Alive and Well in Burnsville

Fire Muster 2013

Fire Muster 2013

We apologize for the radio silence since we have been home.  It has been busy, but things are going well all things considered.  Jake is adjusting very well to his new home.  We are fortunate that he adjusted to the time difference relatively quickly and has been sleeping through the night for a couple weeks.  We tend to compare everything to when we brought Max home, so a week to get over jet lag for Jake is nothing compared to the 3+ weeks it took Max.   it is amazing how much sunlight and melatonin can help with that process.  Ann takes Jake out for a run/walk every morning (sometimes more walking then running depending on the heat index and hills), we think the fresh air has been good for his internal clock.   His napping still leaves room for improvement, but is getting better.  There have been a lot of blood curdling screams at nap time, the neighbors can confirm.  We suspect part of the issue is being alone in the bedroom is scary for him having never had his own room.  He will have plenty of company once he starts daycare in October, so we are not too concerned.  Developmentally, Jake is doing very well.  We had our appointment last week at the U of M International Adoption clinic and they were very positive about his development and attachment so far.  They are very thorough- we spent 3 hours there and saw not only the physician, Dr. Cynthia Howard, but the Occupational Therapist did an evaluation as well for his development and was very impressed.  Next week we see the Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon to have his leg and hip assessed.  We are hopeful we can get Jake up walking soon- he is ready and is standing on his own but cannot move forward due to his leg and hip.  We are anticipating lots of physical therapy and probably a surgery or two.

Max is also adjusting well to his new role as Big Brother.  He was a little hesitant at first, mostly because Jake cried quite a bit- and VERY LOUDLY!  When Max’s teacher asked what he thought of his little brother a day or two after coming home, he responded “he’s really loud”!  Now that the crying has decreased, Max is much happier with his little brother.  Max has had to endure quite a bit of change these past few weeks as in addition to Jake, he started Pre-K last week so has a new teacher, has to wear a uniform and is in a new classroom.  The first couple days were rough, but he told us last night he likes school and his teachers so all is right in the world.  The boys love bath time and Max always asks to bathe with Jake.  They are pretty cute together, it is so nice to see.  Jake will imitate every move Max makes, something that I think makes Max very happy.   We have started calling Jake “Jakezilla” due to his love of destroying Lego towers and train track configurations much to Max’s disliking.

Hair before.... wait for it:)

Hair before…. wait for it ?

...and After :)

…and After :)

We are very grateful for all the kind words and support from all of you.  We are looking forward to all of you meeting Jake sometime soon.

Take care all!

Tim, Ann, Max and Jake

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Home, Home, Home at last!

Home!
 
Sorry for the delay posting- we are all a bit tired and jet lagged- well, everyone but Max who is his normal bundle of energy.  We survived the 14 hr flight from Guangzhou to LA.  Jake did great and slept for several hours of it. He is quite a bit of a mommy’s boy, so for about 13.5 of those hours, was either laying on or wanted to be carried or held by Ann. As long as she is not within sight, he is perfectly happy to be with Tim, so there is hope.  The flight from LA to Mpls was rough.  We took the red eye after a 4hr layover so Jake was wide awake thinking it was midday instead of the middle of the night.  Lots of walking around back and forth through the cabin and a fair amount of crying and screaming once we started to descend into Mpls due to his hears not popping. I am sure we were the most popular people on the plane.
 
We arrived home early morning Thursday after 22+ hours of travel.  To say the least, Jake was not a fan of the car seat and five point harness we apparently over-protective American’s find so important.  Our friends Kevin and Cheryl Bardwell picked us up at the Airport and got to hear first hand how much he disliked the car seat.  the screaming went on for a good 10 moles I think.  at one point, Cheryl asked Kevin if he needed to be dropped at his office (it was a workday after all) he responded “I’m fine.  If Jake was still screaming, I may have had gone into work but he is quiet now, so I’m good”. Gotta live their candor.   Max went to school that day so we would have an opportunity to give Jake the lay of the land and, most importantly, take naps.  Tim picked him up from school and was greeted with several loud and enthusiastic “DADDY” cheers from him.  Max’s teachers told us he was a little distracted that day with the anticipation of us coming home.  Understandable.  I am not sure Max knew quite what to think when he saw Jake in person for the first time.  He was a little hands off and when Jake cried, informed us he thinks Jake is loud.  The kid does has some serious lungs on him, as few passengers on our LA flight can attest.  There was not a lot of sleeping by Jake Thursday night.  Ann was up most of the night playing and trying to get him to sleep a little.
 
