Sunday, March 21, 2010

What a Week

I can't believe we've been home with Pudding for a week now. We are slowly starting to transition from survival mode into our "new normal". We always try to lay low for awhile after an adoption and let our new child settle into his/her new family. However, between school, soccer practice, field trips, HD's 2nd birthday and doctor's appointments, there has been little hibernation with Pudding. But he has been a trooper and jumped right into all of the action.
One of the biggest challenges I am having is trying to get all of the kiddos ready and out of the door every morning. How in the world do you parents of multiples do it?!? I have to start getting the little ones ready a good 1.5 hours before we are ready to leave. Of course it never fails that one, if not both, will have dirty diapers between the time it takes to get dressed and into the van. Friday morning I thought I was doing great. I had fixed breakfast, gotten Chipmunk out the door for school, given a bath to the "Littles" (as we've taken to calling HD and Pudding), ironed Monkey's clothes for his field trip, and partially dressed myself...all before 9:30!! I was feeling pretty cocky because I was actually ahead of schedule. I had just finished putting HD's shoes on when I went to find Pudding to get him dressed. Our little wild man had managed to go back to the bathroom, open a new bottle of shampoo and empty it on himself and our new hardwood floors. Arggh. So after another bath and a quick mop, I ended up being about twenty minutes behind. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it soon but man-oh-man is it a challenge. I won't even get started on my decision to make a "quick" stop at the grocery with the Littles in tow. I feel like we are a traveling 3-ring circus.
We are still struggling with sleep issues with Pudding too. I have no idea what to do. He is napping better now (thank goodness) but nighttime is a total disaster. He goes to sleep (still laying on our chest) without too much of a fight. But he wakes up about an hour later and then about every 1.5 hours after that, all night long. He just wakes up screaming and is inconsolable. I don't think they are night terrors but I have no idea what it could be. And when he does sleep, he moves constantly. He isn't still for more than 2 minutes at a time. It takes anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to get him back to sleep so you can see that he (nor Stu and I) are getting much sleep at this point. We've tried a crib, a toddler bed, a couch, our bed...nothing seems to help. We did find out that he has a double ear infection so we are hoping once the antibiotics kick in he'll start to sleep better. We've also removed dairy from his diet, knowing that Asians are typically lactose intolerant. Maybe the bottle before bed is upsetting his stomach?? We'll just keep plodding along, trying different things until we can find a solution that works for him. If anybody has any suggestions I'd love to hear it.
The kids are all still doing great together. Pudding and HD have really started to play together and are constantly by each other's sides. We've had a few jealousy issues when one is sitting with me and the other isn't. But the other is always willing to scoot over and share my lap and the problem is solved. We've been enjoying this beautiful weather and have gone for many long walks this week. The Littles love strolling in the double jogger and tend to hold hands for most of the walk. So sweet! Surprisingly Monkey has had the greatest difficulty adjusting to the new brother. I think it's more an issue of sharing my attention than of the new addition. I already have a "big boy" day planned for next weekend so hopefully having some one-on-one with me will help alleviate some of his attention-seeking behavior.
I took HD and Pudding to the pediatrician this week...what was I thinking when I scheduled an appointment for two 2-year-olds??!?! It was the two-year checkup for HD and she looks great. Holding steady at 34 pounds and 34 inches - my little square:) Most of you know that Pudding was a "special-needs" child, as he had a moderate-to-severe VSD/enlarged heart. We knew this when we accepted his referral and had already consulted with a cardiologist. We anticipated lots of medical treatment/possible surgery when we came home. What we didn't expect was him already having the surgery in China while we were waiting to pick him up. When we picked him up at the orphanage, we met briefly with the caregivers and they never mentioned this. It wasn't until a little while later that day that we saw the big scar on his chest, indicating that he had open-heart surgery at some point. We asked our translator to check with the orphanage to see when he had the surgery/what type of surgery he had. She was able to find out that he had surgery in July 2009. They wouldn't release what type of surgery he had but indicated that his problem was fixed and he was considered 100% healthy. That was good to hear but I wasn't going to feel completely comfortable with that until I heard it from our own doctors. So I was very anxious to hear what our pediatrician would say about Pudding. I am thrilled to report that the doctor said his heart sounded "perfect" and while he advised us to set up an appointment with our cardiologist, there was no need to rush and we could wait several months until things have settled down. What great news!!! Also good to hear is that Pudding is now up to 24 pounds...pretty good considering he was right at 20 pounds when we picked him up 3.5 weeks ago. And I think if he continues to eat like he has been, he'll catch up with HD in no time!
Of course, I can't forget to mention that our little Miss HD celebrated her 2nd birthday on Tuesday! I can't believe my baby is two-years-old. It really seems like just a few months ago I was in Kyrgyzstan picking up our little 6-month-old baby. Now she is such the queen bee of our household and has all of her brothers wrapped around her little (chubby) finger. We were still suffering from jet-lag and being out of the country for 18 days so we didn't do a big party; instead we just had a little celebration at home with a few family members. Thank goodness she's still too little to really care about not having a big bash. I don't think we will be able to get away with that for too many more years. But she had a great time and really enjoyed unwrapping her presents. Her favorite present? Probably the pair of squeaky shoes we brought back from China. She loves to run through the house making tons of noise. Pudding has a pair too. While the sound might drive me crazy, it is nice to know where they are at all times. We can hear their little squeaks a mile away.

