Two China Dolls and a Prince!

This blog chronicles the story of 2 of our adoptions, both older children when they came home. It begins in 2008 and will continue in the hopes we can be of encouragement and information to anyone thinking of older child adoption.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Happenings for NingNing

NingNing's last 3 days have been eventful.  I alerted him in China that we were a busy family :).  Saturday was haircut day.  NingNing has shown no signs of grieving, but when we talked about hair, he put up huge resistance.  We finally convinced him to accept just a "small" haircut.  When we watched James get his buzz cut, you'd have thought he was going to pass out right there!  But he survived and at least he can see now! Then we went to Grandpa and Grandma's (Wai Po and Wai Gong) to celebrate our August birthdays; Jessica's, Jr's and NingNing's of course.  NingNing actually picked the cake he wanted and then  we opened a can of chocolate frosting for him to try; he liked it!  So marble cake with chocolate frosting went on the "like" list.  On the "don't like" list are milk, eggs, cheese, Cheezits (is that possible??),  syrup, ice cream, spaghetti noodles (too bland).....
We gave him a small carved chess set I had bought in China, and the grandparents gave him a card with $10.  He opened it and said "Wawww", which apparently means "wow!"  When we got home, we asked him what he thought on Google Translate, and he said "he liked".  He also got a chance to meet my cousin (bao jie) and her boyfriend.

Sunday was church; I had bought silk shirts for the boys and had hoped they would wear them; both my boys looked so handsome!  NingNing won't believe he is nice-looking; always putting himself down, avoiding pictures if he can.  Even though I know he couldn't possibly understand a lot, he really seemed to pay attention when the sermon was going on.  For lunch, we met with a Caucasian friend who speaks Chinese.  He came out, said Ni Hao to NingNing and proceeded to converse in Chinese; NingNing's eyes got huge and he was speechless for a minute, then he joined in.
The conversation turned to sports and NingNing said he wasn't sure about doing basketball because he really wanted to concentrate on his English and doing well in school.  I thought it would be really good for socialization, but we won't push it if he really doesn't want to.

Handsome Son #1
Beautiful Little Ladies!

Handsome Son #2  Today was the red letter day.  NingNing was tested for English proficiency, which demonstrated Level 1, which we knew.  Then a lady came in and evaluated him some using Google Translate; that took about an hour.  We then had to return at 1:30 to discuss what the school had decided to do.  There was an interpreter who helped us "talk" a little more in depth; found out he is doing ok, and there wasn't anything different he wanted or needed from us.  The translator said his name was "cute" and  I thought he would melt right through the floor; first time I saw him blush, lol!
Basically, it was decided that for this week, NingNing will go halfdays starting tomorrow, and will be "buddied" with another 8th grader.  They told him through the translator he's expected to do nothing but observe, watch, listen, and absorb English; they are absolutely doing their best to ensure his transition to our school goes as smooth as possible.
I had the translator (a senior Chinese student at UCM) ask NingNing how he felt about tomorrow and he said he wanted me to be there.  I was so thrilled that he is already bonding to the extent that he wants Mom nearby; so he will ride the bus with his siblings and I will follow behind and hang out in the library until time to go home.  He seemed happier knowing I would be close.

Later, our oldest, Jessica, had a softball game.  She's a senior, so we're trying to go to as many games as possible.  She got two great hits, and a couple RBIs.  NingNing enjoyed it, but started yawning, so we headed home once we knew the outcome (we lost) and got all 5 kids in bed by 9:15!  That's pretty much a miracle for us.


Friday, August 24, 2012

NingNing's first days

I know it's been only two days since we've been home, but I just had to post what's been going on.  Yesterday (Thursday) we just hung around basically sleeping.  NingNing got up in the morning, took a nap partway through the day and then went to bed when we did at 10:30.  James said he was up during the night playing on the Ipod and sat on James's bed showing him because the Ipod was dead!  They both got up at a decent hour this morning and neither one has taken a nap today, so hopefully they will sleep completely through the night (kinda weird that i'm saying that about a 15 and 14 year old).
NingNing spent part of yesterday and today getting acquainted with his two younger sisters.  He has learned more English in the last two days from our youngest, Judi, than our whole 18 days in China!  Judi knows no strangers and glued herself to NingNing since the moment they met.  They tussle and mess with each other, but I think she fascinates him, just because she talks non-stop.  BUT, it has served to cause him to begin copying her, which is wonderful to hear.  He copies her exactly and since she talks with such expression, it's hilarious to hear a 14-year old boy copying a 7-year old girl.
For instance, at this very moment, they are all sitting on the couch; he is playing a farm game, and the girls are telling him what the items are in English and he's repeating it softly.

