Monday, January 31, 2011


 We are still trying to get Little Miss into a routine.  We are doing pretty good, but any routine that includes her in a horizontal position with her eyes closed brings that expression to her face that I am calling her, "I'M REALLY PISSED OFF" face.

Oh, well, sleep will come.  It always does, despite her attempts to stay awake by remaining in a sitting position.  She wobbles.  You can stand in there next to her and watch, because she is on the edge of consciousness and all of her energy is going into sitting up, but her little head nods back and forth like she's watching a vertical tennis match.  She is so darned cute!

She is finding things she likes, though.  For instance, Gypsy is her favorite thing in the world.  Good thing I never managed to give Gypsy away.
 It's hard to pull her away.

We are making progress in the food department.  BIG STRIDES!  Today I fed her a small (very small) piece of a French fry and she didn't spit it out.  Also, Cora has been making MAJOR inroads with sweet potatoes! Check this out!
She still likes her bottles, though.  And here you see me feeding her sometime before bedtime.  I like the total calm and relaxed posture.
Well, to bed for me, jet-lag is a real and annoying foe.  I work tomorrow, I would love to stay home for awhile longer, but I don't have the luxury of vacation or leave.

Thanks to all who have left comments!  We love to hear your thoughts and hope you like the pictures!

She Was Already Sleepy!

Our Daughter, newly adopted from China, is a most puzzling and entertaining creature.  She is sure of herself and fearless!  She is alert and smart.  She is surely attached to Cora by now.  She DOES NOT like to sleep by herself.

We made her cry it out a couple nights in China.  We were getting into a good rhythm and routine, until we had to go to the last hotel and then home.  Last night was our first night back.  We tried to put her in her crib, but gave in easily, partly due to our own softness, our insecurities, her stubbornness,and the fact that we were both exhausted from the 27 day flight from Hong Kong, during which Chloe tried to wake every passenger at least three times.  For the first flight leg, she slept easily, but apparently 747s are much more comfy than Airbus 330s.

Basically, she lulled us into a false sense of security and hope.  Ha!  What foolish people we are!  She boarded the flight nicely.  She managed to coo and con herself into the hearts of the flight attendants.  They failed to see her fiendish side.  She hides that from strangers.  She is a genius.  An evil genius.

She was beautiful and quiet for the part where the lights are on, bu-ut once they turned down the lights so everyone could sleep away and forget the exceptionally long flight, she began her routine.  She is inexplicably adorable around strangers.  She coos and clicks and chirps and giggles.  She also baby talks.  And laughs.  Loudly.  As slightly seasoned travelers, we have experienced babies before and, I, for one, have been mildly annoyed by their antics.  As new parents, we knew she would wake everyone on the plane, annoy them, anger them, and basically keep them from sleeping, and, by the end of the trip, they would be throwing their beef-with-oyster-sauce in-flight dinners at us.  we would walk onto US soil dripping oyster sauce.  That is not a vision ANYONE wants!

We walked her.  We rocked her.  We bounced her on our knee.  We tickled her.  We patted her.  We brushed her cheek.  We rocked her some more. We cuddled her.  We caressed her.  We fed her (In fact, I fed her so many times, the flight attendants and I had a very close relationship by the end of the flight, each one was aware of her specific needs, our history, and our general family dynamic).  We cooed sweet nothings in her ear.  We rocked her.  We bounced her...we EVEN let her watch CAR-TOONS!  We sat with her, through out the flight.  Finally, somewhere near Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CANADA, she fell asleep.

We had hoped, wrongly, obviously, that she might sleep the entire flight, thereby, converting her to our time (PST) and leaving the "jet-lag" demon behind...not so our lovely Chloe.  She delved deep into her soul and she found will power the likes that the people at the Alamo never knew!  She managed to stay awake! Until the last two hours of flight, which seemed to me, nothing more than thumbing her nose at us.  WE EVEN SPIKED HER BOTTLE with Benadryl (We tried it before and she flopped out of consciousness like a little fish out of an open-topped aquarium).  She has the will of a mule!

