Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day Twelve - Botanical Garden

Day Twelve - Botanical Garden

Selah was bored with today's activities save two things. She LOVES water so she was very insistant about getting up close to each and every fountain, stream, or fish tank. Also, she lovesw kids. Today was apprently field trip day for the local school children because there were dozens of groups of school kids around. She would just stand and watch them and I'm sure she'd continue for hours if I didn't insist that we move on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day Eleven - The Zoo

Day Eleven - The Zoo - DADDY'S DAY!!!!!

Boy, oh Boy did Selah ever fall in love with dad today. She smiled at him, played with him, called out to him -loudly, cried if he walked too far away, begged for him to pick her up, etc....This has to be the best day ever!

Bill had to do some paperwork so we were on our own all day. Because we had Bing to guide us, we took the subway across town to the city zoo. Did you know that Pomeranians rank as zoo animals in China?

Enjoy this beautiful photos of our little girl.....

Day Ten - Museum

Day Ten – Museum

This morning Tony had to meet with Bill to do the Visa paperwork for Selah. It was an hour and a half of the most mind-numbing work. I’m glad Selah is more comfortable with me so that I could get out of it! So, Selah and I went to the park. Boy does she love the park. I had hoped to take photos, but a young man came up to me and asked if he could practice his English. Of course I said yes and then spent the next 45 minutes talking about work, school, my family and mostly the NBA – which is amazing since I know nothing about the NBA. This young man’s dream is to come to America to play in the NBA and to play in street ball games. Very interesting.

Then Bill took us touring to see a nearby temple

and the Chen Family Academy. It seems that this rich family built a school many hundreds of years ago and now they’ve turned it into a museum. I started taking pictures, but there were way too many amazing things. I just gave up eventually.

Selah is opening up more and more each day. She tries almost any word. She loves to talk and point things out. She has her own morning routine now, too. She slides out of bed, puts her shoes on, wait for me to dress her – which she thinks is very funny – then we take her shoes back off, put on her socks and let her put her shoes back on herself. She really has something about shoes. She won’t let her bare feet every touch the floor. Even straight out of the bath she’ll try to put her shoes on and only stops if I show her that I’m going to carry her to the bed. Funny girl.

Tomorrow we hope to go to the Zoo! Maybe I can get some cute Selah pictures there.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day Nine - Guangzhou

Day Nine – Back to Guangzhou

Nothing exciting to talk about to day. Bill took us on a brief side trip to see a new museum being built next to the sea. Not too long ago they found a sunken ship that was 800 years old and they are building this museum to house the ship and all of its treasure.

Then we made a stop at a harbor and headed home to Guanzhou.

Once home, we had dinner at Lucy’s (still have to get a picture…) and then did some clothes shopping for Selah and the boys. Also, found a store that did laundry – I have never been so happy to have my clothes cleaned in all my life. We’ve actually been looking forward this for that two days.

Day Eight - The beach

Day eight – Visiting Yanjiang

Today Selah really started opening up. She would try to say almost any single word that we worked on: “more drink”, “up” and “down” were the most common. She’s eating very well with a spoon on her own and actually prefers it. Then when she’s done, which is always long before the rest of the group, she slides down and walks around the room exploring. I guess because we have a larger group, almost every restaurant gives us a private room. That’s very nice for changing the girls and letting them stretch their legs.

Emily’s orphanage was very nice. Quite clean. Bill said every time he’s visited there it’s always been clean and neat. Paul brought candy the kids almost knocked him over trying to get it!

Emily did not cry like Selah. Most of the kids in her orphanage were special needs and Bing and Paul think maybe she was not given a lot of attention there because she didn’t need a lot of care. She smiled a little, but was more than happy to leave with her parents when it was time.

On the way home we stopped at a local fruit stand because Selah has fallen in love with these small tangerine type oranges and we saw them as we were speeding by. Talk about being the center of attention again! I don’t think these locals have ever seen a Westerner in their life!

Then it was time to play at the beach.

Selah did not like the sand on her feet so we were confined to a small hotel blanket on a huge beach. Many couple kept coming up and saying how cute she is and the asking to take our photo. (Here’s Selah paying with the beach toys that the Watsons bought her!)

Tony and Bill were the only ones who played in the surf. It was quite strong. I stepped in up to my ankles and was almost knocked over!

Dinner was the most amazing eating experience yet and I didn’t bring the camera along! They had many fish tanks full of fish, shrimp, snails, turtles and some other indescribable marine life. Bill pointed to a tank, they pulled out the fish, boiled it right there and put it on the table. I do not believe I will ever have such fresh shrimp in my life. Selah would not eat shrimp before, but this time when she saw it with the head and legs and tail attached she was very anxious for it. I guess that’s the way she’s use to seeing it. She better get “un”use to it in a hurry. I don’t think the boys will eat right out of a fish tank at home!

