Monday, August 29, 2016

Week One in Review

Our first week at home has been all about one thing - adjustment.  Adjusting our sleep cycles, adjusting our lifestyles, helping Ivan adjust to his new home, and working to develop a strong attachment and connection with Ivan (the latter three are still very much ongoing).  When I think about the week in its entirety, overall the week went better than I probably expected.  Of course our first few days home started with the misery of overcoming jet lag. At one point Ivan had been up from 12:30AM to 12:30PM without any sleep, just in an effort to get his sleep on track. However, with keeping to a schedule and the help of a little Benadryl (We were desperate!!), Ivan's sleep has pretty much come onto US Central Time. 

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were awesome days. At one point I was feeling pretty excited about how fast Ivan seemed to be adjusting emotionally. I should have known better! Friday and Saturday reassured us that he is still very much in the midst of emotionally processing and adjusting.  Plus he's two. And life is tough when you're two. Ryan and I must also remember that our own processing of this change is definitely affecting him as well. Staying at home during the day with Ivan has raised various feelings for me - gratitude, joy, frustration, fear, to name a few.  Thankfully, the joy and gratitude outweigh my moments of frustration. 

Here are some glimpses into our past week:

Ivan enjoying a ride in the bike cart

Ivan mowing with Daddy

Ivan playing at a nearby secluded church playground

Ivan's first pancake breakfast

Ivan getting ready for a walk with Mommy

We have learned...You can take the boy out of the noodle-loving country, but you can't take the noodle-love out of the boy!

And yet another...

And then there are the chickens.  He loves them. They are his first feathered friends
Sadly, his affection is not reciprocated. I'm sure with time they'll come around, Ivan.

Come back, Guys!!

On Sunday, Ryan and I decided we needed some spiritual and social input. We took turns going to different services while Ivan made the car-trip to Quincy and back, but didn't leave the car. Unfortunately, this may have contributed to the following events:
As Ivan and I arrived at church, he was starting to fuss a little and spit up just a bit. We cleaned it right up and Ryan and I switched places. However, Ivan became quite fussy as they were en route. Not once, not twice, but THREE times he threw up. Ryan pulled over and did a preliminary job of cleaning Ivan. They proceeded home, striped down, and left the carseat in the car for Mommy! ;) The least I could do. Poor Ryan can only take so much vomit. Here's what Ivan thought of the whole deal. 

Thankfully things turned up and he was squeaky clean by today.

We are knee-deep into week two at home, and we would appreciate continued prayers for Ivan's emotional adjustment, our emotional adjustment, security in attachment, and God's presence in the midst.  We love you! Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, August 21, 2016


We have arrived at home!  A list of a few things we've done in the last 24 hours would be sleep, ride a train, eat, play, and cry.  All these things are pretty normal in the home of a two year old, we've just decided to do them at unconventional times of the day and night.  As Lindsey said a couple days ago, we arrived in Chicago a day earlier than we'd expected...pretty sure that was my fault, got confused on the international date line + flight times... oh well.  So we spent our first night as three Americans in Chi-town.  Ivan went to sleep around 8pm...parents felt pretty good about that...we get a wake up call from the crib at 2:00am...Jenga!!  So the new family of three is playing with hot wheels and mega blocks until about about 4am when we put him back in the crib...because we wanted to be up by 6am to make our train.  That resulted in a child crying in his crib until mom or dad brought him into bed with them.  Fyi, it's virtually impossible to sleep with a 2 year in bed with you.  He's moving all the time, rotating, pushing, whipping, squirming...and thankfully sleeping too, somehow.

So the adults are up at 6, bags get packed, again, boy gets put in the carrier, we're headed out the door.  We meet up with my parents and Lindsey's parents to all ride the train home together.  At Union Station, I was able to reward my body with some extremely delicious hot cakes from the internationally renowned golden arches.  Once on the train, Ivan did great.  Of course, he was the star of the trip.  Our parents were great, it was so nice of them to come up and spend time with us before we cocoon into our home together.

When we arrived in Macomb, we were blessed to see many familiar faces!  We are so thankful for you guys!  We hope to see everybody again soon.

Then it was time for our first ride in Mommy's car and a car seat...  Things went surprisingly well.  We made it 20 minutes in good spirits, then a touch of fuss, and then lights out.