She slipped off to la-la land near Vancouver, like I said, as if to thumb her nose at us.  She finally slept and we made it through touch down before she awoke.  We walked into the airport, happy to be home, and began the check-in process and dealt with customs and immigration.  Our sweet Chloe awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to meet a new populace...and bewitch them, take away their will, and enslave them.  She was adorable while we waited for the guys in immigration to approve our paperwork and make her a citizen.  She was alert while we searched for our luggage.  She was interested to meet her maternal grandparents when they came to take us home.  She was NOT amused by the car-seat and made her disapproval known...loudly.  Perhaps it was exhaustion that had me visualizing her plan of world domination, perhaps just insight into her little personality so far...

We got home and she met her new family with dignity befitting a royal heir.  She allowed us to take a nap and herself to be entertained by her aunts and cousin, until she finally deigned to take a nap herself.  After that, she had a meltdown, and yet, others (people who don't know her) judged her to be sweet, but tired.

We entertained her for the next few hours, until Cora felt sick and tired and some combination of the two, plus some nausea to top it off.  I sent her to bed to sleep it off, promising to take care of and entertain Chloe. She and I had a great time.  I let her crawl to a certain point until she was almost out of sight, then I would retrieve her and place her back on the stuffed (NOT REAL) tiger we bought her months ago at Costco.  I read her stories and played with her animals to keep her occupied.  Cora got lots of precious sleep.  I fed her a bottle of lava.  Finally, she began to get that glazed over look that signifies her eventual succumbing to sleep.

I picked her up gently.  I swept her into her bedroom and let her down gently into the crib.  She looked at me with that beautiful gaze, she blinked gently, and let out a raucous cry.  KAY-RAP!

Cora awoke and we tried to let her cry it out.  No dice.  So, Cora picked her up and then she quieted down.  By this time, I was tired and having difficulty stringing three words together for a sentence.  Cora told me to go to bed.  I did, and slept soundly.  I was only dimly aware of the two of them entering the bed sometime later.

I awoke to Cora telling me not to let the baby roll off the bed, and that she had left a pillow in the way, just in case Chloe tried.  I awoke to something moving next to me, I was about to tell Toby to lay down when it dawned on me that my daughter was next to me smiling into my face.  I rolled over and put on my glasses, she has the most adorable smile.  I melted and picked her up and we went in to find Mom.

We had a good day.  She met her other aunt and seemed to like her.  She was an angel.  We went for a walk and she fell asleep.  She snored.  We got home and she awoke.

We made the lasagna that Cora had stashed in the freezer in December.  Chloe ate her portion of sweet potatoes.  Life was good.  Daughter began to nod.  We decided she needed to go to bed.  We put her gently in her crib.  She cried.  We did not respond.  Then she upped the ante.  She began to wail!  We checked her every five to ten minutes to make sure she was ok.  Each time we gently lay her back down, told her to go to sleep and then left the room after covering her.

Finally, about forty minutes into this trial of patience and will-power, she began to soften her cries, they became muffled.  We worried and checked.  Cora found her sitting up-right and nodding off.  She tried to lower Chloe to a horizontal position, but Chloe has a mercury-switch in her bottom or something and she sensed the change of attitude.  She awoke and cried some more.  At one point, Cora witnessed from the hallway, an afghan, laid upon the edge of the crib, being slowly pulled to the center of the crib.   About ten minutes later, the cries had quieted and there was nothing coming from the room.  I slipped in, and by the dim light I saw her sitting up.

As she sat up, just as Cora had described, she wobbled.  Each time she came close to falling over, her cat-like reflexes caught her and she staggered vertical again, chin on her chest.  She obviously was so close to sleep that she simply had no more fight in her.  I gently lay a hand on her shoulder.  She noticed the application of pressure, but rather than fighting, let herself be lowered.  She lay down.  I covered her with the blanket and her lovey.  Cora came in, disbelieving that I had just tamed the un-tameable, and stared.  I made sure to cover Chloe with her newly acquired afghan blanket, since she was laying atop the others she had begun the night with.  Her eyes opened briefly, but, surprising to both of us, no noise came from her lips.  Then she tucked the blanket to her and went to sleep.

