Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sunday in Guangzhou

Guangzhou at night is something to be seen. I sit with the baby by our hotel window and watch the light show on the river below. The entire shoreline- buildings and walkways- are lit with neon. THere is a hotel across the way that has a light show projected on the side of the building. Cruise boats covered in neon float by. Then spotlights flash across the water. Lasers project from the tops of the highrise buildings and shoot all over the water. The suspension bridge down the river is also covered in neon and lasers. They pay obnoxious music, so I turn up the sound system in the room to classical music. I sit and feed the baby and take in the unreal display below. I have heard that tonight there might be fireworks to help honor Hong Kong's holiday. Hong Kong will have the real show tonight with 5 million dollars worth of fireworks. I wish we could be there. I sure hope Hong Kong Muse and her husband will be out, taking in the display and taking pictures!

Matt now has the cold. He is pretty miserable. Juna appears to be getting over hers. I think I am being reinfected again. Bah.

It's the lack of sleep. 1212 is/ (was hurrah!) a bad room. We watch the laser show at 930pm, then go to bed. That's when the upstairs plumbing went crazy again. We were up very late with the bang bang clang clang. This morning at breakfast, I asked our travel mates if they had the same problem. Nope, just us! Matt immediately went to the front desk. Within ten mins, a bellboy arrived to fetch our bags and take us to a new room. Two floors up, two doors down. Same stunning river view, non smoking, and a baby crib arrived five mins later. There is a hot pot here, too. This is the service people have raved about from the White Swan. The service that was lacking when we arrived several days ago. Whew, thank you White Swan. Let's hope this is a quiet room. Mama really needs to sleep.

I cannot nap. Our days are now so packed with appointments and sight seeing. I can sleep when we get home. hahahaha, yeah right!

Yesterday the group went to the pearl and jade market. Which sounds fun, right? Five stories of jewelry! Connected to a tower of shops on the other side! Mei Heaven!!

Eh, not so much fun with a baby in a poorly air conditioned building. If you come here in summer, just prepare to sweat constantly. Even tho GZ is far cooler than Nanchang, it's still pretty stifling here. An 8 month old orphanage baby has newborn like needs. THere is a need for a bottle ever few hours. Our baby cannot sleep on the fly. She is too consumed with the world around her, which is to be expected. The whole time we were there, I was worried about her.

I did manage to get a ton of outfits for my girlies for about 3 usd per outfit. My Chinese friends said I overpaid. It's funny how there are prices for Chinese retail, Chinese wholesale, and then prices for the Americans. Bargaining? I HATE IT. I have learned how to blame Matt- that really works. "Husband says too high!" They will instantly lower the price. That is, when I have had to bargain. They usually lower the price immediately. I turn to Matt. They lower some more. I still look skeptical, more lowering. Then I finally find the price in my head that seems reasonable. To me, it all seems reasonable compared to US prices. But my Chinese friends have gotten into my head. Wholesale!!

June Bug had a huge blowout diaper while we shopped. No changing tables. But would you, even if you could? The bathrooms are Chinese and in this location, not clean. We changed her outside in the square of the center. With plenty of onlookers. We stood her up to put on her pull up Chinese diaper and she peed everywhere. It's ok. The little kids just pee wherever they want. Still... not comfortable.

I wandered around the Jade market for a bit. I am not a jade or pearl girl. And the shop keepers were not willing to bargain as much. Instead of waiting for our group, we said goodbye and caught a cab to the hotel.

Later in the evening, we met Samster, our online friend. We are meeting three wonderful online friends while here from the China Daily website. It's an internet forum for the CHina Daily newspaper. There have a GZ section and years ago, I posted. I asked for local friends to give me as much GZ info as possible. Samster is one of the people who answered who I have been talking to all this time. I meet my other two friends in the coming days. He had time in his busy schedule to take us to dinner. Ok, his name is Sam, but I nick named him Samster. He is a very outgoing young graphic designer. We met in the hotel lobby and there was much happiness. We have been waiting a long time for this meeting.

We walked to Sam's favorite restaurant, which was packed. So we headed down the street to another. they had outdoor dining, so we dined by the river. This place was AUTHENTIC. Like pigeons as appetizers authentic.


she is up. more later

Friday, June 29, 2007

Shopping in GZ

In the lobby of White Swan. It really is a lovely hotel, despite my complaints from last night. The 1st floor buffet is to the left of this picture.

Walk out the front door of White Swan. Cross a very small street. Cars are not insane in this area and you will be just fine. Right across the street are the "Ladies Names Shops." Lucy's, Susan's, Jennifer's. That's where you can take your laundry and do some shopping. Here is a pic of us standing on that street, looking back to the White Swan Hotel. The shop behind Matt also offers those services but we did not go there yet. The White Swan is to the left of where Matt is standing.

I have never seen pics like this is any of the adoption blogs. I hope this helps future travelers. I plan on posting much more.
A typical scenario. People stop to shake Juna's hand. When they speak to her in Mandarin, she breaks into a huge grin. She misses the tones. I think all parents should learn a little Mandarin for speaking to the babies. They really do understand. What they don't "get," is made up by the familiarity and comfort of hearing a language they've heard spoken since birth. Just a few simple phrases is all you need. I often ask Chinese women to speak to her just so I can see her reaction. And react she does!
Standing in front of Jennifer's place, looking back to the White Swan hotel (not in the picture, but to the right of this picture.)

I just got an email from my friend Sam, who lives here in Guangzhou. He asked what kind of cake to order for Matt's dinner tonight.

His birthday dinner.

I sat here and went, "Oh my god. I forgot my husband's birthday!!!"

Matt was out getting us some lunch. He came in and again, I cried. I have cried so much on this trip! Wu wu wu wu wu wu wu.

He looked shocked. Huh? It's my birthday? Wu wu wu wu turned into shew shew shew shew!

I am blogging a lot today, huh! Hey, the baby naps a lot, thanks goodness.

The baby passed her medical exam, just fine. The doctor was worried about the now disappearing boil on her arm. Matt assured him, via translator, that she had it in the orphanage. He seemed relieved to hear that, as he did not want her to give it to the other babies. And then he said she needs to drink water, as her throat is very sore. Otherwise, she got the ok, health wise, to leave China.

After the medical exam, we headed out to the shops around the hotel. Everyone talks about them on the various adoption blogs. Jennifer's Place. Lucy's Place. Susan's Place. They stand outside and hand out fliers on laundry prices and try to get you into the store. Lucy has the best location. She's first on the block. Plus, she is not pushy, which I loved. I handed her my bags of laundry and said I would wander the store. She left me alone, which is amazing. Other shop keepers are very pushy here.

She got my business just based on her friendly, no hassle attitude. I bought a gorgeous Chinese silk robe for myself in blue. Going back for a red one later. Getting one for Marge, don't tell her! Got a special something for one of you reading this, but my keyboard is sealed! haha. Most of these stores carry traditional Chinese dresses for girls. Lucy's has the Chinese silk traditional top with a tutu skirt. Guess who got several of those?

In Nanchang, I had a wedding dress made for next year, as it is our ten year anniversary and we plan to renew our vows. Not sure if I mentioned it yet or not. It's brown with silver trim, very lovely. With my recent weight loss, it's already too big. I need to find a Chinese tailor in our city! So not traditional Chinese wedding dress, as it is not red and poofy, but it works for me. Today at Lucy's, I bought matching traditional red dresses for the girls for the wedding in the appropriate sizes. Next to the brown, it will be stunning.

These little shops let you borrow strollers. So we put June Buggy in the stroller and headed down to Jennifer's, where we bought a suitcase for loading up our souvenirs. You can get a suitcase for about 7 USD.

Got back to the hotel and totally confused a Chinese man. He saw Juna and said, "She looks so Chinese, how is that?" He was looking from Matt to me and back again. A lady came up to him and explained in Mandarin that we adopted her. He started laughing and then the group that had gathered exploded in laughter. The man was embarrassed. I told him thank you for thinking I was pretty enough to be an Asian beauty, hahaha. The crowd wanted to stare and comment about Juna for about ten minutes. That is normal here. If you don't like crowds or being the center of attention, stay in your room.

The people on the streets in GZ are very friendly to the Americans. In Nanchang, we confused them. They are not used to seeing us and they were so baffled. Here, they smile and wave and speak English. It's a much different scenario.

If you are an outgoing person, you won't get anything accomplished here. If you are chatty like me, and can talk to anyone, you will spend most of your time talking on the streets to so many wonderful people. From the other adoption families to the locals. And I'm not even a tall blonde. Imagine if I had that going for me. I'd never get to my room! If I had gone with Katie, as our LID dates had originally planned- oh imagine that. Katie, if you are reading this, imagine the attention we'd attract! (Katie is blonde.) And we both talk talk talk talk talk and laugh very loudly and talk with our hands and are very expressive. Tee hee, that would have been a blast.

