Friday, August 20, 2010

We Came. We Saw. We Sweated. (Guangzhou Zoo Part 3)

The squeaky shoes were in full effect today. Wren wanted to be put down and walk on her own for a little bit. I say a little bit because she got really excited and started running and...well you know. she tripped and skinned her knee a bit. Until then though, it was happy squeak time. She is very proud of her squeaknicity. She learned to blow kisses today and it is really sweet. Seems like she is just learning to kiss so she tries really hard and grunts when she does it. We are definitely seeing more of happy Wren now. The other one comes out when she gets tired. It really is like an on/off switch.

The purpose of the trip today was to capture some of the truly unique things that can be experienced here.

The largest white tiger preserve in the world is here. Over half of their population is in China.

They were so close I could almost touch them. speaking of...

someone just had a life moment!

and she pet a Joey.

we fed a giraffe, and then moved on to the one animal that is synonymous with China. Its homeland.

Here is why China is so special and unique.

Here is where we became a family.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We Came. We Saw. We Sweated. (Guangzhou Zoo Part II

The safari bit took us really up close and personal. Some of the sportsmen out there will like this one-

Insert "rack" comment/innuendo here. Lumbering along further these two zebras were really going at it. Trinity got an awesome shot!

Well, the neck up anyways. Got some video of this too. there was a takedown and they were on the ground. it was really kinda frightening as it was happening about 20 yards away and they were at full gallop at one point.

We got through ok and decided to have some lunch.

You try and I'll buy.

Koala butt. just kidding. Here's the "aaaaaawwwwwwwwww" shot.

Check out this bear sleeping.

No, I mean check out THIS bear sleeping. Looks hungry. Maybe he should have some Net Offal.

This dude got whacked upside the head and knocked end over a few minutes before by a trainer with what looked like about 5 ft of pvc pipe. Not sure if she was feeding it or what, but he was not too happy once he came too. He got all puffed up and charged her. His squawk is what you imagine. Wren began imitating it, funny. Family trait.

Meerkats! They were being fed while we were there. Little creepy crawly worms, I tried to get a shot of the feed bucket.

Ok, part 3 coming up shortly. As I wrap this day up and ever so subtly try to weave in a narrative for all this. i.e. what makes China unique.

We Came. We Saw. We Sweated. (Guangzhou Zoo Part 1)

Shana is so hot, tired and worn out now, that she has requested that she only be photographed from the back. 8^)

Before we get started, might I suggest something from the snack bar?

It was caramel corn, pretty good too. Those Americans and their selected popping beans!

We went to the "zoo" today, and this is no ordinary zoo. It is a theme park/water park/safari park. Like everything else here it is HUGE. side note: let me tell you how hot it is here...well wait, I could tell you but the humidity is, like Houston. My freaking camera lens keeps fogging up.

Started out in style.

Rolling up in the Merc. Movement was good. It meant air flow. So very hot.

Saw a Yak.

and a camel. About this time Wren is squealing with complete and utter excitement. I have video that will be added at a later time. It was really cute. She was blown away.

we saw...(and you know what is coming)



and bears...

oh my!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thank You All for Your Kind Words and Thoughts

I wanted to interrupt our regularly scheduled program to thank each and everyone of you who have thought about us and/or sent us emails of caring and support during this time.

It really means a great deal to us, and I apologize for the impersonal blanket "thank you".

Facebook is blocked here as well as our blog. (Google too) We have a tremendous helper on the outside hooking us up with the blog posts, and she is going to be headed this way at the end of this month!!

So any friend requests that have been set recently, I promise we are not blowing you off. Well, except for maybe that Gary guy. I don't even know who he is. 9^)

I am doing my best to keep this current, but sometimes it is hard to write as the days are exhausting. Please keep up the faith and thank you all for the love and support. We are archiving all of this for Wren (and us too), and it is very moving to see the support this little girl has from the other side of the world from those she has never even met.

A whole lotta love going on here.

P.S.- I did finally get my kiss.

It's a Blessing and a Kiss

.....and now for something completely different...

we are visiting a 1,500 year old Buddhist monastery for a non denominational blessing for our child. It is raining on the way and our guide jokes that it means we are distinguished guests, and then it really starts pouring an she's says, "very distinguished".

The name of the Pagoda is the Six Banyan Trees.