Max went to school Friday as well, and when Ann dropped him off, he wanted her to play for awhile so spent a good 20-30 minutes at the Lego table with him while his classmates finished breakfast.  Max’s teachers are fantastic and were a big part of why he did so well with us gone,  we had a bet as to how long Max would stall before letting her leave.
 
Friday was the start of operation “get Jake on the right time zone”. Tim took him out for a walk in the morning, so had some sunlight and fresh air.  We had to wake him from his midday nap or he would have slept until Midnight.  He was not happy with us, but is necessary for us to get back to some kind of normal sleeping patterns.  Max was much more interested in Jake Friday after school.  They played really well together and Max is taking the whole big brother role very seriously.  At one point, when Jake was a little whiny, Max walked over to him and said “it’s ok Jake, you are just  a little scared”.  Friday night was slightly better from a sleep perspective,  we put Jake down after his first bath with Max and he slept until about 2am. Ann got up with him and got him to lay with her in the spare bedroom for another hour, then he was done and wanted to play.  At 3:15am.  3 hours of playing cars, stacking cups, etc later, I decided to take him outside to listen to the waterfall in the backyard.  We sat out on the deck and listened to the wind and water, 15 min later, he was out.  For all of 15 min.  Not even enough for Ann to nap.
 
Saturday morning was spent playing at home.  Jake and Max play really well together. We went to the park late morning and had a great time.  After lunch, we all took naps- some longer than others. Max and Ann had to wake Jake up after 3.5 hours to avoid another all nighter, he was not happy. More playing at home this afternoon before dinner.  Jake was so tired, he barely ate and literally fell asleep in his chair at the dinner table.  Tim took him up, bathed him and put him in bed while Max and Ann finishes dinner.  Hopefully he will sleep a little later Sunday morning.
 
Overall, the transition is going as well as we could have hoped.  Max is so helpful and stepping up in the big brother role.  Once we get the whole “day is night and night is day” thing figured out, I think we will fall into a manageable routine.  I am sure many of you are laughing at our naivety, but we can dream.
 
We appreciate all the wonderful comments and support over these past weeks. It has been quite a month for us, and fun has just begun!
 
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Happy endings In China :)

Couple of parting pictures of our new addition from china and of our waiting big brother counting the days til Mommy, Daddy & little brother Jake come home….  We are so blessed!  Thank you to all of our friends for the prayers and well wishes.  Special thanks to Janet Block, the Block family and the Bardwell family for taking such great care of our Max while we traveled to China.  Thank you sooooooo much!

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Waiting patiently :). We love Max!

Waiting patiently :). We love Max!

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Tim, Ann, Max & Jake

The Roen’s

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China: The napping country

I think Tim is rethinking this whole “I’m ready to go home” thing.  Molly, our guide, was explaining to us today that around the noon hours they take 30 minutes to eat lunch and then take a 1 hr nap.  Every workday.  Offices, like Medtronic, will turn out lights and cell phones for nap time.  I think he was a little jealous. After that discussion, we walked outside into the heat and humidity and he came to his senses and realized if he really wanted to, he could nap at home.

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Yesterday, Monday was another off day.  It is a little frustrating to hang out with nothing to do.  We took a taxi down to the markets where we spent many hours walking around last time we were here.  We walked through the Jade market, and other markets in the sweltering heat, carrying Jake in the baby carrier. By the time we arrived back at the hotel, we were drenched with sweat.  2-3 showers a day has been the norm, we do not like sitting in the hotel so prefer to go out exploring, it is a small price to pay I guess.  It had rained virtually every day as well, so we need to time our outings accordingly. We made the short walk Monday afternoon to a museum/ tomb of a Chinese leader.  We arrived about an hour prior to closing and went through the three floors of artifacts and displays, wondering the entire time where the actual tomb was. Apparently it was in the basement, but since we do not read Chinese and many signs were not in English, we missed that part.  It was an excuse to get out, so we were happy regardless.

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Tuesday we had our appointment mp with the consulate.  Finally.  They built a new building a short time ago and I must say, is a significant upgrade from the old.  They have very strict rules as to whom can enter and what you can bring, so Molly was not allowed into the building and we had to leave our bags and electronic devices with her.  Even our watches.  There were 5 families there with us this time, they take upwards of 12 at a session.  We all waited around 20-30 min, mostly discussing how eager we all were to go home.  The consulate representative had us all stand, raise our right hand and take an oath that all the information we have provided was true, promise to not abandon our child and other formalities.  We then had individual meetings to review paperwork, sign documents etc.  it was pretty quick once we started, although not having a watch or any concept of time means we do not know how long we were there.

