Friday, May 30, 2008

Feeding the Ducks

As promised, we took advantage of the sunny afternoon to head to the park near our house after work today. Since Friday nights are the ultimate night for staying up late (i.e. sleeping in as late as possible), I wanted to run those little legs ragged. When I picked him up at school, their treat cart was outside, meaning he had been out playing and running for a while. Great! Fresh air tends to wear him out.

It's a decent round trip from our house to the duck pond and back, including a hill, but we've done it before, so the stroller stayed neatly stowed (we haven't used it in a couple months actually) and we headed out with our zip lock bag full of bread.

Along the way, Ian spotted a bike. One of his favorite things. He knows we have bikes hanging from the rafters in the garage and if he happens to see the garage door open, makes a beeline to stand and stare at them, and ultimately groans for someone to pick him up for the sheer bliss of touching or spinning a tire. The same goes for the partial inclusion of a bicycle painted abstractly into one of the prints in our kitchen. He spotted it from across the room one day and it's one of the first things he wants to see when he enters the room. If only life were so simple forever.

After seeing the bike, we headed up a hill to the pond. It's a decent grade that challenges my cardiovascular fitness, but this is his second hike up the hill and hasn't required assistance either time. Very impressive. I'm getting over my fear that he's going to fall any second. I'm slowly realizing that he will fall forward onto the gravel or pavement eventually. It's just a matter of time. I invested in supplemental accident insurance for him at live on the edge kid. We can afford it now!

The pond is fenced (thankfully), so it meant I couldn't let him go wild with the bread and stand back to take pictures. I held him on the middle rung of the fence and did my best to capture the action. He couldn't quite throw the bread far enough to reach the ducks, so I did most of the throwing and he called out DUCK and pointed if one of the 2 dozen or so ducks didn't see the bread floating near it. He was a little frustrated that they wouldn't come closer to let him pet them, though. This is one of the reasons why I'm antsy to get him to the zoo. I think he's ready for the petting farm. I can hardly wait.

We played in the grass near the pond for a while, then headed toward home. Sunny, yes. Warm, not completely. It was pretty windy and neither of us had jackets. Ian continued his discoveries, though. He came upon a rock wall that was pretty fascinating "OCK! OCK!", a tree, and finally a lamp post greeted him before we were finally back on familiar land.

Shawn has a scuba trip tomorrow morning, so Ian and I will have to either get creative or resolve to be lazy. We'll see what the day brings...Hopefully it brings a late sleeper. Anything else is icing on the cake.

Pointing at the boys riding their bikes. He was reluctant to move on. It must look like magic to him.

Heading up the hill. Feel the burn, Ian!

Invasion... Those ducks didn't waste any time making a beeline for the boy with the bread.

He enjoyed it, but was irritated that the ducks weren't coming close enough to pet.

I just happened to like this shot. My Mr. Silly.

Me and my shadow.

Sorry to whoever owns these azaleas. No Uh-wuh (flower) is safe. It was cute when it was dandelions and buttercups, but try explaining to a 2 year old that this isn't the same thing. Oops.

Ian VS. the giant rock

Ian VS. the lamp post

Ian VS. the tree

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Look Who’s Talking

Finally, after several months of reviewing speech therapy options for Ian - meet to discuss each option…set goals…revamp goals… talk about the goals…review more options…start over again- He had his first bonafide therapy session today!

His therapist also has a little girl from China, so I feel like she has a good idea of what typical delays come from simply making such a night/day language transition at such a critical age. She also works mainly with hard of hearing/deaf children, so in her, we have the best vantage point for the two things that make Ian's speech development a bit of an uphill climb.

What we didn't realize was how on target Ian is in many areas. It doesn't outwardly appear to her that his delays are related much at all to his hearing. In fact, he shows us on a daily basis that one strong ear is plenty. Just yesterday, we were playing in the yard when Ian brought a rock over to Shawn and dropped it in a cup he was holding. He turned his back and walked away… when he was about 10 feet away, Shawn dropped the rock on the ground and it bounced onto a paver under his chair. Ian heard it, turned, walked back, and immediately looked under the chair for the rock, pointing for Shawn to get it. Yeah. He can hear. There has never been a doubt to us, pretty much from day 1.

