Thursday, October 30, 2008

Remembering China

A year ago today, we were in that limbo where we lost 15 hours in the air plus 12 hours for the time zone change. "The day that never was", I usually call it. We landed in Beijing just a few hours before midnight and we were thoroughly exhausted, but not tired at all…all at the same time. I realized that I didn't take a single picture of our travel experience in the airports, etc. I couldn't imagine NOT capturing every moment now, but I guess the camera freak in me hadn't come out yet. My first actual pictures are the next day in Beijing.

Our guide, Anna, met us at our gate and took us to our waiting car. We were not travelling with a group and had scheduled our own tour guide and hotel for Beijing. She was in her mid-twenties, but looked like about 15, and as cute as a bug. She was a college student studying English and Politics, and in Beijing also studying to pass her guide tests to qualify as a guide for the Olympics. From her description, the testing is brutal and involves memorizing several books word for word.

Once in our room, we immediately hooked up our laptops (yep, we brought two) and worked on trying to get into Blogger and Kodak Gallery. The internet speed was horrible and we instantly understood the pains of so many others that had travelled before us. We were quickly realizing in many ways that we live sheltered lives with many creature comforts back in the good 'ol US of A.

I think we got to sleep at about 3am that first night, knowing Anna would be back for us bright and early only 5 hours later. Another day closer to our son. It seemed like that day would never come, now I hardly remember what it felt like to be "just the two of us".

I have nothing to show of our travel day to Beijing! However, I do have a few cute pictures from yesterday and today, and a quick video of Ian being silly.

I should comment here also that today was Ian's 6 month Speech Therapy goal review meeting. As I mentioned the other day, he scored age appropriate in receptive and expressive speech, and even above normal in a few areas. There are only a few things he needs to work on and nothing major...just little stuff like using question words and possessives (I, me, you, your, etc.). They even broke it to me (gently) that he may not qualify for school aided services when he turns 3 in March. While that would mean he's doing great, I would be a little upset. I really love what therapy has done for him and can't look past the fact that this time last year, he had never heard the English language...and today he is speaking as well as any 2 and a half year old. Even just 6 months ago, he had only about 12 words to his vocabulary!

Getting used to his Halloween costume little by little
Going for a joy ride with dad

Cruising the kitchen

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Doctors, Dentists, & Speech Pathologists, OH MY!

Ian & the Hearing Test:

I picked Ian up early from daycare yesterday for an Audiology appointment at Children's. It was well into what should have been naptime, but they kept him up for me (yippee) and he was thrilled to see me when I arrived. I told him he was going to the doctor's… to which he replied "Yay!" The teachers all laughed. I told him he'd be changing his mind about that soon enough.

He did survive the ride into Seattle without falling asleep or melting down, mostly because I took the long way and drove us through the long tunnels of the I-90 floating bridge. He loves tunnels, squealing and cheering the whole way through. He was also thrilled to see a taxi in front of us for several miles from the freeway to the hospital, saying "mommy follow taxi!" over and over again. We got stuck in traffic at one point, when he started yelling "Go cars, Go!". I think he learned that from his dad.

We arrived at Children's with almost too much time to spare. They don't have the play area that they used to. I managed to get a few shots of him playing at the same gear wall as his December appointment, but he wasn't all that interested in them and quickly moved on to the books…so we read and walked around for almost an hour…for those who frequent doctor's offices, you know that an hour is a very long time to have a child in a waiting room. A child with no nap at that.

He did very well during his hearing test though, and although I don't have the results to talk technically, they rated the hearing in his "better" ear as normal. She couldn't say enough about how well he was responding to even extremely low tones and frequencies.

