Saturday, June 30, 2012

A fun run!

This morning, we participated in a fun run called the Mid-Columbia Challenge for employees of the Chelan, Douglas, and Grant County PUDs and their families.  My dad works for the Douglas County PUD, so we went with my parents and my sister and her two boys who are visiting from Montana.  The event was held at the Wanapum Dam.  It was lots of fun!  Melonie (my sister) did not participate because she's recovering from foot surgery, so she stayed with Albert to cheer us on at the finish line.  My parents and the boys did the 1 mile course, and me and Jeff did the 5k.  I've never competed in a race with a stroller before, so I don't know if this is the normal way to do it or not, but TongJie was actually entered as a participant in the stroller division and he got his own race bib and everything.  I thought that I would be the one to participate in the stroller division and TongJie would just come along for the ride, but I guess that's not the way it goes.  So, I competed in my age division of the 5k, while TongJie competed in the stroller division of the 5k.  And, guess what?  He won!  Well, I should clarify that by saying that he won 1st place in the male stroller category for the 5k.  Overall, he was the 2nd stroller in the 5k, because a little girl in a stroller beat him.  TongJie won a cool trophy that is actually a cross section of a real stator bar that is a prototype of the ones they use in the generators.  The 5k course was neat because we got to run over the Wanapum Dam.  Jeff and I did not stay together because he was faster than me.  He won 2nd place in his division.  Not to minimize any of our winnings or anything, but the race organizers created a lot of divisions so more people would get a chance to win.  The categories were divided by male and female and also age group.  Also, there weren't really a whole lot of people there, so that improved our odds right away.  I mean, it certainly wasn't like the Boston Marathon or anything!  We had a great time, and I know Melonie took a picture of TongJie with his trophy so I'll be sure to post it sometime when I remember to get it from her.

When the weather was nice a couple days ago, we filled a plastic container with water and let TongJie sit in it out in the backyard to play.  He hates the bathtub, but he sure loved playing in the water in that plastic tub!  We're hoping it will help with his bath times if he can learn that it's fun to be in the water.


He loved it so much that we did it again the following day, with more toys:

Here's a picture of Jeff getting him dried off:

Long after we came inside, we had the plastic container with the toys sitting on the floor in TongJie's bedroom to dry and we found that he had gotten into the container and was pretending to play in the water with his toys.  He must have really liked it!

We've been picking lots of raspberries lately:

And here are a few random pictures of TongJie sporting his wool diaper cover.  It's the first time I've used one of the wool covers.  He's totally fine with cloth diapers now.  At first, he didn't like them at all because they probably felt a lot different than what he was used to, but now he doesn't seem to care one way or the other.  Except we still use the disposable ones at night, and sometimes during the day too, especially if we're going somewhere for a long period of time.

This isn't that good of a picture, but I love the look on his face!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The past few days

It seems like we've been out and about more than usual this week, which I guess is good because TongJie has been doing fairly well with being around more people.  However, his schedule has been a little different because of it, and that has been kind of stressful for him.  He's napping right now, which is great after a difficult night of sleep where he woke up at 3:00 am screaming from a bad dream (we think) and couldn't get back to sleep for over an hour.  The past few days have been fun, especially yesterday and today when the weather has finally been nicer.  We spent time walking at the park again yesterday.

Here are a few pictures I took of TongJie with Jeff's hat the other day.  The pictures are all a little blurry because he was moving so fast.  He still doesn't seem to understand that the hat isn't supposed to cover his eyes, but at least he puts it on his head now instead of over his face like a mask!

One evening before bed, TongJie and Chestnut were sitting together on the couch.  He does a pretty good job of petting the cats gently, but you can tell from the photos that Chestnut wasn't exactly pleased.  But even though she seems annoyed with TongJie, she still continues to hang around him, so it must not bother her that much or one would think that she would go elsewhere.

