Sunday, December 28, 2008

A very merry Christmas

Christmas was beyond words ... so here are the pictures. We really had a great time, from setting out cookies (Jake carried them in thinking they were for him to eat, but he recovered well.) to unwrapping gifts and spending time with family and church friends.

Jake with his new fish tank:

Jake with Grandpa and his new guitar:

Jake with his toy horse:

Also, we enjoyed ourselves Sunday night at Kingfisher In Lights, a light show put on by a town near where we live.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Twas the night before Christmas ...

Well, it is early Christmas Day here, as we wrap up our holiday preparations (pun intended) and get ready for a big day. Christmas Eve found us with last-minute shopping after a short day at work and going to the candlelight service at our church, which we had not been able to do the past few years because of our work schedules.
The service has gotten longer, which we loved, but Jake was too fussy, and we spent the majority of our time in the foyer. Still, he did fairly well, considering, and he loves the Baby Jesus.
We then went home and got ready for Santa. Jake doesn't understand the whole Christmas scene yet, but he could tell we were excited, so he was getting that way. He hung his stocking, tracked Santa on NORAD and set out cookies and milk for Santa. At first we think he was a little disappointed he didn't get the cookies and milk, as he was all ready to sit down on the stool with the plate of cookies, but we explained the cookies and milk were for Santa, and he set them down and did OK.

Here is a picture of Jake getting excited about Santa.

From our family to yours, we wish you happy holidays. We have everything we wished for this Christmas.


Kevin and Violet

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Priceless portraits ...

A Web site that highlights Shaanxi, China, is offering a series on aerial photography that features some stunning photographs of the province where Jacob was born.

Here is the site:
(anyone with ties to Shaanxi should bookmark this site, as it offers great features on the province)

And a little about the series:

"An large-scale aerial photography program entitled"Dancing Shaanxi"was launched to celebrate and mark the 30th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up,as well to show the splendid changes Shaanxi achieved.The program was co-hosted by Shaanxi Provincial Publicity Committee,Shaanxi Broadcast, Film and TV Bureau,and Shaanxi TV Station etc.The program was committed to let the public understand a new Shaanxi province,which is full of vigor and vitality."

Here is one of the aerial photos of the Xian Bell Tower. The hotel where we stayed while adopting Jake is to the upper right in the photo

Here is a photo of Qingling Mountain: The north of Xi’an is plain and the south of Xi’an is hill. The southeast is higher then southwest. The altitude of Qingling Mountain is 2000-2800 meters high. It is the borderline of northern China and southern China.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2 months home

Today, we have been home for two months. Jake's continues to grow more and more comfortable with being part of our family, and we certainly are growing more and more in love with him.

He's been jabbering a lot more lately and is saying more words we understand. We've still got work to do on that front, but we expect things to get better after he has his palate surgery in February.

It's cool to watch him each day grow and grow.

Our little Christmas cheer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We set up our Christmas tree Sunday night — our first as a family of three.
Jake helped hang ornaments, and although he didn't really understand what we were doing, he knows the lights looked really cool and pretty.

It's going to be a great Christmas this year!

This was his reaction when we first plugged in the lights. It was so special to see his reaction.

He needed some help putting up the ornaments, but he did OK. Now, we just have to make sure he leaves them on the tree.

Our little reindeer was full of smiles.

This may not really be the Christmas spirit, but it's still a cute photo.

Jake likes music, so it doesn't take much to make a drum.

Friday, December 5, 2008

2 months of joy

It was two months ago today that Jacob walked (or actually had to be carried crying) into our lives in a hotel room in Xian, China.

It's been a great two months. Yeah, we've had some problems, like the meltdown going on as I type this because he didn't get his way. But, all in all the good has far outweighed the bad. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Here's a pic of Jake at Thanksgiving playing with bubbles his Aunt Debbie bought him and his cousin Matt was kind enough to blow for him. Jake loves them (Deb and Matt, as well as the bubbles).


Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm thankful for ...

My family, my wife Violet, my health.

But this year what I am most thankful for is that we have Jacob home with us. What more could anyone want, even if he can be a messy eater sometimes? I wouldn't change it for the world.


Monday, November 24, 2008


Jake discovered one of the ladybugs taking up residence in our house. He saw it on my shirt and pointed it out to me, so I put it on his arm. At first he wasn't sure what to make of it, but then he thought it was pretty fun.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Having fun

We had a lot of fun Saturday.

Grandma Hassler gave Jake a musical hillbilly Santa that he just loves. He loves to dance to the music. It's hard to tell from a still photo, but it is so cute to watch him boogie.

