Category archives: Jiang Xi

The People’s Park

As I write tonight, Thom is still awake and Lili just fell asleep about 15 minutes ago.  Our baby is constantly evolving.  This morning was wonderful when Lili awoke and smiled when she saw me looking back at her.  She was definately a more interactive baby.  She ate a big breakfast again but does really enjoy being fed by chopsticks instead of a spoon and let me tell you that will not work with congee although suprisingly enough I have learned to use chopsticks for this egg custard thing the babies seem to like.  It kind of looks like flan but let me tell you the texture is on the nasty side.  I only tried it once and have not desired to eat it again.  Lili slept last night from 8:30 or so until 6:30am but then seems to want an hour long nap about 8:30am which works out quite well since we have been going out at about 10:00am.

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Just before my morning nap

Today we headed out to the People’s Park.  This was a wonderful place with lots of families.  There is a beautiful park in one section with a couple of playgrounds, manmade lakes, pagodas and an area with kids rollerblading and adults and kids playing hitting tennis balls or badmitton cocks. In another section there is what appears to be an old amusement park where there are some rides, some carnival games.  People are out doing many things.  It was very nice today with temperatures in the 60s but needless to say we did get yelled at a couple of times for not having Lili in enough layers.  However, I did see a couple of children who had the chance to take off one layer when they were in the sunshine but that layer had to go back on in the shade,  Many people stopped and talked to us and asked us how old Lili was and most people think that she is about 6 months old and are surprised to learn that she is 10 months.  She is a peanut but my arms hurt enough with this new bundle that I cannot really imagine how I would be able to do it if she weighed more.  We met the cutest 6 year old who spoke english very well and seemed to enjoy trying it out on all of us.  At one point, I had a couple of people checking Lili’s layer count(not enough at 3) but also making sure she could breath ok in the baby bjorn.

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  Lake at the park

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Singing in the park

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  Paint your own pottery in China

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Boy in a few layers(and I mean a few)

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Thom making himself dizzy

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Lili and Mommy checking things out

After our trip to the park, we went to a local restaurant to try some of the spicy cuisine.  It was all quite delicious but best of all was the shrimp which was similar to salt-baked and the mushrooms which were slced flat and had a great earthy feeling.  After lunch, we headed back to the hotel where we all took a nap and then when Lili awoke she and Thom went out on the town because I was not feeling too well.  Thom will have to tell you about that tomorrow. 

Tonight our baby changed once again.  She did not eat much dinner but had eaten like a truck driver again for both breakfast and lunch. She also loved this rice cake which is a little bit sweet but not much.  Cindy, our local guide, told us that they call them shut-up cakes in China because when you give them to the babies they stop crying. However, although she did not eat much she started moving a lot more.  Now this could have been due to the prunes finally doing there job or because nighttime seems to be when she shows us a new aspect of her personality.  Most likely both things played a role.

After dinner, she had her first real bath with us.  Needless to say she did not like this very much.  She was pissed off already because she does not really like the way Daddy undresses her.  It is a funny site to watch.  The overalls seem to represent some kind of weird challenge to Thom and he has to undo the bottom of them and slip them off from the legs instead of over her head.  I’m not sure I understand how he does it.  Anyhow, she screamed for the whole bath.

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My first bath and not my most favorite experience

After her bath, she seemed ready for bed so we read our book and put her down in her crib.  About 10 minutes later, we had a baby who was moving all over the crib and talking to herself. Thom and I found ourselves once more just staring at her and she knew how to keep our attention because whenever she realized we were looking, she would give us the biggest smile and sometimes a laugh. She did this for about 45 minutes and as much as I tried to not keep looking over at her because I knew it was keeping her up I could not help it because she would just give me a laugh and a smile.  She finally conked herself out just as I started to write the blog and even now I keep looking over at her and thinking how lucky we are.  She is a wonderful baby girl.  I again wonder what tomorrow will bring. Goodnight.