Today we took NingNing to Walmart as he has begun to express specific opinions on foods he doesn't like; quite the change from China, let me tell you!  So far, he hates milk and cheese or anything that tastes like cheese, didn't like spaghetti noodles (too bland), ate scrambled eggs in China, but not here (again too bland).  We got on Google Translate today and figured out he likes Sunny D, grapes, and toast with jam, so at least we've found something he can eat for breakfast before school.  We also told him we understand if he doesn't want to eat a lot, but he needed to eat something once he's in school full-time.  And for dinner, thank goodness for stir fry in a bag until my culinary skills improve! We bought more noodle bowls to send to school with him until his tastes adjust a little more; they are easy to make and only 3 minutes to microwave.  Not the most nutritous, but we're talking school lunches as an alternative, so which is the lesser of two evils, really?  Also found another plaid shirt and a hoodie he liked, as well as underwear and socks.
NingNing was a bit taken aback by the amount of food and drink we bought; he gave over pushing the cart to Jr after it was about half full!

Then, at 3, we visited the school.  We met with the ELL coordinator and just walked him around the middle school area.  We had the boy who's offered to be his "buddy' for awhile there and his mom, who is herself an ELL teacher and has offered her services for free.  Even if the school doesn't use her, she's offered to have NingNing come to her house as often as needed after school to work on English.  She's recommended the Pimsleur method for us to purchase, which teaches based on phonetics and breaking down English phrases piece by piece.  NingNing listened to a sample audio lesson and seemed to like it.  Now the girls are on Google Translate "talking" to him; he's said more English in the last hour than I've ever heard and everything he's said has been perfect pronunciation.  Monday, he will be tested to assess his English level and then they will devise how much ELL instruction vs. mainstreaming he will need.  My guess is he might go half-days next week and then fulltime the following week, but we'll see.
I was a little afraid that might have been too much for one day, but he seems to have handled it all well. 

Newsflash:  just this minute, NingNing showed me what he wrote on Google Translate...he said our youngest talks a lot and has ADHD!!!!  Now, how on earth would he know that term?  We're finding out there are amazing depths to NingNing.

We also told him today we go to church on Sundays and that we believe in Jesus; he seemed to understand that pretty well; we mentioned his friends go to church now as well too.
Well, I could write all night, but will save more for later. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NingNing's birthday present was.....

American citizenship!
We landed in San Fransisco at around noon yesterday on Tuesday, August 21, approximately 4 hours BEFORE we left China almost 18 hours ago!  Losing 13 hours time difference can really mess with your head.  NingNing had the longest birthday in history, about 37 hours total :) and is officially 14 now.
We were starved by the time we got to our hotel for the night and went to an Ihop.  James dove into the pancakes while NingNing ordered a burger and fries.  China portions are pretty small, so you should have seen his eyes when the burger came; the meat itself was 3 times as thick as anything we had in China, but he demolished it all!  This boy can certainly put away the food when he is hungry and is not overly picky. 
Also at the Ihop, I FINALLY got my first Diet Pepsi in 18 days!  Apparently Coke has overtaken China and all one can find is Diet Coke (only in Beijing) and Coke Zero (everywhere). 
Headed back to the hotel for some R&R; James finally zonked (he didn't sleep during the 4 hour or the 9 hour flight), but NingNing and I made it to about 9pm.  But the boys were awake about 4am and I finally gave up trying to sleep at 5:45a.  This was probably the only morning I haven't had a hard time getting these boys out of bed!

NingNing seems a little overwhelmed by all the English he's hearing, so we just stayed in the room to keep things low key.  He was on QQ with Seth while I was texting Seth's mom; we were talking about the boys and they were talking about us, I'm sure!

One more flight to KC, and then real life begins again, along with the work of learning English and making sure NingNing gets settled in school with the help he needs to have a good transistion.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Beijing and Hong Kong

We're in Hong Kong, Tuesday morning, getting ready for our longest flights of the trip.  I think today will be the toughest day for NingNing.
Saturday we did the Forbidden City, Tianneman Square, and the Olympic Parks.  The boys were really impressed with the Bird's Nest.

