Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Shamian Island - Tuesday, December 3rd

Are you ready for this earth-shattering news? This morning Brian and I got to go workout together! My mom brought Matthew and Caroline over while Lily was sleeping, and I actually got to run on the treadmill instead of doing a Jillian Michaels video in the room. Woohoo! We only went for 30 minutes so that we'd hopefully be back before Lily woke up, but when we got back she was happily sitting on the floor playing with her siblings. I was amazed! As soon as she saw me though she stopped and wanted to sit in my lap. This made me happy because it shows that she is recognizing me as her mommy and prefers to be with me.

We were almost ready to go down to breakfast when there was a knock on the door. It was the Dusseaults, and we got to meet James! He is just so precious and it's so amazing to see his face with his family instead of in a picture at the orphanage. Lily walked right over to him, and they kind of looked at each other. I'm not sure if she recognized him or not, it was almost like "Of course he's here, I see him every day. What took you so long James?"

Today we didn't have to be anywhere until 11:30, so we took our time going down to breakfast, looking at the fish, and getting ready for the day. Lily actually took a short nap on me around 10:30 until it was time to leave, which was good because normally as soon as we get somewhere it's her naptime and she gets super cranky and cries and then I end up spending the entire adventure trying to calm her down and get her to sleep and as a result missing everything. But I am getting some amazing arm workouts! Plus, today's outing was shopping so I really needed my hands to be free ;o)

Today's outing was to Shamian Island. A few years ago this was where every adoptive family stayed when they were in Guangzhou, at the White Swan Hotel. As a result there are tons of shops on the island with all kinds of traditional Chinese items and gifts for cheap prices. Now almost everyone stays at the Garden because the White Swan has been undergoing renovations since 2011 and is closed. It won't open again for a few years. The US Consulate and medical center also used to be on the island, but those have moved as well. So now most people just spend a day visiting the island to do some shopping, take pictures with some of the statues there, and eat lunch at Lucy's.

Obviously shopping is not the preferred activity for Brian and the kids, so he entertained them outside feeding them lunch while mom and I went in the shops. It's a bit overwhelming to shop in China. The shopkeepers follow you around, and most items don't have prices so you have to ask them how much everything costs. Of course it's in yuan, so it all seems like funny money and you're having to divide by six in your head, all the while trying to decide if this is actually a good price or if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. Sometimes you feel like a walking dollar sign. And of course you can bargain too, so it comes down to a game of chicken with the shopkeeper who keeps telling you "this very good price, very good price" and your willingness to believe them or not.

My favorite store was Michael's. They seemed to have some of the best prices, and one of the store owners entertained Lily for me so I could shop! She kept giving her different toys to play with and sat next to her on the floor while I looked around. She even gave me a little toy phone as a gift for her! I think that we bought most things in this store. I got more of the 18 gifts for Lily on each birthday, a tea set for myself, and several Christmas gifts for people. I had sent Brian ahead to Lucy's with Matthew and Caroline, and mom and I just had Lily, and she had left us quite the gift in her diaper. But of course, I have no diapers because they are with Brian! So after Michael's we headed over to Lucy's to find him. They had just finished eating and were going to play on the playground. We cleaned Lily up and she had a great time going down the slide with Brian. She seemed to be doing well playing, so mom and I left and went back to a few more stores before it was time to meet the bus. The last store we were in the shopkeeper was amazed that mom was a grandma. She kept telling her how young she looked and how thin she was. She said most grandmas are old and big. Haha! Then she wanted to take a picture with mom and gave her a business card and asked her to email her the picture. Hilarious! Meanwhile, Brian was preventing Lily from plummeting off the playground and trying to teach her to look down before she walks down the stairs or off a ledge. She's at the age where she's a complete danger to herself!

We only had a few minutes to make it back for the second bus (our guide Miko arranged for one bus to come back a little later since lots of people wanted to stay on the island) but I wanted to get some statue pictures on the way. We found the famous statue with children following a musician and one open space where you have your child stand. Lily actually did a great job standing there, but this random Chinese boy would not leave her alone! He kept hugging her and walking all around while we were trying to take a picture. Apparently in China it's normal to have random people in your photos, because his dad made no effort to have him move. He only came close when the kid was about to shove Lily out of the way, and then he was in the picture as well. Sheesh! But, you can get the idea anyway. We were the only family that actually showed up to take the second bus home (others decided to get a taxi) so we enjoyed a private bus ride across Guangzhou. Matthew wanted to sit in the back, so all six of us sat across the back row with a whole empty bus in front of us.

Nap time back at the hotel. Today I wasn't so fortunate to have free time during Lily's nap because she was on me most of the time, and I couldn't sleep either because my back was hurting. I finally managed to escape at some point and had a few minutes kid-free before dinner. We went to dinner with the Dusseaults and decided to try the Mexican restaurant nearby. When in China... eat Mexican? In the US, Mexican food is usually a pretty cheap dinner option. In China it's one of the most expensive. But, we wanted something that wasn't Chinese so we splurged. It was great to have chips and salsa. I really wanted a margarita, but since we can't have ice those were out. We put James and Lily next to each other at the end of the table, and Lily definitely felt comfortable throwing an occasional piece of food at James, reaching for his food, or swatting his hand out of the way if he got too close to hers. She really enjoyed her food - a lot! It was everywhere! The other kids didn't have such a great time. Poor Henry was sick, so he fell asleep on Beau. Caroline was in meltdown mode ever since we woke her up for dinner so she kept crying and laying on Brian and refusing to eat the chicken nuggets she had requested (although she was very sweet and kept handing Lily her fries). And Matthew was happy as long as he was allowed to play with Brian's phone. But at least the adults got to talk! And my mom and Beverly discovered that they are the same person - same birthday, birthplace, career, and married to a Brian!

Bedtime back at the hotel. I made Lily lay down next to me, she wasn't happy at first but cried only for a second and then went to sleep. Score! Tomorrow is our last official sightseeing day at Yuntai Garden. Then Thursday is our consulate appointment, Friday is a free day, and we head to Beijing Friday night. We spend Saturday at the Great Wall, Sunday morning doing some more sightseeing there, and then leave Sunday evening. And, we arrive home on Sunday night! Gotta love jet lag :)

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