Aug 30, 2012

Doctor Visit #1 - Dr. Ladage

We were really dreading when Zander would start his physician visits here at home if his medical exam in Guangzhou was any indicator. The medical there was excruciating. He's been through so much in his little life, I can completely understand his reluctance at seeing anyone in white. In China the nurses and doctors wear the traditional white clothing with starched hats (at least the ones we have always seen).
Nurse in Guangzhou
Doctor in Guangzhou

But he did amazing. A wonderful friend, and adoptive parent of 2, told us about a pediatrician who did a wonderful job evaluating international children once home. Dr. Ladage at Cardinal Glennon Hospital was amazing. She spent well over 1 1/2 hours just talking and gathering information while observing Zander also. He was comfortable with her and it wasn't the nightmare we expected, it went very well. The rough part was when they had to take the 5 vials of blood, although only 5 teaspoons, that's a lot for a little one. He also had to have a TB test which wasn't fun for anyone. But after everything was over he was all smiles and giggles again munching down the graham crackers & slurping down the juice they gave him.

Aug 29, 2012

Through His Eyes - Week One and a Half

A bit over one week ago we were chomping at the bit to get off airplanes and just be HOME! The kids are back in school, Tim is back at work, and we are all settling in to a new normal. Zander is the most amazing little boy I know. He graduated himself from our bed to his crib. The third night we were home and he was trying to sleep between us, he stood up, dropped his pacifier and pointed to his crib. I said, "by all means", put him in with his pacifier and he went right to sleep. Now he's a bit cocky when he goes to bed and we play pacifier pick-up a few times before he finally settles down. He has a trick, he stands, drops his pacifier, I pick it up, he lays down real quick, giggles really low, gets his pacifier back and then tries again. I'm a sucker for at least 2 x's, then it's business : )

Here's the things we are learning his first week home:

1) Seeing everything through his eyes as new and exciting. He loves to open & close drawers, cabinets, doors and still doesn't get into anything.
2) He LOVES to have lotion rubbed on his feet and back before bed. Especially his feet, he has me do this at least 2-3 x's before bed.
3) He mimics everything we do. He coughs, sneezes, barks like Scarlett, you name it, he'll repeat it.
4) He loves kisses and to snuggle.
5) He likes to use the file for his toes & everyone elses!
6) He's really starting to like books. His favorite is a Blues' Clues book given to him by the little boy I watch from his own personal collection. It has 4 buttons and each you sing a tune with. Tim just LOVES to sing (not), but he does it for his JinJin.
7) He's empathetic, he shares well, he's a watcher of people, he loves music and is learning to dance.
8) His sense of humor is amazing, silly and adorable.
9) He's loves to brush his teeth.
10) He's OUR son!
Sissy is a sucker for "the look" and "please".

He learned to use the file, then decided daddy & mommy's needed filing also.

He LOVES his new books & boots from Joshua

Zander wasn't sure about sharing mommy & daddy with Kalya & Sophia

He LOVES his drum from Shamien Island, with & without drumsticks : )

Aug 22, 2012

Back to Life - A New Reality

We have been home for 3 days now and things are slowly starting a new normal. First, Alex moved back home for a couple of months before she makes her big move to New York. Carmen & Richie started back to school today (still majorly jet lagged, but there). Tim goes back to work tomorrow and 2 of my childcare little ones come back tomorrow. Heavy Sigh....The kids just came home from their first day. They had an amazing day, Richie loved lunch best and Carmen loved Reading best.

Saturday evening after everyone was back home from festivities we actually slept all night and decided to go to church and Sunday School. It felt amazing to be back with our church family, worshiping with them and introducing Zander. He loved worship and thought it was time to play during sermon so he and I spent that time him getting to know the church halls. Sunday School was great because he stayed in our class and Tim sat on the floor playing with him. He just fit so seamlessly into our life at church also. God is the most amazing and truly knew where this little guy fit and how blessed our family would be to have him. That afternoon we crashed hard for 9 hours and our sleep was bad for a couple of days. We are slowly getting back into the the swing of sleep though.

Zander is THE busiest, antsiest child I have ever seen. He thinks our house is just another hotel I believe. He is so used to being on the go with us either each meal, tours, planes, etc. and he LOVES to go bye-bye too. Everything and everyone is so new to him, he's been exploring and learning things by leaps. He's saying about 10 words now, walking everywhere, and mimics about everything we do. He knows some sign language taught to him by his foster family and he knows mama & baba (mom & dad), but he is an extreme daddy's boy. When we ask him to do mama, he looks at us, cracks up and will do the sign for mama, but then say baba and then he starts giggling knowing he's messing with us.

