Day 10: Exploring Guangzhou

Yesterday morning, we woke up, had breakfast, and I left with our travel group to explore a couple parts of Guangzhou. Experience from our last trip to China helped us decide with confidence that Ryan would stay back at the hotel with both Tyson and Noah while I went on the excursion. These outings are so important to experience, but at the same time, they are exhausting for newly adopted little ones. Our first stop was at the wholesale market (above). There are multiple levels and store after store filled with goods. You have to buy the items by the dozen, so we just went to a couple places where our agency's guides have established relationships with the store owner, which allowed us to not purchase in bulk.  Our first stop was to this store to buy pearls. 

So happy to be in China with my sweet friend, Lauren!

You might remember from our last trip that I purchased a string of pearls, which are highly valued in China, for myself and a necklace for Tucker's future wife. We wanted to do the same for this trip! In record time, I chose both of our necklaces. The same woman who strung the pearls last time also helped us yesterday (see below).

I chose a very pale pink string of pearls for Tyson's future wife. They caught my eye and were beautiful! My necklace of charcoal colored, oddly shaped pearls is hiding behind the box's open lid. So grateful to have these special treasures to remember the time I became a mom to my China babies.  I hope Tucker's and Tyson's wives both cherish their pearls as much as I do.

I asked our guide, Rebecca, what this red stone was called. She entered it into Google Translate, which revealed the word coral. Rebecca told me that it is very, very expensive and highly treasured in China. I asked how much for one of the necklaces, and she said 1,000 yuan (around $160 USD)...PER GRAM! WHOA! That is expensive!! The entire necklace would cost over $3,000 USD. I will remember the pretty red stone with this picture rather than around my neck.

Bags of pearls adorned this store!

So many options of pearls - shape, color, size, quality, etc. 

When I saw this staircase, my stomach flipped. During our last trip to China, Tucker was resisting me very strongly on this particular excursion. Ryan would hide behind the columns on a different level so that Tucker couldn't see him. I carried him around in the carrier, trying to make progress in bonding and attachment. Tuck was not happy to be in my arms, and while walking down this staircase, I slipped and fell down a few steps. I remember so many people had been watching us already, the American woman with her Chinese baby, screaming like crazy. Then to fall down the stairs, oh my. I couldn't even cry. I was embarrassed and so heartbroken that my baby didn't want me.

With that said, these stairs represent part of my past. They represent a mountain that Tucker and I climbed together as we learned to love one another. If he were in China with me now, I would stand at the top of those stairs, holding my sweet boy. We have achieved great victory together, as God's deep love runs so strongly within both of us now. I love you, Tucker YiMing!!

After finishing at the pearl market, some families purchased pieces of jade. I am honestly not a huge fan of jade, and it can be very expensive, too, so I just talked with some of the other families in our group. We made our way back to an embroidery shop, which was our meeting place. I snapped a quick picture of a HUGE Buddha carving that stood in the doorway. He is everywhere in China!

Love being in China with Lauren and Chad! For all of you who donated to TUCKER'S puzzle fundraiser, remember, you helped bring their daughter, Charlie Mei home to them, as we paid forward your gift of $5,000 to them!

Once we finished at the wholesale market, we hopped back on our huge tour bus to visit the Chen Family Academy. Once again, Ryan, Tucker, and I went to this place during our last trip to China, so I mostly just enjoyed the time with friends.

My Nanning sisters, Rachel and Kelli, and Kelli's precious Beihai beauty, Landry. 

The Chen Family Academy has such beautiful courtyards and carvings on top of the buildings. The history in China is something I just love. Many families were purchasing chops here, but we waited to make Tyson's until our visit to Shamian Island, where I could get a much better price.

Chops come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Many people choose the chop based on the Chinese Zodiac Symbol. Ryan is the monkey, I am the dog, Noah is the rat, Liam and Tucker are the rabbit, and Tyson is the snake. Do you know your Chinese zodiac symbol?

I love watching this artist paint this pictures. He uses only the side of his hand, the side of his pinky, and his fingernail to paint them. I loved this one of the Great Wall of China! I ended up buying a smaller one that had old fishing boats on it to hang in Tyson's room, as the boats will forever remind me of Beihai. Tucker loves the pictures we have in his room, and we wanted to do the same for Ty. It is important for the boys to see their Chinese celebrated in our home, so these pieces of art are very special to our family.

