Friday, April 30, 2010

One Week Home

I don't even kow where to begin this post, this week has been a complete whirlwhind.

When we left GZ, our flight was delayed about 6 things got off to a rough start. XJ did great on all the flights, but we didn't get into Shanghi until 3:30 am, and had a morning flight. So, although he easily slept on the flight, when we arrived home, we were already going on a sleepless night. It caught up with us, big time. We hadn't planned on having any family visit right away, but we called Barb, my mother in law in Florida, to come and stay until we got settled. It was the best decision. Jason went back to work on Monday, and we had tried to get all 3 dogs home at once on Saturday. It was not a good idea.

Fast forward a few days and things are MUCH better. We have added dogs slowly, and the 2 we have home now are doing great with XJ, and he with them. He loves Butternut, and ignores Annie...which is just fine. Basil will join us on Sunday and we will ease her in as we did the other two. I am confident it will all work out. My dogs are just furry babies to me and it was a difficult week without them all home.

XiaoJun continues to amaze us. It is like he has been with us all along. He has taken over the gardening and every day reminds me that we need to water the tomatoes. We've gone to the park  and he loves it...and gets along and takes turns with the other kids. I have completely forgotten he has "special needs"....he climbs, jumps, swings, runs, kicks and actually climbed a rock wall...all with his club foot! We have had adventures at Central Market where he askes "ya sha ma..." about 50 times. I think it means "what is this"? He has been understanding us much better and answers "yes"and "no" now to our questions. His first English word unprompted was "gentle"...since we say it so often with the dogs and being a boy. He knows: milk, grandma, water, shampoo, uh-oh, and his vocab is growing each day. We had a visit with our local pediatrician and we do not have to re-do any of his vaccines. He was impressed with the records from China and feels they are all up to date. He's in the 25% for his height, and 10% for weight...this kid is skinny! He likes to eat, but mostly fruit and other low-cal options...his favorite snack is edamamme.

We start his Ponsetti casting next Friday for his foot. I feel bad starting so soon, but he's adjusting so well that I am confident the sooner we start the better. I hope he can still run and play some with the cast, he is super active so it might be a LONG summer here in ATX.

I will continue to post as we go on in our adventures here with XJ.
All is going beyond well...and XJ is a joy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is it time to come home yet?

It's been a few days since I blogged. The internet is expensive in the room and yesterday we were at the Safari Park all day. Literally. From 10 to 5. Luckily, it was really nice and we saw tons of animals that were well taken care of and in lifelike habitats. The pandas rocked! XJ had a blast and I think his favorite were the monkeys. He would wave to them and say "Ni Hao monkeys!". He obviously does not really speak any English yet, but we understand each other just fine. He will put his shoes on/off if we say to in English, if we ask if he has to go to the bathroom he will say "mayo" which means "no". I think he will catch on once in the USA full-time. Speaking of, we can't wait to get home. China is great, but living out of a tiny hotel room is not. XJ is REALLY active and loud too...I feel bad for our neighbors. He is always playing or laughing or goofing around. We've had a few little incidents with him and his behavior. He does not like it when we tell him no or to stop something and will really throw a fit. It passes pretty quickly, but he likes to see what he can get away with. Overall, he is a super kid. He plays really well with other kids. Today we were in the playroom at the hotel which is really for much younger kids and there was this little girl about 18 months old who kept tumbling as she was just learning how to walk. XJ was playing with a ball pretty roughly (throwing and screaming) with Jason and he ran up to her and I almost thought he was going to smack her. Instead he sat her up on her butt then lifted her under her arms and stood her up! He made sure she was steady and walked away...too cute!

Today we took the famous Red Couch picture with all the kids in our travel group in their Chinese attire. We opted out of the tour of the market in GZ and I had a massage instead. It was $10 and could be the best massage I have ever had. It was in a Chinese medicine practice.