Once home we unloaded the car, put the boy down for a nap and started unloading the bags.  One bag had an oatmeal explosion.  Oatmeal in the clothes, in the toys, and in Lindsey's blow dryer.  Around 2 we woke Ivan up, who wasn't too keen on that decision, but eventually came around.  We played the rest of the afternoon inside and out.  He walked in grass, for I assume the first time, and we walked down the driveway along the first cornfield he's seen up close. 

The evening consisted of noodles, bath, and book reading.  We laid him down around 7pm, thinking, we're good, we're kicking this time change thing in the pants.  We'll have him on the right schedule in no time...   Well, no time became 1:30am and he was awake and chipper.  I finally decided I'd get up with him for a little play time.
A happy carpet mower at 2am.

Lindsey got up a short while later and we folded laundry, played with blocks, and do what normal toddlers do at 2pm, not 2am.  So around 4ish am we decided to try bed again.  That was a failure initially.  He whimpered and cried off and on until 5, then we decided to pull him into bed with think we'd learn.  It worked.  Daddy was asleep, Mommy was asleep, and Ivan was asleep.  Asleep so well in fact, that we woke up at 2pm.  No kidding.  I can honestly say I don't know if I've ever slept until 2pm in my life.  But I did some thinking, since waking up Friday morning...which would have been 6pm Thursday evening in the US, Lindsey and I have gotten maybe 6 hours of sleep.  Still, no excuse, and this totally blew our sleep schedule plan up for Ivan.  But we'll get on the right track.  Learned lesson...we'll set alarm clocks for awhile now.  Lindsey did ask about that last night...I said no, there's no way we'll sleep late... :)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Surprise! Unexpected pitstop in Chicago

About five hours from the end of our flight from Beijing (or seven hours into it), Ryan and I started to do some math in our heads. The estimated length of our flight was not adding up to the time difference we had planned. From our itinerary we had planned to leave Hong Kong and fly to Beijing for a brief layover, then fly to Chicago. According to our original planning, we would arrive at 1:20PM on Saturday. But during the flight the math wasn't adding up. We soon realized we would be arriving on FRIDAY not Saturday! Whoops! We're not sure how the original error was made, but here we Chicago...on FRIDAY! Thankfully our parents were already here in order to greet us tomorrow, and just advanced their plans to get to the airport this afternoon. 

Our first flight was alright. Ivan was a bit cranky from being woken up at 5:00AM to go to the airport. However, he rebounded beautifully during our layover and we were hopeful the flight from Beijing to Chicago would go well. My, my, were we wrong. Ivan did not like being restrained in his own seat and he let everyone know. He cried and screamed. Screamed and cried. At one point I asked Ryan if the fight was going better than how he thought it would or not. His response was "Worse".  Ivan was able to be rocked to sleep when the cabin lights dimmed and remained asleep until we landed. 

Starting the flight

Ending the flight

Once we made it through customs and immigration, we were greeted by our parents!! What a happy sight! We made it!  *Sigh of relief*

So our adjusted plan is to spend the night here in Chicago and take the Amktrak train home tomorrow, Saturday morning, and arrive at Macomb at 10:58AM.  We are looking forward to getting settled in at home! And not lugging around all of our baggage will be nice too! ;)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Last pit stop...

Hello faithful followers,
Lin, Ivan, and I have made it to our cubicle in Hong Kong for the night.  Last night our boy slept a solid 12 hours again.  Love it!  We had breakfast, packed up our final items, and headed for the train station that would take us to Hong Kong.  Ivan did very well for the first 5 minutes of the ride, then decided he needed to be out of the carrier strapping him and Lindsey together and if he couldn't get out, then he'd be sure and let everyone in the car know of his displeasure and misery.  All was well.  Upon arriving at the station, a gentleman with a dolly promptly asked if we'd like his help with our bags.  He had no official markings of any kind and his cart was pretty wispy for the luggage we had, but I said sure, throw em on!  He did however help us find our way through the station and upon arrival at our gate and unloading the bags let me know he charged 100Y for his services.  6 minutes of minor work.  Keep in mind the 20 min cab ride across town just cost 60Y.  I held up a 20 and said I'm feeling generous today.  You would of thought I insulted his mother.  At any rate, after much chatter, 90% from him, and me still offering the 20, we settled on 25 just to get him to leave.  A short while later we boarded the train and made the 2 hour trip to Hong Kong.  We left at noon, which is about when Ivan takes his nap, and he was still wide awake at 2:45.  He had a great time playing (mostly with Lin) on the train.  He did fall asleep in the taxi to the hotel, but only slept 30-40 min.  He woke up in our room a short while later and never looked back.  There weren't many options for food near the hotel, as in none, so Lin and Ivan had noodles and I had a sandwich from 7/11.

