Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ian's Big Shin-Dig

Today was Ian's welcome home and birthday parties all rolled into one, hosted by the one and only person who could make Martha Stewart look disorganized, his Grandma Trish.

Trish deserves her own stage a bit to be appreciated for how much she gives without asking for anything in return. Being a Grandma is truly her calling and if there were a Nobel Prize for it, she would be a repeat winner.

So, she threw a wonderful party for Ian with nothing forgotten, and many of our favorite family and friends were in attendance. Ian was a dream all day, and at one point I saw him stroll past the crowd I was in, and I thought "oh yeah, Ian... I almost forgot he was here". He just did wonderful in such a crowded and loud group. It helped a lot that it was a familiar place with many familiar faces.

My parents flew into town from Arizona; my brother Rex drove down from the city; Shawn's cousin Troy, his wife Shannon, and their son Alex came; Troy's mom and dad Pat & Tim (Grandpa Tom's sister and brother in law/Ian's great aunt & uncle); Shawn's oldest brother Mark, wife Shannon, and kids Alec & Ashleigh, Shannon's adorable brother Rick and mom Nancy; our good family friends Tim & Cassie, their beautiful daughters Aiden and Marlee, and Cassie's mom Nancy; Dave and Kathy, otherwise known as "The Wonderfuls"; Mary & Jamie with their cutie pie curly head carrot top grandson, Kent; our good friends Chuck & Lu with their sweet nieces, Margaret and Nicki. I really hope I'm not accidentally forgetting anyone. If so, I'll figure it out and add them later. Never the less, it was an amazing group. We plan to do this again this summer at our house for the benefit of many of our friends and coworkers, but for our family and friends in the "south end", it was an amazing turn out.

Even without much of a nap and not a lot to eat other than milk, cheese, and cake, Ian was more mature and easy to handle than any two year old I've ever met...and I don't just say that because he's my son. Just about everyone agreed. I'm not crazy, my kid is just naturally amazing!

He wasn't interested in getting his hands in birthday cake, but he quickly warmed up to the taste of the frosting. Since he's not used to sweets, I think it was an odd taste at first, but soon he was taking bigger and bigger bite fulls.

He got a ton of great gifts and several really nice donations to various charities (one to Ian's orphanage...thanks, big bro!), and several items that will make wonderful donations to Ian's orphanage. . The entire time we were opening gifts and cards, Ian was playing with a toy Barbie bicycle and couldn't care less about opening gifts. He did get in the action a bit when a loud fire engine entered the picture...and then again when a "band in a box" was opened. Noise is so much fun.

He was out like a light within 15 minutes of leaving the house and barely woke for his PJ change when we arrived home. Sweet dreams, Ian. Welcome to the big boy club, son!

A special thank you to my parents, Ian's Grama & Paga, for making the long trip up from Phoenix. I don't know anyone else in the world who would have gone from 80 degrees to 30 for a two year old's birthday party. Mom and dad, you have no idea what this weekend meant to us. We miss not having you near and can't wait to see you again.

Here are just a few of the 130 pictures I took today (doesn't count the 40 or so that I deleted).

Nothing to do with Ian's big day, but thought I'd show you all what a day in "almost April" doesn't normally look like in Seattle.

Ian helps Shawn disconnect the MANY ridiculous ties that anchor down every toy in existence. You parents know what I'm talking about. I sure wish I could buy stock in that company! (Yes, Shawn's wearing shorts here...he looks a little naked.)

What a happy 2 year old looks like... our cheerful days might just be numbered until the "terrible twos" kicks in...although I think he'll be a delightful angel forever.

Multi tasking with the sound/light/learning toys. "A" says "A & AH"... Did you know that?

Chit chat with Paga..."So what do you think the Mariners chances are this season? Diamondback fans now? Well, good thing you're family!"

Chit chat with Uncle Rex... "So what do you think about that Jeff Brown trade? I know Grama & Paga are Cardinals fans now. Can you believe it?"

Ian meets his goofy aunt Pat. Yep, another family member with a silly southern accent.

Uncle Ricky helps Ian "raise the roof"

More people to entertain. A two year old's job is never done!

Everyone remembers their first red party cup!

Happy Birthday to Ian! (For the skeptics who think I'm a myth since I never appear in pictures, here's proof that I really do exist!)

Mmm. This cake stuff is OK!

He enjoyed this fire truck (and the random barbie bicycle he found in a box somewhere).

He enjoyed his box of instruments. I can't remember what this one is called, but it had a cool texture and sound.

One man show in an all girl band

Let's see, Spirit is technically Ian & Polli's Aunt. Ian loves dogs and was so excited to see her.

Sleepytown came quickly. Happy birthday my son. We're so glad your 2nd birthday was spent here with us and everyone who loves you so much...and not in an orphanage.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ian Turns Two!