My western burger and fries for lunch tasted awful. I am looking forward to my traditional Chinese meal and cream birthday cake tonight.

Off to the Jade market. Five stories of pearls and jade and bargaining to be done. Oh, we got some excellent deals in the local shops. A big smile and friendly attitude goes a LONG way when it comes to bargaining, I have found.

Or maybe even the Chinese cannot resist my charms.

Hey, don't be impressed by my weight loss based on the pic I posted. The camera was held up and I was tilting my head just right. I know how to pose for a camera, people. Especially if I want to look ten pounds lighter. And yes, I will get one of me and the baby. The problem is that I'm the photographer in the family.

Someone described my hair as being very Louise Brooks. With the humidity and no round brush or styling products, I would agree.

You know I'll be back with more. I am so glad you are enjoying all these details. I am having fun sharing them with you. And of course, I will love printing these pages for Junie Bug's scrapbook. Oh- she's doing this thing now where she pats my face and goes, "Ahhhh! Ahhhhh! AHHHHHHH!" Then she tries to pull my hair or take off my glasses while screeching AHHHHHHH. If I repeat it back, she will say it again. We sing song it back and forth, back and forth. She also smiles the instant she sees me. So different from the baby who wouldn't make eye contact with me on Gotcha Day. Now she stares deeply into my eyes and pats my face. Amazing that it hasn't even been one week.

I hope someone reading this blog becomes sold on the idea of adoption. If I could convince just one random person out there to consider adoption, I will feel so proud. I will feel like I am paying it forward.

Can you love an adopted child as much as a biological? Can you look into the eyes of a baby of a completely different race and see yourself looking back? Can you your heart melt from a baby that came from someone other than you and your sig other?

I hope my experience can show that the answer to all of those questions is yes. YES YES YES oh heck yes.

I'm so glad we are doing this. I'm so glad our answer was yes.

Chinese Beauty

Airport with Daddy
On the bed in Nanchang. Wearing a sweater from Katie. So needed in the cold air conditioning. The Chinese people love her tuxedo Robeez.

Barbie Goes To China

And she adopted a Chinese baby. Maybe.

There was just a knock at the door. Our room attendant, much happier today, handed me a box with a Barbie inside. She's the typical blonde Barbie, but she's holding a baby in front of her. A Guatemalan baby? That's no Chinese baby! That looks like Scarlett, my friend's baby from Guatemala! Tee hee, this is great.

Everyone who stays at White Swan gets a Going Home Barbie. When I first heard of her, I assumed she was Asian. Of course not. She's a white girl who adopted a Chinese/Guatemalan baby. While wearing 6 inch hot pink shoes.

Sorry, sorry. I am not knocking this age old tradition.

Ok I am.

Barbie is about 20 years old, right? So she's not old enough to adopt from China. She meets the weight requirement, that's for sure. Income wise? Oh yeah, Barbie's loaded what with the super fancy townhouse and the Malibu swim house and the clothing line. But she's single. Or did she and Ken get married at this point? She looks amazing for a woman who's spent 2 weeks in China. Shiny, styled hair. The locals must hover around her and take pictures, which Barbie loves. SHe's a fashion model, remember?

Barbie is wearing a multi colored satin wraparound skirt that shows plenty of thigh. 6 inch high heels, as I mentioned. The dress is topped off with a bolero jacket made of woven tweed with gold threads. Matching belt. The Guatemalan/Chinese baby is wearing a ... hmm.... hoochie baby outfit. Purple hot pants with skimpy tank top that ties in the back. Bare feet, which would never go over well in China. Chinese women think babies need covered feet! And she needs a sweater. Chinese women think babies need sweaters inside in the air conditioning.

Barbie and the baby have the same skin color. Barbie needs to stay out of the sun. Skin Cancer and all.

The baby has a head full of plastic black hair. And pink lipstick. Her lipstick matches Barbie's! And yes, that baby is wearing eye liner.

Mattel, Mattel, Mattel. You could have at least made the baby Asian.

But thanks! Miss Boo is going to LOVE her.

Saturday in GZ

7 hours of sleep has given me an attitude adjustment. I told you I'm an adventurous person. If I get enough sleep. And I'm not sick. And I am not worried sick about a sick baby. And my basic needs are met. Well, hers, more importantly. I am still sick with whatever got me yesterday. All intestinal. I am going to assume it was the plane food. Chinese plane food is even worse than US plane food.

Could anyone question how I have bonded with this baby? I was like an angry lioness in this room last night. My baby needed food and sleep and getting both was this impossible task. Oh- orphanage babies like their cribs. They do not want to go to sleep on a bed. Well the ones in our travel group don't.

I was so upset about the disorganization because it meant she would suffer. I don't care about my needs as much. But hers? Her have to be met. . I finally slept through an Ativan haze last night even tho the plumbing problems upstairs continued into the wee hours of the morning. Hence, the need for Ativan and lots of it. So funny because other travel group members did the same thing. The construction and plumbing noises here are pretty irritating. I am so grateful for the DR for prescribing that drug. He swore I would need it in China and he was right!

Our view IS stunning. It's like Vegas here. Everyone says that but they don't explain why. The buildings along the river are lit up with neon and flashing lights. Laser lights project off the tops of the highrises onto the river. They play music along with the lasers. Cruise boats float by, also covered in neon and flashing lights. We are no longer in Nanchang, that is for sure! I am totally going to enjoy that tonight. last night, it was like a bad acid trip. "Make it stop, maaaaan. Make the noises go away, maaaaaaan!"

WOW are the beds hard here. Harder than Nanchang. I mean, like sleeping right on the floor. I doubled up the extra blankets on the so called mattress and was able to get comfortable. If you are staying at White Swan in the future, do the same. Even hard mattress lovers think the beds here are ridiculous. About three blankets underneath and you will feel like you are on a normal mattress again. I realize I am in China, but I think about the new Westin opening up here soon. They will feature the Heavenly Beds and Heavenly cribs. They will also give each family a stroller and a baby bath. I think they will steal away the White Swan's business. To me, it seems White Swan wants less adoption families, more business travelers. I think that is the direction they are headed, anyway. I will be curious to see how this trend plays out in the future.

At this point, I want anyone reading this to know that if you cannot stay at White Swan due to construction this summer, don't even worry. With the construction going on here and all the plumbing problems, this place is unorganized and chaotic. And the rooms are tiny. I think people are impressed if they have never stayed five star before. There are interesting touches here and there. The lighting plan in unique. You can light up pretty much any surface in this room. There is marble everywhere. But the carpets are filthy, the furniture is dinged up, and our bathroom was not clean. I think this floor may be next to go under construction, hence why it has been let go a bit.

There is also a floor attendant at the elevator to take care of your every need. Ours is less than thrilled to do so. She is probably sick of all the chaos as well. NOt sure who dropped the ball on the crib situation last night. But it made for a tense situation on this floor. Half the families had cribs. Half did not. The staff had to assemble cribs, then find mattresses and blankets. Totally not prepared. But they were apologetic to us, which we appreciated. We were perfectly nice to them and kept our cool, but we were not pleased.

There are some very unhappy families in our group due to that situation. Also due to putting smoking families in the non smoking rooms. Since they smoke in those rooms and the smoke gets into the non smoking rooms. Some of the travel mates are asthmatic, so it's a health hazard. The smoke I smelled getting into our room in Nanchang? It was from a non smoking room of a travel mate. My clothes reek of smoke from that hotel room. We pondered asking to change rooms here but were advised against it. We have a lot of smokers on this trip and if we get moved next to them, we get smoke and not banging noises from the plumbing above. I'd rather have the noise than the smoke, seriously. Blehhhh. Another travel mate picked up her bags in Guangzhou to find someone had thrown up on them!! So it could be a whole heck of a lost worse. I hung up a lucky Chinese symbol in our room to keep all the bad mojo away. Then I counted my blessings. THen I chased all the bad stuff away.

Speaking of smoking, one Chinese person told me that he is amused by the ladies from a particular country who travels to China to adopt babies. Won't list the country, but they are known for being heavy smokers. He says the ladies smoke with one hand, eat with another, and blow smoke in the direction of the babies. He says the Chinese people get very angry when they see that happen. He said at least the Americans keep the smoke from the babies. I told him not all do! But some do try.

This morning was rushed due to our 8am appointment and baby who slept in! We had to wake her up. Give a quick bottle, while one of us gets ready, then switch off, and head down to the buffet. She seems more congested today, but less snotty. Good. Maybe this will be a quick cold.

