Tuesday, August 28, 2007

17 and Counting...

Ian turns 17 months old today! Only 3 months ago, we received our first pictures of him since his referral pictures, which were from 8 months old. He had transformed from a bald headed chubby cheeked baby into a little boy. Still chubby and not as bald, but growing with or without us. Who knows what he looks like today, SO MANY days and weeks later (well, not that long ago, but it still seems like forever!)

Now, almost 3 months since our last pictures of him, we are into our 8 week countdown to travel. I imagine that by now Ian is walking and has teeth to show for all that drool that was in that first video we received.

The above pictures are of his home province Zhejiang. Namely, Wenzhou, his hometown and Hangzhou, the capital, which is where we will meet him for the first time.

His picture here is from 15 months and he is already looking thinner than his first chubby pictures. I imagine it is probably because he had started walking by then and was running around like a little mad man, burning up calories and growing like a weed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Secret for How to Survive the Wait

I found an amazingly useful tool for surviving the wait. Click Here

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Things Experienced Moms Keep Secret (Part 1)

I know for a fact already that these are just drops in the bucket of motherhood compared to all then things I'll learn about once Ian's home... But here are the things that I'm finding my mom, friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers never told me about:

  • There's a reason why kids are tax deductible.

  • You can't return diapers. I am expected to guess whether Ian will wear size 3, 4, or 5... and they don't sell these suckers in 6-packs.

  • There is no way to practice walking my dog while pushing a stroller...without looking like a complete nut job.

  • Hangovers, jet lag, and illness are for childless couples.

  • The best way to fit in something frivolous, like a shower, once Ian is home will be to strap him to a stationary device for 15 minutes. They've cleverly named these things "Exersaucers and pack n plays", but they are really just large handcuffs with cute toys attached.

  • HSM2 is not a vaccination...and made more money than T3.

  • Single moms with well fed, educated, and adjusted children are miracle workers.

  • Everyone assumes you want their parenting advice.

  • Those families at the movie theater, popcorn and soda in every hand, have money trees growing in their back yards.

  • People actually buy brand name Crocs and Keen sandals for growing feet (witnessed hundreds of parents buying child sized Keens at REI for $40 a pop today...on sale).

  • In 8 more weeks, we will have to reschedule future "sleeping in" for after retirement.

  • Baby dressers cannot be carried up a flight of stairs without inviting half the family over and buying everyone lunch.

  • Daycare costs as much per month as a 5-Day Caribbean cruise for 2.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Google tells me that these characters mean: "The last to board the plane." That's us, the people who say, leave in 2 weeks for our son? No thanks. We would like to torture ourselves for an extra 6 weeks, if you don't mind.

Depending on the day we are able to secure for our Consulate Appointment (when the final US portion of the adoption is complete in China) at the end of the trip, we should be leaving here on the 27th of October, give or take a couple of days.

Our reasons for delaying travel to Ian are many. Mainly, Shawn can't easily take this much time off work in September, which we predicted. October is too crazy with holidays in China to travel. Finally, by leaving at the end of October to begin our trip in Beijing, we will arrive home in mid-November, and I'll be able to take the rest of the year off rather than feeling compelled to go back in the middle of the holidays. We feel like this will give Ian some good time to transition, see his first doctors, and enjoy his first visits with relatives before contemplating another big change.

So, with that said, brace yourselves for posts about packing, itineraries, and other -yawn- boring pre travel information. Who knows, I may actually have pictures of Ian's room up eventually and possibly even a post or two or really vital info, like what I ate for breakfast that day.

My newest stress: Finding out that daycare costs more per month than an Escalade!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Kids Are Safe!

I just received the all clear from someone with family just a few minutes from Ian's orphanage. It is raining hard, but they are not being evacuated! My heart goes out to anyone who might have had children in an orphanage or foster care in an area hit by the typhoon.

Thanks for the positive thoughts, everyone! Now I need to go back to celebrating our Travel Approval!

