Saturday, October 30, 2010

Teach them to VOTE

Today we went and fulfilled our civic duty at the polls.  At first, my hubby wanted to take turns watching the kids at home.  I gave that a big negative.  Teaching kids civic responsibility begins with us.  What better way to instill excitement about their future part in our democracy than showing them? On the way to the voting site, I explained that in America we get a choice in who runs the country.  That this occurs by voting.  And, how we should be proud to be a part of this.

Rallied and in good spirits, Kayla watched me sign in, she had me lift her up so she could see that I bubbled in my choices, and she stared as I guided the ballot into the scan machine.  Then, she proudly put a "I early Voted" sticker on her shirt just like Mommy.  We took a picture outside to mark the event.

Once we were back into the car after our teaching moment, I asked Kayla what she thought about her first real experience with voting.  There was a small hesitation...then Kayla proclaimed " that was good,  but now can we go BOAT?"

...Uh yeah, okay, well best laid plans...we headed over to Huddle House to celebrate anyway. :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Met with the Plastic Doctor

Just a quick update on THE SCHEDULE.  We met with the plastic surgeon yesterday for the BIG as two hours in the waiting room, five minutes of looking at Jonah and ten minutes discussing our plan of action. 

At the consult, the Doc gave the option of fixing the palate first since Jonah has started speaking. From what he said the lip is basically cosmetic, but it's typcially done first.  Also, if the palate is fixed first the ear tubes will start immediately doing their job to stop the chronic ear infections. And, one other thing, it may make the lip repair smoother.  So, he asks about three times which we'd prefer...uh...let me think...THE PALATE! 

He's already learning to say so much, so I'm super excited to think how much he'll improve in the months after the surgery.  I still don't know the exact timing, but it could be as quick as 4 weeks out. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A-Maizing Fun

It's funny how many little things you discover once you have kids. Last Saturday, we went to  Conner's A-maizing Acres .  It's apparently been around for years. Actually, I didn't discover it, a friend invited me to a Sign-N-Play group outing.  This is where the group leader uses/teaches sign language to the kids (parents too) during the outing.  Cool way to incorporate learning signs into an activity. Jonah's picking up a few signs, though he prefers to verbalize--non-stop I might add.  Of course, we're encouraging signing to cut down on communication frustration.

At the Acres, the kids swam in a pool of corn kernels.

We "lucked out" that the Redneck Games were being held while we were there.  Kayla thoroughly enjoyed watching the Rooster Catch.  One local was able to grab two at one time.  Even though I'm small town bred, I can assure you I've never chased a rooster--however, I may have been chased by one at some point.  And, just so you can know me a little better, I did have a pet pig for about a week.  I digress.

The Cow Train provided a little brother-sister bonding.  The plan was originally for me to ride with Jonah and Kayla to ride in front of us.  That is until my rear made it ABUNDANTLY clear that Mama would not be sitting in that cow barrel anytime soon. So Kayla received instructions to hang onto her little brother and off they went.  She took her job seriously.

The kids had fun watching the pigs, chickens, and feeding the cows.  Neither seems to have made the connection yet that pig = bacon, chicken= nuggets, or cow= hamburger helper.  I see no need to speed up that knowledge. 

The baby horse was a hit with Kayla.  The pipe slide was Jonah's favorite.  He's going to be my little daredevil.

The stack of hay...well climbing on hay is just a good time.

And, there was a huge corn maze that none us were up to doing in the heat of the day.  We walked far enough in to say we did it and then called it a day.
The simple life is the best life.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Buzzing around on a Rainy Saturday

When there's nothing else left to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon, when you've exhausted your toleration of Dora, Diego, and Scooby doo, and when the kids are climbing the walls (and your husband is watching football) might as well turn the house into a hive, make some bees and buzz around the house.

I guess you can tell from this Jonah is doing awesome. Kayla adores her little brother.  And, we're slowly adapting to life with two very active little ones.  We've met with the Cleft Team and are hoping for Jonah's first surgery to be early next year.  After the next consultations in a couple of weeks, we'll be able to really put it on the calendar.