We spent our last day in Beijing on the Great Wall.  It was awesome!  The guide dropped us at this section called the Mutianyu section and there was a ski-lift to the top which we took.  Coming down we opted for the "chute", a toboggan ride all the way down the mountain!  Now that was fun!  We were going to see the Ming Tombs, but we overheard some people at our hostel say it was boring and not interesting, and we were exhausted from the Great Wall anyway, so we came on back and rested up for the trek home.
In Hong Kong, we're staying at the Silvermine Beach Resort.  Got here and just hung out, went to the beach for a bit, and then hung out some more.  Ningning enjoyed looking for mussels and looking at the other small animal life we found in the water.  The view driving in to our hotel was amazing.  I will post pictures the next chance I get.

We're back to no English again; I feel it's either stubborness, fear, or a mixture of both.  When he does say it, he speaks it perfectly, but last night, he refused to say even one English word, not even "James" or "Mom".  He's understanding a lot of what we say, because he either responds or laughs when I say something to James. Oh well, in one day English is all he's going to hear, so we'll see how it goes once we're home.  He's already out of his element, so I'm sure today is going to be difficult; we will be on American soil by the time I blog again

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lost in Beijing

We got lost in Beijing our first night here.  Our guide dropped us at our hostel and we were supposed to meet at 4; it was 230p.  We walked out our street to find a bank so we could eat.  We asked directions and headed that way.  Kept on and finally realized we weren't finding such a creature, so we stopped to ask a rickshaw driver with the Ipod.  He took us to one...great, right?  We hopped back in and asked him to take us to the McDonald's right by our hostel.  He took us to one waaaaaay far away; James and I were looking at each other like what the heck?  With no other choice and being really hungry, we grabbed food to go and flagged a taxi.  The driver looked at my map and couldn't figure out where to go.  FINALLY, NingNing spoke up and showed the driver where the address was and told him where we needed to go.  This is one of the first times NingNing has helped us out like that; he doesn't even speak up to order food; he points to what he wants and wants me to do it.  I've said it before; NingNing has big confidence issues; our guide in Guangzhou said no one gave him any direction at the orphanage; they just let him be and do what he wanted as long as he didn't cause them any trouble.  He also helped out today by speaking up and asking a couple of strangers where a bank was.  Just a few days ago, he never would have done that!

Met the guide on time (thanks to NingNing) and went on the famous Hutong tour by rickshaw and got to go in a family's home; I've done this back in 2004, but it was neat to see again.  Then we headed back to the hostel and the boys played badminton in the room (don't ask), and then watched a movie together.  Good times..........

Thursday, August 16, 2012

First spontaneous English word!

Ok, what the heck?  This was NingNing's word today!  I've been waiting for 9 days for anything, like "Mom", "James", "hello", "goodbye", etc. and it's "Eva".  So we were waiting for our guide to bring his visa and Wall-E came on.  Apparently NingNing has never seen this before and thought it quite hilarious.  When Wall-E and Eva introduce each other and say each other's names, all of a sudden, NingNing says "Eeeev-a".  James and I wanted to crack up, but we didn't want him to think we were laughing at him, so we just grinned at each other.  Oh well, at least it's English!

Last day in Guangzhou and in three trips, I never realized that beyond Lucy's there's a little walkway right next to the river and even another restaurant!  The boys went to play badminton again while I ventured back to take pictures of the river scene.  Yesterday I also got stopped by the police; they asked to see my passport and wrote down my information.  I kept the boys away from that area as we didn't have NIngNIng's passport back yet; not taking any chances.

Had smoked duck's breast at Lucy's (yum) and the boys went to play pool again.  Our guide showed up at 830 saying our travel agency, SSIT was demanding the rest of their money NOW and would not let us leave Guangzhou until we did.  To anyone whose agency uses SSIT, beware; this would have been a perfect trip except for certain things they did and didn't do.  It's a long story that didn't end in Chengdu like I'd hoped but I won't waste my blogging on them. 