The restaurant is gorgeous. One wall is all glass that overlooks the river. The other view is of the waterfall in the lobby. The food is set up at several stations. There is just one tiny Chinese breakfast station. The rest is all Western. I was a bit sad by that. I do love my breakfast dim sum! But I cannot find any as good as in Hong Kong. The chef at the Chinese breakfast area was thrilled that I wanted a plate. He filled mine with various goodies. "Here, here, try this. Very good, you like this!"

Sorry about lack of pics in this post. We had headed downstairs for the 8am medical exam and that's when.. I got sick again. ARG! I was so mad! I wanted to be there for Juna. But I could not. I was dizzy, sweating, and so so sick. Don't blame the chicken feet! Yeah, I swore no heads and no feet, but I had to give them a try. Seriously, blame that plane food. SO SO SO spicy. And food in Nanchang is spicy in general. Our lunch was spicy and so was dinner. I am reacting the way I do when I have spicy food in the US. I will not blame this on food poisoning. Just a hungry woman who ate food that is not on her ok list.

So Matt took the baby to the medical exam and now here I am, typing to you crazy people. I took several Pepto tabs and am much better, thank you.

I wanted to mention some of the sweet things that happened in Nanchang yesterday. It was hard to say goodbye to Rose and Jason. They were so kind to us and we will miss them. We exchanged email addresses and hope to stay in touch.

Yesterday, Tiffani's of Nanchang came through. They delivered our daughter's finding ad to the hotel. It was hard to find, as she was in Suichuan, not Sichuan. Sichuan is well known. Suichuan is confusing, even to the Chinese. It is a very tiny area in the Jiangxi province. It is often hard to get a hold of their local paper.

When a baby is found, an ad is taken out in the local paper. A finding ad is a heartbreaking sight. It's rows and rows of newborn faces- ok, not only newborns but children as well! ROWS of them and this is from a tiny little area of China. All abandoned. Some in her finding ad, which took up two whole newspaper pages, had obvious deformities. Others looked "normal." And there was sweet Juna. Wrapped in a blanket, fast asleep. I cried. I mean I sobbed and sobbed. I'm crying as I type this because those babies... so many babies. And the little girls in those photos! Three to five years old. Abandoned? Parents are dead? Who knows. No mommies and daddies to love them. Oh it is just unreal how that touches your heart. I sat and stared at those faces and sobbed until I shook. It was so real then, seeing her in that photo. Seeing those little faces who just need so much love. And knowing how many out there want them right now, if they could have them.

My crying woke her up. She was sleeping on her tummy, and she popped up her head and smiled at me. More tears. I mean, I was a basket case. I held her and held her and sobbed onto her little head. She let me. As if she knew. As if she understood.

Tiffani's gave us a copy of the pages, and the front page of the paper that day. Our baby was found on the steps of the local tax bureau by a citizen of Suichuan, who took her to the police. The police wrote her report and took her to the Suichuan Social Welfare Institute. They guessed her age based on her umbilical cord condition. Tiffani's also gave us her actual ad cut out and put into a red Chinese envelope.

I will look at it again once I get home. I can't do it now. Too painful to see.

Other things of note- when at the Nanchang airport, Juna and I chose to sit down with a group of Chinese people who were waiting for their plane. There was immediate interest in her. An old man started chatting to me in Chinese. I understood baby and how old? I said "Sorry, English only. Bao bao 8 months. " A lady leaned over and translated it for him. That's when many more people came to ask questions and she translated. "They want you to know you have a Chinese Beauty. Her eyes are round. She has perfect earlobes. Women in China want to have earlobes that look like that. They say she will grow up to be very beautiful." I said thank you and asked what she meant by the earlobes. The woman traced Juna's ears with her fingers, showing me how Chinese women like their ears to be shaped. "She has that perfect shape. Such lucky baby."

She then asked Juna's age. No one could believe her age. "Such big baby, such strong baby for 8 months. Baby will be tall." She translated that the people said thank you for caring for China's forgotten children. She actually said it that way, which was really neat to hear. "We in China are so grateful you care so much about our children. We cannot afford to care for them. We all want to adopt them, but we cannot afford to send them to school if we do. Thank you so much for giving her a better life."

She then gave me a message to everyone out there. "Tell the Americans who are coming how grateful we are and how we feel they are such good people, such kind people to care for our children."

Then she gave me some Chinese medicine and tissues from her purse. "Baby is sick. Give her half this packet, she will get better."

As I said before, your baby in China is everyone's baby in China. We have not encountered the Clothing Police, who want to cover her up in layers in this heat. Instead, we have encountered the face wiping police. Everywhere we go, Chinese women want to wipe Juna's nose. And they are rough with it. This is why the babies hate having their noses wiped. Our travel mates keep asking what the nannies did to these babies. I think they wiped their noses too hard, if it's anything like how the strangers wipe Juna's nose. Try stopping a Chinese lady from wiping your baby's nose. It's amazing how hands on they are with the babies here. Or they want to stroke her cheek or play with her hands. Men and women! No one has taken her from me yet. But they do crowd around. The thing I hear over and over again, by men and women, young and old, "Chinese beauty. So beautiful." Even on the plane, the flight attendants could not stop fussing over her. "Big eyes! So lucky!"

Which proves the age old theory. The Beautiful People are very lucky people indeed. If a baby can attract this much attention, imagine what it's like to be a beautiful woman.

Eh, I'm glad I'm a funny woman. This is why I make friends everywhere I go. People like me. Awww, you like me.... you really really... ok I'll stop.

OH! We got video of this! The plane in Nanchang? When we boarded, it was so hot, that the air conditioner vents on the plane were blowing out steam. Condensation? Whatever. Cool air met hot air. It looked like the inside of the plane was smoking. We walked into a cold steam bath on the plane. It was unreal looking.

One last note. Since I've been in China, I've lost ten pounds. Between the walking in the extreme temps, the healthy food, and the occasional bouts of stomach troubles, I've haven't been this "thin" har har, in YEARS. I am at my lowest weight in five years. Man, I need to stay in China for a few months. I'd come back a size 6.

If anyone talks to my mom, please tell her that a good night's sleep made the world a better place. We'll be fine. We're just getting through each day until we can get home. We'll have fun in the next few days, but it is wearing on us. Travel is stressful! Traveling half way around the world to meet your new baby? I can't believe I haven't had a nervous breakdown yet.

More later, with pics!

Friday night in GZ, where it all falls apart

Ok, that was dramatic, but I've HAD IT.

We are in GZ.

We have a sick baby.

Granted, the flight here was short, but there's all that airport hoo hah to deal with. And a sick baby on a flight next to a grumpy business man. A sick baby whose ears are not popping. Screaming baby, even with a bottle. It was not fun.

Then we landed, got luggage, and were on a chartered bus to the White Swan hotel, which is where all the adoption parents stay in GZ. Our guides were passing out breakfast coupons, maps of the hotel, lists of the rooms (most importantly, where they are staying) and other assorted GZ info.

They did not have anything for us. I just had a feeling things were going to go downhill from there.

I got off the bus and our guide handed us some leftover coupons and said, "Sorry, I don't have any other info for you. I will get it to you later or tomorrow. " Ok cool, at least we can eat in the morning.

We get to into the hotel and that is when I got sick. Must have been the airplane food- very spicy, but I as hungry, so I ate it. Big mistake. Another family took care of Juna while Matt checked in and I was sick in the bathroom.

Keep in mind that poor Juna is an hour past her bedtime, hungry, sick, and freaked out.

We get into the room. No crib. No hot pot to make a bottle. Nothing is ready for us.

That's when I fell to pieces.

I'm so exhausted at this point. Emotionally and physically, I am wrecked. I just wanted to get into the room, feed my sick baby and put her to bed.

We asked our floor attendant for a crib. She said, "I will get you one later tonight." Later tonight? It's getting close to 9pm. What does this mean?

We can't call our guides because we have no idea where they are in the hotel. The baby, bless her heart, is just being a trooper. She is just amazing, this little girl. I'm the one who's spent.

I take the elevator down the lobby and cannot find anyone. Because there are two lobbies and I could not find the lobby we were in. This is a HUGE hotel. And I'm all turned around. Oh and sick and running to any available bathroom.

So much for being the adventurous traveler.

So we fed our baby with room temp water, which the orphanage babies do not like, but she took it. Again, because she is just a great baby.

See, I don't know if this is just how the White Swan works. But when we got to Nanchang, the room had a crib and a baby bath waiting for us. If we had a problem or needed anything, they were there in a second to help. This is supposed to be a super fancy hotel. Nothing was ready in our room.

FInally housekeeping came around with a crib. and then a hot pot. And then we had to ask them for a clock because the room didn't have one and we have an 8am meeting. But baby was already asleep, good girl.

I think I could handle this better on more sleep and feeling better and less mental strain. I just assumed we'd walk into our room and everything would be ready for us. I assumed they would know we were coming with a baby- since there are 12 families coming with babies and all checking in at the same time. I guess it doesn't work that way here.

