We had a fabulous time. The best girl's night ever! Here are the three beauties on the ferry boat to Victoria.
Rose treated herself to the massage chair, which left her all giggly and wiggly. Like an 8 year-old needs a massage.
We got off the boat and went through Customs where I was asked if I was the sole guardian of the girls. I said that I was not. (Mistake!) The Customs official then asked if I had a letter from my husband stating that he was aware I was taking our children across international lines. I wanted to say, "please! It's Canada!" But instead I apologized profusely and said that in the future I would get a note from Papa.
From there we booked it to our hotel, dropped off our bag, exchanged money, and ran to the bus stop where we just barely caught our ride to Butchart Gardens. The slight drizzle we'd had all day turned into pouring ran as the bus pulled through the entrance. Thankfully the staff at Butchart supplied us with umbrellas and a stroller for Maya, and off we went. Despite the weather, it did not disappoint---truly fantastic. Later in the afternoon the rain stopped so we could get some photos.
Rose in the rose garden.
Rose getting squashed in a sister sandwich while posing on a statue of an animal with pointy horns.
Lucy stunned by the size of the "Angel's Trumpet".
Which is something I will plant in my garden.
When the rain started again in earnest, we hopped back on the bus and ate dinner at an "Old Spaghetti Factory", bringing back memories of my teenage busing job at an O.S.F. in Utah. To be honest, the spaghetti's really not all that great.
The next day we did what Cholita wanted us to do the second we stepped off the boat--take off all our clothes and get into bathing suits to swim in the hotel pool.
From there, we marveled at the hydrangeas on the grounds of the Empress Hotel,
and marveled at the size of the Wooly Mammoth at the Royal B.C. Museum.
By this point, Cholita was fading fast. With her medical treatments, she requires a nap each day. Sometimes more than one. We'd already checked out of the hotel, so we went back and I sat in the lobby with Cholita while she slept on the couch and the big girls explored a nearby park. When she woke up, we walked down to Chinatown. I use the term "we" loosely. Rose walked. Lucy walked. I definitely walked, but Cholita did not. I carried her most of the trip. I should have brought a stroller. Anyway, when we arrived in Chinatown, she perked right up and said, "I am Chinese! I'll walk." So she proudly led the way through Chinatown. She may have even thought it was China.
We went to a restaurant for a late lunch and Cholita picked up her chopsticks and announced, "I know how to use chopsticks because I'm Chinese!" I'll let you be the judge of her technique.
I think it could use some work.
From there, we went into a shop where a man asked if any of us spoke Mandarin Chinese. Cholita raised her hand and confidently said, "Yes. I speak Chinese because I am Chinese." The man asked her in Mandarin what her name was. I answered for her that her Chinese name was QiuJu. Cholita became flustered and said, "Mom! I know what he said! I told you! I'm Chinese!"
The whole Chinatown experience was very interesting. Just a couple of weeks ago when we wanted to watch Cholita's adoption video, she burst into tears and didn't want anything to do with it. China was not something she wanted to talk about at all. But the minute we stepped foot into Chinatown, she was all about Chinese pride. We absolutely must take her back to China one day.
From Chinatown, we went back to the Empress Hotel where we arrived at Rose's Shangri-la--Miniature World. I'm sure it was created with 8 year-old girls in mind. Truly, Rose was enchanted and could have spent the whole day there amongst the dioramas and doll houses.
But we had to return to the U.S., so off we went to the boat. Little did we know, that returning might not be as easy as we'd thought.
I presented our passports-- three U.S. and one Chinese. We've never had a problem before. This time, the official picked up Cholita's passport, waved it in front of me and said,
"You're presenting false information at an international border."
"Is this child a citizen of China or the United States?"
"The United States. I have her citizenship documents here. I've never had a problem."
"You do NOT present this document EVER. I could confiscate it right now and refuse to allow her to leave Canada."
"She's not in a great mood right now. I don't think you'd want to hang out with her."
(He wasn't in a joking mood) "You do NOT present this document. Do you understand how serious this is? Do you understand that she's not a Chinese citizen?"
"Yes, I just showed you her U.S. citizenship papers....."
"I'll let you take her this time. In the future, get her a U.S. Passport!"
Yikes! Who would have thought it would be harder getting her out of Canada than it was getting her out of China!
