quote

True Love: The feeling when you first look in your child's eyes, the tiny little hand gripping your finger, and you can't imagine your life without him or her.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pool Time!

M Toes 5-30-11
Is there anything in the world better than baby toes?! I just want to gobble them up!!

MX Pool 5-30-11

X Pool 5-30-11

M Pool 5-30-11
We hit about 90 degrees today, so daddy hauled out the baby pool! Xandra loves splashing around in it (though for some reason she does not enjoy an actual pool ???), and given Milo's total enjoyment of the bath we figured he'd love it too. We were right! It did take him a bit to understand what the heck was going on. And he didn't really enjoy the floaty we put on him. I eventually got in the pool with the kids so I could hold onto him without the floaty on. That's when he really started having fun! He put his face into the water by himself at least 10 times! (Xandra still won't do that.) Needless to say, we had an awesome time!!

I can't believe we have actually had Milo in our family for 3 full weeks. There are obviously still things that we're discovering about him (such as how exactly to calm him down - the orphanage said to give him candies...), but we're over the moon in love. This little boy was destined to be in our family, part of our lives. I'm not a hugely religious person, but I know some higher power intervened in our lives to help place this specific child with us, and I'm so thankful for it!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Making Friends

When our dog Lexie came back home from our friend's house after we got back from China, Milo was petrified. He screamed & wouldn't go any where near her. And if she dared to come near Milo... more screaming. Over the last few days though, there has been somewhat of a truce.
 Milo has discovered the power of sharing food.

Then he realized what he did. "Oh man!! Now I don't have as many snacks for myself!"

Matt & I went out tonight for a date night. Our nieces Hannah & Megan came over to babysit for us. We went to an early dinner & a movie so that we'd be home in time to put the kids to bed. We had a good time. But the best part above all for me at least, was walking in the door at home & hearing a little belly laugh & seeing our son walking toward us! Then we heard Xandra laughing while playing with her cousins. Best sounds in the world, hands down. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Good News!

We're still having trouble with sleeping over here. But that's not stopping Milo from wowing us with his tricks!! He's getting better & better at walking! He chased Xandra around for a while until he got frustrated that he couldn't catch her. In time though, he'll give her a run for her money!

Matt & I have floated the idea that it's quite possible Milo could already walk before we met him. It is a good possibility, I know. Especially given how quickly he seems to have almost mastered the skill. Things like stopping & starting on his own and turning around were things that took Xandra a bit of time  to figure out... while Milo got it right away. But as I told Matt, I don't care if this was just part of the regression he went through- I'm glad he allowed he us to celebrate this "new" skill with us!

My pictures aren't as clear as I'd like them, but it's not easy to get a moving target. :) This one just about brings tears to my eyes! I know Xandra's having some trouble adjusting to life with Milo. She's really experiencing some jealousy, and is acting out to get attention from Matt & I. But these in moments like these... I just melt! I wish I could make it easier for her... and I hate feeling like all I do is yell at her. We'll all find our new normal soon enough, I know.

Aside from all of Milo's big news, I got a unbelievable piece of mail yesterday!! I finally got a letter from school letting me know that I was accepted into the Medical Ultrasonography program!! I was so worried about it last semester, and then everything started coming together with Milo's adoption that I stopped focusing on it. I actually managed to not think about it the entire time we were in China (which is good for me- I tend to obsess about things like that!). So, now I've got 3 more years of schooling until I can have an actual, honest-to-God career!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Walking!!!

video
Our baby boy is WALKING!! He's taken a couple steps here & there since a few days after we got him in China. But, he would hold onto our hand with a death grip while we practiced, and would promptly crumble to the floor if we tried to let go.

Today though, he finally did it!! Matt & I sat a little bit apart (as we'd done countless times before) and "passed" him back & forth. He got the hang of it pretty quickly from there. In fact, Matt took Xandra out for a some daddy/daughter time alone a little later & Milo showed off. He walked away from me, turned around & came back! It took Xandra a while to grasp the turning around thing. So, that kind of blew me away!

Matt laughed later saying "You realize we've only made him even more potentially destructive!" He's already into everything he can get his hand on & has been desperately trying to climb/get to things he can't yet reach. Now, he'll be even worse!!

What cracked me up was Milo's squeals every time he took a few steps. He was so proud of himself! And so were we!!

Sleeping went a lot better last night than in the past few days. Matt gave Milo a bath, and I gave him a bit of Benadryl. I also got a small radio for his room so it wouldn't be so quiet. Whether it was the combination, or just one thing - he slept from 9:30 to 6!! YAY!! I suppose the big test will be tonight. No Benadryl tonight... and no bath (no energy to give one). I hope we'll have the same luck!! **Crossing fingers!**

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Schedules & Routines

We tried to do it the way Matt suggested, which actually sounded good to me in the beginning. We tried to get back onto our normal routine/schedule as much as possible. Granted, we made room knowing things wouldn't come together right away. Matt & I both thought we were doing well last night, when all four of us made it to bed at 10 pm. We were sure that we were headed in the right direction... just knowing that we would all get a good night's sleep! 

