Sunday, February 20, 2005

Houston: The Poopy Has Landed

"Roger that Tranquility Base: The poopy has landed."

"One small poop for baby, one giant poop for babykind."

"Ask not what your country can poop for you, but what you can poop for your country."

"It is a far better poop that I do now then I have ever pooped before."

"To poop or not to poop, that is the question..."

"Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this poop of yours...."

I could go on.

As you may have gathered, we had our first poopy diaper today. And then another. And another. I would have never thought that I would be so happy to have the opportunity to clean up a diaper load of baby poop. But I was overjoyed, delighted, ecstatic. Really. I was.

This was cause for great joy, as you might imagine. We had not had any poopy at all on Saturday and we were starting to worry just a bit but as we were already going to go to the clinic on Monday (today as I write), we weren't too stressed. Dada was much much happier.

Our night had been pretty quiet, waking up just once in the night for a feeding and then back to sleep.

This morning we had another fairly quiet breakfast, eating more than we had. Bill and I did more work on the video stuff. We've been distributing the gotcha day videos to the different families as we can and working on getting each family's video edited down.

The plan for the day was to take a group tour and then have a free afternoon, with a dim sum group dinner in the evening.

The tour was pretty interesting. We went to the Chen Family ancestor worship temple, which is now a museum of Chinese arts and crafts. The temple was amazing, very different from the other temples we had seen (all of which had started to blur together in our memories). It was built at the end of the 19th century (Qing dynasty) from donations from people with the surname "Chen" (or "Chan"). Chen is the largest family name, having about 1 million members at the time the temple was built.

The museum includes amazing examples of traditional Chinese handicrafts, including ceramics and bone and ivory carvings, which were astounding. For example, the ivory boat pictured here had amazing detail, hard to capture in a photo with the equipment we had. There were also beautiful gardens and an interesting series of life-size statues depicting scenes from a famous Chinese novel (or folk tales, it was hard to tell which, but well-known stories in any case).

From there we went to yet another state-run souvenier store where we bought more stuff, although mostly just small things. They did have bone carvings in the same style as those we had seen, something we hadn't seen too much of before, so we bought some. This was a store where you could haggle, which we did. I made the sales girls laugh by making ridiculously low offers but we were able to arrive at a price I was happy with (about 40% of their marked prices).

Eventually back on the bus to return to the hotel for lunch. David our guide had offered to take a few guys to shop for electronics at 3:00 so we had a relatively quick lunch at Lucy's and then back up to the room to change the diaper, offload video, and whatnot. We also had to give David 3000 yuan for notary fees (he'll pick up our notarized documents today). This came as a bit of a surprise but I had already set aside 1000 yuan for this purpose, knowing that I could get the remaining 2000 from the ATM machine in the hotel. Which I did.

We did have a strange experience at lunch: we were seated next to another Western couple who started staring at the baby. Finally they indicated that they had just arrived in preparation for going to their province to get their baby. They had something of a shell-shocked look and started asking us for advice. It was an odd feeling realizing that, after four days, we were experienced parents, as far as they were concerned. We gave them what useful advice we could (get Chinese bottles, don't worry, all the babies are different, the clinic is good, bring grandparents with you) and sent them on their way, hopefully a little more calm and confident.

We checked Dada's diaper and joy of joys she had pooped. There was much rejoicing. Dada was so much happier, as you can imagine. At this point Bill and I went down to meet the group to go shopping and the grans and Julie stayed in to play with Dada. They had much fun. Judy wins the day's photo contest with this image of Dada and Grandmother Peggy having way too much fun.

Electronics shopping was fun--we went to an area that was a warren of tiny electronics shops selling mobile phones, PA equipment, stereos, MP3 and DVD players, cameras, cables, video games, music, you name it (except small digital clocks, which we didn't find any evidence of). I got a cable I needed, a battery for my Chinese-market mobile phone, a battery for Peggy's camera, a cheap USB mouse for the laptop, a Chinese language version of Mulan on DVD (bargained down to 16 yuan or 2 dollars US). Discovered that video camera batteries aren't that much cheaper here.

It was a fun dad's day out--we got to talk about mortage financing and silly TSA policies and other guy stuff and not so much about poopy diapers (although there was some talk along those lines as well).

Then back to the hotel for our six o'clock dim sum dinner. The dinner was very good although it would have been more fun if more families had showed up--we've been going out with pretty much the same three families, who are all very nice, but we'd like the opportunity to socialize with the other families as well. Dada enjoyned dinner--sitting in a high chair munching on cheerios and little bits of noodle and balls of sticky rice. She is a very methodical and careful eater. We have watched her eat a cheerio in three or four bites, which is a pretty neat trick even for a child her size. She was quiet and thoughtful the whole time. I know this won't last so I'm enjoying it while I can.

After dinner we got ice cream cones and Carl came over to get his gotcha-day video (Carl and his wife Valerie live in Austin--he's an astronomer at UT and has the distinction of having discovered more black holes than anyone else). Then we kicked all the 'rents out and tried to ease Dada into the welcoming arms of Morpheus (the sleep guy, not the dude from the Matrix). We were pretty exhausted, not having had any real naps, but she was up and at 'em. But by ten o'clock Julie had her sawing logs and in her crib.

Finally it was lights out. We all slept through the night.

Today, Monday the 21st, we have a free morning while David deals with getting our notarized documents, then this afternoon we (by which I mean Julie) does more paperwork, preparing the CIS-supplied forms in preparation for our appointment at the U.S. consulate.

The weather is still cold and windy, which is kind of a bummer because we'd really like to be able to wander about the city in comfort. But we can bundle up our bundle of joy and do some walking. David, as a life-long Beijinger, doesn't care for Guangzhou but I'm liking it. It reminds me a lot of Barcelona in terms of the feel of the city, the climate, the flora, and the vibe on the street. It's not a city of monuments like Beijing or Paris but it's a very vibrant city with lots of interesting corners to explore. But I suspect we'll be back before too long....

"Happy poopy to all and to all a good poop!"

1 Comments:

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Kit said...

Ok, sometimes the world just seems freakishly small. What are the odds of you running into someone in china that my girlfriend knows? Seeing as how the astronomy community at UT isn't all that big, Shay of course knows this Karl you speak of.

 

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