Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Day, Another Milestone

In only a few hours, Shawn taught Ian how to go up and down the stairs with ease. He sometimes whines about coming back up, but is so proud of himself when he gets to the top and loves the ride down. He now finds all kinds of excuses to go back down.

The video clip below also shows what a big help Polli has been in this learning process. I can still remember when she was a puppy and couldn't make it up/down by herself either, so she's testament that babies really do grow up!

Sorry for the poor quality video from my little camera.

Double click the play icon to start the video

Friday, December 28, 2007

Breaking News... 21 and Walking! (sort of)

Ian is 21 months old today and we caught this video of him doing what big boys do... walking! For the past few weeks, we have been able to get him to walk a few steps at a time unassisted, but it's really more like letting his feet surrender to gravity and he falls into our arms. He is always extremely proud of himself, so he knows it's a big deal. He can almost run using his walker, so it's only a matter of time before he realizes that's just a prop and he can do it on his own.

Today, he let go and made it all the way across the room, even maneuvering around Polli a few times. I was able to get a few seconds of grainy video... Enough to consider it actual walking. We were able to get him to do this 5 or 6 times before he tired of it.

(click the play icon twice to start the video)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Orphanage Pics

We sent a care package to Ian at the orphanage back in July containing a disposable camera. There's never a guarantee that they'll use and/or return it, but we did get it back when we picked Ian up in Hangzhou.

I've been forgetting to drop it off to be developed, but finally got around to it. Eventually, I suspect that disposable cameras with be throw aways with small SD cards to avoid the need to deal with Fred Flintstone film. My mother in law might disagree, but old school film is such a major pain! I still have undeveloped film laying around from our trip to Italy 2 years ago....But I digress.

Without further ado, here are a few of the better pics from the roll of film taken at the Wenzhou CWI (I suspect they're from July or August since he's in tank tops in many of them). I think he looks a bit sickly, but it could just seem that way because he's come so far since coming home. I am glad to see that they had him standing. Although it could be just posing for pictures, it's nice to see him on his feet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ian and the Christmas Chaos

Anyone who knows our families know that Christmas is synonymous with chaos and guarantees to be an adventure every year. This is the first Christmas in years that we didn't open presents under my mom & dad's grand tree... This year, with my parents enjoying their first eggnog in the desert, we celebrated Christmas with Shawn's family.

Shawn and I opened our gifts before waking Ian this morning. Ian isn't going bonkers for the idea of Christmas yet, so it didn't make sense to make a big mess and confuse things even more. Ian did receive more wonderful gifts from my parents, which we appreciate so much (I'm sure he will too as we're dressing him in his new outfits).

At about 10:30, we headed south for the 45 minute drive to grandma Trish & grandpa Tom's house. We fully anticipated Ian to take his nap in the car during this time, but with Polli on my lap in the front seat, obviously playing favorites again, he was too distracted to snooze.

Like the angel he is :-) he played quietly with the simplest of wheeled toys and barely concerned himself with anything else. He really is great at entertaining himself in other people's homes and as long as there are people nearby or at least background noise, he is perfectly content. It's amazing how he can do this everywhere but our own house. Well, he's getting better, but it's still pretty night and day.

Next to arrive was Shawn's oldest brother Mark, his wife Shannon, and their kids Alec and Ashleigh. They have yet to meet Ian, so this was an exciting event. He wasn't sure what to make of more strangers, but quickly warmed up to them. Alec and Ashleigh are teenagers now, but were so excited about Ian. They did great with him and didn't roll their eyes or say OMG one single time. Good kids, those two.

Ian went down easily for a nap (again in a strange place... too good to be true!) without a peep and slept for 2 hours. During this time, we opened presents. Ian got a few more adorable outfits (one was in a Lancome box...I was a bit disappointed that Ian didn't get a Lancome gift set for Christmas...darn it). He also received a couple of great toys from Uncle Mark & Aunt Shannon that were well used. A fire truck with a siren that giggles and races across the floor... and it had wheels. Ian's one and only criteria for a good present.

Finally, our dear family friends, the Standke's, came. Tim and Cassie are about our age, their two adorable daughters Aiden and Marlee, and Cassie's mom Nancy. We loved seeing them and their girls were wonderful with Ian. They brought presents for him, and Aiden patiently showed him how to carefully color with markers on magic paper. She secretly drew a picture for him and gave it to him before they left. It was so thoughtful. She also put on a concert with her recorder instrument and played a duet with Tom and his guitar. Ian loved the music and had a great time playing with the girls. Goes to show how much he probably misses the interaction with kids in the orphanage. He doesn't get that at all right now, so it was nice to see how well he does in a group...even one as noisy and overwhelming as this was.