So happy in the morning!

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed

Our little birthday girl

Getting the hang of opening presents

Loving her new chair

Monday, March 15, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I wanted to do a quick post letting everyone know we arrived home on Saturday afternoon. Things here are good and we are slowly settling into being a family of six. The older boys are bouncing with excitement; HD and Pudding are still scoping each other out. HD has been much nicer to him than I ever anticipated. She is such the mother hen, constantly shaking her head and saying "No, no" when he is getting into something he shouldn't, and bringing him his blanket when he is upset. Pudding has been a little aggressive with her - very possessive of toys and food, which is to be expected. He is really enjoying his older brothers though. I feel like I'm living with the Three Stooges since they are constantly doing silly things trying to make the others laugh.
Pudding is having some major problems with jet lag. He tends to fall asleep okay but is wide awake and ready for the day by 1:30 a.m. And we are back to him having to sleep on our chest through the night again. Not an ideal situation, but I know it will get better with a little more time.
Although it is a 3-ring circus around our house, I couldn't be happier. Just to be home with all four of my babies in my lap fills me with such happiness and contentment. Life is good. Now off to prepare for Miss HD's birthday tomorrow!! I can't believe my baby is going to be 2!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Last post from China

We are (almost) packed and giddy with excitement that we are so close to starting our journey home. We will be checking out of the hotel in a few minutes and killing a couple of hours on the island until it is time to leave for the airport. Our flight leaves GZ at 9:00 pm tonight.
To say we are ready to come home is an understatement. However, it is a little bittersweet, knowing that Pudding is leaving his homeland. China is an amazing country full of rich history and cultural and I am a little sad knowing that when he returns it will be with an Americanized view of the country. But we have so many incredible memories of our time here and will always remember it with great fondness.
Okay, enough for now. Hopefully the next post will be us announcing our arrival home!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Day, New Attitude

First, thank you to everyone for all of the encouraging and kind words you offered after my less-than-cheerful post yesterday. It helped to remember that we have so many wonderful people that love and support us.

Today we woke up in MUCH better moods. It was such a great feeling to be able to say that we are leaving tomorrow (albeit at 9:00 p.m). Tomorrow sounds so much more promising than “x” amount of days from now. It also helped that we had a beautiful day, full of sun and blue skies. We had no plans today (other than pick up the all-important visa this afternoon) so we spent the morning at a local park, enjoying the gorgeous day. The kids had such a fun time, playing at a children’s playground and strolling around the grounds. It was great to take a nice leisurely walk and observe the various activities that so many people enjoy at the park: singing, dancing, tai chi, ping pong, exercises… Stu and I both agreed that retirement looks pretty darn good here in China.