The inevitable crying began at 4 am. Milo was up. We've been putting him in his crib in his own room because he moves around so much, and is so much safer there than in our bed where he could easily fall out. I wouldn't mind his sleeping with us if we went to bed at the same time as he did. That's our thought process anyway. Unfortunately, Milo doesn't really care to be alone. And he really doesn't like being "abandoned" in his own room. We've been waiting until he's already very tired (sometimes already asleep) to take him to his room. Most of the time he does wake up when we lay him down, but settles pretty quickly because he's so tired. (BTW, he's building up more of a stamina to this process & is starting to really put up a fight.) It's when he wakes up that is the worst. That's when he is fully aware that we have left him alone in that room. 

So the ear-piercing, scared-to-the-core shrieks got me up and running to his room this morning. Xandra soon followed his lead at 5 am. And someone decided that this was an acceptable time to wake for the day (I'm not sure who decided that- but I will need to have a stern discussion with them when I find them!). 

This is how we all ended up feeling some time during mid-morning:
**Note: this is not Milo! :) it's just a pic I grabbed online**

 Milo took a nap around 9:30 am-Noon. I also couldn't help myself, and fell asleep on the couch for about that long. Matt & Xandra cleaned up a bit (more Matt than Xandra), and made brunch (again, the credit will need to go to Matt here). I got Milo up (though he was not happy about that until he smelled/saw the food). As soon as brunch was over though, everyone in the family started passing out. Milo first. Then Matt. Then Xandra. Then me.

We all slept until almost 7 pm!! We had dinner around 9. And the kids played together until I finally forced them to go to bed at
TWO O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING!!!

Yep, I tucked my kids in at 2 am. I've given up on Matt's initial plan. The way I figure, we'll sleep when we're tired, for however long our bodies need to, and eventually nature will work itself out. The waking hours of today were not really happy ones. Everyone was cranky from sleep deprivation, and the fact that we were either woken earlier than we wanted and/or kept awake when we wanted to sleep (that would be both for the parents). A lot of whining and crying today... and not all by the kids!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Where To Belong?

Xandra is beginning to struggle with finding a place to fit in to our new family dynamic. I hate seeing her  go through this, though I knew she would. She really cares for Milo, but this is all so new to her. She was an only child for 5 years, with all attention directed only to her. It's been difficult for her to figure out where she belongs now... but it's only been 2 weeks since Milo has been part of our family.


The first 3 or 4 nights after Milo's Gotcha Day, Xandra would wake Matt around 2 or 3 am to tell him how happy she was that Milo was part of our family. She tries so hard to be a good big sister (& she really does a good job!). She's just struggling with sharing the spotlight. Whenever I take a picture of Milo, she insists I take a picture of her as well (which I don't mind). If I'm holding Milo, she begs me to hold her. If I'm tickling Milo, she wants to be tickled at the same time. She's also become rather aggressive in the last few days. It's not enough to give Matt or me a simple hug; she now has to hang on us, wrapping her legs around us & holding on until we nearly fall down. She's begun hitting us & screaming. I have yet to see any of this behavior directed to Milo- only Matt & me.

I understand 100% where this is coming from and why. I know it is something that needs to work itself out. It's just a tiring process. And more than anything, I hate that all Matt & I do any more is discipline her. It feels as though the only things I say to her any more are "Xandra! Stop screaming!" "Xandra, NO!" "Xandra, you know better than to act this way!" I feel like I'm constantly getting after her for one thing or another. Ugh! It seems to just aggravate her feelings of confusion- as though she can't do anything right any more. But she's really testing limits.

I'm sure the jet lag doesn't help at all. We're still pretty far from being on a decent schedule. So, with too little sleep, Xandra becomes hyper & slap-happy, which always leads to bad behavior. I know we'll get through it...  We all desperately need sleep!!! I'm sure that would help the situation immensely!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sleep... What's That??

Ahhh... isn't jet lag FUN?? I managed to stay up all day yesterday without a nap (from 6 am to 9 pm). It wasn't necessarily something I wanted to do - it was more out of necessity. The kids were up, so we were up. We messed up a bit & let Xandra take a "nap" around 4 pm, and she ended up sleeping until almost 8 when we finally woke her up. By that time, though, Milo decided it was about his turn to take a "nap" (he'd fought us on that when X went down & managed to keep himself awake all flippin' day). 

Thankfully, Xandra was still tired around 9, so she snuggled with me & we fell asleep in the reclining chair. But Milo woke up screaming around midnight, so I am once again running on 3 hours sleep. Not fun. 

I think Matt & I are going to attempt trying the sleeping in shifts one of our FCC friends told us to do. I drew the short stick, so Matt gets to sleep first. At least it gives me an opportunity to update the blog some more (the kids are doing really well playing independently- especially Milo!).

So, the day after we got Milo, we had to do all the government office stuff (sign papers, wait, pay some fees, wait, sign more papers, wait, sweat out almost 10 pounds, wait, wait, wait) - there aren't many pictures of that day. 

The next day, our guide took us to a temple (the name of which is escaping me at the moment). It was really pretty, but once we got "inside" it turned out to be a pretty touristy area full of shops where we were hounded to buy stuff. 





