Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Monday, February 28, 2011


Today we had Asher's TB test read.....and he is negative!  So yay!  Everything is going well and with will have our consulate appointment on Wednesday and come home on Saturday.  After our little trip to the medical center, our guide wanted to take us over to the markets in Guangzhou.  We have been through there before, so I knew what to expect. 

So I figured, what better time to buy the ingredients to make an authentic Chinese dinner for Asher's and Claire's Godparents!  Lucky people, right???

For an appetizer, I thought we would start with some little tasty snake skin bites!  Yum, yum, come get you some!

As a main course, I was thinking I would grind up these prime choice black ants for biscuit making and then work on a nice hearty stew! 

Some of these gigantic mushrooms will give it a nice flavor and then...

I'm thinking baby turtle and

And lizard!  Yes, that should make a great stew, don't you think?

Oh, I know what you are thinking!  You wish you were their Godparents right?  Sorry, we couldn't choose you all!  Maybe next time!

And the best part?  Dessert of course!

Sugared Scorpions!

I picked out some fat juicy ones just for Steve!

Oh, don't worry.  It will be organic and all-natural! I'm sure.

You know, come to think of it.... we should have plenty, so come on over next week! 
Any takers? 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wild Animals!

Today we visited the Safari Park in Guangzhou.  We were not even aware this park existed last time we were here, but have heard many things about it since then and hoped we'd get to go.  It is full of wild animals from all over the world and the exhibits are constructed in such a way as to get you as close as possible to the animal without putting you in harm's way.  

This part of the park was like an actual safari.  Since we didn't bring our cars to China in our suitcases, we rode the park train through the exhibit.  But, it was fun to watch the animals go up to the cars.  Almost all the cars that go through with sunroofs have kids heads sticking out them!  Not surprisingly, even though there are signs posted not to feed the animals.....what do you think all those car people were doing?  Yep, feeding the animals.  I saw camels stick their heads in people's cars to eat french fries! I'm pretty sure french fries are not in a camels natural diet! 

 Here we saw deer, camels, mountain goats, zebras, giraffe...


And the very rare Asher!  Just as wild as any animal in the park....please don't feed or provoke him!

Rhinos, up close and personal.
No thanks, let's move along!

These lions are waiting.  There is a man throwing raw meat at them from a station near the road.

Ahhh, who feed the wild animal???  Didn't I warn you!

And what trip to the zoo would be complete without feeding the giraffes and watching elephants play basketball?!?!

And jump rope with a Chinese Clown?

And when visiting a zoo in China, be sure to visit the the most important exhibits.....and my favorite ones - The beautiful Panda and the charming......

Asher exhibit!  Very rare and currently only seen in China!

We also had the chance to see tigers.  Now, I've seen many tigers in many other zoos.  But I they are usually pacing or sleeping when I see them in America. 

In China they don't believe in such laziness!  They feed them raw meat dangling on wires to get them to jump and climb for an audience.  I don't know if this is considered cruel, but it was sure interesting to watch.  And, they did get the meat.....they just had to catch it first!

Last, but not least, we stopped by to get one last peek at The Wild Asher....

But oh!  Who provoked him?  Didn't I warn you not to do that?

Don't worry, Asher was not hurt in the making of this blog!  His daddy was.  Asher decided that to show his thanks to Baba for bringing him to the zoo and carrying him most of the day, he was give him a swift kick to the shin.  That business resulted in Asher going into time-out.....followed closely by a melt-down.....which lead to us being on display at the zoo as many Chinese folk stopped to stare and wonder why these Americans were being so cruel.  Eventually our guide, Connie, came to our aid and with some quick words had Asher's crying stopped and him on his feet ready to go.  What did she say to him?  No idea, but it worked.  He dried it up and we left the park in good spirits! 

It was super fun and we really enjoyed our boy at the park.  We got some good bonding time in a he didn't escape from the safari train, so it was a good day all around!

I'll leave you with this group picture of the Americans on display at the zoo.  The Chinese were quite proud of this exhibit.  They even took pictures!  This is 7 families from our group {one family didn't come} with a total of 11 Chinese children present.  Obviously, 7 of them are newly adopted.  There were no double adoptions on this trip! There are 8 families in our group and between us all, there are a total of 19 adopted children, 18 of them are Chinese!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fun and Not So

We stayed on this Island in 2008, and yet never realized there was a nice river walk area with a playground right behind Lucy's restaurant.  How did we miss that?  I have no idea.  I guess because we weren't looking for things an active 4 year old can do.  We had a non-walking 2 year old. 

This time?  We definitely need something for the active 4 year old boy!  So, we spent yesterday afternoon at the playground.  Until Asher got so wound up, we had to remove him from the sensory overload for a while. 