He had just about had it with the headphones after testing his better ear and we decided not to do his Microtia ear until his next appointment. The goal is to keep his better hearing ear healthy and just continue confirming that his primary hearing ear is within the normal range. She agreed that he functions in a quiet environment as though he has 2 functioning ears…It's when multiple stimuli come into play that he starts to come unraveled. Unfortunately, they gave him a train to play with during the test and he was not at all happy about needing to give it back. We had a bit of a situation getting back to the car, but once in his seat, I gave him some goldfish crackers and he was happy again. Before I took my first turn out of the parking garage, he was fast asleep.

I did get him the "spicy milk" I had promised him… Essentially, it's a kid's soy chai…a smaller version of my drink. I woke him to go into the grocery store, where he picked out a 4 pack of Hot Wheels (bargain dr. appt gift at $3.99) and happily steered the cart/car for the next 30 minutes while I shopped. Ah, the things that soothe a child.

Ian & the Dentist:

Today I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned, and Ian had his first appointment scheduled at the same time. I arrived at daycare to pick him up a little earlier than his normal pick up time, but he was sound asleep on his mat. I had to lean down really close to his ear and whisper "Ian, mommy's here" and he woke up with a big smile and said "Mommy, I dreamed!" He wrapped his arms around me and hid his face in my neck as he woke from his nap. It's these things that keep me going on the tough days, and makes me all warm inside.

Shawn met us at the dentist's office and I headed back with my hygienist while Shawn went with Ian. I kind of thought I would be with him the whole time, but it didn't happen that way. I took a few pictures of him, but then left the rest to Shawn. I could hear them talking, but I didn't get to be as involved as I wanted. Essentially, it was what they call a "happy visit", where he just sits in the chair and they let him see the instruments and he talks to Dr. Yang. He is such a soft spoken and gentle man...and he's Chinese, which helps. Ian tends to be curious of Asians, and he was very well behaved for Dr. Yang, even letting him look in his mouth and count his teeth. Dr. Yang said he has all of his baby teeth (yay, no more teething!!!) and they look really healthy. We need to work on Ian spitting out toothpaste and need to get him to allow us to brush more thoroughly in the back. He even wants us to start trying to floss with the floss picks. Other than that seemingly impossible task, he's on track to a life of pearly whites.

Also, huge news just hit my email! Ian had some testing during his last speech therapy appointment, basically books of items that he had it identify...and one book of 3 items on each page and he had to point to the item she asked him to... Well, he scored on target for comprehension AND expression! He is officially a 2 and a half year old in the speech department. Six months ago, at his first therapy session, they scored him at approximately a 15 month level. That means he has closed a year's gap in 6 months. Grandma Trish was right... Ian IS a genius! :-) Shawn wanted to know why he didn't score "above age appropriate". I rolled my eyes and informed him that he isn't even age appropriate, so Ian's already ahead of him in that category!

This time last year, we were stacking our suitcases by the front door in anticipation for our trip the the airport the following day. A year ago! I can't believe how time has flown, yet at the same time, it feels like forever ago. You'll read that same sentiment over and over in the coming 3 weeks!

Ian with his therapist Mona. He loves Mona. Anytime the doorbell rings, he runs for it, yelling "MONA!". He asks all the time if he can go see her.

On our way to the doctor's office. He was so excited that there was a yellow taxi in front of us. I got several pictures of him in various modes of joy.

Playing at the doctor's office...then and now. This shows just how much taller he is and how much more hair he has!

Some people need tranquilizers or nitrous oxide to relax at the dentist. All Ian needs is his blanket. (Note to self: Get him some longer jeans!)

Checking out the giant teeth

Learning the proper way to brush

Getting a proper introduction to the joys of healthy teeth. If only I had been there, we'd have about a hundred more pictures than the measly 5 that my surrogate photographer took for me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pre-Halloween Jitters

Halloween is less than a week away and Ian officially HATES his bug costume. We've muscled it on him a few times, but it will take a minor miracle to get him to wear it happily around the neighborhood. We're working with him on it daily, even wearing part of it ourselves to try to convince him that it's silly and not scary (the bug hood actually fits both Shawn and I..not what I consider 2T).

