Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ian's Big Adventures

Ian & The Office:
This week has flown by. I can't quite remember what we did Monday and Tuesday, but yesterday was a big day for Ian. It was his first day of work!

We made a trip to my office to introduce Ian to my coworkers. He was a real charmer and was walking (with help) and crawling everywhere. He went with open arms to several of my coworkers (no stranger danger yet), and had a big cheesy smile for everyone.

We tried putting him to work, but Child Labor Laws got in the way, so to appease HR, which is always right around the corner, we allowed him to volunteer his skills at the hand truck and loading a sample rack. We tried to get him to reformat a hard drive or take a look at some code in my department, but he was really only interested in the things that had wheels.

It was a great two hours and we missed a lot of people, but he had a great time. Having missed his nap, he was snoring before we were out of the parking lot, but I live minutes away from the office, so his nap was pretty short.

Ian & The Haircut:

Today was another big day... Ian's first haircut! I'm not sure if they were trying to grow his hair over his little ear in the orphanage, but it was almost a mullet. Most locals in China assumed he was a girl because his hair was so long in the back. Well, we're not trying to cover his ear, so off to the salon he went....I use the word salon loosely since it was just the neighborhood Great Clips.

He did awesome. I was so, so, so proud. He sat great in the salon chair and I only had to hold his head still once while she used the clippers. It wasn't a major cut; just a little off the sides and back, but it looks so much better already. I wasn't thrilled with the price, however. It was $18 with tip for a 3 minute baby cut, but I guess it is what it is.

Ian & The Toothbrush:

Today was also Ian's first attempt at using a toothbrush. At count this morning, I saw 10 teeth and at least 3 more coming in. Including the new ones, that makes 6 new teeth since meeting him in Hangzhou just 3 weeks ago. Pool little guy. That can't feel good. I worry about the amount of sugar in his formula and juice with no brushing yet, so we decided it's a good time to get him used to the brush. Like just about everything else, he took it in stride and within only a few minutes, Shawn had him giggling and wanting more. We're so glad he's comfortable letting us touch his teeth. It might not last forever, but for now it's a good thing.

Coming up Saturday we have yet another big day. Ian will meet two of our dear family friends. They are one of the couples that wrote a letter of reference to our agency for us and it means a great deal to us that Ian get to know them. To us they are Mr. & Mrs. Wonderful, but to the rest of the world, they're just Dave & Kathy.

Finally, next week begins with Ian's first pediatrician appointment with Dr. Davies at UW Adoption Medicine, and quite possibly heading out for a trip to Arizona to meet my parents next week also, which will be one of the biggest days of all.

So many firsts for Ian! He's such a brave little guy, enduring so much in the past 3 weeks. A month ago, he had never been outside his orphanage walls, never ridden on a train, never laid eyes on us, never flown in a plane, never been licked by a dog, never tasted mac & cheese... to name only a few. He just takes everything in stride and keeps smiling. He's a great example of how to take things one day at a time. I should start taking notes from this wise little man!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Ian had his first trip to Toys R Us on Saturday! We weren't that impressed with the selection in the store compared to other sites online. I thought it was a real shame that I couldn't just walk into a store and see a toy. We're kind of left to guess and hope he likes something based on a website.

He loves to throw his toys, so we had to be sure not to buy anything that comes in 100 pieces (like blocks). He also doesn't care for books or puzzles yet, and is at the birth to 12 month age range for other toys. We ended up walking out with only a few things and spent less than $40 (which I didn't think was possible), but he's having fun with what we did get.

He is enjoying a walker, which is essentially toys attached to wheels with a handle. He is doing great at pulling himself up and motoring across the room. When he gets tired, he flips it over and plays with the wheels. He loves to check out the wheels on anything.

He also got a remote control fire engine, which Shawn has also been enjoying.

Finally, a hammer that makes silly noises when you hit something with it. Ian likes it when we bonk him on the head or belly. It's especially fun when he's in tantrum mode. I never thought I'd say that when my son cries, I hit him over the head with a hammer.

Above and beyond the toys we've purchased, he also discovered the dryer and other random household items.

Chasing the remote control fire truck

walking like a pro

checking out the tires

whoa! what's this cool thing?

The best toys are free

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Best Moments in Life Happen in Your PJ's

Shawn and Ian decided the bathroom sink would be the best place for a party this morning.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

So Much to Give Thanks For

I'm hoping each and every one of you had a great Thanksgiving, full of reflection on so much in life to be thankful for, good turkey, family and/or friends, and a little something to take the edge off (whether that be a bottle of Trader Joe's $5 finest or a straight shot from the whipped cream can). This year, we have a very obvious reason to be thankful. We are celebrating just over two weeks as new parents to one very special boy. I can't think of a better time for Ian to come home than the holidays. Unfortunately, my parents have recently realized their dream of kissing the Washington weather goodbye and are now living their retirement dream in sunny Arizona. This means missing out on one of my mom's greatest talents: Entertaining during the holidays. Hopefully we can have a belated turkey sandwich by the pool in a few weeks when Ian and I fly down for a visit.

Today, we started out the day be celebrating Ian's second night of sleeping all the way through. He woke up happy and playful after 10 hours of restful sleep with no 1am panic attacks. Polli also slept in her crate through the night without barking, which has also been a bit of a challenge after coming home. We felt like the proudest and most well rested parents on the block. I think it's safe to say the jet lag is almost behind us, as is the majority of our cold issues.

Today was also a very important day because it was Ian's big day to meet Shawn's parents, Grandpa Tom and Grandma Trish for the first time. He started out a bit shy, having just woken from a nap, but was soon giggling and playful. He ate his first Thanksgiving dinner of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and finely chopped turkey. He ate a ton and probably would have gladly had more if we had kept going.

He was a real charmer and could have cared less about being held today. He was on the floor, crawling everywhere, and even laying with Polli. They were playing together like they had been best buddies forever. Shawn's parents were smitten with him, of course, and it was an all around great day.

Within minutes after they left, he reverted back to his "hold me now" and "oh no, the scary dog" routine, but he was also exhausted by then, there's still hope that this was not just a "showing off for the grandparents" thing.

Below are some great pictures of the day:

Ian's first hug from Grandma Trish

Playing with Grandpa Tom

Bundling up for our after dinner walk

Thank goodness someone else was here to hold him for a while!

The Boy and his Bulldog... Becoming buddies despite their arguments

Ian and Polli playing with a bowl and a ball... This kept them both entertained for quite a while

Saying goodbye to Grandma Trish...She finally stopped crying shortly after this picture

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Update On Our Progress...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I wanted to give a quick hello and update on our progress in transitioning Ian to his new world.