Thankfully, they are not involved at all in our Beijing days, so here's hoping for a happy ending!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Too many days in Guangzhou

Six/seven days is officially too long in Guangzhou.  Nothing much to do when you have kids who hate to shop, couldn't care less about the architecture, and just want to sit in the hotel room and zone out.   And let's face it, unless you want to spend money in the millions of stores there are around here, there really isn't much you can do once you've seen the typical sights.
  Yesterday we met up with the Gerbers again and a couple other families, one also with a 13-year old boy who has quite a history.  I find it interesting that the Chinese kids will not speak to each other from different families.  Don't know if that's just their way not to talk to people they don't know, or what.
   We rode back to the China hotel with them on their bus, and went to MacDonald's for supper, then hopped a taxi back to our hotel.  I'm sure there was one closer to us, but it gave me an opportunity to talk with other families.  I crave that adult interaction, as my two boys would prefer we sit in the room all day and do nothing but watch TV.  I thought NingNing would be interested in being in a different city that he's never been in, and I thought James would be more interested in China in general.  But where we are is so modern, and crowded, and urban, it's been "underwhelming".  If I could just get the boys out to the countryside, where people scrabble for a meager living, then it might make an impression, but then again, maybe not.  I think it is very hard to impress today's teenagers at all, no matter where you are, and have them appreciate what they have. 

We did go out and buy badminton rackets though, and played for about an hour on the courtyard behind our hotel.  Try playing badminton in 100% humidity; you will lose at least 2 lbs of water instantly!

Last night, we had a conversation on Google Translate.  NingNing typed that James was bullying him, YET when they settled down from their daily evening wrestling fest, NINGNING started things up again by whacking James with a pillow!  So he is NOT a total innocent in the byplay!  Not only that, but he still sticks to him like glue whenever we're out.
Our conversation went on and I explained about school, that it would be schooltime when we got home (not sure what he expected; I think later because they don't start back here until Sept. 1).  He was slightly taken aback by that.  I went on to describe the school day and that the school was hiring someone to help him out.  He considers himself very stupid and told the guide this; how very sad.  His teachers here must have really done a number on him, because he doesn't consider himself smart at all and doesn't think he can learn English.  He can repeat things just fine, but will not spontaneously use English still, even to express a need.  I have to ask him if he's hungry or thirsty or tired, etc., or just doing ok.  I never thought I'd say that having a completely compliant, non-needy child was a little frustrating, but it is, simply because you don't know what they want or need, and have to guess all the time.
I feel like there's something I should be doing different so that he will feel better about trying English, but don't know what.

    This morning we had our Consulate appointment, so that's the final step.  All that is left is for our guide to pick up NingNing's visa tomorrow, so he can leave the country.  Not only do you need a visa to enter China, you have to have one to leave as well.  We were in and out pretty quick; they asked NingNing one question, if he still wanted to go to America, and he said yes, so that's good :).

    Then we went to the Electronics market.  This is a huge area where, you guessed it, they sell every kind of electronic item imaginable, Ipads, Ipods, Iphones, video games, DVDs, etc.  I went looking for  a little movie shop we went to last time where we bought 92 DVDs.  Found it, and this time I was conservative, and bought only 29.  They were 8RMB apiece, or about $1.75.  Some of the movies are not even out of  US theatres yet. Then James found some XBOX 360 games for 5RMB, or .90 apiece.  The really weird thing is, though, that the Ipads and Ipods are MORE expensive than in America or on Ebay!
   By this time, NingNing was making it somewhat apparent that he doesn't like to shop AT ALL!  Nothing major, just facial expressions, yawning, and sighing.  James is more vocal about it unless of course he's finding something he's interested in.  On our way out, we lucked into a counter that was selling translators.  The one I've been looking at on Amazon was $130.  This one was $50, so we had NingNing try it out (he did so reluctantly).  The guide explained it was for school and he typed in "do not go for a stroll".  Ok, point taken.
Back to the hotel room for another rousing afternoon of electronic stimulation.  Later, however, I'm dragging them out and walking to the pedestrian street for dinner at the Guangzhou Restaurant; want to eat there at least once.
Probably won't blog until Friday night when we're in Beijing.  I don't anticipate any major outings tomorrow and we have to be in bed very early for the flight on Friday.  Will be very glad to get there, do our whirlwind sightseeing and then start home.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Sunday we went to the Chen Family Temple and a park to see the Five Goats statue.  While I thought it was at least interesting, the boys were completely bored!  However, I thought it was cool because there were elderly people in the park ballroom dancing and doing hackysacks!  My two strapping, healthy, strong young boys refused to hackysack,though i bought them each one.  They were totally chicken about looking bad in front of the older people!   Later that day, we met up with the Gerbers and hit the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street.  It's a huge street just full of shops, more things for sale than you can imagine and probably more people in this one area than all of Kansas City! 
When we got back to the room, Trish wanted to go in some of the shops on the island, but the kids didn't.  So we left them all in our hotel room with James in charge and got some browsing in. 