As we discussed his receptive language (what he understands), it became apparent that he also understands more than we give him credit for. I started rattling off things he recognizes (even if he doesn't have a solid word for it) and I could have gone on and on and on. With the exception of a few things, he is solidly in the 18- 24 month range, which is right on track, or better, if you consider how long he's been hearing English.

Right now, he is right at about 18 months for expressive language (what he says), which I am thrilled with. He is adding words daily, and with some exercises to encourage certain consonants, mouth movements, and clarity, I'm pretty confident that he will just continue to do better and better. He engaged her in a lot of babble conversation in response to her questions and interactions. He had something to say, just didn't know what words to use. She said this is typical for his stage of learning English (his brain is older than his language skills. He's ready to talk, but is just making up words until he figures it out). We get this a lot from him, especially in the car or when he is getting tired.

All this from one 1-hour session. Imagine where we'll be by the end of summer!

He was his typical angel self after having a rough start to the day. He was up at about 3am in a fit of rage over his back teeth coming in, but also really just wanted to get up and play. We've realized that he might be at a point where he needs less sleep at night, but longer naps. I've noticed that his naps at school are well over 2 hours…and I can tell by the time they write down that he is probably only waking because other kids are. On the flip side, I think his body is getting used to the 5:30am wakeup time and the longer sunlight hours isn't really helping matters. So, we'll start pushing his bedtime to about 7pm to see if that helps discourage him from waking up ready to go at 3am. We're so spoiled. I can count on one hand the number of nights we've had to go in and comfort him after putting him in his crib. We also have it easy with such an early bedtime. A coworker of Shawn's has a little boy the same age who doesn't get to sleep before 10:30pm and is regularly up at least once in the night.

After the therapist left, we bolted out the door and made it to school just in time for lunch and nap. He needed both. He sat right down at his chair and began digging into a plate of spaghetti and apple sauce. I know his blanket and mat were probably a welcome sight right after.

The rest of Ian's week is pretty mellow (although I keep forgetting it's already Wednesday). We'll swim again on Friday evening for fun, and then his swimming lessons resume on Sunday. Shawn has a diving trip scheduled for Saturday, so Ian and I will have to find something fun to do without him.

Believe it or not, I have NO new pictures of Ian so far this week. We did take a walk to the park by our house this afternoon, but I forgot my camera (becoming a horrible habit). Next time we talk, I might just have some pictures of him feeding the ducks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

We had one crazy weekend and then some.

Backing up to Thursday, we had our 6 month post-placement meeting with our social worker and it went really well. Even Polli behaved herself (note: she's doing much better after her scary allergic reaction Wednesday).

Unless you count the moment that Ian appeared from the laundry room wielding a giant bolt from Polli's dog door... or when Shawn again mentioned sometimes wishing he could toss Ian out a window... or the casual mention about how sometimes Ian plays ALONE upstairs... Or when a big black ant crawled up the wall inches from her head... Besides those "sink under the table" moments, it was a nice 3 hours. Yes, 3 hours. Once, while Ian was in his high chair eating, he looked right at Becky and yelled "bye bye!". It was all I could do to keep from busting out laughing. She was using a clock in our kitchen as her stopwatch and it wasn't until she left that I realized it was an hour behind. Oops! Hopefully she wasn't late getting somewhere.

She didn't want to see his room or any other part of the house (fine since I didn't lift a finger to clean) and she seemed pleased with how well Ian has bonded with us and Polli. We'll have one more meeting in November, at which time we will also complete our "state re-adoption" process, therefore getting Ian a Washington birth certificate in his American name. After what we had to go through to adopt, we can definitely see how important something like that can be.

Friday, we picked Ian up from daycare and headed to the gym for another fun evening of swimming. For the first time, Ian floated BY HIMSELF on a water noodle, although he didn't know he was going solo.

Leading into Saturday, Grandma Trish came over while Shawn and I went to a birthday party for one of his co-wokers. It was a great 4 hours out of the house for a catered dinner and open bar. Who could ask for more?