We walked back to the hotel about 8pm at night and the girls came alive. They were chattering, walking, pointing, smiling….and really enjoying themselves. They certainly love the night life! Selah was even getting naughty pulling me and wanting to go places she couldn’t and touch things she shouldn’t. She is really use to having things her way. The more she lightens up and becomes more herself the more I see what problems we are going to have! She is definitely strong willed!

Day Seven - Orphanage

Day Seven – Visiting the Orphanage

Today Selah got up early with me so me so we went downstairs and walked around the hotel. It was very beautiful with a pond full of fish and walkways over the water and the entire first floor was lined with shops like a mall.

She has loosened up so much I don’t want today’s trip to ruin our progress. As we walked along, she was saying so many Chinese words to me and looking at me intently expecting me to get it. She must really think I’m dumb. She keeps pointing very specifically at all men, either those walking by or those on the TV, and saying “da”. Not sure what that means, but she’s very emphatic about it. Bing says she can’t help because the girls’ dialect is so different, she doesn’t have any idea what they are saying.

Then we went to a local shopping mall to buy toys and candy for the kids in the orphanage. We intended to go to Wal-Mart but it was not open yet. While we were in the store Selah fell in love with one of balls we bought. Tony thought he’d try throwing it to her and see what happened…..SHE SMILED!! The entire store was starring at us – that’s not rude here – because it was such a remote area and they never see westerners. Also, the were all commenting that our baby was so happy! Everyone in the store – at it was a large store with lots of shelves – it was definitely Wal-Mart size – at they all crowed around to watch them play ball. She doesn’t really get the idea of catching, but since she was in the cart, the handle kind of caught the ball for her.

Then it was off to the orphanage. I was really dreading this part. I wonder how upset she’ll be?

Well, our driver got lost. He was asking many local people for directions, but the locals had a different dialect of Cantonese and therefore could not understand him. So, he switched to Mandarine – no luck there either. Then he got on the phone – I realize now he must have been calling the orphanage, because a few minutes later “gee gee” jumped in the van and started directing him.

OH My – Selah catapulted herself out of my arms and clung to Gee Gee for dear life.
Then we were arrived both her friends were there to great her with candy in there hands. Apparently, they know her well!

For the next hour and a half, woman after woman came and picked her up or took her right out of the arms of the person holding her. They talked and talked and Selah cried again for every person who touched her. There were probably 20 women she cried and reached out for. The only way you can truly experience the magnitude of this event is to watch the video. But here are some photos.

We were shown her room, the play room and the court yard where everyone plays.

Then she played on the slide,

ate congee in her room, and shared some.

Do you remember the picture from yesterday of her standing in the 11th floor hotel room window looking down? I now know why she likes that. They would always hold her leaning over the wall to call down to the court yard below. That was one of her favorite things to do. I think Tony almost threw up when they did it.

And now I know why she’s so desperate for me to understand her – holy cow does she talk! She talks and talks, and directs the nannies and the babies and calls down to people below and appears to tell whole stories to each new person who holds her. She appeared to be bossing everyone around. She even got them to feed her a bowl of congee while she was there. I was happy for this because I learned that she is very capable of feeding herself and prefers it. (Since then I’ve let her feed herself each meal and she’s much happier)

Then it was time to go. I was prepared for the worst. She was obviously much loved here, very spoiled and, apparently, the “mother” of the other kids in her room. I’m sure she’s not only sad that she’s leaving the caretakers, but I bet she’s worried about the children she’s use to caring for. So, there was screaming and kicking again as we all expected. But what we didn’t expect was that twisted around to let me hold her against my chest and she hugged me and laid her head on my shoulder. No one thought she would accept any type of comfort at this point and especially not from the people who “stole” her. Then she cried herself to sleep in about 20 minutes – the most sorrowful, mournful and heartbreaking cry you will ever experience – and then she was done. That was amazing. That was a God-thing. That says volumes about how she’s going to adjust and attach to us. That is a blessing that is immeasurable.

Quick funny story -- when we stopped for lunch, a bunch of ladies kept talking excitedly to Bill and pointing at us. We’ve become really good at knowing when people are talking about us even when we can’t understand them. He said they were asking how Tony and I could be married and have a Chinese baby come out. How do you put two westerners together and get Chinese? Very funny.

Then we were off to Yangjiang, the town where Emily’s orphanage is. It’s right on the South China Sea and our hotel is 100 meters from the water. Conversion anyone? I don’t know the exact conversion – but it’s close….

Since its winter here, it’s the off-season. There is literally no one here. When we went walking after Sundown and looked back at the hotel, there were 3 room lights on and the entire rest of the hotel was vacant. Tony said it seemed like the beginning of a horror movie. “You can check in – but you’ll never check out!” They also turned off the A/C system to save money, so we only have the fan running. WE ARE SWEATING! It’s only about 65 at night, but with no windows that open and no A/C, it’s very stuffy.

