Monday, December 2, 2013

Zoo and Riverboat Cruise - Monday, December 2nd

Aside from the day we met Lily, today was my favorite day in China by far! We started off with breakfast with the Dusseaults. We were hoping to all eat together, but this clearly baffled the hostess. 10 people? At one table? How about 3 tables? Yes, 3 tables will definitely give us the same dining experience as one. We managed to fit at 2 tables - Brian and Beau with Henry, Matthew, and Caroline, and Amanda, Beverly, my mom, me, and Lily at another. I definitely think we had the easier end of that deal, because every time I looked up at least one of the guys was gone from their table getting something for the kids. A few times the kids were there all by themselves. I'm pretty sure I caught one man nearby giving them a strange look, like they had somehow managed to serve themselves food and were just hanging out eating together with no adults in sight. Those crazy Americans...

After breakfast we parted ways with the Dusseaults who had a meeting and then would be heading off to meet James!!! We gathered our things and headed back down to the lobby for a trip to the Guangzhou City Zoo. It was really nice to have another day doing something that the kids enjoyed. We started off our tour of the zoo with rides on these little shuttles that took us all around to see the animals at a glance. We stopped at the panda house to see the two baby pandas, but unfortunately they were hiding inside and we couldn't really see them. Our guides took us down the hill to the giraffes and we got to feed them again! There was one baby, and both Matthew and Caroline were in love and wanted to feed it. This time we got 4 branches for 4 yuan, at the safari park it was 15 yuan for one branch. Smaller zoo, smaller prices! We had fun feeding and watching the giraffes for a bit. Let me tell you, those suckers have some long tongues! If they think there's a chance you'll feed them they start sticking out their tongues like they're going to wrap them around your arm and pull you in. Wearing green might have been a mistake...

Back to the shuttles to finish off the zoo loop, then we had time to explore on our own. This part of the visit will now be titled "Lily vs. Mommy: Lessons on Power Struggles". In just a few short days I have already learned how to distinguish Lily's "I'm scared" cry where she immediately needs to be picked up and snuggled and her "I'm ticked off" cry when she doesn't like something and just wants to throw a fit. I'm sure that in the orphanage this was a main way to get attention, but in our house this will not fly! While it may seem harsh to let her cry a bit and not give in, we are also establishing boundaries for our roles as parents and her role as the child. So, we put her in the stroller with her snack cup in the hopes that she would hang out and give my arms a rest. This lasted about 2.5 seconds. She started crying because she wanted to be held. I stayed in her sight and reassured her, rubbing her back and trying to hold her hand so she knew that I was close and she was safe. Still mad. Then we thought we'd have Brian get her out and "rescue" her to work on establishing that bond. Better, but still mad. She at least let him hold her though, and wasn't doing the "I'm scared" cry, just the "I'm ticked off" cry. He got her to calm down a few times, but she kept starting up again. Another fun thing about all of our sightseeing is that they occur around 11:00, and her naptime was 12:00 at the orphanage. What time is it now, you ask? 11:55. After several minutes of continued crying fits he handed her off to me so that I could try to get her to sleep. I rocked her for a few minutes and she was out. This is when I am oh so sneaky and put the Ergo on. I have free hands and she doesn't know she's restrained! Small break from "Lily vs. Mommy: Lessons on Power Struggles".

I just have to take a minute and brag on Matthew. He has been such an amazing helper and big brother on this trip. His favorite new "big brother" job is to push the stroller for us. He loves it so much, that he doesn't want any help and gets upset if one of us starts to push it. He even goes up all the ramps and says "I can do it by myself. I'm strong." You sure are buddy!

