Monday, January 28, 2008

Gears, Legos & Wheels, Oh My!

What is Ian up to? Well, of note, he turns 22 months old today! In just a couple of months, he'll be 2...A big boy...Half grown!

In the meantime, he is still very intrigued by his gears (and discovered an entire bucket of them in his closet), but today, Shawn took him to The Lego Store to purchase his first set of Legos (fittingly on the 50th birthday of Legos!). Shawn said that the store was full of dads with their kids, likely because most schools were closed today due to snow and lots of people played hookie around here. Apparently, school buses can't maneuver the white stuff, but our city's plethora of SUV's can make it to the mall with no problem!

So, with his new Legos and bucket o' gears, he is a happy camper. I can tell it's definitely time to get him in school because he desperately wants to share them with his BFF, Polli, but doesn't understand that we don't want her to chew on them. I think he was confused about why it was OK to share with his new friend during their playdate, but can't share with Polli... even more perplexing is that we let him share some toys with her, but not all. Poor kid. He needs more human playmates!

He also fell in love with a piece of exercise equipment I recently ordered, which is simply a wheel with handles attached. He loves anything with wheels, so I might have to fight him for it. He carried it around the living room for much of the evening.

Ian loves his gears...I love his eyebrows.

Gears and Legos...The perfect marriage (he's waving 'hi')

Notice that half of this Lego stack has wheels.

Ian with my "ab wheel".... And I just noticed that it might be time to donate those pants!

This shows how much alike Polli and Ian have become... Here, Ian stands like Polli and Polli stands like Ian. Ian is also dressed exactly like Polli's pillow. That was a scary coincidence!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ian Makes a New Friend

Today was yet another exciting day for Ian. He had his very first playdate! One of my coworkers has a super-cutie-pie son a month younger than Ian, so we thought it would be fun to get them together. I was especially interested to see how they compared in size, speech, play, etc.

Ian and Jason played great together...well, they played near each other most of the time and not so much together, but there was no hitting and only a few 10 second tantrums. Jason also did a great job of sharing, which is a skill I didn't know a 21 month old could possess. During the morning, I also noticed that:

  1. Jason is at a flat run while Ian is still learning to bend his knees when he walks
  2. Jason takes bites from bigger pieces of food while Ian takes his food bite sized...or tries to shove it all in at once
  3. Jason knows about 50 understandable words. Ian's vocabulary mostly consists of about a dozen partial words
  4. Ian gravitated toward ALL of Jason's wheeled and musical toys
  5. Kids in motion make for blurry pictures
  6. A 2 hour playdate is pushing it
  7. Asking a toddler to say "sorry" is almost comical
  8. Getting a toddler to take a nap right after a playdate is asking a lot
I say the latter as Ian is in his crib right now, no doubt exhausted, but is still playing. I'm sure he's in there re-enacting his playdate. Shawn says he's like that if I come home from work for lunch before his nap.

For the most part, I don't want to make too many comparisons because I know that Ian has already made huge strides in catching up. I know that a year from now, he will be right there with his peers and I will be saying "remember when I was so worried about that?". After today, I can see just how important preschool will be for Ian and it will probably make a big difference in some of these things I tend to obsess about. Although it's still pretty scary, I am actually starting to get excited for him to start in just over a week.

Ian and Jason playing with legos...Shawn will be so thrilled to know his son is on his way to lego fanatic status!

Ian loved this table...lights? sounds? dials? Yes! It's a little like his piano, which he can't live without. I might have to splurge or drop some hints for the grandmas.

Ian and Jason sharing. So cute!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ready For The Spa

Shawn has taken to handling extreme diaper situations with a bath instead of a wipe... This shortcut ranks right up there with Ian's frequent "overalls on top of PJ's" outfit that I often find when I come home. While I was at work yesterday, there was a complex diaper event to deal with and Shawn decided that it was high time that Ian learn how to properly wear a know, in case he decides to go to the spa or something.

Getting the towel on is one thing...

