Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Mega Blocks"

Ever since the second day we had TongJie when we found out how much he loved the stacking cups, we've been saying that he would probably really like to play with Duplo blocks or something.  So today when we were out and about, we bought a set of Mega Blocks, which are sort of like huge Legos for toddlers.  At first, TongJie was fascinated with taking them out of the bag and carrying them, one by one, to different locations throughout the house, but then I showed him how to stack them together and he's been totally engrossed in playing with them all evening.  You can see how hard he's concentrating on his work.

TongJie slept in kind of late this morning, so his nap was also later.  During the time he was napping, I did our budget for June and Jeff worked on a slideshow of our trip to show his kids when he goes back to school next week.  I also had time to mow the front lawn.  I didn't mow the back while he was napping because I didn't know if it would wake him up, since his bedroom is right next to the back yard.  It probably would have been fine because he seems like a pretty sound sleeper.  He probably learned that from the orphanage, because I imagine there was always a lot of crying and the kids just had to get used to sleeping through it.

We went for another long walk after TongJie's nap, and then Jeff went to music rehearsal at church and TongJie and I had dinner.  I found out he loves peas.  We had a bag of frozen peas, so I cooked some of those for the first time since we've been home, and he seemed to love them as much as he loves fruit.  I think he especially enjoyed his dinner this evening, and he ended up with rice all over his face.  I couldn't resist taking a couple of pictures.

Today marks two weeks since we've been home from China.  Every day TongJie seems to get more and more used to this being his home, and we're really thankful for that.  Thanks to all of you who are reading our blog and praying for us and thinking of us!  We can still use all the prayers we can get for attachment and bonding.  We're seeing signs of TongJie becoming more and more attached to us as his mom and dad, but a lot of the time it's hard to tell.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Awana awards ceremony

All three of us got a good night's sleep last night, finally!  I like that TongJie is sleeping in a little later now so I can get up before him and get ready for the day.  It was hard when we were all sleep deprived and not getting to bed until really late and then getting up at 5:30.  It's also hard when I get up at the same time as TongJie because then I'm having to try to make breakfast for him while he's crying and all that.  It's so much more enjoyable to have everything ready when he gets up.  I sort of feel like it's cheating or something to get a full night of sleep, because it makes everything so much easier!  Jeff finally slept better last night too.  He's still having a hard time adjusting to the time change, even though it's been almost two weeks now.  Hopefully the trend of being able to sleep at night will continue for him.

This morning we walked to the Java Station on Cherry and Miller, with TongJie in the stroller, and with Albert of course.  TongJie did great in the stroller, and it was over an hour that we were out walking.  The lady in the coffee place let us all come in because she saw me waiting outside with Albert.  She said they like dogs.  That place is pretty neat now, they've fixed it up a lot with a seating area and everything.  We didn't stay at the seating area, though.  We kept walking as soon as we got our drinks.

We've been making rice cereal and oatmeal with whole milk for TongJie, and he'll usually eat it with whatever we mix in it.  He seems to think that if one of us is feeding him something with a spoon, it must be good enough to eat.  The only time he didn't eat something that we fed him with a spoon was the day we got home from China and he was so tired and upset he wouldn't eat anything.  Usually, even when he gets tired of eating something from his plate, such as scrambled eggs, veggies, cheese, or meat, if we mix it in with his oatmeal or rice cereal he'll eat it just fine.  So today we decided to try tuna in his rice cereal, since he wasn't too thrilled about the tuna alone.  I could tell the concoction wasn't his favorite, but he still ate it!  I wonder how much longer we'll be able to use that little trick of mixing things in.  Probably not too much longer, so we might as well take advantage of it while we can.  As I've mentioned before, he's been an excellent eater, so it's not really a big deal right now anyway.

This evening, I got to go to the end of the year Awana awards ceremony.  I've been an Awana leader for the past two years at our church, with the T&T kids (3rd-5th grade), and when we went to China of course I had to give that up, at least for awhile.  To be honest, I've really missed Awana, especially my little group of kids on the red team.  So I was really looking forward to going to the awards ceremony to see all the kids again and to see them get their awards.  It was a really neat ceremony and I had a good time seeing the students, other volunteers, and parents.  Several of the kids got up in front of everybody and recited verses that they've memorized this year and they did a great job.  I'm so proud of all the kids in Awana; they've worked hard this year!  It was fun to talk to people that I haven't seen for a long time.  I guess it's only been less than a month, but it seems like it's been longer than that because so much has happened in that time.  As I was driving to the church this evening, I realized it was the first time since before we left for China that I've driven a car.  Since we've been back, we haven't been in the car a whole lot (except for that trip to Seattle) and Jeff has been driving.  Also, this evening was the first time since we've had TongJie that I went somewhere without him, aside from the time when I went by myself to do paperwork in the hotel the day before our visa appointment in Guangzhou.  This evening, Jeff got him all ready for bed, and by the time I got back around 8:15 he was already in his crib and Jeff was reading his Bible to him.  He fell asleep a little easier tonight (probably because Jeff was reading from Numbers, just kidding!) and was asleep by 8:35.  I think that's a first!