The rest of the day was low-key and we were thrilled when we received Pudding’s visa late this afternoon along with all of the other important paperwork needed for immigration. This means that our official trip is over and we can leave at anytime! Yahoo!!! Of course, we have a late flight tomorrow night so we have one more day to spend on the island but it feels so much better to know that we could leave if we wanted to. And tomorrow is supposed to be another beautiful day so we can stroll around the island (and do a little more shopping) and wear Pudding out before our flight. We fly from overnight from GZ to Los Angeles so we are really hoping and praying that he sleeps for the majority of the flight. I’m not sure what we’ll do if he is as active as he was on the flight from Beijing. I have lots of toys and treats packed and if things get too bad I’ll just keep reminding myself that we’ll never see the people on our flight again;)

While he is still incredibly happy and silly, Pudding continues to show us new layers to his personality every day. Several times recently he has become a little aggressive when other children approach him. He is content in the playroom playing by himself and watching the other children. However, if another child comes into his personal space he will slap or push them away. I’ve had to remove him from group play many times over the past few days. This does not bode well for creating a positive relationship between HD and him, as HD can be pretty aggressive herself. I think we might have quite a rough transition ahead for all of us.

We’ve also discovered that we are going to have to maintain a pretty strict schedule for him in the beginning, as well as limit his sugar intake. Yesterday was a long day and we missed napped due to our consulate appointment (by the way, who at the consulate thought it was a good idea to schedule the adoption appointments RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of naptime?!?!? Imagine what a room full of 36 newly adopted children, all missing nap, sounded like yesterday afternoon). On the car ride to dinner afterwards, we gave Pudding a lollipop to keep him quiet in the van. By the time we reached the restaurant he was C-R-A-Z-Y! Seriously, he was more hyped up than our Monkey ever thought of being, and that is saying a lot. He was screaming (happily) at the top of his lungs, throwing chopsticks and plates, banging the table, kicking the chair. He couldn’t sit still for a single second. It was like he was possessed. I have never seen him like that. Stu and I were at a complete loss for how to handle it. Finally after the food arrived and he got his belly full he calmed down a bit, but holy cow that was a crazy thirty minutes. Not sure if was no nap, sugar from the lollipop, being overly hungry or just the perfect storm of everything but we will try to never let those events happen at the same time again.

Okay, off to bed. One more sleep to go until we begin the long

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm Tired!

There comes a time during every adoption trip when I hit a wall. Today I hit that wall headfirst. I am tired of traveling and I am ready to come home.

I’m tired of living out of a suitcase.

I’m tired of having to use bottled water to brush my teeth.

I’m tired of having to be quiet after 8:30 p.m. because our son is asleep in a crib next to us in our small hotel room.

I’m tired of having to eat out for every meal.

I’m tired of having my favorite websites blocked (including my blog and facebook).

I’m tired of hard beds.

I’m tired of no ice cubes in drinks.

I’m tired of having to give virtual hugs and kisses through a computer screen to our children at home.

I’m tired of having to haggle over the price of every single thing I want to buy.

I’m tired of watching the same movies on HBO/same news on CNN/soccer on ESPN because they are the only channels in English.

I’m tired of wearing the same clothes every single day.

I’m tired of having to figure out the time difference every time I want to call home.

I’m tired of having to reorganize our hotel room every day after housekeeping cleans.

I’m tired.

I know I sound like a whiny, spoiled American (and maybe I am a little bit). But we left home 16 days ago, we’ve been here for 15 days, had Pudding with us for 14 days, and I am ready to go home. I’m ready for the soft comfy warmth of my own bed. I’m ready to cook my own food (however bad it may be). I’m ready to do my own laundry and have a choice about what to wear every day. I’m ready to have all four of my children with me at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong…this trip has been the experience of a lifetime. We’ve had an amazing time and this has been, by far, the easiest of all of our adoption trips. We have are so blessed to have such a beautiful, happy little boy. We are so happy we’ve been able to spend so much time in our son’s homeland. We met some wonderful people and have made some incredible memories. We will have nothing but good things to say about our time here. But right now, at this moment, I am tired and want to come home.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just pictures

Stu and Ally just wanted to share a few pictures from their day. Only four more days until they are home!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Only a few more days....