I saw these four flowers and couldn't help but think of my four precious sons. I never in a million years envisioned having four children, let alone four sons, but God's plan was so much better than my own! I cannot wait until we are all under one roof together.

After everyone was finished at the Chen Family Academy, we returned to our hotel. There was a children's brunch to celebrate Children's Day. This holiday is celebrated in many parts of the world. I read online that "Children's Day is a day to highlight the dignity of children and their need for love, care, respect, and instill in the children a sense of independence and national pride." I can't help but think about the children we left behind at Beihai and all of the other orphans in this world. Did anyone celebrate them? I read recently that if all of the orphans in the world were put into one nation, it would be the 10th biggest nation in our world. Let that sink in for a moment. I am astounded to know that so many children have to survive without families. Did you know that 100,000 children are available for adoption through the Foster Care program in the United States? If just 1 person from every third church in the US adopted one of those children, there would be no children waiting for families in the foster care program. How is it that 1 person from one of three churches is impossible to find? I don't think I will ever understand. Serving the orphan is not a suggestion but a commandment in the Bible. I had no idea this was the case until are God asked us to bring a child into our home but is so important for us to know and understand!

This woman was propped up on this stick and would come down toward the crowd and then go back up. 

While I was out with our group, Ryan grabbed some fried rice for Tyson at Pelicana (above). He loved every single bite!! When I returned, he ran back out to get some beef and noodles for me at YinJi Beef Roll. It was delicious! My spork was impossible to use, but chopsticks worked much better! I also enjoyed the chocolate covered pretzels I purchased at home before our trip to China.

Ryan and Noah ran out to enjoy some father-son time. After I finished my lunch, I went back to the bedroom and ended up taking a nap with Tyson. I woke him up at 4:30 to go exchange money for our laundry service. To have your laundry done through the hotel is very expensive, so our guides have a contact who is much more affordable. He was bringing our clothes at 5:00 p.m., and we wanted to be back in time. We made it just in time, as he was on our floor just as the elevator door opened. When we got to the room, we saw that Ryan and Noah had returned. It was nice to have everyone back together! 

We walked to Oggi's to eat pizza at the restaurant this time. We ordered a large Hawaiian "Hawaii" pizza and ate every single piece. Their pizza is so delicious!!

That is one proud poppa!

Noah received the royal treatment with a chocolate milkshake, which ended up being chocolate milk. He was happy either way!
Italian breadstick (aka skinny cracker) in hand. "Ty-Ty loves cracker!"

Man, I wish these two liked each other! I can hear Tyson laughing just looking at this picture.

We stopped by a bakery on the way back to the hotel to see what kind of treats they had. We were too full to order anything, but the smells were amazing! The cakes topped with fruit reminded me of the cakes we sent Tucker and Tyson while they lived in China.

Oh my poor Noah! Please don't make this kid eat pizza. It is torture for him! #getoverit #pizzaisourfavorite

We forgot Tyson's sippy cup in our room (SORRY BUDDY!), so he guzzled down his water when we returned to the hotel. I decided that since we had about 30 minutes before bedtime that it would be the perfect time to introduce Tyson to bubbles. Of course, I have no idea if he had seen bubbles in Beihai, but it was his first time in our family. He was mesmorized! 

Watching his momma blow bubbles!

I am always amazed that bubbles bring children such joy!

Ryan picked out two trucks for Tyson. I would say he loves them, wouldn't you?

Can you guess what happened at this point in the evening? BAHA!! What's the saying? It's all fun and games until someone poops their pants? Having a baby in the family again brings all sorts of fun smells. You know I have big love for this guy because it doesn't even gross me out to change him! :) He is my son through and through...poopy diaper and all!

After a little more time with his trucks while doing the China squat, we changed his pants and gave him a bath. He sucked down his bottle and was ready for bed. He fell asleep in my arms, but his legs couldn't get comfortable. I put him down, expecting him to throw a huge fit, but instead, he just rolled around for awhile, eyes wide open, trying to get comfortable. I laid down next to him, pretending to sleep, until he drifted off to sleep. It was really precious and so encouraging that he was able to fall asleep outside of my arms. His trust is growing, and we are celebrating that! 

While the little boys slept, I met up with my friend, Lauren, for a much deserved cocktail and girl talk. I cherish our friendship so much!! What an honor to bring home not just one but two China babies together. It is a gift to be here with her, and I thank all of you for praying her to me! Only 3 days left in China, and then we begin our journey home. Stay tuned for our last few adventures in Guangzhou!

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