Sunday, January 30, 2011

What will we do without 姐姐?

We put our daughter on a bus this morning to go to the airport to get on a plane for Beijing and then Manila.  Right now, she is hanging out in the Beijing airport, probably eating Burger King.  She is going  to the Philippines on a service trip with her school.  They will be there about ten days serving meals to street children and doing some practical work in an orphanage. They are also hoping to spend at least one afternoon on a beach.  For those of us stuck in below freezing Northeast China, this seems like a pretty sweet deal!
Our sweet little guy loves his 姐姐。She calls him 小弟and they have a mutual admiration society.

Every evening  before bed, we hang out on our bed and he practices rolling and sitting.  Our daughter is the official sitting teacher.

He is pretty good at the tummy flying position!  "I believe I can fly..."

Sitting takes some balance and two hands to hold you up!

All by myself!

Oh, oh..going, going.....


Yoga?  Pilates?  Jack LaLanne?  Call it what you want...he loves to bend and stretch.  (Yes, I am wearing a skirt with long underwear and socks, and no, I did not go out like that in public! At least not this time. It's cold here!).

Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jia You, Little Baby!

One of the things that cracks me up about our little guy is his total pleasure in all of his accomplishments.  He recently learned to really roll over and now spends much of his day rolling.  When he first started doing things like rolling, we would say "Jia You!" to encourage him along.  "Jia You" literally means "Add oil" and you made have heard it at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.  

Here he is- he just rolled from stomach to back and is looking at me for his "Jia You!"

"Jia You!" received with total delight!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yes, I did think it would be easier

When we first got our sweet little foster son,  we felt that the best way we could love him would be to get him healthy and get him to a family.  We still believe that.  Our goal has always been to foster - at our ages and where we are in life, we still believe that a younger family would be the best thing for him.
I think like an American because...well, I am an American.  I believe that every problem has a solution if we just plan things right.  I am known in my family for saying "Be a problem solver" and I am not always very kind  or patient when I say it.
People from other countries know that while every problem may have a solution, not every problem get solved. The road to solution may be long and circuitous.  It may lead to a dead end or have several cul-de-sacs.  Such is the case with international adoption.  The road is circuitous.  It is very, very long. Special needs adoption is very, very complicated. Along every turn, we are reminded that our little guy does not belong to us...except for in our hearts.
Sometimes I look at our little guy and I wonder what his future will hold.  Will a family come forward?  Will the complicated procedure of getting him officially "adoptable" ever happen?  Will his future be with a family?  A foster family?  A foster home?  or a an institution?   I know what we hope for him.
Life here for special needs kids is complex.  Please read the links below of another child with Down Syndrome and his night spent with a very special foster mom and her attempts to get him medical care.  She is also our doctor for our little guy and just an outstanding physician and and advocate.

Because it is Sunday, it's time for Ni Hao Y'Alls Sunday Snapshot.
The following three pictures are of our little guy, his general disdain for socks and pride in being able to take them off.

Ni Hao Yall

Saturday, January 22, 2011

36 hours in Beijing.

Elisabeth and I made a quick trip into Beijing to take care of a few things.  We took the 8:30 train in on Friday, finished up our business and then had a free day on Saturday to hang out.  We had  a  great train ride in on Friday- the train was almost empty.  Our train ride back was less that stellar- very crowded and a woman wouldn't move her bag of embroidery from the luggage rack so we couldn't get our suitcase up.  Then she took it down during the trip and embroidered.  She wouldn't get off her cell phone so we could explain that we needed to get our suitcases up.  A nice man cleared some space on the other rack and helped us get our bag up. Thank you, kind stranger!
The first time we came to China, we spent about a week in Beijing.  I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, my total lack of Chinese and just the noise level!  Now, it's one of my favorite places.
When I am in a city like Beijing, I am reminded of what an amazing place we live in.  For example...this place.

From our taxi- the structure known as the Beijing Underpants!

And we can just walk past this amazing place- The Forbidden City.  Elisabeth and I also walked through Tienanmen Square and through Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.  Yes, it's a little creepy.

Beijing has a huge ex-pat population and with that comes Western Food.  Just in case you ever come to China, when the Papa John's menu says that a pizza is enough for two people, they are talking about teeny-tiny Chinese women.  Just saying.  We had dinner  on Friday at a place called The American Cafe and I had a Cobb Salad.  It was fantastic.  I haven't had a salad in a restaurant in a year and a half.  Seriously!  
For Saturday breakfast, we went to a diner.  Really! It was called Steak and Eggs and it was really, really great.  Here is the first omelette I've had in a year and a half.

Did I eat it all?  Yes, yes I did. Except for the hash browns.

We walked around a mall that was decorated both for Christmas and Chinese New Years!

Of course, there were wonderful examples of not quite right English.


This was for an acrobatics show- "Novel, beautiful, odd, thrilling."

These signs were all over Chao Yang!

Inside an apartment building.

Sink in  a restaurant bathroom.

On a bench outside the apartment where we stayed.  The noise level in China can be quite....high!

Elisabeth and Bunny, trying to obey the rule.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What did we do this week?

We are in the slow season in China.  It's almost Chinese New Year and it's hard to make appointments or get any business done.  In the first two weeks of February, most of China pretty much shuts down.  Stores are open but things are more expensive.  We have heard that policeman give out more tickets because they need money to give as gifts at Chinese New Year.  Fortunately, we don't drive here.
Last year, we were in Hong Kong on Chun Jie and saw the fantastic fireworks- magic!  This year, Elisabeth will be in the Phillipines on her service trip and we will be here.  We are excited to actually be in China for Chinese New Year!
So what did we do this week?