US Consulate in Guangzhou China

US Consulate in Guangzhou China

After our appointment, Molly took us to the Buddhist Temple to have Jake blessed by the monks.   We were planning to do this over the weekend but the rain made us reschedule.  Six Banyan Tree Temple is the oldest temple in Guangzhou, there are actually only two banyan trees left so is a little bit of false advertisement.  We knelt in front of the Buddha while the monk chanted and blessed us with water.  They are doing repairs on some of the buildings and the area, so it looked quite different than last time we visited.  We did not spend a lot of time there since we have seen it before and Jake was getting fussy from lack of food and the heat. (Did I mention it is hot here?  Not sure I have).

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For our daily afternoon outing, we decided to take the subway to People’s park and walk around. The park is nothing special per se, but everything is so green and lush right now, it was pretty. The park was booming with people dancing (some kind of line dance was going on), Playing cards or dominoes, etc. The most impressive were the hackie sack circles.  They use badminton-like birdies with additional weights on the bottom and some of the groups had some really sweet moves.  One tried to get us to join, we had to decline as I wasn’t wearing proper hackie shoes. The subway system is very nice, clean, easy to navigate and, most importantly, air conditioned. For two yuan or ~$0.30, you can ride anywhere.  Fortunately for us, Jake likes riding in the stroller so is really good while we wander aimlessly through the city.  We explored some of the local markets and streets in that area.  There are a lot of street vendors selling everything from badminton racquets to wallets to shower heads, you name it, if it is a household item, someone is selling it on the street.  The shops in the area we walked were mostly electronic components stores.  I did not realize how strong a demand for soldering wire was until today.  There were no fewer than 10 stores in a 4 block span that sold it.

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Tomorrow, Wednesday, we will spend the morning packing and waiting for Jake’s visa. Molly will pick it up late afternoon and then we will head to the airport for our 12+ hour flight to LA.  We are hopeful Jake sleeps for a good portion and plan to try to keep him up until we depart around 9:30 pm.  Wish us luck with that.  We are taking the red eye from LA so should arrive home earlyThursday morning.

Overall, we feel the trip has gone as well as we could have hoped. Jake is doing great and has really taken to both of us and seems happy.  He started feeding us his food, which is a really positive sign from an attachment perspective.  We are cautiously optimistic the transition home will go equally as well.

Thanks for joining us on this little trip of ours.  We will try to post once home as well to provide updates on the medical situation.

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Take care!  Ann, Tim, Max and Jake

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Ni Hao Guangzhou! Finally:)

We didn’t realize how happy we would be to come back to Guangzhou. As many of you may know, we spent two weeks here 2.5 yrs ago with Max as he was from Guangdong province.  At the time, it felt like ground hogs day because our routine was quite engrained and we grew tired of Shamian Island and the city after 15 days.  This time, it is actually a welcome change.  The US Consulate is located in Guangzhou, so all Chinese adoptions need to come through the city before finalizing and returning home.  Nanning was fine, but Guangzhou just feels more comfortable and accommodating to people in our situation.

This is how they roll in Guangzhou at the medical exam office.  Vending machine with wine in it: ;)

This is how they roll in Guangzhou at the medical exam office. Vending machine with wine in it:
;)

Jake's first airplane ride from Nanning to Guangzhou.

Jake’s first airplane ride from Nanning to Guangzhou.

 

We flew in Friday night, arriving a little late due to weather, aka the typhoon that wreaked havoc on Asia this week.  After finally arriving at our hotel after 9pm, we were all wiped.  Jake fell asleep on the plane after a somewhat antsy flight, so we put him to bed and decided to unpack in the morning as we were all exhausted.   Since Tim and I had not eaten anything but granola bars since breakfast Friday, we both awoke starving and eager for breakfast.  We skyped Max and Janet (our favorite time of day:)) and went down to the Marriott China Hotel breakfast buffet.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  They seated us in the back by other adopting families- which was very familiar as the White Swan Hotel where we stayed with Max did the same.  it was actually really nice to see other families and all were so nice and inquisitive of Jake.  Jake mowed on the chicken congi (boiled down rice with chicken broth, basically zero nutrients, but Max also lived on it his first year + so was a welcomed taste) while Tim and I sampled everything from eggs to dumplings to rice noodles to some nasty looking watermelon/celery juice  ( looked discussing, Tim swears was good.  Pass).  We were in heaven. The best part was we finally got Jake to sit in a high chair sans tray.  He refused in Nanning as they only had wooden high chairs with trays, but would finally sit in the chair at the table and let us feed him.   We had Jake’s medical examination appointment this morning, so unfortunately had only 50 min for breakfast- seriously, we could have grazed for another half hour if able.  Maybe more.

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White Swan Hotel under renovation.