So at this point Matthew is pushing Caroline, Lily's asleep in the Ergo, and all the adults are loving life! We saw a few sleeping bears, some white lions, and lots of ducks and swans swimming around in the pond. We didn't have a ton of time so we asked the kids what was the last section they wanted to see and they chose the reptiles! Matthew showed us how to get there by following all the marked signs and maps. Something interesting (and possibly not humane) about the zoo here is that the animals have hardly any room, and there are lots of them in small areas. The reptiles were all in tiny cages, and many were piled on top of each other. There was one tank of iguanas or lizards of some sort (all the labels are in Chinese so we just made up names for everything. There were lots of lizards and iguanas) and there were so many that it looked like the rock and branches they were on were made of lizards. I mean they were piled on top of each other. I kind of felt like they were staring at me creepily and had to move away. Here's another fun fact about China zoos: they leave live food in the tanks for the animals to eat. So here we are looking at all these lovely reptiles, and Matthew and Caroline are oohing and aahing over the cute little mice, ducklings, and baby bunnies sharing their tanks. Thankfully none of them were in the mood for a meal, or we would have had some fun conversations. Matthew did notice one snake awake and we were trying to move him quickly past it and he starts saying "Is the snake going to eat the ducklings? Why is that gross? I want to see?" No Matthew, he's just going to play with them. Push the stroller over here and look at these cool... lizards? iguanas? chameleons?

Now while we are enjoying these lovely reptile displays, little koala wakes up and realizes she's in the Ergo. Not happy! Resume "Lily vs. Mommy: Lessons on Power Struggles". I know that all she wants is to get out, but she is safe and being held and I can tell she is testing the waters. I hold her close, tell her it's ok, rub her back, and rock her. Still mad. She starts arching her back and attempts to catapult herself out. I hold her closer and tell her no sternly in her ear. She relaxes a bit but is still crying. This cycle continues for what seems like an eternity. Chinese people are giving me strange looks like I am torturing this child and should definitely not be allowed to leave the country with her. It is really hard knowing what to do at this point, because the rules are different with adopted children. But I am relying on my parenting instincts and doing what I think is best at this point. Finally when we have reached the front of the park and our group she stops crying. I praise her like crazy and immediately take her out of the Ergo. She's happy as can be again. Victory! Then we discover stairs. She loves to walk/throw herself down stairs. Unfortunately for her, it's time to go, so we don't have time to go back up the stairs. I carried her away, and when I put her down she turned around and headed right back for them. This happened twice and then I carried her (not too happily) to the bus. She is persistant!

After the zoo our guide took us to a Cantonese restaurant for lunch. It's so nice when he does this because he orders everything for us, and gets things that he knows we will eat. Today we had bbq pork, sweet and sour pork, green beans (delicious!), sweet potato and pumpkin soup (my favorite), goose neck (yikes!), bok choy, rice, tea, and there might have been a few more things but I can't remember what they are.

We came back to the hotel and had some time for naps before our dinner cruise. Today was the first time that Lily took a nap and was not on top of me! I actually got to leave the bedroom once she went to sleep! It was amazing :o) We had to wake all three kids up to go on the boat. They all had bed head and were super sleepy, but perked up when we got there and saw the cool lit-up boats. We had assigned tables in the dining area, and couldn't find ours anywhere! Then we realized that there were people already sitting at it, because it had a great view right next to the window. I don't think so! We showed them our ticket and they moved. We Americans are not as foolish as you may think ;o) We enjoyed sitting next to another family from Florida who just adopted a 10-month-old little girl, and hope to keep in touch with them when we return home. Rumor had it (even from our guide) that the food wasn't that great, so we brought PBJ sandwiches for the kids to eat. I wasn't really hungry at all since we'd had a big lunch so I didn't even go through the buffet. Brian said the highlights were the chicken feet and the whole duck (including the head and bill) on a platter. Delicious! Lily had fun walking around right next to our table and eating her dinner on the go.

After dinner we went up to the top deck. The view and the lights of the city were gorgeous, but I had a little trouble enjoying them because littlest miss wanted to walk around. Not such a good idea when you're unsteady on your feet, are on a moving boat, it's dark, and there are people everywhere looking up at all the lights, not down at their feet where a tiny munchkin might be. Oh, and there were two staircases which must have been screaming "walk down me" loudly in Chinese because that's where Lily kept heading. I took her back down to the dining floor, and once again had to kick someone out of our table. This time I just sat down across from the man without saying anything and he got up and moved.

 Look who's sitting with Daddy!

The last part of the cruise was the entertainment. A Chinese woman dressed sort of like a clown put on a show for the kids that included juggling and balloon animals. To be honest I don't really know what she was doing because I was watching Lily walk around the room and get right up next to the lady to see what she was doing. She is definitely not shy! We are finding out more and more about our daughter every day.
When got back to the hotel we got to hear about the Dusseaults' gotcha day, then it was off to bed for the munchkins. Good night from China!

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