Yesterday, we headed back out to Remlinger Farms for pumpkins. I really wish I had put my foot down 2 weeks ago and demanded pumpkins then. At that time, they were all beautiful, perfect, and we had our pick from hundreds...maybe thousands. Yesterday, it was obvious that the patch had been worked over big time and barely a decent pumpkin was to be found. We did find 2 good ones and Shawn (again refusing the wheel barrow for some reason) carried them both back while I handled a muddy shoed 2 year old. We took the tractor ride back from the patch to the lot and it took the long way through the fields. Ian had the biggest smile on his face the entire time. It doesn't sound like much fun, but it was a really nice afternoon and it wasn't all bad. I realize now that we could have gotten pumpkins just as nice at the grocery store...but there's something about the pumpkin patch that completes my vision of the Halloween tradition.

Today, I set out upon the task of carving. We decided to do it outside, but it was extremely windy (not uncommon for our area). Ian was interested for a few minutes, but soon wanted to be on my lap, which usually doesn't work when you're holding a 8 inch serrated knife. He even said "Ian crib" and "Ian naps" a few times. A kid has to really dislike something to actually ask for a nap as an alternative! Needless to say, my pumpkin carvings turned out crummy. I soon realized that the $4 carving kit we bought was about $3.99 too expensive. The blades snapped off all the little knives before I even got through the first pumpkin. I managed to finish, but not before everyone had HAD IT with pumpkin carving. It was not at all what I imagined the event being. Oh well. At least I'll get a couple of pies and some roasted seeds out of the deal.

Below are a few pics of the weekend, including one "then and now" of Ian reading. He loves to (pretend) read and be read to... If I did nothing but read to him all day, I think he would be perfectly content. He even wants to be read to in the bathtub. I hope it's not just a phase. I would love to have a son who is as passionate about books as I am.

This week is a real whirlwind. I have one day that I don't leave work early or come in late...and on that day, I'm taking a long lunch with a friend. Ian has an Audiology appointment at Seattle Childrens tomorrow. I'm geared to pick him up from school right in the middle of nap time, so we'll see how that translates in his audiogram. He also has a mild cold, which sometimes skews the hearing tests. We'll see how it goes. In exchange for being good at the doctor's office, I promised him a "spicy milk", which is essentially steamed milk with a little bit of chai. He always gets so excited when he gets something that he perceives as only for grown ups.

Tuesday, he has his first dentist appointment. Our dentist is Chinese and has a boy Ian's age, so it should be interesting to see how they get along.

Wednesday marks the 1 year anniversary of when we left for China! We didn't officially arrive in Beijing until almost midnight on Halloween (a full day in the air), but that will be when we start travelling down memory lane.

Thursday, Ian has his 6 month Speech Therapy evaluation...also, 6 months from now, he will be ending his "birth to 3" state funded therapy program and will need to go through the school district for speech services. Thursday will be our appointment to start setting goals for his expected transition in March. Because he has unilateral hearing loss, it is expected that he will qualify regardless of his delay at that time. Ian does so well with his therapist that I want to continue as long as the "powers that be" will let us.

As earlier stated, Friday marks anniversary of our China trip, Day 1...Our first day of sight seeing in Beijing. It is also Halloween, which means the moment of truth for Ian and his bug costume! There's lots more happening on Friday, but I'll wait until then to share the details. Given the fact that the costume might be a flop, things might happen differently than I envision. I'll just think positive thoughts and wait to see what happens!

The "Screaming Bug"

Not to be confused with "The Tantrum Bug".

We thought showing him his costume in the mirror would help...

But then came out the "Get this thing off me now" bug.

Finally, the close relative "Stop crying for one picture so they'll take this off" bug.

Ian spots the pumpkin he wants

He was not expecting dirt to be part of the deal.

I can't believe how close I had that knife to my child's face and fingers. What was I thinking?

Checking out the pumpkin guts.