White Swan Hotel under renovation.

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The medical exam went well.  There were no I mediate issues.  He saw a general physician who did the overall evaluation, and an ENT specialist who both gave a clean bill of health.  We have an appt with the U of M when we get home to have him evaluated and will begin figuring out  the extent of his hip and left knee issues. He pulls himself up and will stand at a table, but primarily on his right leg as his left leg does not fully straighten.  He is ready to walk, we can tell, hopefully with proper care once home it will be soon.

Saturday afternoon after nap we decided to take a taxi to Shamian Island, the area we stayed with Max.  The main Hotel- the White Swan- has been under closed for renovation for two years so the island is really different.  Several shops and restaurants are closed, and there are significantly less people walking around.  It was literally the hub for adopting families, now other hotels have taken the title.  We stopped in a local shop and picked up traditional outfits for Max and Jake in various sizes- for this of you who have seen the photo of Max on my desk in his Chinese outfit, we now have multiple sizes to allow for photos with matching outfits!  (I told you Debbie Beulke, you created a monster with the matching outfit concept!!)

Lucy's  comfort food:)

Lucy’s comfort food:)

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We ended the afternoon at our favorite Western restaurant on the island, Lucy’s, and enjoyed a burger and fries.  We enjoyed many a happy hours and meals with other families when we where here with Max, so felt very nostalgic today while there.  We keep in touch with a couple families, so tipped our glasses in their honor today!!!

Tomorrow, Sunday, is a free day.  Molly, our guide, is taking us to the Buddhist Temple to be blessed and then shopping.  We went to the same temple with Max and it seemed to turn out well, so figured it would be good to do the same with Jake.  Molly was our guide with Max as well, and was so happy to see photos and hear stories of how well Max is doing, she genuinely cares for these children and is so happy to hear the happy stories.  We really like her and am excited to spend time with her again.

We are looking forward to another great breakfast.  Yes, our lives now revolve around the quality of food.  I think it is time to come home:)

Take care all. Have a great weekend!!

Tim, Ann Max and Jake

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Ice, not Rice

It probably goes without saying, but neither Tim nor I speak Chinese, Mandarin or Cantonese.  Because of this, it can be challenging communicating with the locals. For example, virtually every day, Tim will call down to get 2 bags of ice to keep beverages cold. One day they brought 4, not sure why. The other day, he calls down and unfortunately, the person on the other line did not speak English well, possibly at all.  He asked to speak to someone else, they hand the phone over and asks for 2 bags of ice.  All I hear is “ice, not rice”. After the third attempt, he thanked them and hung up. He went downstairs to the front desk to request ice. We figured we had a 50/50 chance of getting rice, so were quite surprised when the very nice room service person knocked on the door carrying two bags of ice.  He tipped him well that day.

Yesterday, Thursday, was another free day for us as we continue to wait for paperwork. It is nice to be able to explore, but we would prefer to have less downtime and get home sooner. Oh well.  Wednesday was also free, so David, our guide took us to a Buddhist Temple at a park.  While we were driving, we pointed out to him the route we took Sunday when Tim and I explored the area.  As we turned a corner to the park, I commented this was the park we told him we walked to that day.  “YOU WALKED HERE????”  Was his reaction.  Apparently other families aren’t as adventurous as us, nor would do the ~10 mile journey on foot.   Fortunately, the two places he wanted to take us were sites we walked past but did not stop prior because they were towards the end and we were in “I just want to get out of here” mode.

The temple was beautiful. There were multiple Buddha’s that each had their own meaning.  The Happiness Buddha is front and center when you walk in, the photo Tim posted yesterday was in front of it.  We learn a lot about traditions and culture from David, it was nice to have him along this time.  From there we fed the fish- they were out of control.  Hundreds of them all jockeying for food, it was a little intimidating for Jake I think.  He loved the turtles, however, it was fun to see his reaction to them climbing up on a little raft.  I think he saw similarities to his own climbing technique!

The day was hot so we opted to only spend a few hours there, Jake fell asleep in the taxi on the way home.  We spent the afternoon playing in the room.  Jake’s personality is really starting to come out.  He is silly and likes to make himself laugh, it is really cute.  He doesn’t have a particular toy or animal as is go-to play thing, but likes balls and loves the stacking cups we brought. He is pretty smart and we can already see his problem solving skills when something rolls under the couch or when he tries to unzip things.  Pretty impressive.