Today is a pretty monumental day for us... It's Ian's 2nd Birthday! He spent the day as I think everyone should...playing hookie from school, hanging out with his grandparents, and shoe shopping! (No really. We went shoe shopping).

My parents, Ian's Grama & Paga, flew into town last night from Arizona just in time to enjoy our Spring snowstorm in Seattle. Nothing like adjusting to a 50 degree difference in the weather! We picked them up from their hotel and headed to do some shopping. The original plan was to go toy shopping for Ian's birthday, but we ended up at Macy's buying shoes. I'm not sure how that happened, but he actually liked it there. He walked with his Paga and checked out the shoe displays. That's my boy!

We continued on to lunch with my mom's old employer prior to her retirement, and had a wonderful time. Ian was very well behaved and even managed to eat an entire plate of Asian Chicken Salad and steamed dumplings. Their house is a museum of worldly acquired one of a kind pieces of art and glass, and not really the place for a toddler, but he did great and didn't break a single item (but kept me on my toes, I can tell you that much). He especially enjoyed their grand piano and plunked the keys like a true maestro.

From there, we further defied nap time physics and went to Toys R Us, where my parents bought him his first real car...a Cozy Coupe and some play instruments. He test drove one in the store and loved it, so lets hope it doesn't fall victim to the Cozy Coupe junk yard anytime soon.

We dropped them off at their hotel and headed home to round out our day with dinner and a bath...and despite the lack of sleep, he remained chipper and happy. He's a mature 2 year old, for sure.

His birthday party is Sunday at his Grandma Trish & Grandpa Tom's house... that will be when the real festivities happen.

I only took a few pictures today to prevent being a rude house guest, but they're cute:

I had to get a picture of his birthday suit... and cute package!

Shoe shopping agreed with him....Note to self.

He remembered my dad, his Paga. He lit up as soon as he saw him. He wasn't sure about my mom at first, but in the end, everyone remembers grandma's love, so I'm not worried.

Playing piano. He loved it...and left the fingerprints to show for it!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Day After

I worked from home most of the day today and Ian had his first speech therapy appointment, meaning it was an oddly arranged day for both of us.

Ian was up several times last night with teething pain, although he put himself back to sleep within a few minutes each time. Shawn did numb him once, which only made him madder, but we had to do something for him. He was frustrated...and wouldn't you be if you had razor sharp teeth sinking into your gums and tongue just as you're drifting off? Poor little guy. It makes me wonder why teeth aren't worth more when they fall out, considering all the grief they cause on their way in. I don't know the going rate these days, but I'll have to make a mental note to really make it worth his while.

He was in great spirits this AM (although I was up at 4am and already half way through a day's worth of work), but he was not interested in breakfast at all. He and Polli ate toast at the dining room bench and then cheese and crackers a little before 11, when the speech therapist arrived, which he accepted OK.

When she arrived, it was actually the therapist, who is deaf (I asked and it's an OK word to use), and her interpreter. It was interesting. I have to say that I've never had a lengthy conversation with someone who is deaf. I found that at first I looked at the interpreter when she was translating, but by the end of their stay, I was making eye contact with her completely while the translator spoke, and speaking in more natural sentences instead of half a sentence and then waiting for her to catch up to finish, which I was doing at first.

She pointed out that Ian is a prime candidate to incorporate signing (the basis for this therapy approach). She said he makes and holds excellent eye contact while you're talking to him, which I had already noticed. She also said that he is inquisitive of people's hands, which I also knew. All this adds up to a good foundation for speaking a word with good eye contact plus a sign for it right before and after speaking it. She reached out and tickled his foot, he laughed and then stuck his foot out for another tickle, and she signed more and then tickled him which he responded with the 'more' sign...over and over again. It ran chills up my spine to see him remember and comprehend the meaning of a sign after seeing it once. We've been lazy about incorporating signing so far and I can see now how beneficial it can be with just a little diligence.

He also learned 'book' while she was here, and we almost had him signing 'thank you' when they left. He already signs something similar to 'all done', which I think he must have learned at school. They had a great time playing with Ian and didn't want to leave, but needed to get to another appointment.

We will review one more program, less sign intensive, and then will decide which program we want to continue with. I like the signing segment of this program, but also want to make sure they don't spend the entire time focused on his hearing loss and also address his speech delays from a orphanage delay standpoint. Whatever he needs is what he'll get, but because he auto-qualifies due to his ear, I'm afraid he will now be labeled a hard of hearing child...nothing wrong with that, but I just want to make sure we're not overlooking other resources by focusing on his ear. Also while they were here, the translator commented to the therapist about how accurately he turns to sounds, even those out of the room. She got very wide eyes and signed "so smart". Yeah. I know.

