Monday, March 5, 2012

Catching Up

We've been keeping pretty busy the past week so it's been awhile since I blogged...  I'm sure I will regret it as there's a lot I've probably forgotten.  I will do my best to keep everything in proper chronological order, but the days are hard to keep straight already!  This is going to be a long post...  

Princess Petals has really blossomed over the past week and while she continues to be a very happy baby, she has realized that she is allowed to have an opinion now about what she wants and needs...and she voices it!!!  We had a couple of days where she was starting to eat solid food - which was completely new for her - and she seemed to be enjoying it.  Then I guess the novelty wore off because she decided not to eat solids anymore!  She always seemed really hungry though so we started feeding her more bottles. We quickly were about to run out of the formula we had brought with us.  Our guide took us to a HUGE grocery store so we could purchase more.  It was a pretty neat place to see...instead of escalators to the different levels they had flat moving ramps that were magnetized so the shopping cart stuck to it!  How cool, right?  Yes, at first, until the one we were on stopped working...the cart was stuck to it so we had to leave it behind.  There were several unfortunate souls that had carts full of groceries and couldn't just walk away...guess it wasn't such a cool set up after all.  After we had what we needed we tooled around the store for awhile.  Here are a few things we saw:

Beautiful Dragon Fruit
 Apples - somehow they put Chinese characters on them...they said things like, "happiness" & "longevity."
 Chicken's feet...very popular here...

Jon & John sharing some "stinky fruit," also known as a durian.  Sweet taste but I had issues with the custard-like consistency.  We couldn't get the taste out of our mouths for hours.  

The fruit was one of two reasons we went to the store (we had asked John about some local produce we might want to try).  The second reason was for more formula.  We had brought soy formula from home because we'd been told there was a good chance she would be lactose intolerant but the store didn't have soy.  So we had switched her from whatever her orphanage had been giving her to Similac soy and now, because we couldn't find soy, we were switching her again to regular Similac...her poor little tummy!  I started mixing the formulas and over the next three days she was spitting up, not napping or sleeping well and getting downright fussy.  I felt confident that it was the formula and that we needed to find soy somewhere else.  

Thursday, March 1st, was Princess Petals' medical exam. 
First we had her picture taken for her visa and then a family photo was taken for her adoption decree.  We got to the medical exam very early and were in an out quickly.  The doctor looked in her ears, eyes and throat, measured and weighed her and listened to her heart.  I asked about the marks on her body (which we believe are scars from months of untreated Scabies).  He said it appeared she had had a skin infection at one point but that it had been treated...  She also has what looks like a blood blister on one of her toes and he said it looked like another infection so that'll be addressed as soon as we get home.  He pointed out that she does indeed have a Mongolian spot on her back, although the giant mark that was there originally has decreased in size considerably over the past week so we are guessing that part of the mark on her back was actually bruising from laying on a piece of plywood all day.  The bruise on her face hasn't changed so now I'm thinking it may be a birthmark and not a bruise.  Only time will tell!  Her Scabies infection has been clearing up very nicely.  There are still red marks on her face where they had been, but all of the large scabs are gone and everything has faded tremendously.  Now the larger welts look more like small old mosquito bites that are healing.  Her skin just looks so much better now than it did seven days ago and we are so thankful!  

After the medical our guide took us off of the island.  We got to see the "Pet Market" and we'll call the other street the "Herb Market" although you'll see from the pictures there was a lot more to it than herbs.  This is all an outdoor shopping area set up with storage unit type shops.  During the day they push up the doors and run their stores.  We questioned our guide how so many people could survive selling all of the same stuff as their neighbor and he said each store had dedicated buyers for their wholesale business.  It was pretty neat to see but I did feel bad for the caged animals.

Dried Seahorses...not sure what these are used for...
 Turtles
 Fish
Lizard on a stick anyone?

At the end of the Qingping Market we hit the shopping streets.  They were still decorated for Chinese New Year so it was quite pretty.  You'll notice several American fast food chains have set up shop in the following pictures.





 Here's Princess Petals napping.  It was amazing how many people tried to look inside her Moby wrap to get a look at her...  There is no shame in blatant staring here.  

After walking around for awhile John took us to his family's favorite Cantonese restaurant.  It doesn't have an English name, but is pronounced "Tao Tao Joo" if anyone reading this is headed to Guangzhou soon.  Best Cantonese food I've ever had!  

Once again Jon volunteered to try something new...something local...pigs feet...and once again, this was just Jon & John - I passed.  The hooves kinda freaked me out.  Jon said they were better than the chickens feet so I guess that was kind of a thumbs up.

After lunch I needed to change Princess Petals and our guide said to go ahead and do it on the bench up front...okay...so I did.  When I stood her up he informed us that I'd just changed a diaper on a 100 year old bench...

Then we hit the jewelry market!  It was a gigantic maze and I don't know how anyone finds their way around in there let alone one specific store...six levels and again, most of them appear to be selling the same stuff store after store.
 This is from the inside of the shop we went into.  There were bags of pearls laying around all over the place.  Really the only thing that separated this store from the others was that they had locked cases and some pretty expensive stuff.   
Daddy bought each of his girls a necklace although obviously Princess Petals won't get hers for quite a while.  Here is my crew patiently waiting as the pearls are strung for us.

On Friday, March 2nd, John picked us up and took us to a park near his house.  
It was also still decorated for Chinese New Year and quite pretty.





Showing John how to do Hopscotch...he's such a good sport!