That will teach me to fall asleep first…

Apparently the power of the pen, or keyboard as it were, has gone to Catherine’s head. What was she thnking posting half-naked pictures of me on the web? I’ve already received lascivious emails complimenting me on my nakedness….Oh well. It’s too late now. Things are going surprisingly well. I don’t know how men who aren’t married to pediatricians do all of this stuff. Catherine has been amazing with Lili while I’ve felt pretty much like a bug watching a windshield approach while flying backward as fast as I can. Lili’s been amazing to watch. Watching her smile for Catherine was really great, but I was too caught up in the moment to stop and get the cameras. In fact I find that while I want to take pictures I don’t take that many right now because it’s all little overwhelming but wonderful too. I actually just want to enjoy the moments and let the pictures come when they will.

Unlike Catherine I found the trip to Walmart great fun. But then my astonishing command of mandarin seemed to help with the interaction of our fellow Walmart shoppers. Apparently if you can say Ni hao (the all-purpose phrase which can mean – hi, how are you, what are you looking at, etc) then you obviously must be able to speak Mandarin. I trot out the few stock phrases I’ve learned despite the hours of tuturoing with Julia – my 18-year-old tutor extraordinaire who knows: Mandarin, English, Cantonese, her local dialect and Japanese. My language ability, or lack thereof,  merely reflects my rock-like absorption rate, not her teaching abilities. Even Min – my cousin-in-law – tried to teach me a few phrases but mostly just laughed at my poor pronunctiation.

Back to the crowds at Walmart. Imagine the last payday Saturday before Christmas and triple the crowds, noise and stuff – and that doesn’t even begin to get close to how crowded it was at 3pm on a Tuesday. One thing I’ve discovered about being in China, especially since we left Beijing is how openly people gaze at you. It looks like staring but I don’t feel any ill-well or 7th grade snickering happening. I see them looking at this short-sleeved Lao-Wei (foreigner) with a very cute little (15.4 pounds or 7 Kilos) chinese baby and they just look, for minutes at a time. Whole families gazing speechless at us, and while lili can make me speechless sometimes as well, I think they are speechless for a different reason. I wonder how they feel about foriegner’s adopting their little girls? So I say Ni hao and they come up to me and Lili, pinch her cheeks, grab a thigh, adjust her clothing, what have you, speaking rapidly the whole time. I smile and nod before eventually shrugging my shoulders in incomprehension. I then say the Xie-Xie. (thank you). It seemed to go well. Occasionally like yesterday young people will want to practice their English. The picture from yesterday was of Felecia and Hank Lee with a friend of their’s who was too shy to speak. They were students at Nanchang University studying Medical English. They translated for the crowd of about 20 people who gathered around us. Some marveled at the size of my feet (size 13), some marveled at how little clothing I was wearing, some marveled at Lili, as they should have, some wanted to know how much we paid the orphanage (my answer to that was she was worth any price), and I think some just wanted to hear the foreigner mangle their language.

It was a lot of fun, and while I felt like a zoo exhibit ,everyone was very kind, warm and welcoming. They even chased off a few beggars who were bothering me. Apparently shaming them by the looks one old woman gave the beggar. I know I wouldn’t have wanted to have been scolded like that.

Anyway Hank and Felicia decided I needed a chinese name and they came up with Li Shanling which they said means kindhearted, helpful soul and father of Lili. I have the pinyin and the characters written out so I’ll have to have Min let me know if that is what it means. Regardless it was a lot of fun. The food is excellent and feeding Lili with chopsticks has been amazing. She eats so much with them and looks like a baby bird while doing it, of course we aren’t pre-chewing her food. Using chopsticks really is much easier than using a spoon, of course chopsticks don’t work well with prunes mixed with congee (a rice-like porridge that is a staple food in China) so we use a spoon for that. Everday is a day of discovery as we write our own instruction manual for this wonderful person.

We’re off for a walk in the people’s park before lunch in local restaurant. The whole food from here n the Jiang Xi province and in neighboring Hunan province is known for it’s spicy flavor. Because of it girls from this region are universally nicknamed “spicy girls” with a knowing smile – or so we are told.

I’ll try to take a few more pictures today, both of the Lili and also of life in Nanchang in general. While I was looking forward to coming, I just hadn’t thought about how much I’d enjoy the trip and how much fun it would be. Our time in Beijing was really nice because it gave Catherine and I some time alone away from work, school and distractions. Something we haven’t had too much of lately. I’m now really starting to wonder what I can do to find work here in China, so I can actually become fluent in Mandarin as well as giving Lili the chance to learn her native language as well.