All we really wanted at that point was some clothing for Milo. When I asked my guide to help us find baby clothing, she took us to a shop that only sold the silk outfits. While I did want a couple of those for special occasions, I was really looking for "everyday wear." She finally took us to a small mall type store (reminded me of a Macy's-type store), where we promptly overpaid for outfits that still didn't fit him (I really need to study some more metric units!). 

We'd intended to go a couple more places after the temple, but we were getting tired by the time we got through the temple. We ended up waiting another 45 minutes while the guide tried to find her way back to the driver (while we tiredly trudged through the entire temple 2 more times behind her)- we were exhausted at the end.

The next day (I think we're on Thursday 5/12 now?- I lost track of the days), we went to the Shanghai zoo. Xandra had been bugging us about going since we found out it was close to the hotel. She was desperate to see pandas. The zoo would have been much better labeled as a park- the animal portion was just depressing. Almost all of the walkways weren't paved in the way we are used to (like concrete sidewalks), it was almost exclusively paver stones. While they were pretty, it was very uneven terrain, and a large majority of the stones were loose or missing. It became quite treacherous for Xandra. The guide took a liking to Xandra, and was holding her hand while she speed-walked through the zoo. Xandra ended up wiping out twice, skinning the same knee both times. It really put a damper on the outing.

 This was a beautiful area for the geese & ducks.

I just don't have the heart to put up the pictures of the very depressing animal conditions on the blog. It makes me sad every time I look at them. Just suffice it to say that's where they put all the concrete that I was desperate to see on the walkways. 

We were once again exhausted after this outing. On the way back to the hotel, the driver took us by the Bund to get some pictures. It was a beautiful area - very modern Chinese style on one side of the river & old British style on the other. But it was so smoggy, the pictures barely turned out at all. I'm going to try to play with them to see if I can jazz them up at all. I did pick up some postcards at another tourist gift shop the guide took us to- they have amazing pictures of both the temple we'd visited & the Bund. I'm going to have them mounted & framed up for Milo's room. 

 Matt snuggled with Milo for nap time. They slept this way for about 2 hours. :)

 Milo started copying everything Xandra did. I'm so glad we brought her on the trip!! They clicked right away!

This was one of the first smiles I was able to catch on camera! He's so handsome!!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playing Catch Up!!

WE'RE HOME!! Thank Goodness!! 

That flight home (3 of them to be exact) is a DOOZY!! Definitely not for the faint of heart!! We arrived home last night a little after midnight (I guess that's technically today). We traveled for well over 30 hours (I lost count), with little to no sleep, depending on who you ask. 

Matt took Milo for the biggy 14-hour flight. They did well together & of course, the flight attendants were heaping all kinds of attention on them. Xandra & I were a few rows ahead of them (once again, we didn't have seats together), and every time I managed to turn around to try to see them, there was a flight attendant talking to Matt. I couldn't hear much of what was said, but I imagine it was something about what a wonderful man/father he is (I agree!). 

Since I had so much trouble with the blog, I figured the first thing I'd do is try to catch up a bit. So, first things first....

 This is the 1st glimpse we had of Milo. I honestly have no idea where the nanny came from- she just sort of appeared. The outfit Milo is wearing appears to be brand spanking new, along with his squeaky shoes. He was burning up in it!! 

 I really don't think the nanny was ready to give Milo up... I couldn't image how hard that job must be.


 Milo was obviously & legitimately very upset with the entire situation. I felt so horrible for him. 

 Daddy got him first (which we'd planned out). I wanted to get as many pictures as I could of him, and Matt just couldn't wait to have him in his arms!

 He's starting to calm down in this one. We've found that he really does calm down pretty quickly in most situations. He doesn't like when there is chaos (such as this particular situation with other crying babies)- he'd much prefer to calmly take in everything. Then, when no one else is upset (i.e. he's the center of attention), he will let loose with the wails. :)

 What a proud & happy Daddy!! 

Milo finally gets to meet that blonde girl that kept tugging on his foot! Oh, and me, too. ;)

As I stated before, we were ushered out of the orphanage pretty quickly, and driven immediately back to the hotel. 

"Hey strange man holding me... What's that thing on your head??"

"Really? Don't you think it may be a little too big for me? I'm not so sure about your fashion sense..."

"I see that you're not giving me much choice in the matter. Fine. I'll sit here & let you play.. but I'm not gonna like it!"

The first thing we did when we got back to the hotel was change Milo's clothes. He was so sweaty!! Xandra immediately sat with him and tried to calm him down. It didn't work well, but I love this picture anyway! 

This just makes me want to cry. I know they won't always like each other, but this is the kind of moment I live for!! 