As I wrote this post, I succumbed to the grasp of sleep.  I awoke to a strained neck and several thousand unnecessary letter J's and brackets on the screen, as I floundered out of my chair, Cora came sleepily down the hallway to check on both of us, me in my chair, and Chloe in her room.  I followed Cora quickly to bed.  I was just on the outer region of sleep when I heard my lovely daughter awake.  Not quite being asleep, I leaped up and checked her.  I changed her diaper and gave her a bottle, setting her, in good-parent-fashion, upon the stove while I made her bottle.  As we have come to expect, she threw some things off to the floor, mostly potholders and the like, but Dad's cat-like reflexes kept things like steel pots and glass lids from finding their way floor-ward.

I managed to produce a bottle in record time, which I attribute to the microwave, and fed her a lava bottle, which she quickly dispatched back in her crib.  I let her finish it and covered her up, then retreated to my chair for the rest of this post, only to hear a drumming sound half-way through the last paragraph.  I investigated and my baby girl was sideways in her crib checking each bar for tones.  I laid her strait, added a heavy blanket and retreated, turning off the night light as I left...I still hear a giggle now and then, but not drumming...perhaps she will sleep!

So this is parenthood...I don't mind it too much.  As long as Cora is around for the hard parts!

Speaking of which, my lovely wife conned me today.  About 4PM she asked if I wanted to do a diaper change.  I said I did not.  She noted that I had not changed a diaper since last night some time and that in fairness, I should try to do a few a day to keep up with her.  I begrudgingly agreed.  She said she thought the Kid needed a change, and handed said kid to me.

Now, please remember I am new to this gig.  I have been a parent for about two weeks.  Not A LOT of time, parentally speaking.  An experienced parent might have smelled the bottom of the child first before accepting his charge.  I did not.  I, dumbly, at this moment, accepted the child blindly and openly into my arms.  I walked down the hall, noting that my wonderful wife was following.  Odd.  I said, "I can DO this on my own."  She said, innocently, that she was just coming along to help.  I accepted, since I have learned not to turn down free help.

I buckled the child into the changing table and started to disrobe her.  Off came the socks, then the pants, then the tights, then the onesy (Stupid name for a garment, by the way).  I readied a diaper and Cora was fumbling with the wipes, a new box, purchased just today.  I decided not to wait.  I opened up the diaper...

not just I was expecting.  No.  Not pee.  Well, not JUST pee.  This diaper had a more heinous, more toxic substance inside.  A substance that defies description.  Its color, no, its smell weakened my knees.  I looked back at Cora and saw she was fighting hard to keep a grin off her face while she fought with the wipes box.  I knew I had been had.

My first diaper happened in China.  I was a diaper virgin.  I soon learned the ins and outs, whilst managing to avoid the dangerous diapers, thanks much to Cora's experience and luck.  This time, however, my lovely wife had detected a dangerous diaper and managed to keep this toxic secret to herself.  I had been gotten.  Devious.

I dealt with said diaper, while trying not to gag and not to spread the toxic/hazardous substance.  I managed fairly well after the initial shock and Cora's guffaws.  I will have to be nicer to Cora from here on out, though!


There are a great many things I believe in.  There are a great deal of things I don't believe in.  One thing I believe in, and have trouble with in others lacking it, is being fair.  Give and take, it's an orderly process that I NEED to have happen.  I believe in coffee in the morning.  No hot coffee means bad morning.  It isn't impossible, but it isn't happy either.

