Monday, August 26, 2013

A Day of Shopping & Good Food

Today was another quiet, relaxed, slow day for us, and it was really enjoyable. We slept in just a little bit this morning, and in fact, we were afraid that we would end up getting downstairs too late to get the complimentary breakfast. Thankfully, we got there about half an hour before they started closing everything up, so we had a nice, calm breakfast to start the day. Then we ventured out to explore some of the shops on the island here. The first place that we stopped by sold a bunch of traditional Chinese outfits in kids' sizes. This is one of the things that we'd been hoping to get for our kids, and we found an outfit for each kid without having to dig for long, although I did have to run back to the room quickly because I'd forgotten to get money out of the safe before we left. But, we now have an outfit for each kid, as well as a few of the gifts that we want to get here. Oh, and this place is apparently a very popular spot for people to have engagement and wedding photos taken. I lost count of how many photo-ops we nearly disrupted on our walk today. At one point, I think we saw four couples having their pictures done, each with a dedicated crew. Crazy!

We stayed out for a little over an hour, walking around most of the island, and then we came back to the room for a quick lunch before putting the girls down for naps. I know that I say this pretty much every day, but it's unreal just how much they're growing. Isabelle's bond with Kristie has really progressed ever since our flight over here from Guiyang (that's one of the blessings from having endured such a long, crazy night just to get here), and Hallie continues to open up. Her eyes twinkle more with each passing day, and her smiles and laughs came more freely today than they ever have before. She's still freer with them for Kristie than for me, but we're getting there. We're still working on teaching Isabelle patience when it comes to food, but we are making progress. I really think that the poor girl must to some extent have been competing for food at the orphanage, and that's why she's so eager to take every bite of food in site. She really has no idea how to decide for herself when she's full, so that's something that we have to teach her over time. It took Mikaela a little while to learn how to recognize when she got full and then stop eating, but she did eventually attain that skill, and I'm sure that Isabelle will, too. Hallie didn't eat as much today as she has recently—only about 2.5 bottles total all day—so we're really glad that we've been able to put some extra nutrients and calories into her bottles for her. It's taken some creativity, but we've settled on a pretty good recipe: one scoop of the powdered milk given to us by her orphanage nanny, two scoops of formula, two or three spoonfuls of baby cereal, and half of a fruit snack pouch, all mixed with either water or a drink that we discovered here that's similar to the Propel flavored water back in the States. So, not at all a typical baby bottle, and pretty clearly more than she's used to getting. And even though she didn't take as much today as we would have liked to have seen, she still had a little bit of a puppy tummy when we tucked her into bed tonight. That's encouraging, but we definitely want her to continue eating well, and eventually eat with a spoon.

Only a few minutes after we put the girls down for their naps, Michael stopped by to let us know that he'd gotten the results back from the girls' medical exams. Thankfully, everything is good and we're clear to proceed with our Embassy appointment on Wednesday morning and then, hopefully, our plane ride on Friday evening. He also checked on us to see how we're doing and asked if we wanted to do anything tomorrow. I think he feels like he needs to make sure that we're not feeling lost or anything, and it relieved him to hear that we've been having a lot of fun exploring the island and getting to know the place a little bit. We'd like to spend some time with him, but he has an awful lot going on, and it's better for our girls to stay with just us when we leave the room. That's especially the case for Hallie, though Isabelle seems to be doing some emotional processing this week. We think that in the last 48 hours she might have come to the realization that she's not going to see anyone from her orphanage again. That would explain her increased fussiness and near panic at times when she thinks that we might be about to leave her behind somewhere. I think that she'll come through this just fine, though, and it's a good thing for her to deal with this now to the extent that she can.

After their naps, we walked over to Lucy's, a little bar and grill that serves a wide variety of foods. We had passed it while on our walk this morning, but I'd misremembered where it was, so instead of it taking us less than ten minutes to get there, I led us in a roundabout route that took about twenty minutes. It was worth it, though. We all enjoyed our dinners, including Isabelle, who devoured a grilled cheese sandwich, a healthy portion of French fries, and even a little bit of Kristie's dinner. At the table next to us was a couple who had just adopted a two-year-old boy from one of the central Chinese provinces. They're originally from England, though they've been living in Colorado for the past three years. They brought their five-year-old daughter, Charlotte, with them, and we had a great time talking with them after finishing our meal. It's a weird—but in a good way—to see so many other Caucasians on this leg of the trip, especially after having stood out so starkly in Guiyang.

Hallie playing with her drum at Lucy's.

Isabelle enjoying her grilled cheese sandwich.

Tomorrow should be another quiet day of shopping and walking for us, and then we'll have to get everyone to bed early because we have to be ready to leave our hotel at 7:30 Wednesday morning in order to get to our Embassy appointment on time. That will be a challenge, but after that we should be able to rest up until time to pack and head for home on Friday. This week of relaxation has been good for us, and we're grateful that God has given us this time as a family. And, we're obviously really looking forward to spending next week at home with all six of our kids. We can't wait!

~ Greg

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