Thai food tonight. Oath ceremony tomorrow. Thursday is our last day in Guangzhou, then we head to Shanghi for our flight back to the States!!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pictures from the Island

I wanted to post a bunch of pictures today since the island is really quite pretty, but the internet connection in the hotel is really slow. Frustrating, since I am paying out the wazoo for it, you'd think they could make it a little faster.

Not much new here today. We went to a pearl market and some store that sold only expensive fragile breakable things. This is where we went with a bus load full of kids. It was not at all interesting or fun for a 4 year old, but he did great. We bought him a Karate Kid style drum and he liked that at least.

Tomorrow is the Safari Park and I hear it is really cool so that should be more kid friendly.

XJ is doing really well. He has quite a big personality for a little kid. He's really silly and funny and stubborn....really stubborn. He had a standoff today with Jason about changing his clothes. Jason won in the end.

XiaoJun is becoming less camera shy and he's starting smile on cue. As you can see from the two pictures I posted, he's got quite a smile :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Good to be in GZ

We arrived last night in Guangzhou and are staying on Shamain Island. The White Swan hotel is really beautiful and huge. There are tons of American families here with their Chinese children and we've reunited with our travel group. XiaoJun did really well on the airplane, after a mini-tantrum when we made him put the seatbelt on. He gets really bad motion sickness so he mostly just sat there quietly and tried not to vomit.

Today we had the infamous medical exam at the clinic here in GZ. Again, XJ did great! He is a real trooper. He had to get 6 shots and he did not cry once. He sort of just shuts down and becomes a wet noodle when he is scared, not sure if this is a good or bad thing but that is how he copes. The clinic was total chaos. Hundreds of families with their new kids moving between these "stations" of ENT exams, shots, height/weight...there was seemingly no order and it looked like something out of the Dharma Initiative in LOST. Very surreal.

Guangzhou is a welcome change from Hefei. It is subtropical climate set on the Pearl River and looks a lot like New Orleans. The entire, and I mean ENTIRE, island is under construction. It is hard to navigate without risking getting scooped up by a backhoe. Despite this, it is a relief to be here. We can walk everywhere, there are great restaurants and shops and I even treated myself to a Frappachino today.

Tomorrow is the Pearl and Jade market tour. We are thinking of skipping because I really think it would not be fun for anyone with a very active 4 year old.

XiaoJun's little personality is really coming out. He is VERY active and curious. He is super independent and loves to be in the front of the pack. He does not like being told "no" one bit...but who does?! He's also super sweet and loves his Mama...and is warming up to Baba.

Will post more pictures tomorrow!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A zoo where we were the main attraction

Yesterday was a really great day. We started out the day with XiaoJun Skyping with his old friend Wei Wei. XJ and Wei Wei were in the Lu'an SWI at the same time and I have many pictures of the two little guys together. Wei Wei came home to his forever family a few months ago and his mom and I decided it would be a great idea to have the two Skype...and it was! They were clearly excited to see each other and immediately began saying their names and karate chopping the screen and showing off their toys. XiaoJun had a big smile on his face and I think it was good for him to see a friend and a connection to his past before us. Thanks Wei Wei and Melanie!

After this we went to the zoo. There were about 1000 school kids there and XJ was really interested in them. He literally ran around the entire time and did not want to sit in the stroller or be carried, he's a very big boy! The craziest thing is that we were a much bigger attraction than the animals to the kids. We were at the panda enclosure when a bunch of young girls completely ignored the panda and wanted to take our picture instead! They all wanted to say "Hello" or "Bye-Bye" in their best English and then run off was very cute.

Today we are headed to GZ! We have really enjoyed our time here in Hefei, but are ready to move on to where the weather is nicer. There is a lot to do and see in GZ and we'll be back with the families we started off with and their new kids. It will be a lot of fun. XJ will have his first airplane ride tonight...wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

French Fries and Rock and Roll

Yesterday was a pretty mellow day, the weather here is terrible, about 45 and rainy, so we tried to stay indoors. Our guide, Erin, took us to a beautiful temple, but it was so cold that it was hard to enjoy. I fully expected XJ to have a typical bored-4-year-old meltdown our of boredom, but he held it together. Was clearly bored to death, but just sat in his stroller and didn't complain. He's starting to assert himself with us a bit more and challenge us. He got really mad at Jason yesterday after he took away his iPod when XJ was done playing with it. He gets really pissy when he doesn't get his way, which, I think, is pretty typical for a 4 year old. He is also starting to openly show us affection, we woke up today with tons of unsolicited hugs and kisses, which is the best.

