptive parent to be told by the "clothes polices" (Chinese women on the street) that my baby has too many clothes on! You can see in these photos that she's wearing the purple sweater that her foster mother may have knit her.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sophie Yue

I'll leave you with these two cute Sophie photos. I've been up since 5:30 a.m. blogging. It's the only time I can do it, as Sophie is not on my lap. I'm almost caught up, except for our trip to Feng Cheng (Sophie's birthplace) on Thursday. I may just post a few photos. It was very emotional, but Ed and I are so glad we went. We were trying to decide whether or not to go, and then we got a comment from someone I don't know saying, "Make sure you go to Feng Cheng."
Thanks for all the nice comments in response to "Anonymous." I had no idea so many "strangers" were reading this blog. I tend to think of my "audience" as mostly friends (online and otherwise) and family. Yesterday we got a comment from a Belgian woman who "happened upon" our blog and turns out she knows one of the Belgian families in our hotel here. Small world!
Today (Friday) we fly to Guangzhou, where we will stay until we leave while waiting for processing of Sophie's visa. I'm sad to leave Jiangxi, since this is where we met Sophie for the first time. But I am also anxious to get home. My sister's "Sam report" yesterday mentioned that we have reached the halfway mark on our trip, and my heart ached that we still have so long before we get to see Sam and have him meet his sister.
Next post will probably be from Guangzhou.

For sale int he market

Chicks and hair.

Back to the market

On Wedneday afternoon we went back to the city center and the open flea market. I needed more yarn (now that I had looked up the patterns on Ravelry), plus Ed got socks, we got another pair of squeaky shoes for Sophie. And we had lunch. There were some communication problems, but we ended up having meat on a stick and a bowl of noodles. More importantly, we were able to find our way home (we had taken a taxi there with a note in chinese from our guide). Ed's great navigational skills got us back to our hotel (walking).

The gardens

View from the top

The yinyang on the square on one side; the August 1 bridge on the other. Notice how grey/brown the view is. The pollution is just terrible.

Nanchang Pavilion

Nanchang sights

On Wednesday morning our guide took us to see "the pavilion" in Nanchang and gave us some history of Jiangxi Province. There was a music and dancing performance, but I think it's revealing that Ed and I were more interested in watching Sophie eat Cheerios than the girls with fans on stage! The gardens were very beautiful; Ed took a bunch of photos. Here I am ringing the gong four times for good luck.

Food close-ups

Btw, that guy in the last picture with Ed was our driver to Feng Cheng, who safely got us there and back despite typical crazy driving. It reminded me of India and Ethiopia--te game of "chicken" when passing and the dogding of trucks, cars, motorscooters, bicycles and pedestrians everywhere.

On the subject of food...

Lunch in Feng Cheng was spicy! We started with an egg pancake thing (reminds me of Spanish omlettes but without the potatoes, which I think you can see in the background of e picture with me and Sophie. Then we had a spicy beef dish, pork and cabbage (which cooked on the table--see picture with Ed) and this very interesting fried corn with sugar thing for dessert. Our guide says it's suggested that people trying to get pregnant (like her) eat the corn thing every day.

Our little eater

We've mentioned several times that Sophie is a great eater (she really puts Sam to shame--maybe he will eat more after watching her), but even I was surprised when she climbed out off my lap, took an apple out of Ed's backpack pocket and started eating it! I chewed off some skin, but she basically ate almost a whole apple by gnawing on it with her four little teeth!
This is the restaurant where we had lunch in Feng Cheng on Thursday, where we had what I think is our best meal yet. More photos to follow.

Chinese take out

We have had some great meals in Jiangxi Province. The food here is much spicer, plus our guide is not taking  us to "Americanized" restaurants (though she has recommended Pizza Hut several times). Twice we ate at the Chinese restaurant next to the hotel. The first night we had spicy beef and brocolli, and Sophie had congee (rice soup).
On Tuesday we were going to go there, but Sophie took a late nap, so Ed brought the food back to our room. This time our guide ordered us pork ribs in rice and spicy eggplant and beans. Sophie had "steamed eggs," which is one of her favorites (pictured here). Seriously, I bet she had more than 50 spoonfuls of this stuff.
The buffet in our hotel is not bad. The breakfast is free and has Western and Eastern food. There's a creme brulee-type thing with raisins and cinnamon that I like, plus liquid strawberry yogurt. The coffee is STRONG but necessary. Ed usually has bacon, potatoes, noodles. Sophie has watermelon (she loves it and will take a huge piece and stuff it in her mouth), congee and little pieces of banana bread.
The hotel also has a dinner buffet, which we've had twice just for convenience's sake. There are a ton of dishes but I hardly get to even see them, because Sophie screams if I try to walk away from the table. So Ed plays waiter and gets me various dishes. Some of the English translations are funny: a dish called "kidney beans" is clearly green beans, one says "beef and carrots" but it's definitely not carrots we're used to. There was something that included "larynx" and one clearly labeled "dog."  Ed thinks he might have accidentally eaten the dog. Oops.

For the knitters out there

A typical Chinese woman knitting. Seriously, I see them everywhere, though our guide says it's not popular with younger people.