So, that was our first day with our son. I will update more in the next few days. I'm currently running on about 3 hours of sleep. I think Xandra & I may have jet lag a little worse than the boys. She just couldn't sleep much, which means I couldn't sleep either. Milo is currently sleeping in his crib in his own room (!), and has been for the last 6 hours. I hope we're able to keep him in his room... we'll see. The first few nights with him, all 4 of us slept together in the bed at the hotel (Daddy didn't want to let him go). But we found that Milo is a mover & a shaker, and kept all of us up. So, we finally put him in the crib they'd provided & he slept great. We are so thankful for this! I hope it's something that continues!! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

TRAVEL & UPDATES


Friday, May 13-Sunday, May 15, 2011
Our last day in Shanghai (Friday)… We had to meet Sue at 9:00 am so we could go to the notary office on our way to the airport to pick up some last minute documents. No problems. We found out once we got to the airport, that our flight to Guangzhou was delayed an hour and a half. Ugh.
Sue left us at security, which was FINE with us! It was pretty wearing sitting in a chair for that long, just to get on a tiny plane for a couple more hours. Milo did kind of ok on the plane. Our flight was supposed to have left at 1:00 (nap time for the kids), but with the delay, we got really overly tired, cranky kids who DID NOT want anything to do with resting. Plus, we had only 2 seats that were actually together on the flight (Xandra & I), and the rest were scattered throughout. Matt held Milo on an aisle seat, where Milo's head was smashed twice with the food & drink cart. L
We arrived in Guangzhou & found our guide (who can speak English!!!!! & is not new!!!). She dropped us at the White Swan & we settled in.
Saturday morning, we met up with our guide very early to get Milo's medical exam. I am forever grateful to her for taking us so early, because less than 5 minutes after we arrived, about 30 other adoptive families filed in to wait their turn. We were the 2nd family of the day, and therefore had no wait time. J Milo "passed" with flying colors!
We have the next few days "free." Wednesday is our US Consulate appointment, which is the last step before we can head home Friday. Milo's visa will be ready late Thursday afternoon/evening. J
I am rather homesick at this point. I feel bad that I haven't been able to update the blog more often… my computer won't plug into the internet cable here, so I have to borrow Tommy's (darn Mac Air with no ports!!).
Milo is starting to fit into our family, though he's still showing us new "tricks" almost daily. When we first met him, he was more like an infant than an almost 2-year-old boy. He laid on the bed without moving, or when we sat him up, just stayed there looking at us. Understandable – he had no idea who we were & what we were going to do to him. Over the next couple days, I managed to find his tickle spots, which "brought him to life" for a few minutes at a time. His laugh is infectious:  he gets a big smile on his face, yet holds in that laugh until he "pops" with a short, loud burst of a giggle. It's unfortunately, usually a short-lived laugh, and he once again puts on the serious face that we've studied in his pictures for almost 6 months.
Xandra has had probably the worst time here in China. She tries really hard throughout the day while we're in public to be on good behavior. She's not always successful in that, but she tries. And it seems she tries so hard, that it just wears her out. So, by the time we get back to the hotel room in the afternoons, she shows her worst side. She's been having daily tantrums, usually 3-4 or more a day. I know this has been a difficult trip for her. She's not on her normal schedule (& she LIVES for schedules), plus she's starting to deal with some real jealousy over her new brother. The first day Milo was with us, it was just very new & she was so happy. It's sunk in a bit now, and I can't pay attention to Milo in any way without her trying to butt in. I understand- I knew this was coming. But mixed with the tantrums (usually caused by something we've asked her to do, or because we've told her "no"), it's just so tiring.
I really appreciate the Chinese culture, but I'm so not used to it. I was standing in line at the breakfast buffet this morning to get an omelet for the kids. Two Chinese adults just jumped right in front of me, and ordered theirs. I'd heard before we left that lines (similar to traffic regulations) were mere suggestions, but I didn't understand how much it would annoy me. Also, when we're walking on the sidewalks (which are fair game for cars to drive on), people walking toward us do not move out of our way- they seemingly attempt to play chicken with us. The heat & humidity are not helping my mood either. Sorry for all the complaining… I'm just so ready to come home. I miss everyone so much! It's hard not having contact with my friends & family whenever I want. It's definitely a learning experience.
Hopefully, I'll be able to post again before we leave. & Sorry about not having pictures… for whatever reason, my camera's memory card does not want to upload onto a computer. I promise I will fill the blog with pictures as soon as we get home!! 

TROUBLE IN PARADISE


Tuesday, May 10, 2011
It's been a VERY long, hard day. We've lost just about any faith in our guide. Yesterday's mess-up with the orphanage donation was just the tip of the ice burg! Contrary to what she told us yesterday, we did not go back to the orphanage today to finish up the paperwork. I was a bit disappointed, but no big deal. We went to some government offices, which had NO air conditioning or fans. About 98% of the time, we sat in a waiting room, while the guide ran back & forth, passing messages between us and the people behind the desk (similar to a DMV at home).
There were a number of miscommunications, all of which sent Matt's & my blood pressures through the roof. Most of it concerned money. There were questions about whether we'd counted out the proper amount of cash for the orphanage donation - we ended up paying a little extra because of this. Then the guide threw out some outrageous amount of money that we would need to pay her tomorrow- nearly the same amount of money as the orphanage donation (we had been told that would the largest sum by far that we would pay out in cash).
Matt was beyond livid. When we finally got back to the hotel, we called our agency's contact here in China to figure out what was going on. He was very helpful (thank God!), and kind of got things worked out for us. Matt is still very concerned about whether we will have enough cash to make it to the end of the trip. I know we'll be ok one way or another- but to say we're disappointed with the process so far is an understatement.
Update on Milo:  He's still very quiet. He studies everything & everyone (very much like Xandra has always done). We only see fussing & crying when he's fighting sleep. Otherwise, he's quite stoic. We're seeing signs that he was meant to be our son---he farts worse than Matt!! J

GOTCHA DAY!!