Sunday was a whirlwind... We were all up by 6:30am, out of the house for another morning of swimming by 9am, and meeting Shawn's wonderful friend Behnam and his fiance B, for lunch...and finally home by 12:30 for Ian's much needed nap. After nap, Grandpa Tom arrived as well as Shawn's uncle Jeff and his girlfriend Thea, who were visiting from Minnesota, for dinner at one of our favorite Italian restaurants.
We assumed that such a long day would result in a very sleepy boy, but Ian was up and ready for another day of fun by 7:00. I turned on the TV for him for the first time in months and he watched a whole 5 minutes of Go Diego Go before losing interest. He's just not a TV kid. I'm not complaining! It shaped up to be a nicer day than we expected, so while I headed out to the gym for a few hours of alone time, Ian and Shawn spent it outside...and enjoying a 3 hour nap.

Shawn and I traded places, and I came in just in time to wake Ian for lunch, while Shawn left to do some scuba dive equipment shopping. Ian and I spent the afternoon in the blow up pool and playing with most every toy possible in the backyard.

Our long weekend is finally winding down and I think it's safe to say we crammed as much as possible in 3 days. It will almost be like a vacation getting back to work tomorrow!

Ian and Polli watching Shawn trim the hedges... Polli's taller than Ian!

Ian with our dear friends Behnam & B.

The Boys

Horsing around with Grandpa Tom

Polli's gate had to go up for our Sunday visitors... Ian tried to break her out of jail.

Temporary TV hypnosis. Five minutes later, he was on to bigger and better things.

Rock on, dude! You can almost see him spinning turntables here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dear Mr. or Ms. China…

One year ago today, we wrote a letter that started out: "We would like to formally request the honor of adopting Xiang Xuan from the Wenzhou Children's Welfare Institute in Zhejiang province." This was our Letter of Intent, or basically our formal request to be considered the parents of this wonderful little boy. In it, we promised the China Center for Adoption Affairs that we would provide him a safe and happy home, the best medical attention, and best education. We would teach him about his birth heritage, would expose him to the language and culture of China, and that we would bring him back some day.

It had been almost 2 weeks since receiving his file and reviewing it with an International Adoption doctor. There was no question at this point that Xiang Xuan was our son. His picture was with me everywhere I went and not an hour went by that I didn't steal a glance at it... Wondered what he looked like by then... Thought about what it would feel like to meet him for the first time... Finally, we were ending our paperwork stage and beginning the chapter where we had no control over anything anymore. Hurry up and wait. And so that's what we did.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today is Shawn's birthday! He is getting up there... 38 and already a grumpy old man. Lord help me when he gets to his dad's age. (Just kidding, Tom).

His birthday was very low key...I didn't even make dinner. We were too busy. Polli had a vet appointment right after work and Shawn was in charge of Ian's pick up, dinner, and bathtime. As it turned out, we had technical difficulties with both kids. Ian's 2 year molars were giving him a rough time during dinner, and Polli came from the vet with the diagnosis of ear infections in both ears and a yeast infection in her girlie area. $300 and several shots/medications later, we were back home only to see her quickly develop an allergic reaction to one of the shots (which has happened before). Her eyes quickly swelled almost shut and her face was red and swollen. She was going nuts rubbing her eyes on the carpet and whining. It was as heartbreaking or moreso than watching Ian deal with teething pain. Two benadryl later, she's doing much better, but still quite swollen and breathing really heavy. We'll watch her through the night to make sure her throat doesn't close up before I decide whether to take her back in the morning (I'm pretty sure they would do what I did and then bill me hundreds more.

As for Ian, he fussed more than usual at bedtime, but it only lasted a few minutes and he's out now. I'm sure his teeth are killing him. Being two is tough... Whether you're 2 or 4 legged.

Oh yeah. Shawn. So it's an uneventful birthday for him this year. He had cards and gifts from me and the kids and also from my parents. We each got him Underwater Sports gift cards, which he was thrilled to receive (he said thank you VERY MUCH, mom & dad! He can't wait to spend them on some new diving gear.). I also ordered poster size prints of two of his best underwater wildlife pictures for his garage.

