This morning, I thought we were on track. We had everyone up and ready for breakfast on time. We went down to the dining room and when I picked Mini-Lu up to place her in her highchair, I felt something wet. She had a diaper explosion. So I left Allan with the older girls. I took her upstairs to get changed (since she needed a new pair of pants also - and it was not even 9am yet!)...only to find out that my key didn't work for some reason. Our room is on the 14th floor. I went back down to the lobby with her, and went back upstairs with a new key.
I mentioned that the breakfast buffet has natto (Japanese fermented beans). It's a traditional breakfast item in Japan. Normally we mix the sticky beans with rice. It grosses out anyone from another culture. The smell is quite awful too (to others). So the girls and I brushed our teeth in the bathroom by the buffet as soon as we were done with breakfast.
We headed to the zoo. Guangzhou is HUMID. We thought we knew humidity - we live in Florida. Here, the sun is not too strong, but anytime you're outside your whole body gets instantly covered in sweat (not the dripping kind, but the sticky kind). After an hour at the zoo, we were ready to go (minus Allan, he wanted to see more). I think our guide is surprised (and probably glad) that this week's group of families want to spend shorter time at every location than what she had planned for.
Here is a rare family picture we were able to take (courtesy of another mom in our group). It's also rare to see Mini-Lu looking at the camera. This was in front of the panda exhibit.
Some other pics from the zoo...
Video of our older girls feeding the giraffes http://youtu.be/cFSIZ3Oi96o
I thought this top picture was so gross...
This zoo has an amusement park and a "sea world" type of exhibit/show all in one place (but you need a separate ticket for those areas). There is also a safari park about 30-40 min from here. It's not included in our package with our agency, and our plan was to go on our own (because we had heard how amazing it was - animals come very close to you). After talking to our guide here, we quickly figured that working out the logistics will be too difficult. Plus she told us it gets crowded during this season (we already know from the Summer Palace experience that a big crowd trumps the awe of the place, no matter how amazing it is). We decided to skip it this time. We're so glad that we did - after seeing the crowd at the zoo and also experiencing the humidity today.
We continue to enjoy our time with other families. They are all such heroes in my eyes. I love seeing how happy all the adopted children are. Despite the language/age/culture barrier, despite their special needs, I can really see that love is a universal language that can be understood by all...instantly. I especially love watching all the siblings love on one another. I hope we can all stay in touch.
This has been our routine for the last three days...we go out as a group in the morning, the 5 of us have a simple lunch at the hotel, put Mini-Lu down for a nap (she naps for good 2-3 hrs), hang out in the hotel room until around 5pm, and head out to dinner. Today Allan took the older girls to the pool during Mini-Lu's nap time (it's been rainy the last couple of days). They really enjoyed that.
We need to really motivate ourselves to wake Mini-Lu up from her nap. As soon as she's up, she's into everything in our hotel room. Allan and I joked that P is our non-stop explorer outside, and now ML (Mini-Lu) is our non-stop explorer inside...between the two of them (added to LB's fits), we are busy every moment that we're awake. It's quite an adjustment having a toddler again. Although LB is only three, she matured out of the toddler stage so much faster than P, so it's been a while since we've had to deal with diapers and keeping things out of a child's reach.
Today ML expressed interest in getting on the bed with the other girls to see what they were watching. This lasted only a few min before she went on to explore other things, but I thought this was cute.
As we were getting ready to head out to dinner, I quickly noticed that something's not right with Peanut. She wasn't acting her usual energetic self. I immediately knew what that meant - she's sick. Today ML's tummy was feeling better (we stopped giving her yogurt), LB seemed to be all better, and my blisters and rashes seemed to be quickly going away. But now it was P's turn.
