Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The First Snow and More Chinese New Year Family Pics

Gracie and Garrett went out in the snow yesterday, and enjoyed a good time with their Daddy and neighborhood friends on sleds. They had a great time making snowballs and snow angels. Here are some pictues of them in their winter wonderland. Daddy looks cute in his hat too!

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Things here are going well. If we could all get physically healthy, then things would be even better. ;) I have finished with my antibiotics and Garrett is almost finished with his. He still has a cold, but seems to feel ok.
Garrett has settled into the routine, and he is doing remarkably well for only having been home a few weeks. He acts like he has been with us forever already, and seems very happy and content in his new house with his new family.
Gracie is doing well too. She loves her baby brother, but is often heard saying things like,
"I have had enough of you."
"I wish he wasn't here yet because he hits."
"You are annoying, Garrett."
All of the big sister type words of wisdom, she has down completely...
"Enough already, Garrett."
She also says, "I love you, Garrett."
Here are some of the latest pictures of the family.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not Many Posts These Days, Sorry!

Well, my friend and I used to share a joke about the "Man Cold" (Look it up on Youtube, it is hilarious!), but this cold beats that one by a mile. Garrett came home with some POWERFUL Mongolian cold germs. And he is slowly on the mend thanks to antibiotics for an ear infection and whatever other monster he was carrying with him. I, on the other hand, was given nothin' to fight this, but over the counter stuff which is not really helping much. So, there have been very few posts coming from me. :) I will try to post more soon. Gracie and Van have remained cold free so that is really good for them.

We are doing ok though, much better than I anticipated. Garrett seems to feel very safe and comfortable. He is the happiest kid! He is sleeping in his own bed at night, and has stopped getting up out of bed in the middle of the night for long periods of time for the most part. He is still fighting the cold which makes him a bit cranky at night, and he cries some, but I am sleeping right next to him most nights (since I have the same wierd germs anyway), and he goes back to sleep when he is talked to and held. He is a remarkable baby.

The foster parents definitely expected things of him, and it is funny to watch him push in his chair and ours after eating. He hands you his plate or bowl when he is finished. He puts away his toys. If he spills something, he immediately goes to pick it up and hand it to me even if it is just a crumb. He communicates very well with pointing at things to let us know what he wants. He is trying to talk and has said "please, car, socks, Gracie, Mama, Dada, more, and his best word is the word, No (because he hears that one a lot)" His motor skills are pretty good. He does have a bit of a coordination issue with getting up and down stairs, but he is learning. He walks into things a lot, but I guess two year olds do that. He is VERY active. But all in all, he is a sweetheart. He screams these loud pitched squeals if he thinks someone (mainly Gracie) is taking something away from him, and he will tell on Gracie by pointing at her angrily if that happens. But afterwards he will put his finger up to his mouth to say he is being quiet. He is a good little boy, and we are so happy to have him home. He is very attached to me now, almost a little too much. He kind of cries if Van takes him out of my arms. That was unexpected. I thought he would want nothing to do with me for a while, and would want Van to take care of his every need. He loves to take baths now. He copies Gracie's every move. He has been hitting her some which we are trying to stop. He also does this thing where he blows rasberries in her face and ous if we make him upset. It is not good. And he is sick which makes it even more gross. He still eats everything, and then some. The boy is going to be big! He is in the 75th% for height and the 80th% for weight. He got a flu shot last week, and we will start the immunizations in a week or so when he is well. I am also going to make an appointment soon for Garrett to be seen by the cleft lip and palate team in Washington DC at Children's Hospital.

That's it for now. I am hoping that we get well soon so that we can actually see people. Believe me, no one wants these germs. YUCK. It is the worst cold I have ever had I think. Feel sorry for me? Not so much, huh? It is only a cold, right? It could be MUCH worse. LOL.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More pictures...

Big hugs for baby brother, Garrett!
Gracie is so protective of Garrett. It is very sweet to watch her with him.
The effects of jet lag...See Van in the background of this picture. Passed out! Bless his heart. It may be 4 pm, but his body says that it is 5 am in China.

Pajama days are so much fun!
How cute are they? The Sprout channel is so much more fun with a friend to share it with. I love Garrett's hair!!!!
This was one morning when I came downstairs with Garrett at 4 am, and Van was still awake from the night before. They both need some rest, but they cannot seem to get their bodies to adjust to the new U.S. time.

Gracie and Garrett

Oh, how I love them both! This is the most wonderful time in our lives. My children are BOTH home, and I am loving every second of it. It is so surreal to sit in the recliner with these two absolutely beautiful children in my lap. Amazing! There are just no words to sum it up. Not even close. They are angels, and God has blessed our family twice over...and then some. Life is good!