Lunchtime with other families

Pudding showing off his muscles

Helping the doctor

Pudding was a little bored with shopping.

This is pudding not smiling for once, but the poor little guy just got four shots!

As Allison and Pudding went to bed early tonight I just wanted to send a quick update.

Today's big accomplishment was completion of the medical exam and vaccinations necessary for him to be allowed into the US. Several of you have commented that he never seems to have an unhappy moment. Well you should have been there for the medical exam. All the doctors had to do was look at him and he broke down in tears. There was no need to test his lungs as everyone in the hospital could hear that they were clear and working fine.

Pudding had to get four vaccinations (don't know which ones - Allison is the medical expert). I thought it was best that Allison held him during the shots for a couple reasons. First I probably would have passed out at the sight of that many needles...... secondly somebody had to be the good guy and rescue him when they were all done. When they came out Pudding wouldn't even look at Allison or our translator for 15 minutes he was so mad at them.

A new part of Pudding's personality has starting developing the past couple of days. He has become quite the organizer. For instance at the doctors today he keep picking up all the toys and putting them away while the other 10 kids were dragging them out. He also lined up all the tables in the hotel play room so they were in a straight line. Some people (my wife) may see this as being an "anal accountant". I see it as being a "highly intelligent and superior " individual. There is a fine line between those two descriptions.....

I'm sitting here now with both Allison and Pudding snoring while I'm watching a James Bond movie in Chinese. I think when we get home me and Allison will sound like a bad James Bond movie when we are splitting the kids up........You take the Russians, I'll take the Asians.

Well only 4 days until we start traveling home and it can't come quick enough. Can't describe how bad we miss our kids. Everything about this trip has gone so well but can't wait to get home. We know they are doing great but I'll certainly be happy to have all four of them surrounding us Saturday night.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It is amazing what a nice refreshing day at the park can do for your spirits. After an amazing breakfast buffet at the hotel, we met our guide and headed to Yuntai Garden. While it was a little cool (around 60 degrees), it was so nice to go outside without being bundled up. The Garden was beautiful; full of flowers and greenery…so nice to see after the wintery urban streets of Beijing. While I don’t know a lot about landscape architecture, the Garden was pretty amazing. It was also so much fun to have another family with whom to share our day. Although it drizzled a bit, it turned into a really nice morning. It was Pudding’s first adventure in a stroller but he did really well as long as it was moving. The second it stopped he tried to climb out; definitely kept Stu busy.

We had lunch a Lucy’s…yummy! Pudding has his first Western meal: chicken strip, sausage (hot dog), French fries and fruit. He devoured the French fries before he even touched anything else on his plate. He did end up eating everything though. He has already gained a bit of weight and his face is definitely filling out; we can understand why since he eats like this at every meal. The kid’s meal also came with an ice cream sundae at the end. He wasn’t quite sure what to think of it at first – he is not used to cold food/drinks. He took a few bites but wasn’t too interested in it. I’m sure that will change once we get home.

Today was a day of firsts for Pudding. He actually took a nap in the crib today. Yahoo!! While this may not seem like a big deal, this is the first time he has slept anywhere other than in bed on our chest. I am starting to think the problem in Beijing was that it was a pack-n-play. Here we have a traditional (as in from the 1950s) crib and he seems much more comfortable in that. I sure hope so because the beds here are just a bit bigger than a twin and it is NOT fun to sleep in that with a squirming two-year-old. No wonder I look so tired in all of the pictures.

Another big deal was that he watched about ten minutes of a Baby Einstein video (HD’s favorite). Of course I don’t encourage my children to watch a ton of TV but it is nice to have a little break for the continuous destruction of our hotel room.

After today we are feeling so much better and feel like we can power through these last five days. I don’t think Stu and I realized how on edge we were by the end of our Beijing stay. Being able to leisurely stroll outside, having a big play room for Pudding to play, not to mention having clean laundry has helped our attitudes tremendously. And, of course, it is wonderful to be surrounded by so many other adoptive families. The bonds that form during an adoption journey are special; I’ve made some of my best friendships on our adoption trips. You can form instant connections with people with whom you would otherwise have little in common.