Here's a picture of me with TongJie playing in his room this morning.  We realized that there haven't been a lot of pictures of me with him lately, because I'm usually the one taking the pictures!

And some of Jeff and TongJie walking in the backyard together.  He's already getting a lot more confident walking on the uneven ground, and he still loves to be outside!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A walk on the loop trail

Well, it's been one week since we got home from Seattle and TongJie's doctor appointments, and that seems to have been sort of a turning point in his adjusting to being here in his new home.  Even though he had a difficult night last night with waking up crying lots of times, his sleeping and general disposition is still so much better than those first few days at home.  We hadn't had watermelon for a few days but then had some again last night, and TongJie ate a lot of it to make up for missing it all those days I guess, and he still ate a lot of other food too.  All that made for an especially heavy, wet diaper in the middle of the night, which was probably part of the reason he was having a hard time.  I'd probably be crying, too, if I had to have that soggy thing attached to me while I was trying to sleep.

I'm realizing that our life here in Wenatchee is not nearly as interesting as it had been while we were in China, so there's not really much to report these days.  One fun new thing is that TongJie has been saying "bye," only he can't pronounce it correctly so he says "lye."  Whenever we leave to go somewhere, he waves to the house and says, "Lye. Lye," over and over again in his quiet little voice.  He also says it to one of us if we're going outside or something, or he'll say it when he's playing and he leaves to go into another room, or to Albert and the cats.  That's pretty much the only real word he says, other than sometimes we think he's saying "hi," but he doesn't use that one as consistently.  He does make a lot of other noises, just not real words.

We went for a walk on the Apple Capital Loop Trail after TongJie's nap, with Albert too, of course.  The weather was kind of cold and windy today, but it was still fun.  TongJie usually seems to enjoy being in his stroller, and he enjoyed it today.  Sometimes he starts to cry if we stop walking.  I guess it's too boring for him to just sit there and look at the same old things.  I didn't take any pictures while we were walking today.  In fact, I only took two pictures this evening, both of Jeff and TongJie.

Yesterday, my mom took the following picture of TongJie.  He has that look on his face like he's ready to get into something that he's not supposed to!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A few quick pictures

Hi everybody!  I'm really tired right now and I think I should be trying to get to bed earlier, since we're successfully getting TongJie to bed earlier now, so I'll make this post kind of short.  I took some photos of TongJie when we were outside in the back yard this morning, and also I couldn't resist taking a photo of our cat, Chestnut.

TongJie had a little rougher day today, especially this afternoon for a few hours after he woke up from his nap.  He woke up crying like he used to when we were in China and the first few days at home, like he was scared.  He also took a much shorter nap than the past few days, so we're wondering if maybe he had a bad dream that scared him and woke him up.  I'm glad he hasn't been crying like that as much lately, because we feel so bad for him and it's hard to comfort him.  Today he calmed down after awhile, when Jeff took him outside and carried him around.  He was still out of sorts for a couple of hours after that incident though, but by this evening he seemed back to his normal self again.  We had him ready for bed by 8:10, but forgot to do the ear drops, so by the time that was finally done it was around 8:20.  He was asleep within a half hour - he was so tired!

Here are a couple more pictures:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A long walk

I sure miss going to church!  It's really nice to be able to listen to the sermons online, but it's still not the same as actually being there and seeing everybody.  Jeff went to church this morning, but TongJie is definitely not ready to be around that many people yet, so I stayed home with him.  It was a beautiful day today, despite being windy, so TongJie and I spent a lot of time in our backyard this morning.  Inside, he's usually pretty active with playing or wanting to be held and walked around - he generally does not like to sit on our laps in one place for very long.  Outside it's different.  TongJie loves to be outside and he enjoys just sitting and looking at all the new things.  Part of it is because the ground is more uneven, so he's not confident enough to try walking.  But also we don't think he'd been outside much at all at the orphanage, and even the time we spent outside in China we were always in big cities or he was in a stroller or front pack if we were ever in a park.  The idea of his own yard must be rather foreign to him.  I'm sure he'll get used to it and be running around soon enough, but today he was content to sit on my lap in the grass for a long time, looking all around with wide eyes and every once in awhile reaching out to touch blades of grass or a leaf.

