Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Farewell, China

It is bittersweet as we prepare to leave today. Grace asked me, "Mommy, can't we stay a few more days? We have so many friends here." It is true--we have met great people here, especially this wonderful travel group. I will have to say that, as far as enjoying China goes, this trip has far exceeded our last. Things are changing and growing here so rapidly. It is really exciting to see. Last night we watched American Idol and Chinese Opera on TV. Simply everyone has a mobile phone. What a difference a few years makes.

However, the strain of the bonding process for three year-old and the "big sister" adjustment has begun to wear on Mother and me. We are simply exhausted and can't wait to be home in the care of Dad and Marla. I know that things will rapidly improve once a routine can be established. It will be far less exciting than seeing the Great Wall and taking Oaths at the US consulate, but we've got the memories.

Monday, May 7, 2007

A thousand year-old egg

As many of you who know me have heard, I have really not been that fond of Chinese food. This trip has really changed my mind. Most of the Chinese food we get in NC is over-salted and greasy. During my last trip there were few places westerners could eat, so my opinion did not change. This trip, however, I have been exposed to a whole new world of Chinese cuisine. Our group has many members who are of Chinese descent. They take us to these great places and order food for us to try. Last night we sampled a "thousand year-old egg." It was an ugly black thing that I would never have tried had it not been recommended. It is an egg preserved like we would when making kraut- salted and buried for a week or so. It was delicious.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Multilingual Madness

Every time we take Cate anywhere, she chatters away with the store clerks. I was originally told she speaks Mandarin, which is China's official language. Guangxi, the area she is from, is the home of one of the largest ethnic minorities in China called the Zhuang. A local dialect as well as Cantonese (being close to Canton and Hong Kong) is also spoken there. It turns out that she speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese. The Chinese people who speak to her say she is really smart.

With us, however, she has figured out we don't know what she's saying, so she just makes noise to express her emotions. This, along with her lack of exposure to toys, puzzles and other developmental things, makes her seem babyish. But already she is responding appropriately to many questions we ask her. Her hearing seems to be fine. The orphanage told us the problem had resolved itself.

Let us hope that her smart little brain will work quickly for her as she learns English. I think things will be a lot easier when she can understand us.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The White Stork and the red couch

We have been in Guangzhou since May 1 and are currently staying at the White Swan Hotel. This hotel is called the White Stork in China adoption circles because most families stay here while completing their paperwork at the US Consulate. Normally the place is crawling with adoptive families, but because of China's May Holiday (which lasts a week) not many families are here now. We are fortunate, though, that we are with two other CCAI groups, and we are getting to know each other. One family is like ours, adopting a child from the waiting child program. The others are a group where most of the families have one or more parents of Chinese descent. Three of the families have girls around Grace's age who are also going through the big sister adjustment period. One family is even vegetarian.

Meeting these families has been a God-send. It has given us people to talk to who are going through similar things. We are going to places we would never have thought to try on our own.

It is tradition to have your adoption group photographed on the White Swan's red couches. Since we are technically our own group, we thought we'd be on the couch alone. But these nice folks invited us to join in.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Monkey Business

Cate was born in the Year of the Monkey, and that sure does fit her personality. She's loving, sweet and funny, but you have to watch her every second! So far we have caught her putting deodorant on her face, washing her armpits with my makeup brush, and giving her puzzle pieces a bath (see photo). When you catch her doing something she knows she's not supposed to do, like taking out the candy after I have said no, she just smiles in this little mischievous way. Grace, who for the most part does what she's told, said to Cate yesterday, "Don't you give my momma that monkey grin."

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Jie Mei (sisters)

Now that Cate has settled down into a happy camper, the real bonds of sisterhood are beginning to form. When Cate was distressed, Grace rose to the occasion. Now they are competing, playing, arguing, hitting, and thwarting each others' attempts to get mommy's attention (you know--being sisters). They want exactly what the other one has at all times--needed, liked or not. But it is all worth it when the giggling starts and does not stop for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Here comes the sun...

A picture is worth a thousand words...