Finally, here are a couple of photos of Jeff and TongJie sitting in the new wagon.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jogging stroller, and raspberries

I don't exactly consider myself to be a real runner, but I enjoy it enough that I've competed in several 10ks and a half marathon (I use the term "competed" loosely) and mostly I just enjoy running for fun.  I hadn't gone out running at all since before we went to China, but I finally went out for a couple miles on Friday.  It felt good to run again after all those weeks off.  Today, however, was the first day that I took the jogging stroller out for a real jog.  We've used the stroller just about every day for walks, but neither of us had actually used it for jogging until this morning when I took TongJie for a short jog in it.  He seemed to have fun.  I could hear him giggling off and on for the first quarter mile or so, probably because he enjoyed it being faster than usual.  After that, he must have gotten used to it because he stopped giggling, but I still think he was having fun.  We're planning to participate in a fun run this Saturday and I get to push the stroller, so I figured I'd better get a couple of runs in with it before then to get used to it.

We have a raspberry patch in our back yard.  The last couple of days it had been raining and we were not out in our yard much to check on the berries to see if they were getting ripe.  Today I looked and, lo and behold, we had quite a few ripe berries!  There are a LOT more to come that are still green, so soon we'll be getting a bunch of raspberries.  TongJie must have thought he was the luckiest little boy in the world when I held him up and showed him how to pick the raspberries right off of the bush.  He absolutely loves every type of fruit we've given him, and of course raspberries are no exception.  He was finding the red berries and picking them off the plant and stuffing them into his mouth as fast as he could.  I tried to pick some into a little container, but he was grabbing them out of the container almost as fast as I was putting them in.  I imagine, to him, it's like what would be for me a bush that grows an abundance of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies just dangling there waiting to be eaten.  I've mentioned before that we have some strawberry plants, but they only produce a couple every few days and we have to take them inside and wash them first since they grow right on the ground.  The raspberries must seem much better to TongJie because there is a huge supply of berries that can be eaten right away without having to wait to go inside and get them ready.  We'll have to get some pictures of him in the raspberry patch soon.

Speaking of pictures, I took a picture this afternoon of TongJie and Albert on the couch with Jeff.  Well, first of all it was Albert sitting with Jeff, but then TongJie didn't want Albert getting all the attention so he wanted up on the couch too:

Pretty soon, our cat Chestnut had to be right in on the action as well.  She's not one to be left out, as you may have gathered from some of my previous blog posts:

And, finally, here's a picture of TongJie and me at the park today:

TongJie has started signing the word "cat" in addition to "more," "finished," and "shoe."  And, of course, he can clap his hands and give high fives and he waves for hello and goodbye.  And he can shake his head for "no" if we ask him to do something he doesn't want to do.  We can also tell that he understands what we're saying to him a lot more now than he used to.  We think he's making great strides in his communication skills!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A really big box

When we got the surprise gift of a wagon from the Wenatchee School District music teachers last week, the package came in a really big box that we were saving for a day when we needed a good distraction for TongJie.  Today was just such a day.  We went to Lincoln Rock State Park this morning, where I worked for 11 summers in a row as a park aide.  This is my first summer not working there and I kind of miss it.  I mean, I'm glad I get to be home with my family, but at the same time I miss the park because it was an awesome summer job and I just like Lincoln Rock a lot, plus the staff members were all really great people to work with.  So we went there this morning and got to visit with some of my former coworkers and we were especially glad to see George, the park manager and ranger who was my boss for all those years.  He was also one of me and Jeff's references when we were filling out all the paperwork for our adoption.  It was fun to talk to him and for him to get to meet TongJie.  We also played on the playground and walked around on the beach and the docks.  TongJie had lots of fun, but on the way home he fell asleep in his carseat.  Because of that, he wouldn't fall asleep for his nap after lunch.  So he basically didn't get a nap today, except for the 15 or 20 minutes that he slept in the car, so he was really cranky this afternoon and nothing would make him happy.  So, we decided it was a good time to pull out the old box.  And that did the trick.  I cut a window in it for him, and now he has a very nice little house with doors and a window that open and close.  He loved going in and out of his little house, and peeking through the window.


And here's a picture of him sitting on his front porch:

My sister and her two boys are visiting from Montana (my brother in law wasn't able to come because of his work schedule with the Air Force), so TongJie has had a chance to spend time with his cousins.  That has been lots of fun!  They are staying at my parents' house, so we've been there to hang out with them a bit.  I seem to only have gotten pictures of one of the boys with TongJie, but they both played with him a lot and kept him entertained - he thinks his cousins are just great!