Before I talk myself into a ton of flaming comments, I'll move on. Regardless, we've heard nothing but positive things from those who have met with Ian so far, so I have nothing but good things to say.

He went straight to nap after they left, but only slept for about an hour, not giving me much time to work. When he woke, he was in horrible tooth pain and inconsolable. He had giant tears and just wanted to be held. I can do that, no problem. For lunch, I even gave him some jarred baby food from the "old days" when he was newly home. He was just not interested in chewing and seemed relieved at having an easy meal.

Pics below are misc. from our morning. The basket hasn't been forgotten yet!

Hanging out in the basket...sharing toys (and apparently some Cheerios) with his sister-dog.

When I'm working...this is what I saw every 5 much for getting something done!

Snack time! They don't have snack buddies like this at school!

So, let's see... If I touch the power button, what will happen with this unsaved document you have open?

I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be letting him play with these, but he's a smart kid...he'll make good choices, right?

I think he's figured out what this basket is for... although he spent most of the afternoon with it on his head (camera conveniently missing at the time).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ian's First Easter

Something tells me they didn't worship giant bunnies or celebrate the resurrection of Christ in Wenzhou, China. I'm not even sure they would know what to do with a basket filled with plastic grass or sugar dipped marshmallows shaped like baby chickens.

But now that he's here, Ian is subject to everything that makes the western world the masters at over marketed expensive excuses to eat and drink in excess. I'm sure the government is loving holidays like Easter, that in times like these, do more to "stimulate the economy" than all the ridiculous tax rebate checks put together ever will. Off my soap box now to talk about Ian's first introduction to Easter...

It was any other morning for him other than the fact that he got to wear his PJ's until well into the afternoon and got a basket full of fun stuff in the AM that made the day really whiz by. I know it makes me a horrible mother, but Ian was not getting a basket full of candy today. I also didn't see the logic in spending money on an Easter basket that would just wind up in a land fill...and I don't fill baskets full of crap and display them around the I had to come up with a creative alternative. I found a storage basket with wheels and handles that would be perfect for picking up toys and carrying around the living room. Ian loves to push and pull things, so this would be practical and fun. Let's just say it could have been the one and only gift from any and all people today and he would have been more than content.

I did fill it with toys and other things he needed anyway. I realized what a 'mom' thing I did when I also included sippy cups and a new box of Infant Motrin in the basket. Such a mom thing. If I had enough time to make it to Costco for wipes and diapers yesterday, they would have gone in the basket also, I'm sure.

So Ian played with the toys and basket all morning while Polli destroyed her new toy in less time than it took Shawn to take a shower...but the cutest thing today of all was that Ian figured out all on his own that by turning the box over and standing on it, he could easily reach the counters. Since we don't have step stools anywhere in the house, this was pretty amazing. Analytical thinking at work... and while I was irritated that he'd figured that out, I was just as thrilled that a new learning skill had emerged. I'll say it once and I'll say it again...My kid's a genius.

He did something else on his own that was VERY smart... When Polli had torn the stuffing out of her toy, Ian started picking it up piece by piece and carrying it over to the garbage under the sink to throw it away. He picked up every piece of the fluff and threw it away, to big applause and cheers every time. What a big helper.

Shawn's folks and his oldest brother Mark & his wife Shannon came over in the afternoon and Ian and Polli were our entertainment for the afternoon. Ian discovered a new love for these things called chips, and enjoyed some graham cracker snacks from Aunt Shannon, shaped like dog bones.

Trish brought a gift for him on behalf of my parents in Arizona... Giant eggs that were reminiscent of the huge pantyhose eggs I played with as a child, filled with matchbox cars. He played with them for a long time with Uncle Mark after which time the eggs were relegated to the bath toy bin... perfect for drinking bath water, so he discovered later. Great!

All in all, it was a wonderful day. Ian was feeling better and a great little host...only shedding a few tears when the chip bowl was replaced by broccoli and tofu.

Tomorrow, Ian has his first full length speech therapy appointment at the house and then my parents come to town on Thursday! We'll spend the day with them Friday, when Ian turns... drum roll please... 2 years old! 24 big ones.

Pictures below are from throughout the day today. I took over 120 pictures in all. Who knew a random Sunday in March could be so much fun?

It took him a few minutes to figure out that we were just giving him all this stuff...No strings attached.

All we really needed to give him was this basket. Disneyland with handles.

He even liked it when there was no one around to propel him around the room.

I was able to get a ton done while he sat contently playing with his cars in the basket.

The little genius figured out pretty quickly that he could turn it upside down and reach that elusive cutting board...where his food is born.

After Polli had destroyed her new toy, Ian took it upon himself to pick up the stuffing...

...And march it over to the garbage. He is great at the "put away" and "throw away" games.

Polli tried hard to hypnotize Grandpa Tom into giving her his cheese and crackers, but it didn't work.