There are also things I don't believe in.  I don't believe in taking advantage of people, and I suppose that stumbles into fairness' territory, and after all, aren't all things connected?  I don't believe in most folk remedies, magnets?  Puh-Sha!  Magic healing metal strips?  Copper bracelets?  Puh-lease!  Oh, and ALL Chinese remedies that require strange parts of endangered animals.  Somehow, all those really tick me off, since, one, they border on kicking sand in fairness' face (Let's take advantage of people, why don't we?).  Two: they don't mention the healing mental effects of good strong hot coffee.  And, three: one of them uses animal parts that have probably belonged to an animal that was poached, and not in the friendly boiled egg way, either.

We saw up close and personal some tiger claws and some horns that may or may not have belonged to a Rhinoceros, and I am fairly certain neither of these animals would willingly give these parts up while still alive.  I was SO angry at the men and women selling these animal parts, but the language barrier prevented me from telling them what I thought of them, and really, it is a sign of a deeper plague.  That was the only time in China I really, really could not look the other way and simply chalk it up to a different culture that I don't understand.  I don't generally consider myself a big proponent of the environment or anti-animal killing, but, really, in our state, the government oversees it and I live close enough to town that I don't see many wild animals of the type usually hunted.  I was REALLY pissed off when I saw those tiger claws.  I counted at least twelve and there were others in the market place.  It doesn't seem fair to me that a tiger should die, simply because someone wants to boil his cuticles to cure foot rot or increase sexual appetite.  You know that no one eats tiger meat.  He was NOT a food item.  These people eat everything, why bother with tiger claws?  I mean, come on!  Civilized?  I wonder.

But, back to my subject, unbelief.  There is one last item over which I suffer unbelief.  It is not an item, really, it has been an idea for a very long time.  A fear in some sense.  In other senses, a source of devotion I don't show in other avenues.  Perhaps, it is a religion, but I suffer this unbelief a lot lately.  It is simple, even when it is staring me in the face, I still find it hard to believe.  It's incredible, really.  A miracle, yes.  Still, I don't believe it until I walk in her room and see her sleeping form and hear her rhythmic breathing and smell her sweet baby scent:  I am a father.  When I suffer that unbelief, that unsureness, and I see her, or I hold her, or I watch her smile, or I just gaze into those magical eyes, well, it brings tears to my eyes.  She is beautiful, and I am hers.

Oh, and it really isn't fair.  How is it fair to all the other fathers in the world that I, and I alone, get the honor, the glorious burden, the heroic Joy of being father to the most precious and beautiful little girl on Earth?  Unbelievable.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Home At Last

At last, I sit at home in my treasured Lay-Z Boy.  My laptop upon my lap and my eye-lids nearly shut.  I have been awake since 4:30am in Hong Kong.  I once was able to calculate the time difference, but the many hours awake since then have rendered my calculating power to somewhere between a slide rule and a rock.  My senses have been degraded and my wit compromised.  I am a walking hollow shape of a man.  Jet lag has latched its hideous claws into my brain and nothing but haze fills the space between my ears.

We left the Hong Kong Marriott at about 6:00AM yesterday.  We got into Seattle at 7:21am and then spent over an hour in immigration and customs.  We made it home at about noon.  To a welcome that could not be beat.  The Grandparents and a couple aunts were on hand to greet us and even provided some much needed tacos!  The love and happiness was much needed after so much time travelling in a foreign country.  Who knew I would appreciate what we have SOOOO much!?

Hong Kong dollars have see-thru windows.

a lovely fellow train traveller.

a view from the train

a bridge in Hong Kong

the Boeing 747 we flew in from Hong Kong to Tokyo.
I am so HAPPY to be home.  Thanks to all who have followed us on our adventures!  Know that the photos seen here are but the tip of the iceberg.

I am happy to be home, but now I need sleep!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last Post for Awhile

This may be the last post for awhile, since we expect to get Chloe's visa and be travelling for the next few days.  We will let you know when we get home.

For now, I will let you see our day.  Chloe has been opening up and blossoming before our eyes.  There is quite a chatterbox in there.  She is turning into such a happy little girl that it just makes me want to grab her and squeeze her.  I still, at times, can't believe she is ours!  Of course, a more accurate statement might be that we are hers, particularly Cora.  We see more and more smiles everyday.