Thursday’s free day we decided to give David the day off and just explore on our own.  One of the upsides of a typhoon in the region is the temperatures finally dropped and the stifling heat and humidity was not quite so bad.  We decided to go to the Science and Technology Museum.  It was both cool and lame.  There was a Transformers exhibit that was really cool.  Now, we have seen the first Transformer movie, but I would not call us experts or enthusiasts by any means.  It was still really cool.  They are so cleverly done with amazing detail, it was more like art than action figures.  There were a lot of young kids- boys mostly- in the area very excited about them. There are multiple videos in China featuring them, you could see several were recognized by the kids.  The rest of the museum was very similar to the MN Science Museum, only less well kept.  They had the electricity, gravity, light, motion, body and other hands-on displays similar to ours. Many we’re not working, however, which was unfortunate.  There was an entire floor for children that was also similar to the MN Children’s Museum.  Water tables, pulleys, and other areas that we know Max would have loved. Jake was a little young for it, and since he isn’t walking yet, mostly had to look but not participate.

Science Museum in Nanning

Science Museum in Nanning

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Transformers display

Transformers display

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The afternoon was once again spent at the hotel.  There were pretty big storms with thunder and lightning that came through. They were short, but it seemed every 20-30 min one would come through.  We decided to eat dinner at the hotel and stay indoors.  The restaurant staff at the Nanning Marriott are fantastic. I asked our waitress if they could make a simple rice and meat dish for Jake, the chef personally came out with suggestions and talked to us for awhile, asking about Jake and his background.  He told us how much he appreciated our adopting Jake and taking care of him.  He then personally delivered his food to make sure it was satisfactory.  The entire staff was like this, very happy and all wanted to say hello and see Jake.  Jake is a little shy around strangers, unlike Max who would totally put on a show for people when we got him.

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Today, Friday is a travel day.  We receive Jake’s passport and paperwork midday then head to the airport for our flight to Guangzhou.  We met another family at the notary office who are also on our flight, it will be nice to be around others.

We skype Max and Janet daily.  They are both having fun and doing well.  Max is really excited to meet Jake and asked us to come home quickly. If only we could!

good bye Nanning ….

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Take care everyone.

Ann, Tim, Max & Jake

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Paperwork and Utor

Tuesday was an uneventful day. Jake slept like a champ Monday night, 12 hrs of uninterrupted sleep. He was very tired, I am not surprised. Tuesday night was a little different, he woke once and cried for awhile, but went back to sleep and slept through morning again.  We had meetings with the notary and registration offices where we had to promise never to abuse or abandon Jake and fill out additional paperwork. We also had a chance to speak with the orphanage director and nanny to ask questions about Jake’s habits and personality. We were concerned when we received Jake without his corrective brace for his feet, but they arrived with it yesterday for our meeting.  He only needs to wear it during nap and at night, he seems to be used to sleeping with the restrictive position of his feet and legs.   We have an appointment already scheduled the first week of Sept with the U of M International Adoption Clinic, we hope to aggressively treat his club feet so he can begin walking soon.  He is able to lift himself up and stand, but clearly favors his right leg as the left seems to have hip and knee issues as well.

Sound sleep at last:)

Sound sleep at last:)

Road warrior

Road warrior

The holdout hardware

The holdout hardware

The afternoon was free for us, so we loaded Jake into our newly acquired stroller from Walmart and went walking around the mall next door.  It is much too hot to walk around outside with him, we are a little confined to indoor activities I am afraid. They leave much to be desired but Jake did really well his first time riding in a stroller!  Thank goodness.

Jackie's new ride seems to be working:)

Jackie’s new ride seems to be working:)

Today is a free day for us while we wait for Jake’s passport to be processed and our notary papers to be complete. Our guide is taking us to some mountain and park where we can feed fish and explore.  Nanning has a lot of green space, it is quite nice in the respect.  We leave Friday eveningfor Guangzhou where we finish up paperwork, medical exam and meet with the consulate to finalize things on the China side.  Because life would be boring without possible glitches to our plans, there is a typhoon approaching southern China right now so hopefully we will be able to fly in two days.  Utor is wreaking havoc on the Philippines and heading towards Hong Kong and possibly Guangzhou. Good thing we brought umbrellas.

Imagine that asked to have a picture taken... Who would have thought?

Imagine that asked to have a picture taken… Who would have thought?

Feeding the Rats of Asia

Feeding the Rats of Asia

Turtle feeding at the temple

Turtle feeding at the temple

Jake feeding the turtles... No not feeding Jake to the turtles.

Jake feeding the turtles… No not feeding Jake to the turtles.

Buddhist temple at Green Mountain Park

Buddhist temple at Green Mountain Park

Our Advocate David Shu, Ann & Jake at the temple

Our Advocate David Shu, Ann & Jake at the temple

Take care all, pray Utor stays far, far away from us!!

Ann, Tim, Max and Jake

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