Home at Last!

Garrett is home, and we are settling down into what feels like the greatest adventure of our lives. He is FULL of energy, into everything, and is just the sweetest little boy in the entire world. I simply cannot believe how trusting he is, and how he seems to just fit right into everything. He is the perfect addition to our family. I cannot say that I am surprised about that as I truly believe he was meant to be ours all along. Garrett is such a funny little kid. He just makes you smile because he is so darn cute and has this personality that is truly like "the life of the party". I thought it would take him a long time to settle in just as it did Gracie. Instead, he acts as if he has always been here with us. It is amazing to watch him. He has picked up English already, and seems to understand the basics. We point a lot. :) He said, "Please" yesterday. Garrett is up like clockwork the past three nights at 3 am, and we are out of bed at 4 am simply because I cannot get him back to sleep. He eats like a kid who has never had food. He LOVES to eat, and I think he will eventually eat us out of house and home if this continues. So far this morning, he has eaten two yogurts, a bowl of Cheerios, juice, crackers, and cheese, and it is only 5:30 am. He is so loving. I got my first kiss yesterday and it was spontaneous. He calls me Mama and he follows me around. If I am not in the room, he looks for me. Yesterday, he and Gracie were rolling around on my bed and he just snuggled right up to her, and laid there with his head on her shoulder looking at her. He loves his sister, and she loves him. She is a great big sister. Van went back to work for a few hours yesterday, but is still suffering the effects of jet lag. His body clock and Garrett's are still off. Here are some cute shots. One of them I borrowed from Jorja's blog. They must have taken it while they were in China with Van and Garrett. My sister says he is saying, "Touchdown Tigers"! I believe she may be right. If he continues to eat like this, he may be on the team someday playing defense. LOL. Just wanted to let you all know that we are so excited to have him home, and everybody is doing great!
To Van's Travel Group:
I so wish that I had been able to get to know all of you in China. Van says it was a great travel group, and he and Garrett had a fantastic time. Maybe we can arrange future get-togethers so that I can get aquainted with you and your families too. I would love to do that. I have heard so much about you all. I feel like I already know you. Thanks to all of you who looked out for Van while I wasn't with him especially when he burned his stomach. I cannot believe I forgot to pack the Tylenol and Advil for him on this trip. Crazy!!!! I have enjoyed seeing and reading everyone's blogs. You have beautiful families!

Van's Jan 7th Post ...

I only thought Van had finished his journal entries, but he has 2 more to go. Here is this one...