Now, in no particular order the pictures, which I will let explain themselves:

 THESE turtles were being sold as pets...I think.

 The people here are curious about us, but friendly and helpful when they can be.
I have enjoyed our stay here, and I am more than thankful for our Chloe, but it is well past time for us to go home.  I can't wait to see you all!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Here She Is

 I know, I know, I know.  You want more pictures of Little Miss.  She is the apple of my eye, but still, I tease you with one or two of her and a ton of other things we have found here in China.  I am sorry my friends and family, here is where I attempt to atone for my past transgressions.  The following photos were all taken today.

She has that Spicy Hunan personality.  Cora attempted to cover it on her blog, and I will try my own version of explanation.  Maybe, using both, you can gain a measure of what this spunky, spicy, clever, quiet little girl is made of.
 Hunan.  It is a province in this great country of China.  Chinese are a long line of people.  They have over three thousand years of culture here.  Compare that with our own which is built on an older culture, but is really only about three hundred years old.  When you have such an old culture, you begin to see patterns.  The Chinese people see great winding patterns it seems to me.  They see one in particular.  That the people of Hunan are fighters.  They are fearless warriors.  They would rather keep fighting and die than give up.  Chinese Emperors have made sure they have Hunan people in their armies ranks, and that seems to bode well for their armies.

Hunan is also a province known for very spicy cooking.  One person commented that people of Hunan like their food way too hot to taste.  If you combine these two visions, you begin to get a feel for the people they are describing.

Our Chloe certainly falls into the spicy category.  She is a fighter.  Try changing her diaper when she doesn't want it changed and then tell me she is not a fighter.  It is fortunate she is so tiny, as we would surely have more bruises!

Ah, but she is not all fight.  She has moments, which pass all too quickly to record on film AND elicit, where she is simply a happy little girl finding joy in life's simple pleasures.  We have come up with several entertainments for her since we have met and fallen in love with her.  One is that when she is mad, I stack things on her head, which often quiets her enough that we can redirect her energy, but certainly not always. Another is "pass the baby."  Which we discovered yesterday.  She goes from one lap to the next, but only when she is ready (i.e., leans toward the target and then flies toward them.  Another is one I really enjoy.  She flops down on a pillow or bed and then rolls.  That's it.  But her giggle makes it SO MUCH MORE FUN than it sounds.
 She seems to take a lot of time observing.  She is always watching and taking in things.  She is clever.  She  will take your hand and study it.  A few days ago she took both my hand and Cora's and then compared them with her own hand and then with each other.  She seems to have an intense smoldering gaze.  I can only imagine what kind of travails we will have as she gets older and decides to use her gifts of intelligence for ill...woe unto us!
 Above you see our little family sitting on one of the red couches at the White Swan is a Hotel of great renown throughout the adoption community.  The red couch pictures are a sort of milestone.  And we reached a milestone today.  We took our/Chloe's oath for the consulate.  We are a very short time from home.  Ahh, my own bed.  My own coffee.  My own TV.  My own DOGS!!!  I miss my dogs very much and I cannot wait to see the dynamics that build from this change in the family!
 I am looking forward to seeing her grandparents and our sisters(her aunts and cousins).  Other family will follow, so if you don't fall into the sister or parent category, don't be hurt, but we don't want to see you just yet!  Chloe is hardy, but we only want to expose her a little at a time to the families she will call her own.  No need to make her wish she wasn't related to you SO soon!  :-)

Tomorrow, we have a free day...away from our guide.  That will be a relief, since i am certain he wanted to take us to yet another tomb.  I think we will wander down and try to get some pictures of the locals performing their morning Tai Chi ritual.  And then...well, who knows, maybe some shopping, maybe just relaxing with Chloe.