My New Stress... Typhoon Sepat

Please think positive thoughts for Ian and all the other kids waiting in orphanages in Typhoon Sepat's path (and the families there to receive their children).
As of this morning, the coastal towns in Zhejiang and Fujian had evacuated 900,000 and 15 had died so far. Since Wenzhou is right on the coast, I'm worried, but my gut tells me he's fine.

When looking at the map above, notice the distance between Wenzhou, where Ian is now, and Hangzhou, where we will be meeting him for the first time.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Start Packing... Travel Approval is Here!

I guess it's time to seriously start making lists and checking them twice...and not for Santa. For our long awaited trip to Ian! As I suspected, I received "the call" today that our Travel Approval has arrived! Sadly, our very meticulously planned process has gone without a hitch except for this last piece. A year ago, we had already identified that we would need to travel after September for a bunch of reasons that I won't bore you with again. Ian found us at the right time, but this last segment of the process took a little fast than we had thought it would. Without a solid itinerary in hand, we'll plan to head off into the sunset at the end of October. If you're curious as to why, read the post below. It tells the story in greater than necessary detail. In a nutshell, this is the last piece of information we need from China before boarding a plane. They can't easily change their minds now... they're stuck with us now. Here we come, ready or not!

So, now we plan...and wait...and wait...and plan... and then revise our plan...and then wait a bit more. When most of today's other TA's are boarding a plane in early September, I'll be sitting in from of this computer, I'm sure, driving myself crazy with last minute details! Here's to all the families getting their travel notices today and in the next few weeks!

Is it Today? TA? Are You On the Way?

Several folks online who received their LOA (Letter Seeking Confirmation from Adopter) on 7/30 are receiving their Travel Approvals today. I'm still waiting for the call, but I expect one. This would be 3 weeks and about right in comparison with the last few groups of TA's. I had expected this week or next.
Unfortunately, Shawn's work schedule might make travel plans dicey. We had already told our agency (a year ago in fact) that we couldn't travel until after Sept. 07. It was why we sort of drug our feet in the paperchase and then just barely made the May 1 rule change cut off because of it! As it turns out, we could not have unknowingly set ourselves on the perfect course to fit the timeline we set this time last year. Thanks for finding us when you did, Ian!

So, if we can't travel in September, that means October, right? No! Most of October is filled with holidays in China that will most likely make government appointments scarce with so many families trying to get in and out of Guangzhou before hotel pricing and availability become a problem. I don't know if I want to be there when the energy is so frantic. I want that week to be about relaxing at the end of the trip and enjoy Ian (not to mention the Starbucks!).

Above and beyond all of that, we both like the idea of me writing off work until after the first of the year, which means leaving later rather than sooner for China. Sigh. I've had to force myself to think long term. A few extra weeks between us and Ian will be painful at first, but I think it will be a non-issue later. It will be hard, however, to see those families with similar dates to ours traveling and in China in September...when we coulda shoulda woulda.

Today, we discussed a compromise: as long as his work schedule cooperates, we'll see what we can do to leave for the first third of our trip during the last part of Guangzhou's Trade Fair so that we're there the first or second week of November. Since we're planning to do some time in Beijing (hopefully not literally) before heading to Hangzhou, this will mean we would be reaching Guangzhou after Trade Fair is over and things aren't so chaotic there.

Whew! Are you following me yet? Now you all might understand why I've been so stressed! My next post should be some great news about our Travel Approval! My congratulations go out to all the other families in line for their TA's in this batch, too. For those counting the days, hang on! It's almost your turn, too! With my fancy travel math above, we might all be in China together anyway!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This Seems So Long Ago...

I put Ian's video clips on the right margin, but a few people have mentioned that they are a bit small. Since I don't have any room there, I'm reposting the bigger versions.