Hallelujah! He's a Guacamole baby!

Opening the eggs from Grama and Paga in Arizona.

Playing with Uncle Mark and Aunt Shannon

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Noodle Kid meets the Pizza Delivery Boy

Friday afternoon, about 30 minutes before I normally pick Ian up, I received a call from his teacher saying he was sick and needed to be picked up. She said he had been lethargic and laying down with his blanket much of the day. When I arrived, he was sitting at the snack table looking quite normal, and his daily summary showed that he took a shorter than normal nap and rated a "cheerful", not "content" or "tired". Hmmm. What am I supposed to think? Either they wanted to get the kids out of there so their weekend could start or their daily summaries are not all that accurate.

He was pretty mellow on the ride home, but no real red flags that he wasn't feeling well. Still skeptical. However, it became fairly evident upon arriving home that he was not himself. He didn't want Polli anywhere near him and he was rubbing his eyes like crazy. We put him down for a bonus nap and had to physically wake him 2 hours later to give him dinner. He ate well, but still quiet, and then it was off to bath and bed after a dose of Motrin. He went down easily and was asleep before Shawn left the room...and not a peep from 6pm to 7:30am.

He was at about 80% today, with a 3.5 hour nap filling most of the late morning/afternoon, but for the most part was fine, just a little sensitive. He went to bed early again, and I'm hoping all this extra sleep will make him a good host for Easter tomorrow.

Because we had gale force winds in our neighborhood today, we skipped the Easter Egg Hunt scheduled at the park across the street. With Ian not feeling great, the last thing we needed was to force an ear infection or worse. There's always next year for egg hunts and the Easter Bunny. He doesn't have a clue about any of it yet anyway.

We did have tons of fun this morning with our newest homemade toy...a pizza box. Ian couldn't get enough of it. One day, I'll have to post all of our fun homemade toys/games over the months. I'm still wondering why we all get sucked into the commercial toy scam. He seems to appreciate the toys that come as a surprise anyway and no one is especially heartbroken when it's time to throw them away.

I also just have to post a picture of Ian eating noodles. Lots of kids from China are "noodle babies" and are adept at eating them correctly before they can walk... but Ian refused noodles in China... only eating rice. Even our guide was surprised that he didn't like noodles. We tried again the other night and he had a great time slurping them...and trying to teach Polli to do the same.

Another cheap toy that offered hours of amusement!

Where's Ian? Has anyone seen Ian?

There he is!

He loves to help set up his highchair.

Noodles! One for Ian...

...Ten for Polli

I had to throw this one in... He loves to look at pictures. He can identify Shawn in most of them, but never knows me... Maybe if I kept one hair color or style for long my child would recognize me!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lawnmowers & Girl Scout Cookies

A coworker gave me a neat little John Deere lawnmower for Ian that couldn't be timed better. Tomorrow is the first day of spring and Ian has been in desperate need of a backyard toy to push around. He was furious when he figured out that this toy would not be allowed in the house. He got over it, but we had a bit of a "fall down on the ground and scream as loud as possible" moment to entertain the neighborhood. I basically left him on the sidewalk to get over himself and he came up the stairs after me reluctantly.

When Shawn came home, he had a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies with him. I thought we were going to make it through the entire GSC season without buying a single box, but Shawn caved in at the last possible second. Unless it's at school and we're unaware, Ian does not get sweets above and beyond juice and fruit. He does have some "toddler cookies", which I'm sure are essentially the same thing as any other cookie, but since they're sold in the baby food section and labeled for toddlers, I look the other way. Lucky for me, Polli gets fed more than Ian actually eats, so it's a win-win for everyone.

Anyway, Ian had his very first Girl Scout Cookie today...Shortbread. No chocolate. I'm a terrible mother, I know. He has his entire life to eat crap. I'd rather he didn't while I still have the energy to have a say in the matter.

Earlier in the day, when I arrived to pick him up from daycare, I could see through the fence that they were outside playing. I decided to keep driving and come back 20 minutes later to give him a chance to play. Yesterday, I had arrived right after he got outside and he was really angry that I was taking him away from his friends and the slide. He just loves outside now. A full 180 from just a few weeks ago. It's really amazing. So, that means I now have to work out the logistics of either showing up before snack and outside time or after he's been outside for a while.
Below are a few pics of Ian with his new lawnmower and with his first Girl Scout Cookie.

Two kinds of lawn mower represented... As you can see, Polli can easily manage her little patch of backyard grass without much help.

He had the technique down pretty quickly

Checking the oil and adjusting the cutting height. Notice the perfect work clothes.

Who doesn't love a Girl Scout Cookie? I didn't notice that he was covered in yogurt until after it was too late. Oh well.

Imagine how thrilled he would have been if this were a Thin Mint?!