Bipolar times and familiar places
This is our life lately.

This is our life lately.

We have hardly had a chance to breathe since my last post a couple of days ago just trying to keep up with our new wild child. We have had spotty, intermittent internet coverage here, and no access a lot of the time to be able to Skype with the kids at home, or even check Facebook or Gmail. Now that we are over jet lag, we aren’t getting up at 4AM (when I was blogging at the beginning of our trip) and by night we pretty much collapse after his fits are finally over and he passes out from exhaustion, too. Since getting to Guangzhou, Carrigan has had a really hard time with going to bed. We remember from our early days with Charlotte how difficult this was, and we hoped to avoid it and naively thought that because his first couple of nights went so well, that we would get out of the nightmare going -to- bed drama we had with her. Tonight is the first night he has gone to bed without a fit lasting up to two hours. It’s thanks to melatonin and realizing I need to lay in the bed with him and hold him to get him to sleep before putting him down- at least for these initial first few weeks. The fact that he will let me and wants me to do this is great progress. The past couple of nights he has been really showing signs of grief and anger and it saddens us so much to see him as a victim of so much trauma and loss- none of it his fault. We found out at the notary appointment when we had to initial his early records that after he was found at 6 months old on the park bench, he was taken to a hospital and was admitted for 5 full months- from September through February of 2010-2011. He was admitted to the orphanage at the age of almost 1 year old. We’ve learned through our trainings our agency requires about the effects of early hospitalization and trauma, and his rage that comes out at bedtime, and through the night in his sleep, that this is a normal part of the grieving process, but it is stressful and difficult to endure for him and for us.

He has lots of happy  moments!

He has lots of happy moments!

He continues to be quite a ham, though, in the daytime and his funny personality reminds me so much of Gaige when he was little, it is a joy to be around him (when he isn’t throwing one of his fits!) He is getting better with asking for what he wants with sign language (help and more are the two he uses and we can often ward off a fit brewing with telling him to show us what he wants with his hand gestures). He continues to be quite polite with his “thank you’s” and “you’re welcome’s”, and we’ll work on table manners in due time- that’s the least of our concerns! Not pitching a fit and trying to hit us when he doesn’t get his way definitely takes precedence!
These two.

These two.

We’ve had the opportunity to spend some more time with three of the other families that are here with our same agency- we went to dinner at the lively “Banana Leaf” restaurant we enjoyed from last time. This time we remembered it was the food we liked so much, not the service (no tipping in China leaves little motivation for the service to be great, though most places the people bend over backwards to make you happy and wait on you, so this wasn’t normal). The kids had fun dancing while we waited an hour for a table (also not something we have had to do here- wait for a table anywhere.)
If you're going to wait an hour to be seated, this is the way to do it!

If you’re going to wait an hour to be seated, this is the way to do it!

Yesterday we went with our group to Shaiman Island, the historic place for adoptive families to visit where the “White Swan” hotel used to be (it’s under renovation for years now) where most adoptive families stayed. It’s a place for shopping and taking pictures with the infamous statues catering to adoptive families.
This island used to be where all of the adoptions were finalized.  Hence, the statues.

Carrigan is ok with it, but Garrick will only play if he can be the piper.

Obvious tourist photo spot.

Obvious tourist photo spot.

We had lunch at Oggi’s (great pizza place we loved last time- though now that we are living in New York, it’s a bit less exciting to get New York style pizza since we eat it all the time!) Aside from a beggar coming up to the window right next to our table and pounding on the window looking for money, then trying to get in the back door to where we were sitting (thankfully it was locked!), nothing too crazy happened. No bucket of pepper spilled in the back kitchen causing the entire restaurant to start sneezing all at once like last time. We made the crazy decision after lunch to go back to the “Children’s Palace” playplace to let the kids go wild with a thunderstorm forecasted (by the way, we have gone from needing hats and gloves in Beijing on this trip, to 91 degrees one of our days here in Guangzhou!). Carrigan doesn’t seem to be too fearful of new experiences, and he was thrilled at the chance to actually get to play instead of just walking through to look at it from the sidelines. We were just thrilled he didn’t throw a fit.
ALL OF THE THINGS

ALL OF THE THINGS

I was kicked off of five kiddie rides.  Darn commies!

