Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Big sis and lil bro, burritos, and jumping on the bed

I'm so happy I finally got to put these shirts on the kids. I ordered them from etsy months ago and was delighted when they arrive and were so cute. On Monday night we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant with the adoptive families from our Facebook group. I think we took over the whole place-- there were at least 50 of us, which was so cool! We finished the day with major hijinks on the bed.

Consulate and safari park

On Monday morning I took Eli to the US consulate for our appointment. We should get his visa this afternoon, and once he reaches US soil tomorrow, he will be an American citizen. After his visa appointment, we went to the safari park, which is an amazing opportunity to see animals right up close (maybe a little too close!). We chose the Readers' Digest version, fast walking past the animals and taking a taxi back to the hotel.

Sunday night

After the kids woke up from their naps on Sunday, we decided to make the afternoon sort of chill. We took the kids to the hotel playground and let them explore the gardens after which our hotel is named.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hanging out at home

He cruises furniture, practices walking, and loves the few minutes of down time we manage each day.

Shamian Island

More shots from the island.

Statue pics

After the market, we walked to Shamian Island, which was once adoption central back when the consulate was there and the White Swan hotel was still open. Now it's sleepy, overrun only by people doing fashion and bridal shots. We walked around and made sure to get pictures with the statues.

Qingping market

Just pictures from this morning since the words seem to be getting lost anyway.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Thursday and Friday

I'm behind on blogging. Sue me. Rose has really been struggling. Between the travel and being away from her dad and siblings and becoming a big sister, her whole world has turned upside down. She does not want me to hold Eli at all, and when I do, she screams and slaps and uses whatever objects she can get her hands on to beat him. And then, in the blink of an eye, they'll be crawling around on the ground together, squealing and laughing. But mostly, she kind of hates his guts. The hardest thing for me is that I really want to bond with Eli, who is so happy and sweet and eager, but I also appreciate that Rose needs to feel that she hasn't been abandoned or replace. I think the feeling is more intense than it would be if he were a newborn, because he can do so much-- he's better competition than a little, bitty baby would be.

Anyway, that hasn't kept us from sightseeing, although maybe it should, since both babies seem happier when we keep things simple. On Thursday, we visited the Ming tombs and Purple Mountain, which almost did Annie in last year (remember the corn lady?). This year it was a lot less crowded, and my mom said that the memorial to Sun Yat Sen was interesting, but I'll have to take her word for it because this was the second year in a row I've stayed at the bottom with the babies.

Peeing in the bushes and eating M&Ms (or "how to piss off a Chinese granny")

Last time we were in China, Annie and I were walking down the street when we saw a little boy squat down in the middle of the sidewalk, drop a turd, then run back to his mom, grab her hand, and go merrily on his way.

Yeah. It sure makes you see the "dog poop" on the sidewalk in a whole new light.

This time around, we've seen little kids using their split pants to pee into garbage cans and planters, and even into the decorative fountains in the mall (and let's not even get started on the man who was pooping on the highway median in Beijing). We've also noticed lots and lots of very obese preschoolers, and of course, kids who were bundled so much they has red faces and hair drenched in sweat.

We would never do those things, because we know better, right?

According to the Chinese people I've talked to, we're doing plenty wrong:

1) Our kids aren't dressed warmly enough. Even if they have three or four layers on. I think this is primarily because our layers are less bulky than theirs. And if you have an inch of ankle showing, the grannies go ballistic. We finally discovered that if we pull their ankle socks up to their knees, no ankle shows, and we get significantly fewer dirty looks. But we still do plenty wrong.

2) We let them suck their thumbs. On the way back from the orphanage, we were at the train station, and my mom ran to the bathroom while our guide was trying to change our tickets. Any woman with two babies in China is a sight to behold, but a tall, blonde, American woman with two little bitty Chinese babies is akin to seeing a B-list celebrity, and pretty soon a crowd of a least a dozen people had gathered around me, smiling and waving. But one of the grannies came up to Rose, popped her thumb out of her mouth, and shook her finger at me. It doesn't matter that the kids had had a long day. It doesn't matter that Eli had been uprooted from the only life he'd known only two days earlier. It doesn't matter that Rose has had the most stressful week of her entire life. It doesn't matter that both kids will eventually get braces. No thumbs in the mouth. Ever.

3) I let Rose's head slump down when she sleeps in the stroller. We brought our old, grungy stroller to China. It doesn't recline. We've been doing lots of sightseeing, and consequently Rose has been doing lots of sleeping in her stroller. Her head usually droops down, and I'll swipe it up a couple of times because it looks awful, but eventually I give up. Rose is, after all, the fifth of six children. She knows how to make do. And sleep is sleep, slumped head or not. I'm used to being the only adult around five or six kids, but around here, the ratio is reversed. It's very common to see one child surrounded by a posse of adults, all attending to his or her needs (like taking them to pee over a garbage can).

4) I was so happy to see Eli's hearty appetite when we got him. When we adopted Rose, it was apparent that she only knew how to eat from a bottle, so it was fun to feed Eli all kinds of new foods, and we really had fun introducing him to ice cream cones at McDonalds. I bought a cone for each kid and we sat down in the middle of the restaurant and laughed and laughed as they sucked them down. Sure, people stared, but remember, we're used to attracting stares here.

Well, we went shopping with Ann today (adopters know what this means, for everyone else, Ann is a guide who helps you get wholesale prices on all sorts of stuff. I think I'm carrying home my weight in pearls and jade). After three hours of taxi rides and crowded elevators and tight little shops, we came to the last store on our list. Eli and Rose had been troupers, but they were getting cranky, so I pulled out the M&Ms I'd stashed in my bag for just such a moment. After watching Eli attack the candy with relish, Ann turned to me and said, "You know, here in China, we don't feed our babies sweet foods. Or salty foods." I laughed and said, "Well, it's a good thing these guys are Americans," but the pleaser in me was groaning that I'd done another thing wrong.

We're enjoying ourselves in China, but it will be nice to get back to a place where I know the rules and where I will have my own culture's moral superiority on my side.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orphanage Visit

When we visited the xuzhou orphanage last year, it was in a crumbling building with peeling paint and no room to put the babies down on the floor. But in the last year, they've moved to a brand new facility. The contrast between the old and the new was pretty remarkable. Once again, we were very lucky to be able to see the children whose families are waiting to adopt them.

Adoption day

Well, dang,I wrote a post two days ago but apparently it got lost in the ether. The wifi has been really spotty.

Anyway, we started Monday morning by heading back to civil affairs to make it all official. A handful of signatures and a few thumbprints and we were off again. Eli's nanny was there too, and this time he barely whimpered when he saw her.