After visiting Emily’s orphanage tomorrow, hopefully, we’ll walk on the beach and get some pictures of the sea for you!

Day Six - To Zhanjiang

Day Six –Traveling to Zhanjiang

We’re beginning to realize that Selah is capable of much more than she initial let on. First, I was too far from the door to close it so I said, “close the door” as I motioned, but I didn’t expect her to understand. She turned right around, moved the slippers out of the way that were on the floor and closed the door. Then, yesterday morning she was sitting on the bed because she had just woken up (I let her wake up slowly so that I don’t scare her). I guess I didn’t move quickly enough for her so she slid off the bed, walked around until she found her shoes and plopped down and put them on herself – correct feet at all! So, this morning I got a picture of her doing that!

Then we were off for our 7 hours of travel. Had to get one photo of dad in the van…

And mom and Selah…

There was really interesting things on the way. First of all, you can’t go to China and not get photos of the fields…

Second, Bill pointed out something very tragic to us. He said that the bridge we were about to over had a parallel bridge running along side it just a few feet to the side. It was one of the best bridges and won all these awards, but a shipped ran into it and a section of it collapse. This happened only three months ago. It was early morning so not many cars were on it, but about 7 cars did fall into the river below.

Of course, there are TONS of water buffalo in China. I tried to get a few photos, but we were moving so quickly they were had to photograph. I was amazed to see that the buffalo are allowed to just roam in the fields. They were walking on crops, eating, even laying down and crushing some. But I guess it’s simpler than having them caged and growing food just for them and having to bring it to them, etc.. This way man and beast work together, eat together, rest together. Apparently, it all works out.

Besides, I think they couldn’t afford to land to cage them. Every square inch is used. Even the house are build up – not one beside another. That would waste too much land. It’s funny to be way out in the country with fields all around and then to have a tall building sticking out, but I guess you need that when you have so many mouths to feed.

We drove into Yangjiang first which is Emily’s town. It was between Guangzhou and Zhanjiang. I was amazed to see so many mopeds. When I asked Bill he said that this is how every town in China is. We didn’t see them in Guangzhou because just a few months ago there was a law passed banning motorcycles of any kind in that town. “Why” you ask (well even if you didn’t, I did)? Because so many people migrate to Guangzhou for work from all areas of the country that many do not find work and begin to use desperate measures to find money. One common theft technique was to drive by on motorcycle and snatch a necklace or purse and drive into small alleys and streets where the police could not chase you. So, no more motorcycles.

Since, Yangjiang was halfway, we stopped for lunch. WOW! Did we ever have lunch!! Bill really know how to pick the restaurants!

I wish Tony had had someone stand next to these shark fins so that you could get a feel for how big they are. Maybe if you look at the light switch to the left you’ll get an idea. I wonder how large the shark was that was attached to these!

If you go to a seafood restaurant, they usually have their “menu” swimming around right at the front door as you walk in. They like to show off their fresh food.

Then back on the van and time for a nap!

As we got close to Zhanjiang, the landscape because to change a lot. There were groves of fruit trees just like in Florida, it was very mountainous, lots of sand, many rivers and the crops definitely changed.

Also, the city is very polluted and has heavy smog. Bill said that this town is known for that. Not sure if this will help with Tony’s congestion.

Finally, we arrived at the hotel. Again, Bill really knows how to pick ‘em.

We relaxed in our rooms for about an hour and then it was time for dinner……and THEY HAD TURKEY and stuffing and cranberry sauce and apple sauce…no pumpkin pie, though. So, I had that and Tony had sushi for his Thanksgiving dinner.

I took a photo of the Dragon Fruit for Paul Davidson. It's red with a black and white inside. It was on top of our Thanksgiving desert.

I have to tell you a story for which I have no photos and it was the most important part of the trip so far. We were watching the news and kind of “Zoning out” before dinner because of the long trip. Well, I guess Selah didn’t like that and wanted to have some more interaction. So, she came beside me, stared at the remote for awhile and then turned off the TV. When I looked down at her she squinted her eyes and turned up the corners of her mouth into the beginnings of a smile! She was really proud of herself.

Then, when we went down for dinner I was too cold and went back for my sweatshirt. Of course Selah had to come up with me. When we were leaving the room, she decided she didn’t want to walk anymore and stood infront of me with her arms up. I have been speaking very clearly to her and encouraging her to speak this whole time so again I leanded over and said and very exaggerated “up”. She looked at me for a long time and said, “ahhhhhh –p”. Of course my reaction was very excited and so she gave me the biggest grin and hugged my neck. SHE SMILED!!!!!! And no one was there to even see it! Now Tony’s mad because Paul said she smiled at him yesterday, Bill said she smiled at him at lunch today (which everyone saw but Tony and I) and now she smiled at me. But, I think I’m so excited that she’s being responsive that I don’t care who it’s for.