Again, I am venting. I'm airing my frustration so I can get it all out and get to sleep. If it wasn't so late at night I would probably just brush this off and be like, "No problem, mon!"

I will also feel better when we have our coordinator's room information. Oh and when the noise upstairs stops. Plumbing issues. There is very lound banging upstairs for the past hour. Lovely.

Alright, done bitching. This really isn't THAT BAD. At least we have our luggage. And we have a stunning view of the river. We are right next to the elevators, bah, but we have a great view.

And with that, I sign off a bit frustrated and weary from GZ. Tomorrow is an 8am medical exam, then free all day.

I will be back hopefully with a much better attitude.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Friday morning in Nanchang

OOOH I was able to post after all.

Ok, here is the cut. It's SUPER short in the back, then tapers longer in the front. I was very sweaty when this pic was taken, so you cannot really see how the front really works. If you are outside in Nanchang in the summer, you are drenched. I had just come in from outside. My nose looks huge in this pic. and I look thinner in this pic, so that is why this pic won. HAH! I'm almost as vain as the beautiful Chinese women of Nanchang. Today the humidity has already gotten to my hair and it is curling. But still cute. I love it.

I was also able to check Yahoo. We were smart enough to finally go through Yahoo China! Duh! thanks for the emails and for checking in on Margeinator. Thank you thank you!!

I am shattered again today. Another night of going to bed at 10 and waking up at 4am. This time, my stomach woke me up. It was bound to happen! After all, I ate CHICKEN FEET last night. Can you believe me? I know, it's so much fun. The food here is VERY spicy. Lots of red pepper which just gets me in the US. SO yeah, my stomach was waving a white flag and saying, "Enough!!"

Luckily the bathroom stay was short. I am taking 2 Pepto tabs per day. I learned it on a travel site. It really works! But the bathroom stay was enough that I was side awake. Once I finally drifted off again, Baby Girl woke up.

She has a snotty cold that she got from me. She hates having her nose wiped. Goes into a fit of rage when we do. Matt is now getting sick as well. I really needed my sleep last night! You guys think I'm such a great traveler but the one area where I lack is in being able to pass out at night. I hesitated taking a sleeping pill last night because of June being sick. When I don't take a sleeping pill, I cannot sleep under exciting conditions. Being here is so exciting.

I do wish I had a Katie in this travel group. I really need a friend to go out on the town with when Juna is sleeping. We are free this morning and I want to hit the pedestrian mall again. Matt suggested I ask a lady in our travel group but I have not bonded with anyone and would feel awkward doing so. Plus, most of the people in our group have HAD IT with Nanchang. Those who can tolerate China have sick babies. Staying away from the group has helped in one respect. The babies that play together have shared a raging stomach bug. There are many tired parents at breakfast this morning. So I am not sure if I will go the mall or not. Going alone is not an option. While I feel safe enough here, I am still the only American in a huge sea of people who find me very amusing. It's not comfortable to be that person. With Matt by my side, no one bugs me. When I was with my Chinese friends, it was a different story. Some hassling, but nothing too upsetting.

I cannot imagine being a first time mom under these conditions. I admire the other parents in our group so much. The reason Matt and I can just grab the baby and head off into Nanchang is because we know babies so well. Plus, in China, your baby is everyone's baby. Everyone pitches in to help. Last night at dinner, Rose's husband fed Juna some steamed egg. Here is a man who traditionally would not take on that role and he was just thrilled to do so.

I was hesitant about this. With what I have learned about bonding and attachment, I really wanted to grab Juna back from our new friends. However, it would have been rude. In the Chinese culture, as I said, a baby is for everyone to love. I had to just take a deep breath and trust the situation. If Matt and I had stepped back from the table to watch, we would have assumed she was part of the family at that table. It is hard to describe, but she just adapts so well to every situation.

Matt and I know we are so lucky. We see the other families and what they are going through and we know, we KNOW, we are truly the luckiest parents. How did we deserve this? Sometimes I wonder if the other shoe is going to drop. How did we become the ones to get such a healthy, on target, amazing baby? What did we do to deserve this?

The reason I am getting out so much in Nanchang is because I felt it was my duty to experience Juna's province. She is not from this city, granted, but one day I can tell her about a city close to hear home. I can tell her that I had dinner with a wonderful family. I experienced "daily life" in Nanchang. I did not sit in a hotel room and watch a re-run of Friends. That isn't why I came here. I came here to get my daughter and experience her culture.

Speaking of which, she is now awake. She is on the bed, looking at me,a nd going, "Buh buh buh." She has attached to us so well in just a very short time. The difference between Gotcha Day Baby and today's baby is... unreal. Two different babies. This baby is all smiles and loving and so playful. Time to go play.

Talk to you in GZ!
Can someone please call Marge and tell her we might not call for a few days, due to going to GZ (say Gwan-Joe) and not being sure of our schedule at that point? We will call once we are settled in. Tell her not to worry, all is well here. Still having fun and baby is fine, except for a small cold.

And please tell her about my Asian beauty salon experience. HAHAHA

Also, she should be jealous about the food. Marge would love the food here, too


Thursday in Nanchang- Chinese Haircut

Let me start from the morning- another incredible day in Nanchang to tell you about.

We had breakfast and were greeted by the lovely Rose. I mentioned I was having a bad hair day. Rose said, "We meet at 3, take you to get Chinese hair cut." Sure, why not!

Junie Bug was such a ham today. So lively and giggly. She loves to stand up. In fact, she can PULL HERSELF UP and CRUISE. Can you believe that? An 8 month old orphanage baby. She is so so proud of herself. She will pull herself up while saying what sounds like, "Up up up." Probably not. Then again, who knows? She's amazing, that kid! She just laughs and laughs. Especially when she falls down.

We did observe some heartbreaking behavior that started today. When she's tired, she just flips out. She screams, I mean SCREAMS and claws at herself as she is falling asleep. Hysterical thrashing, in complete fear of falling asleep. We are not sure, but wonder if falling asleep means the crib, which means no interaction for hours on end? Or did something bad happen as she slept? I have never seen a baby react that way. It's downright frightening. We now just give her a bottle when it's time to sleep. Hungry or not, she gets a bottle and it eases her to sleep. She won't take a pacifier but she will suck on the bottle until she is calm and passes out.

Today we boarded the bus and headed to a village just about 10 mins outside of the city. The agency likes us to see a typical village setting, to show us where our daughters would have come from. They asked us not to post pictures, but we can show friends when we get home. It's as bad as you can imagine. We brought candies and treats for the children, who gathered around us and followed us everywhere we went.

We headed back into the city to a shopping area that has a famous porcelain shop. We bought a set of family chopsticks with chopstick holders. Also some small tokens of appreciation for the friends who have been helping us while we are gone.

On the way out of the store, we saw a man skinning snakes alive in the street. EEK! Ok time to move on to more pleasant scenes, please. I'm finding that is China. You have a scene like that not far from the pedestrian mall where the young and beautiful hang out at the arcade and play Dance Dance Revolution.

We headed back to the hotel while the group headed to Mcdonalds. We wanted another delicious meal at the Chinese buffet. While dining, Jason approached and asked me just what I wanted done with my hair. Curly or smooth? Color? Or just a cut? He said he needed the info in order to select the perfect Chinese salon for me.

I met them around 330 and we headed to the salon. We crossed several Nanchang streets. I will never get used to that- ever! Ok, here is where is gets really interesting. I walked into the salon and the entire place STOPPED. Everyone turned and stared. I didn't get pictures, so let me describe the scene. The salon was one large room. Women who looked like candy stripers are at the front door to open it for you as you walk in. They gather around and ask what you want done. The stylists themselves are all dressed in black. They have that incredible razor cut Asian hairstyles I so admire. The men have the modern Duran Duran cuts. The women look like rock stars. It's quite a contrast to the candy striper girls.

After much back and forth in Mandarin, everyone finally got what I wanted. A very short bob in the back that gets longer as it goes to the front. That's not a popular cut in Nanchang right now. The girls all want 80s big hair with lots of layers or razor cut smooth long hair. The men want the spiked out Duran Duran style hair. No one wants a bob. Maybe grandmothers do. Great, I'm out of style, even in China.

Then a young candy striper girl sat me in a chair and began pouring a solution in my hair. She then lathered up the solution right there in the chair. Not near a sink or anything, just in the chair. That turned into a head massage. I swear it lasted a half an hour. I kept asking Jason how much this was going to cost me! And did I tip the shampoo girl, like we do in the States? He said no. But I could and she would be thrilled to get 20rmb from me.