I ventured out on my own while he was napping and managed to find nothing on the list of things we needed, but got a great skirt and necklace for $15-! Jason went back out to do the dirty work and got a lifetime supply of AA batteries for the camera that XJ has been taking thousands of pictures with. He also came back with Legos and he loves them!

We're going to the zoo today, which despite my feelings about crappy zoos, will be good for XJ and to get out of the hotel. We're going a bit stir-crazy so looking forward to getting to GZ in a couple of days.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

so far so good....

We have had 2 really wonderful days so far with XiaoJun. They were filled with firsts for him and us too as parents.

We started the day yesterday with Skpe. The first Skype he was a bit shy but by the time we Skyped with Chrisie and Jala he was loving it...he was high fiving Chrisie on the screen, which was hilarious. We then went back to the Civil Affairs office where we officially promised to be his parents! We got his Chinese passport and took our picture in front of the Chinese flag as a memento.

We had some time to kill before meeting the orphanage director so we went to Walmart...yes, there is a Walmart here. It is huge and very weird. We got a new suitcase, 2 dvd's, a bottle of Cabernet and tons of snacks for less than $30.

Of course we had lunch again at our favorite noodle shop...XJ eats like a trooper and slurps and scoops everything up just like a Chinese's so cute!

He also sneezes in Chinese! It's not an "achoo" but more of an "a---something chinese", pretty funny.

When we met the orphanage director she let us know that he had been in foster care for about a year. So he was only in the orphanage for a year. This is good news in terms of his social development and attachment (or so the experts say) but I just feel bad that he's had so much disruption in his little life. I hope he knows this is forever.

We also got a copy of his "finding ad". This is essentially an advertisement with a little picture the police put in the paper after a child is found/abandoned. He was left with no note, just crackers and milk formula in front of the orphanage.

We also received his vaccination records so hopefully he won't have to have too many shots in GZ to leave the country, or more accurately I should say, to get into the's an American policy that these kids have upwards of 7 vaccinations in one day.

The best part of the day though was the swimming...he was very hesitant at first. He did not want to get his shorts wet until we let him know that is what they are for. Slowly but surely he warmed up to the idea of a pool. By the end he was splashing and pretend swimming like it was something he did every day. He loved the swim caps we had to wear and put his back on while watching cartoons...all by himself. Too cute!

Monday, April 12, 2010

There's no easing into this parenthood thing....

Well, today was Gotcha Day and Xiao Jun is taking his first nap as a Friday :) He is just the sweetest thing ever laying there curled up with his stuffed Dachshund.

It started off with us waking up extremely early with a massive case of the nerves. I felt like I do before a big race, but times a thousand. Our guide met us and took us over to the Civil Affairs office where we were to meet XJ. We were only there about 10 minutes before an employee from the orphanage led the most beautiful child I have ever seen into the room. Then, the vomit began...

I think the combination of the car ride (which he has only been in a few times for short drives) and the nerves of the day got to him. He was a white as a sheet and immediately started throwing up into a trash can. It was so sad. The woman who brought him said he got sick several times in the car too. We tried our best to comfort him. At this point, he was pretty silent and scared looking. He wouldn't really make eye contact with us but let us hold him. After he started feeling better we took out some toys and the biggest hit was the toy car. Jason would make it go really fast and crash, XJ just got the biggest hit out of it and started giggling and smiling all over the place. It was a great moment. Unfortunately, we had to get right back in the van...and again with the vomit. I don't have any pictures of me and him from the day, but lots of video. Poor little guy's Gotcha Day video is going to be of him puking over and over again....