We're finding out that NingNing is not used to a lot of activity, so all our walking and doing things kind of wears him out, but what else am I going to do with two teenage boys?  No way I'm going to let them stay on their electronics all day; we usually come back in the early afternoon to rest at which point James will do Facebook and NingNing jumps on QQ, then later we head to dinner (Lucy's), look in a few shops (ok, purchase a few more gifts for people back home), then back to the room.

I found an app on our Ipod and we started English lessons Sunday evening...basic words as well as 1, 2, 3, etc.  NingNing is very quick and said almost every word perfectly. 

Monday (today), we met up with the Gerbers, got the TB test read (negative), and went off to the Safari Park.  We rode the tram through and then walked the rest of it.  The boys were dragging until we got in the van, then they and YanPing started horsing around.  Finally, they calmed down and NingNing fell asleep.  Did our afternoon rest, then went to Lucy's again.  I got to thinking, Lucy's charges 18RMB for a Coke.  You don't think about it when you're handing out notes, but that's $3 USD!  Prices are NOT what they used to be here and it is getting expensive to keep two growing boys fed.  Tomorrow we are going to try and find a WalMart so I can get a few snacks to have in the room and quit going to the darn 7-Eleven.  P.S. When we went to Lucy's, NingNing chose a double-cheeseburger with fries!  He ate everything but the bun, tomato, and lettuce (went just for the meat); but hey, at least he's trying American food already!
As American as Apple Pie!

Chen Family Temple

Family Pic in front of Goat statue

Shangxiujiu Pedestrian Street
When we got in the room after dinner, I announced "English!" and NingNing crawled under the covers and hid, lol.  Tonight through another app, we worked on the alphabet.  It says the letter then has the person draw it with their finger.   Each time he was done with one, I had him go back and say all the letters before up to that one.  When he finished Z, he went back on his own and said every letter perfectly.  Sooo...either he's incredibly smart and memorized them that quickly or this boy knows the English alphabet when he said he didn't. 
Our guide told us this morning that Ningning said he didn't do well in school because he started having some issues in 4th grade, especially with math.  Because there were brighter and harder-working students in the class, he said he was ignored by the teacher and not encouraged at all; he said they just let him be.  It will certainly be a different story now and we'll make sure he gets lot of encouragement and support from us and his new school.
Didn't move fast enough to avoid the camera!

Chen Family Temple

Panda on "Ice"

James and NingNing have completely broken down the "newness" barrier and have commenced tussling at various times.  NingNing actually had James pinned down on the bed, when James flipped him completely over and pinned him.  Since this "brother" thing is still new to me, I just try to referee and make sure no one gets hurt.  NingNing also gave James a "fan" lesson.  A shop guy gave James a fan as a gift, and there's a knack for flicking it open.  He showed James numerous times and then he got it; so now he's an expert "fan-flipper" like NingNing:).

Till the next time........................

Saturday, August 11, 2012

More pics

Checking the eyes..looks like this will be a priority when we get home.  Doesn't he have a nice smile?
The start of the Chinese Twin Towers - 100 stories tall - the second one is under construction

Guangzhou pictures

Lost in thought on the way to the medical appointment.

The Canton TV tower; apparently there is even a Ferris wheel around the rim; NOT doing that!  I like this picture; he smiles and laughs frequently (mostly at us), but will only tolerate so much picture taking.

An example of Guangzhou growth; Elsie our guide said everything around this area is new within the last 5 years.  She said the buildings keep getting taller as there's no more ground!  One building is 100 stories tall and they are building a twin; their own "Twin Towers".

Yay!  He decided to go swimming!  After some hesitation, he jumped right in and swam like a fish!


Shamian Island is a favorite spot for models; they were everywhere.  Our guide said 4,000 people make Shamian Island their home; while the other 13.5 million are in the main city of Guangzhou.