Below are a few pictures of Shawn through the years. He'd kill me if he knew I posted some of these for the world to see.

Trish, that's some serious hair (and I love your shoes)!

A smaller version of his current self (and with more hair)

That's Shawn in front with the 'Lil Stinker' shirt. Still true today... And Trish pulls off another killer 'do. (Tom Sellack, is that you?)

Who has goats running around their neighborhood?

Ian loves this picture. He points and yells "Ahh", which is a very enthusiasic "Frog!".

Shawn's graduation picture... It must be the 80's with an awesome mullet (and sweater) like that!

Our wedding day. St. Thomas in the background.

With the real Stanley Cup. I don't know that I've seen him this happy before or since.

In Rome, 2006

With our girl, Polli at the dog park.

In Beijing, November 2007

Scaling The Great Wall.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ian’s Booked Calendar

Ian has been one busy guy this past week. Last Thursday, we were guest speakers at a class held by our agency for families just getting started in their process. Most had not determined their country program yet, so we were asked to stick to a handful of questions…mostly about the homestudy process, the wait, etc. Hogwash. I was going to talk about the special needs program, what it was like to go from no kids to instant parent of a toddler, and most of all, let Ian wordlessly answer their questions about "can we do this?". Sometimes all it takes is to see the end result of all that fear and hard work in the flesh to make it all "real". He has a great sales pitch…It's called being his charming self.

We did stick to the questions the wanted us to, but we talked quite a bit about what it was like to wait, how we researched, what sites and books we found most helpful, what NOT to get obsessed about in the paperchase and waiting process, and most of all…our experiences with him. The speaker was really going to an extreme about how the child WILL grieve, WILL resist affection, WILL have undiagnosed health issues, etc. While I know it's important to prepare the families for anything, I also wanted them to know that every child is different and shared that we didn't experience any of those things…so not to let that scare them away from going forward. Shawn talked about the fact that it took him a couple of months for the two of them to "figure each other out", which I think is important for some to hear, who are afraid of not falling in love the second they hand over the child. Shawn's just not an emotional person by nature and it took him a while to figure out how to let that guard down. He did make an intended funny about "wishing I could throw this kid out a window"…but the humor was lost on the agency folks. It really was meant to be a sideways joke about how frustrated he got sometimes, but I do wish he would have used a different analogy.

Despite that, it went well. We were only supposed to take 30 minutes and we were there way over an hour. Ian was charming and friendly, playing with toys on the floor the entire time. We stopped for something to drink on the way home and Ian had his very first Mexi-Fry (Taco Time tater tots). Great. More bad habits!

After an awesome weekend (that you've read about already), he had his "family resource plan" meeting yesterday with our Early Intervention coordinator, Sandy (the one Polli almost knocked out when she came to our house), along with the program director for the speech therapy program we plan to use. They asked us what goals we wanted to set for his therapy, but we really don't know what we don't know…and really wish they would have guided us by explaining what other families typically want to accomplish. Mostly, we just want to know what WE need to do as parents to set Ian up to succeed. Half the time, I think I'm doing the right things when I'm pretty sure I'm not. First time parenting with this many odd dynamics can be a drag, because I don't have a benchmark for which to base my red flags…or my do's and don'ts. I'm sure it will get easier in time.

So, once again, Ian was lovely. He was a little squirrely and didn't want to play with the toys they laid out, but also wasn't interested in their books. Then, he saw the woman's daughter's toothbrush sitting on the counter and he turned. He wanted that thing BAD…and there was no way to effectively explain it away. I wonder now if that was a test to see what tools we use to communicate with him.

Anyway, he was really great in terms of using his speech, and they both commented on how well he is doing in several areas. Since the coordinator saw him last, he has gone from only a few words to dozens. He is also doing great in terms of what he understands. Having only heard English for 6 months, it really is something else that he knows the difference between "bring my shoes" and "bring your shoes". There were also wide eyes that we can hand him something and say "throw away" and he will walk it over to the sink, open the cabinet door, throw it away, close the door, and come back.