Jason had to go do some errands for the adoption and we waited in the lobby for him. When XJ saw him approach the building he said, in Chinese, "Daddy's coming" and happily went with us up to our hotel room and has been playing, laughing, and smiling ever since. He was VERY well prepared for this day. He showed me the album he got from us and pointed to a picture of me and then poked me on the nose and said "Mama" cute!

He is extremely self reliant...and obviously really smart too. His fine motor skills are incredible, especially considering his hand. He has taken apart and put back together several items and I have had to hide my camera to make sure it stays in one piece. I won't brag, but he has excellent problem solving skills which Jason and I witnessed when he did this one thing with his toys and had to figure out how to un-do it...we were both impressed at his strategy. We hope the next few days go smoothly, but I am certain we will hit some bumps in the road. I am nervous about when he wakes up and realizes where he is...probably will be really scared all over again. Until later....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In Hefei!

We woke up really early this morning to be shuttled to the airport along with a few other families. We were separated from our group at security so Ferland's and Graham's if you are reading this...good luck and we'll see you in GZ!

Our guide, Erin, met us at the airport in Hefei and took us right to the Holiday Inn. This is quite a chic hotel. There is a revolving restaurant at the top, floor 29, with views of the city. Our room is great and I think XJ will love this hotel. We are on the 18th floor and have a fantistic view, there is an indoor pool, a noodle restaurant (more about this later) where you can see the guy make the noodles. I saw a cute little kid go up to the window to watch and he got a ball of dough to play with. The lobby has a koi pond and floor to ceiling windows and one of those elevators on the outside of the stuff!

I think Westerners here are quite an anomoly, we are getting a lot of friendly stares. I have not seen a non-Chinese person yet. All the people I have seen in this hotel are dressed to the 9's and I feel a bit dumpy in my now grubby clothes. There are some really expensive shops in the hotel like Roberto Cavalli so this is probably why.

It's raining now so we are going to stick around the hotel for a while but there is a nice park and a pedestrian shopping area just across the river so we'll head there later to pick up some last minute supplies for THE BIG DAY!

Our guide said we were the first people to adopt in Anhui province this year. She also told us that she has worked with several families that adopted from Lu'an orphanage and that it is "very good" and that the children are "very smart and speak good Mandarin".

We have unpacked our bags since we will be here for several nights and I want the room to be neat and organized for XJ. His bath toys are all waiting for him in the tub, his clothes are in a drawer and they brought a crib and a stroller. I think the crib will be too small but we have a King size bed so he can stay with us, or there is a pull out couch. We'll see what works. His backpack is all ready to go with candy, Teddy Grahms and toys to hopefully win him over at the first meeting tomorrow. 9:30 is when we head over to the Civil Affairs office for the meeting. That's all we do tomorrow. Everything else is done on Tuesday so we'll have the whole day to just play with him and let him get used to us.

No pictures to post today, I'll save that for tomorrow.

But, some last words about food. I am loving the Chinese food here! We went to the noodle place in our hotel and it was amazing! It is Sunday, so we had some dim sum and each ordered a noodle soup. Jason's soup might be one of the most delicious things I've ever had. It was some sort of spicy broth with peanuts, cilantro, leeks, noodles and beef. I had a wonton soup that was out of this world. We had a little trouble communicating with our waitress, she just kept apologizing and giggling, but she was very friendly and it all worked out. We're looking forward to enjoying this place daily while we are here....maybe XJ can order for us? We'll know tomorrow!

Last night without our son....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Great Wall of China

Very long day and we must pack up and be ready to leave by 5:45am. I'll let the pictures do the talking. It was quite a day. Forbidden City, Tienamen Square, Great Wall of China. Leaving for Heifi tomorrow where we will meet XJ!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Today Started out with a Bang...