He fell asleep in the truck on the way home and Shawn was able to bring him in and lay him in his crib without waking him. Polli is equally as tired after a big day of kids and her cousin Spirit. Everyone is falling asleep, ready for a late morning tomorrow.

My phone died before I had the chance to talk to my parents, brother, or niece today, so if any of you are reading this, I'll call as soon as my peppermint fudge hangover wears off. It may be a bit into the day tomorrow. My apologies! The day got away from me.

Merry Christmas to everyone! We hope your day was as joyful and chaotic as ours!

Ian in his Christmas jammies

Ian meets cousins Alec & Ashleigh and aunt Shannon

Ian loves his grandma (and her cool Santa earrings!)

Ian & Polli looking out at the snow (yes, we had a few flurries of snow in Seattle on Christmas!)

Grandpa Tom reading a story with Aiden, Marlee & Ian

Ian looking a gift horse in the mouth (ha)

The chaos that is Christmas

Grandpa Tom plays his guitar for Ian

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Traditions

In my family growing up, there was always the tradition for us kids to open at least one pre-determined gift on Christmas Eve. It was almost always PJ's so we were appropriately festive come Christmas morning. Sometimes there was a second gift, which was typically a Christmas book.

Ian had two presents from my parents marked "To be opened on Christmas Eve". After dinner (when Shawn and Ian had a ravioli fight...not messy at all), we started opening his gifts. He didn't know what to do with the wrapping paper. Mr. Demolition didn't seem to have that instinct in this case. By next year, he'll be conditioned for Christmas, no doubt.

Like any kid, he didn't show particular enthusiasm for the PJ's. They were footies with snowmen on them... so cute. He tossed them aside and looked at me like "now what?".

The next gift was much more exciting. It was a Frosty the Snowman book (nice theme mom, as always) that plays the Frosty song when you open the cover. He opened and closed the book a dozen times. He was enthralled. This is a good thing since he hasn't really shown interest in books at all yet, but loves music. To tie music to reading might just get him interested.

So, now Ian is nestled snug in his snowman jammies after a bath and reading of Frosty (he actually lasted about 3 pages before he lost steps!). If only he knew that as of 7:30pm Pacific Time, Santa has been spotted by NASA over Cape Canaveral. As long as the Midwest storms don't slow him down, he'll be here in about 4 hours!

Thanks Grama & Paga (mom & dad) for the adorable PJ's and great book. It's nice to keep some Christmas traditions alive!

p.s. Please pardon the lovely socks in these pictures. Shawn dressed Ian today and decided that knee highs were necessary over his thermals.

"Hey, I thought I wasn't supposed to touch these!"

"Whoa! It plays music! This is the best book ever!"

"Mom, check this out. These kids are actually having fun in that snow stuff. It must be fiction."

"I can't believe it. It says here that Frosty smokes a pipe. He's setting a bad example. He's going to melt prematurely, doesn't he know that?"

"Look at this! There are 10 books in the Read with Music series. Facinating!"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A New Motor Skill...

We decided to wait until Ian begins walking to put the gate in the stair opening and it hasn't been an issue because he always stops at the top and turns around. Today, I saw him crawling toward the stairs but didn't get there in time. I did, however, have time to fire up my camera when I saw that he was learning a new skill...going down the stairs head first after his toys.

I guess the gate will be going up!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa's Helpers

Polli and Ian decided to help wrap presents today...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back To The Grind

Ian and I rounded out our trip to Arizona with slightly better weather (yay!) and a trip to the Phoenix Zoo.

I'm not sure what Ian's impression was of the zoo. He loves to ride in the stroller, but we had him in and out of it many times, which I'm sure was annoying, and it was nap/lunch time right about when we embarked on the adventure. This meant that we were on the verge of tears frequently. He did like the orangutan though, maybe because there was an active baby that looked an awful lot like a human baby playing.

He loves to people watch, so I think that was his favorite part of the day. It was a nice zoo and a bit warmer than the previous days, so we had a great day all in all. Despite the $6 kids meal of chicken nuggets (the most nutritious thing on their kids menu), of which he ate less than one, it was a fun way to spend the day. I think he'll enjoy the zoo more after he's home a while and starts to figure out that animals in the zoo are not just different sized dogs.