I took some heat the other day for my sattire on how different things are now than before we went to China, but truly, it's just my sarcastic side coming across. My apologies to those who took offense to my outlook on the overwhelming week so far.

Each day has been a little better. Ian still doesn't want to be put down, and I haven't decided whether or not to invest in another expensive carrier, not knowing if it will work out or if the day it arrives will be the magical day Ian wants his independence.

Shawn and I are holding him almost all the time, but in the real world there are times when it isn't possible (I need to put my coat on, take something out of the oven, etc.). We bought a highchair so he can be up off the floor and still see me while I'm in the kitchen, but he doesn't like it much unless a spoon is coming at him. We're tweaking things bit by bit, so I'm not sure how that will transpire.

In big big big news, Ian slept through the night last night with no terrors, and looks to be on track for another stellar night tonight. We also had almost ZERO tears today, and he even played on the floor today WITH the dog. He only gets cranky when she goes for his ears (the ear wax must smell good to her), which would upset anyone. It was just a great day and it shows with everyone in our household. We're all almost over the jet lag, Ian is back on a normal sleeping/eating schedule, and things are looking up. Again, one day at a time.

He even climbed off my lap at one point and crawled over to a toy, which is a big deal. At almost 20 months, he doesn't do much crawling, and doesn't walk, so any use of his legs is a happy moment for us.

Tomorrow is Ian's big day to meet his Grandpa Tom and Grandma Trish (Shawn's parents). They will be the first to meet him since coming home and is probably good timing. Any earlier might have confused some of the other issues we've had, but we're so excited to have them over. Hopefully in a few weeks we'll be at a reasonable place so I can take him to Arizona to meet my parents.

Below are a few pics from the last few days:

Yesterday: Almost ready to be friends.

One Minute Later. This is the look that preceeds disaster. Polli's not quite sure what she did.

First trip out and about since coming home. He really likes being in the carseat.

Today. He climbed off my lap and toward Polli and a toy. I about died...Luckily my camera was nearby.

Polli is our dirty diaper detector.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So we overpacked.

Granted, we had no way of knowing that. I got all of my advice from a variety of online sources. I'll say now that a good majority of the information I gathered didn't apply to our situation while in China, so I guess the packing lists didn't either. Basically, I think packing lists are one of those "grain of salt" kind of things. Everyone has their own specific way of planning for a trip and I'm no different.
Shawn and I have done our share of travelling, so if I know anything, it's that overpacking is much worse than underpacking in most instances. When we spent 3 weeks in Italy two years ago, we bought two of the biggest suitcases we could find and filled them full. Big mistake. Try getting 80 pound plus bags (which were 20 pounds empty) up/down steep train platforms and over ancient cobblestone. This didn't count our carryons that weighed almost as much as our checked bags. Ugghh. My back hurts just thinking back on that trip. We proptly donated those suitcases as soon as we arrived home from that trip.

For this trip to China, we decided that we would not, under any circumstances, overpack. We knew we would only have 40ish pounds while in China, and I had heard that airlines were pretty strict about it. We purchased two rolling duffels from REI, each cost $99 (on sale now for $69) and weighed just over 8 pounds empty. I'll list exactly what we packed below. We also bought a duffel that folded up to the size of a hard cover book (for bringing home gifts) and two compact vanity cases, also about the size of a hardcover, for each of our bathroom/pharmaceutical items. I got small labeled travel bottles from my pharmacy for my prescriptions in duplicate so I could pack small quanitities of my very necessary medications in two different bags in case something happened to them.

Shawn packed his Merrell backpack that has no external zippers and can only be opened from the panel facing his back. In it, he packed his plethera of D-SLR camera gear, cables, chargers, critical adoption documents, laptop, and his odds & ends personal items (mostly his MP3 player, headphones, and a book).

I packed a very large zippered tote that I had planned to second as a diaper bag while in China. In it, I packed my laptop, small point & shoot digital camera, hard cover book (yeah, I know...what was I thinking), Sudoku puzzles, MP3 player, headphones, half of my prescriptions, and snacks.

We both also wore money belts. Shawn carried our new 100's for donation/fees in a zip lock bag and half of our spending money already converted to Yuan. I carried the other half of the spending money. We hated the money belts and realized that no one knew we were carrying so much money. It would have been better off in one of Shawn's security zipper pockets in his travel pants and we both would have been more comfortable.

In our rolling duffels, Shawn packed his own items and some of Ian's and I packed mine, misc. items, and the remainder of Ian's. We used Eagle Creek Cubes and Pack It system folders (pictured below). They were a Godsend. They larger size holds approx. 12-15 items and the small holds approx. 8-12 items. We each had 1 large for pants/shorts and 2 small: 1 for short sleeved shirts and one for long sleeved shirts. Ian had 2 small. One for blankets and PJ's and one for pants and tops. We used 2 cubes each for undergarments, socks, etc., and Ian had a cube for socks, shoes, bibs, etc., and one for 6 of 3 different sized diapers, wipes, and medications. The folders made packing a cinch. Just grab the folder, take out what we need, put it back. Nothing was ever out of order in our duffels.

Here's our master list:


Zip Lock Bags
Small garbage bags
Extra wipes
Hand Sanitizer
Pocket Kleenex
Allergy Medicine
Alka Seltzer
Dental Floss
Camera equipment
Chargers (phone, camera)
Power Converters
MP3's & Cables
Oatmeal packets


Pants (4)
Shorts (4)
Short sleeve shirts (4)
Long sleeve shirts (4)
Jacket or pullover
Socks (4)
Shaving Cream
Eye Drops


4 Pants
3 Shorts
1 Casual/Yoga Pant
5 short sleeve shirts
5 long sleeve shirts
1 windbreaker/light waterproof jacket
1 vest
1 light jacket for evenings (fleece or similar)
1 hat
Chaco & Keen Sandals
Makeup bag
Other hair product
Hair comb/brush
Makeup remover
Cotton Balls
Face Moisturizer


4 Outfits in each size: 18 month, 24/2T
4 PJ's
2 Jackets
6 Diapers in 3 sizes
Swim Diapers
Bubbles, Beach Ball
Polli substitute
Children's Tylonol
Diaper Rash Cream
Sippy Cups
Disposable silverware and bowls
Disposable Wash cloths
Cheerios & Snacks

So how did we overpack? Well, we did great in the clothing department. We each had 3 pair of REI/Columbia convertible travel pants that go from pants to shorts. I also had 2 pair of full length pants. Shawn could have done the trip with 2 pair and I could have done it with 3 (a girl has to have variety, you know). There was no need for anything else in the way of pants. They were great: resisted stains, breathable, warm in Beijing and cool in Guangzhou. It was also necessary to have the legs in Hangzhou where, although warm, we would have been inappropriate to go out in shorts or short sleeves this time of year. I actually packed 2 vests, one light and one quilted, which I needed in chilly Beijing. I was able to wear the same outfit two days in a row with the vest added one day and it was completely different.