After TongJie's nap, we put him into the stroller and took Albert along for a long walk.  We ended up walking to Target because we've been wanting to get a book light for me for the evenings when we're in TongJie's bedroom as he's falling asleep.  So Jeff took TongJie into the store to hunt down a book light and I stayed outside with Albert.  We considered pretending that I was blind and Albert was my seeing eye dog so we could all go into the store, but I don't think Albert or I would have been very believable!  Jeff found a good light, so now I can read my Bible and write in my diary even when it's dark.  Jeff already has a book light, but now he's jealous of mine because it's newer and better!  We also stopped by Starbucks since we had a coupon for a free drink.  We saw our friend Jim from Awana and I got to talk to him while Jeff went in.  Jeff and I used to have a routine of going to Starbucks just about every Thursday evening after church music practice to read and study, so we've gotten to know some of the people who work at Starbucks and we had told them we wouldn't see them for awhile because of our trip to China and adoption.  Today, a couple of them were working when Jeff went in, so of course they came out and saw TongJie.  And of course he just stared at them.

When we got home, it was time to start dinner.  TongJie was getting fussy because he was hungry.  He slumps down helplessly onto the floor many, many times each day and cries and kicks his feet and flails his arms like a beetle stuck on its back.  You'd think he couldn't sit up or walk if his life depended on it.  It must be so frustrating for him to not be able to communicate what he's upset about.  This evening, however, he did something he's never done before: instead of flopping down and crying, he actually walked over to his high chair and pulled on the tray and then did the sign for "more."  We were very impressed!  He's obviously making the connection between the sign for "more" and getting food.  I think that learning some basic signs will help with cutting down on some of his frustration about communicating what he wants.  We're really excited about that!

After dinner, ear drops, bath, and bedtime routine, we successfully had him into his crib at 8:20.  Yes, I know we were five minutes behind our planned schedule of 15 minutes earlier than yesterday.  It's been taking about 45 minutes for him to fall asleep the past couple of nights, but tonight it took a little longer.  Luckily I had my brand-new book light!  Poor Jeff had to use his old boring one.  TongJie was asleep around 9:15 again.  He's been pretty much sleeping through the night.  Sometimes he still wakes up crying, but not like he used to.  The past few nights we've been able to comfort him without even picking him up and he calms right down and goes back to sleep.  What a huge difference from just a week ago!  I can't believe how fast he's getting settled in - it's amazing!  Like I've said before, I'm sure we'll have our setbacks, but we are so thankful that he is doing this well right now.  We continue to see more signs of attachment, as well: Eye contact, smiling when he sees us, calming down from crying quickly when we pick him up, checking back to make sure we're still there when he's playing independently, coming up to one of us for a quick hug before going back to whatever he's doing, and we can even tell a difference just in the way he holds onto us when we're carrying him.  That's not to say that he always does those things, but it's happening more often now and that's encouraging.

As for the other pictures, another hand-me-down from Drake and Levi is this plastic sit-on car.  Until today, TongJie has shown absolutely no interest in it, but today he's been using it to push around like a walker to help him walk.  He also discovered that the seat lifts up to reveal a storage space and he's been all over that.  He loves any type of container that he can put things into and take them out again, so the storage trunk is right up his alley and kept him busy for most of the evening.  Jeff even tried sitting on the car.  I wish I could've gotten a photo of TongJie's reaction when he saw that - he looked at Jeff in shock and disbelief.  We don't know if it was because he couldn't believe that someone else was using his car, or if he couldn't believe that Jeff could sit on something that small!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Library, baby sign language, and poop samples

We took a trip to the library this morning and checked out a couple of books and a DVD on baby sign language.  We haven't watched the DVD yet, but we've looked at the books and they're very helpful.  I know quite a few basic signs from the kids I work with at school, but we found some more that we couldn't remember or hadn't learned yet.  We've been actively working with TongJie on the sign for "more," and he's used it appropriately several times now.  We're not certain that he's really made the connection as to what it means yet, but we'll keep working on it and see what happens.