Then we went outside to enjoy the wonders of nature. Jake got really excited at what he saw!

And this is part of what he saw. Literally hundreds of black birds were flying around and settling in our trees. We made noise to scare them and Jake just had a big laugh-fest watching them fly.

All in all, another fun day with our little man. He can really be a hoot sometimes.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nothing compares to you – one month home

If someone would have told us (and we actually think she did) that one day we would forget all the pain of waiting for a family, of rejection, of dreams unrealized ... well, we wouldn't have believed her.
But one month after having Jacob, our son, home, we have forgotten all the pain. In fact, we have forgotten life before Jacob. He always has been here. Our dream has come true.
Sunday marked one month of Jacob at home. The day started out as a normal Sunday. We got up after a fairly restless night, and, of course, breakfast was the first thing on our minds — especially Jacob's.
After oatmeal and toast with jelly, we cleaned up and went to church, where it was our first Sunday in the nursery without Ma Ma or Baba. Jake cried a little, but Ma Ma said he would do great with Galin, and he did! He played and listened to music (he now loves to dance!) and learned itsy, bitsy spider.
Afterward, Jake took his first foray into Mexican food, and he loves guacamole. Nothing too spicy, and he danced in the high chair to the festive music throughout his meal.
Jake was sort of a celebrity today, because our newspaper's lifestyles editor (and one of Jake's biggest fans) put together a two-part series based on our blog, and it wrapped up Sunday. At least two people (strangers) commented on meeting the man face-to-face.
We laughed afterward and said he would have to start wearing his new sunglasses as a disguise!
Then it was off to the park to try out the swings (loved it) and the slide (it was big, so he went up and down it with Baba and a big smile plastered on his face.). Jake fed the ducks and watched a pair of geese fight. He saw fountains and waterfalls and probably the biggest time he had was running up and down a long ramp and peering out the fence bars like he was in jail.
We went shopping and got some groceries to wrap up our day. It was long, and he was tired, so we walked around outside when we got home to kind of wind down. After supper, there was an ice cream cone for dessert. All in all, it was a good, fall day.
Perfect to mark a month of Jake in our lives (even though it already seems like a lifetime!)

Here are some pictures of us wrapping up our day:

Jake got a little messy with his ice cream cone, but even after a month he marvels over the coldness of the yummy treat:

Afterward, it was right to the bathtub. Here he is growing a beard. We're not sure what that is on his head:

THE AFTERBATH – Here is our boy. He cleans up really well:

A picture of one of the USA's newest, official citizens

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You've got mail

Jake received his first piece of mail Monday, and it was anything but junk mail — it was his certificate of citizenship, effective Oct. 16, 2008! Yep, in the eyes of the government, Jake officially is an American, and we have the paper to prove it (which is always a necessity when it comes to the government ;)
He also got a form letter from the president congratulating him on becoming a citizen of the United States. It was a nice touch.
When he landed in America, we knew the moment he touched feet on the ground .. er, floor ... he would be an American. It would be a special moment, and we guess immigration thought so, too, because there were no pictures allowed! There will be no lollygagging to celebrate citizenship, no sirree!
We thought about holding him from the ground (which was silly, we know, but darn it ... it was our symbolism) until we could get somewhere to snap a photo, but we weren't sure where that was and standing in line holding him to wait to enter the U.S. was enough. We made a big show of setting him down so we would always remember, and we will.
Since we don't have a photo of the moment, here is a random photo in which Jake is practicing his freedom of expression:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Excuse me, what's that in your ear?

The other day, Jake and I were sitting at the table eating lunch. He really does a pretty good job of feeding himself, so I guess I take it for granted it's all going in his mouth. Anyway, as a treat I gave him some diced pineapple. I turned away for just a second and when i turned back there he was in his highchair, a big grin on his face — and a piece of pineapple sticking in his ear.

Obviously, that's not what we want, but how in the world do you tell him no when you are laughing so hard? I wish the camera had been handy, but it wasn't. I guess now I need to keep the camera with me at all times, because you just never know what you will miss.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

One month

One month ago Wednesday, a scared little boy had to be carried into our room in the Bell Tower Hotel in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, China. He had never laid eyes on us before, and when he did that day, he didn't want to have anything to do with us.

We, on the other hand, had at least seen pictures of him and had fallen in love even though we'd never met him. If anything that day, we loved him even more.

Now, this same little boy doesn't like to be away from us. It's becoming hard to remember what life was like without him. Hopefully, he feels the same way about us.