I have to say, I think Ivan has really been coming around the last couple days.  For the first week or so, he would always want to be held when in our hotel room.  But if we were in the airport or in a store, he was happy to get down and run around.  Seemed reverse of what you'd expect.  But the last few days he's been roaming around our rooms and content to sit by himself.  When we're in public, he's happy to run a few feet away from Lin or I, but then turn around and run back to us.  We feel and hope that these are positive signs of a growing connection and dependence.  We're very thankful parents.

So tomorrow morning we'll be up by 5 to head for a 7:40 flight to Beijing, then on home to O'hare.  I fully expect some meltdowns on the plane, we'll attempt to battle them with snacks.  If anyone would like to greet us upon arrival, we'll be arriving at O'hare at 1:20.  We'll also be riding the train down to Macomb and will arrive there around 9pm something if that's of interest.

Thank you for your prayers!  We ask that you continue to pray for us as we travel home.  That we could be a blessing to those we encounter along the way and that Gods light would shine through us.

Sorry , no pics this time... :(. But stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A case of the giggles...

Today our boy shined.  There was nothing particularly special about today. In fact, it was quite uneventful. But for precisely this reason, he was free to be himself. With almost nowhere to be, nothing we had to, no set agenda, all three of us meandered through today, being sure to keep the cornerstones of nap, meal, and bath times in place. And it was delightful to see his little spirit shine. Smiles and laughter were bountiful. 

This morning we took our time cuddling with Ivan in bed, eating cheerios, and Face-timing family. At breakfast we met another adoptive family, far more seasoned than us with eight children (most adopted) already at home. Then we played in our room before taking a stroll around the island and playing on a playground. Ivan loved running around and playing around the other children.  There were many groups of adults dancing, practicing Tai Chi, and singing around the island park.  

After lunch and a long nap, we headed out to what's commonly known as the Pearl Market to pick up a small item for me. We had been there previously with our group and guide, but I had decided later what I really wanted - a small pearl charm to add to a necklace my parents gave me right before our trip here. 

Upon returning to our hotel, Ivan continued to savor just playing with us in the room. At 4:30PM we met our guide who had Ivan's visa and passport along with some immigration paperwork ready for us.  We can officially head home!!

On the small walk back to our hotel from meeting our guide, we noticed Ryan was being not-so-secretly included in the selfie of a girl walking just ahead of us. Ryan noticed too, and as she was taking the shot he gave a big wink! ;) The girl was caught and just started laughing. We offered to get her picture with Ryan (who as carrying Ivan) and she and two friends excitedly accepted! 

It was more noodles for dinner, playing, then bath time. Before bed Ryan kept throwing Ivan in the air. Sweet boy can't get enough of it. And I think Ivan liked it too! ;) Here's a peak -

Tomorrow morning we pack up and start the slow journey home, via Hong Kong. We are excited to get home and settle Ivan in. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Consulate Appointment and a Break-through

This morning was our consulate appointment. This allows Ivan to get a visa for his Chinese passport to come to the U.S. Eventually this process will result in Ivan receiving a social security card as well.  Unfortunately, no cameras or electronics were allowed in the consulate, so we don't have any pictures of the experience. However, we did have the opportunity to talk to many other adoptive families as well as get to know an American couple who are in Guangzhou doing ministry and teaching English. They were at the office filing some paperwork (non-adoption related) and we hit it off! We found out they were being considered to foster two special needs children that were in one of our agency's partnership orphanages! Small world!! Our meeting felt providential. 

On the drive home (aka our hotel room), Ivan fell asleep and was out for a solid two hours. When he awoke he was a little fussy because he didn't get a full lunch in prior to his nap. Once his belly was full, he was jovial once again. In fact, he helped me have a break-through of my own...

In my entire life, I cannot recall eating a Cheerio. Ever. My parents may dispute this statement, as they may remember events which occurred prior to my conscious memory. However, to my knowledge I have never had one donut of rolled oats. In fact, many may be surprised to find out that I have had a (nearly) lifelong aversion to Cheerios.  They smell weird. I don't even really like touching them. I know...very strange. This really is my only aversion in life...but when it comes to cereals, I'm a little quirky anyway.  I don't like most cereals and I NEVER have milk mixed with cereal.  Perish the thought!  