Usually you can walk to the top but it is under renovation. Our guide did not recommend it, she said that it leans much like the Tower of Pisa.

Outside you can smell the thick incense burning even in the rain. Here you can make a wish and light some incense, the more people who help you wish the better your chances. The catch is that if it comes true then you have to come back and give them "their props".

After hurriedly walking through the courtyard (due to the rain) we went into the main temple. I could not help but notice that the monk (who would later chant) was texting on his blackberry. Buddha must have told him to get to work.

The Buddhas inside represent the Past, Present and Future. The purpose is a blessing for you and your child (the new family) to live a long and happy life together throughout all time. (longevity and peace are common themes throughout China) While very simplistic (aside from close to 6 tons of sculpture) it is a very moving ceremony. You have the rhythmic chanting, the sound of the rain, the wind, the smell of the incense, stillness, and your family next to you. You can think whatever you want. I did not see it as a prayer more an acknowledgment of life. I got a rush of emotions as this was a moment when all else stopped and I got a chance to reflect.

Wren is like, "What do you want from me?"

After that we piled back into the van and did some shopping at the Government market. Incredible hand made crafts. Trinity got some great shots.

This guy paints only with his hands and fingers, all that you see there.

Beautiful. Most of the landscapes are from the city of Guilin in the Guangxi province (province is like a state for us- this is the same province where Wren is from). Unfortunately we were not able to visit there this time.

Then this other guy carves your name into a chop. which is used for your signature. He translates your name into Chinese characters.

He's working on a "Tarver" above. I took him about 10 minutes. Absolutely amazing craftsmanship.

Then we went back to the hotel. On the way I played a little game with Trinity. I kissed her and made a big production of it and then kissed Mommy. Wren watched curiously an then mimicked and gave mommy her first kiss! Then Trinity got one! Then daddy got DENIED! (cue Family Feud buzzer sound effect)

One more thing, I made a deal with my niece Gracie this summer on her birthday. She had a special wish, and I told her that it was a good one. (I invoked the special Uncle exception to sharing your birthday wish Rule 7 article 9 section 10) I offered to share my birthday wish, and wish for the same thing too. So, here is my promise, sweetie. Love you!

Always Darkest Before Dawn

Rough night last night. I looked after Wren so Shana could get a few hours of sleep. I counted down the hours until we had to go to the medical appointment. (seems like I am doing a lot of counting down lately)
We ate at the buffet and the view was spectacular. The restaurant is on the 30th floor and is a circle. (like Spindletop in Houston) It is called the Carousel and you can walk around and get a 360 degree view of the city. I'll get some pictures later, I have to be cool for the first couple of days. Not too touristy. I wouldn't want to stand out or anything. 9^)

The van picked us up and we met another family from Wisconsin who had also recently adopted. (they used the same agency as us) We began the Bataan Death march. (audience yells- ...and it was hot) We entered the medical center.

Now, if you are a Beatles fan (or not), then you may or may not know about the White album. Play Revolution #9 as loud as you can, and layer in some extra tracks of children screaming. and I mean screaming. then mix it in with one of those hot yoga classes. Then step in the shower fully clothed and get really wet. Now, hold your scared child and get pulled into a room with a doctor who does not speak English, and puts a stethoscope up to your child's heart, gets a mortified look on her face and immediately calls in a second doctor who then repeats the same gesture-all the while you can tell something is up, but they won't tell you (or can't because of the language issue)- head shaking as if, damn! that's a problem. Only to finally read her chart to find out that she has not had her surgery yet. then act like it is ok, no big deal, don't panic. Ah, yeah. You just panicked and you are a doctor.- We know what she has is bad, that is why WE ARE HERE TO HELP HER. I felt my index finger at the ready. someone was getting a poke. The doctor gave up on checking her ears and she would not give him his tongue depressor back. (she's a tough little one)

On to the EN&T. Seemed to go all right. Now we wait for the last part. The vaccinations. We thought we might get a stay of execution because of her condition, we have a doctors note from back home saying that the stress would not be good for her. They decide that since she is not dead that she can still get the shots. Only 4 though, and a TB test. Now we wait for about 30 minutes. There is one small cool air blowing thing, I will not call it an air conditioner, because this contraption aspires to be one, it however was not. Anyways, I centered us in front of it. One by one I saw the line get shorter, calm kids go in, hysterical ones come out.