A little TMI, but Shawn took enough of his "older" underwear to last the entire trip and threw them away as he wore them. By the time we came home, he was wearing his only clean pair, and had nothing to pack home.

Well, almost everything we brought for Ian was given to our guide to pass on to the group of families coming in the next week or to the orphanage directors. We quickly realized that he was on a soft spoonfed/bottle diet only and didn't know what to do with a cheerio. None of the snacks we brought stayed longer than our first few days in Hangzhou. The only snacks I truly needed was trail mix, fruit leather, and oatmeal packets. We didn't eat any snacks on the plane, as NWA has $5 snack boxes that are really big, 2 meals on the long leg, and another on the short leg.

Ian was bigger than we had expected, so I handed down all but one pair of his pants, which were all too small, 2 tops, 2 jackets, and a pair of shoes. I was left with 2 short sleeve shirts, 1 long sleeve, no shoes, no jacket, and 1 pair of jeans. Luckily, we were able to shop there...However, our guide took us to an expensive shop and not the Carrefour (Chinese Walmart) where it would have been a lot cheaper. We also handed down 2 sizes of diapers and all of his snacks. We were able to get absolutely everything for him there, including Pampers, wipes, food, juice, etc. There was no real need to pack any of it.

We tossed all the toys we brought except for 2 toy trucks he liked, linking blocks, and stacking cups. He lived on the bed with stacking cups, a water bottle, and a plastic spoon, the entire trip and was very content. Otherwise, we were his jungle gyms (I call him Mr. Bowflex...he's a great workout). He hated the bubbles, and the toy cell phone was thrown across the room and never given a second glance. He wasn't interested in the beach ball either.

What else we didn't need:

We could have lived with one laptop, but we're both really territorial about where pictures are saved and who is using who's programs. We also have two different music libraries and didn't want to mess up each other's MP3 players. Still, we could have done with one.

I didn't need to pack 2 hard cover books. I'm such a dingaling. I only read part of one and wound up leaving it in Guangzhou as a sacrifice for souvenier room. If I were to do it again, I would have downloaded the books and listened to them, and maybe brought one paperback just in case.

We didn't need to pack toothbrushes or toothpaste. They was a new one every day in the room and we never used those we brought. They went in the garbage.

I didn't need any of the disposible bibs or changing pads. They were gabage and a waste of space. They went straight in the garbage on Ian's first day.

We didn't need so much hand sanitizer. Get over it. It's China, not another planet. Wash your hands hot with soap and use a little sanitizer. There really was no need to sanitize every 5 minutes, as I was let to believe from others online.

I way overpacked over the counter medications EXCEPT cold medicine, which I brought none of and desperately needed. The only thing we wound up really using of all the OTC's I packed was Tums. This stuff took up a ton of room and wasn't all that necessary. I say, take a universal cold medicine, dare I even say Nyquil, some Tums, and Immodium AD.

Don't take an army load of pocket tissue. One for each week in your day pack and otherwise use what's in the hotel.

Snacks. Take a couple of instant items for your room, but in most province capitals, you should find whatever snacks you need in the grocery stores there...even chocolate, contrary to what I was told. Snacks weigh a lot and are a real waste of space.

Videos. They were a waste of space. All Ian wanted to do was play with the laptop if we played one and we didn't want that. He wound up not watching anything on the Video-On-Demand on the plane either, so they were a waste.

Kid's Books. He wasn't interested in the least. They also took up too much room.

Swim Diapers. We didn't bring our swimsuits, so these were worthless. Even if we had, I don't know that we would have taken him in the pool at The Victory.

What we couldn't have lived without:

Plastic wastebasket liners. I used these for sealing off toxic diapers. They came in handy on the way home, too. One for each day after you have your child should be enough (unless you are dealing big issues).

Basic lotion w/SPF. It was our everything lotion and we only needed two very small tubes that we left behind when we left Guangzhou.

Chapstick. Get the plain kind and line your nose before getting on the plane. We each had our own (see the line your nose line), and used it constantly.

Gum. Good for getting rid of mystery fish breath.

REI convertible pants. I commented on these previously. They are truly the most versitile pants and should go in everyone's suitcase for a trip like this. I won't travel without them again.

Yoga pants. Shawn could care less, but these were my jammies, breakfast pants, plane pants, etc. Really versatile and comfortable.

Nike Dri-Fit pullovers. Shawn wore one in a different color every day. They're all he wore until we got to Guangzhou.

Trader Joe's Vitamin fizz powder. I took one every day until I ran out in Hangzhou...and promptly got Ian's cold the next day.

Lightweight waffle weave baby blanket. It was light to pack, but Ian attached to it right away and it is now his "go everywhere" blanket. He sniffs it when he's tired (like his sleeve) and it's the fast track to sleepytown. Come to think of it, I'd better buy a backup.

Stacking cups. Truly, they were almost all he played with. They were cups in the bathtub, Shawn and he would balance them on eachother's heads all day if I let them, and drums with anything that he could hit them with.

What we forgot:

Cold Medicine. I have never had an appreciation for it like I did when I didn't have it. This is one thing I wouldn't buy there because I wouldn't be able to read the labels, which I think is pretty important. Nyquil might also double as a sleeping aid if you need it when travelling.

Throat Spray. There is truly nothing in the world harder than trying to stifle a horrific cough when a baby is sleeping a few feet away. I seriously thought about looking up how soldiers in enemy territory do it.

Laundry detergent. We would have liked to wash a few things in the room. We never did send out laundry, mostly because I didn't want my stuff washed on hot. A double ziploc'd bag of detergent would have been helpful.

More socks. We both found that we had a 2 day wear on our socks and that was about it. We needed them in Beijing and Hangzhou, but not in Guangzhou, so a few extra would have been fine. They don't take up much room, so it would have been doable enough.

More clothes for Ian. I didn't know his size, so I really did have to guess, but I was cornered into needed to spend more money than I would have liked on outfits I'll never dress him in again, just to fend off the clothing police.

Overall, we probably did fine. I think I went into overkill mode on toys for Ian since we didn't know what he would respond to, but in the end it really was the simple stuff that won him over. Given another chance, I also would forget snacks and wait to shop for that stuff when we arrive. There are plenty of common snacks and foods. There just isn't a reason to drag around that much food. Diapers, wipes, shampoo, razors, toothpaste... it is all there, so there's no reason to lug that stuff around. Same with bottles, formula, etc.

I would download my books vs. carrying around big novels. I didn't have much time to read once Ian arrived anyway.

I also wouldn't have been so optimistic that we wouldn't get sick. It's better to be prepared in that area than suffer without.