So another day winding down….only five more to go. I cannot wait to have all four of my babies together at last!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Just a quick post to let everyone know that we made it safely to GZ. The airplane ride was not fun. After sitting on the runway for an extra thirty minutes, Pudding had eaten his ration of Cheerios. It was a long three hours of keeping him occupied and quiet. Of course, he fell asleep literally three minutes before we landed. But we're here at the White Swan and looking forward to our last week in China. We were excited to find out that we'll be with another family during our week here; it will be nice to have another family to spend time with...not that I'm sick of Stu or anything:) We went for a quick dinner with our guide and the other travel family and got the lay of the island. It was fantastic to let Pudding run some energy off in the playroom tonight.
The temperature here is a humid 75 degrees but it's supposed to rain and get colder tomorrow. Still much warmer than Beijing though. Not having to bundle up in our winter coats ad layers will be a nice change.
Off to bed now; we are all exhausted after our day of travel.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A note from Stu...

Hey, this is Stuart. Allison is packing up all our stuff so we can fly to Guangzhou first thing tomorrow so I’m doing the updating tonight. So if anyone other than my mother is still here after hearing that, thanks for sticking around.
We made a quick trip to the Beijing Zoo today. It was just me and Pudding as Allison was fighting a headache. This was really a trip for one reason…. Panda Bears. We have a great zoo in Louisville so there really wasn’t anything that could excite me except for the Pandas. Our local guide (who is the Chinese version of Velma from Scooby Doo) assured me that many foreigners go to the zoo just to see the Pandas so there was no harm in going in and getting out. It was also cold and windy this morning so we were motivated to move quickly.
The Bears were worth the trip. They look like huge balls of fur. There were literally the cutest animals I have ever seen. You’ll have to forgive my photography skills as I was juggling Pudding, a diaper bag, and attempting to use the camera (that Allison usually never lets me touch). He loved watching them eat and play around. Velma told us that this was the most active that she had ever seen them in her many trips to the zoo. Good to know they put on a show for me and Pudding.
By the way if you ever come to China I highly advise bringing a spouse who has blonde hair. It makes them easy to spot in large crowds.
We also ran to pick up Pudding’s passport today. So we are now one step closer to being able to come home. We leave a week from today to head home so we feel like we are heading down the backstretch of our trip.
In the time that it has taken me to type this up Allison has completed the packing, cleaned up the room and gotten Pudding to sleep. So now I can stop pretending I’m working hard on this and go to bed.
Thanks to everyone for your support, especially those of you helping take care of our kids. We couldn’t do this without you.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

One Week!

I can’t believe that Pudding has been with us for one week. It some ways it seems like it was yesterday this stoic little boy was being placed in our arms, in other ways it seems like we’ve known him forever. In one short week he has blossomed into a typical two-year-old that can throw one heck of a temper tantrum, loves to make as much mischief as possible and has completely captured our hearts.

I think that Pudding is definitely feeling very comfortable with us now. He has started testing boundaries to see how far he can push us. He throws huge tantrums if he doesn’t get his way – I’m talking about throwing-himself-on the-ground-kicking-and screaming type of tantrums. While these are not fun to deal with when we are being observed by everyone around us, these are great signs of bonding and attachment and we are happy to see them.

We started making good progress in his attachment with me too. He still prefers Stu but he now will allow me to hold him in the van and sometimes carry him for a minute while we’re out. I know these are just baby steps but I am happy to see some progress. I think it has helped that I’ve been trying to feed him more of his meals since I’m getting better at using chopsticks; our guide actually commented that my technique is better than Stu’s. This drives Stu crazy since he’s been using chopsticks for over ten years and I just started this week. Ha!! Finally one thing I’m better at than him.