But today Ivan gave me a bit of my own medicine. We had one session of Exposure Therapy. Yes, I was faced with my greatest fear...having to not only touch but EAT a Cheerio. And friends, I can say with a glad heart, that I overcame that fear with the help of my two-year-old son.  When your precious, smiling, dimple-clad boy offers you a Cheerio, you just can't turn him down. And here is the proof...please forgive the weird cameral angles as Ryan was covertly trying to video this interaction. 

As you may have noticed, he also learned to high-five today, which he does with vigor! :)

The rest of the afternoon was laid-back playing in our room and in the hotel's playroom.  It was nice to see that during a less hectic afternoon with less stimulation, Ivan seemed to thrive. 

Both Ryan and I are feeling the pull of home more strongly these days. We have one more full day here in Guangzhou before we pack up and head to Hong Kong on Thursday. Early Friday morning we fly out and head home!  I can honestly say, however, that I will miss China. Not so much the difficulty finding food we want to eat, or all the honking, or all the stares (this could be a blog post all its own!). But it's been absolutely wonderful to spend so much time with Ryan...seeing him all day for over two weeks straight has never happened before in the course of our relationship.  And this is where we met our first baby.  Besides that, the people here are beautiful and industrious, and I find the culture very intriguing. China will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Ebb and Flow

The absence of yesterday's post was primarily due to the exhaustion both Ryan and I felt. Yesterday (Sunday) pretty well wiped us out. We had a nice time with our Madison group (two other families plus us).  We did a little sightseeing and shopping in the morning.  Visited a pearl wholesale market along with some outdoor venders.  Fun fact, supposedly 90% of the worlds pearls originate in China.  You can verify that on your own.  In the open market we saw some pretty interesting items for sale.  Live scorpions, turtles of all sizes, shark/fish/sting ray things, dogs, cats, birds, plus the hundreds of vendors selling spices and odd soup ingredients.  

tiny scorpions

Sting ray type things

Ivan was having a great time.  He was running around with the other kids in the group and walking along the sidewalk having a blast.  But this new momma and daddy overlooked the need to make sure Ivan didn't get super hungry. So at a little after noon, with only a light breakfast in his tummy and his nap time already past, and just as our group was in the cutest little store, Ivan began having a serious meltdown.  When I say meltdown, I mean nuclear.  I'm sure the many Chinese families we passed seriously questioned our treatment of the child.  By the grace of God, the area we were visiting in Guangzhou was two blocks from our hotel, so Ryan and I split off from the group and headed for our room.  We eventually recovered, fed our boy, had a nap, and regrouped.  We tried a small outing that afternoon back to the same shop two blocks away and Ivan again started to meltdown. We returned to our room and he was very content just playing with mommy and daddy. We decided we would try to run out to get dinner. Alas, we looked at several different restaurants before finding one that seemed like it would have food we could eat and by then it started raining.  Ivan was doing well, we put in our order, the food came out and shortly thereafter meltdown #3 began.  Thankfully, he and I stepped out of the restaurant for a few minutes and regrouped.  It turned out to not be too bad.  Ivan has taught us to be prepared with food and drink at any moment.

Monday brought about a fun plan to go see a Safari Park (zoo) in Guangzhou.  Sure seemed like a great idea... Ryan, Ivan, and I had a good morning, had breakfast and spent a short time in the playroom in our hotel.  The driver picked us up and as we headed out, there was a fight going on in the street, police were involved, people were shouting, some were being restrained, very scenic.  So we pressed on.  We picked up the other two families we'd been with the day before and headed to the zoo.  It was a choppy ride.  Our driver seemed extra vigilant in the stopping fast and accelerating fast department, even if we were only moving one car length in stop and go traffic, which was most of the time.  Didn't help anybody with motion sickness.  Alas, we arrived.  We all agreed we needed to reconvene at 2:30 because naps were already being surpassed.  As we were buying tickets, Ryan had Ivan in the carrier and he began getting fussy again.  We started walking and it was escalating...becoming very reminiscent of the previous day.  Ryan made it to a quieter spot and was able to calm him down some and he soon fell asleep.  Which kind of stunk, because we went to the park so he could see some animals.  
But Ryan and I pressed on.  We can prove to Ivan in later years that he was there, even though he didn't see most of the animals.  There was a trolley ride that would take you around a different area of the zoo to show you many of the big animals.  Ryan and I decided to do that, but on the way, it started to rain.  It was starting to feel like a big failure of a zoo trip.  We paused for 10 minutes or so then pressed on to the trolley.