Speaking of whom, here is a picture I am loving more and more every time I look at it!
We have been pretty lucky with our hotels.  All have been four stars or more.  Breakfasts consist of a wide variety of western and eastern morning dishes.  From dumplings to stir fried vegetables to bacon and hashbrowns, and not to mention each place had an omelet/egg chef.  It's been very nice.  However, you still know you are in China because of the smells.  

For instance, here on Shamian Island, you can be walking down a lovely Victorian street next to rows of lovely flowers and then be assaulted by a sewage smell that burns your nostrils, or by the smell of cooking fish that probably missed the "sell-by" date by a month...just little things, mostly, like how the vehicles have the right of way, and that it's just peachy if you "hack a loogie" on the sidewalk in mixed company.  

I was walking next to the river on a lovely stone sidewalk and noticed a gentleman with a small fishing pole descending a flight of steps to water level.  I decided I would pause among the passers-by and watch his first cast and maybe see what he used for bait, so I could tell my father-in-law about it.  I saw a fish come to the surface as he descended the stairs and when I looked back at him, he had, instead of fixing his hook, unzipped his pants and begun urinating in the water he planned to fish in.  I uttered an audible, "OK, then." and struck off for other locales.  Just little things remind you you're in China.

Oh, and back to hotels.  this one, the Victory, seems hell bent to freshen up our room.  Everyday we go to breakfast, even if its just for a few minutes, when we come back the made is in the room tidying up.  We thought we'd fooled her today.  Cora stayed in the room and I went and brought some breakfast back.  It was after noon when we went and visited another family, just a few rooms down.  I even left the door open because I expected to return in just a few moments...I got done speaking with the friends and turned around and there was the maid's cart!
I hope you all approve of the extra Chloe photos!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Boats On the Water, Fire in The Sky

OK, not so much fire in the sky, but lots of boats went by the water front park I was walking Chloe around in yesterday.  She finally fell asleep and I was free for photos!
This one was high in the water, meaning it either did not have a load or had a very light cargo.

this one, as you can see, was low in the water, meaning it had a heavy cargo going up-river.  The thing on the bow seems to be a conveyor belt, which would help with unloading.

This small container carrier was headed up-river, too.  If my calculations are correct, it is hauling 18 containers.

this one seems a bit light, but it was moving faster than most of the boats on the river.

This little ferry went up a different part of the river.  Under some low bridges.  You can see it's mast folded back for such low clearance duty.

This one is VERY low in the water.  Usually you see dredged material going DOWN river, but this all was going up river.  One can only guess why.

I'd spend more time at this water front park if I could.  It's like a slow TV program.  Chloe sat on my chest telling me how bad a father I was for trying to cover her head and also keep her hands warm.  I managed to spare an arm for one photo of her before she went ballistic about photographs of her without her hair done up.  Finally, she drifted off to sleep.

Today is our consulate appointment, so we are holed up in our hotel room until we get the go ahead and go take our vows...

People of China

Apparently this lady was returning home with a few groceries.
 One thing I am continually fascinated by is the people of China.  They have many faces, and many jobs, and many economic levels, but they are people.  We may seem different, what with our Western ways and their Eastern ways, but at the bottom, where it matters most, we are all people.
 This young lady was a model for some photographers taking a break.
 This old lady I found in a park.  I watched her make six or so steps backward and then close her eyes, as though in prayer.  I hope she didn't mind the man with a baby struggling to take a photo.
 This young lady was enjoying the ships going by the riverside park I was at, almost as much as I.  I snapped a photo of this modern Chinese girl when she appeared not to be watching me.
 This girl was apparently employed by a restaurant nearby, but business was slow and she was on the phone...for about the entire 45 minutes I was in the park.
 This shot was made out the car window.  I liked the colors, his headwear, and the flag.
 Different park.
 These men seemed not so much sight-seers, but businessmen...who knows, maybe Chinese mafia?
 And these women worked at the Folk Arts Center.

This lady sat next to her friend...and I think she caught on that she was the subject of my photo.

And finally, so you will not think I have forgotten about the lovely, sweet, and consistently adorable Chloe, here is a photo of her in the bathroom, helping Mom.