Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Consulate Appointment was Today!

Today was our Consulate Appointment (CA). Jason and I showed our passports to the US consulate employee. We sat in a room with about 40 other adopting families. There were several windows. They called each child by their Chinese name and they, and their family, went to the window for Mama or Baba to sign a paper with baby's info. and picture on it.

It's a very fast process. When everyone is done, one of the U.S. Chinese adoption employees shared some fun facts with us. There will be about 3,000 visa's issued this year for adoptions in China. About 57% of those will be children with special needs.

We all stood, held up our right hand, and took an oath that everything we said in our paperwork was true.

The gal congratulated us and then we left. We went "window" shopping today. Which was a real bummer because I found some really cool things; but had no money.

We ate pizza at Pizza Hut with Amy and her son Trevor (17) and daughter Madelyn (6).

We then returned to the hotel by 6pm to pack for our departure home. Oh, how good it is going to be to be finally home.

I am so tired of looking at Chinese food. I know I have shared several times about our food choices, but I am going to share again... duck tongue with ginger, boneless duck feet with ginger, tasty pork trotters, chilled marinated jellyfish with vinegar, roasted crispy pigeon, marinated goose liver with spring onions, double-boiled pork bone with olive and dragon's tongue leaf in soup, steamed loofah with dried whitebait and XO sauce, stewed pork knuckle and sea cucumber with shrimp roe.

Had I stayed away from the plain noodles, fried rice, and steamed buns, I could have lost 20 pounds in the last 14 days.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Funny Faces, Fun Personality

Gabriella's personality is fiesty and spunky. She is a strong-willed princess that wishes for her Baba to serve her, carry her, and give her his undivided attention.

She has a number of facial expressions and can go from happy to mad or sad in the flip of a switch. She can cry on the spot or laugh on the spot.

She puckers her lips and rolls her eyes, she pretends to fake sleep, she laughs and brings us great joy. She's such a funny character.

She still often shakes her head no... though we are learning to shake our head in the other direction.

If she doesn't like something that she's eating, she readily shares it with Baba. If you try to take something of hers to share, she will scream or pout or stick out her lower lip... it's funny (right now). We're whipping her into shape though.

More Shopping, American Food, and Vertigo

We purchased all the clothes we found last night. We also went to another shopping area earlier in the day and found a couple things.

I keep seeing super cute outfits on the people passing me by, but can't seem to find anything in the stores.

Even the things I do find, that I might buy, are just as expensive, or more, than what we would find in America... that's frustrating. I do enjoy the bartering though. But, I will be grateful to get back to Marshalls, Ross, and TJ Max.

We are really tired of eating Chinese, but Jason really doesn't want to eat American fast food either. Argh. We ate at KFC and McDonald's today. He also ordered a couple bowls of noodle soup. Despite what others say, I am an EXTREMELY picky eater even in America. I only eat cow and chicken breast... no other meat, nor anything from the ocean. While we do not eat fast food in America, KFC, McDonald's and Pizza Hut have not only been good, they have often been sought for. Pizza Hut is probably the best in my opinion.

I feel like I am experiencing vertigo since being here. Not sure why, but I am often dizzy (even while resting) and am always tired). I have no idea if it could possibly be related to our protein levels, but they are extremely low... we each eat 2 fried eggs in the morning. Who wants mutton liver, pig snouts, duck wings, back bones, and other yummy food items for their meals?

Chinese Pictures

We dressed Gabriella up in her pink Chinese outfit and matching shoes. She generally loves getting her photo taken, but wouldn't have anything to do with it.

We also put her in a white and pink Chinese dress from one of our special friends.

Our final attempt was to take Gabriella to Starbucks with her Starbucks Guangzhou t-shirt. We bought a couple cups and grabbed a drink there.

Hopefully pictures will go better next time. She was a little stinker today!

24 Hour Shopping

After the Guangzhou Zoo, we came back for another shower... typically, we take 3 showers a day. We rested for a couple hours, checked our email, and then went to dinner and to do some night shopping.

We went to the local shops (not the overpriced mall where just about everything costs $30-$45 each) and chose a number of items. We had each store hold the items for a day... mostly so that we could see what was at each store and not be stuck with items that weren't as cool as something else.

We will purchase them tomorrow evening. We got back to the hotel after 10pm... Mei Mei didn't fall asleep until midnight. That was a bit of a struggle.

Some things that I remember about today were Mei Mei learning that the stroller is a good thing. Baba doesn't have to carry her everywhere or be with her all the time. She loves me dearly now. She even takes naps without crying fits for an hour or more. Yeah! So glad that's happening now. She is a sweet, funny, girl with a huge personality that longs for the attention of others... and, she will get it with her very funny facial expressions with both her mouth and eyes.

The Guangzhou Zoo in July 2010

Okay, I really don't want to spoil this for you, but I must document it for Gabriella's sake. If you want to have a new cause in life, go to the Guangzhou Zoo.