Pudding has really started communicating with us more too. He has already learned the signs for “more”, “bites”, “ bath”, “all done” and, of course, “candy”. He has picked up a few English words as well. His first word was “hot”. He is also starting to say “Da” for Stu. Just tonight he started saying “no, no”… can you tell he hears that a lot?!? And he loves to say “hi” and wave at every person we pass. He tends to draw a crowd around him anywhere we go. It seems as though there are always three or four (usually) women surrounding us anytime we go out. He is quite the little flirt and wraps them all around his little fingers. We attract attention wherever we go. The younger people pay little attention to us but many of the older people stop in their tracks and stare at us as we pass. People are definitely confused by seeing a Caucasian couple with a Chinese baby. Many come up and ask us if Pudding is indeed Chinese. We answer yes, and then they want to know how we came to have a Chinese son. I think they realize Chinese children are adopted by foreigners but they believe it only happens in the rural areas. They are very surprised when they hear that Pudding is from Beijing. We are more than happy to answer any questions they have and so far we have received good wishes from everyone.

The last two days have been pretty low-key. Yesterday we visited the Temple of Heaven, Beijing’s most holy of imperial temples. Beautiful, amazing architecture but it was so cold we couldn’t stay for long. Today we went to the Capital Museum of Beijing. It was a wonderful museum but we could only cover such a tiny bit of such an ancient culture in the time we had. I really wish we had more time to study Beijing history but chasing around a rambunctious two-year-old really limits our ability to do much sight-seeing. Tomorrow we head to the Beijing Zoo; it is supposed to be very cold again so I think we’ll probably just see the panda bears and call it a day.

Several more families with our agency arrived yesterday so we’re hoping to meet up with them at some point. After a week of just Stu and me, it will be nice to have others to talk with.

Off to bed now…chasing Pudding all day is exhausting!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This and That

Sorry for no blog post yesterday; it was a pretty boring day filled with more paperwork. The highlight (er, lowlight) of the day was Pudding’s first temper tantrum. Of course, it had to happen while we were at the police station (for paperwork) in front of a police officer and a caregiver from his orphanage. Stu walked away and he threw himself on the floor, busting his nose on a chair. Blood was everywhere. Not a great impression to make, but I guess it is typical 2-year-old behavior. I forgot how fun they can be…sigh. We saw more tantrums today, all involving Stu walking away from him or putting him down. Seems like Pudding has become very attached to his daddy (yeah!!). He is great with me in the hotel room, but once we walk out the door all he wants to do is be in Stu’s arms. He screams and cries if I try to hold him but is still playing games with me and loves to give me kisses. I’m not taking it personally and am thrilled that bonding seems to be going great. I know that attachment to me will come in time; in the meantime, I’m enjoying the break from carrying a toddler in my arms all day long.

Today we visited the Summer Palace and the Olympic Village. The Summer Palace was impressive; the beauty was evident even though most of the landscape architecture (for which it is famous) was covered with snow. We made a quick tour as the wind coming off of the lake was freezing. I would love to come back for a visit in the summer; we hope to come back in the future when Pudding is older. After that we visited a pearl market. Wow. I love pearls so I was in absolute heaven here. I tried to hold myself back but ended up with a necklace, bracelet and ring as well as some gifts for family at home. The prices were very reasonable and the pearls are gorgeous.

We made a quick trip to the Olympic Village before we headed back to the hotel. It was really neat to see the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube up close. They are huge! I saw them both of TV but couldn’t imagine how big they were in reality. I never dreamed when I was watching the Olympics a year and a half ago that I would be visiting the sites in person.

Stu and I decided to take advantage of the warmer weather (meaning the sun was actually out – the temperature was probably in the high 30s) and walk down the street to a very famous shopping area. There are huge department stores, tiny booths, and everything in between. We wanted to do some souvenir shopping (meaning cheap) so we headed to the market down a little alley. It is filled with dozens and dozens of little booths, all selling the same typical Chinese goods. Unfortunately you have to haggle the shopkeepers down on every price and I am horrible at that. We ended up getting a few things but Stu is going to have to go back without me in order to get decent prices. I just can’t offer a ridiculously low price and then work my way up to a reasonable price. It drives Stu crazy so I’ll just make a list and let him return to do some serious haggling.

It was neat to sit back and watch the nightlife. So many different people going in so many different directions. I could people-watch there all night. People continue to stop and stare at us everywhere we go, but I’m getting more used to it now and usually just smile and keep walking.

So far this has been an incredible trip. We have the most adorable, happy little boy and we couldn’t ask for more than that.