Once boarded on the trolley, Ivan began to wake up, and we were ready with snacks!  He was the Cheerio king and could care less about the lions, tigers, giraffes, hippos, geese, wolves, etc...  just cheerios, hardboiled egg, and a milk box.  But he was having a good time with us, regardless of his interest in the animals.  The trolley ride redeemed the zoo for Ryan and I.

We reunited with the group and headed back to our hotels.  Ivan and I stayed in the room while Ryan ran some errands.  He picked up a pizza for us and I made noodles for Ivan, who absolutely devoured them.  It was really funny to see how excited he was for each bite!

All in all, I think we are getting a taste of the ebb and flow that most parents experience. Some days are great! Some days aren't. But we are extremely grateful for each moment and day with precious Ivan. I try to remind myself that even the crying and meltdowns are a's in the meeting of his needs in these moments that he learns he can truly rely on us and trust us.  This also parallels so much of our relationship with Christ. It's during the challenging, boat's-a-rockin', at-the-end-of-my-wits  times that we relinquish control of our lives and experience actual reliance on Christ. Which is a beautiful place to be. 

PS This post was written on Monday night but wasn't able to be posted until this (Tuesday) morning. This morning is our consulate appointment!  

Saturday, August 13, 2016


We arrived in Guangzhou last night (Friday) around 9:30PM. Our guide, Richard, met us at the airport and drove us to our hotel, The Victory, on Shaiman Island in Guangzhou. First order of business was putting Ivan down for bed. He was tired and went down quickly. Unfortunately, our room was a frigid 20 degrees Celsius...that's 68 degrees fahrenheit...and Ivan woke up frozen. He spent the remainder of the night keeping us toasty in bed.

This morning (Saturday) we met our guide and another family to go complete Ivan's medical exam and complete paperwork for our consulate appointment.  Ivan really had no taste for the doctor nor the TB blood test. To do the paperwork we went to the other family's hotel suite and they generously shared their milk boxes (like a juice box) and snacks with Ivan. In the midst of his water and juice boycott we discovered he LOVES milk! Great! By the time we put him down tonight he had five of them! 

This afternoon while Ivan napped we enjoyed Subway subs on our room's balcony. Then we headed out to a mall our guide had told us had good restaurants. We eventually found it, via an outdoor market selling dried snakes, starfish, and sea horses.  We picked up more milk boxes at the grocery store and then had dinner.  We chose dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Funny enough, they gave us plastic gloves as an accompaniment to our meal.  Ivan became enthralled by the plastic glove and we are pretty sure he may have a future as a lunch lady..err man. ;) The day ended in the best way possible - Ryan joined Ivan in the tub and Ivan developed a love (rather than his former hatred) for bath time! It really was a precious thing to watch Ivan splash and play with the toys instead of sob. 

All in all, today was a pretty simple day, but probably one of Ivan's best so far. He definitely has a preference for Ryan at this point, but that makes this Momma's heart happy! We have also noticed he is slightly less clingy, and is more willing to walk short distances from us, then quickly return back to us. This is a hopeful sign from an attachment standpoint. He also had a couple instances of being overwhelmed/overly tired and melting to the ground.  We know that developing a secure attachment is a marathon, and we aren't yet to the first mile marker.  

Enjoying the play area at the airport in Nanjing 

Both my boys sporting their Case IH shirts at the airport

At the medical exam 

My future lunch gentleman ;)

We finally learned to enjoy bath time! 

Just Ivan and Daddy

Thursday, August 11, 2016

More tears than smiles

As the last post stated, we're learning about Ivan.  The learning doesn't stop there though, we're learning how to be parents, which can lead to some unique situations, at least for us.