...Keeping it on is another!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ian Gets Geared Up

Ian's favorite toy at the Seattle Children's waiting room during both visits was the gears they have mounted on the wall. He was so captivated at how moving one moved all of them. I could hear his little brain buzzing over how it worked.

We found something called Gears Gears Gears on and bought a super set. It's a kit of platforms and the gears snap onto (or your kid) can stack the gears, add handles, etc. Shawn fastened the platforms to Ian's bedroom wall and added the gears with the idea that we'll continue adding to it.

He really enjoys it, but he knows that if he pulls hard enough, he can rip them apart. He can often be found carrying a gear around the house, rolling it across walls, the floor, the dog, etc. Whatever floats your boat, kid!

Ian at Children's Hospital, December 2007

Ian's new gear wall. We'll slowly add more gears to it and add some other lights/sound gadgets

He's got it all figured out... first, turn the handle THEN rip it off the wall

Ian likes to carry toys around in his mouth like Polli

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ian Meets Chuck & Lu

Yesterday was a very important day for Ian. Finally after two months home, he finally met our dear friends Chuck and Lu!

Our very first apartment, 13 years ago, shared a wall with theirs, but in the two years we lived there, we never did more than wave to them in the hall. Several months after we moved, we ran into them in a bookstore nowhere near our previous residence, and we've been close friends ever since.

Chuck and Lu were the first people we told of our plans, and became some of our strongest supporters in our quest to adopt. They also wrote a letter to our agency on our behalf, which is required to be approved for the home study portion of the process. We had a lot of family friends and coworkers who would have done a great job at providing a recommendation for us, but it was important to us to have Chuck and Lu perform this duty. We knew anything they said would be genuine and from the heart.

So through the chaos of the last two months, it was next to impossible to get together with them. Shawn's parents graciously offered to host a quiet (LOL!!!) dinner at their house so we could introduce Ian to them in a familiar place. Other than Martha Stewart, I've never met anyone who could pull off a casual dinner party on the fly and make it look effortless, like Trish. I don't know how I could ever repay her for her never ending generosity in this area. We are constantly showing up, making a big mess, and then leaving...and she probably has the place spotless again within a few minutes...humming a tune the whole time. I suppose her ulterior motive is getting to see Ian, which is fine with me.

Ian immediately liked Chuck and Lu. He is pretty easy going anyway, and it helped that they brought him a fun toy, but he really did carry on business-as-usual after they arrived, occasionally walking over and showing them a truck or pointing at the ceiling fan. It's possible that he might have been the best behaved little boy ever.

We gave them some gifts we brought back for them from China; something special from each stop we made while there. Several items were particular to Ian's home province, and because they played a role in bringing him home, we wanted them to have a piece of Ian's birthplace.

It was a great night and Ian was visibly much more relaxed with them than just about anyone else new that he has met so far. He enjoyed being held, talking (which to Ian is 'da', 'uhh', 'bub'), and playing with both of them.

Below are some pics from the night.

Ian with Lu... Having a great time with his new friend.

Here kid, try this (cheese...mmm! Who doesn't like cheese?)

Here kid, try this (lime... Hmm, interesting. Wait, I take that back. Ewww!)

Here kid, try this (Beer! For those speed dialing our social worker, the pic is for shock value. We didn't really give him any)

The cool gift from Chuck & Lu... A zoo truck carrying a lion and tiger. We made sure the tiger couldn't get loose and attack. Ian has the farm truck just like this, so he knew exactly how it worked.
A few glasses of wine later :-)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Good Times with Ian & Polli

Ian and Polli are getting along really well. Two months after coming home, they really have no arguments and have figured out each other's boundaries. Every once in a while Polli gets a little too hyper and Ian sometimes pets her too hard, but all in all, they're quickly becoming BFF's.

We just know that the day will come, a couple of years from now, that Polli's crate will be abandoned for a permanent post on Ian's bed. Every boy has a best buddy that he can turn to for anything. Polli just might be that buddy for Ian, just like we had hoped.