Monday, May 9, 2011
WE HAVE MILO!! He is so HANDSOME!!!
We met our guide at 9 am & took off for the orphanage. Yes, we got to go to the orphanage. Unfortunately, we were only inside the business center area, which appears to be just outside of the actual orphanage. As soon as we entered, we began filling out paperwork.
Matt was ushered upstairs to the Finance Department to pay some fees. I later found out that the other parents that were with us began to pull out large sums of cash for the orphanage donation. Our guide had told Matt that we did not need & should not bring the donation today. Matt was incredibly embarrassed and very upset (rightfully so, in my opinion) with the guide.
Almost as soon as Matt returned after a few minutes, there was a commotion in the room. Literally, out of nowhere, 2 nannies carrying 2 little boys appeared. I instantly spotted Milo & turned Matt around to see his son. When Milo spotted us, and his nanny started pointing to us, telling him "Mama, Baba" Milo lost it. The nanny made a seemingly half-hearted attempt to hand him to Matt, but kind of changed her mind & held onto him for a minute or two more. She finally gave him to Matt, and our family was ushered out of the room.
I was called back a couple minutes later to receive Milo's things from the orphanage. We got an incredible book (like a child's board book) of Milo's baby pictures & development. We also received a chop with his name carved into a stone featuring an Ox (his birth year), 2 completely new outfits (the one he was wearing: a long-sleeved polo type shirt; dark, highly starched jeans, and a sweatshirt; a shorts & tee-shirt outfit featuring the logo for the Shanghai Expo; and a brand new pair of squeaky shoes), a brand new large canister of formula, some diapers, and the care package gifts we'd sent to Milo while we were waiting for him (including the 2 undeveloped disposable cameras – I can't wait to get those developed!!). I was rather overwhelmed with all the gifts we received!!
Milo had calmed down fairly quickly once Matt took him, but didn't show much emotion until we were back at the hotel. We pulled the Puffs out, and he devoured them! It was the most interaction we've seen from him so far. Matt or I would pull out a puff, Milo would open his mouth, and we would obediently put it in. He seems to have us trained already!! At some point, Xandra pulled out a purple marker (lid still on!), and Milo took it in his hand with a death-grip. We've taken to calling it his "magic wand."
Milo's eyes started to get that "heavy" look, and Xandra got really cranky- both of which are the nap-time queues. I attempted to lay Milo in his crib… totally didn't work. Matt grabbed him up & tried to lay him down on the bed… again, totally didn't work. I tried to hold him until he fell asleep, which he did, but the same result when I put him down (I did that with Xandra when she was little, too – why won't I learn this does not work???). Matt finally got him to just sit next to him on the bed, and slowly eased him down, until finally he fell asleep.
All of this was around 2:00. It's now 6:30, and both of our kids are still conked out on the bed… We'll see how dinner goes- if we get to have dinner tonight!! ;) 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Getting Around

Our first full day in China… Well, it's been okay. We had to meet our guide (finally caught her name- Sue) at 10 am. We were up for the day around 6 am. It was a difficult night to put it mildly. Xandra & Matt are dealing with the jet lag the worst. Matt hasn't slept well in nearly a week, so with the time change added in… well, he's really not been in a good mood at all. Xandra is just having a really hard time adjusting on all aspects. She didn't eat or drink much of anything in the entire 20-hour travel time. Plus that lingering cough is just awful. She ended up waking several times through the night, with unbelievable energy, just to crash a short time later. The combination of Xandra & Matt has been wearing, at best. They're currently each other's worst enemies.

So, we all got up, had a few snacks, and got ready for the day. We met Tommy around 7, and made our way down to the hotel café for breakfast. It was a good breakfast buffet, though not quite the amount of food I've read about in other families' blogs. There was a variety: cereals, bacon, eggs, sausage, fruits, breads, congee (a kind of Chinese porridge/oatmeal), spring rolls, "tea" eggs (still trying to figure that one out), and a number of other things. It all tasted good, but just ever so slightly "off" from what we're used to at home. Oh, and the items you would expect to be hot (eggs, bacon, sausage) were served cold. And the items you expect to be cold (drinks) are served warm-to-hot.

We decided to be brave afterward & explore a block or so around our hotel on our own. We found the most beautiful temple, which we could actually see from our hotel rooms. It's all gold. And it's plopped right smack in the middle of all this "new" construction (high rise apartments & businesses) – it's gorgeous.

Sue took us around a small park area, which was also gorgeous. I don't have pictures of it yet, because she walks really fast & we were just trying our best to keep up with her. But we saw people doing all kinds of dancing & exercises (tai chi, fan dance, etc). And the landscaping was just incredible! I wish I could have some of that at home!

She also took us to the market, which we were desperate to get to. We got LOTS of water, and a few snacks (cheetos, goldfish, Pringles – the essentials). It wasn't easy to get things because obviously, everything is in Chinese. So we had to do our best with looking at the pictures on the packages (thank God for good marketing).

And finally, it was back to the hotel for a rest. Since it is Sunday (& we're technically supposed to be having a free day), Sue was only with us for a couple hours. We, of course, took the opportunity to nap again J  It's nearing dinner time now, so we'll go out exploring a bit more to find a nice restaurant (BTW- we've found Subway, but are still looking for KFC & Papa John's). Tommy & I would love to try an authentic Chinese restaurant, but Matt is concerned about what Xandra will eat. I'll fill everyone in later on what we decide & hot it works out!

