Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Van's Jan 3rd Post

I wake up bright and early at 4:15 a.m. I take a much needed shower. I have a full bath now, which will help with Garrett's bathing. The baby bath tub wasn't very easy for a larger toddler. Garrett is sleep pretty well. He has really grown on me. He has the most lovable look in his eyes, and he is definitely boy the way he plays and mocks me when I say no! I have to be firm, but he gets a little reprieve as long as he doesn't run out into the road or other dangerous areas.
Garrett wakes up. He is pretty cheerful when he wakes up. I take him over to get him acclaimated to the "bigger pot" that we all call the toilet bowl. No success yets, but he is fascinated and likes to flush it after trying. We go down stairs for a simple breakfast. Well, if you haven't heard, the White Swan is famous for it's breakfast buffet. The most important meal while travelling in China is breakfast by far, no ifs, ands or buts about it. The White Swan is still decorated for the Christmas season. The bridge over the koi pond is closed off to accommodate a 25 foot Christmas tree and other very festive decorations. We are greeted by a hostess dressed in a Santa outfit, with skirt. We are place by ourselves next to the windows looking out to the Pearl River and the boats that are passing by. We get a great assortment of foods including made to order omelettes, star fruit, bacon, more bacon, buttery croissants, and plenty of anything you could imagine. Garrett does well and is loving the view of the river. I let him get up close to the glass. This is an off-season so far in Guangzhou and it's not nearly as crowded as the previous time in 2005. I think only 30 people are eating at this point. The eating area could easily accommodate about 300-400 people. I'm not complaining! Garrett starts looking and flirting with the 5 to 8 staff members around our area. He is a natural, but I believe it's due to the younger staff at China Care. I think he has just a truly innocent loving look that you don't see all the time. He eats pretty well and we now have to get ready for the trip to the botanical gardens. Before going upstairs, I take some pics of the waterfall, the big jade boat, and now a big jade pagoda in the main lobbies. I see the red couches that we will see again our last day here.
It's off to the botanical gardens and we meet the whole group. Rebecca and Lilly give turns talking, and then they hand the microphones over to the families to give tell their stories and about their child. It's a very nice group. We had bonded very much with our group the first time adopting Gracie, and I was starting to really like this bunch. The bus pulls up to the gardens, which are fascinating. I've been to the gardens in Halifax on our honeymoon, but this was just huge and on several hills. The still have Christmas decorations out in front and the chinese people are all taking their pics in front of Santa Claus and Christmas trees. Their are 3 paths you can take at the beginning: left, right, or straight ahead following the fountain. Garrett and I start on the right-hand side and are enjoying this beautiful day. I keep Garrett's jacket on since I've heard someone already was scolded for not having a jacket on their child. They expect kids to be "bundled"! We walk with several different families at various points, taking many wonderful pictures along the way. It is just a relaxing time and the weather was perfect. We get towards the top, and are taking pictures with Stefanie, Andrea, and Andrea's son, Cole at the rock gardens. To all of you that have asked if I've met Stefanie, yes I have, and she is a very sweet and I can see what the fuss is about her from the Yahoo groups. Her sister, Andrea is very nice and her son Cole is very cute and runs, skip, and hops a great deal. The attraction we're around is the zodiac sign with concrete displays of all the Chinese Year animals. Their is a big silver ball in the middle. We takes pictures and I see Garrett really loving to run around. The next stop is the rose garden. All of this hundreds and thousands of roses were in wonderful full blooms in January. Garrett really likes this part and I tried taking pictures. Luckily, Robert showed up and took two pictures of us. Robert mentioned the pictures seemed overexposed. I didn't think much about it until later and found out that at some point, probably while disabling the flash, I had set the exposure to the lightest it could be. The rest of the pictures start to come out better. Thanks Robert!
We walk around and I get to see a very happy Garrett just taking in the breath-taking garden. We make it to some columns, and take some nice pictures. We then continue to the main water fountain, and see some very huge koi fish being fed. I had some shrimp chips that had become crumbs and through them out to get some fish our way. They come and Garrett gets very excited. I give him some of the crumbs and he shoves them in his mouth. No way was he going to give up his favorite snack! We leave and come across a lady using a an electrical hand bubble-blower shaped like a bird, that also tweets. I buy one just for Garrett, who likes popping the bubbles. We decide to walk down the middle of the garden where a multi-tiered fountain flows down to the entrance. I take some pictures of Garrett. It has been a beautiful way to start any day.
We continue outside the gates to a local restaurant. They show off their prized fresh fish and also their freshly skinned poultry. We walk inside and the groups take over 2 large tables that have lazy susans on them. We are sitting with Doug and Lucy's family along with Stefanie and Andrea's family. We are given several different dishes, a few have heat (like the beef) and the rest are mainly noodles, vegetables, and fried meats. It is a wonderful lunch, and Garrett ate plenty of noodles. I had asked for some apple juice, they ended up bringing freshly squeezed apple juice in about a 3 quart container. I helped drink a great deal of it. Garrett is doing so well, and he loves being around people.
We live to take the busride back to the White Swan hotel. Garrett falls asleep on the way back. This toddler is really growing on me and I really feel like his Dad now that we're not enclosed in a hotel room. We get back to hotel and Garrett continues to nap after a brief wake-up period. I needed to catch-up on the journals and start typing. I also want to upload the pictures as I take them since we've had that incident during Mother's Day where all of our pictures at the beach were destroyed. I'm missing Madeline and Gracie and wish they could be here to meet Garrett. I just wish they could be here!!JGarrett wakes up early from his nap and we walk down to some of the shops. Jennifer's and Susan's place do not exist anymore, which isn't good since they seemed to be the largest. The stores have moved around some and it's now nearly as busy as back in 2005. I walk to the end and finally find the new home of Jennifer's place at the end of the street. It's actually at the same location behind a Subway shop. I meet Jennifer's sister and ask about the stone etchings. They have a new style, but it's done electronically where the other is hand-tapped out. I have about four of the etchings made, and they aren't cheap either. That has to be done early since it takes several days to complete. On the way back, I go inside of another store and start buying some of the other items on my Honey Do List. I get a mah-jong set, and other items that will be good for Gracie and Garrett to remember their Chinese culture.
That night, we walk over to Jennifer's place to drop off a lot of laundry. We also go to get some stone etchings made. We eat at the local Subway for dinner, we see Andrea, Cole and Stefanie walking in Jennifer's place. We continue to eat, when Robert and Pam's family stop by to eat as well. We walk back together hitting several shops. I'm waiting until we visit the market until buying a bulk of the clothing that I'm supposed to buy. I could easily fill up a 3rd suitcase, but pretty sure after getting rid of clothes and some medicine, can fit it all in.
We get back and crash around 9 p.m. I'm up a bit later to talk with Madeline and Gracie. It's always a wonderful way to end our day and begin their day. The next day, it's the paperwork, and I can't wait until that is completed!

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