He opens everything he can. Doors, drawers, cabinets, lids, whatever, but he doesn't get into anything inside...YET...He just enjoys opening and shutting things. He's learned light switches, sliding and regular doors. The hardest thing right now is sleep patterns, his days and nights will probably be like that for quite a while. Here is a short video to share with you of him getting into cabinets. Enjoy!

Day one without daddy. Well everyone's (Zander, Tim, Carmen, Alex and myself) started at 3:15 am. We had breakfast at 330 and played a lot. Richie rose around 5 and Alex went back to bed. Poor Tim had to start back to work today and left around 6 am. Zander fussed a bit when he left, but mainly wanted to go bye-bye with him.

I started back with childcare this morning with 2 brothers (11 & 5) until they start back to school on Monday. Zander isn't quite sure what to do with these other kids yet. We went back to bed for a couple of hours and now the trick is to keep him awake until at least 7-730 pm to help him get into a routine.

I was so excited about our first day together and had plans to take pictures at the park. NOT! He really liked the picnic part (because it involved eating I believe). Then I tried to place him in a toddler swing, he fought until I actually got him in. My experience with all other kids is that if they don't like something they've never tried, get them to try at least 2 x's. Well, he stayed in the swing less than 5 minutes and wanted out. Then I tried him swinging on my lap, no go. We then tried the kiddie slide, no go, we tried the rocket rider, no go, then the merry-go-round. He actually stayed on that for about 5 minutes with me going slow. I let him just try to wander to whatever he wanted, but he didn't like the big open area. We told the park bye-bye with a smile.

We then got to visit my cousin and he was fine for a couple hours. Daddy is home now and Zander is throwing a new tantrum because he doesn't get to climb the steps. We'll see how the rest of the evening progress, tune in tomorrow for an update!

Aug 20, 2012

Last Travel Update

We had to check out of our room by 2 pm, but our slight wasn't until 1245 AM!! They allowed us to hang out in the Executive Lounge until we were ready to leave for our flight, but there is only so much to do with an almost 2 yr. old in a lounge. The weather finally broke and we were able to enjoy the outdoor balcony. We spent a few hours there. Zander loved being able to travel along the glass railing and walk in his squeaky shoes.

The view from the balcony was so beautiful with the clouds hanging over the mountains, the pictures just don't do it justice. The best thing about Hong Kong was we could drink the water! We hung out there until almost 8 and thought a change of scenery would do us all good so off the the airport we went!

SHORT VERSION: The flights & layovers were long, uncomfortable, uneventful and YUCK!  If you feel like reading the Long Version, scroll down! Our welcoming committee at the airport were The Laxton Family (Mark, Shannon, Malaine, Sawyer, Makenna, Mavery & Sage), Tina & Brianna (my sister & niece) and our daughter Alex : ) With signs, gifts and hugs. We spent a long time hugging, laughing and talking. Everyone got to talk with and finally see Zander and he gave a bit of personality waving hi, blowing kisses, and saying bye-bye.

We got our luggage and had to split up to go home because we couldn't fit all of us AND our luggage. Zander was getting his first ride in a car seat and he did amazing. He was pretty zoned out the whole LONG car ride home, since Alex drives like her daddy and forgot our exit 2 times!Leaving Hong Kong was a blessing. We didn't do anything but hang out in the hotel, Tim didn't want to venture out with all the typhoon warnings and frankly he was VERY tired and ready to go home.

LONG VERSION: Our first stop was the HK airport. It was pretty uneventful, Zander didn't sleep much which I guess was a good thing since our flight from HK to Seoul would only be 3 1/2 hours. En route to Seoul he was very antsy on the plane, but did stay awake.

After arriving in Seoul we had a 6 hour layover and if you've ever been an airport with very little to occupy yourself, this was the airport ; ) but as you can imagine we managed. Richie & Carmen pretty well slept the entire time on the benches with Zander staying awake most of the time busy as always.

The 14 hour flight from Seoul to Chicago was next. Zander slept the first 6 hours in one of the bulkhead bassinets, but that doesn't leave much room for legs or maneuvering. Tim and I got a bit of sleep. Richie and Carmen were zonked yet again. The next hours were agonizing for Tim mainly because Zander doesn't rest. He was antsy, hungry, bored, sometimes tired. It was finally almost over and he fell asleep, but it was light out so Tim place his blanket over him and made him a sleep tent with only a little hand and foot sticking out. I didn't dare take pics because we did NOT want him back awake.

