This afternoon we went to Shamian Island, which is called an island since it's surrounded by water, but I believe it's a man-made island because of the canals that separate it from the mainland. It's still part of Guangzhou. Shamian Island is different because it's design is very European. In fact, walking around on the island reminded us a lot of the French Quarter of New Orleans. All 5 of the families took a bus with Sarah to the island at 2:30 this afternoon, but first we had to stop by the medical center to check the results of the TB tests that the three older children had taken on Saturday at the medical exam. All of them passed, so that's good news and means none of the families have to stay any extra time. It took awhile to get to the island because traffic was slow. Once we got there, we stayed about two hours and did a little bit of shopping but mostly me and Jeff just walked around with TongJie in the stroller. He loves to be outside and that makes me happy because I love to be outside too. There was a nice park with many pathways and ponds with fish and lots of lush green plants and bright flowers. We saw a few other families from the Garden Hotel who are here for adoptions too, families that aren't from our group but we've talked to them at breakfast. It was nice to just be out of our room for awhile.
When we got back from Shamian Island, Jeff and I walked to KFC with TongJie for dinner. TongJie had a rough afternoon because we couldn't get him to fall asleep for a nap and his eating schedule was sort of off today because of the late breakfast, but when we tried to feed him something before we had to leave for the afternoon he was so worked up that he refused to eat. So he ate a bunch of Cheerios on the bus and a few baby mum-mums here and there, but he was really hungry by the time we got to KFC because it was a long walk. He enjoyed some rice and a salad made with corn, cucumber, and carrots. He ate the whole little cup of salad himself, but we put it directly on the tray so he could pick up the pieces and feed himself, so we could eat our own food. Jeff had a chicken sandwich with stir-fry on it - it looked pretty good. I had rice and beef stir-fry and soup, not really a typical KFC meal, but it was good nonetheless. We finally got back to our hotel around 7:30 and began getting TongJie ready for bed. He drank a whole bottle of formula without crying. He must have been so tired since he didn't even have a nap today, but it's so difficult to get him to go to sleep. We finally got him into his crib around 8:30, but it was well after 9:00 before he finally fell asleep. He was happy as could be in his crib, playing with his blanket and standing up and laughing, but we couldn't leave or he would get upset. So we continued our nighttime ritual of reading "Goodnight Moon" (from Amy Lammert) and "The Going to Bed Book" (from the Havliceks) about a thousand times - those are good calming books and he seems to like the cadence of them even though he can't really understand what we're saying yet.
Now he's finally fast asleep and we're getting ready for bed too. I'm not particularly looking forward to tomorrow, since we don't have any organized outings with our group and all three of us are getting really tired of being cooped up in our hotel room. If the weather is nicer like today I think we'll spend a lot of time walking outside. And if it's rainy we'll probably walk outside with an umbrella. Actually Sarah said that she'll go with us to show us a park somewhere around here tomorrow morning, so that will be really nice. When we get home we'll be able to go for walks whenever we want without being afraid of getting lost and without somebody having to show us where everything is. Have I mentioned that we're ready to come home? At 4:00 tomorrow we get to pick up TongJie's visa, and then we will have accomplished everything necessary to leave China and enter the US with our son!
We really appreciate all of your prayers, emails, and comments. I know that there are problems with our blog apparently not allowing some people to leave comments and I apologize for that. Unfortunately, we can't do anything about it at least until we get to Hong Kong, because ever since we entered China we haven't been able to access Blogger, so we can't edit any settings for comments. Nor can we see anything that we've been posting, but I know it's working because people have been emailing and leaving comments (which we get through email) to say they can see the text and photos, which we appreciate. That's all for now. I will attach some photos of Shamian Island. One of the photos is of Maureen and LeZhong, whose new American name is Samuel so he's being called LeZhong Samuel right now. I didn't show you a picture of him before because they weren't at the dinner that the rest of us went to the other night.