as i sit her writing, i can hear a constant movement on the street. even from our 14th floor hotel at 4 am, i can hear so much movement outside. beeping and huge trucks and brakes squealing and engines bouncing...oh and extreemly loud fireworks that just went off as i was typing a moment ago. even at 9 pm last night while on our way home from davie's adorable 1 room apartment, we made our way through a grocery store (a shortcut to the main street from the alley that apparently an entire community uses as a cut through to the street) everywhere we walked was alive with action. it was pitch black in the alley and even the main street was ill lit, but we could see shadows everywhere...babies on scooters, ladies dancing to music over a loud speaker, old met playing some kind of betting game, children laughing and chasing...it was 9pm, scortching hot, and no sign of calling it a night...if you turned the lights on, it would look the same as it does during the day...there is always life blooming here. truly a country that seems to never sleep.
we spend the day causing some serious rubber necking. we are quite the spectacle. not only are we americans, but somehow we managed to snag a chinese baby :) most people we encounter are very curious. our friends and translator say that most chinese don't know about the concept of adoption, so they don't understand how we have a chinese baby. when they see us, we get the usual "oh look, a foreigner" glance - which we know all about from our previous experience here. so we smile and say hello when we are in close proximity. but the 150 ppl on the other side of the street that are giving us the same look...well, a spectacle is made for sure. then the attention turns to jing liu, and the rubber necking insues. it's as if they do a double take when they realize the baby were are carrying is chinese. for the most part, we are met with smiles and good wishes. they all comment on how tiny she is. one woman came up to us and said she adopted a baby girl 20 years ago...she was loving seeing our baby girl and gave us such a sweet smile and kindness. it was really neat to meet a chinese woman who shared our love of adoption! it was a special moment to connect with her, even without words. sometimes i feel frustrated for jing liu and the attention she is getting, but clint keeps reminding me to keep it in perspective...it's more of a curiosity than anything else...this isn't a tourist town...there aren't tons of foreigners walking the back alley markets toting babies...let alone adorable chinese babies :) so we do our best to be polite...and leave the rest alone.
this morning, we went shopping for tiny baby clothes with our dear friend davie. we found a backalley shopping mecca. we only made it to the 2nd floor of the 6 story building because it was just too ginormous. we bought a few adorable outfits for jing liu when she is older and some funny tshirts for the boys, but apparently, they don't sell tiny baby clothes. not sure what newborns wear in china, but we could only find 2 outfits that were remotely her size.
and again, we were a spectacle. we said hello to each shop owner, and greeted the small children who stared wide eyed and then they would giggle and practice their english "hellooo!". crowds would gather as we bargained. davie was so sweet and would explain that jing liu is our daughter. we were scolded that she was too hot in our carrier. we were scolded that her legs were too bare. we were offered chairs and hospitality. having a language barrier brings out the simple things. a smile. hand motions. laughter. it's often a very powerful way to communcate.
everywhere we walk on the streets, there are so many smells and sights and a buzzing all around. it's a lot to take in. the moment we hit the streets, it's china. everywhere you look. you can't describe the smell. it's not horrible...it's just how china smells. food and dust and people cooking and cutting metal and carrying chickens and selling all types of wares.
lots of frogs and turtles for sale on the street. not for pets though...uhg.
sidewalks are actually parking lots and more closely related to minuature roads. at any time, you will see vehicals of all types parked on the sidewalk, or a moped zipping past you as you walk along.
apparently our hotel is in the home depot district. there are blocks of carpet vendors. they all sell the same things. shop after shop after shop. the next block is pvc piping, the next is sheet metal, and the next is heating and cooling. we met an entire block of used remote controls and floor fans, among other randomocity. it's so funny to see piles and piles of old and broken remotes piled high and set out for sale. many are covered in dust and have wires sticking out. buttons missing. but apparently there is a market for nearly crushed remote controls. an entire block devoted to such treasures.
as we walk, there is constant rainfall. it's smouldering hot here. picture the hottest and most humid day you can ever remember. then add 20 degrees and fine dust granules floating at all times. but there is also a constant dripping/misting from above. sometimes, it's more like a downpour. we assume it's venting from AC units from the apartment buildings above. or perhaps someone is dumping old water? a flower vase perhaps? laundry drying? it's not rain, and we're not really sure what it is, but we walk and dodge falling showers.