After arriving in Chicago, going through immigration and customs, we had over 2 hours and Zander was CRABBY! Richie and Carmen yet again fell asleep and stayed asleep, I don't know how they did it! After waking a bit we went to the Macaroni Grill (yes, in the airport, we weren't worried about cost at this point, only American food). Zander would eat the bread, some fruit, but NO lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo or meatballs. On the flights we were served 2 Korean meals, the last being very bad. Needless to say the flight through Korean Air going was wonderful, the flight home STUNK! I am not going to complain, just tell the facts. At take-off dirty water starting leaking from the bulkhead onto Richie & Tim. We then had 4 stewardesses and a pilot come back to try to control the leak. They then took a folded piece of material and duct taped it to the bulkhead. It held the rest of the flight. The stewardesses didn't really understand anything we said and really didn't care. We sat in the bulkhead for more room, but there was a curtain that they used to separate the 2 classes and it constantly tangled in my legs and past my seat down the aisle.

On the flight to Chicago there weren't many passengers so we were separated, which was good thing. We had too much family togetherness in the almost 3 weeks and 30+ hours of travel to last a LONG while. Zander again fell asleep and we were dreading how he would be once we got off and had to get our luggage, etc. But he did amazing. We headed to get our luggage and there was our welcoming committee. 

The Laxton Family (Mark, Shannon, Malaine, Sawyer, Makenna, Mavery & Sage), Tina & Brianna (my sister & niece) and our daughter Alex : ) With signs, gifts and hugs. We spent a long time hugging, laughing and talking. Everyone got to talk with and finally see Zander and he gave a bit of personality waving hi, blowing kisses, and saying bye-bye.

We got our luggage and had to split up to go home because we couldn't fit all of us AND our luggage. Zander was getting his first ride in a car seat and he did amazing. He was pretty zoned out the whole LONG car ride home, since Alex drives like her daddy and forgot our exit 2 times!

Aug 17, 2012

Good Bye Hong Kong

The great thing about Hong Kong 1) You can drink the water 2) More people speak English 3) It's one step closer to home : )

I never thought the time would get here. We are actually at the HK airport, 2 1/2 hours early, but we are still here! The thing that really hit me as I sit here with our little JinJin sleeping in his stroller is, "We are taking our baby boy home, finally!" No more hotels, no more tours, no more squatty potties, no more one room family time (even though I love them dearly, I am ready for some space).

We had to check out of the hotel at 2 pm, but they allowed us to store our luggage at the concierge and then remain in the Executive Lounge until we were ready to leave. Tim was very self-conscious of all the "big wigs" in the EL, but we couldn't care because they are people just like us, maybe we might even be able to bring a little bit of God to the EL floor eh?

As it turned out, everyone was super nice, they loved Zander. All the workers played with him (we were there almost 6 hours), we spoke with several people from the US. We shared out adoption story with a couple execs., but the nicest part was there was an outdoor balcony that overlooked the harbor. The railing was glass so we could see everything. I could smell the ocean, hear the clanging of bells from the boats, and even though the typhoon has left it very overcast, there were mountains with clouds hanging over them. It was beautiful to see wide open water and mountains after being so closed in for almost 3 weeks. This quiet compare to the VERY busy, noisy streets of China was very comforting and relaxing.

A buffet was served at 6 and the first in line was our little guy always making the signs of "please" and then "food or eat". When he sees the food his whole little body shakes, he grins ear to ear and makes a giggling noise because he's so excited. This happens when I show him a banana also : )

He is walking so much lately. We bought him squeaky shoes hoping it would motivate him to walk more and boy has it! But he still prefers Tim to carry him. I do believe he's packed on a few pounds in the last couple weeks because he is feeling mighty heavy.

Going through immigration as a family was very surreal. They asked if it was Zander's first trip to the US and we smiled and said "yes". He grinned through immigration and strolled right through.

More to follow in Seoul. We have a 6 hour layover and I hope they have a charger! I won't be able to post pictures until we get home though, I packed my transfer cable OOPS!

Aug 16, 2012

Goodbye Guangzhou - Hello Hong Kong then Home!

8/16 Update:

I haven't really posted too much lately because just to be brutally honest....I'm tired. Tim's honesty was very frank, and hilarious last night before bed. While laying there playing with Zander, he said, "Boy, when I signed up for this I really was expecting you to hang on mama all the time, what happened to that?"