I was kicked off of five kiddie rides. Darn commies!

Today we had to start early because we had our U.S. Consulate appointment where we applied for Carrigan’s Visa to bring him home. All adoptive families are advised to book their return tickets home 48 hours after this appointment. Last time we took our chances and booked just 24 hours later, however, there was a recent shut down of the consulate for a few days and families ended up stranded here having to re-book flights, so we felt better safe than sorry since we booked this time without a travel agent to save money on the flights. As long as we have his visa tomorrow, we are getting out of Guangzhou because with the “trade fair” going on here, hotel costs are doubled from WednesdaySaturday, and we do not want to pay that crazy high hotel rate unless we have to. Assuming all goes well and we have the proper paperwork, we will head to Hong Kong tomorrow and stay two nights before heading home on our flight that leaves from there Friday morning. I wish we were flying straight home tomorrow! I miss my babies at home so much and I cannot wait to see them and get my kids (especially Carrigan and Garrick) all back on a schedule.
A little slice of 'Merica in Guangzhou.

A little slice of ‘Merica in Guangzhou.

After the consulate appointment we spent all afternoon packing so we will be ready to get on the train tomorrow to get to Hong Kong. We’ll spend the morning tomorrow with our group at the “Chimelong Safari Zoo”, which we’ve heard is a really neat place before checking out here to head to yet another hotel. It was so much cheaper (thousands, not hundreds!) to fly out of Hong Kong, so we know the stress and hassle will be worth the savings (remind me I said that later.)
Guess who didn't help pack?

Guess who didn’t help pack?

However, before the afternoon spent packing, we had a lunchtime experience that is definitely noteworthy. We love to eat Korean food, and we found what we remembered to be a good place that is inexpensive (compared to Korean places in the U.S.- we are a bit closer to Korea over here!), so we took our already tired crew (we had to get them up early for the consulate appointment) and thought we’d eat there since it’s close to the hotel. This is one of those BBQ places where you cook the raw meat at the table yourself, which we typically think is a lot of fun. We had a really hard time ordering as the menu had very little pictures, and Joey tried to remember how to read Korean from his time spent there. After struggling to communicate, we hoped for the best and waited for the food. The plates of meat looked suspicious, and I got up to try to point to the menu some more and be sure we weren’t actually going to be eating ox tongues when we ordered beef short ribs. No one was paying attention briefly to Garrick sitting in the highchair. Let me explain China style highchairs. They have no seatbelts, usually, no tray and no bar in between the legs, so the babies can easily slip out through the bottom if you aren’t careful. Somehow between me with my back briefly turned to talk to the server, and Joey trying to manage Carrigan while another fit was brewing, I saw out of the corner of my eye something go flying through the air, and then in horror saw my crazy baby fall onto the floor and bump the back of his head on the tile floor. Thankfully, he is fine, but you can imagine the commotion it caused- and as if this weren’t enough, Carrigan did work himself into another whining, crying fit at the table shortly after, so it was a completely chaotic mess by this point- needless to say, we ate the mystery meat and got out of there asap. Worst restaurant experience we’ve had for sure.
Headed to the infamous Pearl RIver Cruise for terrible chow, narration entirely in Chinese, and some cool night lights.

Headed to the infamous Pearl RIver Cruise for terrible chow, narration entirely in Chinese, and some cool night lights.

Tonight was the Pearl River dinner cruise- we weren’t going to go since we knew how bad the food was last time and we’d already done it once, but the kids really wanted to go, so we sucked it up and went anyway. ┬áSome of us had fun.
They must have spent all of the food money on the entertainment.

They must have spent all of the food money on the entertainment.

On to HK!