Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Give Me an 'I', Give Me an "A", Give Me a "N"!!

While Shawn and I have had girls names picked out for years, we never once discussed boys names. We added and subtracted from a master list for several months until we came up with our top 4 in no particular order of favoritism (I had several other favs that Shawn nixed immediately):





We decided on Ian over the others for no real particular reason other than it just had a nice sound with Mrzena...both with the n's and long e sounds....and this poor kid needs some vowels in his name. We also liked a short name. I hated spelling Stephanie out all the way growing up and eventually shortened it to Stephani... yes, it's only one letter shorter, but it also set me apart from the million other Stephanie's that I was in school with. It was a trendy name for the early 70's...It was the Brittany of 1973.

Granted, Ian will be spelling out and pronouncing all three names for his entire life. This must be our parental revenge on our child that seems to happen to everyone in some way, shape or form.

What we didn't plan and only noticed after deciding on Ian as his official name was that the middle three letters of the first part of his name: Xiang is...yep, IAN. That was an eerie coincidence.

We decided to keep part of his first name as his middle name: Xuan. We feel that it is important to have something to tie him to his birth country and although these names are often given at random by the caretaker or finding person, it is still a connection none the less. It's pronunciation is also close to Shawn, which was another amazing coincidence that we could have never planned for, so it gives him some closeness to his dad... and a way to bail out of "Shwan" if he decides to defy his heritage at an older age.

So there it is... Ian Xuan Mrzena. He goes to sleep tonight (or waking up right now, I think) without a clue of how much effort is going into the upcoming changes in his life. Maybe some day he'll read this and thank us... but he'll most likely just roll his eyes and ask for 20 bucks.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Without Further Ado...

Please join us in welcoming our newest family addition Xiang Xuan!

His name is pronounced Shee-ong Shwan, said all together, but he's probably affectionately called Shwan Shwan or She She. I don't know yet what the nannies call him. As for us, we are still working on a name, so stay tuned for an update very soon for his new name!

A few facts on Xiang Xuan:

He is in the town of Wenzhou (Win-joe) in the province of Zhejiang (still working on this pronunciation...when I asked, I got 7 different answers...if anyone reading this knows for sure, please leave a comment.) Zhejiang is in southeastern China, just south of Shanghai.

He will be 14 months old tomorrow! It is estimated that he was born on March 28th, 2006. Since it's a fairly random day, I'm thinking that there is either some kind of significance to that day, or he was left with a birth note.

We have requested an update on all of his measurements and we're crossing our fingers that a new picture will come with it. We were also blessed with an amazing offer from someone in one of my Yahoo groups, who will be at his orphanage this week and is going to try to get some pictures of him for us. The generosity I've received from complete strangers sharing the same experiences and feelings recently has been amazing and honestly has made me cry a few times. There really are good people left in the world!

Most people who are familiar with our adoption adventure know that we started our path planning to adopt a son with special needs. In China, the majority of the abandoned children are girls, but there are also a lot of boys abandoned because of various special needs, many of them easily manageable by "Western" standards. We half expected our son to have a cleft lip/palate since it is very common in Asian boys, but we were surprised with a file on a boy born with a condition called Microtia . Essentially, it means that he was born with one ear that didn't form completely.

I did TONS...and I do mean tons...of research on Microtia, and found quickly that not only is it extremely manageable, but reconstruction of the ear is a fascinating and progressively advancing science. There is a good probability that he can hear out of that ear, although we won't know the status of his inner ear anatomy until he arrives home. We do know that he can hear out of the other ear and seems to respond well to his caretakers.

We gave his file to an International Adoption Pediatrician (Dr. Davies at UW Adoption Medicine) who gave us some tips on things to request for an update, but otherwise felt that he looks very healthy and well cared for. It's not very often you see babies this chubby in an orphanage setting! We talked about it for a couple of days and then filed our paperwork to request Xiang Xuan to be our son. It is a little over a week later and we've been approved already!

So now, we begin sharing his picture with our family and friends. The next few months will be a whirlwind of shopping panic as we try to get his room ready in time. Chances are, we'll be travelling in September or October, so for the first time in my life, I can't wait for summer to be over!

Thanks to everyone for bearing with us through this process!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Mother's Baby

Going hand in hand with last week's "My Mom" theme, Donna at Double Happiness themed this week's Family FotoFun Friday challenge "My Baby Photo". I thought I would post one for Shawn and one for me.

He came into the world a normal term/normal sized little boy, but a near carbon copy of his current 37 year self, only a little more hair then than now. Me? Well I couldn't be normal then and I'm still not now. I was almost 3 months early (Like Donna) and weighed in at barely 3 pounds at birth and was only minutes old when I took my first helicopter ride. I wasn't supposed to make it, but I did, but for a few scratches and dents. I thought I would spare everyone my incubator pictures.

Without checking with our moms, I had to guess on our baby ages in these pictures. I think I'm about 8 months and Shawn is about 18 months.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Who Is Your Mom?