We got to Guangzhou Friday, the 10th, two hours later than we were supposed to due to sitting on the plane for two hours before takeoff.  My biggest regret about leaving Chengdu is I didn't get the opportunity to get any province-specific souveniers/momentos for NingNing.  Neither guide ever took me anywhere to shop.  Our "good" guide, Ray, did finally, the last evening, take us to a very nice quaint shopping street, but wouldn't stop walking long enough for me to shop!  There were so many people I kept checking to make sure the boys were with me.

Today we had NingNing's medical appointment.  He was not happy about it, but didn't put up a fuss or anything.  However, when they got him in and pulled out the needles, all of a sudden, he sat straight up and said "Wahhhh, Wahhhhh!".  This is what he says when something impresses, surprises, or freaks him out.  He toughed it out though and the TB bump is looking ok.  The doctor kept coming out and ordering him to sit up straight; too funny!  I had asked our guide to let NingNIng know he could eat as much as he wants wherever we go because he usually eats only one plate at breakfast and refuses to get more.  I thought maybe he thought he wasn't allowed or something.  She told me he said he wasn't used to eating breakfast as he usually didn't eat until lunchtime??!!  No wonder he only weighs 98 pounds at about 5'7"!  Turn him sideways and he almost disappears! 
Communication is coming along thanks to Jibbigo and our translation app on the tablet.  I've learned a few key phrases and tonight he finally started trying to help us learn how to say the Chinese words the right way.  He seems to have an accent that makes it hard for him to understand us unless we say it exactly like he's heard it, so we're trying!  He laughs at us which is ok :).  We really try to encourage him whenever he says any English word (thumbs up, "Ok!", Hao (good)).  At least he is willing to try a few words more now.  

Went to dinner with the Gerbers (not the Horns-I had the wrong last name!) and Yan Ping, NingNing's foster sister.  She's still enamored with him and now they've established kind of a brother/sister teasing thing while NingNing just looks on laughing and kind of shaking his head.  Can't tell for sure, but don't think he and YanPing got along very well.  He's so easygoing and she kind of takes charge, so I can see that.

Earlier in the day, James took NingNing up to the pool.  At first, he said he'd never been swimming, then after a bit, when I asked him "you like to try?" he finally relented and stripped down right there at the pool to put on the trunks I brought (while I turned my back).  THEN he cannonballs into the pool and starts swimming like a fish!  He was holding out on us, which makes me wonder if he's doing the same thing with the English.  That will remain to be seen; when he's in America and English is all he hears, it may be a different story.

More paperwork tomorrow, then off to my favorite place, the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street.  James is looking forward to the plentiful camera opportunities of pretty girls!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


First time getting to be affectionate with NingNing
Ear cleaning - a custom in China

                               James and NingNing at the entrance to the Panda place
                                   Ray, James, and NingNing at Happy Valley Amusement Park
                   Family photo at Happy Valley Amusement Park - NingNing liked my idea of being taller
                   than James for a minute!
                                       I love this face - something the ear cleaning lady said :)
                                                  View of Happy Valley Amusement Park
                                          The Horns...Shon, Trish, and Ping, NingNing's foster sister

Happy Valley

Thursday,August 9, 2012
Still having issues with the pictures but working on it!
Today was go to the Civil Affairs office, sign one piece of paper, and verify the adoption certificate.
When Susie got here, she said for me to come, but not the boys!  She insisted they stay (why, I don't know), so very reluctantly, I told James to look after NingNing and left.  I know they're big boys, but still..........
Then we went off to the Happy Valley amusement park.  A fun day, but hot (again) and wet (sweating), but the boys had fun.  NingNing has begun to display a great deal of affection to James, i.e. hanging on him, putting his hand on his shoulder, pushing each other around as only brothers will do...he'll grab James' shirt and pull him in the direction he wants him to go, otherwise he is pretty much glued to James side.  I'm also still getting in my shoulder rubs and arm squeezes.

I also discovered another affection-promoting opportunity quite by accident.  We went into a Haunted Castle which NingNing wasn't too sure about.  Inside, there was a completely dark hallway with "dead" bodies hanging everywhere.  By American standards, it really wasn't very scary, but in that hallway, NingNing pushed up next to me and grabbed me; I promptly held him and continued to do so until we were through the hallway; it's just the best feeling ever when your new child trusts you enough to allow that so soon; I of course cherished every second.