We arrived home at 11:00 last night. On Friday nights we need to give Cholita her shot. Lyle always does it but he was away camping. I asked Cholita if we could maybe do it the next day. She said, "Mom, let's just do it now. You'll be O.K." It's sad when you get a pep talk from your 3 year-old. So I did the shot, something I really don't like to do. As usual, Cholita didn't make a peep. Afterward, she patted me on the back and said, "Good job, Mom. I'm so proud of you." Talk about choking me up.
I'm so glad Heavenly Father blessed me with a boy and three gorgeous daughters.
They're each so individual, and each so completely amazing. I'll always cherish memories of this trip.
I dropped Lyle and Bruder off Monday morning at a muddy, rainy trail head in the Olympic Mountains for their 50 mile, 5 day hike. Lyle's pack weighed 60 pounds. All I could think was, "Enjoy. Better them than me."
When I got home, Lucy, Rose, Cholita and I did our customary "Girl's Night" song and dance. It's odd that we celebrate to such an extent when the guys leave, considering how much we love them and all, but that's the way of it. And this time we weren't just celebrating Girl's Night, but Girl's Week, so we're doing it up big. Tomorrow morning we leave for our very first Girl's Only vacation.....Victoria, BC!
It was 5 PM on Tuesday when I announced the spur-of-the-moment travel plan and Cholita has been packed since Tuesday, oh, about 5:05. The girl is ready to go.
This morning she excitedly reviewed the plan....."We drive and drive .....and then we park our car and get in a boat...... and then we get off the boat into Canada......and then we take off all our clothes......." Whoa! We were following her until that last part.
We laughed, which greatly offended Cholita. She pouted and sulked and stared at the wall. Finally she managed, "You guys didn't even let me finish what I was saying!" True enough. So she finished: "We get to Canada and take off all our clothes, and then get into our bathing suits to go swimming in the hotel pool!" Ahh, that sounds a little better.
But actually when we get there, instead of taking off our clothes, we're going to Buchart Gardens, a place that doesn't allow naked visitors.
So, I hope Lyle and Bruder are enjoying their trail mix and their smelly sleeping bags. When I snuggle into a fluffy bed tomorrow night at the Queen Victoria Hotel, I'll think of them.
Children in the United States cannot be denied an education based on disease. The laws are very clear that education is a basic right of all Americans. Until today, that hasn't been the case in China. Two months ago, a letter signed by over 6,000 Chinese citizens, was sent to Premier Wen Jiabao, appealing for the right to education for all carriers of the Hepatitis B virus--an estimated 100 million people. Translated excerpts of the document made its way to the Internet.
From Yunnan: I have endured enough to be a Hepatitis B patient, but my child is too young to understand why he can not go to kindergarten like other children. Every time he looks at me with inquiry, my heart breaks. When will it come that my child can get an equal opportunity?
From Hubei: It is not our fault being infected by the virus and we do not desire too much sympathy and help. All we need is the right to be treated equally and the fair competition. We are impeded in schooling and refused by employers in so long a time. The determination of standing on our own legs therefore becomes faint in reality. In many times I almost cannot help yelling out the voice in my heart: how could we survive in such a society?
From Guangxi: I was just admitted by Jilin University in 2008 while I was diagnosed Hepatitis B in the entrance physical examination and was thus forced to quit schooling. What I have been working so hard for, turns to be meaningless. The sunshine in my life dims. I have no idea what I should do in future. I can not help wondering: when will this situation be changed?
From Guangdong: In current China. it is almost of no use for HBV positive youth to work hard. No matter how diligent, excellent, and noble they are. The tag of POSITIVE is attached to them forever.
I almost couldn't bear to read these--my daughter's fate had she stayed in China. And now today, I read this headline through grateful tears :
China's kindergartens to take normally functioning hepatitis B children BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Chinese kindergartens and nurseries will shortly no longer be allowed to turn down children carrying hepatitis B who have normal liver function, says a draft government regulation. The draft, which is open to public feedback till Aug. 15, is expected to replace the current regulation, a simplified version that took effect in December 1994 which did not include such a requirement, a source with the Ministry of Health said Friday.....
In the coming weeks, as I take my Cholita shopping for school clothes and pencils, I'll think of mothers half a world away, with children just like Cholita, doing exactly the same thing. For me, it's a privilege which I've always taken for granted; for them, it's a long prayed-for right: an education for our children.
The family vernacular for tidbits of food left on a plate after a meal, as in, "I'll give my scravings to Charlie," or "I CAN have dessert. This is just scravings." It seemed an appropriate word for the little morsels thrown out on our blog. Sometimes tasty, sometimes destined for the dog dish.