In the meantime, we realize that there is little sense in trying to keep Ian from Polli's toys and vice versa. In our house, it would be like separating the toys of siblings. We have to pick our battles and that just isn't one worth fighting right now!

Although I have a library of pictures with Ian and Polli hanging out together, these below show just how they are learning to share. We'll see how this translates in daycare when Ian offers a toy to a new friend with his mouth.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It Doesn't Snow in Wenzhou

Tomorrow marks 2 months since Hu Xiang Xuan walked through Sea Tac airport's immigration and officially became Ian Xuan Mrzena, US Citizen.

Shortly after arriving home, we received some snow, which would be Ian's first experience with the white stuff. Wenzhou is in southeast China and is fairly warm/humid most of the year, so needless to say, they don't see much snow.

Ian wasn't thrilled with the first round of snow and only lasted about 5 minutes before we headed back inside. The second dusting melted before he was awake, but today we woke to several inches. While I was at work, Shawn and Ian joined Polli outside for some fun in the snow. From what I'm told, he was curious about it, but quickly expressed his apprehension. It's a little like his reaction to our plants. He wants to pet the leaves, but then quickly wants them to go away. We wonder if maybe he thinks they are animals of some kind. Perhaps it's the same with snow. If his acclimation to Polli is any example, he'll be rolling around in the snow by springtime!

Below are a few pics of Ian in the snow. We happen to love pictures of him crying only because he's so darn adorable. You can't help but say "Awww!!!". I saw these pictures in an email halfway through my day today and it took all my energy not to race home and comfort him. Bless him for trying to brave the snow. He'd better get used to the cold. Doesn't he know that his future career as a hockey goalie requires that he love ice?

Ian's first snow experience with snow in November.

Today's snow. Ian's thinking: "Dad, are you sure we want to go out there?...And I think mom said something about wearing a hat."

"I was scared of this? I'm not scared of this stuff!"

"Polli, you keep a lookout for dad. I'm going to make a break for the house."

"I'm done! Take me inside now!"


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Fun

I went the entire day yesterday without seeing Ian. He was asleep when I left for work at 5:30am, was gone with Shawn when I got home at 3pm, and Shawn darted in and straight to his crib at 8:30pm. I didn't lay eyes on him even once. I wasn't prepared for how much I would be affected by his absence. Isn't it amazing how kids can just make you turn to total mush when you least expect it?

So today was my day to make up for some time that I missed this week and to give Shawn a break. I handled breakfast, lunch, and dinner, bath, bed...and everything in between. After nap/lunch, I watched what I could stomach of the Seahawks game while Ian played, and then the two of us went to Toys R Us, Target, and had a treat together at Starbucks. It was a pretty great day. In the midst of it all, we had lots of Saturday fun with a few new toys we invented...or bought. Tomorrow is another day; we'll see what adventures await us!

Ian is intrigued with Polli's dog dishes. We're doing our best to keep him out, but this morning he just wanted to stare at them.

He loved this cardboard box turned tunnel. Just a month ago, this would have scared him, but today, he crawled back and forth several times laughing at himself like it was the coolest trick ever.

This exciting toy is another one of dad's inventions: A lint roller with a dog toy stuck to the end. If he's not giggling at the sticky stuff on his hands, he's laughing at the bouncy feeling when it hits things.

Ian loves to look at our photo albums. Today, he stared at pictures of Shawn's brother Matt and his family, whom he hasn't met yet. Here, he was pointing at this picture of me and our niece Taylor and said mama...for the first time in a couple weeks.

Dishwasher basketball. This toy is for the tub, but tonight the game was in the kitchen. Ian has a wicked hook shot.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Fun With Dad

I am closing in on my first full 5 day work week away from Ian. It hasn't been too bad knowing that Shawn is home with Ian and it helps that I've been really busy with work and had a giant project role added the day I returned that will have me very busy for some time to come. I know it will be harder when he starts daycare and his perfected routine is turned upside down.