Missing home, missing my bed, missing my family & friends, missing our life period. We ALL are so ready to be home. All of our group left yesterday. One family we have been with since Zhengzhou (the Smiths from Florida who adopted Rebekah, 8, from Zhengzhou Province, she has the most beautiful smile and is always busy) and another since Guangzhou (the Ackers from Alabama adopted Lily from Guangdong, she's almost 3 with the most awesome giggle EVER). Both wonderful Christian families that it was so much fun getting to know them and their children. It's funny what you learn when put with people for days or weeks. What's said in China stays in China : )

The men are killing time taking a leisurely stroll through the lobby, middle man, Zander, in his squeaky shoes, right wing man, Tim, and left wing man Richie. Zander is totally, always on the move and his person of choice is always Tim. Tim will be going back to work to take a vacation!

We have at least a 3 hour van ride to Hong Kong so we are all packed up (we actually still have the same amount of suitcases we arrived with, we only had to replace Carmen's case that ripped in Zhengzhou).

Next posting will be from Hong Kong.

8/14 Update: This morning only Tim and I went to breakfast. Carmen and Richie, believe it or not are tired of breakfast and needed some alone and space time. Breakfast is never too exciting. They place all adoptive families in a far-from-the-action hideaway, we guess as to not disturb the other more important paying guests. While most of the little ones we have seen are really good and people LOVE to interact with the babies and ask us questions, practice their English, etc. we might disturb others. Zander is always an eating, moving machine so there isn't much down time with him.

Our afternoon was spent quietly and then we went on the Pearl River Dinner Boat Cruise. We were very excited, it sounded so exotic. I would not recommend it, if I said we enjoyed it, I would not be telling the truth. The dinner was all right, but it was extremely hard to enjoy because the whole dinner there was a very loud Chinese woman on the intercom telling about the sites. It was sensory overload with the smells, the low fluorescent lights, all the people crammed in a small room and speakers blaring and it put Zander in melt down mode. He didn't want to be there and neither did we.

We went out on deck to see the sites and get away from all the hub bub, and the lights were beautiful of the bridge, passing boats and buildings. The lights would change color, it was very pretty. Until several times you saw unmentionable garbage floating in the river, VERY nasty floating debris. This ruined the romantic part of the cruise for us.

The entertainment was a woman juggler/mime. I'm still trying to decipher what she was miming though. Our poor guide got into an argument with another guide who was trying to solicit tickets from another of the families with us. But she held her own and Harmon stuck very close (he's a very tall strapping guy).

After our dinner cruise it was time to go melt in our rooms. We were exhausted and ready for bed.

8/15 Update:

Thursday morning dawned bright and hot. We climbed aboard our last bus to go to Shamien Island to do shopping. This was our one and only chance to shop since I got lost in the other mall and we spent the entire time looking for me and Zander.

Shamien Island was beautiful, moss hung from the trees, there were many people doing photography, some in wedding gard, some fashion garb and others just using the perfect backdrop. It was drop dead HOT! The humidity was 100%. Not in the mood for haggling much, we got our souvenirs and headed for air conditioning. We split up a bit from Tim and Richie and Carmen and I heard singing. Usually the Chinese singing is, to me, very nasally or tinny, but this sounded very soulful and beautiful. We walked over to where several men and women had just congregated being encouraged by a woman with sheet music. They sand in harmony right off the street. Zander was the  most still I have ever seen him, listening to the singing. I will try to post the video, but it doesn't sound as pretty as it did on the island.

After shopping we went to the famous Lucy's restaurant. I believe it is so popular because it is COLD! The food was really good and American. We took some photos of statues with Zander, but nearly as many as I would've liked, but it was just too hot.

While walking around the shops, we came across another adoptive family we had met that were actually staying on the island at the Victory. I was very startled to see them sitting with a young Chinese woman named Judy. There was a Bible sitting between them and the couple explained that Judy was a Christian and needed direction and prayers. Her family was pressuring her to become pregnant and told her she must have a boy and they were praying to Buddha for this to happen. She was very distraught and sought the couple's direction. They had a mini study with her starting in James 1. It was amazing to see God working on young Judy through this couple.

We were told the island used to be the main hub for all Chinese adoptions. The clinic was on the island and everyone coveted staying at the overly priced White Swan Hotel. There were many shops and tourists, but now the Swan is closed for 2 years for extensive renovations and the clinic is closed and moved to the mainland. The island committee doesn't want anymore adoptive parents congregating to the island. They want it to be a place of business. Hopefully it can be shared as a business & tourist area since it is so old and beautiful.

Later we said goodbye to the other families and parted ways exchanging emails and phone numbers. We had a wonderful time getting to know everyone.


Enjoy these update pics!