He had a lot of fun!  Then to wind him down a little, we went for a walk on the river.  It's not Charleston, but compared to Tianjin, Guangzhou is paradise.  And right now, it's like paradise in spring! Warm, not hot, with flowers blooming everywhere and everything is green.  This must be the prefect time to be here.

Today was the visa medical.  I'm sure Asher would have rather been at the park!  Although, I wouldn't actually classify the visa "medical exam" as anything all that intrusive.....or thorough for that matter. 

Here we waited with our group from Madison for our turn to go in. 

And here Asher is trying hard to get away from Daddy so he can get into some kind of trouble!

They took his temperature, his weight and his height in room one. 

The ENT visit consisted of looking in his ears and then using toys to make noises to see if the child responds.  Yes, that would be the hearing exam. 

The medical/surgical room involved having him take off his socks and shoes so the doctor could inspect his feet.  He lifted Asher's shirt and looked at his back and trunk. 

He did a quick listen with a stethoscope and pulled down his pants (Asher's not the doctor's!) and did a quick check there and that was that.......except.  Well, there is the issue that Asher's file says he has cerebral palsy.  And, Asher?  Well, he doesn't actually seem to.  So, the doctor was concerned.  Really? 

Yes, he decided that Asher needed another opinion and he drug us all off to another room that was full of other doctors, all sitting at computers.  They all took a turn to talk to Asher, they had him walk across the room and in the end they decided.......drum roll...........he's perfectly fine! And, none of them understand why he has that diagnosis. 

Lastly, we had to have the TB test.  Asher saw children coming out of this room crying and he no intention of going in he tried to make a break for it, in classic Asher style!  But, Paul corralled him and he was subjected to the horrid TB test. 

Then it was over!  Passed with flying colors.  Now we go back in two days to see how the TB test turns out.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Yesterday was our last day in Tianjin.  And barring a "heritage tour" when the kids are older, will probably be the last time we are ever in Tianjin.  When we were there adopting Claire, I told Paul as we left that we would be back.  I don't know why I felt that way, but I did.  Yesterday, I felt that we were done there.

Our flight wasn't until 5:30 because we were told Asher's passport may not be ready until late.  We had late check-out at our hotel too, so we decided to kill time finding the shopping area we went to with Claire.  We liked it, not for the great shopping, but because it was very quaint with little statues and things.  When we showed some pictures to the staff of the hotel, they knew right where it was.  What we were told was The Ancient Culture Street last time, was actually The Drum Tower and a surrounding shopping street. 

We grabbed a cab.  Yes, we live on the edge!  I tell you, you have not lived until you have taken a cab in China!  It's like skydiving.  Or extreme BASE jumping.  That may be a slight exageration but only a slight.

Well, it turned out not be quite the same.  Oh, it was a better way to kill time than hanging at the hotel, but the area around the Drum Tower seems to have dried up a bit.  The vendors were not the same, it was more like a flea market and less like a cultural experience.  But still, it was a nice day.

After a morning tooling around the area, we headed back to the hotel to get ready to leave.  In a way it is sad to leave Tianjin knowing Asher is leaving the only thing he has ever known.  I know he will miss it here.  He will miss the only family he's known and his preschool mothers and friends.  Although he tells us his room mother was not nice and his foster parents fought, he still misses them.  

But, this is not his life anymore, and I can't wait to get him home!  God put him in this family and now we get to spend a lifetime finding out why! 

Our guide, Leo....Li Yan, is his real name, left us at the airport at 3pm.  Our fight was scheduled to leave at 5:30.  Guess what?  SMOG.  That is what.  Smog prevented the incoming planes from landing and our flight ended up delayed for 2 hours.  4 hours in an airport with Asher!  Can you say "nutso"?

But, he loved his first flight and we managed to keep him busy for the two and half hours.  Barely.  WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO FOR THIRTEEN?  I have no idea.  Because I really don't think he's going to enjoy that seat for that long.  Pray for us.

Now we are enjoying Guangzhou!  The weather here is divine.  Beautiful!  70's and clear!  We are on the Island and we have already eaten lunch at Lucy's!  It was fun, but we miss our friends.  The last time we were here we were with the Corkens, Gulkes and Caudills.  So far, we have not met any other families.  Seen some, but not met any.  Other Madison families are arriving today.  I guess we will meet them tomorrow for the medicals.

But, today we are enjoying the sunshine and warm weather while walking the Island.  And staying out of our hotel as much as possible.  That is the only blight here.  We decided to stay at the Victory instead of the White Swan this time to save a few bucks.  I'm not sure it was worth the hassle.  The first room they put us in was very small, had a water dripping noise coming from a vent in the ceiling, the bathroom wouldn't lock and there was no space for the suitcases to be closed, much less open.  Our window looked over the breakfast buffet dining natural light.  We have to be here for 9 days y'all.  And, they want to charge us THIRTY DOLLARS PER DAY for a roll-a-way bed that is the smallest, thinnest roll-a-way I have ever seen.  In Tianjin we paid the same for our room as here.  The hotel was much nicer, the room was huge and had a separate living area, and the roll-a-way, which was $25 for the entire 9 nights, was a full sized twin bed! 

