While we've been in Guangzhou, it has rained every single day. However, only once has that really been a problem. That was the day we visited the Chen family temple. It was raining heavily then for several hours, and we all got drenched. Other than that, it rains for 20-30 minutes 2 or 3 times each day.
You may recall that when we adopted Cassie in May 2009, we had a last-minute paperwork glitch. The U.S. Consulate's office here in Guangzhou was looking for one of two magic words to appear in our home study - either "recommended" or "approved" as it pertains to the social worker's opinion of our ability to deal with a child who has special needs. The home study clearly implied that to any native English speaker, but the U.S. Consulate here is staffed by native Chinese, and they are trained to specifically look for one of those words. That was a hair-raising incident but we were able to reach our social worker, have her add the appropriate words, and forward a copy to the US Consulate here in Guangzhou. This time around, there were no last minute glitches. Chloe went through the "swearing in" procedure today. That procedure did not make her a U.S. citizen, but it did set up a legal transaction that will be complete once Chloe clears customs in Los Angeles. There remain two hurdles for us to get home. 1. We need to get Chloe's entry Visa, which will allow her to enter the U.S. 2. We need our flight to Los Angeles not to be delayed or cancelled. Both of these hurdles are relatively low, so we expect to be wheels up at 9pm tomorrow night, which is Wednesday night here in Guangzhou.
We have done lots of shopping while here. The White Swan hotel is located on Shamian island in Guangzhou. The island is roughly 40 acres, chock full of tourist trap shops. Haggling is the language of love around here. If you're good at it, you can get lots of goodies fairly cheap. It helps to know a few choice words of Chinese, such as "tah kway la" (that's how it's pronouced, not how it's spelled), which means "too much". It also helps if you are willing to walk out the door. It's amazing how many of the shopkeepers will feign bankruptcy if you try to get something for 50% less than they are asking but then gladly accept your offer as you walk out the door. The pricier stuff (e.g. jade, pearls) are best found on the mainland, but you need a guide to help you with translating and negotiating. We really can't afford to buy too much stuff, but we probably won't be back for many many years, and we wanted to get a few things for our girls weddings, which we hope will be MANY years in the future.
Cassie is making some (SOME) progress on sharing. She's hot and cold on the issue. Sometimes she is a snotty little brat, while other times she is a graceful little princess. Luckily Chloe is a patient little girl. She came into this with no expectations, so the fact that Cassie isn't always nice is not a surprise to her. Cassie, on the other hand, DID have expectations coming into this. All toys are hers, mommy is hers, daddy is hers, food is hers. EVERYTHING is hers. These expectations were unrealistic to everyone but her. She'll learn. Right now we are counting on the theory that kids are always listening, so every chance we get, we tell her we love her and that we're never going to leave her and that this new sister is a GOOD thing for her because she'll have a playmate.
Nighttime is a real bear. Cassie has always been a cranky little (insert word for female dog) when she's tired. Now she's cranky AND jealous. She cannot stand the fact that Momma holds Chloe and rocks her. So while Momma tries to get Chloe to sleep, Cassie goes into thermonuclear meltdown. So we've instantiated a divide and conquer strategy. Dadda takes Cassie out for a walk, and Momma gets the baby to sleep. Then Dadda returns, and Momma spends quality time with Cassie. We won't be able to do that at home since it's wintertime but the house is big enough, and very soundproof, so we should be able to separate without having anyone leave the premises.
Chloe is spending a lot of time standing up, holding onto whatever she can use as a brace. Her legs are getting stronger already. She's WAY behind in her gross motor skills, but I think she'll catch up soon enough. We've had her for 8 days and we can already see a difference. She still is a bit of a soft blob. When you pick her up, it feels like picking up a bag of water. She must have bones in there somewhere but they're hiding deep under the padding.
Cassie is starting to mix up the words Momma and Dadda. Not sure what this is all about. We'll be watching this closely.
Cassie learned two new words today: "Chloe" and "Baby". She's smart as a whip.
Cassie has had her bottle taken away permanently in favor of a sippy cup. She's taken to biting the nipple and pulling on it. Eventually, she will pull the nipple right out of the bottle, and we'll have a big mess. Rather than wait for that to happen, we've switched her over to sippy cups. She's not happy about it, but it's time. Chloe, ever the imitator, picked up this bad habit before we made the switch. Unfortunately, she doesn't yet have the coordination to handle a sippy cup, so we'll stick with a bottle for a while longer.
Chloe has learned to tell us "no" by shaking her head side to side, much like her sister. She does this when we're trying to feed her something she doesn't want.
If you touch your nose, and say "nose", Chloe will touch hers. Touch your ear, Chloe touches hers. She got a lot of attention at the orphanage, but even that had its limits. She's getting full-time interaction now, and she's going to take off like a rocket.
It is easy to forget just how difficult communication can be. Our guide Kelly has spoiled us. We went to a Chinese restaurant today with another family, and we had Kelly write up some menu selections for us in Chinese. One thing we ordered was a 1 liter bottle of Coca Cola. When the waiter delivered it to the table, he poured a glass for me and a glass for Kevin (the other dad at the table), and then set the bottle aside on a nearby serving stand. Then he poured water for Sherry and Mary. We all wanted water and all wanted Coke. Explaining that to the waiter was a real challenge. It took about 10 minutes to get the job done.
That's all for now. It's time for bed around these parts, and my back is killing me. A little horizontal rack time will do me wonders.