...literally. We were picked up by our guide and taken to the Hutong where we climbed the drum tower to watch the drum performance that used to tell residents the time. These neighborhoods are where all Beijingers lived up until about 30 years ago. They are communal courtyards surrounded by low buildings where several generations of families would live. They are slowly being replaced by high rise apartments as things change in China and the population is getting younger.Our guide (maybe 30 years old) told us her whole story about her family and how she is the second daughter and was not allowed to attend school because she was a girl. She had to teach herself English to make a better life for herself. It was sad to hear, but good to know things are changing, slowly. It was very cool to see how many people used to and still do live in Beijing, which seems like such a modern city. We rode through the Hutong on a rickshaw because cars cannot fit.

We then enjoyed a wonderful lunch of Peking duck at a very schmancy restaurant. We fully anticipated the meal to be very turned out to be about $15- a person. The food is soooo good here. It's just very different. I'm smelling things I've never smelled before and for sure tasting things I can't place. For example, we had a delicious dessert of hot almond pudding with hot papaya...who knew hot fruit was so good?!

Tonight we are seeing an acrobatics show.

All in all, I really love China so far. The people are super nice and it is steeped in history and mystique.

Until tomorrow!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Breakfast in Beijing

So, we are much better rested now and able to formulate full sentences. We are at the Poly Plaza hotel in central Beijing. The beds are hard and the room is hot but the breakfast was awesome! It was a full array of all sorts of Chinese deliciousness! It was a bit odd drinking coffee with fried rice and and steamed buns vs. cereal, but so good! The fruit salad was almost too pretty to eat with this melon/kiwi hybrid and lychee. I also tried some tofo veggie concoction that was fantastic and an assortment of steamed pork buns. We're meeting in about an hour for a tour of the Hutong, ancient Chinese village. We'll take a rickshaw through the narrow streets, stop at a market and visit a family. Tonight is an acrobatic show and perhaps Peking Duck! So far, a great trip!!! 3 days will we meet XJ!

Ni Hao, Beijing!

Hello from Beijing! Our stay in San Francisco was great, and now a distant memory! The flight here and all the travel has been really seamless. The flight was relatively short, about 11 hours but no TV's in the seats in front made it seem longer. We flew into the sun the whole time so it was never dark, so we basically skipped an entire nights sleep. We are now at our hotel, very tired and befuddled after a strange dining experience. I think this is what we are going to encounter the rest of the stay...Beijing so far seems like a cool city. I have to say that it is immediately apparent that the air quality is shockingly bad. Just a foggy haze of smog everywhere. It feels like breathing in a bus terminal. The other 2 families with us are very nice and tomorrow we are all going on a Hutong tour and hopefully for some Peking duck.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Less than 24 hours....

....and we'll be on our way. It's just crazy that we can now count in hours and days vs. weeks and months. This time next week we will have XJ with us! We are as ready as we can be to go. We spent the weekend packing and cleaning the house and running out for last minute things. The weather in Beijing is cooler than Hefei and GZ so it made pakcing a bit challenging. You will see me in the same outfit many times. Our laptop is not working well, so I am going to go buy a little netbook this morning...should make Skyping easier. In a few hours I will drop off the dogs with Lisa and Scott. We're so lucky to have them because the dogs love it there and I have no worries about them when they are there, although I will still miss them loads.
I really want to say Thank-You to everyone who helped us during this process...adoption is a group effort and there is no way to do it without support.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What is in a name?

A while back we got an update with new measurements and pictures of XJ. Ann, at Red Thread China, the services that sends packages and translations to orphanages, told us about what his name means.

His full name is Lu Xiao Jun:
The "Lu" is part of the name of the city he is in, Lu'an (Anhui Province)
"Xiao"- pronounced "she-ow", means "little" or "young". It is a common nickname.
"Jun"- means "soilder/army" but as a name means "strong" as in " we want this child to be as strong as an army".
Jason's friend from Taiwan told us also that often kids are called their middle name twice as a nickname "Jun-Jun" in his case.

We will see what he is currently being called and stick with that for a while. He's had too much change in his little life already to worry about one more thing.