We are beginning to settle in together. TingTing (she prefers her Chinese name, and we have not called her Olivia at all yet) is feeling more comfortable with all of us. She has figured out that Mark loves to romp and play and joke and she is all over that. She has a really cute sense of humor and with sign language and a steady stream of dialect Chinese language generally gets her point across to us. The girl can eat and she is all legs and arms. She is already willing to be affectionate with us and is taking all the staring we get from other Chinese (2 white parents, 2 chinese girls = a spectacle) mostly in stride. People often ask her questions or make comments and I wish I knew what they were saying. I am praying it is not anything hurtful to TT.
Today was a pretty nice day, weather-wise: the first day of our trip without snow, rain, or temps in the 30s. It was still gray due to pollution but a little sunny and warmer. So it was a good day to visit the Changsha Martyr's Park, the largest in the province. We walked and walked and got to see lots of folks dancing, playing cards, musicians, you name it. I love Chinese parks. They are so lovely, even in winter, and in China people really do live their lives outdoors.
Among the day's activities: the girls got little necklaces with their Chinese names and good wishes carved on rice and then placed in a small pendant. TT chose a pink apple and AK a smiley face. TT asked for good luck at school for her wish and had them write "happiness and joy" as AK's wish. So so sweet!
We found a fish pond and for 10 yuan the girls had a blast trying to catch goldfish with little nets. TT caught a bunch and then helped AK capture hers. (I was additionally entertained by 2 cats who spent their time foraging in the trash for dead fish. Gross but fascinating).
Next we hit the potties and these were the real thing by Chinese standards: open squatty potty stalls. Scary to the Westerner, but honestly, they really are not bad once you get the hang of it-- better than a porta-potty, in my opinion. Just keep the wet wipes and hand sanitizer handy! AK finally gave it a try in a moment of desperation and is now an expert! She is pretty proud of herself, too. TT has given her some pointers for success, LOL!
Next we hit the amusement park in the park and braved a few rides. Carousel, bumper cars, an up-and-down deal called the kangaroo (AK not a fan, much wailing, TT loved it) and a playhouse that Mark and TT explored together. Lots of fun and more memory making.
We all took naps and then hit the pool, only to find it was closed for cleaning until early evening. So we decided to explore the neighborhood around the hotel. I about had a heart attack because Mark almost got run over by a speeding SUV in the hotel driveway... not a great start. But of course a neighborhood walk is the best way to see the "real" China (our 5 star hotel is nice but not it). Wow... the most interesting part for me and Mark was definitely all the little, open air markets where they slaughter chickens and fish and even frogs on the spot. The meat is either hanging up, out in the open (unimaginable to American shoppers) or still alive in a cage. We saw a lady carrying a large bundle of cages filled with rabbits & guinea pigs. I asked Mark, are those for dinner and he said they probably were. Poor bunnies! We watched an urban, hipster type young man buy a guinea pig, for a snack I presume. SO FASCINATING.
We did get to swim after dinner although it was cold! TT was more comfortable swimming-- and thus quite independent -- tonight!
I just want to say, Mark has been the most wonderful man through all of this. He has been my rock in the toughest, most stressful moments of this amazing trip, and I love sharing these days and memories with him. He is so great with the girls and they love their daddy so much. I cannot imagine doing any of this without him!
Two more days in Hunan province, then off to Guangzhou.
Love, Kimberly for all 4 of us.
Scroll down for more posts and some updates with pictures! The change in the expression on TT's face between Gotcha day and the following days is really something to behold. She looks so happy. Kimberly and I have been emailing and she said that TT does not like the white ankle socks that she brought for her but she DOES like the knee socks. Heehee. She is also a fan of the glittery sparkle, much like Maggie. Perhaps Maggie can school her in proper levels of tackiness. Oh yes, Kimberly also said that TT is a big fan of AK's hair bows, which pleases Kimberly to no end. I can't wait for them to get home. ~A