Consulate and swimming (July 5)

The day started all too early following a restless night's sleep.  Daniel went to bed so easily but had several screaming spells through the night.  During those spells Ian and I are at a loss as to how to comfort him.  We're still not sure what ended any of the episodes, or how our big kids slept through them, but we're thankful that they ended with only three of us having been awake.  As I was trying to hold him still during one of them, Ian was praying for direction and felt led to buy a bottle and some formula to see if those would help at the next rest time.

At any rate, Ian and I had to be in the lobby with Daniel by 7:30 to go to our consulate appointment.  The adoption unit has moved into a much smaller room since last year and they ask that only necessary people come.   We figured that taking four tired hungry kids (no way we were going to try to get through the breakfast buffet before 7:30) would be a nightmare, so thankfully Mom stayed back with the big kids.  

Our appointment went smoothly even though one of our official documents that we got back in Urumqi was missing a piece of critical information.  Rebecca had caught the omission while she was reviewing our paperwork on Monday and had a corrected version drawn up.  She told us how to deal with the corrected certificate and said that if we explained it that we shouldn't have any issues.  Our reviewing officer did read the old and new document very carefully about five times, but at the end she smiled, had me sign that last blank on our application and dismissed us.  The adoption unit is so much smaller now, maybe 1/6th of the size of the previous room they used at the consulate.  I did get to see my AOW friend again even though they only take 12 families at a time now.  The advantage of only 12 families at a time is that it goes much quicker.  Our appointment started at 8:30 and we were out by just before 9.

When we got back at 9:30 we headed straight for the buffet so that we didn't miss breakfast.  Mom was already down there with our three big kids and we got there just in time for her to go get her own food as she already had plates for the kids.  I'm telling ya, there's something "superwomanish" about being a Grandma.  Ian and I could barely manage to get those three food last year between the two of us and Grandma did it by herself ~ though it does help that Darcy now speaks the language and that all three are slightly better listeners and don't try to reach into the buffet with their own hands.  

We came back up to the room to formulate our plan for the day and ended up deciding that letting our crew burn off some steam for a while would be in our best interest for the trip home that begins soon.  So Mom and I headed to the pool the the kids while Ian went across the street to the Friendship store to buy a bottle, a sippy cup, and some formula.  When he joined us poolside, he said that you simply haven't experienced China until you are a Caucasian male standing in the baby section of a crowded department store, surrounded by workers trying to assist you in finding a bottle.  :)

We ended up hanging at the pool for about two hours, the first hour at the baby pool and the second in the big pool.  While we can swim at home, and there were still a few things that we could have gone to see, it is dreadfully hot and we all really enjoyed our swimming time.  Daniel was a total adrenaline junkie for the first while, constantly climbing up and jumping in, and his lack of respect for the water made me nervous.  Eventually though his head went under a few times just long enough for him to seem to realize that he needed help in the water and he wasn't trying to jump into the pool without someone right in front of him.  And the big kids?  They were determined that they were going to swim properly.  It started with breaststroke type moves in the baby pool, then they continued endurance in the big pool (starting where they couldn't touch) and suddenly Darcy said, "Hey Daddy, watch this" and was able to swim about 10 feet using freestyle strokes.  That threw down the gauntlet and before we knew it, all three were practicing moving their arms a new way.  They need assistance on form, but we were so proud of them!

 Hanging in the kiddie pool ~ daredevil just jumped in and went under…

 DQ making a splash

     The three bigs coming at me.   
 Daniel getting to know LaoLao

The kiddie pool is lots of fun!

 Triple splash!

 Practicing kicking motions

In the big pool once Daddy got there.

 Learning to fly like the big kids

 Loving pool time!

Eventually we could see that they were flat exhausted and we came back up to the room for Ramen cups and peanut butter crackers.

  Noodles anyone?

Mom and I got showered and caught a taxi back to Shamian to finish up a little shopping while Ian stayed back on nap duty.  Apparently he has "the midas touch" as he was the first to master synchronized napping with our quad all on his own.  

 Synchronized napping at its finest ~ man I wish we had a king at home!

He said that the sippy cup full of milk seemed to offer comfort to Daniel and he went to sleep without even a whimper while clutching the cup.  Mom and I had a really nice three hours together and enjoyed quietly browsing some of the shops.  After we were pretty much finished, we stumbled upon a shop that is of an art teacher who works with kids in an orphanage in Chongqing.  He teaches the kids, particularly the older "non-adoptable" kids art skills as a livelihood so that they have trade skills for when they age out of the system.  As we got talking to Kenny, I realized that Ian and I had seen him waaaayyy back in 2006 when we went to the Great Wall adoption conference in Minneapolis while we waited for Kylie's referral.  His students either paint scrolls, design t-shirts, or engrave scriptures and sayings in miniature on pearls or ivory pieces.  We stood and talked with him for the longest time, finding out about his work and his partnership with a couple from Bend, Oregon.  Basically the couple purchases artwork from the children up front (the kids set the prices) and then sells the artwork in the states.  I wanted to buy a whole lot of the pearl necklaces and also of the men's versions, but had limited cash and also folks to purchase them for.    I did purchase one for Ian even though he doesn't wear much in the way of jewelry, I just felt that he'd wear this necklace (and I was right, he loves it).  

  Ian's necklace.  It has [I will not leave you as orphans: I will come to you.] John 14:18 in both English and Mandarin on it and comes in a box with a mini magnifying glass.  It is AWESOME!

I did tell Kenny that I'd get the word out.  If you are headed on an adoption trip soon, you simply MUST go to the ECHO shop (Education for Chinese Orphans ~ you can read about them at and browse around.  I'm sure you can find gifts for ANYONE on your list there.  And for those of you at home, you can buy scrolls online at  There are some amazing paintings done by kids, go check them out!  

When we got back and I gave the kids little gifts (miniature tea sets for the girls, a set of old coins for Caleb and a toy fei ji (airplane) for Daniel ~ total of $40 yuan) we got ready to head to dinner.  The rest of our group was going on the Pearl river dinner cruise, but as Ian and I had already been three times, it is expensive and the food is certainly nothing to write home about, we opted out this trip.  We walked across the street from our hotel to the Italian restaurant instead and enjoyed some delicious pizza and pasta.  We hated missing time with the other families, but Buongiorno sure tasted good!

Following dinner the kids went over to mom's room for a little while so that Ian and I could work on the mess that was our room.  Hard to believe that we are now less than 48 hours to departure.  I have mixed feelings on that.  On one hand we are so ready to be home in our own beds, eating much more fresh fruits and vegetables, spending time with our friends,  petting our dog and not pulling things out of a suitcase.  

Maya ~ A love note from our one family member still at home.

But going home also means leaving here.  Here may be frustrating at times, with the language barrier and the difference of culture, but so much of my heart is in this land.  And this time, I don't know when or even if we'll be back.  So it's so very hard to leave...


Tina Michelle said...

Aww, swimming looks fun. I am glad the cup worked for Daniel.

Angela said...

Love the synchronized jumping and synchronized napping! Precious!

jody said...

I remember that feeling of wanting to go home but sad to say goodbye to China. I will be praying for you all as you travel home! See you soon! Jody

Anne Devlin said...

Wonder if those screaming spells at night are night terrors... Lily had those (rarely will have one even now). There is nothing we can do but sit with her and speak soothingly to her. She is not even awake and doesn't remember them. Praying for smooth travels and continued good bonding for you guys!