Wednesday, April 13, 2011

what a week!

We started Sunday with visits from my sis and her family (and my parents again too), it was fun to see the cousins play!
Then Monday, it was off to our regular pediatrician.  All in all, Ella screamed pretty much the whole visit once they gave her a finger prick for an anemia test at the beginning all the way through the 5 (yes, 5)  immunizations that came at the end.  Good news, Dr gave her a bill of good health.
Moving onto today (wed), we had our initial appointment at the UCD Cleft center which is luckily only about 20 minutes from our house.  I had booked the appt way back in Jan so it just happened to be so soon after returning home.  We had to leave at 7am (which required a friend to come watch the boys and drop them off at preschool at 8:30) and was basically an entire morning of German, Ella & I sitting in an exam room as none less then 10 different practitioners (some in groups) came in to see us and take a look at Ella.  They gave us a list of specialties and names and overall except for one guy (whose name was nowhere and who knows who he was but seemed to know what he was talking about)  then meet after to give recommendations and write up a comprehensive treatment pan.  This is the coolest idea, they I (being efficient by nature, I guess) could have found ways to improve on the process, maybe too much Intel in me :)  But overall, Ella was amazing, of course she cried when people wanted to examine her, but she didn't kick and flail, and even did an age appropriate hearing test in a sound proof room (with Dad of course).  She even gave the cleft program director (who is also going to be her palate surgeon) some crayons and her cup of snacks (she knows who to suck up to and the cool thing was he thought it was cute and went with it).  We were at the clinic from 8-1, and all 3 survived!!!
So, important thing is the palate surgery scheduled for 6/21, German will be on leave, my parents will come the night before so we can both take her to the surgery and see her after she gets out.  We haven't gotten the final recommendation report, but all the folks seemed to think she was very bright and would recover and do well with speech therapy after (she said bye and wave to everyone, I think partly because she truly was happy for them to leave).
I feel truly blessed to have such an amazing little girl in my life, she amazes me more everyday, though of course still has her moments, but I can't imagine her not being part of our family :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Birthday Fun

April 6 was Ella's 2nd brithday (as well as German's 40th birthday) and we celebrated by having our good friends (and next door neighbors0 over to celebrate.  Ella had a great time playing with her new brothers and friends, eating pizza, opening presents, being sung happy birthday to and eating her cupcake!  Overall it was the perfect celebration considering we had been home less then a week.

As for German's 40th, we plan to have a more elaborate celebration in a few months once we are more settled and he is on leave from work (May 16-Sep 26) :)

First Trip to the Mall

The boys are at school this morning so Ella and I headed to the mall.  I have to say, single strollers rock!  After years of having to deal with monster double stroller I feel so much lighter and more mobile using a single stroller :)
All is all things are going well but tiring!  On Tues & Thu when I have all 3 kids all day are a killer!  I have decided to juts not to expect to get anything done but making sure they are fed and happy (which is hard for me since I like things neat and in control).  Just getting laundry done and put away yesterday seemed like a HUGE accomplishment!  On M/W/F when I just have her things have been great and we have had a lot of fun.  For those twin moms out there, yes, having just 1 is easier!!!
Ella is still eating up a storm, sleep has been good but she is upset if she makes up and one of us is not in the room so several naps have been cut short or she has gotten up earlier than she should of, but overall not nearly as bad as it could be :)  Yesterday she had a little separation anxiety and I basically had to hold her all morning.  I took a shower with her standing half way in with me.  Today I was successful at showering while she watched Baby Einstein on the iPad, in the bathroom, sitting on German's cheesehead (which she seems to love).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

10 facts about China we didn't know

After being in the comfort of our house for a few days and more importantly the safeguard of being on US soil - thought we'd share the unique bits and pieces of China that we observed.  Enjoy...