I like this picture of TongJie and Jeff chillin' on the couch:

TongJie has recently taken an interest in shoes.  On Tuesday evening, he did the sign for "shoe" for the first time, after I signed it for him and said the word when we were putting on his shoes like I have been doing for quite some time now.  On Wednesday, he consistently used the sign in the correct context, even without me modeling it for him first, and he continued today, so it seems he now has another sign in his vocabulary.  I think it's up to three now: "more", "all done", and "shoe".  If you count waving for "hi" and "bye" then it's five because he does that too.  He has also been trying to put on his own shoes himself, as well as my or Jeff's shoes if they're laying around.  I helped him put on Jeff's shoes (over the top of his own) yesterday and walk around.  It was very serious business for TongJie, and he probably would have kept going for a long time if we wouldn't have distracted him.

TongJie also had fun trying out a tricycle that's at my parents house that my nephews used to use when they were younger.  He can't reach the pedals yet but he does pretty well using his feet to scoot around.

Finally, I should mention that we had to take our poor dog, Albert, to the vet today because a piece of cheat grass had gotten embedded in his foot between his toes and had begun to form an abscess.  We couldn't get it out ourselves because the skin had closed over it, so they had to lance it to remove the cheat grass and then bandage up his foot after they removed it.  They also shaved the fur off of his feet and between his toes while they were at it, so hopefully it won't happen again.  There have been a number of times where we've had to remove pieces of cheat grass from Albert's feet with tweezers that were beginning to embed themselves into his skin.  I wish we would have caught this one sooner before we had to take him to the vet to get it out!  He's been looking kind of pathetic this afternoon with his bandaged foot, but in reality it doesn't seem to be slowing him down.  He's a very sweet dog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A trip to Smallwood's

We've now been home from China for over one month!  We arrived home on May 17.  To celebrate being home for one month and Mo-Father's Day, we went to Smallwood's this morning.  In case you're wondering what Mo-Father's Day is, it's a combination of Mother's Day and Father's Day, which we celebrated this year because Jeff graciously suggested that I share "his" day with him since we didn't celebrate Mother's Day in China.  In reality, it was enough of a Mother's Day present to have my son with me, but I won't turn down getting to celebrate for real at home either.  So we took a trip to Smallwood's, a gift shop / fruit stand / playground / petting farm that's near Leavenworth.  We started by taking a stroll through the gift shop area.  Lately, TongJie has been loving riding in the cart at stores, so we put him into a cart and he was happy.  This picture reminds me of a picture we have of the very first day we got TongJie and went to a grocery store in China.  We put him in the cart that day too, but he was in shock and I'm sure he didn't enjoy it much.  He DID, however, enjoy the cart at Smallwoods this morning, which is the first picture:

And here's the picture from China.  It makes me kind of sad to look at some of the pictures of TongJie from when we were in China because he looked so sad, especially the first few days.  And when I look at those pictures I remember how he cried so much and how difficult it was for all of us.  I'm so glad he's a happy little guy now!

After the gift shop, we went to the petting farm.  Me and Jeff enjoyed it a lot, as they have a lot of different tame animals.  I think TongJie enjoyed it, too, but it was hard to tell.  He seemed to like the rabbits and the birds (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and peacocks) the most, maybe because they were smaller and seemed less intimidating or something.  We did coax him to touch a goat and a llama, but he didn't have much of a reaction.  They had a whole row of wagons, so we picked out a wagon for TongJie to ride in.  Sometimes he just wanted to walk though.

Here he is checking out the turkeys:

It's fun for us to get to see TongJie experiencing all these things for the first time.  Most kids who are almost two who have grown up here have probably seen animals like that before, but TongJie has only seen dogs and cats.  Even things like sprinklers and playgrounds are new to him, as well as a myriad of other things, so it's no wonder that he looks so mesmerized all the time when we go to new places.

They had a little bench that was just the right size for TongJie to sit on:

We also went to check out the swings.  Smallwoods has some pretty cool baby swings.  At first, TongJie was apprehensive, but after a couple of swings he decided it was lots of fun!

There's also a fenced-in tricycle and sand area for little kids at Smallwoods, so we went to check that out too.  TongJie found a four-wheeler that he liked.

He's starting to look bigger, don't you think?  We can definitely tell he's getting bigger!  However, I have to admit that these pictures from today are a bit deceptive because he was wearing a cloth diaper and that makes him look a lot bulkier in the rear end.  