Then she took me to the back of the salon to a large table. I laid on the table and hung my head into a sink. She rinsed my hair and gave me another head massage. Then a face massage. That's when the other girls crowded around me. I was looking up into a sea of young Asian girl faces who were all giggling at me and saying, "Hello hello!" Then more giggling and frantic Mandarin. Rose shooed them away and rolled her eyes.

After that, I was lead back into my original chair and the girl took a Qtip and did- get this- an inner ear massage. I did not like it one bit. Totally freaked me out. I asked Jason to tell her to please stop.

The total process I just described? One hour.

Then I was led to another chair where my rock star looking female stylist opened her bag and grabbed a bunch of razors and scissors. I was seated in the window, so all of Nanchang could walk by and watch me. Lovely. I'm telling you, I attract A LOT of attention in Nanchang. No one is over 100 pounds here. And none of the Americans go the places I have gone.

She began cutting. Rose reached into the stylist's bag and began doing her hair as well. Things are really different in China.. as if you haven't noticed that. The stylist then began making unhappy noises. She said my hair was too curly for this style and I needed it relaxed with Jet- some relaxer product. I said no thanks. I know how to blow dry it straight. Of course this took ten minutes to convey through translation. Jason had to look up words on his phone.

A half hour passed and she was still razoring and snipping. Then some styling. Then more razoring and snipping. Then a long discussion about my bangs, which I am growing out. She did not like them just laying on my face. She had to cut them a little bit, she said. Then more styling. Then more cutting.

Total hair cut time? 1 hour.

Total cost for the entire 2 hours. 11 dollars.

Are you just freaking out over that or not?

Oh, and I look amazing. It's an Asian razor cut, which I wanted. It's a super duper short bob. As Jason said, "You have new Asian dress, new Asian haircut, and new Asian baby. You are almost Asian woman."

While I loved the experience, I missed chatting with Katie, who does my hair back home. There's nothing like not being able to communicate with someone about your hair as they have a razor in their hands and are chopping away.

I know, I'm brave. But it's so worth it. I will NEVER forget that experience.

After the cut, Rose and Jason asked if we could have dinner together. Our agency group was dining together, but asked our coordinator if we could skip the dinner. They said fine and also mentioned that I was one adventurous lady.

We went to a popular Chinese restaurant close to the hotel. Another place where you have this long flight of stairs that leads to an enormous restaurant. So huge. And packed! Overflowing with people. We sat at a table overlooking the street below. Rose's six year old daughter and husband joined us. We had a great meal, Nanchang beer, and a lot of laughs. Especially when I had to use the toilet. Another squatty potty! And guess what? There was a woman throwing up in the one next to me. How you do that, must take a lot of talent. When she came out, I noticed she was yet another high style very thin Chinese girl. See! Even around the world, women go to extremes to be thin.

Rose's husband paid for the meal. It came out to 25 USD. We tried to hard to pay, but he insisted.

We walked back to the hotel, where I asked them to hold on a moment, then raced up stairs and presented them with gifts. They were SO uncomfortable. I told them, please, I wanted to give them some items from back home. Nothing much- but just something to remember us by.

So that is my hint to anyone traveling. Bring extra gifts. You never know who you might befriend along the way.

Junie was amazing this entire time. She loves going everywhere we go. She loves eating- she chowed down on fish tonight. But she is catching my cold and I feel terrible about that. Ugh.

Most young Chinese women are obsessed with beauty. Even tho we are in Nanchang, which isn't the wealthiest of Chinese cities, the young women are dressed to the 9s. The latest in hair, makeup, and clothing. Teetering on high heels, so thin and most are very beautiful. It can give a big American girl a real complex, real quickly. Especially since I only brought my big baggy old clothing.

Ok it is very late. I am not sure when we will be back again. Friday is going to be pretty crazy. Breakfast, then pack, then rush out to buy extra coordinator gifts (we have three, thought there would only be one) and have our bags at the door by 130pm. We leave at 3pm for the airport. I am terrified because it rains HARD each day about the time we will be taking off. Ugh.

We should arrive in Guanghzou about 6pm and will check into the White Swan. Saturday will be a free day and I hope to blog as soon as I can.

Talk to you then!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Shout outs

Britney- got your email, thank you. Yes to all you mentioned. Esp the banana bread made by Jack. MMMM.

HK Muse- thanks for the congee recipe.

Katie- cannot wait to gossip with you. LOTS of interesting characters to describe. Oh my!

Callie- Thanks for the updates.

Who am I missing? Ahh sorry- Yahoo let me log on for about a minute and I raced through the email and comments. AHHH.

Plus, Fluid Pudding and her International Bacon Vacation has my laughing so hard, I might throw up. That's not how squid should exit the body.

Sorry I am forgetting people.

Oh Paper Whore- Boo is going to LOVE June Bug.

Diana- come to China. You won't regret it one bit. It's so incredible if you are an adventurous traveler.

Three on Verge and anyone else who left hints about the flea market- heading there now... bye !

Thursday morning in Nanchang

Good morning JunaHappy Baby! The only member of this family who looks stunning in orange.
Time for a bottle. Daddy will feed you.
Look at how big and healthy she is, considering where she came from.
In this pic below. you can see the river outside of our hotel.
Here's our room.

Good morning! I am unable to read your comments or my Yahoo email due to the Great Firewall. It will probably be back later today. If not, I will post my new email account.

Can someone call my mom and update her on what we are doing? Could you tell her of some of our adventures? We call each night but the connection is horrible and we can only talk a few mins.

Also, if she could do some grocery shopping before we get home to get some items for Juna? She will not eat jar food. She needs things like eggs, soft fruits, and she loves banana bread if Mom or someone could make some? Banana bread is her number one food choice (second to congee) and I know my mother cannot find congee.

Thank you to anyone who can do this. Mom is curious to know what we are up to and we just cannot communicate for long via phone. Thank you!!

Ok here is my latest update.

I slept 8 hours last night! I feel like a new woman. Ahhhh.

I woke up and looked over at the crib to see two big eyes staring back at me. I picked her up and she smiled and smiled. This has been her happiest morning yet.

We just got back from breakfast. Rose said hello and got some steamed egg for the baby. Something we hadn't been feeding her because we didn't know we should.

So funny because we dined with some of our travel mates. When Rose came over and fed the baby, they whispered, "This is what they do? Should we warn her not to feed our baby?" We laughed and said no, we're friends, it's ok! Our mates were so baffled by this. You made friends with someone who works in the hotel?

We had asked our agency guides about this. They said to just be careful. Perhaps Rose wanted to take us to a shop that her friend runs, so the friend could make a commission. But no, they were honestly interested in helping us and hanging out. While you should always use caution in situations like these, do not let it scare you. Since Rose is a manager in the hotel, and Jason works for her, we felt pretty comfortable going out with them.

The people of China are very friendly. I was told that once you earn their trust, you have a friend for life. If you are coming to China, take the time to make friends while here. They are so curious about American life and love to share their culture.

The one thing we aren't doing is spending any time with our travel mates. They joke with us, "You were the one who set up our online chat group and we never see you!" I know, I know. I just love spending time alone with Matt and the baby in our room. I love dining with just them at a private table and sharing our laughs and special moments together. I also love going out and experiencing China. Our mates complain about the walls closing in on them. We tell them to get out! Wander around the pedestrian mall!

I have to remember not everyone has the adventurous spirit as we do. There are three types of travelers. The ones who throw themselves into the moment and experience as much as possible , those that are just getting through each day, and those that are hating every second. We have one of each kind in our group, as are in all travel groups. And that's fine. Everyone processes this differently. Tho I must say that if you are in the first category I listed, you will have a much better time!

Today we visit a Chinese village. More on that later. Then we're meeting up with Rose and Jason again in the afternoon for more shopping and exploring of Nanchang.

Bye for now. Sleep well, my Fellow Americans.

Weds in pictures

This was such a great day!!

June Buggy went back to sleep about 7am, so I headed to the buffet alone, as I had been up since 3am and was hungry. Rose, the manager who got Juna's first smile, came over to say hello. I told her I wanted to do some shopping but did not know where to go. She got out a piece of paper and asked for my room number. "At 3pm, I call you, we go shopping!"

The buffet had cream filled dumplings this morning. It's like freakin Las Vegas for me with the food here. I was actually worried about how I'd handle my MSG allergy in China. I thought I'd be eating KFC, which is EVERYWHERE here. Maybe my MSG allergy is a thing of the past. Or maybe the use of MSG is a lot stronger in the US. Who knew the second biggest highlight for China for me would be the FOOD? Oh the glorious food....

After Matt and Buggy ate breakfast, we joined our travel group in the lobby and headed in the blasted heat to the Pavillion. Two mins into the journey and Juna and Mommy were both melting down. Bug has discovered she loves AC as much as we do. Oh, and she refuses to ride in a stroller. The Mei Tai is too warm, so we bailed on the Pavillion sight seeing. It was so hot, we were unable to video tape- the lens kept steaming up.