I'm sleeping later and later, which is good. I just want to wake up and get down to the breakfast buffett by 8:30 a.m. Garrett wakes up just fine, and I sit him on the toilet so that he may start using it like he did the small pot back in Inner Mongolia. I get Garrett dressed, put on some more burn cream on my stomach which is still very red, and then head on downstairs. There are twice as many adoptive parents now at the White Swan. Still not what is was back in 2005, but plenty of beautiful kids and happy families. Most of the parents are talking to anyone sitting next to them. It's a very upbeat group and we all want to know each others stories. This morning, we're going to the 5-Rams temple and old fort (at least that's what it seems). We head out for about 30 minutes, and then get off in another wonderful park full of trees, plants, and wide paths. We have to walk up 100 steps, so we can't really take strollers for the first part. We get to the top, and out of nowhere shows a very different statue of 5-Rams, a predominant one in the middle standing about 40 feet or higher in the air. It is different since I've never seen an animal statue of this magnitude. I don't know the story yet on the statue, but I like it. While up on the top, I pass an elderly lady who is swinging her hips in a Bill Gates-Jerry Seinfeld commercial way. I catch it, and I know Doug has too, and you had to smile. Doug decides to get in the game and swing his hips as well. It's a very funny moment and we're all smiling.We head on downhill and come to an area that is full of people, mainly seniors, playing a version of Chinese hacky-Sack. They look like feathered birdies used on for badminton, and have a flat end with several stacked thin metal shims. About 150 people are playing, and that means that some of our group, being Westerners, would join in. Doug, after warming up by swinging his hips, is the first to join in, and after one hiccup, is part of a group. He is then joined by his daughters and a few others. It's very interested watching, but the park is beautiful and just being outside is wonderful. Garrett is sitting on my shoulders watching and then we head out of the park. Well, not exactly, we head up a very steep hill, to a location that overlooks a very large soccer stadium. We move on up to a red walled building, and after a few sets of stairs, we are at a museum/fort that is about 125 years old or more. It has several different looking cannons on one end, a big red building in the middle, and surrounded by some other buildings. As we walk around, there are several etched stones that are displayed in glass dating from 1059 to the 1930's. This seems to be where some of the English aggression was repelled in the 1880's and may have also been part of the 1st and 2nd Opium Wars. The children are running around, and because of the stairs, we have to watch them "flying" to fast. They find a lot of fun running down a metal slope near the cannons, that makes noise everytime that run on it. Well, instant baby-sitter. They run for about 10 minutes and are having a ball, so we're happy, and since we were mainly the only ones around, no one is being disturbed. The children are having a wonderful time. We all find snacks for them to eat and then I take Garrett to look at the large red building. Inside, there are several "Be Quiet" signs, which with Garrett, is pot-luck. He is good, but when he sees something of interest, he gets excited and yells. The few exhibitions on the ground floor talk about the history of Guangzhou, and also talks about the 5-Rams statue. Apparently, the 5-Rams statue is a symbol of Guangzhou, that is sometimes called "5 Rams City" , something about a legend which I've copied here:The legend says that many years ago people of Guangzhou were suffering from famine. But one day five immortals came there, riding of five rams, left the sheaves of rice and blessed Guangzhou. After they left, the rams turned into stone and the city grew rich and successful. I walk across to a large model of the city, and look to see where the White Swan Hotel and Shamian Island is located. I look for awhile, and notice some very tall buildings on a river compared to all the others. I was shocked how tall these buildings were and never seen them before. Brian joins us and we find where the White Swan hotel is, but now the interest in the tall buildings have perked my interest. Garrett and I walk to another building which quickly tells the story of the electronic age for the Chinese. In this set of rooms, they show that I'm quickly becoming a museum piece, since they have all these radios, computers, cellphones, telephones, and other items that I've grown up with, being "ancient". I was surprised, since I'm just now turning 29 this year, how quickly things have changed. LOL. Garrett is enjoying walking around, and once we get outside, gets back to running away from me. I let him a little. He is a sweet and happy boy, and I'm very lucky that this whole trip has gone without major illness or incidents. Three of the ladies have been fighting throat or sinus issues which can wear you out while raising a new child in a different country. It is 11:30 a.m., and it's time to hop on the bus. We all have agreed to eat at another Chinese restaurant. Rebecca is going to order for us, we do trust her earlier selections. We drive a bit, and stop at a restaurant. We climb up a set of stairs and come to a diner, with the Lazy Susans tables again. We end up sitting with the same folks as the first time, Stefani, Andrea, Doug, Lucy and families. It's a bit warm in the room, and we're all very thirsty. Most of us are Coca-Cola born and bred, and would love to have a big glass of it or Diet Coke at this point. We get an assortment of interesting food, the most interesting is the yams. These are boiled yams, stuck in a sugary glazed that hasn't settled, until you dip it in a bowl of water. We are all using are hands to get a piece of this tasty treat, since chopsticks just destroy the yams. The rest of the items are traditional Chinese food, and very tasty. Just no snake, which bums Robert and me. Garrett has a healthy appetite and I expect him to fall asleep on the bus ride back. Nope, he is busy watching people on the bus. He loves riding, I hope this keeps up in the car!Well, the time is approaching, and I must make the big shopping trip. I had held back until I heard the deals other people had been finding on the island. I must start making a big dent on some of the items Madeline had prepared for me in a two-page list. I had already checked with Pam and Jodi about going shopping around 2:30 p.m. I knew most of the stuff I could get in 1 hour, and I'm not a good haggler. I'm use to just looking at the price and then buying, not trying to lower the price and walking away as part of getting a good deal. As we arrive back from the restaurant, I needed to let Garrett have a nap, but figured I could go into the corner shops and do some damage. Well, I was pretty impressed, I knocked out about 1/3 of what I had left to buy in less than 30 minutes. I wasn't worried anymore since with Pam's and others help, I'm within the finishing line. I get Garrett upstairs and let him have about a hour and a half nap. I meet Pam, Robert and Jodi at a shop that is supposedly closing shop. In there, I get my best deals, thanks to Pam and Robert. Robert is a good haggler, he does it, and isn't embarrassing when doing it. I get 1/2 of Garrett's Chinese outfits for later in life there, a set of family Chinese T-shirts that we'll where when arriving back in the U.s. and several other items. I leave that shop, and go to Jennifer's for the clean-up. I go to Jennifer's, and even though I'm not getting probably the best deals, they pay attention to us and have always been good to us. The ladies pull-out and try finding some unique items that I need, and I'm very happy with the results. I also pick-up some stone etchings that I've dropped off to be made on January 2nd. After buying the rest of the clothes, especially a jacket for Madeline, I end up owing 300 Yuans. The staff just tells me to drop it off that night or the next day. That's taking care of a customer!I head back, because at 5:15 p.m., it's an important part of every adoption trip..The Infamous Red Couch Photos! This is a tradition, where some red couches on the 2nd floor of the White Swan are a favorite for the children to have group and family photos made. Most of the times, the children are dressed up, in either Chinese outfits or very nice clothes. This was a time to put a very unique Mongolian outfit on Garrett. When I put it on Garrett, he lit up with happiness. He loved this outfit and was just raising his hands and hand the biggest smile on him. We get downstairs, and he is running into every picture opportunity he can find. Luckily the other families are nice, and don't get upset when Garrett interrupts there session. He likes his picture taken, and loves his outfit! Not many Mongolian outfits are seen, so my little Ghengis Khan is trying to rule the 2nd floor lobby. I feel like the father of the star quarterback at this point, I'm very proud of him and his very jovial personality. After the big group picture, it's 15 minutes to change and get ready for a nice river boat ride and dinner.We get on the bus, and we're given a quick "beware of these vendors" from Rebecca prior to getting on the VIP boat ride. We arrive at the dock, and the vendors are being pretty polite and not bothering us. We go to a sitting room where several wrapped dates are available as a treat. We then proceed to the boat, and go up on the 2nd deck. The boat is about the size of the Spirit of America II in Washington D.C. but with a ton of accenting lights. I'm sitting with Andrea, Cole, and Stefani. We're allowed to sit anywhere after the boat departs, but I'm with good company. We all get up and take a whole bunch of pictures. Then, the buffet lines open, and it's a bit of a mad rush. I get Garrett's plate, but can't do more than one while also holding him. Luckily, Rebecca, worrying more about the group then herself, offers to watch Garrett so I may get the rest of the food. Yay Rebecca! We sit down and we're all eating some pretty tasty dishes. We decide to get some water, which turns out to be a 10 minute issue with the cost. The Chinese are very patient with our lack of Chinese, and Rebecca steps in to fix the issue. After eating, we head down a very lit up city. The buildings are fascinating, and so are the bridges. These are the new unique "fan spans" bridges. It has a similar feel as riding down the Sienne River in Paris, just totally different architectural offerings. The Chinese like to light up the night. We pass a several bright boats, but one with a huge video screen on the side. The buildings are like a constant fireworks. It is cold outside in spots, but Garrett and the others are loving this unique view. We finally pass the White Swan and start heading back to the dock. Another beautiful night in Guangzhou. The biggest day is ahead, the trip to the U.s. Consulate, and finally putting the paperwork to rest!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gotcha Day for Madeline and Gracie with Garrett and Daddy at Dulles