I believe where we last left off, Lindsey said we were going to a little play place type area in a neighboring hotel yesterday.  Ivan was just ok when we left.  He was a little fussy, but provided a lot of cuddles to start the morning, very much enjoyed by Lin.  For whatever reason, Ivan wasn't wanting much to do with me yesterday, so I missed out on the cuddles, but he made up for it later in this story.  Upon arrival at the play place we found some tubs of wooden blocks, which turned out to be the jackpot for our guy.  There were a few other kids there playing, which worked out good.  Ivan interacted very well with them, other than he seemed to hoard the blocks, which I think is fairly normal for 2 yr olds.  His mood improved a lot while there.

After our block fun I treated my wife once again to the internationally acclaimed golden arches double quarter pounder with cheese.  There were no disappointments.

We returned to the hacienda and Ivan went down for a nap.  When he awoke, Mr. Cranky pants was present.  He just couldn't get it together so we watched a Daniel Tiger, which helped slightly.  We're currently in a town called Nanjing, which has a lot of river canals and waterways.  Apparently it's known as the Venice of Asia...but don't take my word for it.  We decided we'd take a river cruise.  It was a pretty ritzy boat, it even had a bucket in the back if you needed to relieve yourself.  

We chose to have some forced bonding time with Ivan in the baby carrier strapped to me and it actually went pretty well.  He seems to do well when we're out and about moving around, which is a blessing.  

We then went to a local restaurant for supper and had chicken dumplings and noodles.  The dumplings taste like chicken noodle soup.  

We headed back to the room and Ivan needed a bath from all of the sweat he and I shared while bonding.  The temps have been in the 90's every day here.  That's where things took a turn for the worse.  Bath time was not enjoyed by anyone, least of all Ivan.  Then we moved to book reading time, which was fair, then bedtime, which really went south.  He laid in bed for 45 minutes, which wasn't the norm from the previous two nights, and then around 11pm started crying, and crying, and crying.  Lin was able to calm him for a while.  He would drift off, then wake up balling again.  We finally decided I would sleep a bit, then we'd switch off.  So at some point in the night, we switched and he drifted off for quite a while.  We slept in the same bed the rest of the night, which I'd imagine was a first for him.  I doubt he's ever slept outside a crib before.

So that leads me to Thursday morning.  We had to be ready in our hotel lobby by 7am because we were visiting Ivan's orphanage today.  Nothing helps a family get ready by 7 than having a rough night sleep, eh?  We made it, but our little guy still wasn't too chipper.  We piled into the van for our 3 hour drive.  Once on the road, Ivan got happy.  He was babbling and playing and would switch between Lin and I ever 45 min or so on his own.  No carseats in China.  A couple hours into the trip, Ivan was eating some crackers as a snack and washed them down with some water, then he snuggled onto my shoulder and relaxed nicely.  I thought...this is great!  Well, about 10 minutes from the orphanage, Ivan leans back and looks at me, then has a big burp...I said, "I bet that felt good"....then all the crackers and water chased that burp up!  Covered my shirt and ran down onto my pants, front and back.  I thought, yeah, this should make a good impression.
Once at the orphanage, we met the vice director and a few other officials who show'd us around the complex.  Very nice facilities and play areas for the children.  We saw Ivan's crib and the rooms we'd seen him in from pictures.  He was hanging onto me the entire time we were walking around.  He never seemed upset and did smile a few times, but he gave no indication of wanting to hang around.  We walked to another building on the orphanage grounds where we met the director of the complex.  He was a very nice man, I think someone who cares deeply for the welfare of the children.  While talking in the conference room, Ivan was becoming more restless and fussy again.  Lindsey tried to console him and I tried, all while the orphanage staff are talking amongst themselves in Mandarin and looking at us.  Yep, those Americans sure know how to take care of a toddler...  thankfully, we left shortly thereafter, took a picture of the front gate to the orphanage, which is where Ivan was found, and went to lunch.

Lunch was good, Ivan ate like a champ and was chipper the whole time.  We headed back to Nanjing and Ivan fell right asleep, which was great, it was his nap time anyways.  When Ivan awoke as we neared the hotel, he was back to the cranky side again.  We couldn't figure out what the deal was, but started to wonder if he was getting backed up.  We were in our room for an hour or so and his displeasure was increasing.  We gave him a fruit packet of prunes...and about another hour later he had some very hard nuggets come out.  The poor guy was whipped.  We took it easy and decided to go get some supper.  Dumplings for the boy and Pizza Hut for the parents!  Ivan and I went to the Hut to order while Lin went a block the other way to get some dumplings.  We were having a great time at our table, then the fussing started again.  I'm sure every parent has been in that situation, but he was the only child in the restaurant and the crying started.  Yep, everybody look at the super large white guy with the Chinese boy.  So, we headed to the bathroom.  He cried it out, and only after that I realized there was some poor sole in the only stall in there squatting over the hole in the floor.  We pulled it together, headed back out and the tears flowed again.  By God's mercy, Lin had arrived and came to the bathroom to rescue us.  We had some pizza, Ivan barely ate anything, we decided to forego his bath tonight and we're hoping for a better tomorrow.  Come to find out, the Pizza Hut fussy spell were from more hard nuggets.