More than anything, my advice to those preparing to travel is to be organized in your suitcase. In our instance, we used the folders and cubes and it worked great. Some people use space bags. Whatever. I just think by the end of such a long trip, you still want to see what you have without digging.

Make a master list and ask yourself "what if" for every item. If the answer is "if I need it and don't have it, I won't find it there", then take it, but if not, don't take it. You won't miss it.

Good luck to all those preparing to travel! Enjoy your trip and don't forget to leave lots of room for things from your child's province. Those are the things you'll want room for.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Give My Regards To...

To my dog. Like Ian, you can't tell me how this is affecting you or why you feel it necessary to push his door open and jump up at his crib to wake him when it would have been just as easy to let him sleep while we peacefully made breakfast and took care of a little business before resorting to such measures. If you could now try not jumping on him while we're practicing walking on the patio, I would appreciate it.

To those with the ability to shower and dress at leisure. Less than 2 weeks ago, I also unknowingly indulged in such things. Today, I walked in proximity of a mirror and called it a big accomplishment.

To the one armed people in the world. I never knew of your obstacles until now. I am right handed, yet due to an old injury need to carry Ian with my right arm....pretty much all the time. He has not yet found comfort in our deluxe weight berber carpet and padding, rather it is panic inducing. It could partially be the 35 pound beast lumbering toward him for some of the leftovers on his face. Today, I did things with one arm that I never thought possible. Many were not particularly safe. I'll leave it at that.

To the makers of Recaro car seats. Yes, the "how to adjust chest straps" section in a small buried section in the back of the manual, but once I figured it out, Ian liked it and slept most of his stay in it. Could I drive around all day? Gas prices say "no". My sanity says "For the love of all that is holy, yes!"

To the engineers of Bellevue Square Mall. You must be childless, because you managed to place the one and only elevator to service the entire parking garage in a far corner and a mile away from my usual parking spots... If I had only realized this BEFORE parking, unfolding the stroller, getting Ian out of his comfy car seat an into said stroller, figuring out two of the straps and deciding to ignore another that made no sense at all, getting across to the entrance... before a flight of stairs came into view. Fabulous. Thank you childless structural engineer. Thanks a lot.

To the same engineers mentioned above. Again your sense of humor or cluelessness superseeds you. I would also like to thank you for thoughtfully planning for no fewer than a dozen conveniently placed escalators in the million-plus square foot mall...and again, one elevator. How hard could it be to make escalator steps 3 feet wide rather than 1 and placing ramps where you decided only steps would do?

To the cute mom in front of me with perfectly styled hair. I'm so glad that you had the time this morning to shower (and probably leisurely shave your legs), style your hair perfectly, then pick out a coordinated outfit including your $200 jeans and Coach handbag. I'm not even sure my socks match and I think need deodorant. I don't really care at this point.

To the makers of the 2001 Peg Pegero stroller. Would it have killed you to install a cup holder? I know for a fact that lattes existed way back then. Just because I bought it used on Craigslist doesn't mean I can't afford a much needed coffee during my child's content moments in his stroller.

To the kid who asked "Would you like help out with your groceries?". Two weeks ago, "no thank you" would have been more of a involuntary reflex, but today you are a God to me.

And finally...

To my husband. You have been a bigger help than you know. Eventhough my dad said "Tell him he'd better step up and help or his name's mud", you've been amazing. Without a second thought, setting down your keys and taking Ian mid tantrum...and letting me relax; which in this case means unloading the groceries that had been in my car for 3 hours, starting laundry, unloading the dishwasher, making dinner, sorting 3 weeks worth of junk mail, and returning a couple of emails, and finally taking a shower. No massage or facial could have felt better.

I fished out my camera, but now need to find the docking cable. I have a few pics, but not much. My China retrospect and packing lists will have to wait a few more days.

For those wondering, Ian slept almost all the way through the night last night with only one 20 minute incident. He then slept until 8am, when as you know the dog decided she wanted to say good morning. It was a rough day of tantrums, but better than the day before thanks to some outings, which Ian seems to really like. I'm hoping I'll be feeling a little better by tomorrow and Ian will be that much closer to getting over his jet lag. Now if he could just let me set him down for even a second, I would feel a lot better.

One day at a time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Home At Last

We arrived home safe and sound yesterday at 6am sharp...and promptly stood in an almost 2 hour line to get through immigration. Gladly, Seattle was our final destination, but there were several families who wouldn't reach home until late in the day. I couldn't imagine. Worse yet, a man died of complications of diabetes while in Guangzhou finalizing their daughter's adoption. I couldn't even fathom what that family is going through. I don't know what will happen to their process or if she will even get to bring her daughter home, but adjusting to a new child is one thing, grieving over the loss of a spouse at the same time is another story. My heart goes out to them.

I had been pretty sick the last week of the trip and just at the sinus part of whatever I have. This meant for a pretty miserable day in the air for me.

Ian did great on the flight from Guangzhou to Tokyo, helped by the fact that a Doctors Without Borders pediatrician was in front of us and really hit it off great with Ian. He was really surprised that his ear is considered a special need and said that without any tests of course, it appeared to him the Ian might have at least partial hearing from the right side. I'm excited now to finally have some conduction hearing tests done. Anyway, Ian did great with his own seat, but didn't understand the seat belt and why he had to sit on him bottom, so I strapped him in with me until we got to elevation. He ate well, but didn't fall asleep until a few minutes before we landed, of course.

The flight from Tokyo to Seattle was not so easy. First, the flight attendant offered the advice that "you know, if you're going to spend all that money on a seat for a baby, you should bring a car seat on for him". I answered "Do you want to drag a car seat around China for 3 weeks?" I could tell she didn't like that he was taking up an entire seat and was a little whiny from not sleeping on the previous flight. She also gave me a disapproving look when I asked for green tea..."Are you sure that's a good idea?". "Yes, a very good idea". She was making an assumption that I would leave it unattended and it would end up on Ian. I didn't have any makeup on and my nose and eyes were red from my cold, so I'm sure she was wondering how they would let someone so young adopt from China. I had been told a few times while there that I looked to young to meet the regulations. Lucky for me, I guess!

Again, Ian fell asleep right on time... literally 10 seconds before they turned the lights on and announced landing preparations to Sea Tac. I was pretty sure I would be able to get him to nap on time and he would be on his normal China schedule. Boy was I wrong!

Getting him through immigration at Sea Tac took forever. After Ian was unceremoniously welcomed as the newest US Citizen, we were finally off to pick up our bags...which had to go through 2 more security checks, thanks to a big issue with airport security that happened somewhere in the world while we were in China. It was a piece of cake to maneuver airports until we headed back home. Now it's a nightmare in China, Tokyo, and Sea Tac. We were so happy to see my car waiting when the parking shuttle dropped us off!