***I'm having some difficulty in attaching pictures to my emails. Hopefully, I can get this worked out by tomorrow, when we'll have TONS of pics of Milo to post! (Internet is painfully slow here, so that may have something to do with it.)

Chasing the Sun

We are well into our journey, and everything is going much better than I ever expected! My precious baby girl, whom we were so worried about, has far exceeded any expectations I had! Granted, she's been quite cranky, but that's to be expected having only gotten a few hours' of sleep. She's cried only a couple of times:  when we first went through the security check, she got really scared of walking through the metal detector (thankfully, X & I were allowed to just do that & not submit to the full-body scan or pat-down—GO TSA!!); and then she not only shed some tears, but added in some screams when she had to use the restroom on our layover (she takes after me- we both HATE using public restrooms!).

I was soo shocked when she did not have the expected meltdown during takeoff or landing on the first leg of our trip!! She did get a bit upset when I tried to put her in her own seat, so I relented & let her sit on my lap for about 45 minutes of the hour & a half trip to Newark. But once she discovered she'd be able to look out the window easier from her own seat, she hasn't looked back!

So, we're now getting near mid-northern Canada (about 4 hours into our 14 hour flight). I'm exhausted- I've yet to take even a cat nap (soo hard to sleep on a plane!!), but Xandra slept through takeoff!!! I couldn't believe it!!! On both flights, Matt & Tommy have been a row in front of us, and it appears that I'm the only one who hasn't relaxed yet. Such is the life of a mom, I suppose!

I so proud of my now-seasoned little traveler!! She's growing up right in front of my eyes… if I wasn't so excited to see this side of her, I'd probably cry. 
> The title (chasing the sun) is referring to the fact that it never got dark outside while we were flying. Bright sun the entire time. We literally chased the sun around the world!!
5/7/11
We have arrived in Shanghai. The last couple/few hours on the plane weren't the best. Of course, we'd been travelling for nearly 19 hours by that point, so what can you expect? Xandra had a couple upsets, but no major meltdowns. Mostly, she just could not get comfy enough to sleep (join the crowd!), so her tiredness turned to grumpiness & let's just say, I'm thankful she was sitting directly behind Matt, because anyone else would have been ticked off with the kicking.

So, we come through customs without problem (they are really good with that here!), and find our guide who immediately rushes us outside. This was a problem because Xandra hadn't had anything to drink in quite some time & was dying for some water… & Matt and Tommy both had neglected to go to the restroom prior to landing, so they were a bit, umm, pissed not happy. ;)

Once we were outside, we stood & waited for our car. & stood. & stood. & waited. & waited. It finally came, everything & everyone was loaded on. This is when our guide told us it was about an hour's drive to the hotel. Sorry guys… hold it a bit longer (there was some water on the van, so Xandra was happy).

We arrived at our hotel to find the reservations were not right. Somehow, they had Tommy's room, but not ours (Matt was at the boiling point by now… how could they not have our room??? & dear God, where is the restroom???). It took nearly 45 minutes to "fix" things, though they are far from fixed. We were booked for 2 adjoining rooms, both with king-size beds, a roll-away bed for Xandra, & a crib for Milo (tight squeeze, I know). We got 2 rooms next door to each other, but we don't know who connects to ours because it's not Tommy. And we only have a crib for Milo in here, so Xandra's bunking with us.

As soon as we got our room, we proceeded to do exactly what we were told not to do: we fell asleep almost instantly. I think we got into our rooms around 3 in the afternoon ('ish – I was too tired to look at my watch). I just woke up, and it's now almost 8 in the evening (8 am back home). We never had dinner, and don't plan to. I think we're just going to snack on what we can find (Pringles, granola bars, & cheese crackers anyone? Only the best gourmet for us!!), and go back to bed!

Shanghai is beautiful from what we can see of it through our window. We'll figure things out tomorrow. We have a free day tomorrow since it's Sunday. But our guide will be meeting us at 10 am to see if we'd like to do anything… grocery anyone??? And figure out what & where to eat in this place!!  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why, oh Why?

Xandra is sick. This is not good in so many ways. Obviously, I don't want my baby girl to be sick. But this particular illness (a common cold), is so much worse at this precise moment than it would be at any other time. I've got a call in to our adoption agency to find out what our options are (rescheduling the trip? getting a power of attorney so one parent can travel?).

She has a nasty, rattly cough and some congestion. No ear pain, thankfully. But, that cough is just rough. I took her to the pediatrician yesterday, but with it being just a cold, we didn't get any meds. We can't put her on a plane and feel good about it. I would feel awful for putting her through that, as well as the other passengers- wouldn't we be getting the "death" stare!

So, as of right this minute... I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if we'll be leaving tomorrow morning or not... I'll keep everyone posted. :(  **Let me know if anyone out there knows some magic!!!