I have to say, Jonah has melded so easily into his new life that I'm still in shock.  I was really expecting a super rough year.  I can only attribute this to the many prayers that went up on our family's behalf.  Thank you and keep 'em coming!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mr. Personality

He comes out of his shell more and more everyday.  When he needs a nap (like on the Airport Express MTR), watch out! He's an energizer bunny with an attitude.  I see a lot of outdoor play in our future.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting to Hong Kong

We debated about taking the train from Guangzhou (for fun, only saved a small amount of cash) or the chartered mini van (recommended by the agency).   In the end our sense of adventure won out and we took the train.  All of us were very glad we did.  That being said, our guide Amy was a tremendous help and our experience would have been much more chaotic if it had not been for her.

*Some of the following detail is for AP's who may be reading/travelling soon, so bear with me.*

We all rode together to pick up Jonah's visa and then headed straight for the East Railway Train station which was just around the corner.  There's the infamous Asian Games construction going on, so where we were dropped off was ugly and would have been hard to find our way alone.  Luckily, Amy had arranged for a porter to meet our van and carry the bags we were checking (for a small fee--well worth it), and lead us through security, immigration, and to our gate.  She got us that far and we said our goodbyes.   

Our in-China guides were super helpful again this time in China and I can't say enough good about them.

The train ride was quick and fun.  It took just under 2 hours to get to Hong Kong. There was plenty of room to move around. I do wish I had thought to request the seats with a table when we purchased the tickets at the concierge, but the train wasn't full so no biggie. 

There were squatty potties as needed before you enter the HK district where they are locked.  Apparently, they have issues with the *litter* dropping on the track.  

The train station there was simple to navigate, reclaim our bags, and exchange some money.  We took the "red" taxis to the airport hotel (for about $200HK). 

Six Thumbs up on taking the train!

My cute kids 2

She really DOES adore her little brother-- MOST of the time

Leaving Guangzhou

All the Families from our agency

It's finally time to leave. Time seems to stand still while waiting, then fly by once they're finally part of the family. I get sentimental about leaving--it's bittersweet for our kids. So happy to have them in our forever family, and also so aware of what a major change we are making for their future (good, bad, and unknown).

Now we head to Hong Kong for two sleeps and then get on the big airplane to home sweet home.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Oath

No pictures were allowed, but today was the Oath day where we swore everything we provided was true, accurate, and whatever else we repeated.  It was the only day we actually had to present ourselves to prove we are who our paperwork said we are.  There were 33 families completing adoptions that took the oath at the same time. 

Jonah was a cutie.  During the swearing, he also raised his right hand for awhile.  Then he started high fiving me and Bobby...that's when I lost track of what I was repeating. 

Kayla's doing fine and spent the day at the zoo with her grandparents.  They were very impressed with the size and how modern this zoo was. 

Visa pickup is tomorrow and then we head to HK. 

I'll have more pictures to post tomorrow.  Thanks for hanging around :-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Medical Exam...A glimpse into the past

First stop, weight
The medical exam is done as part of the immigration procedures.  Last time the exam involved height, weight, squeaking a ball to check hearing, and a quick overview of the body.  Since we're under Hague rules this time, it also included getting all remaining vaccinations at this time and a TB test as well.

Now, while I would not have chosen to have five shots administered to my new addition less than a week from having him join our family, I undersand this is just something we had to do to bring our baby home and expected it wouldn't be pretty.   

What I did not expect was for our happy go lucky child to start screaming his head off the minute he even saw a nurse.  They had to peel him off of me just to get a weight check.     Nothing we tried worked to distract him.  His prior memories of nurses from the surgery must be burned into his brain and judging from his reaction can't be good.

And as for the shots, I held him tight and again cried like a baby with him.  Bobby petted both of us.  (Hey, I've come a long way from passing out at the sight of a needle).

I guess this really should be entitled a glimpse into the future since he has we have quite the road ahead of us. 

Not your typical day at the Museum

Sunday started out simply enough-- get on a bus and head to the museum with the group to have something to do outside the hotel.  (My parents wisely chose to go it alone by taxi to White Cloud Mt park instead). 