It is perhaps the saddest animal experience you might encounter outside of seeing your own pet experiencing a personal tragedy. The lions and tigers weighed not much more than your neighbors dog. Almost without exception, you saw extremely lethargic animals (not just due to heat, humidity, lack of water, or lack of environmental stimuli), but because of a serious neglect of food.

Some animals were fairly prolific (like bunnies)... the little dear and some white birds. Those, honestly, should have been fed to the larger animals. The animals craved the attention of the others next to them... separated by cages with NOTHING inside... no plants, no water, no toys, no food, and often, no friends.

The panda was the highlight... but, he was even quite small.

They had dogs and a miniature horse in a petting zoo that you pay a separate entrance fee for. Even they did not have water in 95 degree weather and 90 degree humidity.

I even felt sorry for the snakes and I am deathly afraid of them. They were in hard plastic containers about 4 feet tall without any shade. Again, no protection, little air, and lack of environmental stimuli.

Take your own food and water, I guarantee you will not want to eat there. Take the little, open air shuttle around once. Plan on about 2 hours. The most fun (at least for the Chinese - the Americans didn't participate) was to go into the kiddie pools (which is another separate entrance fee) and walk in pools of water and catch the fish with a little sieve. It did look like lots of fun. The Chinese were putting the fish in their drinking bottles.

The Pearl River Cruise

We were told that most people would rate the cruise as a ten and the food as a seven. Honestly, I thought it was a waste of time. I couldn't rate pickled pig intestine, chicken feet, and braised pork bones as a high quality meal. We ended up eating noodles, curry noodles, some plain steamed buns, and about 10 of the mini coconut tarts.

The Chinese raced to the lines... gobbling all the "delicious" livers, bones, skins, and other treats. Not many Americans ran to the buffet table. It's an experience. You can get some good pictures of the chicken heads amongst the chicken though. Eat up fellow friends!

Our dear friend Amy and her son Trevor and daughter Madeline.

That's a chicken foot and Madeline loved it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Shoes!

We shopped a little on Shamian Island. We still can't figure out why it is called an island. I did notice water at one point though.

We bought 2 pair of Chinese traditional shoes to match her two Chinese outfits and some cute plastic sandals for her to wear by Christmas. I paid 150 yuan for the 3 pair. I think they started at 330 yuan. I knew I shouldn't pay more than $8 each.

We also bought a few more outfits. I think the Burberry jacket and red dress are my favorite. We also bought a Starbucks t-shirt that says Guangzhou on it. Jennifer, the owner, of one of the shops, lives in Lynnwood, WA. Her sister Lily runs the store for her on the island. While we were conversing, she asked me where we were from. When she told me her sister lived in Lynnwood, I had to ask her 3 times what she was saying... not because I didn't understand her, but what Chinese person would know Lynnwood. Lynnwood, is 5 minutes from our home. It was a fun connection.

Second Day for Immunizations... 5 in Total Plus TB Test

Monday, July 26, 2010
This morning we went back to Shamian Island for Gabriella to be evaluated for her TB test. She did not have any reaction. We also had to get 3 more shots (5 in total in 3 days… plus the TB test). She cried before they even started. She stopped crying immediately after they handed her two candies... one for each hand.

I wonder what it would cost, or what we can do, to protect our children from having immunizations in foreign countries. How much could I bribe… and who? I want to know so that when we bring our next daughters home, we will be well prepared.

Someone did say, if the child was “too sick” the Chinese doctor would provide a note that would allow the child to come to America without immunizations. I wonder what “too sick” means. I have to admit, that I was surprised they took the time to check her temperature before giving her, her immunizations... but, I wonder what it would have had to be to not get them.

We shopped a little on the island. We bought 2 pair of Chinese traditional shoes to match her two Chinese outfits and some cute plastic sandals for her to wear by Christmas. We also bought a few more outfits. I think the Burberry jacket and dress are my favorite.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mama's First Unsolicited, Unbegged for Kiss!

When we got back to the hotel, I took my third shower of the day, Mei Mei took her second. We prepared for bed: got our jammies on, brushed teeth, dried hair, read a book, looked at her China pictures, massaged our feet with lotion, and then tried to go “nigh night.” It took an hour and 20 minutes; however, today I got my first unsolicited kiss. In fact, I got several in a row. The tough love of yesterday paid off… she is a quick learner.

Today was our first okay day since our first 2-day honeymoon. But, when Baba left, today was perfect!

Her First English Word: "Shoes"

Later in the evening, our group went to the local Thai restaurant. The same one we went to last night. It’s the only food I have liked so far in China… minus Pizza Hut and Starbucks. We sat with Amy and her son Trevor (17) and new daughter Madelyn. We enjoyed getting to know one another better after being Facebook friends through our adoption journey.

Both yesterday and today Jason brought me a mocha from Starbucks. Oh, how it tastes so good when you have been without for so long.