I know this is the "honeymoon" period, but I am enjoying it immensely; he is such an easy kid to fall in love with :).
Tonight; off to "hotpot" dinner, a Sichuan specialty much like fondue; you "cook" your items in a scalding broth and then "cool" them in oil (yikes), but we have to try it since it's the signature dish of the province, then off to a little shopping, and tomorrow to Guangzhou!

Avoid the pepper bullet and.....clean ears

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'm a day behind because my VPN decided not to work for a bit and I can't get the computer away from the boys!  My pics are still uploading, so I will post those later.
Today we went to the Panda center which can be summed up in two and wet!  We saw about 5 pandas because they were smart enough to be indoors!  Once finished with that, James requested to eat at a Chinese McDonalds...we all got Big Macs though they don't call them that here; they are just burgers.  The fast food chains here taste better, I think, because they don't load up the food with all the grease America does; James agreed.
After lunch, we met up with Susie and headed off to Civil Affairs for the official "stuff".  This is where NingNing had to agree to be adopted by us.  Thankfully, there was no hesitation on his part  (I got a teeny bit misty but held it together) and once that was done, we were whisked off to the Notary and finished that up also.  They read us NingNing's information, that he was found abandoned at the No. 5 bus station in Chengdu, delivered to the police, and then the orphanage at 3.5 years old.  I asked our guide why a boy like NingNing would be abandoned and she said most likely his mother was divorced and wanted to remarry; children from a previous marriage are regarded as a burden and very sad and when I look at this sweet boy that is now mine, I can only wonder if his biological mother ever regrets her decision.

NingNing is a sweet and delightful boy.  He "bounces" everywhere he goes and is curious about everything.  He is polite and funny and did I say sweet?  James and he are really hitting it off; they spend most of the time together either on the computer or playing Uno or just hanging out watching TV for the brief moments we've been in the room.  He's impressed by all he's seen and has told Ray he is very happy with us :).

Tonight was the best, though.  Ray, our tour guide (not our not-so-fun adoption  guide Susie), took us out to dinner and then to a Chinese folk art show.  We ate with the Horn family who adopted NingNing's foster sister, but the funny thing is he and Ping will not talk to each other.  We had Ray ask NingNing if they got along and he said "things did not work out well betweeen them".  However, we still had a pleasant dinner and Ping is enamored with James.  The Horns gave her a camera and she must have snapped countless pictures of James all night, lol! 

NOW, about the dinner we had this dish of beef, peas, and other and Shon Horn bit into something that tasted awful and set our mouths on fire!  Ray said it was the "pepper bullet" they put in for "looks" and NOT to eat it!  Ummmm, thanks for telling us AFTER we did!  So my new saying is "avoid the pepper bullet".  Then the "clean ears".  We walked through a park before dinner and happened upon a lady in a white coat. Ray said she was an "ear doctor".  In China, it is customary for folks to get their ears cleaned regularly!  James, being  a champ, agreed to have this done.  How the "doctor" exclaimed at the amount of ear "stuff" she pulled out!  Then she did mine too....sorry, no details on that one :).  I think we need these people in America!

However, here is the best part of the whole entire day.  During the folk art show, James was clowning around with the camera pretending to take a picture of NingNing (he is very camera shy).  NingNing leaned very close to me and I just wrapped my arms around him to "hide" him from the camera.  I motioned for James to get a quick pic (see below).  It felt so good to hold NingNing in my arms for just that brief moment.  Up to now, I've patted his shoulder or rubbed his arm and he's not reciprocated, but has accepted it fine.
Back at the hotel, I was tired, but the boys got on Google Translate and figured it out finally so that they spent more than an hour "talking".  It was great to see and I wasn't about to make it stop.
Then, I FINALLY managed to download an app on my tablet that let NingNing type into QQ in Chinese; he was soooo appreciative and found Seth and Zane's messages right away ( I like Zane's kitty cat icon).
All in all, a wonderful day..................

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We have NingNing!

