Sunday, February 12, 2006

This Is Not A Toy

Jarrah is sleeping on her floor bundle and David is in the shower. I felt bad but I actually roused him from where he was passed out next to her and hustled him into the bathroom; if she wakes up, there will be hell to pay with him out of the room. We had a pretty good night last night. When we got home from dinner, I felt a twinge of "I'm a terrible mother" because we let her snooze in her stroller for over an hour while we unpacked and got ready for bed. Then she screamed like she was dying as we wrestled her into pajamas and bed, but once that firestorm had passed she was completely quiet most of the night, until 6:30. Friends, it's been under one week and sleeping until 6:30 is spa-like luxury to me. I am practically human again today.

This morning we experienced the breakfast buffet at the White Swan, and all I can say is wow. I have never seen more food options, even at home. And everything was delicious. Jarrah thought so, too, and especially enjoyed grabbing fistfuls of noodles off her own little plate and slurping them into her mouth. She is also a tater tot fan. This was also the first time she successfully spent a whole meal in a high chair, which meant David could actually eat something. She was really quite a happy girl all morning, full of smiles and giggles.

After breakfast we had the baby's visa photos at a store across the street that clearly subsists entirely on taking official photos of babies. Next to it, a shop selling Chinese name paintings and "chops" (carved stamps of symbols and names that can be inked and reused) displayed examples with names like Mya, Hailey, Noah and Kailee. Shrewd, shrewd marketing, people. The gals in the shop graciously explained that the symbols and animals they use in the paintings are "good luck for the adoption." At breakfast, the staff assessed our little party and walked us past acres of serene, empty tables to a screaming madhouse in the back that I named "The Adoption Ghetto." Every table was filled with foreigners and their squirming children. I've never seen anything like it. And this is my life now.

After the photos we spent some time in The Swan Room, which is a large play room on the first floor jam-packed with toys and children. I didn't think Jarrah would really like it, since she's not walking yet, but she was very happy playing catch with a plastic ball (and sucking it, heaven help her and her immune system) and pressing buttons on a "standing" toy. But the best toy of all is Daddy, who can be climbed, pulled, pushed and fallen from with great mirth. My first glimpse of her this morning was a silhouette in the near darkness, just a tiny head and some waving hands above David's comparitively huge body (the rooms in this hotel have two beds that are slightly bigger than a twin but smaller than a double, so we are sleeping apart) treating him like a jungle gym while he attempted to ignore her. It was really adorable.

Just now we came back for her nap and there was a new addition to the room--a large box which I could see across the room contained a doll. It turned out to be a Barbie doll, courtesy of Mattel, who apparently also kits out the room we were just playing in, but this was not just any Barbie, dear readers. This was "Going Home Barbie," and while she looks very chic in her blue tweed ensemble and rakish hat, her best accessory is the tiny Chinese baby she's holding. I am not making this up. "This souvenir is presented by Mattel to adopting parents of Chinese orphan children staying at the White Swan Hotel, Guangzhou, China." And the front of the box also says: "This is not a toy."

It's evening now and somehow this day has been totally exhausting, even more than other days when I haven't slept, for some reason. One parent from each family spent two hours in Jason's room this afternoon completing visa paperwork for the babies; in our case, it had already been established it would have to be me because David is not American, but it wouldn't have been me anyway since she would have had a seizure from crying that long with him gone. It was sort of interesting seeing the kinds of questions the government asks about foreign-born orphans, such as what kind of student they are and whether they are average in appearance and mental ability ("No, above average!" we all yelled, but Jason said just to write "yes." Hee.) When Paul and I finished, we discovered Mary, David and the babies in their room, rockin' out to the Beatles and dancing in their squeaky shoes. Yes, David had purchased some for Jarrah when he dropped our laundry off, and I was in pain from extreme cuteness. If you want to know what kind of cute I'm talking about, visit CuteOverload or AdoraBlog and you'll understand. She was doing her mad pirate walk and squeaking up a storm, and I can see my days of having a child who patiently waits in one spot when I cross the room are severely curtailed.