Last summer, Melonie and Adam had kindly given us a ton of baby supplies and clothes that Drake and Levi have outgrown.  Before we left for China, I went through the box of clothing and took out all the 18-month and 24-month clothes and a few 12-month ones and then I put the rest of the box out on the shelves.  It turns out that TongJie is wearing 12-month clothes right now, even though he's almost 21 months, so he is a fairly little guy.  Today we finally got the box back out and dug out the rest of the 12 month clothes, so it's as if he just got a few new outfits today!  Actually, he's been wearing a lot of his 18-month things but they're just a little big, so I have no doubt that before we know it he'll have outgrown those 12-month outfits.  It's fun to be able to get some use out of them while we can though.  And he has a lot of clothes in the 18 to 24 range that people have generously given us, so that's really great!  

Since our doc appointment on Tuesday, we've been collecting poop samples every other day, and today was the last day that we had to take a collection.  I (Crystal) have absolutely no problem with all things poopy, so I have had the distinct honor of capturing the poo and placing it into the vials.  TongJie seems to have no problem producing it, either, especially since he eats so much!  It needs to be tested for parasites and things like that, so today after his latest offering, we took the bag of poop containers to the hospital lab because we thought we could drop it off there.  It turned out that we had to take it to the clinic, but I think we finally got it where it needs to go.  They will send the results to Dr. Davies' office at the UW medical center.

I took TongJie and Albert for a walk while Jeff made dinner.  I wanted to help with making dinner, but TongJie was hungry and fussy and it took one whole person to entertain him while the other person worked in the kitchen, so it was actually more helpful for me to just take him for a walk.  We saw Lisa, who lives nearby and had taken care of our house while we were in China.  She was working in her yard and it was fun to get to talk to her for a few minutes and for her to get to meet TongJie.  Whenever TongJie meets a new person, he just stares with his classic serious expression that you've probably seen from many of the pictures.

After dinner, we got to Skype with Melonie, Drake, and Levi and that was fun.  Yesterday I got TongJie into his crib at 8:45 and he was asleep by 9:30, so our goal today was to shoot for 15 minutes earlier, which we did.  He was in his crib almost exactly at 8:30, and what do you know, he fell asleep right around 9:15, so our plan seems to have worked.  At least for tonight, anyway.  Last night he did have kind of a hard time in the middle of the night, but it was nothing compared to a week ago!  We'll probably keep trying for earlier in 15-minute increments as long as it keeps working.  We don't want to suddenly put him to bed a whole lot earlier, or we're afraid he'll only sleep for a couple hours and then wake up like he was doing last week.  In reality, we have no clue what we're doing, but this seems to be working for him so we'll keep doing it until we get to a more acceptable bedtime, or until our little plan stops working.

Only a couple pictures for today, because I forgot to take very many.  I'm sort of lamenting that I didn't take any photos of the poop samples, but that might have been kind of weird, so maybe it's for the best.  These are two photos of Jeff and TongJie hanging out this morning.  He was kind of squirmy and didn't look too happy for the first photo!  (TongJie, not Jeff)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday, May 25

We went back to the clinic this morning and found that the TB skin test is in fact positive, so they ordered a chest x-ray for TongJie.  The nurse who looked at his arm this morning said it's likely that it's a false positive because many countries do a vaccination for TB that sometimes make the skin tests show up as positive.  The chest x-ray was not a fun experience, as you can probably imagine.  We had to take TongJie's shirt off because it had metal snaps on it, and since it was a onesie type shirt, we also had to take his pants off, so there he was in just his diaper strapped onto this bicycle seat with his arms up in the air surrounded by plexiglass.  Jeff put on the lead jacket so he could be in the room with him, but I went in the back with the x-ray technicians.  Luckily it didn't take too long, but it didn't make for a good morning.  They'll send the x-ray results to the UW clinic and I'm pretty sure TongJie will need to take the meds regardless.  It doesn't sound like it's that big of a deal though, and he seems to think medicine is a yummy treat, based on the reaction we got from the antibiotics he took in China.

It's nice that TongJie is taking afternoon naps consistently now.  Jeff also took a little nap this afternoon since he didn't sleep well last night on the floor in TongJie's room.  In our excitement of picking up Albert yesterday from my parents' house we forgot to bring his dog food with us, so we went back over there this afternoon to get it.  Albert was happy to see my mom again too!  She had offered to deliver the dog food to us, but we figured it would be a fun diversion to get us out of the house and to get more practice for short, fun trips in the car seat.  This morning's chest x-ray car trip was short but not fun.

