We FINALLY got TongJie to sleep last night, but it was late - I don't even know what time it was. He woke up around 1:00 or 1:30 am and I held him and walked around our room for a long time as he cried and cried. Baba (Daddy) had the magic touch and finally got him back to sleep in his crib. We were very happy that he slept in until 6:54 this morning! Usually he wakes up around 5:30 or 5:45. He had a rough day yesterday with all the airport shenanigans, so he was tired.
We went to the breakfast buffet, which this hotel also has. We saw about 12 or 15 other adoptive families eating breakfast at the same time as us, but none from our Wacap group. The waiters seated all of the adoptive families in a back area of the dining room, probably because they know the kids are usually loud and they didn't want to bother their other guests! TongJie continues to love to eat all foods that we give him, but we're starting to notice him recognize certain foods as more desirable than others. Of the foods that he's had, which haven't been a whole lot because we don't want to shock his system, watermelon seems to be his favorite. He absolutely loves it, and we're glad because we've been having such a hard time getting him to drink anything. I think the bottle being different is very frustrating to him. We're kicking ourselves for not asking to see the bottles they use when we were at his orphanage. All we know is that they used regular bottles with the nipple cut larger because kids with a cleft palate can't suck. However, we don't know exactly how big they cut the hole, and we bought our bottles in the US so even just that is probably different too. We can't tell if he's mad because the hole is too small and it's not coming out fast enough for him, or if it's too big and coming out too fast for what he's used to. I know they make special bottles for babies with a cleft palate, but since TongJie has never used one I don't think he'd know what to do with it. It might be worth a try after we get home though. In case you're wondering why we're still trying to get him to use a bottle when he's so good at eating solid foods, it's mostly for the attachment of having that time with him giving him his bottle so we can bond with him. So I think it's worth it to keep trying. Plus he can get a lot of nutrients from his formula that he needs in addition to the solid food he's eating. Anyway, he's been doing a bit better with his bottle and today he did drink some water out of it and it was the first time he did so without a crying meltdown.
After the breakfast buffet, we went back to our room for a little while. TongJie continues to impress us with his walking. He's getting better and better every day. As I was packing some Cheerios into a tupperware container to take for later today, he was happily playing with his stacking cups on the floor several feet away from me, but I looked up and he had pulled himself up and was toddling over to me (to the Cheerios, actually) without holding onto anything. It won't be long before he's walking and running on his own, but we're taking advantage of his having to rely on us for everything while we can! At 9:40 we had his visa photos in the hotel. There was a photographer there taking photos for all the adoptive families, since everybody needs them in order to get the visas next week. I think it's nice that the photographer comes to the hotel instead of us having to drag all our kids to yet another place. We took a little walk in the garden with Mishelle, Bakha, and FanFan while we waited for the other families to be ready, then we met with all the Wacap families together for traveling to the medical exam. There are 5 Wacap families total, including us, so there is only one family we hadn't already met. Of course you've already heard me talk about Mishelle's family because they were in Hangzhou with us - we love that family, and we're hoping to keep in touch with them even though they live in Phoenix. Fan is almost 4 years old. Another family is Jeff and Maureen. Their little boy is almost 7, and they have two other middle-school aged kids at home staying with grandparents. We already spent time in Beijing with Jeff and Maureen but that was before we got our kids, so it was fun to see their boy, LeZhong. Carey is the other family that we'd already met in Beijing - she came alone because her husband stayed home with their three other kids in Walla Walla. Carey's new daughter, MiMi, is almost exactly the same age as TongJie, but she was in a foster home in her province and not in an orphanage. It is amazing to see the difference between the two of them. MiMi looks and acts more like what you would expect from a 20-month-old and she was babbling and walking and running all around. Compared to her, TongJie really looks a lot younger. I'm sure their different personalities are part of it, but no doubt the fact that MiMi was in foster care plays a part of that too. The fifth family is the one we hadn't met before because they didn't go to Beijing. Carsten and Nicole are their names and we hardly talked to them at all yet because the morning was so hectic. This is their second adoption from China, and they traveled here with their older daughter who looks like she's maybe about 6 or 7. Their new daughter is XinHe, and she's three years old. We don't know much about that family yet, but they seem really nice, just like all the other families.