This morning they moved us to a larger room with a window looking outside and no water noise.  I am thankful that it is nicer in this room.  Asher can actually play. But, he still has no bed.  We will not pay $30 for that bed!  Paul is going to take a cab into Guangzhou and find something.  We figure we can buy an air mattress or something for next to nothing here. I am really disappointed in The Victory Hotel.  So many adoptive parents stay here and the only reason we did was because it was recommended by other families.  We will not stay here next time, I can tell you that! They even told us that we couldn't have extra blankets to make a pallet on the floor!!

Well, that's enough about that.  We are off to walk in the sun again! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Tianjin China is a very industrial city.  The air pollution is so bad that we haven't seen the sun the entire time we have been here....even though the weather report is clear and sunny!  And, we have not found a whole lot to do here that Asher really enjoys. 

There is the pool.  And McDonald's of course. We tried the play area of a shopping mall.  That was a waste.  He enjoys riding the subway!  And escalators?!?  But, once we get somewhere, he is less than thrilled with it.  We have been to St. Joseph Cathedral and a walking street and The Ancient Culture Street. 

What is a walking street?  In China they put lots of stores on either side of a wide street and then close the street to cars so you can walk down it and go into the stores. The stores are just typical mall stores with many of them being 3 plus stories.  There are numerous fast food options on a walking street as well.  It's not thrilling, but it is something to do.  We usually just walk and watch people.  Not fun for a three year old.  But, he enjoys running around and riding on Baba's shoulders.  For a minute anyway.

Then he wants McDonald's.  And since there are about 20 of them on the walking street he just quits whining about one, before he sees the next one and starts again! Even if we give him McDonald's....he just wants more!  Every time he sees one! 

So, today we thought we'd mix things up.  We had our guide take us to Beijing.  I know Asher is too young to realize he is visiting the most important city in his country or seeing the most important sites for his culture.  But, we have the pictures to prove he's been to The Forbidden City and maybe one day he will appreciate that we exposed him to that.  Probably not, because there was no McDonald's there!

He really enjoyed the high speed train ride from Tianjin to Beijing.  It goes over 200 miles an hour, takes just at 30 minutes and cost less than $9!  Then we took the subway in Beijing and ended up across from Tienanmen Square at the front gates of The Forbidden City.  As we walked through those enormous gates, Asher began to speak a mile a minute.  Roughly translated by our guide:

I don't want to go in there. I will wait here for you!

Yeah.  It turned out to be THAT kind of day. 

Actually, we had a good time.  Not as good as when we were with all our new adoption friends last time..... but this time we had a guide all to ourselves! We have to pay him for the whole 9 days of this part of the trip anyway, so we might as well make him work for it right?  LOL!  Leo is great!

Asher loves his Leo.  He is really going to be sad when he realizes GeGe is not going with us tomorrow.

Look!  Proof that the sun does actually shine in China.  Sorta.  Through the haze.  Weakly.  But, it's the best it can do.  When we were here in 2008, there was a wind on the day we went to the Forbidden City.  That wind must have moved the air pollution out of the city for the day, because we actually had blue skies and sunshine.  It was the one and only time we saw the sun while we were in China for those two weeks.  Even though we can see it through the hazy here, we have yet to see a blue sky or sunshiny day. 

Afterwards, Leo lead us to a nice restaurant for lunch where we could get the noodles known well in Beijing.  They also had Paul's favorite Kung Pao Chicken on the menu and it was really good!  The noodles.....well, we can say we tried them!  We had two orders of noodles, a huge barrel of fried rice, a platter of Kung Pao, sweet potato rolls and coke.....more food than we could eat,  for $12. 

After lunch, we spent the afternoon on the grounds of The Temple of Heaven.  We did not go in to see the temple, we just enjoyed the surrounding gardens.  Of course, it isn't much to look at right now, but the people are so fun to watch!

There weren't many dancers out this time of the day, but the ones we saw were fun!

This old guy threw rings at us and then wanted his picture taken.  Then he gave us his address on a little slip of paper.  He wants a copy of the picture sent to him!  He showed us a book he made with pictures of all the people that had done this. 

Of course there were plenty of elderly people out with their hacky sacks.  They don't call them that, but what ever they do call them, Asher loved it!

There was time at the end for the exercise park.  I love this place!  All the retirees come here and they are so fit! I've been here twice and both times this area is full of grandmas and grandpas working out. 

My dad can totally do this!
Right, dad?

And my mom does splits all the time.  No biggy!


I have tons of photos of these guys but I can't get them all uploaded so these two will have to do.  And Paul and I decided we wanted this stuff installed in our back yard so we be just like them when we grow up!