Happy Birthday Andrew!!
It is hard to wish your child happy birthday from halfway around the world, but I wanted to be the first to do so! It is 1:30 p.m. in Chengdu, China, so it is 12:30 a.m. in Missouri, and my oldest son is 24 today!! I wish Andrew a happy birthday and many, many more! Love you much!!!
We slept in today. I was up at 7:30 a.m., but returned to bed so as not to wake the girls. Ava also was up and went back to bed. At 10:30 we decided to venture out for breakfast, which we had missed at the hotel. We decided to try the McDonald's across the street. Crossing the street in China is like playing "Frogger." The trick is to not get squished by traffic! We got maybe one-third of the way across when the light changed and we had to stand and wait with traffic whizzing around us on both sides. There was an older Chinese woman who was carrying a gallon of apple juice we were crossing the street with. She set the gallon jug on the ground, and I told the girls when she picked it up again, it would be time to try to get across. (If in doubt, do like the Chinese!) We made it two-thirds across before I had to grab Aleah by the arm and jerk her backwards to avoid being "squished" by a little vehicle. After that, we held hands!
We went back to the Chinese grocery store after breakfast, as Aleah wanted to buy more of her beloved meat sticks, which the translator says is pork sausage. She bought five. Ava chose something called "honey tea milk" which I actually tried yesterday and found to be not too bad. She wanted Aleah to try one as well. Aleah did not look enthused, but agreed to be polite. I had seen Ava looking at toothbrushes yesterday, and hers is the kind that is bought in bulk, plus her tiny tube of toothpaste is nearly gone, so I asked if she would like to pick out a new toothbrush and she chose a yellow one. We also bought a package of noodles that Aleah remembers her grandmother making, and some chicken flavoring to make them with. I can tell Aleah does not have confidence that I can make these noodles taste the same way her grandmother did. She said she always wanted seconds, as they were delicious, but was too afraid to ask.
Ava chose a blueberry sucker for her and one for Aleah. She obviously likes blueberry flavor, as yesterday she bought a small white bottle of blueberry gum - like chiclets, but sold in a bottle like we would buy Aspirin in. She shared it with us. Today I noticed they sold blueberry gum in sticks beside the juicy fruit gum packages. On the way back to the hotel, we decided to explore the escalators that descend underground. I thought it was a subway system, but I was mistaken. It was a way to cross the street underground. There was an ice cream shop, shoe store, and clothing store there, as well. Unfortunately, we still have to cross one street to get back to the hotel, so we'll just have to brush up on our "Frogger" skills!
Ava did not want to eat, and still has not eaten today, although we offered to take her to eat Chinese food. We went by several restaurants but she declined them all. She is sad today. I quizzed her a little with Google Translate and she said she is not sad about leaving China, but she will miss her foster family of the last two years. I typed in that it is alright to be sad, and even to cry and that we were very sorry and if we could do something to make her feel better, to please let us know. I asked her what she wanted to do today, and she drew a picture of a moon and a bed. I told her she was free to nap or to rest as she pleased today, and she is currently playing a game on the ipad while sitting on her bed. Last night she chose a movie to watch on television (Maid in Manhattan) that played in English with Chinese subtitles. I am thinking she did so to be polite to us. This morning she dressed in capri pants and a t-shirt, but when she saw Aleah come out of the bathroom with a skirt on, she quickly changed to a dress. She seems to look to Aleah for what to do.
I am amused at the Chinese music. While in Beijing, we heard a man's cell phone ring with traditional Chinese music as his ringtone. In the background of the restaurant, Unchained Melody was playing in English at the same time. Last night in the Chinese restaurant, they were playing Moon River, while in McDonald's this morning, they had Chinese pop music playing.
In the store, we saw many English subtitles on the products. You could buy Snickers candy bars, Dove soap, Head and Shoulders Shampoo, even Red Bull, although they sold it in a gold can. There was Busch beer (I think I have my label right), Crest toothpaste, Tide detergent, Dove chocolate, and Wrigley spearmint gum. You could also buy a whole chicken, feet intact, covered in ice while awaiting its purchase and choose which fish you wanted to buy while it was still swimming in a large aquarium at the back of the store. In a McDonald's happy meal, you get corn instead of fries, but still get a Spongebob, Hello Kitty, or Alvin and the Chipmunks toy.
I have nearly fallen several times since the Beijing airport. The Chinese have steps everywhere, which would not be so bad, except they are not uniform. You may go up and down a flight of steps, but when you get to the bottom, there will be a small step, like maybe 2-3 inches that appears to blend in with the street. It is these little steps that I keep tripping over and falling off of. Aleah laughs at me each time!
Yesterday at the Panda Preserve, I had the translator tell Ava (after using the squat toilets there) that in America, there are no squat toilets. The translator looked distressed and quickly consulted Ava about this. She then told me that it was okay, Ava would use Western toilets. I was a little confused, but she then expounded by telling me she herself would not use a western toilet because they were nasty! She said if she absolutely had to, she would use a western toilet for urination, but nothing more as it was just too disgusting! After considering, I remembered that the western toilets at the airport had a little button you push that caused either the seat (which was covered in plastic), or the plastic covering the seat (I couldn't tell which) to rotate, so the plastic was fresh on the toilet seat for each person. It is interesting how our cultures see this so differently! Many Americans refuse to use the squat toilets in China because they, in turn, find the squat toilets disgusting!
We have found maid service at this hotel to be very confusing! There is a light switch you turn on to notify the maid that you wish your room cleaned; however, they still knock on the door at odd times, such as 9:30 at night, and 4:30 in the morning. They will say "Housekeeping" in English and I will say "No, thank you!" and they will say "Oh, so sorry!" Do people really clean hotel rooms that late and that early?
I will close this for now. I am thinking of you all, but particularly my son, Andrew. I miss you today! A mother should never be apart from her children, but especially on their birthday!