We woke up Saturday a bit groggy, but we didn’t want to be late for our 9:01 am obligation.

First, a word or two about our hotel.  The Garden Hotel is incredibly nice.  It makes us feel like we are back in Hong Kong instead of still in mainland China.  While you still can’t drink the water here, you can bathe in the luxurious glass-and-marble-shower-with-optional-cascading-rainfall-shower head.  Or watch “The Voice” or “Cash Cab Asia” in English on either of the flat screen TVs in our room.  Seth thinks this hotel is not as good as our Changsha hotel because it “doesn’t have anything to do” i.e. no shooting of pool, pingpong or other games.  And while that is accurate, the hotel is certainly nicer.   And it does have a super great swimming pool, we just haven’t tried it yet (more on that later).

Today was the infamous medical exam.  All nine families with our adoption agency get to enjoy Elvin, who happily steered us to Liz’s medical appointment, where we waited with zillions of other families with other agencies for our children to see four different doctors.  At one station they did height/weight.  Another station did ears, nose and throat.  Another one did a full body exam.  And one administered the TB test.  You could also get immunizations if you want to – we opted out of that one.

Liz hated the first doctor.  All she did was ask Liz to step on the scale and the screams started and tears rolled.  They ultimately had her lay down on the baby scale and took her height and weight that way.  She was only slightly more cooperative with the ENT – I thought this was a bit odd as she has used the mini flashlight we brought to repeatedly look in all of our mouths – we figured she was an experienced patient.  Nevertheless, she wasn’t so keen on this guy.  The third doctor who did the full body exam?  Well, she liked him. Go figure.  She was all about business and laid right down on his little table while he poked and prodded and rubbed nearly every part of her little body.  (this doctor confirmed what we suspected – her spleen is enlarged.  But, we aren’t alarmed)  And at the end this doctor let her play with a squeaky Xi Yang Yang toy.  I told the doctor I wasn’t sure what he did that Liz screamed for everyone else and not for him, and he was happy for the compliment.  I was happy she wasn’t screaming.  The TB test was last, and she screamed until we verbally told her the test was done.  Then she instantly stopped.  Apparently whether she was actually experiencing pain from the injection was irrelevant to the crying part.

THREE hours later everyone had finished their exams.  Needless to say, it was a long time to wait, since each family’s appointments totaled about 15 minutes or less between the various doctors.  We were all happy to climb on our air conditioned bus and let Elvin take us wherever he wanted to.

Which turned out to be shopping.  In his defense, it was a quick stop at a one-stop-Chinese-souvenir-store-where-you-can-buy-overpriced-goods-of-virtually-any-variety.  The big plus of the trip was the convenience store across the street.  There we discovered the most delicious Tropicana peach juice.  Right there next to the bottled OJ.  Sweet, heavenly nectar.

Elvin only guides groups of seven families or larger.  It is hard to get around in China in large groups with lots of kiddos, but Elvin is good and efficient.  Plus, he’s funny.  Today he performed a popular Children’s lullaby for us over the bus PA system.  He also explained that he gets to work each day at our fancy hotel via his own BMW, which we later learned meant by “bus, maybe walking.”  Elvin never misses out on a chance to make us smile.

We ate lunch at the McDonalds nearby our hotel.  Again, McDonalds has mastered the art of tasting the same everywhere.  It might even be better here in China.  Liz devoured an large-sized box of french fries with four or five ketchup packets.

After lunch Liz slept while Sandy attended a marathon meeting.  At least one representative from each family had to come sit in a board room and fill out paperwork together.  Think back to the days of college entrance exams and standardized testing, when the testing proctor walks the entire group through each section of the sheet.  “In box one, please right your full name in capital letters and fill in the corresponding bubbles using your number 2 pencil.”  Yup, that was us.  Nine adults being walked through each step of our child’s U.S. consulate paperwork (which was only 1 page, but required locating and coordinating lots of corresponding documents).  But hey, nearly 2 hours later we had all mastered it and I am sure we all passed with flying colors.

While Sandy did that, Tom hung out with sleeping Liz and then with Nola, who played with Liz once Liz awoke.  Tom mapped out the subway routes for everywhere we want to go while we are here.  Yay!  Tom has a deep love for public transit (not kidding), so he actually thoroughly enjoyed this task, as he will also thoroughly enjoy implementing it.

We separated ourselves from the group and headed out for authentic Chinese dinner.  We found a great place within walking distance from the hotel that had awesome Chinese dishes at a great price.  There are quite a few western-style restaurants around here – Mexican and Italian included – but I think we will hold off on those until we really miss American food.

We ended the day with skyping the kids.  Now that we are in Guangzhou internet service is so much better than it was in Changsha.  In Changsha when we skyped the kids we could see them but they couldn’t see us – just not enough “umph” in the internet connection there.  Now our communication is two way, and we couldn’t be happier.

A special shout out to Claire for giving Liz her beloved snoopy backpack.  She is a bit too little to carry it by herself, but she likes that we have it and we have found it very convenient.  She always make sure that what she wants for the day is inside of it, particularly her sippy cup and her bag of stale Kix (leaving a box of old cereal open in a humid environment was really a bad idea).  Claire, you are going to be a great big sister, just like Kate is such a great big sister to you!

We miss everyone a ton. This trip feels really long compared to last time we were here.  But I know when we leave we will wonder how it went by so quickly.  We just look at Liz each day and marvel at how blessed we are to have her in our family and feel so grateful to a Father in Heaven who encouraged us and made it all possible.