Jeff played drums in Leavenworth this evening with the local polka band, Polka Pals, so I got to practice doing dinner and bedtime by myself and it went pretty well.  Also, I got to talk to my friend Heather on the phone for awhile while TongJie amazed me by playing with his plastic shapes by himself, periodically checking to make sure I was still there.  When it was bedtime, I got him into his crib by 8:45 and he was asleep by 9:30, so he's still seeming to fall asleep a little earlier every night.  I'm sure we'll have our share of setbacks, but we're thankful that things are going so well right now!

Albert seems to be doing a little better but he's still not his normal self.  It's kind of funny that they both seem jealous of each other.  Albert jumped up on my lap this evening, and TongJie, who had been contentedly playing by himself just a moment before, instantly came over and started pulling at my pant leg and wanting to be picked up too.  I tried to take some pictures of them together but none of them turned out very good.  In fact, a lot of the pictures look kind of fuzzy because the lighting was bad and I didn't use a flash.

  Poor old Albert . . . I really do think he's getting used to his new family member, though.

Here are some photos of TongJie:
    (This one is my favorite)  ^

He was playing with the "Fifteen Animals" book from Austin :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The return of Albert

Today marks the first week that we've been home from China - hooray for making it through this past week!  During the time that we were in China and the past week since we've been back, my parents and my grandma have generously been taking care of our sweet dog, Albert.  Today was the day we decided to try having him back, since we've been getting into a much better routine.  After TongJie's nap this afternoon, we picked up Albert from my parents' house and he's been getting settled into his new life here.  I think TongJie and Albert will end up really enjoying each other, but right now Albert seems kind of sad.  I feel bad for him - I'm sure he's confused and jealous.  We're trying to give him lots of attention, but he just sighs and looks at us with sad eyes.  TongJie already seems to like Albert and was trying to play "peek-a-boo" with him earlier, but Albert didn't have a clue what was going on.  I took Albert for a walk with TongJie in the front pack while Jeff was at music practice at church and both of them seemed to have a good time.  I didn't take any photos of them together yet . . . maybe tomorrow.

In other news, we had to get TongJie's tuberculosis skin test checked today and it appears that it might be positive, which doesn't necessarily mean that he has TB (and even if he did, kids under 10 or 12 are almost never contagious anyway), it just would mean that he's been exposed to TB at some point in his life, and could possibly get it sometime in the future if left untreated.  The nurse asked us to come back tomorrow morning for a second opinion from someone else, so we'll know more then I guess.  I think if it's positive, the next step would be a chest x-ray and then medication.  If the skin test result is in fact positive, I think he still has to have medication regardless of whether or not the x-ray shows any symptoms, just different types of meds depending on what the x-ray finds.  It sounds like the medications need to be taken for quite some time, so I'm not really looking forward to that.  Like I said, we'll know more tomorrow.  We're just REALLY thankful that kids under 2 didn't have to have the TB skin test done in China, otherwise the potentially positive result might have meant a delay in us leaving the country!

Last night, we all slept well in TongJie's room, and he took a nap at a normal time today, so I think we're slowly getting into an acceptable routine.  Bedtime is still later than we'd like, but we're trying for a little earlier every night.  We had him in the crib by 8:45 tonight, but it's an hour later and he's still wide awake, babbling and laughing.  At least he doesn't usually cry in his crib anymore if one of us is right there with him.  Man, those first few nights we were back home, Jeff and I were both starting to feel pretty discouraged by all of the sleep issues, but here we are a week later and things are going SO MUCH better.  Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement!

Only one photo from today:  Jeff giving TongJie his bottle before bed.  We're almost out of the formula we got in China, so we bought some at Target yesterday and we've been mixing the Chinese formula with the new stuff because we were worried the different taste would bother him.  We haven't noticed any reaction from him, so apparently Target formula tastes okay.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Settling in?

I put a question mark after the title, "settling in," because I feel like it's still too early to tell if we're actually establishing any type of schedule or if it's just wishful thinking.  We all got to bed before midnight last night and slept until almost 6:00 this morning, so that was great.  TongJie only woke up crying once in the middle of the night but went back to sleep without getting himself all worked up.