This year was one of the first times in my life I ever thought about Mother's Day as more than just a day to for my mom and mother-in-law. This time next year, I'll be celebrated, too (note to self: send reminder to Shawn's calendar for next year).

I actually don't have a single Mother's Day memory before I graduated High School... How must my mom have felt when that Sunday in May came and went every year with no pampering, no shopping spree... maybe a card or two, but if you've ever met my brother and sister, you'd know it couldn't have been much more than that. I feel like I really appreciated my mom, but except for the obligitory macaroni and elmer's glue potholder, I feel like she got the short end of the proverbial motherhood stick.

When we started our adoption journey, I started thinking more about what being a mom really means. It clearly was going to be part of my new job role and I began to realize that my mom did more than just make dinner.

So, here's just a little about my mom and why for her, Mother's Day should be more than just once a year:

My mom became a first time mother at the ripe old age of 17. She gave birth to my brother, Rex on his due date and he was a huge baby...Probably way more than her tiny 5 foot 2 inch frame could handle. I think he might have been born with size 12 feet, I'm not quite sure. Just over a year later, my sister Julie came along, and was a doll of a baby girl (for a short time...she soon morphed into an ulcer inducing ball of fire). My parents were living the American Dream!
Several years and some unsuccessful pregnancies later, I came along...a little early and not doing so well. Needless to say, I came with some baggage...and undercooked insides. I was airlifted to Children's Hospital in Seattle and took up long term residence in an incubator without much hope for survival. I remember my mom telling me about how she overheard nurses saying that she shouldn't bother naming me because I probably wouldn't make it through the night. How hard must that have been on a mother? Well, she named me anyway...damn it. And today, I'm by far the tallest girl in our family, and although I'm still a little undercooked, I'm healthy and not anywhere near my deathbed...and as much as those NICU nurses wanted to believe there was no chance for me, my mom refused to accept it. When no one else thought so, my parents thought I was worth the effort...all scrawny 3 pounds of me. I've even managed to gain a few pounds since then.

One of my fondest memories growing up was my mom participating in my school's Read & Lead program with me. I was one of my school's top readers, thanks to my mom's encouragement to love reading. Thanks to her, my brother and I are huge readers and I truly think it's one of my most valuable habits and one that I will pass on to my son. She also taught me to love puzzles and scary movies...OK, so I don't thank her so much for that one. I'm scared of the dark and even just last night thought for sure someone was hiding under the bed.

More things my mom taught me to love? Cooking, travel (even when she spent decades doing less of it than she deserved), warm weather (I grew up hating Washington's weather...still do!), Johnny Carson, and "1/2 off the already reduced price" sales. Even when I have a handful of Macy's gift cards, I still make a beeline for the sale rack... The "What Not to Wear" people would hate me! Well, I don't want to volunteer too much more of my mom's life. I forgot to have her sign responsibility waivers.

Yesterday, my parents came to our house to celebrate Mother's Day. We kept it simple with a bunch of food and a few gifts. We took Polli for a walk around the block and ate strawberry shortcake (with a horrible whipped cream failure). The picture to the right above is my mom & I in my living room with my 30 pound baby. She looks so big there! (The dog, not my mom!) Anyway, hopefully next year, we'll be celebrating as grandma and mom... and hopefully at a Half Off sale!

Thanks for years of great memories, mom! Through the good and the bad, you're a real inspiration to the mom I want to be. I hope I make you proud.
To Trish, my Mother In Law: I didn't forget you. You deserve your own special entry. I'll be sure to give you your moment in the sun one day soon!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Demise of an Old Friend

I am sad to report that this evening, one of my closest and dearest friends met his maker. Yes, Spongebob Squarepants has gone on to the great "Pineapple Under the Sea" in the sky.

My Spongebob obsession extends from the floormats and license plate frame in my car to a shrine in my cubicle at work. I love the porous yellow guy. He's not only positive about absolutely everything, but he has a good work ethic, is an excellent housekeeper, and also finds the good in everyone including his negative neighbor Squidward and villain Krusty Krab rival, Plankton. Besides, who can't find a place in their heart for a guy with a meowing snail for a pet?

So, every once in a while, I would use my Spongebob pillow as a prop to try to get Polli used to me holding something other than her in my lap. It never ended pretty. The pictures below are what ensued shortly after I tried this experiment tonight. Polli loves anything with stuffing and once she gets it started, she abandons it and takes a nap. Not once has she eaten fluff... It's all in the journey, I guess! She has never gotten to Spongebob's stuffing after a year and a half of trying until now. Another testiment to SB's unfailing optimism in the face of doom and absurdity.

I'm hanging onto hope that Polli won't think a human child is full of stuffing. She doesn't attempt it with Gonzo, our parrot, so I have a feeling we'll be OK by the time our child comes home. On our last 2 trips to the dog park, she didn't jump on a single toddler. I have never been prouder of her. My girl is growing up.

So goodbye spongy buddy! I'll never forget you!