Note, the city of Guangzhou has been under constant face lift construction for the last three years in preparation of the Asian Games. Think Olympic City grandeur.

Also note, if I could have a do over for the morning, I would have fought with Kayla over her choice of shoes.  She wanted the pink fancy shoes and I wanted the sneakers. It's just a museum though, right?

So ten steps from where the bus dropped us off, Kayla innocently brushes the underside of a slightly leaning metal construction barricade with the top of her foot.  I didn't see it, I just turned around to the Owwwweeeee and saw the blood pouring from the exposed top of her foot.  Band aids, wipes, and tissues started flying at us from every direction from other parents.  When the bleeding wasn't stopping, our guide called the bus back, wrote down the place for the Canadian Clinic (5th floor of the Garden Hotel for those traveling), and sent us on our way while she called ahead to let them know we were on our way.  Kayla was doing okay at this point and the bleeding was stopped as long as we kept pressure on. 

The bus driver must not have been paying attention because he took us back to our hotel instead of the the clinic hotel.  A quick flash of our guides note and we were on our way to the right place.  By the way, Jonah is with us and not feeling himself because of the vaccinations the day before.  I'll catch you up on that disaster later.

Finally at the clinic, we're ushered into a typical exam room and the doctor and nurse take a look.  The bone is slightly exposed and needed stitches.  She started talking about the hospital and I got on the panda phone with our guide.  It turned out we could do the procedure in the office.  We were hoping to be on their accepted insurance plan, unfortunately, we ended up self pay.  Oh well, we'll deal with that later. 

As for the procedure itself, have you heard the Alan Jackson song where the dentist started drilling before it was numb? Some beach, somewhere.  Anyway at the end of fixing her up, they smeared on some Chinese herbs (at the western clinic...hmmmm).  These seem to have done the trick though as on our follow up visit Monday, the wound was looking much better and we don't go back until Thursday for the next look.

Kayla's doing fine now and just milking it for all the attention she can get.  Gotta luv that kid.
Recovering at the hotel with noodles and Dora the Explorer in bed.
One other important thing to note is that while in hindsight I'm writing this rather light heartedly, at the time it rated top of my all time list for how to scare.the.beegezus.out.of.your.mama moments. Bobby had to hold her still while I tried to shield her from seeing what was going on with one hand, holding Jonah on my lap with the other, and cried like a baby the whole time. 

Dynasty white wine (China) helped my nerves at the day's end.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Honk Honk Beep Beep

Traffic in Nanning is a conglomeration of buses, cars, bicycles, motorcyles, mopeds, etc.  The fact that we only saw one accident during our stay there blows my mind.  Maybe we have too many road rules in the U.S. Naaahhhh.

By the way, the guide said in the summer the typical work day includes a 3 hour break mid-day because of the heat.  Many workers use this time for a nap.  So I guess that adds 2 extra rush hours a day.  Probably worth it for the siesta.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nanning- The Peoples' Park

The Peoples' Park was just a short walk from our hotel so we wandered over there to explore one afternoon and one morning.  It's developed around a lake and has gardens, a small carnival-like amusement park and more.  The local "talent" practices chinese opera and dancing there. 

We threw dogfood in the pond for 15rmb to watch massive coi-like fish devour it. 

My adventurous parents took Kayla on a paddle boat ride.  They finished drenched in sweat from the exertion on the hot boat.

There's a small antiquated playground up on the hill that we let the kids get rid of some energy inside.  Both Kayla and Jonah loved the bungee trampoline.  I was amazed they figured out how to do it.  I guess they're just babies in my mind.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My cute kids

Downstairs at the Majestic (Nanning)

Nanning Zoo

We spent a sweltering morning at the zoo.  The two shows were fun to watch because they were scary, dangerous and lacked any of the common safety apparatus we'd see in the states.  For example the acrobats used a two-story tall triple hamster wheel to perform on with only old mattresses beneath them for precaution.  They were my favorite part.  A close second was the bear leading the pack of monkey's riding bikes in a circle around the ring.