I decided to venture out with LB and ML to find dinner...without a stroller, because I knew that I will need to go through lots of stairs. This was quite the ordeal. LB did GREAT. It ended up being a lot more walking than I thought (through busy crowds), but she didn't complain once, except when she stepped in mud (she's OCD so this bothers her more than anything). ML is wanting to be carried more and more (during the first few days of having her she was more of a walker). After walking through the busy streets of Guangzhou carrying a 2-yr-old and not trying to lose a 3-yr-old (up & down the escalators, passing through a subway station - this was the way to get to the other side of a big busy street), I was pretty grumpy when I returned to the hotel. My right arm was shaking from carrying ML. Once we were close enough to the hotel though, I made her walk. She would plump down to express that she doesn't want to. I kept pulling her arm up to signal that she needs to walk. We repeated this about 5 times, and with some whining noise, she gave in and walked without squatting down. I praised her like crazy. The orphanage told us that she's strong-willed. What the orphanage didn't know is that when it comes to parenting a strong-willed child, I'm in no minor league. So far from my observation, she doesn't even come close to our firstborn.
We came back into our hotel room. Allan said P hasn't been able to keep anything down. Poor thing. But since then, she's been back to her normal self and was able to keep food down for rest of the night. I'm so thankful that our illnesses have been very quick and minor.
As I mentioned earlier, I was pretty grumpy when I came back into the hotel room. I felt like I just went through such an ordeal, going out with my 3- and 2-yr-olds. Looking back on it (now a few hrs later), I don't really remember what the big deal was. I think my patience is just running low and I'm more irritable. My husband does not seem to have that problem. He's being our rock through and through. He takes care of pretty much everything...bathing, feeding, carrying, cleaning room, brushing teeth, etc. I'm looking forward to going home, but I also get anxious thinking about what it will be like without him (he will jump right into a very crazy season at work). I'm just so thankful to have such an amazing, loving, strong leader in our family. Without a doubt, this is his main calling in life...and he excels at it.
After dinner we went out for an evening stroll. We stopped by a cafe for some cake and cappuccino. We then walked around the neighborhood. We realized that behind the main street (where our hotel is located at), the atmosphere was more similar to other parts of China (Beijing and Hohhot)...not as clean and modern as the hotel street. More of a local China feel. They had lots of family-owned markets/shops. Kids were roller-blading in a common square.
We bought some fruit at this shop.
Our nightly routine now consists of the following:
Bathing each child one at a time (Allan)
Drying, lotioning, and dressing each child one at a time (me - although older girls can dress themselves)
Brushing teeth (Allan)
Combing hair (me)
Milk for ML (Allan)
I realized tonight (when I was reading another family's blog) that I haven't had my quiet time (Bible reading time) at all. Every day has been so full and busy. It really shows (especially with my irritability) when I don't take the time to feed myself spiritually. I need Jesus...every hour, every minute of my day. When I don't make conscious effort to stay close to and feed from my source, my peace and joy quickly start to run low.
So here is the passage that I'm pondering on today. This is the theme verse I had found for Siana months ago. I believe that it not only applies to her but also to me...especially on a day like today.
Yet the Lord longs to be GRACIOUS to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How GRACIOUS he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (Isaiah 30:18, 19 NIV)
I also want to end tonight by dwelling on God's goodness.
I am so thankful to Him for...
SLEEP. Mini-Lu is sleeping well every night, along with our other two girls. I've been having my best sleep of our travels here in GZ. I think the humidity really helps with my rhinitis to where I don't wake up in the middle of the night with allergy issues.
HEALTH. Each of us had minor issues...but very short and manageable. So thankful that Mini-Lu has not been sick. Her tummy is doing much better today.
FRIENDS. We love the new friends we're making here...and we're thankful for all the friends/family who are following our blog. I know I write a lot...I'm thankful that you are all following along on our journey!
FAMILY. Tonight, as Allan was finishing up P's bath, this was what I heard him say to her: "Peanut, did you grow? I told you to stop growing! You're supposed to not grow so you'll stay with Daddy forever." I got teared up, thinking of a day when she will grow up and she will leave our home. Having 3 kids (5 and under) has been no easy task so far...but I know that this season will not last forever. And someday I will miss this...well, maybe not LB's fits or diaper explosions, but most of this :) I am a very blessed woman.
Good night from GZ.
God is Gracious...all the time.
PS. One more pic...a view of the sunset from our hotel room. More adventures ahead tomorrow, I'm sure.