As we walked around the park we couldn't help noticing all of the different activities going on.  There were groups of people (older, retired adults) playing hacky sack and doing exercises you'd see in a Kung Fu movie.  By far the most interesting was the group of people dancing around to music with badminton rackets hitting the birdie back and forth and they twirled, swayed and dipped.  We got caught watching  this couple and they invited Jon to join in...  There were only enough rackets for two so Jon did the "badminton dance" with this gentleman's wife while he danced around by himself behind them.  I have to admit I was quite impressed with Jon's skills.  He was returning her serves through his legs, backwards over his shoulder and even managed a full spin.  It was very entertaining.  This is a form of exercise over here and Jon actually broke a sweat doing it.  It seems that outdoor physical activity is very important for the older Guangzhou citizens.  We see people doing this stuff all over the place.  When they were done the old man let Jon keep the birdie - I do believe it will be his second favorite thing coming back from China with us.


Baby girl has a sunglasses fetish.  If she sees them she HAS to have them.  

Chinese opera is very popular.  The park had a spot set up where people could pay to do opera karaoke...Jon wasn't a fan...

You see signs like this all over...it should say "please do not step over the line."  There was also a sign that said not to lean on the railing although we could not find any railing in the area...

Cycling may be the most dangerous form of transportation here.  Driving around in China has been...interesting... Everyone drives within inches of car bumpers and pedestrians jump out into the street with no warning to squeeze between the cars.  The streets are filled with honking as the cars constantly cut one another off.  I stopped looking out the windows our first day here.  Anyway - you couldn't pay me enough to zip in and out of traffic here on a bike, as a passenger, holding my baby.

Baby girl didn't make it through the park...

...but was wide awake for the ride back to the hotel...

We enjoyed another yummy lunch with our guide and then had the afternoon to ourselves.  At this point I was convinced that we needed to find soy formula which was not easily accomplished without a guide because no one spoke English at the "Women and Baby Essentials" department store.  It was a difficult shopping experience because things are done a little different here in a than in the US.  We had only brought four outfits for Princess Petals so in addition to soy formula I needed to pick up a few things for her to wear.  I felt like every time I picked something up the shop girls would write up a ticket for it and hand it to me...it was impossible to just browse.  Here they hand you a ticket for everything you want.  You then take the tickets up to a register to pay and then go back to each section with your paid receipt and pick up your items.  So basically you walk all over the store selecting what you want, and then you have to do it all over again!   The other problem was that they had SO many people working with nothing to do so they were following me around showing me stuff.  If I smiled and feigned polite interest they assumed I wanted it and would pull out the ticket pad.  I learned quickly that it was best to just hold up my hand and shake my head "no."  Politeness really just causes trouble here.  Second problem is that of course all the formula containers were labeled in Chinese characters.  There was some English but not enough to discern milk-based from soy.  After being handed a ticket for another milk-based formula I could take no more we just walked out.  It was the first time I've felt truly home sick since we've been in Guangzhou.  I accepted that this would not be the day we get new formula and decided to do all of my clothes shopping back on Shamian Island where we are staying.  It is so quiet and laid back and there is always at least one person in each of the shops that we can communicate with.  

Saturday, March 3rd, was our "free day."  
Our guide was with another family that had just arrived in Guangzhou.  After thinking it over that morning it dawned on me that maybe it wasn't that Princess Petals needed soy, but maybe we were just feeding her too much...  We pulled in the reigns and dropped her down to just the same four bottles a day like she had been getting at the orphanage.  She still wouldn't eat any solids so I started putting the rice cereal in her bottles as well...just like the orphanage.  Well wouldn't you know it...baby girl took three naps and then slept peacefully for 12 hours that night!  Apparently I couldn't blame the formula...it was all on me and my desire to meet her needs (or least what I thought her needs were).  Now we have our happy, easy-going girl back!

The next day, Sunday, March 4th, we went out to the Chen Family House and Six Banyan Temple.  


They were both very interesting...that's really all to say about that.  There were a lot of people there worshipping statues and burning incense.  They left things like candy, peanuts, tangerines and more sticks of incense.  The Buddhist monks were milling around as well.  Apparently you can have a monk bless the baby...  We passed - it seemed a little sacrilegious to have people who worship metal statues of hundreds of gods pray over our baby...but to each their own of course.


When we got back to the hotel Princess Petals needed a nap so I went out with our guide to buy more pearls (decided a bracelet was missing from the ensemble) and get some lunch and Jon and Daisy stayed behind at the hotel.  Afterwards they got up and walked around the island together and had some great Daddy & Princess Petals time:

 Happy girl really isn't walking or standing by herself but she can hold the position long enough for a picture.

Today, Monday, March 5, we went to the United States consulate.
We were first in line so it was a pretty quick appointment to process Princess Petals' adoption paperwork and swear an oath.  She won't become a citizen until she actually enters the United States though.

Tomorrow, March 6, is our last day in Guangzhou.
We met a nice family at the consulate that offered to share their van with us so we decided to ditch the train and take them up on their offer.  Our guides had to coordinate getting a larger van to accommodate us all, but now we're set to go tomorrow afternoon after our guide picks up Princess Petals' passport and immigration papers from the consulate.  We are headed back to Hong Kong for the night and then back to the US bright and early the next morning!  

Okay, so now we're all caught up!  I can't believe this trip is almost over!  Although we've missed our boys terribly, we've had a nice time here in China.  We will miss the food, our guide and the awesome new friends from DC we met at the Civil Affairs office last week that we've spent much of our free time with.

Okay, last picture...This is how I wake up in the mornings - with a happy little girl who loves to throw herself at me over and over for good morning kisses!  I swear she's called me "mama" a few times but it's hard to know for sure if it was intentional.  She is just so snuggly and I can't get enough of her!
Time to go to bed now so I can wake up to that beautiful face again!