Because of the vaccinations yesterday, poor TongJie was pretty cranky today, especially in the morning.  We kept busy by all of us going to the Eastmont school district office to get some insurance paperwork turned in and then a trip to Washington Park to check out the baby swings.  Probably partly because of his bad mood, TongJie was not overly impressed with the swing like we expected him to be, but he seemed to enjoy it a little bit.  I bet after he's feeling better he'll enjoy it more.  He did like the other play equipment and was fascinated with going up and down the steps holding onto my or Jeff's hands, and going down the slide in one of our laps was also a big hit.  Pastor Pat and Jeannie came over for a short visit around 11:00 and TongJie promptly fell asleep after getting frustrated over his lunch, but at least they got to see him for a short time and it was good for me and Jeff to get to visit with them.  Jeff and I got him into his crib without waking up and he slept for about 2 and a half hours.  We both took a nap too because we feel like we'll never know when we'll get the next opportunity to sleep if we don't take advantage of it while we can!

We went to a couple of stores this afternoon.  We were sort of apprehensive about all three of us going because we didn't want to run into a lot of people at once and we thought it might be still kind of early for an outing like that, but it turned out fine.  We saw a few people here and there that we knew, and it was fun to talk to them and not too overwhelming for TongJie.  So we're glad we all went out and about, plus it gave TongJie some practice going on short trips in the car seat that didn't end with getting poked at by doctors!

Jeff's mom came over around dinner time for a short visit and that was fun.  Jeff's dad was working so couldn't make it this time, so we'll have to visit with them again soon.  After dinner, Jeff went to the church to catch the end of youth group, which is the last youth group meeting of the year.  He had fun seeing everybody, and I told him to say hi to everybody for me.  We miss our church family a lot.  While Jeff was gone, I took TongJie for a walk in the front pack around the neighborhood and by the time we got back he was falling asleep.  He was asleep in his crib by 8:00 and I didn't even get a chance to give him his bottle, but then he woke up around 9:30 and now Jeff is giving him a bottle, so we'll see what happens.

I was reminded of another thing while we had all our appointments with different doctors and specialists the past couple of days.  Most of them asked us the correct way to pronounce TongJie's name, and I suppose there are a lot of people reading this blog who don't know how we pronounce it.  It looks like "Tong Jee" with a long "e," but the Mandarin pronunciation is actually "Tong Jay" with a long "a."  Actually, the Mandarin pronunciation is more like "Tong Jee-ay" but the Americanized version is Tong Jay with the long a.  So in case you're wondering how to pronounce his name in your head as you read our blog posts, now you know.  Just think of salad tongs and the letter J.  Or a blue jay or something.

Oh, one thing I keep forgetting to mention is that way back when we began our adoption process over a year ago, Wacap gave us a timeline that told us all the steps that needed to be completed from the very first application clear up until post-placement visits after returning from China.  After we got matched with TongJie at the end of November, we put the timeline up on our refrigerator with TongJie's picture on it and made a red arrow magnet that says "you are here."  Every time we completed another step, we would move the magnet down so we could stay motivated through the mounds of paperwork and waiting.  When we left for China, we moved the arrow to the step that says "Family travels to China," but there are still several steps on the timeline after that, like things that we had to complete in China and things to do now that we're back.  Anyway, we noticed when we got home that the arrow had been moved to keep track of what we had done in China - the Stromings or my parents must have been following our blog and keeping track on the timeline for us!  We thought that was pretty neat.

Here's a photo of our timeline that I took a couple of days before we left for China.  Notice TongJie's photo - that was his referral photo that we got when we were very first matched with him in November, and that photo was from July when he was 10 months old.  Many of you probably have seen that same picture before because we carried it around with us and showed a lot of people during those five months of waiting, but we couldn't post it online or anything because of child privacy laws.  A funny thing is that I was slightly worried that we wouldn't recognize him because it was 10 months since the picture was taken, but when we got him at the Civil Affairs Office in Hangzhou I had no trouble recognizing him.  His eyes and his serious expression still look exactly the same to me.

Here's a funny picture that I found on our camera - this is at our hotel in Beijing, I think.  This is how Jeff had to charge up his Flip Cam because of the way the outlets were.  It just barely fit between the charger and the  wall!  If it would have been a little longer or a slightly different placement, it wouldn't have worked.  (Thanks, Meegan, for letting us borrow your adapter!)

Another picture from a few days ago.  I think this was our first day at home.  TongJie was sleeping in the front pack and I sat down and Chestnut had to jump up on my lap too.

Two photos from the park today - doesn't TongJie look thrilled?  It's hard to get pictures of him smiling, but he really does smile a lot.  Today he was pretty serious though because he was so tired and out of sorts from the shots yesterday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I remembered that even though I can't get the photos to upload to Blogger, I can use the old email trick that we used in China.  The only problem is that I can't choose what order the photos will show up.