Jonah "Le Le" is still doing great.  He's got a delightful personality although if we do something he doesn't like he'll let us know with a hit, attempted bite, or toddler scream.  This is mostly if we take something away or if we're trying to clean stuck food out of his cleft. 

Speaking of food, he still  eats like he has a hollow leg.  He fights with me to use the spoon himself, but until we're home in a high chair, this is not something I'm going to give in on.  I do let him play with it afterwards with an empty bowl.  He adores muffins and I do let him dig into that face first.

Kayla is experiencing some difficulty sharing the kingdom.  She's confused between whether she wants to be the baby, the mommy,  or a grown-up.  Notice just being a kid is not an option for her.  My patience wears thin by the end of the day... but sleep seems to help us all.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adoption Day

Adoption day is the formal closure of the paperwork to make Jonah part of our clan forever.  First we headed back to the CCAA for the interview where we promised to never abandon him, give him good medical care, etc.  The two nannies that we met the day before were there and seemed happy with his demeanor and appearance.  One of them (I believe she's the head caregiver) gave us her e-mail to send pictures.  They both seemed to genuinely care about Baole and his future.  I can't wait to send them post operation photos.  (Also, he was wearing some oversized Nike sandals that they got a kick out of.) 

Next, we headed to the Notary office housed in a non-descript government building.  A 20-something notary with low hanging pigtails asked a few trivia questions to make sure we were who we said (ie year we were married, our occupations, etc.).  We then signed in four places on documents written completely in Chinese and put a red thumbprint on top of each signature.  Next it was Jonah's turn to stamp his right foot on the page in red (it barely fit inside the box) to show his approval.  Then we were done.

Kayla and the grandparents stayed back at the hotel swimming pool since it was a long morning full of offices and waiting. 

We celebrated with chinese takeout on our return.

More from gotcha

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gotcha Day

Amazing.  This time around could not be more different.  There's only one other family with us from our agency in Nanning. The waiting room actually had furniture AND toys. The nannies stayed in the room at least 30 minutes transitioning Jonah Baole to us.  They had shown him the pictures of our family that we sent in a care package and he loves carrying it around pointing us out. I think that made a huge difference in him coming to us without fear.  He hasn't cried yet and he slept through the night (I'm not counting on that to stay that way, but a Mom can hope.) 

Kayla adores him and immediately started helping by giving him toys, cheerios and water.  She even got a tissue and wiped some drool off his mouth. 

We're still figuring out the feeding. He's kind of a bottomless pit with almost anything solid, but he doesn't drink much formula -- which you think that's pretty normal for a 2 year old, except it's the opposite of the "current" care plan we were given. We'll just take cues from him on this.

We got his size wrong.  Jonah is swimming in 2T.  We'll have to get a few things for him while we're here and then hit the stores for 18 months when we're home.

He is a little chatter box.  Whatever he's saying usually makes the chinese people around us laugh and say he's cute.  We're using a mixture of bad Mandarin, signs, and short English words to communicate to him.  He's pointing, grunting, and throwing to communicate with us.  We're calling him by a variety of names Jonah Baole or Jonah Le Le or just Le Le.  The best I can write out the pronunciation is Bow Luh, with the emphasis on Luh.  Every now and then I can tell when I say it right because he looks my way.
He's super active-- running, jumping, and trying to climb. He's super smart--already picked up the word car and put a used piece of tissue in the trashcan.  He's a little mischievous-- throws a toy one way for me to fetch while he runs to explore the light socket.  I know all the *supers* overdo it, but I was completely prepared to arrive to find a child that was far behind in his development.  Instead we have an active, smart, sweet little boy.  He's already made it quite clear he likes Mommy's hugs and kisses.

We're told the nanny's loved his personality and spoiled him a bit.  I have to agree with them, he is adorable.

Beijing Day 2- Mutianyu Section

Our pictures will not do this section of the Great Wall justice.  It was magnificent, glorious, and all the other adjectives that could describe a wonder of the world.  I highly recommend seeing this part of the wall.  We took the cable car up and down.  There is a pretty strenuous vendor filled section of hill to walk before you actually get to the wall.  However, it's not that far and very doable.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Some random thoughts....