XIA RUN LE! XIA RUN LE! At first, I didn't recognize her name (the one the orphanage gave her- the Xia is for her province), I held her so mommy could be spared the worst of it. She was not happy, that I was holding her, but there was no way out. I watched in horror as they jabbed and squeezed and jabbed with nary a word of comfort. Just a cold, assembly line mentality. It was worse for me than for her. I was thinking-come on! she's 2.5! I was outraged and there was not a damn thing I could do about it. She was screaming and hollering in such pain. Helpless. I felt like the lowest of the lows. First I take her from her family, all that she knows and loves, put her with strangers, take her back to see her old family seemingly almost as a taunt, move her to a new city, overstimulate her with people/chaos/planes, exhaust her, and then give her shots. Talk about breaking somebody. She was weeping in Shana's arms and I leaned over and said (this is what it sounds like) "Doy Boo Chee" which means "I'm sorry" and she looked up at me and then buried her head in Shana's shoulder and cried harder. I was sleep deprived and exhausted, and hopefully that would be the end of it.

We went back to the hotel that afternoon and I fell asleep for 3 hours. When I got up, I played a Chinese CD of Children's lullaby's I got in Nanning. She was looking sad with her head down, and as soon as she heard it she instantly perked up. She sang and danced and acted silly, much like the happy child we had only seen glimpses of. I had also bought some DVD's of a popular cartoon here called "Pleasant Goat", and we all watched them together. With momentum on my side, I decided to take the girls to the pool. We thought it might be an "iffy" situation, but much like bubbles and ice cream, pools seem to have a positive effect on children...and yet again it worked. Things were on an uptick. When she came back from the pool we went to dinner and she let me feed her. Once we got back to the hotel, she took her shoes off, as if to say, ok, I'll stay.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So Long Nanning, I Barely Knew Ye

I feel like I have been here for nearly a week and know nothing more about this town than when I got here. Typically I like to learn as much as I can about a city and or country before I go there. I read some on the internet and the city was grossly misrepresented. I had high hopes for the city tour, however, our tour was lackluster at best. (sorry to go negative so soon)

After the other day I have been ready to leave, I keep thinking FM is going to mysteriously appear somewhere or something else is going to happen and they are going to take Wren away. I know it is a silly notion, but sleep deprivation takes its toll on the weary mind.

Let's switch to pictures.

Here are some shots of the hotel and mall area.

This building was entirely gold colored. Interesting.

This is the view from the corner of the mall. Massive structures in the distance.

The big building looks like it is eating the smaller one.

The view from the hotel looking the opposite way.

The view of the mall from the crosswalk, and the fitting descent into the bowels of Wal Mart.

Here is our room after the sprinkler incident.
Check out the Pizza Hut menu.. Not your typical fare by any means.

Trinity got a new hat

We had some time to kill so I played with the camera.


It will feel good to leave, like we get to start anew somewhere else and move forward.

At long last we headed to the airport. Shana made the fatal mistake of not going before we left. The price she paid for her lack of foresight was a gas station squatty. (shudder)

The the airport. Let me see, how can I describe the experience...Well, it was hot. We all were sweating profusely. then we had to do a cattle car through the terminal, our gate was the least one, it was hot, we waited in line to get to the front to tell us that they had switched gates (maybe the lady with the loudspeaker yelling something and our line quickly moving away had something to do with it, and it was still hot, so I just cut in line, to hell with it. I was hot. this gate did not lead ot the magic plane, though, oh no, it led to the tram. Which was hot. and crowded. We lurched about 50 yards and then got off on the tarmac, an ditto was...dark (betcha thought I was gonna say "hot") So, we got on board. and waited. Cue wren's meltdown in 3...2..1. We sat on the runway for about 45 mins and then were off to Guangzhou. The flight was about an hour and poor little Wren eventually collapsed from exhaustion. We landed and got our bags and it was still hot. (nighttime now)

After a 50 min drive we arrived at our hotel and slept as best we could. The next day was to be the dreaded medical checkup where your child can receive up to 8 shots at one sitting. Really really not looking forward to that.

Oh, I meant to mention earlier in our trip that we knew something special was going to happen while in Nanning. "All it takes is a little faith and trust..."