Wow, this month sure went by fast.



Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween ... or not

Jacob's been under the weather lately. There's a virus going around, and he was lucky enough to get it.

He's been coughing quite a bit, although that seems to be getting better. He still has a fever, though, so that means no trick-or-treating tonight. We had planned to take him to our church's family fun night and also show him off in his costume to his grandparents.

We are posting a photo of him in his kung fu outfit (which was going to be his costume). He was a model for a photo to illustrate Halloween activities in an article for the newspaper we work at. He did well during the photo shoot. We think he is a big ham!

Even, sick he's still so darn cute!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We're having a party

Actually, Jake got to have two birthday celebrations.

After church, we drove to Violet's mother's house for birthday party No. 1. We had a great time. Jake had his first birthday cake and got to open some presents.

We don't use a fork for our cake. We don't even use just one hand. Nope, we've got to use both hands.

Jake likes to mess around with our computer when we are on it. Now, he won't have to. He has his own. It didn't take him long to get the hang of opening presents - grab a corner of the paper and tear.

The day was a little cool and windy, but we still had to go outside. So what good are all those leaves for? Why gathering up and throwing, of course.

Then, we drove to Kevin's parents' house for party No. 2. That meant more presents and more cake.

A birthday hat can double as a trumpet if your try hard enough.

Woohoo! Party favors.

Getting ready to blow out the candle. Yep, Baba likes the silly hat.

Jake really did like the dinosaurs he got. Really, he did.

Watching a musical e-card he got from his cousins, Bobby and Matt.

Happy birthday Jake!

Our little boy is home 10 days and is 2 years old today. Here he is in our yard, reflecting on his last day as a 1-year-old. :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Game Day

Couldn't resist this photo. It's Saturday and Jake is showing who his favorite football team is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Settling in

Sorry it has taken so long to update. I have been under the weather somewhat, and we've both been busy trying to see everyone and get a new routine going. Jake is doing awesome. He still has trouble sleeping, as he is restless and wakes several times during the night, but I think he eventually will feel comfortable, and I cannot wait for that night he sleeps all the way through!
He was hesitant with our family at first, but his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents soon won him over, as did all of our co-workers and church family. Thank you one and all!
Jake has his first doctor's appointment Thursday, and he has an appointment next week with his cleft team. We did measure and weigh him on our own when we got home, because the day at the clinic in China was hectic and we didn't hear half of the results, and the scales at the hotels didn't work well. He weighs 24 pounds and stands at 30.5 inches tall. He is a little, little guy. His height is below the development charts even in China, and his weight is in the 35th percentile, but he is stocky (with a fat belly and cheeks) and looks great. Developmentally he seems to be doing well. He does suffer from big head syndrome (yes, he has a big ego and a big head!). His head is 19.5 inches and is in the 75th percentile! It is hard to find clothes that fit. 18 months work in shirts but they need buttons at the neck to get his head through. 12 month still are a little too big for pants, but the next size we have been able to find is 6-9 months and they seem slightly too tight.
We are thrilled to have him in our home, and the animals are adjusting well. Piper wants to sniff all over him, he is so interested in this little guy, but those horse nostrils are a little intimidating. I tried to put him on Piper's back, which was OK with the horse but not the boy. Hot Rod our dog is tolerant of Jake (HR will be 15 years old on Christmas Day) and we are teaching our little boy why it is good to be nice to older canines. So far, both have done great. The cats, of course, are semi-wild, so not much interaction there, but Jake loves to watch them on the porch when they are eating.
Here are some pictures and a slideshow I created from film the night we watched the musical fountains in Xian.

These two pictures are Jake helping Baba with the chores. He feeds the cats, feeds the horse and gets the mail.

Jake and Camryn see how tall they can build a tower of Legos. Camryn and her mom have been two of our main supporters in this Leap of Faith.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


We are home, and our house now really is a home.

Right now, Momma is in Jake's room trying to get one of the U.S.'s newest citizens asleep. It's been a long, long day for us all. It started out when we woke up just after 4 a.m. Thursday in Guangzhou so we would get ready for a flight to Tokyo. And, here it is nearly midnight Thursday night in Oklahoma.

Jake handled the long airplane ride really well, although there were a couple of crying fits, especially when we tried to get him to go to sleep. He finally laid there quietly and went to sleep. The amazing thing is, some where out over the Pacific Ocean he went to sleep at 8 p.m. China time, which is his normal bedtime. He didn't sleep his full 10+ hours, though, but he did sleep some.

