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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Medical exam and the zoo

Monday in Guangzhou and we had to take Jake to get his medical exam. First, we went a couple of doors down to get his picture take for his visa. Then, it was off to the medical exam. They checked his heart, his height and weight and hearing. He passed!

It was so crowded in there. Lots of American families with their new Chinese children. It was the old hurry up and wait.

After that, Kelly took us to the zoo. We checked out the animals. Not surprisingly, it seems Jake's favorites were the fish.

Here are the pics.

The medical exam room. All the children have to go through here.

Yeah, like that is going to happen!

Jake giving a thumbs up. He's ready for his exam. You can see a little of the crowd behind him.

This kind doctor checked Jake over. Jake was OK until we had to lay him down and take his pants off so the doctor could check things out, then we had some tears and crying.

Next, we were off so Jake could get weighed and measured. That meant laying down, which he didn't like. He forgot to read the sign about being quiet.

Checking out the fish at the zoo. He sure likes fish.

That's a strange looking fish. Just look at the wonder in Jake's eyes.

They had a slide near the fish, so Jake had to check it out. He likes slides, too. When he came to us in Xian he had a black eye the orphanage director said happened when he had an accident on the slide. I could believe it. As all kids do, Jake had to try to climb up the slide a couple of times and toppled over.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In Guangzhou

We bid farewell to Xian Saturday and said hello to Guangzhou, our final stop in China. It was cool in Xian when we left, and very hot and humid in Guangzhou when we got here. That's not surprising, since Xian is farther north and farther inland. Guangzhou is south and close to the sea.

Jake handled the airplane ride really well. I think he treated it as just an extra-long van ride. The flying didn't bother him a bit. The boredom and the not being able to get out of the seat and run around did. But, that bothers us, too. LOL. It was about 2 1/2 hours, so we will have to see how he handles 11 hours back to the U.S. on Thursday.

The White Swan, our hotel here, is pretty neat. Great Wall puts most of its people up in the White Swan. We've seen quite a few couples here with their children. The people we were with in Beijing got to Guangzhou a couple of hours before us after flying in from Inner Mongolia. Their daughter is such a cutie.

Kelly plans to take us shopping Sunday. She lives in Guangzhou so she should really be helpful now, even more so than she normally is.

Anyway, the White Swan has this cool waterfall and fish pond in it. We think that is Jake's new favorite spot. He sat there and just watched the fish swimming around. He probably would still be there if we didn't bring him up for bedtime. He also liked the play room they have, although he clammed up and got much less animated when a couple from California came in with their 2 daughters. He does that, and we wonder why. Surely there were girls at the orphanage, and surely he had to play with them, or do girls in China have cooties like the girls in the USA at that age!?!?!? LOL

Here are pics.

Looking at the fish.

He likes the fish.

He's either trying to get a closer look or trying to figure out how to jump in.

Oooooooohhhh, the waterfall.

Riding a zebra, or some other such animal.

Chasing Momma.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Farewell to Xian

Friday was our last day in Xian. We leave Saturday morning China time (which would be Friday night back home) for Guangzhou, our final stop in China. We honestly are going to miss Xian. This city always will hold a special place in our hearts since it was the place where we got our son.

But, it's also a city that has a lot of attractions, there's just so much to do. I'm sure if we stayed here longer we would find more fascinating things, but we also are ready to move on to the next stop and eventually get back home. We miss home, and we miss everyone.

Since it was our last day, we did quite a bit.

Here is the Bell Tower Hotel, our home away from home for the past week.

Here Jake and Baba let the city know we are here by ringing the big bell at the Bell Tower. They used to ring it to let people know the time.

And, we can fit all three of us in our self-portrait. :)

After the Bell Tower, we stopped for ice cream at Hagen Daz. Yummy!

After Jake's nap, Kelly, our guide, took us to a nice park in Xian. It was peaceful. We just walked around. We tried to get Jake to try out one of the kiddie rides but he wanted nothing to do with it. We will try again when we get home.

After the park, Kelly went to get Jake's passport. That was the last bit of stuff we needed to get done here before we leave.
Then, we went to the Drum Tower, which apparently serves the same purpose as the Bell Tower, only this time with a big drum.

I guess we all know what that means. LOL. This time Mama helped Jake bang the drum to let Xian know we were here.

This means Jake wants something from Baba.

And, this is what he wants. Looks like fun.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Terra Cotta Warriors and night time fun

We were busy, busy, busy Thursday.

First, we went to the Terra Cotta Warriors museum. China's first emperor, Emperor Qin, decided he needed an army with him in the afterlife, so he had a huge army made out of clay. This army was buried for 2,000 years before farmers digging a well found the first remnants. So far, they have uncovered and pieced back together some 6,000 terra cotta soldiers and horses. It's quite impressive. Our driver, Mr. Bai, was kind enough to bring along a stroller, which Jake used and enjoyed. He was a little emperor himself as we carried him up and down stairs strapped in the stroller.

Later Thursday, we went to the water fountain light and music show in Xian. It was featured on the Travel Channel during China Week when Samantha Brown did the show on Xian. It didn't start until about 8:40 p.m., which is 40 minutes past Jake's bedtime, so it was his first late night. We're glad we kept him up because he had a good time. He liked the bright lights and he has a thing for water fountains, too. He fell asleep during the taxi ride back to the hotel (which was an adventure all itself. LOL)

It was a long day for Jake, but he was a little trooper. There weren't many fits and they were short-lived.

Enough words. Here are the pictures.

This is an overall view of the biggest pit at the Terra Cotta Warriors museum. This building is huge.

Here's another view of some of the Terra Cotta Warriors.

It wouldn't be right to not show some horses.

It's silly and touristy, but they put Violet's face on one of the Terra Cotta kneeling archers.

And Kevin had to become a Terra Cotta general.

On the way back from the Terra Cotta Warriors, the tickle monster attacked Jake.

Pure cuteness.

Jake with Kelly, our guide. She is a truly wonderful person. She is so helpful and so knowledgeable about everything. We are so lucky to have her as our guide in Xian, and she will travel with us to Guangzhou.

Jake with Mr. Bai, a wonderful driver and a very thoughtful man. He's always there to get the door and either handle bags or Jake while we get in or out of the van. The stroller he brought along Thursday was wonderful and very much appreciated.

The moon over the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, near where the water fountain show was.

A view of the fountain show. There were so many people there, and they apparently do this every night.

More fountain show.

More fountain show.

One more from the fountain show.

And finally ...
Jake watching the fountain show. Watching him was probably more fun than watching the show.