We did a bit more shopping (the primary passtime here), opened more early Christmas presents (!!!), and relaxed. It was a great trip and Ian seemed to really adapt to yet another different environment very well. There were only one or two 1am wake ups and he napped like a pro in the pack/play, which I half expected to be really difficult. We had tried to make his crib environment as much like home as possible, which I'm sure helped matters.

While in Arizona, Ian started trying to wave, but it's the backward wave with his palm and fingers facing him, and it is accompanied by "dada" instead of "hi" or "bye". It's really cute. Especially the sentiment that he was thinking about Shawn and really started saying dada more the last day.

He also walked barefoot on grass for the first time. Since it's the desert, the grass was a little "pokey" in places, but he did OK. I'm not sure if he understood why we were walking around on it without shoes on, but he was a trooper and survived unscathed.

On our last day, we put together a tent and tunnel, but he's not quite ready for that either. He started to warm up to the tent a bit once we bribed him with toys, but the tunnel was long and scary. That's a toy for next summer I'm afraid. At least that's the kind of thing that lasts for many years before getting old. One day he'll be begging to sleep outside in it.

The flight home was fine. We had an empty seat next to us again, so I'm very glad we didn't spend the money on a ticket for him. He was OK for the first half of the flight, bribes of food and all, but the last hour was a bit dicey. I could tell that he wanted to sleep, but couldn't get comfortable. There was a teenaged boy behind us and I could tell he was annoyed. Put on your iPod headphones kid and ignore us. Once, you were in Ian's shoes and someday you'll be in mine.

We're glad to be home and back to our old routine, but Arizona was fun and my parents were great hosts. It was hard to walk away at the airport, knowing they won't see Ian for a while. I'll have to make a point to show him pictures of them and say their names. I definitely want him to remember them and our fun trip.

Below are a few more pics of the week:

At the zoo with grama & paga

With mama and Mr. Giraffe

Ian's first piggy back ride (I put a stop to the fun right after getting a picture)

Paga did a great job of getting exercise in those legs

Ian's feet in grass for the first time

He was not thrilled about the tunnels. Grama was nearby to stop the torture...

...But he warmed up a tiny bit to the tent section

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ian Takes a Vacation

Yesterday, I woke Ian from his content slumber at 3:30am to get dressed and ready to leave for the airport. We flew from Seattle to Phoenix at 6am to introduce him to my parents, his Grama & Paga (my family's word for Grandpa).

We were able to board first (person travelling with small child & all) and ended up with an empty seat between us and the man in the aisle on an almost full plane. Great luck! Even better, the guy in our aisle has 4 kids, so he knew things could and probably would go south at some point (pun...we were all going south. Ha). Ian did really great. He fell asleep as we taxi'd and although he only slept for about 30 minutes, he ate for about 40 minutes and then played quietly in my lap with NO toys. What a creative kid. We mostly snuggled and tickled. He didn't whine once in the 2+ hours.

We met my parents in the airport and it was very exciting. Ian wasn't sure who they were, but was happy with no tears or apprehension. By the time we left baggage claim, there were all kinds of smiles and giggles. He was even getting comfortable with Paga holding him...and he's can seem big and scary at first to some, so this was a good thing.

When we arrived to their house, it was Christmas early! There were tons of fun toys for Ian to open and he loved a sounds/lights/movement choo choo that pulls animals and sings a song...the same song over and over again. I'll be singing it in my sleep. Thanks, mom & dad!

He took a nap with zero issues, ate like a champ, and slept great with only one wake up... being in yet another strange place, that was pretty darn good, I think. I'm still constantly amazed at how adaptable he is.

We made a trip to the mall and Toys R Us today and hopefully tomorrow will be nice enough to go to the zoo! It has been very cold and rainy here in Phoenix since I arrived, which stinks since I left cold and rain in Seattle. Oh well. It's winter everywhere, I guess!

I found out today that Ian has Giardia, so I need to pick up meds and wash my hands extra good after changes, although it's not a huge surprise. I know there was an recent outbreak at his orphanage from what other families have mentioned. He's also a tad anemic, so we're back to vitamin drops until that comes back up.

Below are a few pics from yesterday and today:

Maybe basketball is his sport

He really liked his new piano... Jerry Lee Lewis, move over!

Christmas early! Ian already likes Arizona!