Each day this week, I've also had errands after work to that meant getting home with two hours or less until Ian's bath and bedtime, meaning I've been getting almost no fun and games time with him.

Luckily, he hasn't been leading a boring life in my absence. The videos and pics show a little bit of why time home with dad isn't so horrible. To boot, Shawn has been teaching him really important skills, such as saying "Quack Quack" and waving his hands. Not "banana" or "drink" or "more". Just "Quack Quack". I'm also hoping to get some pictures of Shawn flying Ian by his overall straps and "landing" him on Polli, furniture, plants, etc. Things I wouldn't think of in a million years. Moms are so boring!

First experience with bubbles. So fascinating.

Polli and Ian bonding over bubbles

It's amazing what kind of work goes into these photo shoots

Ian's first experience with "baby crayons". In the end, Shawn got a mark on his shirt and threw them away. Dad's are always starting things and then spoiling the fun in the end! (It's OK. Ian didn't really care about them and moved onto another toy).

He never had morning hair like this when I was home. I have a feeling it had some help.

Ian's new ball shooter is a lot of fun. It's really just a hairdryer with cool colors and chutes. I'm sure a dad invented it by accident with his shop vac.

This picture is titled: "The cheaper of our childcare options" or "Ian's first plumber's crack"

This isn't related to being at home with dad, but I just had to throw in a shot of Ian and Polli together. They often play with the same toys. They are sharing here, too. So cute (until Polli chews the toy beyond recognition and we have to throw it away). In this case, it's the two parts to a formula dispenser.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Two Amazing Months

Yesterday, Ian celebrated his second full month with us! On November 6th, we met him for the first time in Hangzhou, China. I'm not exactly sure what I expected life to be like two months from that day, but I can definitely say that I never would have expected to already be making such great strides in so many areas.

Ian is really doing amazing in terms of catch up. It's so hard to believe that only two months ago, he was hardly using his legs and as of just a few days ago, he looks for excuses to walk (a little less the later it gets in the day) and is up and down the stairs on his own.
He was primarily drinking from a bottle at 19 months in his orphanage, which didn't last 24 hours once we had him, and now there isn't even a bottle in our house and he is eating everything in sight with his fingers, even trying to use a spoon by himself.

This time two months ago, he was spending his first days outside since 3 months old, had never seen a dog, ridden in a car seat or stroller, or slept in a room alone. Since the 2nd week home, he has slept completely through all but one or two nights in his own room and this includes during a week in Arizona. That by itself is pretty amazing. In all, Ian has been much easier than we expected. He has his moments, but heck, he's a baby. It would be a red flag of a problem if he wasn't pushing our buttons every once in a while.

Yesterday, we ventured out for our first real meal in a restaurant since coming home...The Rainforest Cafe, which is a wild animal themed restaurant and gift shop with Disneyland style animation/props throughout the restaurant. I have to say I don't know what I was expecting, but the food was awful and overpriced. Ian was in awe of all the noises, lights, and moving "animals" though. There was a moving butterfly mounted right over our table and he was mesmerized by it for most of the time we were there, looking upward in all directions most of the time. It was really cute to see him taking it all in, but it might have been too much. He cried ALOT at bedtime. As it turns out, his diaper had come apart inside his jammies and he was soaked and had a soggy mess of diaper guts throughout his footie PJ's in the morning. Since I was at work during this discovery, Shawn had his first nasty clean up duty. He had slept all night like this, but it might have been why he was so upset at bedtime. Poor little guy.

To make matters worse, while I was home for lunch today, he had the worst blowout on record. Let's just say if I had more time before leaving to go back to work, I would have given him a bath. He did need a whole new outfit. Bad, bad, bad, bad bad. Folks, it was bad. It was clear that maybe he wasn't overstimulated from the restaurant, but had a bit of a bug. He was acting just fine, but Shawn said he had been clingy all day. It was hard to go back to work after this. I knew he needed me. Instead, he had Mr. Toughlove. Poor Ian!