First off, the Benderoos were a huge hit on the plane from Atlanta to Seattle.  It kept Kayla occupied for probably 1.5 hours which is no small feat at 3 years old.  She's currently putting them all over the hotel window.  Love it!  Unfortunately, she has not made the transition to China Time and was completely wired from 2am on last night.  But what's another day with no sleep... sleepless nights are about to start for real in a day anyway.

For anyone reading this who will be traveling soon, we're glad we had the stroller in the airport.  And, the vpn go trusted . com is working fine for blogger, facebook, and netflix so far.  I haven't tried accessing anything without it.

Next, on a more serious note, we are a very conspicuous family in a different way than on our first trip to China.  We stand out now not because we are a tall white family, but because we have an English speaking Chinese child with us.  The way it feels to be constantly pointed out because of our different appearance drives home the importance to me of finding ways to teach Kayla (and very soon Jonah) who she is and to be proud of who she is both as an American, a Chinese American and part of our family.   For our kids, being just another family is not in the cards. They will always have a white family.  Acknowledging this in my mind, in no way diminishes the fact that we are a REAL family. It does highlight how important it is to give them opportunities to form a healthy self-identity that fits who they will be as transracial, transcultural adoptees.

Today, China has set the day aside for mourning more than one thousand lives  lost in the mudslides a week ago.  Our prayers go out to those suffering through this devastation.

Beijing Day 1

Our flight came in an hour later than expected.  That flight really feels like you're stuck in a wrinkle in time and I spent much of just thinking about how much I already dreaded the return flight.  The nice thing about getting in at midnight was the customs and visa lines were a breeze.  Our guide was easy to find and the roads were pretty clear. 

Our first stop on our tour was the Hutong area complete with rickshaw ride and a close up view of a "rich" families courtyard home.  Five generations have lived in this modest home.
We climbed to the top of the drum tower, walked the Temple of Heaven, bought more pearls than I should have under the guise of passing them on to the kids one day; and, to our guide's horror-- learned to eat with chopsticks at lunch.  She could not believe we had traveled to China before and not learned this.  And actually, I completely agree.  However, if I continue to practice this chopstick diet, I expect to have lost about 20 lbs before our return home.

Now I will go try to convince Kayla to wake up from her 3 hour nap, so she's not bouncing off the walls at bedtime.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On our way

The morning and first flight were pretty laid back. My diaper bag stayed in the x-ray for awhile, but nothing was questioned or confiscated this time.  We weren't rushing, for once.  I found Starbucks after security and all is well while we're waiting for the next flight..   I don't think Bobby will have the window seat back anytime soon as Kayla really enjoyed sitting by the window and watching the clouds float under us.   Well, at least for a few minutes, then we headed on to stickers, Dora doll, and chewing gum (that was our 45 minute flight...oh boy.)
P.S. I'm testing this post by e-mail, so somebody tell me on FaceBook if it's a mess.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From 3 to 4

Our newest adventure began early in 2009. The paperchase. I'd like to say our prior "chase" made us so experienced that we rocked out a homestudy and immigration papers in record time. Instead, it was a long nine months laden with little delays that layered on top of each other until I was ready to cry uncle. Eventually, we just laughed and kept trudged toward the goal...growing our family.

I'm pretty sure that I don't believe in destiny, red threads, or anything similar. Some nights though, I will admit to looking up at a star and hoping a child was staring at that same star, wishing for a Forever Family ...and hoping that child wouldn't be too disappointed to be matched up with a dork, a geek, and a little princess that rules the house. You can decide for yourself who's the dork and who's the geek, the little princess is a given.

After immense joy, came devastating heartache when our first son-to-be, Dylan XinYong, passed away. In this life, I'll never understand, except to know that through this grief I now long to be more Mom, more Spouse, and more Friend. Life is too precarious to take for granted.

Today, I CELEBRATE the impending entrance of Jonah BaoLe into our family.
How lucky we feel to have this handsome son joining our lives.


And, by the way, thanks for taking the time to follow along. Really.