After dinner, we went shopping for little Mei Mei to get her a pair of shoes. Her first American word was “shoes.” Jason, being the nice guy, let her choose her own shoes. But, she chose some pink ones with baby Mickey on them… not going to work for Mama. Her clothes are princess clothes… nothing Mickey until we get to Disneyland. So, Mama chose a different pair... pink sandals with a diamond on them. She was so excited.

The Pearl Market

We went shopping at the Pearl Market. I was delighted to find this amazingly huge bracelet with genuine purple stones in it… the thing glistened “money”. It was so gorgeous. It was really all I wanted… but, it wasn’t a pearl item. When I asked how much it was, I gasped when they told me $904 American. It was sold by weight. I was sad to have to leave it behind.

I decided to buy 2 sets of pearl earrings. One for me… one for Mei Mei. I also bought Mei Mei her own pearl necklace that the gal made right in front of me with the pearl strand I chose. It was quite interesting to watch. The girls are very fast at making these necklaces.

Jason and Mei Mei hung out while I bartered. I was able to get each set of pearl earrings for $18 each and the necklace for $45. I am pretty positive I got the most beautiful earrings in the store (in the size I purchased).

We bought a couple items for Tyanna today; but, we didn’t have any luck finding anything for Kai or their cousins Jordan and Corban.

Our Complimentary Breakfast in Our TEN STAR Hotel!

Sunday, July 25, 2010
This morning we again marveled at our complimentary breakfast FULL of items non-Chinese can NOT eat due to our susceptibility of getting sick (all of their yummy fruits, salads, veggies, and non-cooked fresh foods), many more of the items… we wouldn’t eat… braised pig ears, boiled bones, fish stock soup, crunchy soft chicken bones with cashews, etc.

If they didn’t cook my eggs in 2/3 cup (or more) of oil each day, I would have lost 10 pounds by now. We generally only eat twice a day… without snacks too!

Bottled water, our Essentials, and Sprite are the beloved drinks. We are grateful to now be in Guangzhou where they have kindly placed Starbucks right around the corner from our 5 STAR (TEN STAR!) hotel. We are absolutely staying in magnificent luxury. The Garden Hotel is the most luxurious hotel I have ever been in. And, no one seems to say this in their blogs.

Medical Check-up on Shamian Island

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Today Gabriella and the Lifeline kids went to Shamian Island for their medical check-up.

Gabriella was weighed (11.6 kg/ 25.5lbs), measured (36.3 inches), and had her temperature taken under her arm (97 degrees). She was all smiles.

Miko was awesome... she was so with it... All of our guides from Lifeline were phenomenal.

Those little eyes are going to have to get checked out when we get home.

Then, she went into another little room where the “doctor” asked if she could walk. Jason answered, “No.” He measured her head (which is 15 inches – the same as her waist). He also had her lay down and lift her left and right leg once each. She knew what he was saying, but it wasn’t much of anything. Of course, she was wobbly. He certainly didn’t seem like a "doctor"... just another guy in a white suit. He moved her legs quickly. I think even her knees. She was done in less than 3 minutes.

Then, we went into the ENT room (Ear, Nose, and Throat). I don’t even remember the “doctor” doing anything. I know she played a xylophone for the little girl in front of us.

Notice the fingers in my kids mouth... icky!

From there, we paid the cashier 1515 yuan (about $237).

This is our friend Esther...

Our final stop was the immunizations. I have a very strong opinion about immunizations… even in America where the process is "safe" and supposedly "healthy"… and, new needles are used each time. They gave Gabriella 2 shots and 1 TB test. She will have 3 shots on Monday when her TB test is evaluated. Argh! I want to say very bad words. What upsets me most is that America decided that all immigrants need to have their immunizations updated prior to entering America. That's so ridiculous for adopting families. Gabriella was supposed to have 5 shots and a TB test in one day. Are you kidding me... that is like suicide... if only we could get out of this, I would. She will have 3 of those shots on Monday.

Fast forward to Monday... 

It is day 3 for the TB reading... and, another 3 immunizations. 

Notice the difference in these two photos... taken 5 seconds apart... that's candy in her hand. 

After our visit, we went to Lucy’s for lunch. Lucy's is where all the Americans go. It wasn’t that impressive. I think I am not "called" to live in China. I ordered espresso ice cream… that’s exactly what it was... espresso poured over my ice cream. ☺ I also ordered a cheeseburger with fries and onion rings. I am not sure what the “cheese” actually was. And, I am not sure what kind of “burger” that was. The fries were edible. The onion rings tasted okay.

This was a part of our walk from the medical facility to Lucy's.

She does NOT want to have anything to do with this... and, because she can not stand on her own (not even for 1 second), we had to be right next to her to catch her before she falls.

When we returned from the island, we had Gabriella take a nap while Jason finished up some paperwork.