These are from May... almost 3 months ago now. About the same amout of time has passed since we first saw these videos that is left before we hold him in person. I've actually been making up stories lately about what I think he's doing. Yesterday, I imagined that he was playing outside (probably wearing a pink jumper with some random saying or cartoon character) and is finally walking, although still unstable on his chubby little legs. He probably has his new China summer buzz cut by now and has all of his front teeth already.

We should be expecting our Travel Approval any time now, so hopefully we're in the home stretch of our wait to find out if I'm right about the above. Until then, please enjoy our first glimpses of Ian in action!

Watch Out...She's Back!

OK. I'm feeling much better today. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed the other day and it showed. Thanks to those who left comments and emailed me privately to let me know that yes, it will all be OK, and that Ian won't break. He'll let me know when I've forgotten something important...and the rest can wait until I remember!
Thanks everyone, for making me feel like the Bionic Woman again! (It helps that I made a killer dinner tonight and got lots of compliments... I didn't have to tie Shawn up and threaten to run him over with the car)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mommy? Are You Talking to Me?

As we come down this final stretch, I am asked almost every day now what it feels like to become a mom? My answer... I have no idea. Ask me after Ian is home for, say, 6 months. I might know by then.

Up to now, Ian has been a big pile of paperwork. I don't have a growing belly, he's not kicking me, no ultrasounds... He's a 2 minute video clip and a bunch of my signatures next "Adoptive Mother" on agency letterhead.

I am really torn between two emotions right now. One is excitement over the thought that we'll be traveling in just a couple of months. The other is fear. White knuckled, pee in your pants, fetal position under the covers... fear. Not a fear of flying, not a of being a mother even, but more a fear of failure. Can I pull this off? What if I forget to feed him? Change him? What if he cries and I can't do what I need to make it better? What if he eats something off the floor? What if Polli gets too rough with him? What if he gets too rough with Polli?

These are the things that keep me up at night now. It kind of puts my car seat and crib bedding psychosis into perspective, huh?

So, as we wait these last days or weeks until our Travel Approval from China, I'll do what I can to cope with this sudden fear of failure. Anyone with advice is welcome to comment... just don't say something like "you'll be a great mom" or "just wait until he's in your arms". I've heard that already! Maybe if I go shopping I'll feel better!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Chowder the Bulldog

He's an English Bulldog rather than a Frenchie, but I am totally in love with Chowder the Bulldog. If you aren't familiar with him, he is the subject of a great children's book by author Peter Brown, and a great role model for kids, in my opinion.

Chowder doesn't look or act just like all the other dogs, but his owners love him and celebrate his uniqueness. Chowder learns through the story that it's OK to be a little different, but that even he needed to have something in common with others outside the confines of his comfy apartment in the city.

While I'm sure the author didn't intend it, I read this book with the immediate connection to the fact that Ian will, from day 1, have things about him that might set him aside from the "norm", but what is the "norm" anyway? Isn't our world a better place with us all a little different and all a little the same all at once? I believe that the former allows us to evolve as a species and the latter is probably why George Orwell's 1984 never become a full blown reality. (not yet at least... January 20th, 2009 get here fast or I'll be eating my words!) Although we will try hard to see the world from his eyes and see his eyes from those of the world, the truth is that we will never fully know it feels to walk in his shoes, hear with his ears, see with his eyes... It may very well be the hardest part of International Adoption Parenting and parenting a child with a physical special need.

So, on a lighter note, I bought this because it is about a bulldog, but took the 5 minutes to read it cover to cover, and fell in love with Chowder. Everyone who comes to our house gets the book shoved in his/her face as I watch while they read it. I know they're not reading into it at all like I did, but I hope they appreciate the cuteness of it, at least. I will hopefully impress the overall message of the book on Ian: That it's OK to be a little bit different and a little bit the same, but no matter what, his parents think he's the bee's knees.

If you are interested, Chowder has his own blog! Click the link below to get to his site, check out some of his favorite things, buy the book from Amazon.com... and then click over to his Blog.