***UPDATE***
After some serious freaking out & a few urgent phone calls, we have the pediatrician's "A-OK" to take Miss Sicky Xandra on the plane!! THANK GOD!!! Someone up above sure was looking out for us!! So, after a good 12-hour stand-still, in which time I quit packing (that was the freak-out time). I am now scrambling to finish. Oh, and our bags look like a mini-pharmacy. Who needs clothes?? We need to keep this kid WELL!!!

Thanks to everyone who messaged me with good thoughts & well-wishes!! I love how much support we have- it truly touches my soul! Keep the messages coming throughout our trip- I love reading them!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Time With Papa

We spent a little time with Papa (my dad) today. I needed to drop off some papers to him, along with Milo's new carseat that he'll bring to the airport when we return China. I took Xandra with me, as she decided to catch a cold right before we leave!! So she got to stay home with us today, and was rewarded with some time with Papa. (I'm hoping & praying she'll be back to school tomorrow so I can get some last-minute things done.) 

My dad brings his dog Calie to work with him (perks of being an owner!), so Xandra had some extra fun throwing the balls for her to catch & bring back (our little Chihuahua doesn't do that- wouldn't think of it!). We all had fun & it was a good opportunity to say our goodbye's. :(

I'm working on packing and repacking right now. I packed one bag with Xandra's & Milo's clothes, toys, snacks, and gifts for the nannies & officials. I'm going to repack that- maybe take some things out to leave home. I think I'm over-thinking things... & over-packing. I hate packing. Matt always complains that I over-pack. I don't know how not to. Thankfully, we don't travel much. :) 

I haven't even started on my stuff, yet. But I don't feel too bad about that- neither has Matt. I suppose we better hurry up!!


** I'm testing out emailing to post to the blog. Although I'm not thrilled with the pictures (I like big pictures & I'm not sure how to change that via email), I believe it will work well. (no idea what's going on with the font...) 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm totally ripping this off of reposting from another family's blog {the family has unfortunately deleted their blog} but I loved it so much, I had to have a copy in our blog!

So, for those who want to know the answers, or just want to know the "proper" way to phrase these questions (so we don't offend each other- we gotta be PC!!), read on! I hope these Q & A's help. Let me know if you can think of any others I need to add to the list.

~"Couldn't you have more kids of your own?" or "Why wouldn't you want more kids of your own?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "Why did you choose to have children by adoption rather than by birth?"
Answer: As far as we know, yes, we could most likely have had more children by birth. However, we had discussed adoption very early in our relationship, and always had it in the back of our minds. We had actually decided that our precious Xandra would be our one & only child very soon after she was born. Time has a way of changing our minds for us. When we began feeling the 'pull' to add to our family, we decided that providing a home and a loving family to a child already born into this world was the right path for us. And our son is "our own," no matter where he was born.


~"When there are so many kids in the U.S. who need homes, why would you fly halfway around the world for a child?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "Why did you pursue international adoption over other forms of adoption?"
Answer: There were many things that led us to international adoption over domestic. It is a personal choice for everyone, much as having children in general is a personal choice. Our hearts led us to China.


~"Were you pressured into adopting a kid with special needs?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "Did you go into the process targeting special needs adoption?"
Answer: As a matter of fact, no- we weren't seeking out a "special needs" child. Our hearts led us to China before we knew about their policies. In the past, an adoption of a "healthy" child from China took around a year to complete. Over the past few years, this process has been extended to 4-5+ years. China has been focusing on their "special needs" children - many of whom are like our son. The reality is that every adoption is a special needs adoption - every adopted child needs an extra measure of patience and love and acceptance - and we tried to be realistic about this fact as we started our adoption journey. ****Love Without Boundaries produced an awesome video that dispels the "special needs" label- it's very worth the 10 minutes to watch it!**** Trust me, Matt & I had countless discussions about the 'what if's' that come about in the world of adoption, and each discussion has concluded with, "Any of these special needs could have occurred with our biological child, and we would have dealt with it to the best of our ability & never waivered in our love for her. Why would we turn a child away from our hearts & lives because of this?"  

~"How much did/will he cost?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "What are the costs associated with international adoption?" (This one's a touchy one. Tread with care)
Answer: It's no secret that international adoption is an expensive endeavor. Each country has its own requirements & associated costs. Specifically for China: room and board for @ 2 weeks in a foreign country + U.S. paperwork & homestudy + document translation & processing + translator, driver, & facilitator costs = nothing in comparison to the joy and privilege of adding a child to our family. If you are looking for specific $$ amounts, feel free to contact us & we can provide the names of some very reputable adoption agencies to help answer this for you. You may also want to think about the comparison of costs with a biological child: prenatal care, the birth of a child in a hospital (with the possibility of a c-section, as was the case for me with Xandra), food, clothing, and care for at least the first 9 months (depending on the age of the child at the time of adoption). These costs don't really vary that much from adoption.