Besides a new clunking sound in my car that wasn't there when we dropped it off and not able to figure out how to adjust the chest straps on our never used car seat, we were happy as can be.

Shawn went right away to pick up our dog and I had a few hours to acquaint Ian with his room and the rest of his new home. When Shawn arrived home with Polli, things went downhill. He giggled when she ran up and licked his face, but it soon turned to a whiny pant that he does right before he starts crying. It became clear that it would take some time for them to become buddies. He's fine with her as long as she is at arm's reach and not in his face. The problem is that Polli has always had run of the house and now we're telling her don't go here, don't touch that toy....etc. I also have trouble setting Ian down on the floor without Polli seeing her opportunity to say hello. She's getting better, but Ian just doesn't like her much yet. I know given time, they'll be best friends. One day we'll tell him how he was afraid of her, but he'll never believe it to be possible.

He was out of his bath and sniffing his sleeve (his "I'm tired" cue) by 6pm, so we tried putting him down in his crib. It would possibly be the only time in his life he has been in a room alone. I had purchased a Fisher Price Rainforest gizmo that plays soft music and has a cute little rainforest theme of monkeys and fish. It worked great; music really is the trick for him. He cried when I first put him down, but I rubbed his chest and he stared up at the lights/music and within 5 minutes, his eyes were shut for good. He was pretty easy to put down in China, too. Usually 5 to 10 minutes and he would stop crying and zonk.

He has a habit of waking in the night and crying one or two cries and falls back asleep. Last night was no different. He was up for good though, by 1am. I got up with him and we played with quiet toys (not as easy as it sounds) until almost 6am, when he fell asleep on the couch watching Go Diego Go (mental note: the pause between Diego's question and his answer are sleep inducing). I put him back down and he slept until noon, when I woke him intentionally. It was obvious that he will take some time to get over the jet lag.

I had planned to do some errands with him, but I'm so fatigued from lack of sleep and this sinus thing (up to this point one ear had yet to pop), getting myself and Ian ready to go was a real chore. Shawn was out running his own errands, so I was solo. I got Ian through the rain and to the car, but the straps on the car seat still seemed too tight. I got it workable after several minutes and a meltdown from him (I was on the verge of one, too), but when I started my car, the battery was dead. "Someone" left my lights on when we got home from the airport yesterday. Uggh! I was really close to that meltdown. I had mustered the energy to get to the car and I had no more. I really felt like it just has to get easier than this. People do this with kids at home, single, or kids at home and single...and Special Needs...and they still do it.

We're so happy that we adopted. Ian is awesome. I just don't think I could have read more or talked to more people and be 100% prepared for how hard it is in those first days after coming home. I did find myself looking at my dog's sad face when Ian was screaming at the sight of her, and thinking "was life really so bad before?". It sounds horrible, and I know it will get better, but it has been a tough homecoming. For those reading who are still waiting to travel for your kids, don't let this scare you. Ian has a lot of adjusting to do, as will your child. I know this, despite my frustration. I guess I knew the full time happy boy we picked up less than 2 weeks ago would eventually need to let it all out.

As with my last few posts, my story is glazed by the fact that I've been sick, so I know my perspective is a bit skewed. I'm sorry if this comes across as negative or horrible. I promise I'll try to perk up a bit.

On a happier note, I was finally able to get to my comments from while we were in China. Thank you to everyone for your support and well wishes. I wish I could have done a better job with pictures and updates. After we received Ian, our focus changed a bit, as I'm sure you can imagine. Ian had several people recognize him from his blog while we were in Guangzhou. That was pretty cool. I wasn't in much of a mood to socialize with other families, but it was neat to see that he had a fan base, even there. What a rock star!

Once I catch my bearings, I plan to post some more neutral reflection on the trip, what I didn't pack that I wish I had, what we over packed, and some of the " if/when we do it again" stuff. I think there are a lot of things that were either myth on the message boards, glossed over, or given too much weight when other things were never covered at all.

Thanks again and best wishes to everyone preparing to travel. Despite my ramblings, it really is the best trip you'll ever take and a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a part of the world that most never will.

Note: Once I unpack my camera, I'll get some pics of Ian in his room or on his first shopping adventure. This post started at 2am and is publishing at 9:15pm, so I'll sure you can see that we don't have much time for unpacking just yet!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ready to Take Flight

Today is our last day before leaving for good ol' US of A. You really don't appreciate home until you're away from it for a while. We really have enjoyed China and look forward to a return trip, but we are so VERY ready to go home. It feels like we've been gone for a long time.

Yesterday we had Ian's swearing in. It doesn't make him a US Citizen, but we did raise our right hands and promise that he will be a good boy forever, say no to drugs, and will pay taxes on time. It was an even more chaotic room than the medical exam with about 100 families all being sworn in at the same time. We also received his important brown envelope, which must remain sealed until we pass through customs in the US. Once we do, he will automatically become a US Citizen, which is pretty cool.

He really didn't like this part of the day. I noticed that when we're in a big room of noisy people, he holds his "good" ear and gets whiny. I think it's a lot of noise coming at him and he can't really sort out where it's all coming from. Once we were back on the shuttle and on our way back to the hotel, he was fine.
Despite my last rantings about the annoying shop owners, etc., for which I'm sure I received a bunch of flaming comments (I don't know since I can't read comments on my blog while in China), we did find a couple of shops that we were able to find a good selection with only moderate sales pressure. We bought more souvenirs and borrowed a stroller, which Ian really likes.
Yesterday, we were up and out before 9am and found that it's the best time to experience the local flavor of Shamian Island. We were the only Westerners out, and it's when the school kids are out marching and the military trainees are doing their drills. It is also when the older Chinese men and women come out to the parks and exercise. They do a combination of Tai Chi, dance, stretches, and circuit training on machines that look like they came from a 1980's Gold's Gym, painted in juvinile colors and placed outside in the park. There are also big groups of people of all ages that meet in the parks and alleys to play a version of hackey sack using a flight similar to a badmitton birdie. They go on for hours and then sit and chat, dance some more, smoke, play cards, maj jong or dice, dance some more...and then go about their day of shopping, laundry, cooking, etc. It was like this in the AM in each city in China that we've been to, and it's nice to see that their seniors are active.

We did the same thing this morning and then walked around trying to kill time until lunch, which was really difficult. I stand behind my statement that this place is really pretty boring and anyone staying here for their entire stay in China has my sympathies. We ate lunch at Lucy's, the Western diner type restaurant on the island, and where Ian has embraced mashed potatoes.

