Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Last Day in China

Van and Garrett will be leaving first thing in the morning so this will be the last post about the China trip. They have had a great time, and have bonded to each other. I am sure it will take time for Garrett to adjust to being at home, and being part of our family. But Gracie and I cannot wait to help him to do that. Little brother, Di Di (Chinese for "little brother") is almost on his way to the U.S. with his Daddy. Thanks to Daddy for doing such a great job with Garrett while there! We have really missed him. It will be exciting to finally see them at the airport on Friday.

Here are some final pictures, and a post from Van.

I'm finally sleeping a little late. I can't tell if it's dry air or fighting a bit of a cold. I wake up around 5:30 a.m. and then take a quick shower. They leave new toothbrushes, so I decide just to toss them at the end of the day to prevent any water problems. It's hard to rinse them properly. Garrett is a good sleeper. I wake him up and we have breakfast around 7:30 a.m. He is a cheerful boy and loves breakfast. He normally eats a 1/2 of a banana, scrambled eggs, cut up ham, Soda biscuits (large buttery crackers), and either orange juice or apple juice. He has orange juice today. I stick him in the baby chair one more time. He doesn't mind, but I am tired today. He still does his usual flirting. We notice more adoptive parents at the White Swan. We all talk a little bit. A lot of proud parents!Today is the market shopping spree. This is where we got some pearls the last time. Pearls are on the agenda this trip as well. The bus ride is only about 10 minutes. It's not that busy when we are first dropped off. Rebecca takes us for a quick tour, she takes us into the first building to point out the shoes, dvd's, music, clothes, and the restaurants. She then takes a group of us that plan to buy pearls down to the basement of building #2. Only a couple of us are ready to purchase pearls today. I have a list of items to purchase for Madeline and Gracie. Last time, a group of us were able to barter and get some good prices. This time, I just want to get the pearls and go. They put several strands in front of you and then you get to pick the clasps and if you want bracelets or necklaces. The earrings are done separately, but you pick out the mounts. I get to pay with a credit card, and I'm hoping there isn't any issues since I called and notified the bank of my trip and which cities during what dates. Luckily, all is well! I'm glad to get these for my girls! I also get a thank you gift for a girl, Lauren, that had watched Garrett while I was doing the painful paperwork. I think she was happy with the gift! Garrett is sitting in a stroller that was lent by Doug and Lucy. It was nice and Garrett actually was enjoying being carted around. I make sure he has some snacks while waiting to finish with the pearls. Almost all of us end up at the local Pizza Hut for lunch. The have a fruit/salad bar that is perfect for Garrett, and I don't mind eat either. I share two pizzas with Doug and Lucy's family. Garrett actually is enjoying the pizza as well. Other families come to join us. Garrett is playing with Jodi a lot during this time. He is just the happiest child and is good with people after he knows them. I get up and change Garrett before we move on. We go to the shoe store since their isn't many shoes in Gracie's or Garrett's size on the island. Rebecca had told us the if there is a big "5" in front of the shoes, it means 50% off. If there is a big "4" in front of the shoes, it's 60% off. There is no bartering in this area apparently. I look around and buy two pairs of shoes for Garrett. I think the dressier shoes are a bit too large for him. I also get a pair for Gracie. The shoes were nice, but it was a very tiny shoe store, no larger than my office, with about 6 people in it and more trying to get in. We then meander to the DVD/music store. I look for items that might be enjoyable for Gracie and Garrett. I also look for any newer films that I can buy. You have to make sure you buy "DVD-9" and not "DVD-5". I find a few for the kids, and then 2 for the adults. I also look for some music, but I had already the good ones from Inner Mongolia. Most DVD's are just $2 apiece. Garrett and I walk outside and look at the open space in the market. It has become crowded in the past 2 hours. It's fascinating seeing all the various food and merchandise you can purchase. I'm thinking about getting some McDonald's ice cream, but really don't want the extra food. Garrett has been not as regular on his digestion and needs more starches. I don't want to give him a lot of junk for awhile. I take some pictures as Garrett watches the crowd. We have to be quick when jumping on the bus today since there is no real pickup spot. We get back, and Garrett takes a long nap. I type some of the past journals, trying to keep up, but also watch "Hancock" in a minimized window on my computer. It's pretty good and helps the time pass. I wake Garrett from his nap, he could have slept all day if I let him. I think it's going to be easier to get him use to Eastern time since he is a good sleeper. When I get Garrett ready for dinner, I also put on his new tennis shoes. He was ecstatic! As we walked out the door, I noticed that they even light up. I had no idea. It was nice to see a child react to something new. It's dinner time, and I've been talking to Robert about trying the local snake at a fine restaurant. We get outside with a couple of the group, and start talking about dinner plans. Well, seems like Robert and I are the only ones remotely interested in trying anything tonight. The rest of the crew plans to meet at "Lucy's". We get to the restaurant, and several people come to see the various "live" foods you can choose to have cooked fresh for you. The worst to me is the sandworms, water beetles, and silk worms. The other items are the snakes, pigeons, and various seafood that might be strange to many Americans. Many of the families cringe at the sight of the items, and then go off to Lucy's. We have decided to try the snake, and also the mantis prawn. Garrett is not eating any of these items. I order a duck breast (which he loves) and fried rice for all of us to eat as well. We get to look at the snakes, and the cook pulls out a large one for us to look at. We take photographs and also get to hold it, which it's pretty large, but due to the cold water, very lethargic. They way this big snake, and it's way too much and pricey for us. We choose a smaller snake, but of the same breed. Robert photographs some of the prep work, all the food is "freshly cooked". We sit down in a very nice dining area. Garrett is given an impressive booster chair for eating. We order a few beers (in case we really need it), and wait for the food to come out. The duck breast comes out first, and it's different from most of the duck I've had. It's marinated in a very tasty way, and I pull off the meat for Garrett to eat. We then receive the deep fried mantis prawn. It tastes like a small sweet lobster, but the meat is more that of a crab-like texture. Then comes the prized-meal, the snake! It looks a lot better cooked than uncooked! It's separated into about 10 pieces, no head, and is a golden brown with no skin. It smells great. I videotape Robert eating and giving his best Andrew Zimmerman type impersonation. It's my turn, and the snake is quite good. There is a technique to eating it, since it has a ton of rib bones, your better off going from the sides and pulling. You have to watch getting the meat stuck into your teeth, and also ribs coming loose. Robert and I both had to pick them out, LOL. So, after what many would never think of eating as a meal, Robert and I were quite pleased. Garrett had not tasting of any of the "scary meats". We walked out all proud, and went to Lucy's to see the others. We thought of letting Robert walk in with Garrett and telling everyone that I had to go to the doctors as a joke. We get there and I decide to have a good old fashioned chocolate milk shake. Nothing goes better after snake! We are outdoors and it's a very nice night. Garrett is running around with the other children. I noticed that his isn't tripping as much. He sometimes runs off, but I catch up with him. He loves to play and has a charming dismeanor. He seems to be most fond of Catherine, Robert's and Pam's girl, who Gracie had played with just 1 month before. Right when we're about to leave, Garrett runs over to a table with a man and a young Chinese boy. It turns out to be the last member of our party that had just arrived, Craig (sp) from Chicago and his 4 year old son. Craig ends up joining the rest of the gang. I have to get Garrett in the bath tub!I prepare for Garrett's bath. I know he doesn't like it and prepare for some crying. I get him in, with a few bubbles. He is doing okay, and tries to assist in the washing. I get to doing his hair, and he isn't enjoying it. I finished without getting to much water in his face. I get him out and he has already upset for being wet. I dry him off and get his sleeper on him quickly. He loves the sleeper! I dry his hair, he is okay with this, and then let him stay up for about 15 more minutes. We get a quick video conference with Madeline and say hello, Garrett starts crashing and falls asleep before I lay him down. It was another fun day with our son!