At first meeting, she gauged that Ian is at about a development level of a 12 to 14 month old child who has heard English since birth. It will be great to see how adding the structure of play therapy to his routine will help him.

She did say she suspects that he has some Oral Motor issues, which might have something to do with how he annunciates and uses his mouth muscles. She pointed out that he holds his mouth very taught and drools more than the average 2 year old. We've decided to wait until official visits start to investigate that more. I'll be putting my research hat on as soon as I have the free time.

Above and beyond speech, their pencils were scribbling away when he started walking backward. From their reactions, that's a big deal. They should have seen him earlier that morning. He was walking sideways on command.

So his first true Speech Therapy appointment is next Wednesday and will happen at our house every 2 weeks. We have the option to come to their Seattle office for visits and additional play groups, but the schedule for those will be harder to accommodate, so we'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, Ian has lots on his plate and is doing great as always. He is battling a puffy eye that he rubs endlessly, either from something causing discomfort, or allergies, and a weird rash thing on his chin and above his upper lip, which I'm thinking might be due to too much OJ (which we started giving him to increase his iron absorption…because he was drinking too much milk). Now I'm in this loop of paranoia about what he might be allergic or sensitive to. Sigh.

So, tomorrow is Shawn's birthday. He'll be a big boy finally at 38. Then, Thursday is our 6 month Post Placement visit with our same social worker who approved our homestudy. I won't be going overboard in prep for her visit this time. It will be a miracle if the vacuum cleaner even makes it out of the closet.

I have absolutely no pictures to post from the past few days! To appease those who only visit to see pictures, I've included a few of Ian making friends in China.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


We're having a mini heat wave this weekend in Seattle. It's normal by the account of some people we know, but it went from the 50's and raining on Monday to 80's and 90's yesterday and today. In our area, March goes in like a lion and out like a lion, and April showers bring May showers. Summer typically doesn't start until July 5th, so the joke goes.

Shawn and I had pre planned weeks ago to take Friday off early from work to sneak to a movie before picking Ian up from school. It was a great plan, which we might do on a regular basis (maybe live on the edge and make it a quarterly thing). We changed our plans to see Speed Racer, because it received horrible reviews, and decided on Narnia: Prince Caspian, instead. Good choice. It was better than the book, in my opinion. Shawn said "what book?". He had no idea who C.S. Lewis was or that the Narnia movies were based on books. His claim to fame is that he got all the way through school having only been required to read one book... Lord of the Flies. I keep telling him he's missed out on a lot by slipping through the cracks in school...and then he shows me his paystub and it shuts me up every time.

So back to my original point... we were expecting a beautiful weekend and had no idea how to spend it. After our movie, we picked Ian up from school and headed off to our club to swim. He didn't have a swimming lesson (that's tomorrow), but we wanted to get him in the water again, just to practice. He had tons of fun, but I think he was confused that I was in the water too, and was reluctant to come to me or let me hold him at first. He has grown to trust Shawn in the water, and that's fine with me. Eventually, he wrapped his arms around my neck and let me hold him in the water for a while. After about 30 minutes, he was ready to get out. We ate at the club's restaurant, which looks out over the tennis courts and he was mesmerized by kids in their lessons. His eyes were glued to yellow tennis balls flying through the air. Maybe that's another sport to try in a few years. Who knows. We ordered him a meal off the kids menu, and out came a huge platter of grilled chicken, wild rice, and green beans... He ate every bite. Swimming seems to really make him hungry.

On the way home, Shawn took a hard left turn suddenly into the Dairy Queen parking lot and we undid that nice, healthy dinner by ordering Ian his first ice cream cone. I, once again, was beating myself up for not having my camera at the ready... It was the most adorable thing I've ever seen. He was a mess of soft serve in seconds and ate the entire thing, cone and all. Ice cream lover? He's definitely a Mrzena...and a Waters. No doubt that he's our child.

He slept in late this morning and by the time he woke at 9 and ate breakfast, it was almost 80 degrees already. We spent the better part of the morning playing in the backyard and then, after Shawn left to run errands (aka Dad's alone time), we spent another hour relaxing on the lounge chairs and playing with rocks. Ian entertained himself so well that I was able to read 2 magazines and went in and out of the house several times without a panic attack about where I disappeared to.