I did get this picture before we made our exit. You can see members of our travel group buying fans from a vendor. We later learned others bailed out, too. It was just THAT hot.

We wandered the streets of Nanchang- as the sidewalks are mostly covered by awnings and it actually feels slightly better in the shade. We crossed our first Nanchang street. Let me tell you, with no rules on the road, that was frightening for the first time. I am learning that everyone has the right of way in China. The right to do whatever they want on the road. You want to drive down the wrong side of the street? Ok. You want to walk right in front of a bus? Sure, why not. You want to ride your bike in the middle of the street into oncoming traffic? Hey, why not!

We stopped in at Tiffani's, which is an adoption tourist trap right across from the Gloria Plaza. We asked to have our daughter's finding ad, but have learned the Suichuan ads are hard to come by. So we headed back to the hotel to cool off and feed Buggy.

We played on the bed and that's when she gave us this beautiful smile!
She was a much more animated baby today. Still very serious, still very worried when she got hungry or tired. She claws at her skin, so frantic when that happens. Nap or bedtime is the worst. Her nanny said she was rocked to sleep. She does not settle well on our chests or next to us in bed. We are trying to figure out a solution. Otherwise, she was such a happy baby when she played today. We have discovered that she LOVES to accomplish- anything, really! If we stand her up on her feet, she will grin and giggle like mad. When we help her "walk," she will laugh herself silly. She also loves to be picked up by her little hands while laying down, so that she goes into a seated position, then into a standing position. She laughs and looks so proud of herself. She can also push up on all fours, as if she is attempting to get into a seated position. This is a baby who wants to be as mobile as possible and SOON! And boy can this kid eat. Don't you dare try to eat a Chinese BBQ potato chip in front of her (again, YUM) She would eat all day long if she could.

Buggy took another nap around 12 noon. I tried, but the baby next door was freaking out and wailing so hard. Poor baby girl! I decided to head downstairs to the lunch buffet. Oh you would have died if you saw my plate. A lovely layer of rice, topped with squid- not pieces of squid, the entire tiny octopus looking creature. Keeping those guys company were some jelly fish and chicken gizzards. I'm telling you, it was good dining. I ate with my chopsticks and munched down so much, I went back for thirds.

While dining, I was approached by one of the wait staff. He introduced himself and said he would be going with Rose and I on our shopping trip, as he was fluent in English and Rose was not confident in her speaking. He warned me it would be very hot so please dress the baby in cool clothing and bring an umbrella for her to keep the sun off her skin. So cute to hear this from a 22 year old kid!

Matt and Bug joined me at the buffet. Matt had fish and chicken. No squid for him.

The lobby was filled with Japanese tourists who snapped several pictures of all the adopting families who hang out in the lobby. They are fascinated by us and we are a plenty in this hotel! There must be at least four or five travel groups here in this hotel alone.

At 3pm, we took our laundry to our guide's room. It will be cleaned by Elephant King Laundry. They return the laundry to our room with our socks sewn together so they are not lost. Also, all items are sealed in plastic bags. It's not as good as the Novotel City Gate's laundry in Hong Kong. But it's half as much. One large load is about 15 USD and worth every penny.

That's when Rose called. We went to the lobby and saw that she had dressed up so nicely for our outing! I felt bad, since I was in my usual Tshirt and Capris that truly are two sizes too big for me now. There are mirrors everywhere in this hotel and I look like my mama dresses me funny. Seriously, I need to go shopping for clothes when we get back to the States. It's bad enough that the owner of Tiffani's said to me, "Why do you hide in such big clothes? Show off that curvy figure. So womanly." Yeah, like two women. The thin one wants out, please.

Oh no, time to cross another Nanchang street. Rose took my hand. It is very common for ladies to hold hands here in China. It's just what friends do. It's cute to see the young girls especially. They lock arms or hold hands and stroll around together. Not "girlfriends" girlfriends. Just friends. Otherwise, you do not see much public display of affection here between males and females or males and males.

We met up with Jason and walked IN THE STREET (EEEEEP) to an outdoor pedestrian mall not far from the hotel. Blocks and blocks of shops just waiting for us and no cars to run us over. We hit some children's clothing stores first. Jason bargained with the shop staff and saved us a lot of money. We did spend a little bit more than necessary on matching Disney outfits for the girls. These adorable Minnie Mouse matching dresses with a subtle Minnie pink print.

Then we went to a Chinese wedding dress shop. We were able to get a gorgeous red silk Chinese dress for Miss Boo. In China, babies do not wear the Chinese dresses. It is not for them to wear until they turn 3 years old. The adoption cities have them around the hotels because the parents love to dress their babies in the Chinese dresses. But Chinese families do not do this. Hence, why the wedding shop only started at sizes for a three year old.

We headed back onto the street and WOW did we get stares. We were the only Americans there and I do mean ONLY. I guess the adoption gang doesn't make it over there often. The shop keepers were thrilled beyond belief when we'd come into a store. Very nice stores, too. Just like American mall stores, only smaller. Each one gave us big discounts thanks to our new friends. Who, by the way, held our bags and took the baby when we needed our hands free.

Ok, they say to not let anyone hold your baby during the bonding process. June Bug? She loved it. She thought Rose was spectacular. Gone was her fear of Asians as she cooed at Rose and Rose spoke Chinese to her. We'd walk a block, then Juna would reach for me and nuzzle me. Then she'd hang out with Jason a bit. Then back to Rose. Then with Matt. Just as happy as could be. Not all babies could pull this off, but we are leaning June Bug is a very special baby indeed.

The highlight was walking into a fancy purse store. Oh yeah, purses! My love! I didn't want to go in. I told Jason we could not afford such a store. He said to go in, they would make deals for us. I was afraid to look at the tags. Fancy fancy purses with top notch hardware and leather. High end designs. 20 USD each. No lie. I have never seen such designs in the US and certainly not that kind of quality unless you start at 500 bucks a purse. I think we are going back tomorrow to buy some more. Really, they are spectacular bags.

Our new friends suggested we hop the bus or a cab home. We opted for a cab. A Chinese cab! I sat in front and held on for dear life. It was like being in a video game. Frogger, to be honest! That cab driver was insane. We were on the wrong side of the road. We were almost mowing down bike riders. He didn't stop for pedestrians. It was brilliant. I was laughing the whole time. Cab ride cost? 70 cents.

Our guides ordered Pizza Hut for dinner. Worst pizza I've ever eaten. No, seriously. Terrible. Like fried cheese on fried bread with no flavor except... fried. I bit into a piece and said, "I want a plate of squid!" When in China, eat Chinese food.

Here is the pedestrian mall.

And here is a great sign!

We took a lot of pics of the excellent Chinglish signs that are so funny to Americans. The Chinese do not know why are we laughing so hard at a store called, "Funny Love."

730pm. Time for bed. What a wonderful day, but I'm shattered. Good night from Nanchang!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I can't believe we leave China in one week. I was once a person who thought, "Why would anyone CHOOSE to visit China?" Now I am someone who can't wait to come back. I need oodles of money. I would make the best world traveler!

We stayed up too late last night- 9pm, oooh ahhh so late! I managed to sleep until 3am. My body clock is moving forward to CHina time, it seems. Baby woke up at 5am. It is now almost 6am as I type this. She is gulping down her bottle with Daddy.

She woke up and we brought her into bed with us. She flipped over and did her little rock back and forth crawling and just grinned and grinned when we cheered. Sorry to our travel mates next door. I am sure we woke them up! I believe the nannies at her orphanage cheered for her as well. She just let out a big burp, I turned around and cheered and she grinned and laughed.

This is going to be a pretty random post, so bare with me.

A special shout out to Fluid Pudding- please note that the bacon here is the best bacon on earth. It's served at all the hotel breakfast buffets. It's wide, not too thick, not too thin, and full of flavor. I'd bring some back for you... but... woud be green and full of strange flavors by then.

Can someone pass this address along to Tempe? I don't think she has it???

Harvey and Laura- come visit in August. Just let us know when.

Three on the Verge- we are dining on the 2nd floor. All those mirrors when you get off the elevator! So confusing. There is a lovely Chinese lady to direct us into the dining hall. Which is good, because I'm like a bird banging into a window. I get very confused in that hallway.

HK Muse- we have a four hour layover in HK on the 4th. Can you visit? Or will we be in a security restricted area? We fly in about 845am from GZ and leave about 1245pm.

Thank you for all the comments. Seriously, I love getting them. Do not hesitate to post. I love the connection to home.