He seems to be clearing up and went to sleep with only a few tears tonight, so I don't think it's time to call in reinforcements. We'll see how things go in the next couple of days.

Below are a few pictures from lunch yesterday and Ian's first day with us in Hangzhou. It really is unfathomable that it was only 2 months ago!

Ian with his caretaker. He didn't even look back at her when we left. He was already getting comfortable with us before we were even in the car.

Shortly after waking, the first thing Ian did with Shawn was go for this car's wheels... his one true passion.

Same day in the hotel room...This is one of my favorite pics of Ian. Look at those cheeks!

This was day 2, but it's a classic... This has been on the blog before, but it's worth a reappearance. Don't mind my razor within his reach. I was so young and naive then! :-)

At The Rainforest Cafe yesterday. He was mesmerized by the waterfalls and animated animals.

Ian was pointing at the giant moving butterfly and saying "Da", which is his word for almost everything.

Still staring straight up. We didn't get many other pics since the restaurant was very crowded and dark.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ian's Exciting Visitor and Woo Hoo Seahawks

There are a few topics to cover today, but the biggest to talk about is Ian's exciting visitor today... My favorite brother, Ian's Uncle Rex! (OK, I confess, I only have one brother...but if I had more, he would be my favorite)

Due to our hectic schedule since coming home 6 weeks ago- which has included a week of jet lag/transition heck, Thanksgiving, a week in Arizona (he went there twice in this time frame), Christmas, and me starting back to work- We just haven't had a chance to connect with my brother at all. He lives near downtown Seattle, which is a quick 30 minute drive for us, but our schedules are on opposite ends of the cosmos. Lets just say that on a given Saturday, he might be just heading to sleep when I'm waking up...and my bedtime is the middle of his day. Needless to say, in order for him to meet Ian when he isn't in a pre-bedtime state of mind (aka cranky), we were going to have to be patient with our schedules.

After the AWESOME win today (35-14) by our Seattle Seahawks, he arrived with Christmas gifts in hand and excited to meet his newest nephew. Ian was his usual reserved but curious self at the sight of another new person, but was soon showing off his new walking skills and playing contently while we chatted.

We had a really nice few hours of catching up and Ian gave a great display at what a fun and easy going kid he is. At 7pm on the dot, his charm shut down for the day and it was clearly his bath/bedtime, which usually commences at about 7... talk about well adjusted to a schedule! Almost too well! My brother is one of the few visitors to view a tantrum (usually he reserves those only for us), but it wasn't too bad, and he was able to spend some lap time with Rex before heading for bed. Not to be outdone, Polli got her share of kisses and hugs before Rex headed back to the city.

He left us with great Christmas gifts, which I would publicly like to thank him for...most specifically a thoughtful donation to Love Without Boundaries in Ian's name. That means more to us than I can express...and will have much more impact than any toy.

On a separate note, if Ian was walking on his own 5% of the time yesterday, he was walking 75% of the time today...and with relative control. It was a big day on the walking front and we couldn't be happier. Although everyone says "just'll wonder why you were so eager to have him walking", but we really are happy to have him meet this milestone. It really means he is catching up at warp speed with things that he probably could/should have been doing months ago. I just thank heavens every day that he is with us and not falling further behind in his previous setting. What an amazing little guy.

Also of note, I made it through day #2 of work yesterday. I spent lunch at home playing with Ian while Shawn stole time for a shower, and then went back to work and had a busy and productive day with big people. I was neutral about getting up and going, but thrilled to come home. It was a nice start to what I thought would be a hard transition for me...And for those following, Shawn remembered to change Ian's diaper...and nothing was broken or bleeding when I got home, so we can count the day a success.

Tomorrow, we celebrate Ian's 2nd month with us. We plan to have lunch at The Rainforest Cafe and have a treat of some kind since Sunday is Shawn's and my "junk food day". It will be our first meal out since Ian's homecoming, so we may need to introduce him to ice cream or cheesecake. I think he's earned it!

Ian meets his uncle Rex. It's been about 22 years since Rex has held a nephew this young.