After he went down for his nap, Polli and I relaxed outside more and even took a brief nap. This may all sound mundane and boring to most people, but I rarely, if ever, relax...and almost never EVER take naps. It's not often that I do things for myself outside the occasional new pair of jeans or shoes... so getting time to myself is a big deal. It actually felt good to relax and I didn't feel my usual guilt that I could be doing something productive with my time.

After nap and lunch, Shawn came home and we headed out to the outlet mall near our house to buy Ian some much needed shorts. I realized this morning that he only had one pair and that wasn't going to last long if our nice weather makes a comeback. It got well into the 90's today, but will be about 15 degrees cooler tomorrow and then back into the 60's by Monday. Hopefully we'll have nice weather again next weekend.

While out and about, we picked up a blow up swimming pool for Ian and Polli. As you'll see from the pictures below, it was a real hit for both of them. That water is straight from the hose and freezing...since our water supply is from a glacial aquifer, it's not only really clean but really REALLY cold. Neither of them seemed to care, though.

We have a busy week ahead of us: Tomorrow, Ian has swimming lesson #3. Monday, we have a meeting with the Early Intervention coordinator and the woman who heads up the speech therapy program we chose for Ian. It's only the millionth step in the process to getting his therapy going... Hopefully next up is an actual appointment with a therapist. Wednesday is Shawn's birthday, and then Thursday is our 6 month post placement visit with our social worker, which is required by the CCAA. Essentially, China wants proof that we're taking good care of Ian. For this event, Polli will be going to daycamp since last time, she almost gave the woman, deciding our fate as parents, a bloody nose. We told her that Polli just loves to give kisses, but I don't think she saw the humor.

Here are just a few of the 214 pictures I took today alone... and it's only Saturday!

Ian and Polli chatting on the lounge chairs

Tossing back cold ones on the patio...ah, this is the life!

Sharing a cheese stick.

Hanging out with Buddha

I don't know that he knew what this big thing was or why he was in his bathing trunks... He does look a little worried now that I see the pictures.
Once he got used to the cold water, it wasn't so bad after all.

They both had fun splashing around... Polli enjoyed it almost as much as Ian. Because her breed doesn't handle heat well, we had to keep her cooled off somehow.

Almost an hour later and still having fun. No need for a bath tonight!

Rock hunting in the pool. Polli wanted to reach in with her mouth and pick them up but never got the nerve. Mostly, she just batted them around with her paws.

Time to settle down for book time. This seems like a comfy position...

...or this

...Or maybe this.

Notice the "road rash" he came home with on Friday. Imagine my shock when I took his shirt off. No one mentioned it at school. He also had the same mark BEHIND his left ear. You can imagine that I'll have some questions for them on Monday.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Six Months Home

This time 6 months ago, I was baring my soul about how I was blindsided by how difficult our homecoming was and about how unprepared I was for the transition from 13 years as "Dual Income No Kids" to "Oh my gosh, what have we done?". It became obvious that many of our blog faithful were only around for the rah rah of the trip and weren't all that compassionate about the real world realities of our journey. If those people are still around, I still don't apologize. No offense, but I didn't start a blog to sugar coat our experiences. The people who are following behind us need to know that it's hard. Not always, but sometimes…and not talking about the tough stuff is the same as lying, in my opinion, and that's just not fair to those preparing…to be parents, to adopt, to adopt internationally, to adopt a toddler, to adopt a toddler with a special need… or all of the above.

So, now that 6 months separates us from those who had so much to say about how ungrateful we were for our new son… how negative I had become…how poorly I was handling the transition… To those people, I say (insert that 'stick your tongue out' noise here). My frustrations were real, but obviously short lived. I haven't had much to say since other than how wonderful our son is and what a dream he has been. For those who have stuck it out with me, I appreciate your undying support, love, friendship, and confidence that I could eventually find a way to get past the hard part and finally realize that the day would come again when I could take a normal shower, let his feet touch the floor, leave his sight for 2 seconds, let the dog loose in the same room, watch TV again, have an adult conversation, drive for a mile without taking my eyes off the road (OK, I still can't do that). Thanks for waiting patiently while I got past all of those things.