the grocery store is another awesome adventure. it's so colorful and vibrant. there is so much to look at, but you aren't really sure what you are seeing. we tried to find snacks but with shrimp flavored bugles and tomato rice pringles, it was laughable to figure out what kind to try. there are so many things we have no idea what they are. some even have brand names like "herrs" or "toll house" but the product is unrecognizable. i love trying out new things and getting a taste of what chinese like to eat.
again, not sold as pets. don't tell foster and rowan they sell these in the grocery store. i'd never leave without a new "pet" if they did this in the usa!!
without a doubt, many chinese love KFC. we stopped in to get a drink and have a cool place to sit and feed jing liu a bottle. we didn't try the food (been there done that a few years back = major stomach attack) i'd much rather have chinese food than kfc, mcdonalds, pizza hut etc, but i know many chinese like these classic american restaurants and they are very common to see in a lot of chinese cities.
as we sat, we were shocked at how busy it was. we were one block away from the back alley shopping mecca, but now it looked very big city. the family next to us touted at least 10 bags of toys for their two little kids. the mom was dressed to the nines with sparkling high heels and a gucci bag. they had 2 kids, a boy and a girl. we asked davie how some families are allowed to have 2 kids and others can only have 1. davie said if you are very wealthy, you can pay to have another child...or if you are from the country, you can have 2 or even 3 children. davie and his wife are from the country so he was very excited to tell us that they are allowed to have more than one child. he's going to be such a sweet daddy someday!!
i have so many awesome photos...but i sooo need lightroom, or some kind of tweaking. i'm having all sorts of white balance issues (LINDS! i need help! can you zip on over here and fix my camera like you always do?? :) and it's quite difficult to wear a baby, use a fan, inconspicuously shoot photos, and carry some assortment of puffs or water or a bag of lyche fruit.
oh and my husband? he's amazing. did i mention that already? remember me saying it's meltingly hot here? well it's even hotter with a backpack on and lugging bags of groceries for 7 blocks. he's so sweet and silly and fun. we are having so much fun together. how often do you get to pal around in another country with your spouse and a tiny tote along baby?? i'd say almost never. well, except for right now :)
my amazing girl.
oh how i love this photo. this is how she looks at me all day long. those eyes!!! incredible!!
she really came alive tonight at dinner. it was like trying to hold onto the wind. attempting to catch a cloud and pin it down...she was the wiggliest and silliest and squirmiest kid i've ever seen! she is so interested in everything! we got a kick out of her amazing strength and her ability to grab and knock over just about anything with her super long arms and enormous determination. she is a sassy one, and i love it!!
and yet, she sleeps so soundly. this was her first nap in the crib this afternoon. it's a very small crib, but wow, she still looks teenie.
i will now say goodnight to the longest post in history! i have a million more things to say, though. later this morning we will go to fuzhou....jing liu's birth city (2 hours away) to put up finding posters and see if we can find her birth or foster parents. the orphanage director decided he would not give us her foster parents address. hopefully we will find them with our sign. we are going to document her finding spot as well as our dear sweet brooklyn's finding spot. i feel emotional already about witnessing these precious places where our girls once were. there is something sacred to me about being in the same place and jing liu and her birth mom. maybe it is a mix of frustration and love and incomprehensible emotions. i feel grief and pain for what jing liu might experience later in life looking back...but i will pray continuously that God will bring healing through these photographs somehow. being able to see her starting place and embrace her past. embrace a nation we love so much, even when there are things we don't understand, like mystery rain fall. :)
oh and our friend davie? everyone should meet him. he would inspire the world to do a great many things. he lives his life moment by moment...he travels a lot for work and seeks out underground churches everywhere he goes. he had picture after picture of the groups and friends he has found. with every breath, he says "thanks be to God" - it feels as though we are in the presence of someone who has been chosen to change a nation. i get goosebumps when he speaks...when we heard him pray at the restaurant...his generosity...he gives to each beggar on the street...buys flower necklaces from the little lady vendor...shows compassion and love to each person he encounters. oh, and he LOVES jing liu. he keeps saying "thanks be to God...your daughter...thanks be to God you are her mom and dad!"