It was a fun morning, and we'll probably go back to Smallwood's a couple more times this summer!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

New wagon, and more singing

Jeff finished assembling TongJie's new Radio Flyer wagon (an awesome gift from the Wenatchee music teachers!) yesterday morning, so of course we took it out for a spin.  When we first put TongJie in the wagon to let him try it out in the house, he looked slightly concerned.

Soon, though, he was waving to me as Jeff pulled him around the house.  Then we went outside and he had lots of fun going fast.  Jeff was having fun, too.

After TongJie's nap yesterday, I pulled him around the backyard in his wagon for a long time.  Our backyard is a lot bumpier than the street, but he seemed to enjoy going fast over the bumps.

I posted a video a few days ago of TongJie singing.  Since then, he's been singing a little bit off and on when he thinks of it, but not as much as Tuesday evening.  Usually it's when he sees his "microphone" laying around that he picks it up and starts singing until he loses interest and casts it aside.  Yesterday evening, I had a Benny Goodman CD playing and TongJie picked up his microphone to sing along.  He went up to Albert, who was sitting on my lap, and held the microphone to him, trying to get him to sing too.  Albert thought it was a good opportunity to lick TongJie's face instead.  I took a short video clip of it.  His singing is hilarious - it sounds like he's trying to imitate the trumpet.  I think the funniest thing to me is the serious, earnest look on his face when he sings.  Apparently TongJie takes his singing very seriously.

That's all for now . . . TongJie woke up from his nap and had his bottle and we're getting ready to go out for a walk.  Maybe we'll take the wagon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer is here!

It's official - Jeff is done with school (except for some work still to do in his classroom) and summer vacation is here!  Even though Jeff was only back in school for a week after our big China trip and adoption, TongJie and I missed him when he was gone. We're going to get spoiled by having him here all the time during the summer.

We went to Cafe Mela this morning.  Jeff plays in a band there every other Tuesday evening and gets paid in restaurant credit, so we used to go there for "free" coffee and tea drinks a lot, but today is the first time I've been there since we got back, and it's the first time TongJie has ever been there.  They have an area for kids with toys and books and kid-sized furniture, but TongJie was not interested in that.  He was, however, interested in the chess board and all the chess pieces.  He sat on our laps and picked up all of the different pieces and moved them around, and occasionally "sang" into them like a microphone.  Later, we walked over the Bridge Over Troubled Waters to the park.  I'm pretty sure that bridge has another name, like the Friendship Bridge or something nice like that, but we call it the Bridge Over Troubled Waters because it goes over the sewer treatment plant.

We visited with our friends, the Stromings, at their house this afternoon.  They have an extensive collection of American Girl dolls and accessories, and TongJie was in awe of the little piano that actually plays music.

He also enjoyed brushing the teeth of one of the dolls.  The entire time we were there, he was very serious.  I think he enjoyed it and was definitely engaged and interested, but hardly cracked a smile.  When he's in a new environment and around new people, it takes him awhile to feel comfortable enough to smile and laugh.

We also got to see their tiny foster kittens with the foster cat mom - the Stromings foster cats and kittens for the Humane Society.  TongJie touched the kittens' soft fur a few times.  He's usually pretty good about being gentle with pets, but those kittens were really tiny so I was nervous he'd get a little too heavy-handed, but he was too mesmerized with them to do much touching.  We had lots of fun visiting with our friends!

Another piece of excitement happened today - a very large package was delivered by FedEx with TongJie's name on the box.  Upon further investigation, we found out that it was a Radio Flyer wagon from our Wenatchee music teacher friends (thanks so much, guys)!  After all the fun pulling TongJie around in a laundry basket the other day, we had been thinking about getting him a wagon for his birthday in September, but now he doesn't have to wait that long!  We didn't get a chance to finish putting it together before we had to leave for Jeff's rehearsal and then when we got home it was time to get TongJie ready for bed.  Tomorrow when it's all put together, he's going to have a great time with his new wagon!  In fact, he's already been enjoying the box and all the packing materials.  He checked the durability by standing and walking on it right away.  I guess we now know it's sturdy enough to hold at least 21 pounds!

He also had fun playing with all the little pieces of cardboard used to hold everything in place.

That's all for today . . . what a fun day it was!