It is hard to believe that 6 months has gone by since arriving home. I thought I would celebrate this milestone by giving you a comparison of some facts about Ian at homecoming compared to now to show you exactly how far he has come.

Following are a few reruns from the past 6 months.

Six months ago: Ian wasn't walking. Barely crawling. Kind of cruising. Today: Ian is at a full sprint during all waking hours, but is still working on the stopping part.

Six months ago: Ian had a 2 word vocabulary: Mama & Dada. Today: Ian adds words DAILY and wants everything to have a name. Most people need me to translate, but he is making amazing progress in speech. His favorite words are Buh (Polli), Ah (Car), Bike, Bmp Bmp (Beep Beep) Ball, Bye Bye, Nigh Nigh, and Uh Wuh Whoa (I love you).

Six months ago: Ian had spent less than 2 weeks exploring the outdoors since his abandonment at 3 months of age. Today: It's difficult to get him to stay inside. He loves the backyard, the park, and the playground at school. He picks me flowers every time we go for a walk (dandilions) and loves rocks or anything remotely "ball" shaped.

Six months ago: Ian spent his first scary night in a room by himself...ever in his entire life. Today: He goes down without a barely a peep every night with an enthusiastic "nigh nigh, uh wuh whoa" as we close the door behind us. Smiles greet us every morning. Is this kid for real?

Six months ago: Ian weighed 29 pounds and stood 30 inches tall. Today: He is exactly the same weight, 29 pounds, and stands 34 inches tall.

Six months ago: Ian was just getting used to solid food having been a formula and congee baby. Today: He loves almost any kind of food. He's not that picky and especially loves most every kind of vegetable, fruit, and meat.

Six months ago: Ian was wearing 18 months clothes...but required rolling the pant and shirt cuffs. Today: He's in 24 month pants, most without needing to roll the cuffs, and 24 month or 2T shirts.

Six months ago: Ian had never used a toothbrush before and would meltdown at our attempts to put our fingers in his mouth. Today: He LOVES to brush his teeth and lets us touch his teeth and tongue... and especially loves numbing gel or anything in a medicine dropper.

Six months ago: Ian had about 7 teeth (3 of which came in while we were in China). Today: He has all but the back molars, which we think are starting to come in as you're reading this.

Six months ago: He was scared of the dog. It didn't last long, but I don't blame him. She can be pretty bossy. Today: They are best buddies. If she's not there with me to wake him in the morning, he leans over his crib rails to look out in the hall for her, yelling for "Buh". She lays right outside his door while we put him to bed and goes from lazy dog to watchdog big sister the second his bedroom door shuts.

Other things you might not have known about Ian:

He loves to "put away" and "throw away"

He now loves to be read to. He watches my mouth as I read and tries out words. It's cute to watch his mouth move silently as he watches me talk.

He likes to touch the leaves of the same plants outside his daycare every day when I pick him up. If I forget, he takes my hand and walks me back by them so he can "pet nice".

He occasionally pats our buddha statue's belly and says "dad". In fairness to Shawn, he usually says "Duh", the last syllable in Buddha.

He's a milk addict. Since learning that it could be why he still has low iron levels, we're trying to get him to drink more water or orange juice. But he still looks at the color, hands it back to me and asks for milk (muh). I can't pull one over on this kid.

Ian is a card carrying health club member and loves swimming so far.

He loves to be tossed on the bed. I'm praying he lands right every time... I'm looking into supplemental accident coverage through my work's healthcare provider. Something tells me I'm going to need it someday.

Still one of my favorite pictures from while we were in China

First week home... 2nd time in a car seat. As you can see, it wasn't that big of a deal.

One month home. First experience with Mac N Cheese... Do you think he liked it?

Two months home. So far, it's been a slam dunk!

Still my all time favorite. Three months home.. First day of school!

Four months home. Our dog walker in training.

Five months home. Bubble-mania!

Six months home. Swimming fanatic.