Monthly Archives: January 2007

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.


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.


  Lake at the park


Singing in the park


  Paint your own pottery in China


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


Thom making himself dizzy


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.


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

Walmart, notary and paperwork

Once again I appear to be the last woman standing. Both Thom and Lili are out for the night.  We expect this with Lili as it is her bedtime but Thom is usually the night owl of the family.  Today was our first whole day as a family and we spent a lot of time trying to get to know each other.  As Thom said earlier she awoke at about 6am for a bottle

Morning Morning bottle

Nachang sunrise  Nachang sunrise

After her bottle, Thom and I each got ready.  I hit a new low in hair today(and we all know that my hair maintenance has never been high).  I could not find my hairbrush anywhere and before breakfast had to try and brush my hair with my fingers which does not work so well but Lili was hungry so we had to get going.  She ate a fair breakfast including some cheerios and congee.  By the end of breakfast, she was fussy and tired again.  Thom and I had some paperwork we needed to do at 9am but lucky for us it was on the same floor.  We came upstairs and Lili took a nap and we signed some papers and had some fingerprints done. 

Naptime Nap time


At 10:30, we headed out again back to the office where we got Lili yesterday and while the babies stayed on the bus with one of the parents, the rest of us headed upstairs to pay some fees. 

Going out Ready to go out on the town

Thom, of course, was hot and got off the bus where he proceeded to meet a lot of people as demonstrated below.  These people gave him a special Chinese name and the old men showed Thom how many layers of clothing they were wearing because they did not think he had enough on.  Some of them had 6 layers of clothing on while Thom was wearing only 2 and both of them were short-sleeved.  We get lots of stares from people and they will often come up and talk to Lili and sometimes to us.

Picking up friends  Daddy and I meet new people

After the fees, we headed to the notary office where we had a short interview.  We talked with one of the nannies at the orphanage and met the director.  Some things we found out about Lili is that she lived with a foster mother and father and there was one other baby in the house who is younger than she is. The foster parents’ own children are grown and married and out of the house.  Lili likes to be walked for comfort as we had already discovered.  She lived with her foster parents and went to the orphanage once a month for a health visit and the pictures of her in the album they gave us is from that monthly visit.  There is also a picture of her and her foster mother together in the album. This is something that we will always treasure.

Orphange personnel Orphanage director and a nanny


Lili ate a bottle at the notary but was too tired to eat lunch when we got back to the hotel so we put her down for another nap.  The plan was to go to Walmart at 3:00.  Unfortunately, we had to wake Lili up for that trip but Thom put her again in the Baby Bjorn and we all loaded up on the bus and headed out.  If you take your least favorite Walmart trip and multiply it by 10000 you will be able to imagine what a shopping trip to Walmart in China is like and don’t forget to add to it a million stares.  Walmart is a very popular place to go and it is a grocery store and Walmart rolled into one with what seems like a million more products than you find in the states and even less organization.  However, there are certainly a lot more people to help you but this is difficult to get when you don’t speak the language.  Thankfully for us, our guides, Candy and Cindy were extremely helpful showing us different products that the babies would eat and which were the best diapers to use.  Everyone was exhausted after that trip but we had about an hour until dinner.

lili-day2031.jpg Daddy and me at Walmart

Lili had a bottle after Walmart and a little while later, we saw a different baby beginning to emerge.  Although, she smiled a couple of times last night during dinner, she had a very flat affect during the day today.  I am sure that she is missing her foster family and is confused by the two of us and all the new places she has been going.  One of the things that they told us about her is that she is an extrovert and we had not had a chance to see any of that but tonight before dinner, she smiled in response to a smile from me and even better she laughed not just once but many times.  At dinner time, she ate like a truck driver after we finally figured out that she likes to eat from chopsticks and this corresponds very well with the bird like way she opens her mouth for food.  She also interacted with many people at the table and imitated me.  These things were all wonderful to see and experience and I am sure tomorrow there will be even more new things for the three of us to experience and learn.

I'm so cute I’m so cute

lili-day2033.jpg Goodnight



Pictures and sleeping through the night

Here’s the pictures from yesterday. This is us trying to figure out if Lili was hungry because the babies hadn’t eaten since before leaving the orphanage which is at least 3 hours away from Nanchang.


While Lili was probably hungry, she was so upset by all the other babies crying, people, noise and chaos that she wouldn’t eat.


In China people like to bundle their babies in lots of clothing, and they’ll walk up to american parents adopting babies and scold them if the babies aren’t sufficiently bundled. We saw it happen yesterday at the airport when an older chinese man grabbed one the 6-year-olds on the trip and started asking where his coat was – of course it’s all in chinese and the translators were explaining everything to us. As you can see Lili had three layers on – a cute snowsuit that she can probably wear next year, a very cute split pant pink outfit plus another layer below that. Plus she’s ready to go to work with her clip-on ID badge.


Once we took her into the hallway and started walking her she calmed down and took a bottle right away. She’s much like her cousin Emily in that she liked to be moving. Whether on the bus on pacing the floors. So I think we’ll be going on walkabouts here in Jiangxi to keep her entertained. This was the only picture I took with the big camera because of the chaos and how quickly we got. I figured I would have plenty of chances to take more pictures in the future.


She ate a very good dinner of rice, cheerios, noodles, and egg custard. This was followed by a sponge bath complete with lots of vasilene to help some serious dry skin on her thighs, hips and tucus. Then it was bedtime in her way-oversized sleeper (She’s going to be in 6-9 months clothing for a little longer) after Catherine read her a book, which book you ask? Goodnight Moon of course. Lili also seems to like the flash and having her pciture taken, so I’ll finally have a family member who likes having her photo taken.

She slept through the night and self-comforted herself multiple times. Finally after about 9 hours we picked her up and gave her a bottle, changed a very wet diaper and are now pacing the room. So I gotta go be a dad since Catherine’s arms are getting tired. -t