Afterward, we crossed a pedestrian bridge off the island and walked around a market that appears to be dedicated to bulk foods of all kinds from dried sea horses to roots, to mushrooms, to turtles. It didn't make much for a shopping experience, but was great for human interest photos.
We are no finalizing our packing and have a couple of things to pick up from shops here before we head out for dinner and call it a night. We are literally counting down the hours until we fly out and we leave the hotel here tomorrow at 6am, for a 8-something flight from Guangzhou to Tokyo...then on to Seattle for a 7ish arrival.

Thanks again for the support of our friends, family, coworkers, and those we've met along the way. Although we havn't been able to answer everyone's emails or read the comments posted, we know your spirits have been with us.

We can't wait to update on how Ian does at home and hope that our experiences help others to realize their dreams of adoption, and especially adopting a child with a special need. It was scary at first, but now we can't imagine not making this decision.
I do give a few last words of advice for anyone still preparing to travel: Research how POW's stiffle coughs. It's not easy to be sick when a baby is sleeping a few feet away...and even harder trying to get through the coughing phase of a cold. Also, get a prescription for Azithomycin for your baby. It was a godsend in helping Ian get over his cold, which he kindly passed on to me. Sadly, a baby dose of antibiotics does not work on adults, trust me I know. Lastly, don't forget to pack adult cold medicine. Anything you will be lucky enough to find here won't have English directions...and might be'll never know!

Love and best wishes to you all! Stay tuned for future updates on The Boy and The Bulldog...and the story of their first meeting...That alone should be worth following along!

A few pics from the past couple of days:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Guangzhou...So this is it?

As many know, Guangzhou is the last stop for all American adopting from China. It is a tropical area of China and is much warmer than our other destinations. I haven't posted as of yet because frankly there's not much exciting to say about Guangzhou other than that. It's warmer.

There was this big build up to Shamian Island, which is where most adoptive families stay. It's not really an island, just a neighborhood between a canal and a river that is a European/Colonial themed area. It is very small and is tailored almost exclusively to Westerners, since it was once the home of the US Consulate, but now only has a few of their offices. I frankly just don't get it. It's pretty boring here and not representative of China at all. I'm so glad that we got to see and experience Beijing and Hangzhou before this. Some families stay here their entire trip if they are adopting from this province...I'm so glad that wasn't our situation. I would have gone crazy.

There are two main hotels that house adoptive families, The White Swan and The Victory. After reading a lot of information online, I came away with the impression that The White Swan was over rated and that The Victory had nicer rooms and the same distance to everything on the island. Well, I'll say it here because it's my blog and I can say what I want... Those who said that The Victory is better are idiots. I may be ranting again and will take the risk of sounding extra picky, but I can't find a redeeming quality about this hotel. The buffet, service, room...everything sucks. We walked over to The White Swan's lobby and I immediately knew that I had made a bad decision. It's so much nicer with waterfalls, a koi pond, shops, better buffet set up...Oh well, we're only here for a few more days and then we can go home.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in China, especially Hangzhou, but we are really getting homesick. We are anxious to see our puppy and to introduce Ian to the rest of his family. More than anything, I'm just ready to get Ian on a more realistic schedule. At this point, I'm pretty sure he thinks his home is a hotel and that we walk around for part of the day, play on a king sized bed, and then eat some rice in a restaurant somewhere.

Speaking of Ian, there's a bit to tell about him from the past few days. He took his first plane ride from Hangzhou to Guangzhou, which was 2 hours, and didn't have a single problem. He was awake the whole time and didn't need any toys to entertain himself. He had no pressurization issues with his ear and was an overall great kid. This was a good trial run for the big haul back over the Pacific. He has his own seat for those flights, so hopefully it will give us some extra room to stretch out if nothing else.

He wasn't so happy once we got to the hotel here in Guangzhou, though. I think he was expecting to come back to the same hotel in Hangzhou that he had gotten to know, and when we put him down for his nap in a new crib, new room, etc., it was serious meltdown time. Shawn wanted him to stay in his crib and ride out the tantrum and I wanted to pick him up. A big argument ensued over napping strategy. In the end, Ian and I went for a walk and Shawn had a bit of a nap himself...I think he's really the one who needed it!

This is when my letdown started. The shops around the island are all tailored for the adoptive families and the shop owners all sit outside and strike up conversations with the families as they walk by. They are all very friendly, but they also all have the very best artists on the island and all have "a discount just for you". By the time we made it a block, I was hit by 4 such shop owners, all with the same schtick, and all with shops full of stuff for girls or things I don't want to waste my money on. It was a little disheartening. I'm not sure what I expected, but everyone online talked endlessly about how much they loved the shops on the island, etc., and I frankly found it all just a little annoying and over the top. The biggest annoyance of all is the shoes everyone buys their girls with squeakers in them. It sounds like a bunch of dog toys coming down the street and took about one squeak to go from cute to annoying. One word of advice for parents travelling to their kids: If you buy them squeaky shoes, please don't let them run up and down the hotel halls in them at 9pm or 6am! Your kid may not be sleeping, but someone's is!
OK. I got that out of my system.

If you can't tell, I'm a little cranky. Partially because I'm homesick, but also because Ian came to us with a raging cold that he is just now getting over...and gave to me. He's taking antibiotics, and I'm getting ready to dip into his stash in hopes that I can get the worst out of my system before we board another plane. It has made for a tough couple of days for me.

Yesterday was also a very rough day for Ian. He had his medical examination along with about 50 other families and their babies. It is a very basic exam, but is done in several parts in a very small building with absolutely no order whatsoever. It really was a cattle car and anyone with claustrophobia would be screwed. He cried up to and during getting his Visa photos, so he has dark circles under his eyes and looks like he had been beating him up all morning, and then we drug him into the medical exam chaos. It actually went pretty fast, but he was not, I repeat NOT, interested in being poked and prodded. He did do pretty well during the hearing test, which isn't very state of the art...just a squeaky toy...but he responded in both directions and the doctor had a surprised look on her face. He also got a more reliable weighing, and came in at a staggering 27 pounds. As you can imagine, my back has been killing me even with a hip carrier.

The day also ended poorly when Ian didn't want to come out of his bath and kicked and screamed bloody murder as I struggled to get a diaper on him. I learned my other rookie mom move...don't try to diaper a baby with lotion on your hands. I threw out 3 of these cheap Chinese Pampers because I got lotion on the sticky tabs. Where's the duct tape when you need it? I also found out that when you throw a diaper across the room, it goes really far. Even when dry.

