All of the days are running together. Every morning after breakfast, we try to Facetime with the girls. Every morning I accidentally say “Good Morning!” They think it’s hilarious. As a side note… Ray has us hooked up to use our phones and iPad even if the other is using the laptop. If you are headed to China, shoot me an email and I’ll have him tell you how. The other thing would be… that only happens when Jack is sleeping…not often.

Here’s Jack with the people from his orphanage. They were really, really great. We heard not great things about his orphanage several months ago. They really seemed to care about him and what kind of family he was going to.

 This is the picture taken after they officially declared Jack a Stiff. Jack was presented with a Lucky Tiger. They told us a little bit more, and I mean very little about the last three years. We were pretty ecstatic to leave with him. Now we’re waiting for his Chinese passport so we can get out of Taiyuan on Friday.

By American standards for restaurant food, the hotel doesn’t seem all that expensive unless you ask for Chinese tea instead of American tea. Ray had a glass of tea that cost half the meal. Our guide told us about a market a short walk away. We have a daily outing. We either get noodles to make or buy something from their deli. A meal at the hotel costs us about $25…unless you order that tea. Two plates of food that we can all eat from the deli are $1.50 total. Once a day, this works out great.

 Today we visited the Jin Shrine. It took about a half hour to get there. We walked around for about 45 minutes. It was still worth it. Jack doesn’t look hugely happy. Usually any outing presents this scowl expression. We’re starting to learn that it’s mostly curiosity. He has a whole other look when a meltdown is about to happen.

I think the statues at almost every entrance are called Fu Dogs or guardian lions. They are always in pairs. The male rests his foot on a circle. I think I read that it represents the world. I can’t remember what Allison said, she told us many meanings. The female rests her foot on a cub. She told us in rural areas the female often has her mouth closed indicating that women should be quiet. This Guardian Lion just before we reached the shrine had her mouth closed. Ray told me to take a picture.

 This writing is over 600 years old.

 In front of the pagoda… somethings get a little lost in translation here. Our guide has much better English than I speak Chinese but we have a hard time understanding things on occasion. She said this pagoda was built to memorialize someone, always near a temple. She said each block represents a body part down to the teeth. They are always 7 stories tall.

 We were not allowed to take a picture up close but behind us is a temple to the happy Buddha.

 This is our guide, Tracy. She told us while we were walking that most Chinese people do not have a religion anymore but they respect all religions. If they have a problem, they are far more likely to take it to a Buddha.

Update on little man… he’s great. His poop still makes me want to gag. He eats more than Ray and I combined. He gets a bit nervous now every time we leave in a van. Once he realizes we aren’t leaving him, he starts acting like himself. He comes out of his shell more all the time. He is ALL BOY! I think we’re in trouble. He is constantly checking everything out. He is still parrotting everything too. He calls for Mama and Baba but I’m still not so sure he really understand the meaning. He’s starting to answer to Jack more the Jin Chang.

Our other three… happy as clams every time we talk to them. They are figuring out slumber parties and yearbooks. I know Grandma is handling it like a champ. It makes being here so much easier.

As for Ray and I… Ray is apparently a Rock Star. People stopped us for pictures in the park yesterday. I thought it was pretty clear that they really only wanted Ray’s picture. Jack and I were chopped liver with our dark hair and dark eyes. Yesterday our van missed a girl on a bike by millimeters. Pretty sure my shin is bruised. No one was hurt. Ray saw more of it than I did. He swears the driver knicked her. All that and we are already ready to be home. We miss the girls. We want to get Jack to the pediatrician. We are still trying to enjoy our time here.

As for Taiyuan. It is bigger than I imagined. The smog hasn’t had as much effect on us as I thought it might. Our hotel room reminds of of places we stayed in New York City. The food at breakfast is really good but it’s rice, noodles, dumplings. Strangely they also have sausage and baked beans. That’s something I’ve only seen in Scotland. There is a huge variety The food is all great. I’m sure I’m going to be ready for some BBQ nachos the second we land in Memphis. As big as Taiyuan is, it’s hard to find people who speak English. Anywhere we go without the guide is on foot. I think we’ve seen most of what we are going to here. There is going to be an expo here soon so everything is clean and nice.

And this is getting long. I’m not sure how long Jack will nap. Time to go. I want to thank you for all the well wishes here, in emails and on Facebook. I can’t answer of them but we certainly appreciate your well wishes and especially your prayers.