June Buggy is on the bed with Daddy and going BAH BAH BAH and laughing and smiling and having a great time. She is so happy this morning. I wonder if this is the "day 3" baby everyone talks about? Considering we got her late in the evening on Day 1. They say the babies show their true personalities on Day 3.

We have a gal in our travel group who is over 6 feet tall and blonde. When she walks down the street, the Chinese men stare at her and then stare at her rear end when she passes. Even in China, men appreciate a nice tushie. It's universal!

Most of the men in our travel group are quite tall or large. Except Matt. Tee hee. It's so amazing to see these huge guys with their tiny babies. One daddy is a big tattooed fellow and he just melts when he holds his daughter. The daddies carry around the babies in snuglis or various carriers or push them in the strollers. THey are so proud of their daughters. Of course this gets a lot of stares in Nanchang. You see a lot of daddies with children in Nanchang, but not being worn on their bodies. In fact, I have not seen any baby wearing here yet. I am the only person I've seen with an Asian baby carrier!

It's so true how wild the conditions of the babies in our group varies.Some are floppy and newborn-like and not eating solid foods and some are almost walking. The best advice I can give to future parents out there is to join your SWI's yahoo group and talk to other parents to get an idea of the possible condition of your baby. It may or may not be accurate, but I found ours was completely accurate.

I was told Suichuan babies are:
Right on track or ahead on motor skills
Well fed. Fed a lot of solid foods.
Receive a lot of stimulation and attention
Fairly healthy
Boils being the main skin ailment
Also known for being "pretty" babies - meaning pretty according to Asian beauty standards

People don't like the discussion of pretty babies. All babies being beautiful and all. I can say that none of the babies in our group look alike at all. Some have full heads of hair that need to be held back with bows. Some, like mine, are baldy waldies! Some have smaller eyes, some have rounder eyes. Some are darker complected, some are lighter. They are all so damn adorable you just want to squeeeeeeeze them!

Shannon made a comment that really hit home to me. We all say the babies will have better lives in the USA. It's true that having a family will give them a better life. But I would argue that life in China isn't so bad, either. They have their fair share of problems and struggles, but we do in America as well. I love my country, but I am also falling in love with my daughter's country.

People hear of us staying here two weeks and usually say, "UGH!" To me, two weeks doesn't seem long enough. I am so glad we get this time with our baby before going home to reality. This hotel living where all our needs are met is pretty sweet. We can focus entirely on her. And yeah, the food.... my gosh the food...

Ok time to start the day. I am going to head to Tiffani's, which opened back up yesterday! I am going to get our daughter's finding ad. Then we will do some local shopping. I'll be back, of course. I am so glad you are enjoying my blogging.

Birthday Party

Tuesday evening in Nanchang. 5pm. Our travel guides arranged a special party for us. June Bug dressed up in a pink Chinese gown. She looked oh so gorgeous! We walked from the Gloria Plaza down the street....To this restaurant.
We walked in on the main level. There are numerous tanks with your dinner swimming around in them. There are pretty hostesses dressed in Chinese dresses. We were escorted upstairs to what looked like an apartment building filled with numerous rooms. Each room had round tables. We were in this room.

We were served family style. They first brought out an egg dish for the babies. Then they brought out soda and Chinese beer. Guess who loved the Chinese beer! One more glass and I would have been on the floor. It was hard to stop, since our hostesses kept filling them up! We ate an assortment of yummy dishes- none too strange, darn. I am now an adventurous eater. We were all given chopsticks. It appeared Matt and I were the only ones in the group who had practiced using chopsticks before coming to China. The servers took pity on the other families and gave them two prong serving forks. This is a restaurant that does not have traditional silverware! Our travel mates made good use of the forks. Some were confused by the food, others really enjoyed. Oh, It was so good. Chinese food in America is going to taste like Mcdonalds after this. How will we ever find food that tastes this good once we return? Again, I stuffed my face. I am going to gain back each pound I lost before coming to China! So worth every calorie.

June bug devoured her egg dish and then ate some banana bread I had packed for her. But the real treat came when our guides and the servers brought in this cake and sang happy birthday to the babies. This is a Chinese cream cake. All the decorations have been done in cream. It's a light flavor- not like a US cake. The cake part is sweet, but not too sweet. The cream filling inside and on top is also slightly sweet. Together it's a fantastic flavor combination. The showstopper was the cake topper. It appears to be a flower. Our guide Lina lit the wick inside the flower....

And it burst into flames in one quick shot.

Then the flower opened and just like that, each candle was lit.

And it played Happy Birthday. Only in China!

Junie Bug looooooved the cake. But she hated getting her hands dirty. When she dug her hands into the cake, she wailed! We cleaned her up and she cried even harder. So we hand fed her some cake. She only wanted the cream.

Oh, guess how much it all cost? 3 dollars per person!!
Then we families walked back to the hotel. There were groups of young children who walked past while waving and yelling HELLO HELLO!! They were quite excited to see Americans.

What a special night in Nanchang.

Tonight I will fall asleep to the sounds of Nanchang traffic below. That's the sound of horns constantly honking. It's oddly soothing!

Guess who's crawling?

All while saying, "Ba! Ba! Ba!"

She woke up from her nap and was just a completely different baby again. Happy as could be. Playful and loving. I guess the stages of attachment aren't really predictable.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tuesday in Nanchang

It's Tuesday around 2pm here in Nanchang. It's cloudy and rainy and not so hot, hooray! June Bug is sleeping, so I will show you our day so far in pictures.

First of all, after blogging at 1am last night, I fell fast asleep. The Bug woke up at 5am, but Daddy fed her a bottle in the bathroom so I could continue sleeping. Buggie then went back to sleep. I woke up experiencing the worst day of my cold- you know the constant sneezing, runny nose fun, so I was grateful for the sleep. He's such a great dad! I'm hopped up on cold medicine right now, so I'm feeling a bit better.

We began our morning at the breakfast buffet, which is included in our room fee. No dumplings today! That's probably a good thing. People thought I'd lose weight in China? Do you know how good the food is here? MMMMMM gimmeeee mooooore!

June Buggy loves to eat. She especially loves congee with meat, bananas, banana bread, moon cakes, and well... anything and everything. She loves food! Just like mama.

It was suggested by someone in our travel group that perhaps I wear a mask today or perhaps not partake in the social activities. The mask was a no no. I'm trying to bond with a baby, not scare the crap out of her. I stopped by our guide's room and told her of my situation. She said, 'No way, come along! Sit in the front of the bus and have fun with us!"

Here is the group in the hotel lobby, getting ready to board the bus for our morning activities.

Word must have got around that I was under the weather. When one of the husband's got on the bus, he said, "I hear you're sick." My reply, "As long as you don't touch me or make out with me, you'll be just fine."

So far the adults in our group have had one case of an extreme migraine, three food poisonings, and one cold. I'd say we're doing good so far!

Here's us on the bus.
The plan was to go to a local park, then go to Walmart. It had just stopped raining, but we had a bus full of babies ready to go down for their 9am naps. Those with babies asked to skip the park and go to Walmart instead. Those without wanted to go to the park. It's very hard to please people in a group situation. We knew we had about one hour of nap time to do shopping without babies waking up and needing bottles. Walmart won. All the babies in this group are so young, so those morning naps are very important to keep baby happy until the next nap. Plus, our babies were fed quite often. June Bug gets a bottle every four hours. Quite unusual for an 8 month old. Making a bottle on the side of the road or in moving bus is challenging. Especially since the babies like hot water from a thermos. There's a lot of mixology going on.

Ok, so Walmart! Walmart in Nanchang is two stories tall. You enter through a mall area that sells cheap trinkets. Then into Walmart you go. The top floor had the baby items. Our group headed for the diapers and like sheep, we all grabbed the same diapers. Bad move. Turns out we bought pull ups. ARRG!

The prices at Nanchang Walmart are about 1 dollar cheaper than any Walmart in the USA. The clothing is much worse quality, so I did not buy baby clothes at Walmart. The downstairs area was interesting. That's the food area and it's loaded with really unique items. Like the eels on ice!

You know what really shocked me about Walmart? Here's what happened to our blonde travel mates. They were followed from aisle to aisle. People wanted to take pictures and hold their babies. Some even just grabbed the babies from the arms without asking. Big fusses were made over these babies. And here's what happened to Matt and I. People stared. They pointed. They frowned at us. They pointed at our baby and shook their heads and frowned some more. We'd smile and say Ni Hao, but they'd turn their heads and walk away. And that happened in every single section of the store. I finally tuned them out. In the check out lane, we were approached by high school girls who spoke English and wanted to know where we were from. "USA? Oh USA, that's great! Such pretty baby!!" So I have no clue why the others were unhappy with our presence. I've heard theories that they feel envious of the baby getting to leave for a better life. Or maybe I was just too fat for their tastes or Matt's nose ring was too freaky for them. Who knows.