Today was a much better day. Ian slept until after 7am, making for a 11 hour sleep and we had to stay in our room by the phone while our guide went to our Consulate Appointment. There was one problem that we have to correct this evening...our agency gave us an outdated form that they wouldn't accept...but other than that, we had the day to ourselves. We went to one of the shops and borrowed a stroller, which Ian really liked. He loved looking around and it was a huge relief on my back and shoulder.
We went to Starbucks, which is the one redeeming quality of this island, and ordered sandwiches and coffee for lunch. Ian sat contently in his stroller playing with the toy attached. Shortly after we had set out again, he fell asleep and stayed that way for the next 45 minutes. We walked for a while more, but found that we had already seen everything within walking distance. We were back at our hotel by noon and here we sit playing on the bed waiting for our 5pm appointment with our guide. Another exciting day in Guangzhou. Ian is back to his happy self today, so we're not worried yet that the honeymoon is over. Yesterday was just one of those days that could test anyone. I also forgot to mention that he has had 2 molars break the surface while here, so I'm sure that didn't help matters yesterday.
Tomorrow, we have our swearing in ceremony at the US Consulate, where we raise our right hands and swear that Ian won't become a terrorist and that we'll try to keep him in one piece to save some taxpayer money...and then we are officially done until we leave on Friday. We could technically leave Thursday, but had to stay longer in order for our FF Miles to apply to our plane tickets.

Backtracking a bit, we did do a little sightseeing in Guangzhou yesterday. We went to the Six Banyan Temple, which is a Buddhist temple in the city, and Ian was blessed by a monk. Shawn also climbed the Temple. In the picture below, you can see him if you look very closely. They built it to appear to be 9 stories from the outside, but it is really 17 stories on the inside. He made it up and down in under 30 minutes and was barely out of breath.

We also went to the Chen Family Temple, which is a palatial sprawling area built and dedicated for all member of the Chen family in all of Guangdong province. In China, those with the surname of Chen number more than 2 million. It was quite beautiful, but Ian was killing my shoulder and back at this point...not to mention that I was running a fever and was very congested. I don't know that I enjoyed it as much as I would have on another day.

Afterward, Simon took us to a large mall and at first we though he was going to tour us through the mall... well, we've seen plenty of them and a mall is a mall, not much different no matter where you are in the world. However, this mall was jewelry on every floor. 5 floors to be exact. It was pretty overwhelming and we were really to get out of there. He then took us to an outdoor jade market. Every stall was jade, jade, and more jade. There was no real way to tell what's real and what's not, even after being shown how in Beijing. Shawn bought another ring for himself, but I was really feeling sick at that point and couldn't handle haggling over something I only sort of wanted. I only wish I had looked at the jade in Beijing more closely. I know I want some, but I'm just out of energy for shopping at this point. Yep, I said it. I'm out of energy for shopping. Mark it on your calendars, people.

I'll post again before we leave for home, but there isn't much else to write about from Guangzhou. Below are a few pics from the past few days. Ian's first plane ride and a few pictures of our sightseeing yesterday.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Last Full Day in Hangzhou

Today is our last full day before we head to Guangzhou to finish what we started a year and a half ago. This time next week, we will happily be back on US soil and Ian will be a US Citizen.

We asked our guide not to take us to the zoo today. I had heard from a few sources that the animals are not as well kept as we are used to in the states and I didn't want to see the dog exhibit. We told her that we wanted his grandparents to be the first to take him to a zoo back home.

I haven't really talked much about how unhappy we have been with our hotel and guide here in Hangzhou, because we have wanted the attention to be on Ian, but as we wind down our last full day here, we are starting to reflect on what has made this leg of the trip special to us. It is pretty obvious what will bring us back here someday, and gladly, the West Lake area is very beautiful. However, the hotel that we are in has few qualities that will garner positive feedback, and it was a hard place to be cooped up for a week with a baby.

Our guide had only us, and she did take us to some neat places in the area, but we learned that after dropping us back at the hotel, she went back to her room and slept or watched TV. On the first day, she took us to a grocery down the street for a few small items, but on the day we received Ian, she took us to a department store to buy clothes, which was expensive and difficult to navigate.

Today, we were coming back from a park and she pointed out the Carrefour, which is much like Wal-Mart here, and it was only a few minutes from the hotel. This really bothered me, because I knew that this was where we should have done our shopping. Since we needed to buy a cheap carry on to fit some of our purchases, we headed out on our own later to find it. In less than a 20 minute walk, we were there, and I saw the same looking clothes that I had purchased for 1000 Yuan the other day, there for a fraction of the price.

On the way back, we passed an area just a few minutes walk from our hotel that had tons of East and West restaurants, tea houses, coffee shops, etc. We stopped in the Starbucks there and bought a Hangzhou mug and our first Starbucks drink in almost 2 weeks. Never before has a frappacino tasted so good. We also passed a really nice looking Hyatt that, again, is on the same street across from the lake from our hotel, but a couple of blocks down. We knew they have to have some staff who speaks English.

Although we know that being in another country means dealing with a language barrier, our hotel here is really extreme. We just can't communicate what we need to anyone here and that's frustrating when asking for a spoon or bowl so we can feed Ian lunch…or asking how long the room service will take to arrive. Extra towels please?…don't even think about it! So, we drooled over the Hyatt, wondering why our agency didn't offer us options or better prepare us for what to expect from our guide or hotel… and sipped our coffee and said "oh well, we'll know better for next time". Our guide is a really nice girl, but didn't do much to really take care of us here. She really just took us to the bare minimum sites and then had us back to the hotel each day within a couple of hours. We'll definitely want a different guide if we come back to Hangzhou again…and we'll be staying at the Hyatt!

So. For all the families getting ready to travel, I'm not sure how your agency communicates with you about what to expect and what will be expected of you while in Province, but my word of advice is to ask your guide to take you lots of places and be nosy. Don't assume she/he is showing you the best restaurants or stores. Is it the cheapest? How much further to the discount shops? Are there open markets nearby?...And of your agency rep, ask if you have option for hotels, even if it cost a little more. I hate to act like a spoiled American, but I really felt like without going out and learning Chinese, we had few resources besides our guide, who wasn't around much, to help us communicate here.

Although this post was a bit of a rant, I do want to reiterate that we really have loved the West Lake area and Hangzhou in general. It is mildly tropical without being too humid this time of year, and the sites we did see are not to be missed. We are very glad that we have this destination as a starting/stopping point for Ian to learn about his home in future years.

We did offer to take Celine to dinner last night for fear that another night of room service might make us crazy, and she quickly accepted. She took us to a restaurant around the corner from the hotel, and although Ian was a bit cranky during dinner, it was a wonderful meal consisting of braised ribs in sweet & sour sauce, a noodle soup of some kind, a beef dish with vegetables, rice, and of course lots of green tea. It was a ton of food and only cost 45 Yuan, which is about $7…or almost the cost of 1 Coca-Cola in the hotel.