POLITICALLY INCORRECT ALERT:  We saw a store in Seattle called "Free People" and couldn't helping taking a picture of it with the caption "Why did we travel all the way to China when we could've gotten one here for free?" I hope nobody reading this blog is too easily offended, because that was obviously a joke - we wouldn't trade TongJie for anybody in the world, free or not!

A photo of the welcome home sign that our friends from youth group and Awana made for us, placed in our home by the Stromings as a surprise for us when we got home from China.

Also a photo of the waiting room at the medical center this morning.  I think TongJie was disappointed we didn't get to wait longer so he could check out all the cool toys!

UW Medical Clinic

We had a much better night (or shall I say "morning") of sleep last night.  After getting TongJie to sleep around 2:00 am and ourselves to sleep shortly after that, we all slept soundly until after 10:30 this morning and that was very nice!  We checked out of our hotel, drove to the UW Medical Clinic and got checked in, and then walked around on some of the nearby streets since we had some time to kill.  We found a fun donut shop and had a donut and some coffee and tea and TongJie had some of his baby mum-mums.  Jeff said that the maple bar was better than the ones at church, no offense to the breakfast people at church, ha ha! 

Our appointment was at 1:30 with Dr. Davies, and we really like him!  He was so easygoing but also very knowledgeable.  He had a lot of good recommendations for us, but also a lot of encouragement that everything is on the right track and going just the way it should for life with a newly adopted toddler.  There's some concern about TongJie's low weight and small stature so Dr. Davies (as well as Children's Hospital) wants to keep a close eye on his growth, but he seems pretty optimistic that with proper nutrition he'll keep growing proportionately like he should.  The hardest part was that at the end of the appointment, TongJie had to get a TB test (the one that he didn't have to get in China), four other shots in his legs, and a lot of blood drawn.  Jeff and I were mostly nervous about the blood drawing because we were worried they wouldn't be able to get it on the first or second try and that would be pretty traumatic, but they got the blood they needed on the first try.  They had to put it in like 8 or 9 different vials, but the nurse was quick to point out that there really wasn't a lot of blood in each vial.  It still looked like a lot to me.  TongJie was pretty upset, but he recovered quickly and actually did better in the car seat on the way home than he did yesterday.  He slept for about an hour, then woke up right before Snoqualmie pass and cried intermittently the rest of the way home, but his crying was not as loud or as constant as it had been yesterday.

We went for a little walk this evening and then ate a late dinner and started the bedtime routine, which consists of putting on jammies, having a bottle of formula, brushing teeth, and then winding down and getting in the crib with me and Jeff saying poems and singing songs.  We're sleeping in TongJie's room on the floor and that seems to help him be okay with falling asleep in his crib.  That's another big improvement since even a few days ago, because it didn't used to matter to him if we were there or not and now it's seeming to help to have us there, so we're encouraged that it's another little sign of attachment we're seeing.  He fell asleep around 10:30, so we're wondering if he'll stay asleep for the whole night, or if his body still thinks this is an afternoon nap and he'll be up at midnight again.  We'll find out soon enough I guess.

I was going to post a couple of photos but I can't get them to upload to Blogger tonight for some reason, so I'll have to do it tomorrow or some other time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Children's Hospital

Once again, we had another rough night last night.  I won't go into the details, but we ended up finally getting to sleep sometime after 3:30, then had to get up at 6:30 to leave for Seattle.  TongJie was not happy in his car seat and cried pretty much from Blewett Pass to Children's Hospital.  Good thing we had our ear plugs!

Once at Children's Hospital, we had appointments with four different people, but we had to wait for awhile first.  Children's is a pretty neat place.  In our waiting room, we talked to a couple who had a newborn with cleft lip and palate.  They liked TongJie and were interested to hear about his lip repair, but we don't know a lot about the actual surgery since it happened in China.  We also saw a 9 year old girl who had recently had a hip graft surgery to close the gap in her palate.  TongJie will also have that surgery when he gets older.  There was a man walking around playing a ukulele and singing children's songs for the kids who were waiting, and TongJie was interested in that.  When it was finally our turn, the nurse weighed and measured TongJie.  We had to take his diaper off when they weighed him - it's a good thing I had just changed his diaper right before or he would have weighed a lot more!  He's about 20 pounds, which is consistent with when he got weighed at his medical exam in China.