Well, Gotcha Day has officially come and gone, and I'm quite exhausted.  Not from the actual day, but again from dealing with the guides.
James and I goofed off this morning, then checked out from the hostel and Susie met us there.  We were supposed to leave our luggage there, get NingNing, then come back to get the luggage.  Imagine my surprise when our guide had us lug 5 pieces of heavy luggage across busy intersections while she tried to flag down a taxi.  Now plans had changed again; we were to go to the hotel, drop off the luggage, and THEN go get NingNing.  We did that, only to find that the room we were supposed to stay in wasn't cleaned and ready yet.
We had to drop the luggage anyway because Susie was telling us we had to get going.  Hopped in another taxi (at this point, I'm pretty upset that the drivers and cars I thought I'd paid for never materialized).  After about  a 40-minute ride, we arrived at the orphanage.  Walked up the stairs and into a room and there he was!   I have seen pictures, but was taken aback by how handsome he is in person!   He started towards me and I towards him, and then the guide cut in between us and told us to sit that moment was lost.   I started to sit beside NingNing and she told me "no", to come sit beside her and do the paperwork.  Ok, fine, I'm just going with the flow....they flit in and out of the room, while NingNing, James, and I all sit there smiling awkwardly at each other.  Poor NingNing, he was about dying of embarrassment.  We went on a quick tour and met his foster mother, who got upset at the very end, which served to embarrass NingNing all the more.  I gave her a hug, and asked Mandy to tell her we would take good care of him; our guide seemed to disapprove of my hugging her, but by this time, I didn't care what she thought.
We rode back to the hotel (yes, in another taxi), with me, NingNing, and James all crammed in the back.  The one positive side to this is it certainly promoted closeness, though I'm sure still very uncomfortable for NingNing.  James got out his Ipod and showed him some games, which he passed on playing and gestured for James to play.  I don't have a family picture yet; Mandy took one with her camera, but as usual, we were rushed back into the taxi before I could ask for one with my camera.
Back at the hotel, Susie and I finished up paperwork while NingNing and James played chess on the computer.  During this time, I asked Susie if she would go to dinner with us; she refused.  I mentioned seeing a Pizza Hut close to our hotel and she disagreed with me and proceeded to draw a map which she then tried to get NingNing to read so he could figure out the way!  I stopped her and said I'd figure something out; that I didn't want him to have to go through that; today was hard enough on him.  I got her out of there, and after a bit, we walked to the Pizza Hut that was (gasp) miraculously right where we thought it was.  We got a pepperoni pizza and Pepsi for the boys and chicken bites.  James "talked" to NingNing through the Ipod; the only issue is that we can't figure out how to have NingNing type in what he wants to say and figure out what he wants, if anything.  He's so easy going, he agrees to anything or when we ask what he wants to do or eat, he has no preference.  He won't speak a word of English, though I suspect he can understand some, because he laughed at something Susie said in English.  We did get him to say "hello" but maybe when he loosens up a little more.
Once back at the hotel, we played Uno for awhile, which he knew how to play.  It was funny watching him and James give each other "Draw 2's" or "Skips" and see NingNing's expressions.
The boys settled down pretty early; James is still jet-lagged a bit.  So I went to call our tour guide (not Susie) who was supposed to take us to see the pandas tomorrow.  I mentioned wanting to hook up with his foster sister's family we met Monday night; he wanted me to call the family, get their permission to go together (thought we'd already agreed), then call Susie and have her take us with them.  Susie had made it clear we were not "her family" and were "add-ons", so I told the other guide that I thought it'd just be easier if he still took us and we would hope to meet up with them there.
So here's hoping things work out tomorrow; after the Panda thing, we go to Civil Affairs and take care of that, then Thursday more adoption stuff in the morning and we're going to try for the Happy Valley Amusement Park for the boys.  I think by that time, I'll be ready for Guangzhou.
One thing I thought was kind of funny...when he got ready for bed, he stood on the bed, got his shirt off, and laid down with his jeans on.  I got the Ipod and a t-shirt and sleep pants and a pair of shorts and told him they were sleepwear if he wanted to be more comfortable; I said it was his choice and he stayed in his jeans, so that's fine ( I just thought the standing on the bed thing was interesting!).

Above are the few pictures I got to take today; in the one where I took a picture of their backs, you can see NingNing smiling, because both my boys just realized I was taking their picture :).  The other two are of the area where our new hotel is; the whole street is the old-style Chinese architecture and is just beautiful.  James had expressed disappointment that China looked just like a big American city, so modernized and all glass and steel.  Where we are now really made an impression on him, as he said, "now, this is China!"