Cruising the patio with Paga

Paga and Ian love to dance

Ian and his Grama

Ian likes to sit in this plastic tub and play with his toys. Life's simple pleasures!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More Fun with Ian

This week, we celebrated one month with Ian, his first appointment with the pediatrician, and his first visit with the audiologist. We also had 3 days in a row with naps, more new teeth, and his first taste of mac & cheese. What kid is truly an American without it?

Tomorrow, we head out bright and early (I'm up at 3am!) for Phoenix to introduce Ian to his Grama & Paga (my parents). We were looking forward to a fun week by the pool, but the bad weather that hit Washington this week has now moved down the coast and is gracing Arizona with it's presence. Just our luck. Thanks a lot Mother Nature!

Ian is in my lap for 2 1/2 hours tomorrow, but since I'm waking him early, I'm hoping a meal and a nap on the plane will keep him busy. With any luck, we'll have nobody next to us...and with even more luck, we'll have the row to ourselves (yeah right!).

Our next post will be from Arizona, but for now, here are a few pics from this week:

Ian's new favorite toy... a $2 plastic bus from a kid's consignment shop...checking out the tires, naturally.

...And under the hood

He cracks himself up and laughs like Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter

He loved this toy at Children's Hospital...It's like I wasn't even in the room.

He was so thoughtful over this toy... I could hear him thinking "If a machine has 14 gears, what direction must the 10th gear be moving in order for the 14th gear to move counter clockwise?"

Ian mastered holding a juicebox by himself this week...the finesse of when to squeeze it is another story (and yes, I'm bold enough to dress my child in white with no bib!).

Your not American until you've fallen in love with macaroni & cheese!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Best Month Ever

One month ago today, we met our sweet son for the first time.

At 9:30am on November 6th in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, thousands of miles away, we walked into a plain looking office and there, stretched between two chairs, was our sleeping son.

After taking a late night train ride from Wenzhou to Hangzhou, his first time outside the orphanage walls since 3 months old, the night he was left at their gates by his birth parents, he was finally here.

The moment had come to meet the family (us!) that had promised China to do anything and everything to provide him life and medical opportunities that his birth parents knew probably would not exist for him there.

Since that day, so much has changed with Ian already. When we met him, his legs were jelly and he wasn't walking or crawling. Within 24 hours, he was happily cruising around the bed in our hotel room, and by the end of the first week, he was pushing away his bottle and reaching for a sippy cup. Before we left Hangzhou, he was responding to Ian, saying 'Mama' and 'Dada', and getting lots of walking practice with our help.

By the time he had been with us two weeks, he had taken his first plane ride, become a US Citizen, and rode in a car seat for the first time. He was sleeping through the night in his very own room, learned all about Spongebob, and was becoming conditional buddies with the pet he will someday consider his first childhood friend.

By the three week mark, he had become a Toys R Us kid, started hand feeding himself chicken, cheese, and cooked vegetables, and played in the snow for the first time (play is a stretch... we sat him in it and he cried).

Here, at the one month mark, he has met countless new people (all with an easy smile), gotten at least 5 new teeth, weaned himself off the bottle, embraced the highchair, called a truce with the floor (about 75% of the time), and survived his first doctor's appointment.

Although we feel like we were just in China, we also feel like Ian has been with us much longer than a month. Although there are some things we miss about our old "Double Income No Kids" life, it has been wonderful despite our lost freedoms. I can't think of anything I would do differently. Every day continues to get better and we are having a blast with Ian.

Thank you so much to everyone who has followed our journey and a double thank you to those have been unconditionally supportive. I know not everyone wants to hear about the lows along with the highs, but I feel like this would just be one more "hearts & rainbows only" blog and that's pretty unhelpful to those looking for real life information about this process. As our story shifts from adoption journey to anecdotes about Ian, Polli, doctors & life in the Mrzena household, bear with us while we try to keep it interesting (those who know us know that won't be too hard!).

Below are some pictures from the past month that might not have made the blog entries:

Laying eyes on Ian for the very first time

Making it official

Moments after waking... Ian meets his dada

Only hours after meeting us...he's already hamming it up for the camera

Happiness is an evening with my gang: Tivo, Polli, and Ian (and my glass of wine, which is just out of camera shot...just kidding)

The "show his first girlfriend" picture

Dad + Ian + Alone time + Access to my hair products

The kind of thing Mrzena guys think is funny

Another invention of dad's: The salad bowl sit & spin

Ian figures out that feeding himself can be fun

A glimpse of a typical afternoon at my house