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RT @HonestToddler: Toddler Tip: She has a bounty of nerves underneath that "last" one. Don't worry :)

Archive: June 2016

Zhuang Ancient Town, Longji Rice Terraces

Guilin was BEAUTIFUL. We got to see the China that you see in pictures. In fact, 95% of the photos you see of Chinese rice terraces are taken where we were in Longsheng. We had quite the hike through the paddies and up the mountain! We then had lunch with a local family. Every thing on our table was sourced from their farm. In fact, the chicken for the soup was running around the front door just minutes before it found itself in our pot. Even our greens were harvested from the local mountain. Talk about farm to table! 
Our drive from the city to the terraces took a bit longer than expected due to a BAD accident, which unfortunately is not uncommon on the twisting mountain roads. It was quite an adventure! We were stranded for a little more than an hour, along with every other car and truck, as we waited for the roads to clear. Luckily, we were out of the way of the rock slides; a few other cars weren’t so lucky. We got the chance to chat with other people on our same predicament, eat some local snacks, and just hang out and enjoy the scenery. 
The Longji terraces have been there since the Yuan Dynasty (more than 600 years). The same families have lived in the village for generations, and it’s completely obvious. They sure know what they’re doing! Jack had a BLAST picking his way through the terraces, and especially racing up the mountain. Me? Not so much with the racing, but I made it to the top, so that’s something!

Adventures in Adoption, or I Can’t Even

You guys. I seriously can’t even with this day. We have spotty–at best–internet, so for now I’ll keep it brief, but I wanted to update a bit on just what we did today. <br>
We caught an early bullet train from Changsha to Chenzhou. Jack spent the first 19 months of his life there, and today was his triumphant return. When we got off the train, it was HOT. Like, Texas in August hot. We had an eventful cab ride to (almost) the orphanage. We didn’t make it all the way there due to a traffic jam, so it was sidewalk city. We trudged up the hill, and there we were. We were able to meet the director, but more importantly, we got to meet the ladies that cared for Jack until we could. As a mother, I can’t describe how completely life changing this was for me. There just aren’t words for the depth of gratitude I have for the woman who kissed his first boo boos and tucked him in. She never left his side the whole time we were there. We got to see his other nannies, too, and each of them greeted him like their own long lost child. He was definitely the star of the day. It was also beyond overwhelming, for us, and definitely for him. He got to spend about an hour in the baby room, which is where he spent the majority of his early life. The babies and toddlers there are loved as best they can be by a skeleton crew of a staff and too few volunteers. Shout out to Team Chenzhou who is in town for two weeks; it was great to meet y’all today!
When it was time to go, we took a few more pictures, and I hugged his nanny so hard I almost broke her. How do you put into words that kind of gratitude? I hope she felt it. I couldn’t have held back the tears if my life had depended on it. I have a feeling I’ll have leaky eyes for a while yet. We learned that his finding spot was very close by, so we walked to it. And in the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.<br>
After lunch (chicken head!!!), we boarded the train back to Changsha, where we had tea with our dear friend Ashley, his wife, and their two boys. Jack, ever the diplomat, was fast friends with the boys in about 2 seconds flat. Language barrier? No problem for those kids. They were having a BALL. iPads emerged and epic Minecraft battles ensued. Soon enough, all three boys were speaking an awesome combination of Mandarin and English while the grown ups enjoyed a slow tea and some MUCH needed downtime spent with friends who are family. I am beyond grateful for our Chinese family. Even though we haven’t seen them in 6 years, the time melted away like we had never left. I needed the comfort and warmth today more than any other day in my life. If we were in the States, I would’ve called my girlfriends and had (a lot of) wine. How lucky I am that we have people here, on the other side of the world, to be my touchstone during the hard times.

After tea, we went out to dinner, where the boys ran around together like lunatics, just being boys. Plans were made for other visits, and they can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, the internet will continue to be our lifeline to one another, and that’s just fine for now. I’ve tucked my sweet baby into bed, and I fervently hope that the toll I KNOW today has taken on him will hold off just a bit longer so he can rest. There’s no question that today was a hefty dose of both yin and yang, the bitter and the sweet. Thankfully, the sweet won out in the end. 

So yes, there’s more, but for tonight, I’m spent. 




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