This place is a zoo!

March 3, 2013

Today was the most uneventful day we’ve had yet, and after yesterday, we were very relieved! Our adoption group went together with our guides to a shopping area this morning. We were disappointed to see it was the same general area that Ann had taken us to yesterday, so it was not that exciting. It’s called the “walking street”- the longest shopping street in Guangzhou. We didn’t go into the wholesale market part we had gone to with Ann, but stayed on the main strip today. The street seemed to go on forever, and you have never seen so many shoe stores in your life. There were also multiple story buildings (lots of them!) that sold nothing but jewelry. I don’t know how all those stores stay in business with all that competition. Shopping here is not relaxing- there is no window shopping. Walking into any store you immediately get swarmed by the workers wanting to “help”, but it’s really just annoying because you just want to look on your own and not be bothered. No such luck. We find it so odd that in restaurants here, it’s nearly impossible to get waited on and served in a timely manner, and hard to get people to take your order or come to your table, but in the stores they don’t leave you alone.

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China – where the varieties are endless: of belts…

 

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…or these things (?).

We got back from shopping and gave both babies a nap before heading to a Korean restaurant for dinner. Charlotte is doing so incredibly well! We are definitely feeling your prayers. She has gone down for two naps and two bedtimes now with hardly a whimper, and then she plays in bed and we don’t even need to sit by her. She’ll sit up and smile at us, but she isn’t scared and she is even okay with us leaving the room. She seems to know we aren’t going to leave her! Joey still hasn’t held her (as of writing this) without her crying since the day I first posted, and she still cries if I pick up Griffin and hold him for very long, but we are making progress. She now will walk around the hotel room on her own and I am able to go to another room and she doesn’t cry or want to come with me each time. I was hoping that her personality would be more like our sweet, mellow Caitlin at home, but she seems more like she has a pretty crazy side to her and some spunk we’re going to have to tone down in time. I fear she and Claire may gang up on me and end up being little partners in crime. She likes to throw things (she thinks it’s a game) but at dinnertime, throwing things across the table and throwing toys at our head and laughing is not going over so well. We’re trying to help her understand “no” without being too harsh with her. There’s a fine line because at this point, all she does is smile at us when we say “no”. We have seen so many more smiles than tears these past two days and we couldn’t be happier about that, though!

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All smiles here!

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Note the distinct similarity…

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…to this smile?

 

March 4, 2013

Charlotte Mae is conquering her own fears by leaps and bounds today. She has gone from a scared little girl who wouldn’t let me put her down, to a typical two year old who wants to do everything herself, resists being held or sitting on my lap for long, and wants to get down to explore the world! We went to the Guangzhou Zoo today and Charlotte had fun walking all over the park without holding my hand most of the time! She is even getting more comfortable being down on the ground with other people around (even men!). If you could have seen what she was like exactly one week ago today, you wouldn’t even believe this is the same child. She is getting more steady in her walking (though she still waddles like a duck and fell a couple of times) and even went up a few stairs today holding my hand.

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She’s getting more confident every day!

She was so excited and proud of herself! We still can’t get her to eat much- but she does like noodles, and she does sort of know how to use chop sticks! It’s so cute! She has some trouble (so do I), but she tries hard and is very coordinated.

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Chopsticks – Charlotte Style.

I am so glad that someone made the mistake of thinking she had a “mild intelligence developmental delay” because she wouldn’t have been on the special needs list, otherwise, and wouldn’t be our daughter today. But, they were so wrong! She looks when you say her new name and Chinese name, she responds to certain words and phrases already, and she points and grunts (and yes, whines) to tell you what she wants- and she knows what she wants! I don’t think she’s ever had a vegetable or fruit in her entire life. She finds the tiniest speck of carrot or cabbage in her noodles and she picks it out and throws it and we can’t get her to eat anything remotely healthy. It is obvious from her hair texture (it’s dull and dry and straw-like) that she’s malnourished and I can’t wait to get home to try to get some better nutrition into her.

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Fishies!

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The girls looking fabulous at the zoo.

 

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Apparently these two unknown boys also were at the zoo with us.

 

After the zoo we came back for nap time, and she went down without a fight. This evening our group went on the Pearl River boat cruise. Griffin was really fussy, and we regretted not having a stroller with us like the rest of our group did, as there were no high chairs (it’s like that in a lot of places here) and Joey had to hold him and walk around with him to keep him quiet most of the cruise. The cruise served dinner, but it was so ghetto. They ran out of plates (which our guide says always happens…) so they gave us teeny tiny paper plates and itty bitty plastic forks to use instead. You’d think since this happens all the time, they would count the number of tickets they sell and buy a few more plates- or at least dinner-sized paper ones, at a minimum. We’ve just learned to roll with it here.

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Rollin’ with it…like Dre.

We went out on the observation deck (after paying very close attention to the safety briefing in which we were shown how to use the life vests- nothing would surprise me anymore!) and when we came back downstairs to the dining area, we caught the tail end of the entertainment- a crazy looking clown who did some juggling and balloon games for the kids. Because you know, dinner cruises and clowns totally makes sense.

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Everything in the city was lit up during the cruise, including bridges…

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…and this stadium thingy.

 

Tomorrow morning we go to the U.S. Consulate to apply for Charlotte’s visa to bring her home! The last step until we are able to leave with her and reunite our family! Hard to believe our time here is winding down. I’m starting to really dread the flight ahead. I wish we could ‘go-go-gadget’ home and not have to do the travel part- we leave here at 6AM Thursday morning (which is 4PM Wednesday back home) to go to the Guangzhou airport by taxi, then take the 1 hour flight to Hong Kong to catch the 14 hour flight into Chicago (at least it’s two hours shorter than the flight here due to wind patterns helping us along!) to have a four hour layover to go through customs and legally bring Charlotte back as a U.S. Citizen, to catch another 2 hour flight into Nashville to get in the car for an additional hour to drive home. It will be 6PM Thursday when we get in, but actually 8AM China time the next day. Whew. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Readjusting to the new time zone again is going to be tough! The fact that Charlotte is becoming to independent is great, but not when you think about trying to keep her happy for that many hours on the plane when all she wants to do is get down and move. She’s been constrained to a crib for 23 out of 24 hours a day for her entire life, so who’s to blame her for not wanting to sit still!

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Movin’ out!