Off to do homework since Catherine and Lili are both taking their after breakfast naps. -t

She’s here!!!!

Well, it is 10:00 at night here and both Lili and Thom are fast asleep.  It was quite a day.  We arrived at the SWI building at about 4:30 and as we came into the big room where we were to meet our babies, people were leaving with their new babies.  In the room, there were others who had already gotten their babies.  The whole room was overwhelming with people running backward and forward and babies crying.  Her name was called in Chinese and we showed our passports and our invitation and then she was in my arms.  It was the most overwhelming feeling and all I could was just hold her and hug her.  We were one of the first couples to get our baby and so as you can imagine there was not much time for us to take pictures but I have included a couple here from a little afterwards. Actually, I just tried to upload them and it is not working and it is too late at night to be trying to figure it out.  Hopefully, Thom will be able to blog in the morning.

Anyhow, after getting Lili we settled down with her and just gazed at her and at first she seemed all right with this and then she started to cry.  We tried feeding her but that only worked for a few minutes and then she rejected the bottle so we tried to make one with hot water.  Also, rejected.  Thom finally thought of taking her into the hallway away from everyone and she calmed down somewhat at least enough to try to take us in and figure us out.  She would every once in a while give one of us a look like I don’t know you and then start crying again.  The chaos in the room continued and we were called into to have our family picture done and then to have an interview and sign some paperwork. Then we were already to go back to the hotel.  Lili fell asleep the minute the bus started to move but woke up the minute it stopped. But to also add to the chaos, on the way over to get our babies we had decided to switch hotels so we went back to our original hotel and packed up all our belongings and got back on the bus. This was a new experience for us because Lili had decided that everything was fine as long as she was in constant motion.  I strapped on the baby bjorn (incorrectly, I later figured out) and we packed up.  Everyone was ready to go in a suprisingly short period of time and we moved to our new hotel.  By the time, we got to our room it was after 7:15pm.  Dinner was at 7:30.  Needless to say we were not there on time.  We undressed Lili down to 1 layer of clothing on the top and 2 on the bottom since she was going to be inside and brought her down to dinner.  What a different baby food made.  I thought she would not want to go into the highchair since she was still insisting on constant motion but she showed no reluctance and began to eat cheerios which she had rejected earlier.  She seemed to really enjoy any food except the watermelon and even enjoyed the highchair itself.  She tended to lilt to one side but this did not bother her and she opened her mouth up like a little bird for the noodles and then sucked the egg custard right off the spoon.  By the end of her first meal with us, she had smiled multiple times and kept regarding Thom with these big eyes that seemed to say “Ok, I think you are someone I like.” Poor Thom now appears to live with 2 people who get cranky when they are hungry but I’m sure he’ll adapt.

She appeared very tired as did we all so we brought her up to her room and Thom got her ready for bed.  She cried for a while while getting ready for bed but eventually found her fingers and wrapped her arm around her new lamb blanket and consoled herself.  I then read her Goodnight Moon and we put her down in her bed.  She just watched us move around the room but seemed quite content to lay there and she eventually fell asleep sometime around 9:00-9:15 pm.  She seems to be doing pretty well so far and is sleeping through Thom’s snoring which is a plus for her.  I just keep staring at her in her crib.  She is the most beautiful baby and right now she is lying in on her back as though she is getting ready to make a snow angel.  I can’t wait to see how her personality continues to come out over the next few days.

That’s all for now.  I am going to try and get some sleep now.  Hopefully, Thom will be able to upload some pictures tomorrow.

In Jiang Xi

We’ve arrived at the hotel, figured out how the safe works, gotten our luggage and pulled the pillow out of the crib. Now we’re waiting to leave for the SWI (Social Welfare Institute) HQ in 30 minutes. Catherine is bouncing off the walls and I’m the cool, calm and collected one. (at least I get to say I am since I’m writing the blog).

Lili Crib

 

Thank you for all of your support and comments. They are much appreciated. -t

L – 45 minutes and counting.