Okay, on to the part about the medical exam. We took a bus with our guide, Elsie, to the medical clinic. Saturday morning is the time when many of the adoptive families do their medical exams, because of the way the timing works out with getting the child's passports and everything. You have to have the child's passport in order to do the medical exam, and you have to do the medical exam before you do the visa appointment. So there were oodles of little Chinese kids with their American or Canadian families in that place. There had to have been at least 50 families there, and it was crowded and stuffy and kids were crying and it was pretty stressful. We had to go into different rooms to get different things checked, like temperature, height, weight, eyes, ears, etc. TongJie did amazingly well and only cried when they took his temperature. By the way, TongJie weighs 9 kilograms and is 77 centimeters. We had to wait until all 5 of the families were finished with everything, so it was a lot of waiting in that crowded place. The older kids had to also get a TB test, which involves a shot, so we were glad that TongJie is under two years so he didn't have to do that one! While we were waiting, TongJie was looking at his little photo album that we brought (not the same one that we sent to the orphanage that just had pictures of only us), and somehow it got transferred to Fan and she was holding onto it for dear life because she was scared after getting her TB test. When she finally calmed down and began to look at the book, she started laughing and laughing and ran over to me and pointed to me and then a picture of me in the book, and she did the same to Jeff. She also did it with Carey, but she was pointing to the picture of my mom, thinking it was Carey (they both have a similar style of glasses and haircuts). She also loved the picture of Albert, our dog. It's funny because TongJie looks at that book too, but he doesn't seem to make the connection that the photographs are photos of us. He just likes to turn the pages and open it and shut it.
On the bus ride back to our hotel, TongJie fell asleep in my lap. I was able to carry him to our room and get him into the crib without him waking up. This is the first time he's taken a nap in his crib, so we're very happy that he's sleeping! The first day he took a nap on the bed, but ever since then he gets too upset if we try to lay him down anywhere, or even sit down when we're holding him. When he's trying to get to sleep, it only works if we hold him and walk around, or else he cries and thrashes around, so we're very happy that he's getting some good rest today, and that we're able to get a little break. This was also the first morning since we've had him that he hasn't fallen asleep during the morning, so I'm sure that helped a lot too. Sleeping in until almost 7:00 and then taking a nap during the afternoon is great! Too bad our schedule is going to get completely turned upside down when we come back home with the time difference and everything. Still, it's encouraging that even after just a few days he's made such big improvements, so that gives us hope that although it may be another hard transition upon arriving at home, things will eventually settle down again.
Unfortunately, we forgot to charge the camera battery and it ran out of juice this morning before the medical exam, so we don't have any pictures of that. Carey took some that she'll email to us later. We did take some pictures of the garden that the Garden Hotel is named after, and it is amazing! We're going to go back out there later to walk around again. There are ponds, bridges, waterfalls, and lots and lots of lush green grass and plants. It's really hot and humid here, so we're lucky that we didn't travel in the summer! Our other guide from Hangzhou, Sarah, is also here in Guangzhou and she's going to take us shopping at a supermarket after TongJie's nap. We need to get some bottled water and a few other things. Then at 5:30, we're all going to a Cantonese restaurant for a group dinner. Our other guide, Elsie, told us today that some of the Chinese people joke that KFC stands for Cantonese Fried Cat! But that's not where we're going tonight.
It's been fun to read the comments and emails from everybody, so thanks to all of you who are following our blog! We're having a good time here, but we're SO ready to come home. Poor TongJie probably thinks we're vagabonds or something, traveling on trains and planes almost every day, and moving from hotel to hotel. It will be so good to get him home and start establishing our regular routine.
Some pictures from this morning: walking with TongJie in the hotel, in the garden, Jeff with a statue (do you think I should be jealous?), and our whole group - can you tell who is who in the group photo?