The insides of the pumpkin were ice cold. He was a good sport though.

Helping me scrape out the insides.

Lured away with gummy snacks while I finished the second pumpkin.

Braving the cold/wind with a smile

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ian & Polli Then/Now

What a difference a year makes! It's actually 11 months, in the case of these two pictures, but I still can't get over how much Ian has grown. Although he's only 6 inches taller, it seems like he's doubled in size. His legs, although still pretty stubby, are almost twice as long as when we first met him, and he has a really long torso. His hair has filled in great, which is a long way from his referral pics of a boy with a super high hairline. I was in a panic then that he would have old man hair his whole life.

Polli is about the same in both pictures. She's still the bigger of my toddlers. Ian has aged her, I think. She gets way more exercise now than before he came along...and most always wants to be where he is. They're good together...and for eachother. Many lessons have been learned (by both) about how to be nice to others, how to share, and when enough is enough.

My kids. I love them both so much. (Even if Polli gets on the dining room table when we're at work).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dog Park - Take 2

On Sunday, after Shawn left for his hockey game, Ian and I took Polli to the dog park for what might be our last trip until Winter has come and gone. We've had another "brisk" yet sunny weekend, which typically makes for a good time at the dog park.

It was packed and Ian took off running as soon as we got there. He and Polli were free at last, jumping and playing in the fields like it was Christmas Day. Ian tried to body slam a little Pekinese...thinking a "snuggle" for one dog is a snuggle for all dogs. I tried telling him that we shouldn't snuggle dogs we don't know. He was disappointed, but I think he got it.

Later, he saw a wagon of beagle puppies and told the owner they needed a blanket... and waved night night to them as we walked away.

We ended with a trip through the Starbucks drive-thru for Chai (for me) and a steamed milk for Ian (we call it Ian's coffee).

After dinner, he got to watch 2 Little Einsteins episodes, then it was story time before lights out.

Another fun day with my kids. Below are a few pics from the dog park (similar to pics from our last trip). I've also thrown in a few misc. shots from the weekend.

There is a remote control plane park next to the dog park... He was almost as interested in the planes as the dogs.

There's no hiding a happy dog.

Petting the puppies. He was especially worried that they were sleeping without a blanket.

Walking with Polli

Who knew a 2 year old could be this happy all the time?

Eating his "goldfish chips"

Step one in his favorite game "Dad Flips": Crouch down, slap his knees...

Step 2: Run, and... FLIP!

I like these stylish jeans...$12 at Old Navy, but look like the True Religion brand jeans that Nordstrom's has the nerve to sell for toddlers... for $79. As if! I think he looks about 6 feet tall at this angle.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mom & Dad's Night Out (aka, Ian's First Sleepover)

Friday night was a milestone for our family. Ian's Grandma Trish has been asking for months...and months...and months... to take Ian overnight. It was a flat no from me until I was confident that he had adequately bonded with us, could communicate his needs, and was ready to close his eyes at night with neither of us there.

Shawn and I have only been out to dinner alone once since coming home from China last November, and we were home 2 hours later. We really wanted to have a nice dinner out, and had received gift certificates for Mother's & Father's Day gifts (from a strategic Grandma) and needed to use them.

Here we are almost a year after bringing Ian home and I'm finally ready to let him go for the night. I thought I would be a basket case, but I really wasn't. I know he loves his Grandma and is used to being alone with her since she watches him on Fridays. He asks for Grandpa Tom all the time, so I knew he would do fine. I thought that if it unravelled at any point, it would be the saying goodnight and closing the door part. I've worked hard to replicate his at home sleep environments as closely as possible when we sleep somewhere different...Same blankets, music player, etc. It works pretty well and he always sleeps fine, even in a room to himself.

I realized it wasn't going to be a big, fancy, romantic night out when, while getting ready, Shawn asked from the closet, "Do I have any clean jeans?". This was after I drug out the curling iron and put on liquid foundation...and was wearing pantyhose. Foundation AND pantyhose! It was obvious that we had very different expectations of the evening.