We spent a very unpleasant 20 minutes stuffing her into her new red Chinese dress for the famous "red couch" photos taken of every family and group of babies at the White Swan, though I have to say it was pretty hilarious seeing her strutting around with her belly jutting out of the narrow silk sheath. The photo session was typically chaotic, with normally serene babies crying their lungs out and parents wrestling them back onto the couch. Afterwards, we put just Jarrah and Joy onto the couch, now strewn with bite-size snack options, and the two of them were like little squirrels, filling their pouches with every crumb.

Soon after, we had a group dinner at a local Thai restaurant called The Cow and Bridge, though I don't understand that name. It was insanely loud in there, and very smoky, and at first I just wanted to put my head down on some nice, soft noodles and snooze until the check came. But the food ended up being wonderful, and it was so fun to watch the girls playing with their noodles and yumming up all kinds of new delicacies like veggies in coconut and mini ears of corn. I also enjoyed it when Jarrah held her placemat over her head and her hair got filled with congee, though I can imagine that such behavior will lose its sheen of hilarity once she's doing it in my living room.

Next Entry


Amy said...

Wow Sam,
Sounds like you all are on the upswing...woohoo! I just can't stand how cute those little rascals are! I just want to jump through the computer and give them a ton of kisses! It sounds like you all are doing great at the famous White Swan. The whole adoption culture there is quite a phenomenon I am sure! I still can't believe you all manage to go on as many excusions as you do...I can't even imagine how I would muster the energy...kudos to you all! As for the stroller sleeping...we have all done that and I would probably think you nuts NOT to take advantage of a perfectly good sleep opportunity because they don't happen often. :) Boy I can't wait for you guys to come home...I think I have said that in several of my previous posts...but hey its the truth. So when do you officially return??? Keep those pictures coming they brighten up each day here at the Miyamoto household. Maya and Zoe are also very excited to meet their new friends. Hey can you get those squeaky shoes here in the U.S.? Sounds like they would be fun.
Big hugs to you all!

Anonymous said...

Sammy -- Adore reading your posts! Gorgeous pictures! So happy to read that Jarrah's sleeping well and giggling now. Thinking of you both as you start your journey homeward! xxx, Liz

Anonymous said...

Ah, sleep! Perchance to dream...yeah. Feels really good, doesn't it? That old saying about letting sleeping dogs lie, is good for kids, too. :) My granddaughter sleeps better in her car seat, than in the little crib I keep for her, so after a car ride, I just prop open the garage door to the house & sit nearby until she wakes up! You adapt, Jarrah adapts.
I looked at the lovely photo of the three of you and thought there's the picture of a wonderful family that's just come through hard labor to get created. Congratulations to you all!
Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

Cow and Bridge restaurant! It brings back memories of Ava having one of her worst meltdowns. I love reading your posts. I know the passport photo shop also! Did you know they keep the photos on disc and you can buy extra copies if you like the photo. The quality of the print is just so-so.

It sounds like you're all settling into a comfortable routine. This is the time of exploration and discovery - you are learning about each other and realizing you have strengths and weaknesses you never knew about.

Enjoy the rest of your time in China and make sure you check out Lucy's for the burgers and fries. It's not In-and-Out, but it tasted really good.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sam!

Don't get rid of that Barbie! No matter what your political opinion is of Barbie and her cohorts, you will find yourself tearing up over her when you run across her in a closet one day. I have hotel reciepts from Russia I get misty over now....;-)

Also, I'm with Amy. It is totally o.k. to let Jarrah sleep in her stroller. There are no rules here---just do whatever works. My brother-in-law drives his daughter around in the car until she falls asleep, then unstraps her car seat and brings the whole thing in (child and all). This is how she naps.