Since then, every time the poor guy falls asleep we've been waking him up. He slept the whole flight from Minneapolis to Wichita (1 1/2 hours), then we had to wake him to get off the plane. My parents, sister, brother in law, nephew and pastor were there at the airport to greet us, and we rode home with my parents (a 2-hour drive), but we stopped off and had to wake him after an hour to see Violet's mother. Then, he fell asleep again and we had to wake him when we got to my parents' house. Then we had to wake him when we got to our house.

He seemed to adjust well to all the new faces. He was leary at first, but then he warmed up to everyone.

Being in China was wonderful. We had such a good time, but it's good to be home, and it's so good to have a child in our home.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Goodbye Guangzhou, goodbye China

Wednesday was our last day in China. We fly out at 8:20 a.m. Thursday.

We got Jake's visa from the U.S. Consulate. The ceremony was anti-climactic. We rode a bus to the consulate and sat around for the most part with a whole bunch of other parents and their children. Then, a consulate official spoke to us all and had us swear that the information we had provided was true. That was it. End of all the official hoops we had to jump through to get Jake.

Now, we have to pack and hopefully not wake our little man.

Here is a photo of Jake on the famous White Swan red couch. We were a small travel group, LOL, and it's tradition for all the kids in the travel group to get their picture taken on the red couch in their traditional Chinese outfit. The shoes Jake is wearing were handmade in Shaanxi Province. We bought them at a store here in Guangzhou that donates its proceeds to help the children in China. We were glad to help in our own small way.

Here is Jake and his travel mate Ella. We met Ella's parents and her 2 brothers in Beijing and toured Tian An Men Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall with them. Then, they went to Inner Mongolia while we went to Shaanxi. We met up again in Guangzhou. They are another Great Wall family, so we shared our guide Kelly with them in Guangzhou. For some reason, they have to stay a couple of more days. They are a wonderful family from Texas and we will miss them and wish them a safe journey home. We plan to get together with them at the Great Wall reunion next summer in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Market and a wild time

Our consulate appointment was Tuesday at the American consulate. However, we didn't need to be there, so Kelly took care of everything that needed to be done. We have to go to the consulate Wednesday afternoon to get Jake's visa. Not sure what all is involved, but we will find out. Kelly is meeting us at 2:45 p.m. and said we would be there until about 5 p.m.

After our consulate appointment, Kelly took us to a traditional Chinese market. Wow. It was crowded, narrow, hot and you could buy just about anything. The wildest part was the herbal medicine area. You name it, it was there in dried form - various bugs, mushrooms and who knows what else. It was pretty wild.

Enjoy the pics.

First off, this was really Monday night. Jake getting a bath. We gave him some toys and he actually took to the water OK. But, when it came time to actually do the cleaning he cried again. It seems now he is OK with water as long as he's not being bathed.

This guy is spreading out some kind of bug - either a cockroach or beetle of some sort I'm guessing. Not sure what it would cure when eaten other than my appetite. LOL

Dried snake skin or dried fish? We aren't sure.

Mmmmmmmmmm. Live scorpions.

Jake wasn't too sure of what to make of these squirming puppies. He reached out tentatively and touched one briefly then pulled back quickly. He was laughing, though, so who knows what he was thinking.

Kelly said this guy was advertising some chicken place. Kevin thinks he was serving community service for some crime he committed.

This is our hotel, the White Swan, lit up at night. We are on the 17th floor. There are 28 floors.

In case you were wondering, the wild time referred to in the title of this entry happened when Kevin was out taking the picture of the White Swan at night, along with some other lights, while Violet was giving Jake a bath. This woman came up to him and handed him a card, which is not unusual, since a lot of the little businesses around here hand out cards. Well, this woman was not selling souvenirs or offering to do laundry. That's right, Kevin got propositioned. LOL. He said no of course and skedaddled to take his photos. Unfortunately, Kevin also had to pick up some laundry Violet had dropped off, and who should be standing out near the laundry service? Yep, Miss Zhu Li (or so her card says. (Kevin kept it, and we both think it's funny!) Come to find out, Violet's laundry wasn't done yet so Kevin had to come back later, and Miss Zhu Li was still out there, this time with a friend. Yikes! Kevin's not going out alone again.

As we were working on this blog, Violet laid down on the bed beside the crib, and Jake, wanting to play, reached out his hand, but Violet wanted him to sleep, so she held on, and instead of pulling away, he held on and he went to sleep holding Ma Ma's hand. We are so blessed.

Kevin and Violet