Despite the evening's beginnings, it was a really nice dinner, and the restaurant has a wonderful view of the space needle, ferry line, and Seattle skyline. We had cosmos, appetizers, fancy salads, seafood, wine, dessert, coffee... the whole nine yards. It was definitely worth the night out. We decided that we were too full to go to a movie, so we headed home. We were in our separate TV rooms watching our own shows by 8:30pm and asleep by 10. Some habits are hard to break, kid or no kid.

I did dream that Tom & Trish lost Ian... and the rest of the night dreamed of work. Where the Ian-free night paid off was the sleeping in part. I slept until an unheard of 8:00am. Even before Ian came along, that was a ridiculous thought.

Never the less, I was dressed and out the door by 10 to run errands until it was time to meet Trish halfway to trade Ian. That time included a trip to the bookstore and some time to research our gift for Ian on "Family Day". I'm deciding on a collector's item of some kind that we can add to every year. I'm finding that trains are REALLY complicated and will take lots of research and questions before even entertaining the idea of starting a collection. Books are easier, but then there are editions and mints to consider. Even Hardy Boys (my first thought) have so many reprints throughout the decades. I have to give it more thought and then jump in and make a decision since we're only a couple of weeks away from our day. I really wish I would have thought about this ahead of time... I've had all year!

So, how did Ian do at Grandma & Grandpa's house? He did great! They went to the park, played with the neighbor's kids, visited Grandma's office, read stories with Grandpa, took a bath...and went to bed....That's it! All my worrying for nothing!

Even if it's just for a day of uninterrupted cleaning...or another chance to sleep in, I might have to contract Grandma for a Friday night every couple of months. I know... I'm really living on the edge now!

Mom & Dad's big night out

That's right, Grandma....When all else fails, MAKE him give you a kiss.

He's such a ladies man!

Ian, just put your hand in here like this, and then turn this handle counter clockwise... What?!

Playing with Grandpa's gee-tar

Hanging out with Spirit

Being interrogated the witch

MMM! Chicken!

Reading his favorite book "Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!"

He NEVER gets bored of stacking cups

Don't worry, Ian. One day you'll have that much chest hair, too.

Playing in Grandma's bathroom... Although I don't know that I would have trusted a toddler with a hairbrush so close to a glass perfume bottle collection! Yikes!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Autumn Festival at Remlinger Farms

About 10 minutes from our house, in Carnation, Washington, is a great place called Remlinger Farms, pretty famous in our area for it's produce market, pies, and fresh crops. They also have a fair style park that rotates different themes and events throughout the year. It's mostly kids stuff, so we've never been interested, but this year we decided their Autumn Festival would be the perfect outing for Ian. It was clear as soon as we arrived that it would become our Pre-Halloween tradition.

It's a bit spendy to get in, and very crowded since the Autumn festival is only open to the public on weekends in October and early November, but we arrived early and were glad we did. We parked right away and only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes.

We went straight for the choo choo. It's a fairly authentic steam train that runs a 15 minute track through woods, near the Tolt River, and through the park, including their 4-H farms. Ian got right up close to cows, emus, alpacas & llamas. The train also went through a long, dark tunnel that he actually liked and wasn't at all scared.
After that, he sat on a few tractors much like at the zoo in Arizona...and quickly found that he likes them much better in the small toy variety or from a distance. Next was the petting zoo, most, goats and sheep. The goats were pygmy billygoat varieties and much smaller and friendlier than those in the petting zoos we've been to recently. We didn't trust the sheep. They had this look in their eyes like "kid, you're this close to being lunch" and Ian was wearing a sweater, so we didn't risk it. We tried the pony ride, but he freaked out, as expected, so we left that area and continued least we could say he tried. Maybe next year when he understands better that they're not scary at all.