***For those who would like a cost comparison, I found an incredible article in the Adoptive Families magazine regarding adoption costs between 2009-2010 (via a survey of their subscribers):
AVERAGE DOMESTIC ADOPTION COST
Newborn (Agency)                        $33,793
Newborn (Attorney)                       $31,465
U.S. Foster                                        $2,744
AVERAGE INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION COST
China                                             $28,623
Ethiopia                                         $28,254
South Korea                                  $37,586
Russia                                            $49,749

~"What about Milo's 'real' parents?" or "Will you find out anything about Milo's 'real' parents?"
**Perhaps You Meant to Ask: "Will you get any information about Milo's birth parents or first parents?"
Answer: No we don't expect to receive any information regarding Milo's birth parents. Due to the laws in China, the birth parents aren't able to leave identifying information about themselves (see next question). While this is disappointing, we understand that these are China's laws. We will honor his biological 
parents (or birth/first - we actually call them "China mama" & "China daddy") for their decision to bring him into this world, and opting to leave him in a place where he was found quickly & taken care of, so he could have a better future. We know it takes a strong, courageous person to make that kind of decision. 
**The use of the term "real" in front of parents tends to make me feel as though I'm not real (maybe I'm a robot?). We are Milo's real parents.

~"How could a mother be so cruel to just leave/abandon her baby?" (Regarding the practice of Chinese mothers abandoning their child)
**Perhaps You Mean to Say: "Do you know why your child was abandoned?"
Answer: [Get ready, this is a long answer!] 
     We have a tendency to view the world through our "American-ized" values & standards. Instead of blindly judging a completely different culture, we should first understand their circumstances. Many people are aware of China's infamous "One Child" policy. This, coupled with the Chinese strong preference for male babies, is often the reason for an abandoned baby girl. But this is also a very simplified explanation. There are of course, many books & websites detailing these Chinese practices. Essentially, China has no form of social security or welfare. When people become too old to work, they rely on their child to support them. A son will stay & care for his parents in old age. A daughter, however, will marry & take care of her husband's parents. Also, in the many rural areas of China, the farmers need a boy to help with the manual labor. 
     Yet another aspect that we don't think about here in America, is the fact that medical care must be paid for in advance in China. If you cannot afford the payment, you will not receive any treatment. There is also a strong belief that children born with physical abnormalities are "bad luck." Many of these traditional beliefs (boys are better than girls, special needs children are bad luck, etc) are beginning to disappear in more populated, urban cities; but can still be readily found in rural areas.
     Because it is illegal to abandon a child, the parents that choose this route, I believe, truly love their children. Knowing they can't care for their child, they have chosen to break the law so their child might have a chance at a better life than they can provide. As with our son, many of these children are left in an area where they will be easily & quickly found & taken care of. It is a true act of love. But this explains why they cannot leave any identifying information that may lead back to them. 
     We are left with only speculation as to why our child was abandoned, but we will most likely never know anything about his biological parents. 


~"He's such a lucky boy [..to be adopted]!" or "He ought to be so grateful for all you've done for him."
**Perhaps You Meant to Say: ... Ok, I can't think of a good way to phrase this one... (another rather touchy subject)
Answer: I can't think of a single child (at virtually any age) who is grateful for all their parents may have done for him/her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you know anything about children at all, you'll know they tend to live in the minute, and don't really ponder on their good fortune. This is really no different for an adopted child, nor should it be. We as the parents are the grateful/lucky ones to have had the good fortune to be able to provide a loving home for our child(ren). 


***This may be the most important question, but often goes un-asked***
If you're curious about our transracial family & how we came to be...
If you're curious about Milo & what happened to his arm...
PLEASE ASK ME!!
Please don't stare to the point of uncomfortableness (at least on our part). 
I'm extremely proud of my family. And I'm a talker. So if you approach me & ask me a question, I will more than likely talk your ear off. I may not tell you all the details, because they don't all belong to me (Milo's story belongs to him). But, I'd rather you talk to us (even a nod in our direction) instead of the stares that make can make us feel like weirdos.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Preparations...

I got these headphones a couple months back. Xandra saw them, tried them on, and wasn't interested in them at all. So, I stored them away and figured maybe Milo would use them someday.

Matt & I started pulling stuff together today, in an attempt to start packing (read: I folded @ 5 or 6 loads of clean laundry that Matt graciously cleaned, but left in baskets to get wrinkled for about a week). Matt got the suitcases out of storage and I found the headphones and other odds & ends. As soon as Xandra got home from school, she spied those panda bear headphones & made a beeline! She didn't take them off of her head all night long. She was having so much fun with them, I went ahead & let her bring them to the dinner table. Of course, she was so engrossed in her movie (Mulan- which she'd never seen before) that she ate about 3 bites of dinner. Oh well...  She was absolutely devastated when I told her she could not take them to bed with her.

I am really happy that Xandra's decided the headphones are cool - I imagine we'll be utilizing them a LOT on the plane!!

Speaking of the plane, we decided to do a trial-run with the Benadryl tonight to make sure she'd have the reaction we want her to (calmness/drowsiness). Believe it or not, this kid has never had Benadryl before (I've said before, I don't like medication when it's not warranted, especially with my baby girl- we had a bad situation with a previous babysitter regarding that). I only gave her 1/2 a dose tonight, and it either had no effect at all, or made her cranky - the crankiness could have also been easily linked to her upset about not taking the headphones to bed. So, I suppose we'll try again tomorrow night with a full dose. If that doesn't work, my friend Lisa suggested Melatonin....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rapunzel


Xandra got this awesome dress from her Papa for her birthday. She loves it! I think she makes a beautiful Rapunzel... even if I still have doubts about that movie.



Sunday Snapshot
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