Paul - studied Chinese every day.  Not that that should surprise any of you who know him!  He also did some teaching of important things.  Almost every day around 4:00, he gets a text message of things that Sandy wants him to buy on his way home.  His Chinese teacher thinks this is hilarious.

Sandy- studied Chinese with her language helper.  Her main job was to care for the sweet baby.  This is a joyful sacrifice for her and one that we hope bears much fruit in his life. She also helped two Chinese women with their English pronunciation.  She went to the PFA meeting at the international school, which was held in English, Chinese and Korean.  The people speaking those languages weren't necessarily from those countries.

Elisabeth went to school, did homework, went to mentoring and had play practice.  Pretty much the same week as always.

The sweet baby popped out two bottom teeth, worked hard on rolling back and forth, practice sitting with Elisabeth and almost crawled.  Exciting days for him.

Our temperatures are well below freezing.  Last Saturday when we went out, our eyelashes and eye brows got icicles immediately.  But we plug on, riding our bikes and enjoying our lives here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The high chair.

The first time he sat in the high chair - about three months ago.  He was tiny and bald and we buckled him in really securely because we were afraid he would slip through the leg holes. The pajamas were loose on him.

But now!

Taking up more space.  Sitting more steadily.  Hair on his head that has actually been cut twice.  He is wearing a  little frog suit that I couldn't have imagined would ever fit him.

Holding the spoon.  Someday we hope he will make the connection that he can feed himself.  But for now, we are happy to feed our little chunky monkey.

Ni Hao Y'all

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today is national delurking day!

I have a tracker on my blog so I can see locations and how people found my blog.  For example, if you do a google search on something like "walking to China", my blog may come up.  But I don't know anything more than that!  
So who are you?  How'd you find the blog?  Do you think our foster son is the cutest thing ever and you want to adopt him?  (Seriously:).  What have you learned about China?  Anything you want to say.
Remember, it's delurking day..not stroke my ego day!  I want to know who you are.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shen me? 什么?

When you don't understand something in Chinese, one of the many things you can say is "Shen me/ 什么?which kind means "What?"  So along those lines, I bring you the toilet restaurant.  Coming to a mall near us.

Just eewww!

I just have no words.  I'm just happy they aren't squatty potties.  Here is the website for the restaurant
.  It makes me gag just to think about it.

I see "keep close" on a lot of signs.  Darn unvoiced "d" sounds!

I assume "piling" means rushing into each other and pushing.

Here, scourge away the toilet images from your mind with a few shots of the sweet baby.

Remind me to move my feet next time!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

Ni Hao Y'all

Sometimes we miss the weird stuff.....

like having a predictable life!

Most of the time we are reasonably happy here.  We can get many things that we used in America or at least a version of it. We have friends. We have a nice apartment.  Our Chinese skills are improving.  We have Chinese friends.  We are having meaningful relationships and good conversations.  We have some access to English books.  We can watch some TV online.  Have limited choices can be a good thing.
I don't miss politics or 24 hour news or TV.  I do miss our library and bookstores.  I miss being able to use a debit card anywhere I want. I miss going to church. I miss convenience and things that are easy.
Sometimes I get flashes of odd things that I miss.  I miss whole wheat frozen waffles.  I miss little country festivals like Columbia's Heritage Festival.  I miss yarn shops and access to knitting needles.  Chinese knitting needles are super long and require a knitting technique that I am not familiar with.
We miss Trader Joe's and Joe's O's and French Roast coffee. Elisabeth misses Reese's peanut butter cups.  Paul misses speaking in front of groups and I miss teaching (hopefully remedied next year as I stop full time language study and look for a teaching job.)
With fostering our little guy, we have entered into a world that is complicated and difficult.  We have encountered a glitch in our desire to have him placed into a forever family.  I can't and won't post the details but if you think of it, say a prayer for our sweet baby this week.  We believe that he has been brought this far for a reason and that there is a family out there for him.  Our word for him is "Deliverer" and we believe that he will be delivered.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Mother Daughter Banquet

In a desire to honor mother's and daughter, some of the guys in the ex-pat community organized a mother daughter banquet last night.  Different guys were assigned different tasks- for example -one guy smoked the chicken on his roof top smoker.  Some others were assigned entertainment, decorations, plates and silverware and side dishes.  It is entirely possible that some wives had to help their husband's with this tasks.  It's also possible that that is just a rumor.
Anyway, it was a fun evening for all involved.  There were all kinds of mothers- birth mothers, adoptive mothers and foster mothers.  One little girl had been with her foster family for about one day!  She ran around happily in her new environment.  There were teenagers and children in high chairs.  It was fun to be served by the guys and just to relax and enjoy being mothers and daughters.

Of course, I brought my favorite daughter.

There was some music with a few technical glitches.

"The Children's Hour" was read, along with some corny jokes.

The sweet baby came, too.

Sweet little three year old.

A Chinese girl was fascinated by our little guy.  In this one child society, children don't often hang out with children of varying age groups.

Cute toddlers and pretty decorations.

Our friends.

We also sang as a group.

Paul gave the "homily" and if you know Paul at all, you know it was fun and dramatic!