2.      1.       Language: There are multiple misconception about the chinese language – sure there's Mandarin and Cantonese, but there's also other dialects as well.  We typically think of dialects as basically the same language where we use contextual phrases – think of English as the baseline with a [enter your state here]or deep south or british euphamisms.  In general we can understand each other.  But in China – dialect pretty much means a different language.  The only unifying bit is their written language.  While it may be possible that 2 people may not be able to verbally communicate with each other, they could communicate with each other using written chinese characters - strange and cool.
2.       Population: China's has ~20% of the world population.  The largest city in China is not Beijing or Shanghai  – its Chongqing – population 30million – that's more than the top 15 cities of the US combined.
3.       Capital: Beijing is the capital of China, but it hasn't always been, its flip flopped between Beijing and Nanjing.  Nanjing (where we went) was the capital of China during a few notable periods - the Ming Dynasty (1368-1421) and when Dr Sun Yat Sen turned China into a republic (1912-1949).  In 1949, the Communists captured Beijing and made it their capital, which it has remained to this day.
4.       Traffic: Some of you may have heard about one of the longest traffic jams in China last year – 60 miles, 9 days long (Beijing to inner Mongolia).  Beijing is averaging ~2000 new cars added each day – explains the smog and congestion.
5.       Pets: Most families don't have dogs as they are expensive to keep.  But if you are fortunate enough to have one, you need a to get approval from the government to get a dog – and it cannot be over 12" tall.  Most dogs we saw looked about the same – "standard issue" we called them.  On our trip we saw maybe 10 dogs and only 1 cat. 
6.       Social networking: The internet is filtered…  No access to facebook, twitter, blogspot from China.  You either have to use a VPN service or use a anonymous proxy like to get access.  Certain google searches are restricted - we didn't want to see what happens if we googled "protest" or "flash mob".
7.       Television programming: Besides the MTV Asia and BBC, flipping thru the TV channels mostly landed us on 2 types of shows – Kung Fu drama (apparently inappropriate for Ella) and some form of military based drama (think of it as a serious version of MASH).  Its not like the history channel or even the military channel – more like expectation setting.
8.       Temperature – heating isn't offered everywhere – but if is offered its regulated by the government – the heat shuts off Mar 15 – no matter where you are in the country.  We didn't ask what the thermostat was set to.
9.       Food: As our travel guide educated us…  Rice flour is abundant in northern china (likely because the weather isn't conductive to farming) and therefore the staple for northerners are mostly noodles and dumplings.  For southern china, the staple is rice.  The foods also lend towards different body types – broader/bulkier builds in the north and more smaller/slender builds in the south.  McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and KFC are widely available throughout China these days – watch out!
10.   Wifi access – We luckily brought our computer with us to allow for a hard LAN line connection to it to check our emails, check the weather and Skype with our family.  But our wifi enabled smartphones and tablets were pretty useless without access to wifi.  Wifi access was available but only for ChinaMobile users – no one offered free public wifi.  I managed to find a rogue router in my walks to the local stores (where I loitered for a bit) to occasionally download my email on my smartphone.  Even at the Beijing airport, the wifi wasn't open – then I found a kiosk that gave you a code to access the wifi signal.  Oddly enough it didn't ask for money for pre-paid access, but instead it asked you to swipe your passport.  Not only is the internet filtered in China – its access is traceable back to an individual – no thanks.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Settling In At Home

We are finally starting to feel somewhat settled in at home.  After returning Sat afternoon, tackling mountains of laundry, finishing our tax return, and catching up on mail and bill paying, I finally feel like I can breath (and blog).
So far Ella is doing great!  She had no issues getting strapped into her car seat (something non-existent in China).  Once home our fears were confirmed and she screamed when she saw our cat Piper (we came across a cat at a shop in Guangzhou and she was quite freaked out by it).  So poor Piper spent some time locked in the laundry room.  Ella LOVES her brothers and they love playing with her.  They also love all the 2 year old toys we have for her (Noah especially).  It is actually nice to have them around to entertain her and very cute to watch them be such proud big brothers :)
Sleep has also gone way better than expected.  She doesn't like to be put in her crib and will fuss and cry a bit, but German has stayed in the room with her and she is usually out within 10 minutes.  Sometimes she refuses to lay down and has fallen asleep sitting up several times. I had envisioned her seeping in our bed forever so this has been quite nice.  One of us has gone and slept in the room with her (on a twin bed in there), and she has woken up once each night, the first night crying and fussy for about an hour but the next 2 nights her wake up has been much shorter and she has gone back down much easier.
She is eating well and I am actually having fun spoon feeding her (something I hated with the boys since it was always stressful to have to feed them both at the same time).
The boys went to school today (though German had the day off).  Ella and I ventured to Target and she was a trooper sitting in the cart.  I also took her on a quick run, the good news is she was fine with the stroller, the bad news is that after 3 weeks of no running I was feeling WAY out of shape.  Not sure if it is due to the time off or the extra ~50lbs I was pushing, I think I will go with the extra weight :)
She is such a cutie and has been so much fun to play and hangout with!
Tomorrow German goes back to work and I am on my own with all 3 all day, that will be the really test!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Home sweet home

After just about the longest day of traveling ever, we finally made our return back to US soil. We made it through immigration without any problems and Ella got her US citizenship stamp on her chinese passport - our final step in the international adoption process, yeah!

We met up with our boys (accompanied by grandma and grandpa) just outside arrivals and wondered how the kids would react to each other.   Looks like were going to get along just fine :)