We did get everything on our list, including June Bug's beloved Moon Cakes. Oh how she loves Moon Cakes.

Walmart in Nanchang was an hour of my life I never want to repeat. It was really hot, not too crowded, but the crowd was not friendly to us. They weren't hostile, they were just not thrilled we were there.

This is Matt, giving me a look that we had been given while shopping.

We were getting back to the bus when Mary, our guide, said, "We're going to stop at Mcdonalds so you can get some lunch." We laughed and said, "Mary, we don't even eat Mcdonalds in the USA. Can you suggest a good Chinese restaurant for us?" She was impressed with us. "You are embracing our culture, this is good! We have such good food! I will organize a dinner for us tonight at authentic Chinese restaurant."

Our driver parked illegally so the travel mates could get Mickey D's. An unhappy motorist banged on the bus door and began shouting at the bus driver. This carried on for several minutes while those of us on the bus got worried. The dude outside was PISSED! We thought for sure it was going to escalate into something major. But it didn't. Because it's China. If it was the US, there would have been a fist fight or worse.

After getting back to the hotel, Matt and I packed up June Bug in her carrier and tried out the restaurant's lunch buffet. It was entirely Eastern. OH it was AMAZING. The only downside is smoking is allowed in the restaurant. A sweet host tried to seat us away from the smoke. "You have baby, smoke is no good for baby." Then he cast an evil glance at a woman smoking next to her newly adopted Chinese baby. Smoking with one hand, eating with the other hand.

I had (and you are going to freak when you hear this) a plate of squid, tofu, jellyfish, and assorted green veggies over clear noodles. OH MY GOSH. Fantastic. And I better not get sick from this food because then people will go, 'SEE! You should have eaten the Mcdonalds instead!"

June Bug is a completely different baby today and not in a good way. She has shut down emotionally. I've read up about attachment phases and it seems normal. Maybe someone can help with this. She's very very clingy with us, but not smiling and not interested in interacting with us. She'd crawl into us if she could, but doesn't really want to look at and refuses to smile. She doesn't seem down, just scared. Not of us. She is TERRIFIED when any Chinese woman approaches her. Our guides came in to visit us in our room and Juna became hysterical and clawed at me to get her away from them. When the hostess at the restaurant wanted to touch her cheek and sing to her, Juna buried her face into Matt's shoulder and whimpered. She seems fine when when other Caucasians talk to her. But Asians? No.

My thinking is that she is bonding with us and feels anyone Asian is from the orphanage and is ready to take her away from us. She doesn't seem to be mourning anyone from the orphanage at all. She does get very concerned when she hears another baby crying. To the point that she will almost fly off our laps to try to find the crying baby. She also gets angry with us- like when we change her diaper (she hates that) and will not look at us or want to be near that person for a few minutes. Then she wants to crawl into our arms and not let go again.

When she's really scared, she claws at us or at herself. It's so sad to see that.

The poor baby is so confused. My heart breaks for her. Even tho I came all this way to get her, I am part of why she is going through this. The emotions- wow, so hard to process. From what I have read, tomorrow will be the day she will come out a bit more. I'm not concerned, since it's obvious she has attached to us and does not want to go back where she came from. I'd just like to see some smiles and more trust of us. That will come in time.

Just curious if her fear of Asians is normal? Am I right about my theory? Any suggestions or advice from those who have been there?

I hope this entry doesn't seem down or negative. I am trying to be as honest as possible about this experience and not gloss over my emotions. You think, "I'm going to be so grateful when I'm there, none of those things will bug me." When you're here and you're living this, it's a completely different ballgame. This is such an emotional experience. You never know how you will react from day to day. Today, I am worried about my Buggy Girl. I just want her to know we love her so much. It's hard to go through this while also missing my lovelies back home. Thank goodness for Matt. Again, I say that. Matt is getting me through the emotional times. He's so good with Juna. It shows in how much she wants to be with him.

Ok- any BTDT advice or insight for me??

Until 1am, cuz you know I'll be here blogging at 1am!!

Some pics

Nanchang and a section of traffic where people are actually following the rules???

The Bug sleeps. Loving the little characters on her blanket. So Asian. Where are the smiling bubbles and grinning triangles?

More pics coming tomorrow. We need to stop and take more pics! We are so busy soaking in the experience that we are not taking pics or much video. We'll be better about that, I promise. And there are some Gotcha pics that we want to keep private just for the family and for her.

Oooh another thought I forgot to include. At the local grocery, they had live eels in tanks. The eels were trying to escape. They were half out of the tanks and falling to the floor. Tomorrow we will see eels on ice at Walmart!

It's 1am, I must be lonely

1am and true to form, I am wide awake. Thought I'd blog instead of laying in bed and staring at the crib.

Sniff sniff, cough cough. I'm sick. Just a stupid cold, but still, annoying. Oh, and remember how I described the "western" hamburger? Yeah. The one time I order a western meal from room service and I get SICK! Blehhhh puking sick from my burger. Recovered by dinner time, ordered dim sum, feel great other than my cold and raging insomnia. And there appears to be a spider living in this room who feasts on me at night. I am now covered in Off, hoping it works. Hey, it sounds like I'm bitter. I'm not. the only true thing I'm bitter about is my lack of sleep. By 5pm, I'm wrecked. I'm literally falling asleep and unable to go to dinner. I force myself to stay awake, yet in a daze, until 7 or 8 pm. Then by 1am, hello world! My sleeping meds are not working, either, weird. Honestly, that's the only thing truly bothering me.

Yes, it is polluted here. You can smell the exhaust. I don't smell other "strange" china smells that others have described. Just exhaust for my exhaustion, haha. Oh, and we are on a non smoking floor but some moron keeps lighting up. The baby will wake up coughing because it's so strong.

Matt went to the local grocery store and had a great time. He loved picking out local treats for us to try. I especially love the graphics on the products. Everything is so HAPPY. Bubbles with smiling faces flying through the sky over triangles that are laughing. On the dish soap. Oh, and we watched some TV last night. Japanese channels and local channels from several of the provinces. Nanchang has two channels. They were featuring a story about break dancers who annoy people on the streets with their dancing. But the commercials? Oh, classic stuff. Just as hoakey as American commercials, but with that extra twist of those insane pop graphics.

Hmmm just posting my random thoughts....

Oh, and we get annoyed if we can't eat with chopsticks. We want that true China experience, dontcha know. We draw the line at eating feet or faces, tho.

Oh that baby. THAT BABY! We are so in love.

She loves playing with stacking cups- thank you Katie for that idea! She can play for hours. Literally, hours, with her stacking cups. She loves it when I put one on my head, let it fall to the bed, and go, "BOOM!" She will giggle and giggle and giggle. She wants me near her. If I use the bathroom, er TOILET, she will panic and cry. So we take turns leaving the for potty breaks if need be. Then she just plays and plays. But she will pause in her play time to lean forward and nuzzle us. We lay beside her and she will lean down and rub her face against our faces or foreheads. I hate that I'm sick because I know she's next. She has a way of hooking her finger right up my nose! Welcome to the family, June Bug. When one member gets sick, we all get sick. Oh, but that nuzzling! She's giving us love and it just melts my heart.

She does not like going places. If we walk her around the hotel, she panics and wants to go back to the room. I think she fears we are going to take her back. She clings to us and wimpers and when we get back to the room, she plays and giggles and is happy again. Honestly, she can go for hours playing on the bed with one stacking cup.

She is teething like mad. Matt got her a penguin teether at the local grocery. Honestly, I should have brought more toys. And diapers! If I knew Walmart was going to be on Day 3, I would have packed accordingly. I packed pretty lightly.

I am having problems accessing Yahoo, so I am unable to read your comments as often as I'd like. I did get a question- how old in The Bug? She just turned 8 months old. THank you for the comments, really! I get to them as the Great Firewall allows. Yes, she is gorgeous. That's all we hear when we walk around the hotel from guests staying here. "Such pretty baby. Such big eyes. Such pretty skin. You like baby?" We say yes yes we love baby. "Does baby like you?" We laugh and say yes, thankfully baby likes us, too!

There are no clothing police here so far. No elderly ladies to ask us to cover her up. It's just too hot for that. In fact, people hardly look at us. It's so common to see Westerners with Asian babies in the areas we've been. Perhaps today at Walmart we might get the questions or stares.

I forgot to mention that right after Gotcha, when we got on the bus, a daddy from our group handed out cigars to the other daddies. Classic!

Alright, let me TRY to get some sleep. I hope you are liking all my talk talk talk on this blog. I swear, this is probably the most talky adoption blog ever. It helps that I type a zillion words a minute and am so blog savvy. I can do this and no one is ignored and you get all kinds of great details AND so do I for later memory archiving.

Achoo! Night night.