Patricia/NYC said...

Oh Madeline!!! Friday is upon you!!

You know what I get from all of these updates? Just how well prepared Garrett was for this big change in his life. It is so obvious that he was so loved by his foster loved that they prepared him so well to embrace his new life!! How BLESSED you all are!!

I cannot wait to see Garrett & Gracie together!!

Praying for Van & Garrett's safe & easy flight home!

Grace McHugh said...

I will always remember Van's comment "nothing like a beer after snake." I have been laughing so much at that line. We are praying for a wonderful flight for everyone. Blessings and thank you for being so faithful with updates and pictures. We will be watching how things unfold at home.

Love and hugs,

Grace and Clan McHugh (group 864)

Jodi said...

Van and Madeline, You have a beautiful family! I can't wait to continue to watch your blog and see y'all together! and see y'all grow!
Think of us when you get together with the other Easterners! We'll miss you! If you're ever in Texas!


jtfertig said...

Van, Madeline, Gracie and Garrett,

Thank you so much for sharing your precious family with us. I have been following along every day and can’t wait to visit the web site for the next update. Garrett joining the O’Neal family is such a blessing. I know he is unaware of all the events taking place in his life now, but he will soon know that he has become part of a wonderful family.
Van has done an outstanding job with Garrett. Not a lot of men would have been able to do what Van has done.

May God Bless the entire O’Neal family and keep Van and Garrett safe in there travels home to Mommy and Gracie.

Sexton Family Four said...

We will be anxiously awaiting pictures and details of the meeting today! Thanks for sharing all the details with us, I feel like I have been a part of every step with you! love ya and congrats, he is just perfect. Love you!