More tomorrow………

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Days Six through Nine

Just a warning...we are leaving to visit Selah and Emily's orphanages today. It will be a 7 hour van trip. We will probably not have internet connection and possibly no phone service. I'll post if I can, but we may have a "black out" period. I'll keep typing, though, and post it all when we get back to Guangzhou.

If you want to find us on a map...Emily's SWI is 4 hours south in Yinjiang and Selah's is about 3 more hours south of that in Zhanjiang.

Signing off!

Day Five - Market and Selah's Passport

Day Five – Market and Selah’s Passport

Because Selah has been so unhappy and because it doesn’t take much to set her off, I have not given her a bath yet. But since it’s going on day three, I decided we had to try. So, I ran the shower for awhile to warm up the bathroom (you have no idea how freezing these rooms are and you can’t completely turn off the a/c). Then I brought her in and turned on the faucet and wiggled my fingers in the water. I dropped a few drops on her hand and she didn’t cry so I kept going. I sat on the edge of the tub with one leg in and one leg out and played in the water splashing and filling cups and dumping them out. Then I finally put her in and she was very intrigued. She patted the water, played with cups and began her own game of filling the cups and throwing the water to the other side of the tub.

Then came shampoo time – I was nervous. I slowly began sprinkling water on her back and worked my way slowly up to her head. She kept playing and had no problem with it! Then I rubbed in the shampoo, still no problem. The I laid her head back on my thigh so it would be back far enough to rinse and looked up at me, waited for me to rinse and went back to playing. Success!!!

Tony’s not feeling well. He says he feels like there are cats somewhere around. He’s pretty congested and uncomfortable breathing. I think it’s because of the poor air quality. He’s really uncomfortable. Please pray for him.

Then Bill said we didn’t have to go to the police station for passports until 2:30 so he would take us to the market. That was definitely an experience.

First there was the world famous spice market…

These scorpions are suppose to cure cancer…

They sedate them with liquor and then swallow them whole and alive! I guess the definition of "cure" is to die of something else instead of cancer!

Pet shop in the street (yes, pet shop – not grocery store)…

Then we came around behind those buildings and saw the main mall with clothes, cell phones, eatery, entertainment, etc….

We got some important souvenirs here, but I’m keeping those a secret. (Nick and Cody, we don’t have yours yet. Today we only found “girly” stuff.)

By the time we got here, I had been carrying Selah in the backpack all this time, and I could not hold her anymore. I’m sure due to everyone’s prayers, my back is completely fine, but my thighs were worn out! She’s a big girl! So, we tried putting her in the stroller. Today’s first crying episode. I took her out and she nearly ran from it when her feet hit the floor.

Bill said, “Pick her up, put her back in and start moving right away. Will walk Emily beside her and she’ll see that it’s fun.” I figured I could try it because it was such a busy place, if she did cry, no one could even hear her anyways. So, we did it Bill’s way and the initial reaction was the same, but after 3 minutes, she looked over at Emily, took a swig of her water and she’s love it ever since. Bill to the rescue once again.

Then we moved to the indoor part of the mall. We thought Orland was impressive -- This mall has five floors and is several blocks long. We never got to the other side so I don't know how long it actually is.

Then we had lunch in a very local restaurant. We’re getting to experience very authentic stuff because our group is small and two in our group speak Chinese – it’s quite and experience!

(Nick, I bet you're really, REALLY glad you didn't come to China now!)

Then we had to hurry home and get our belongings to head to the Police station.

It was a completely painless process. Just came in, handed the policemen our passports, they took and photo of Selah and they handed us the paperwork. Done. We’ll get her visa later in this week or next week.

When we got back to the hotel, Bill took Tony for a walk to the local pharmacy to find some Benedryl. He took the medicine, but doesn’t feel any better. I’m a little stuffed, but not bad at all. I only have to blow my nose a lot when I wake up in the morning, but the rest of the day I’m fine. Tony’s eyes are all red and he just looks miserable. I feel so bad for him.

Then we walked around the town on our own, had dinner at Lucy’s again. I’ll have to get a picture of Lucy’s because that’s where we eat most often. There’s a variety of Chinese and American food and Selah love’s their beef fried rice. Tony wanted to stay out in the air as much as possible. I thought it was the air that was bothering him, but I guess the fresh air brings him some relief.

Then we found another Starbuck’s in our travels so I had cheese cake and Tony had tiramisu and coffee while we sat outside. Selah crashed in the stroller. When we got back to the room, I picked her up, changed her pants, put on her pajamas and she still didn’t wake up. So, that was 6 pm – I wonder what time she’ll wake up tomorrow….