We met with a pediatrician who specialized in cleft lip and palate and then the craniofacial surgeon who will be the one performing TongJie's surgery.  They want to give him time for adjustment, but also they want to track his measurements for awhile because of his small size and they want to make sure he's growing like he should and there's not an underlying issue that needs to be corrected or managed first.  So it sounds like, if he grows proportionately over the summer, his palate surgery will probably happen in the fall.  After the surgeon, we met with a social worker who talked to us about insurance, early intervention programs, speech therapy, and stuff like that.  Finally, we met with a craniofacial nurse who told us about lots more details about the palate surgery and what to expect.  We'll have to go back to Children's at least once more before the surgery because TongJie still needs to have a hearing assessment, and the doctors want to track his growth over the summer.  He fell asleep during the last two appointments, so it was nice that we were able to stay in the same room the whole time and not have to move from place to place.  The specialists all came in to the same room to meet with us there.  Upon waking up, TongJie was rather grumpy because of the rude awakening and it was raining outside.  We were really hungry, so we checked into our hotel and then walked to a McDonald's for a late lunch.  Now we're back in our hotel room and TongJie is still pretty grumpy and we're all tired.  We'll see what happens this evening and tonight. We meet with Dr. Davies at 1:30 tomorrow, so at least we'll be able to sleep in if we end up staying up 'til 4:00 am again.

 Here's a photo of TongJie sleeping during his long morning/afternoon

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A visit with Albert

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm just about ready for bed but am posting a quick update from today.  First of all, we really miss being at church.  Yesterday, Jeff was thinking that he might make it to church this morning but we had another rough night and didn't get to sleep until 5:00 am or so again, so decided it probably wouldn't be a good idea.  The good thing is that TongJie got up at 10:00 am and has had a much more normal schedule today, taking a nap in the early afternoon and eating dinner at a normal time.  We got him asleep in his crib around 9:30 but now he's up again and crying.  I have a feeling this will be a long night.  Jeff is carrying him around now, but it's my turn pretty soon.  Not looking forward to leaving at 7:00 in the morning for a long drive.

My parents and also my grandma have kindly been taking care of our dog, Albert, while we've been in China and during our adjusting at home.  They report that he's been a very good dog, which doesn't surprise us because he really is a wonderful dog.  They brought him over to visit early this afternoon right before TongJie took a nap.  Albert was so excited to see Jeff and I, and we were happy to see him too because we've missed him.  TongJie was wary of him, but didn't seem too scared.  Albert didn't seem to care much either way about TongJie.  I think after things settle down, they will end up enjoying each other a lot.  Albert had fun running around in his own yard and checking everything out.  My parents took him back to their house because we're leaving tomorrow for Seattle for a couple days so today wouldn't have been a good day to take Albert back for good.  Maybe we'll regain permanent custody of him on Wednesday if things are going well!

We went for a walk before dinner and TongJie was rather fussy and didn't seem very happy even in his stroller.  Jeff barbecued chicken for dinner and that was a big hit.  TongJie ate and ate.  Tonight we gave him veggies, chicken, sweet potatoes, and cheese before we even got out any fruit and that was a good idea because he ate the other food first.  Usually he'll go for the fruit right away and fill up on that, but when we gave him the other stuff first he still "miraculously" had all kinds of room for honeydew melon even after eating everything else.

Tomorrow we have an appointment at Children's Hospital about TongJie's cleft palate.  We have no idea what to expect, but we're hoping for possibly a timeline for when we might be able to get his surgery scheduled.  We were able to get his two Seattle appointments on consecutive days, so we'll stay overnight in another hotel (oh joy!) and then have his appointment with Dr. Davies on Tuesday at the UW Medical Clinic.  We're looking forward to meeting with Dr. Davies because we've really been impressed with him during all the phone and email conversations we've had with him.  He specializes in pediatric care for kids who are adopted from overseas, so we're glad that he won't act like TongJie's small size, late development, or general health are shocking.  We do know that the next couple of days will be stressful for all three of us, but we're feeling okay about it because at least everybody will be speaking English and we don't have to travel on any trains or airplanes!  I doubt the breakfast in this hotel will be as good as the fancy hotels we stayed at in China though - they probably won't even have watermelon.

Here's a photo of Albert's visit today. 

 Jeff was trying to have the same confused expression on his face

Chestnut got jealous and tried to jump up on Jeff's lap along with TongJie

Being mischievous on the kitchen floor