Overall, I'm very glad we visited Ivan's orphanage.  It gave us a very good understanding of the routine of his life.  He's experienced a lot in the last 72 hours compared to the very sheltered life he's had.  One very consistent positive sign he's shown us is his constant desire to be near us.  Whenever he's feeling sad, which has been often lately, he turns to us for comfort.

Tomorrow, we'll fly to Guangzhou in the early evening, which is where we'll be until next Thursday.  Thank you for the many prayers, we have certainly felt them!  Please continue to lift up Ivan, that his little heart can learn to rely on us and trust us, and that we're past the constipation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Much to Learn

As with all areas of life, you don't know how much there is to know until you start learning. For instance, many people think of farming as a simple occupation. However, upon closer observation, there is nothing simple about picking the right seed variety for the soil and weather conditions (but who really knows what June/July/August will be in April and May??), selling your corn/soybeans/other crop in an ever-changing (and recently declining) market, and knowing how to tear apart a tractor to fix the one part and then put it all back together again...and it runs!

We have also found this to be true of parenting and to a greater degree, Ivan. Sure, we had our ideas. As a counselor, I have learned much from my work with families. And I have been amazed at Ryan's intuition as a parent. Absolutely blown away. But we have had much to discover, and still do, about our boy and how to parent him. 

But here is what we have discovered:

He is a world-class cuddler (All hearts rejoice!!!)
He loves to share Mommy and Daddy's cinnamon swirl bagels
He's open to eating most things but shows particular affinity for noodles, bagels, rice cereal and seems to enjoy mixed fruit packets the least
He loves music
He is curious and observant
His stress-response is to freeze (we saw this slightly during our first meeting and much more so during the adoption ceremony yesterday/Tuesday morning)
He has his daddy's affinity for building things - he can build a world-class mega blocks tower and then fit in the back of his dump truck!
His left hand is where he holds his extras; usually extra cheerios or bagel pieces!
He's got dimples which could melt the hardest of hearts
He doesn't love water...swimming or bath time (see below)
He has a sweet and joyful spirit...
EXCEPT for diaper changing, which he loathes most of all
He seems to be grieving more since the adoption ceremony yesterday morning; but we paradoxically find this hopeful as it means he had love and care at his orphanage worth missing
He is a great sleeper...he slept a solid 11 hours the first night and 12 hours last night with only one wake-up.
He readily receives cuddles for comfort...something we are immensely grateful for

And there is so much yet to learn...

Here are some of the highlights from yesterday (Tuesday - adoption ceremony day) and this morning (Wednesday morning):
Morning cuddles yesterday (Tuesday morning) - what a delight!

At the adoption ceremony yesterday - each of us, including Ivan, gave a right thumb print in red ink! 
He seemed to struggle quite a bit seeing the orphanage workers (they were administrators - we mistakenly originally believed they were his nannies). Sweet boy melted to the ground a couple times. 

And then there was swimming. The first strike against the experience was the pool's requirement of swim caps. As you can clearly see, Ryan's didn't fit. The second strike against the experience was the MASSIVE blowout which occurred upon our arrival at the pool during our charades-correspondence with the pool attendant. The prunes had done their job. We dropped our stuff, signed that we would we would return, returned to our room for a diaper change which Ivan thought was the end of the world, then regrouped, returned to the pool, dawned (sp?) our swim caps, and jumped in. Ivan was not so much of a fan.

This morning Ivan was less smiley initially, but was still generous with cuddles. Today we plan to head to an indoor play area nearby and have lunch at McDonalds! 

We would appreciate your continued prayers. If we sound like a broken record in this regard, it is because we know God answers prayers...we have seen God's faithfulness and we are so encouraged by  His heart for Ivan and for us. 

We love you!