It sounds like things are getting a lot better. I'm really glad. I love the picture of David picking Jarrah up by her ankles! :-)

You guys are doing great!!!

Love, Lisa

Anonymous said...

I can't say enough how cute Jarrah is! It is so true, that you not just love your baby, you fall in love without control...


Anonymous said...

So glad to hear you're settling in at the White Swan. It sounds surreal and comforting, all at the same time.

Jarrah seems to get cuter and cuter in each picture - are those ladybug Robeez that I spy? Adorable.

Can't wait to see you all this week.

Anonymous said...

Sam--I LOVE the pics of Jarrah on the bus. What a face! She is a doll. She has such a happy look to her, which is a great improvement over what you described earlier. It sounds like things are slowly getting better. One day at a time!

Safe travels!


Anonymous said...

I just can't imagine everything that is going on with you right now (though you do an amazing job of articulating your experience). To do all of the new parent stuff in a different country, in hotel rooms, with a one year old you have just met, running on no just blows my mind! I have NO DOUBT that Jarrah will bond with you and will adore her mommy in no time (she already is bonding; just taking baby steps). Hang in there!!!
Love, Karol

Kim said...

Seriously, your kid just gets cuter and cuter and cuter. How do you do anything but stare at her all day? Such a beauty! -Kim

Anonymous said...

(Wiping off kiss marks off my PowerBook)...

WHAT SWEETHEARTS are Misses Joy and Jarrah! They are edible darling cute! I know Vincent is happy to see his newest mates are doing so well.

Love the pictures, as always. We just watched the DVD 'China's Lost Girls' and saw the White Swan on the outside. Schwanky! ;)

Take care and kiss our newest Cookie for us.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam!

I should read your blog better before I blurt out my 0.2 cents (sorry). Let me clarify about the stroller: naps are o.k., but you were totally on the money to take her out of her stroller and put her in her crib for the night. Napping is one thing, but bedtime is another. Good mothering (and fathering) insticts!

I love Jarrah's pictures! Could you have a child with a more expressive face? She cracks me up! :-)

Hoping you are having another sleep-filled night!

Love, Lisa G.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm a total blog hog tonight. James is on a business trip and I've had my little guy all to myself today. Anywho, I just wanted to mention that I am almost positive Jarrah is teething. Under "Do Laundry and Borrow a Stroller" I can see the little white teeth buds under her gums in the picture where Jarrah has her mouth wide open. Dr. Dern recommends Motrin for teething (I have found that it does work better for this, and lasts longer), but Tylenol will work too.

Teething is a pain in the butt, and literally goes on for months. I resisted medicating Anton for a long time because I could never tell if he was teething or not. I learned to look for the white beneath the gums---a sure sign, so is a lot of drooling, and refusal to eat and drink. Not to mention crankiness! :-)

Hope this helps.....

Lisa :-)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like things are getting better - hooray!
Keep the pictures and stories coming, we can't get enough. :)
Laura and Mike

Anonymous said...

I am in love with the chub factor. What a gorgeous sight--your child in a shiny red outfit, her belly protruding, her hands stuffed in her mouth (teething--yikes!). She is so cute--I can barely stand it.

So glad she is sleeping better--and you too. What an experience. All bets are off with the sleeping--especially while you are in a hotel room--wherever, if it helps you get sleep or accomplish what you need to, no harm. I've let Hannah sleep in her car seat, in her stroller, WHEREVER!! Most children I know have trouble adjusting to travel--she's doing so much better now--it's incredible--good work you two.

Sammy--keep pursuing her. Take her for a walk again--play at something that delights her, whatever strikes your fancy. She will follow, and you will find your own rhythm.

Your fridge is full, your home awaiting your return. Can't wait to see you all. so much love!

Anonymous said...

I have never seen a cuter picture in all my life than the one of Jarrah laughing uproariously on the bus. Now, *this* is joy. I'll be thinking of you all on the trip home.
With love,