Ian took another bath last night and then Shawn went for his 4th…yes I said 4th… 2-hour massage last night. I would wonder what kind of massage he's getting except for the fact that his feet are really soft when he comes back. Ha. Ian went down to sleep late, at about 8:30pm and slept until almost 7am.

I also spoke a bit too soon yesterday stating that he is a breeze to change and dress. He did throw a fit after his bath; maybe because he wanted to be naked…however, it only lasted a few seconds. Pictures below show the before and after, only a few seconds apart.

I also included a cute shot of his chubby diaper butt. One of his favorite things to do is stand on the bed pillows and hang onto the headboard, and play with toys up there. The headboard is nailed to the wall, and it's only a small fall to the pillows, so I'm not too worried about it. He is getting really good at pulling himself up and standing that way, which is a huge accomplishment since his legs were jelly when we received him. We've seen people around town carrying their kids well longer than they should. Some kids look to be 5, 6, or even 7 years old and still being carried.

We fly out tomorrow fairly early and will arrive in Guangzhou at about noon. We may not post tomorrow, if so it will be just to let everyone know we made it to Guangzhou safely. We are happy to be headed somewhere with a play room and other adoptive families!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Things to Know About Ian

We're at that point of our stay in Hangzhou that it is getting boring…our guide tries to get us back to the hotel in time for Ian's nap (although he sleeps great in the carrier), so we are in our room for lunch and typically dinner, too. This means room service and hours of playing on the bed. Yippee. It also means that we don't get to see as much of the city as we would like. I know there is a lot to take in here, but our guide goes back to her room and watches TV or goes to lunch/dinner by herself and leaves us to our own devices. Not exactly an easy task, so we've been taking the path of least resistance since Tuesday and are staying fairly close to the hotel around mealtime. Kind of a bummer, but we'll know next time to ask more of our guide and/or agency in this area.

We did the silk factory tour this morning and it was a ridiculous waste of time. After about a 10 minute explanation of how the silk is spun, we were ushered into the sales area where they tried to pressure us into buying comforters, telling us they are good for the baby. Yeah right.

We did wind up buying something (I won't say or it will spoil someone's surprise), but almost everything there can be purchased in a Pier One or Cost Plus market in the Seattle area. We weren't impressed one bit.

I thought I would take this time to share a few fun facts that we've learned about Ian in the past few days:

When he is tired or needs comfort, he sniffs his sleeve. First he touches his lips to his sleeve and then rests his nose on it. It must be a self soothing thing he taught himself in the orphanage.

Also when he is upset or tired, he says mama through his whine. It really cute. Shawn can't seem to get a dada or baba out of him yet.

He makes a funny sucking noise, almost like a reverse raspberry…at random times. A few times even in his sleep.

He smacks himself in the forehead, sometimes with toys in his hand. Maybe another sensory thing, but we would like to see that habit stop as soon as possible.

He rubs his head when he's tired. He has a few patches where his hair is very thin, which might have been caused by this.

He likes to walk while holding our hands. He's slow and still unsteady, but he is getting better. I'm pretty sure they never did this in the orphanage, explaining why he has not started walking yet…at 19 months. It's quite a workout for us too, to lean over slightly and walk backward. We switch off, but if we stop, he gets upset. I'm sure one day we'll be saying "gosh, remember when he couldn't walk without our help? Remind me again why were we in such a rush to get him up and into everything?"

He likes to throw things. I guess this is a characteristic of a toddler.

He likes anything that he can bang or hit to make noise (cause and effect). If it doesn't make a noise when he hits it, he's not interested. He has adopted both coffee spoons in the hotel room and lost one…and they won't replace it for us. I think we'll probably be charged for it when we leave. This hotel is ridiculous like that. We even received a call last night asking us when we would be done with our room service dinner so they could come get the plates.

He loves baths…and I mean LOVES them. He took a bath again last night and Shawn would move him back and forth to make waves and would let go, making Ian slide to the other side of the tub. They did that over and over again. It also helped clear out his crusty nose…but made a huge mess in the bathroom. We'll have to figure out a plan for keeping the tsunami contained when we get home. They played until Ian was wrinkly and Shawn was soaked. It wasn't long after that he was out like a light with only a few tears when he went in his crib.

He's a weird size. In pants, he is about 12 months in length, but 18 or 24 months in the waist. He is about 18 months on top (for the benefit of grandmas). It means everything gets rolled up. Since we feel compelled to layer so much here although it is really humid and not cold, he's pretty much worn PJ's under his clothes 24/7. Thank goodness for the $6 thermal PJ's from Target! I'm stocking up like crazy when we get home.

He doesn't want anything solid. Nothing, nada, zilch. He likes peas, carrots, or edamame, if they are small enough and in congee, but a fruit puff or a cheerio seems ridiculous to him…also, feed himself? That's a foreign concept to this kid.

He is super ticklish. His grandpa and paga will have a field day.

He loves to have his back rubbed. Already enjoying massages like his daddy! When he needs comfort, he backs up to me and leans forward, which is my cue to lift his shirt and rub his back. He oohs and ahhs. It's really cute.

He lays very still for diaper changes. He holds his legs up in the air and just stays there until I'm done. I thought it would be much harder wrestling with a toddler, but he's easy in this area.

Overall, he is just a content, happy baby. Without any true experience, I think he is about 6 to 9 months behind developmentally and much more of a baby than we were expecting, but we are both having a great time with him. Shawn, who has never been a "baby baby" fan, is really loving his time with Ian and often tells me what to do, when, and how…as if he has any experience whatsoever. It's great to see them bonding so well already and we look forward to getting him home and into a good routine there.

I do also want to mention to China adoption community families that might be reading: Many people comment that they want their child AYAP (as young as possible), and might have indicated a young age range or passed over 19 months thinking he/she is a half grown toddler. I just want to put it out there that at his age, he is very much a baby and has quite a ways to go until he really fits that "older child" criteria. Really think hard about why you want AYAP and if you're thinking along the lines of Special Needs, please don't pass over files simply by age. We were quite taken by surprise that, although he may weigh a lot, he is pretty behind, but we know that he will catch up. In the meantime, we have a lot of excuses to bond. Diapers, walking, hand feeding, etc. We're happy to have him, and as far as we can tell, he's pretty happy with us, too.

Thanks again to everyone for your comments and support. It means more to us than you'll ever know. Hopefully in Guangzhou, we'll have a better internet connection and I can fix my Photobucket links. In the meantime, Shawn is sending out our Hangzhou album to close family and friends tonight. Below are a few pics from throughout the week that I don't believe made it into earlier posts.

The little guy is waking from his nap. Love to all, Steph.

p.s. Tom & Trish, thank you for the Polli updates. We miss her so much, but we are very glad that she is doing well and getting the "lap time" she loves. Thank you for taking such good care of her!