So the blog is hopelessly, eternally behind, and uploading pictures to blogger from here is tediously slow and incredibly annoying, so I'm going to skip over the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Hutong, and our first impressions of Hohhot (with apologies to my mom and anyone else who might be reading this who isn't also on my Facebook, where I can upload the pictures with no problem) and skip to the really important part: I have Gracie and she is AMAZING!
The assistant director (I think) brought her to the hotel this morning -- the guide called, we went down, and there she was! Her hair is much longer than in her referral photo (thank goodness!) and she is much bigger than I had been led to believe (which speaks well to the care she has been getting, which clearly has been excellent, but doesn't bode well for the clothes I brought. Oh well). She was shy but curious, and she cried (understandably) when they handed her to me for the official photo. She came warmly dressed (but not so layered she couldn't move) and carrying the album and stuffed animal from the care package I sent through ladybugs and love. The hand off was quick and the orphanage lady left. Aggie, our sweet guide, came back up to the room with us and I signed my name about a million times, as well as filling out a lot of information that I have filled out in a million places before. Grace sat on my lap whileI was doing that. sucking on a lollipop she brought with her. By time we finished and Aggie left, she was calm.
We moved over to the bed and started to play with a light up wand (hooray for the Target dollar aisle) and some other toys. She loved investigating her little backpack. She pulled out The Very Hungry Caterpillar book and turned the pages very intently, sticking her fingers in each hole. When we got done with that (and with using the book as a hat), the ate some goldfish and fed some to the stuffed elephant. Joy graciously went out got us some rice, noodles, and bread for lunch (we are on the all-carb diet here) adn Grace ate, drank some milk, and let me rock her to sleep. She slept for about an hour and a half.
After nap we broke out the stacking cups, which provided hours (literally) of entertainment. She's very intentt and planful in her use of them - stacking, nesting, touching wach one, lining them up and putting a goldfish on or under each one, etc. Very serious. When we added some craft pom-poms, even more fun ensued! We ventured out across the street to a restaurant for dinner, and she got a little nervous as we left the hotel, but she did well. She sat on my lap and ate noodles, dumplings, and congee and drank warm water (apparently in China you must never give children cold or even room temperature drinks, for fear of upsetting their stomachs. It seems gross to me, but she liked it fine). After dinner, more play (including much fun looking at herself in the mirror in her new hat and more stacking cup excitement), then lotion, pajamas, prayers, and rocking to sleep, which took a while, but I didn't mind (and she didn't cry)!
I need to go snuggle in beside her, because I barely slept last night in nervous anticipation and I'm tired, but I at least wanted to get a little information up here. Honestly, in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined it going any better. She's obviously been extremely well cared for, because she is confident and silly and adaptable (and solid, not the tiny little thing I had expected based on the measurements I got). She's potty trained (mostly) and knows how to wash and dry her hands. She watches everything and is incredibly imitative in play, facial expressions, etc. I think someone must have signed with her, at least a little, because she imitates my signs very easily -- she's done cracker, cookie, fish, monkey, lion, open, more, please, water, milk, finished, noodles, meat, including a few without an immediate model (i.e., we were playing iwth the pom-poms and I was handing them to her one at a time and making her sign "more" for each one, and after a few times of modeling it before each one, she did it herself.) She holds my hand, leans forward to be kissed, and reaches out to be picked up. She has clearly been paid attention to and loved, and for that I am incredibly grateful. I feel like the luckiest mom in the world to have such a great support network at home and such an amazing little one in my arms here in China. I know this could be a honeymoon period and that the morning or the next few days could get rough, but for now I am just marveling in the wonder of it all!