So sorry it took me this long to post the update. I am a mother of two now, and have had to juggle my already comfortable time consuming schedule. What an incredible day! My stomach was in knots until they walked out, and all of the worry and anxiety just vanished. Garrett is the most precious child! He is so sweet, so gentle, and loving. He has a fantastic, easy-going personality, and he loves people. No words can express the love I already feel for my son, and I think the feeling is quite mutual. He follows me everywhere, he hugs me, loves me, blows kisses, and is quite a charmer and trickster. He laughs at you when you tell him "No", and he does understand that word very well. He is into everything! ALL BOY!!! But what is most important is that he is OUR Garrett, our sweet, cuddly baby boy. Garrett says the words Mama, Baba, Hi, No, and has tried to say Gracie. Gracie is very protective of him. She pats his back, kisses his forehead, hugs him, and loves to play with him. She is an excellent big sister as we thought she would be. We have already had that sibling moment when Garrett hit her in the face for taking away the remote control. The bubble kind of burst immediately for poor Gracie. Reality...He isn't leaving. Time out for Garrett. She is also a little jealous at times, but we just keep reassuring her. Garrett is still very baby like. As big as he is, it is hard to imagine that. But he does have a lot of baby left in him. We are having some sleeping issues, but I am dealing with it. The first night went ok. The second night...Well, not so great. I think I spoke too soon that this was going to be so easy with him. He is still getting accustomed to the time change though. He does however go to sleep very easily. It takes him about five minutes max to fall asleep. He is darling, and is a wonderful, perfect addition to our family. We are so blessed!

Here are the pictures from Van and Garrett's homecoming on January 9th.