From there we went into the hay maze, which he loved, but Shawn and I couldn't handle the hay...instant histimine response for both of us, so we got him in and out pretty quickly. We then went through a tunnel layout, which he also really loved, and he talked about tunnels and choo choos all the way through lunch.

He was most excited about their full sized school bus and old fashioned fire truck...along with almost every kid in the state. He got his hand stepped on in the frenzy and that was about the end of his patience for the day. We got a few pictures in the small pumpkin area there, but figured that the gravel and chain link fence killed the ambiance of pumpkins and decided to wait for those pics at their big pumpkin patch a bit further out on the farm.

As much as I wanted his picture with a few of the many scarecrows around the farm, he was having none of that. At this point, I think he was wondering why we were trying to pose him with pumpkins and hay stuffed clowns. I can imagine it all probably seemed a little strange. One day it will all be second nature. I also wanted to shop in the market and buy a pie, but Shawn rolled his eyes at me and said no way. That part is separate from the kid area, so I guess that's a good trip for me and Trish one of these Friday afternoons. The shops scream Trish start to finish.
We didn't see everything... there was a log boat ride for kids as well as an old car ride through a self guided track. There were also old fashioned trucks he could climb in/on, a bouncy house, inflated slide, and a climbing wall. There were plenty of little kids there as well as lots to do for the older kids. It would be a great place to have a birthday party when Ian gets just a little older.

We piled back in the truck and headed about 3 minutes back out the way we came and parked at the pumpkin patch. We boarded the back of a tractor cart filled with hay and rode into the patch. In the same lot is a corn maze, which looks like it would have been a ton of fun about 20 years ago. They do a midnight flashlight maze run for teenagers on Friday nights. Spooky!

Ian still didn't get the concept of posing in a pumpkin patch. He was a bit overwhelmed and tired by that point so we walked around for about 20 minutes and headed back to the truck. Part of what I envisioned in this tradition was letting Ian pick his very own pumpkin, but again, Shawn was the big party pooper and said no... so we left pumpkin-less. Off to the grocery store for our pumpkins, I guess! I was bummed, but maybe by next year, when Ian "gets it" a little more, Shawn will have come to his senses. On the bright side, we got several decent shots of me and Ian, which is rare. I'll take what I can get!

He crashed out within minutes and is fast asleep now. His school is closed tomorrow, so we're planning to keep him up as late as possible so he'll sleep in for Shawn (he's taking the day off to relive his 'home alone' experience of February).

Below are some of the more memorable shots at Remlinger Farms.
He was not at all interested in the scarecrows...regardless of how harmless they looked
Tractors are much less intimidating when they're the same size as Hot Wheels.

The goats were cute and friendlier than those at the petting zoo's we've been to recently. I think this one was eyeing that tasty sweater.

He was leaning, so we'll call it 3 feet. He was 30 inches at the Physical Exam in Guangzhou, so that makes about 6 inches in a year. It will be fun to get a picture against this chart every year.

He might have played in this hay all day if Shawn and I weren't instantly in need of Benadryl.

Ian & Me in front of the hay maze... that pesky sun created streaks in half my pictures.

What's this? Another picture of me and Ian? He loved the tunnels, that's for sure.

Another tunnel.

He lasted about 5 seconds. We didn't even make it out of the stall before we had to take him off the horse. Oh well. There's always next year.

That's right, Ian. The cool kids sit at the back of the bus.

Posing in the old fashioned fire truck

Not really understanding the purpose of it all. Great, squash. Does this mean it's time for lunch?

Soon, he got the hang of it. These things are round...and they roll!

I'm giving Shawn a command of some kind, I'm sure. Doesn't every mother have a photo where she's telling her husband how to take the picture?

He was probably hinting that he wanted this pumpkin, but we missed it.

More of me and Ian in the big punkin patch.

Now I'm just showing off.

Ian's final pose before he asked me to carry him back to the car. I also realized just how much he's grown when I see how small this sweater is from last winter.