Saturday, January 31, 2009

what's the score? stomach flu 2, our family 1

Thursday night while editing puffs video I started feeling kinda funny, and later didn't think it was so funny when I lost it in the bathroom. I stayed home from work Friday and tried to keep away from the baby between running back and forth between the bed and the bathroom. Saturday morning I tried to convince myself that I was getting better, but it just wasn't happening. It killed me to call another adoptive family to tell them that we couldn't make their Chinese New Year party because I was still sick. I'm so upset! I soooo wanted to meet all of these families that were attending! Good thing we didn't go, as Hannah's puked twice tonight. I was singing an 80s Gloria Estefan song to Hannah (that Kevin hated) and out it went. Kevin asserted that she just doesn't like Gloria Estefan... but more came out later. I feel so sorry for her. She just lays on our stomach and stares, and periodically says "dooa dooa" when she sees Sedona go by.

Laundry is piling up as stomach flu creates five times the normal amount of laundry. The social worker arrives Wednesday morning for our first post-adoption appointment. By that time, the house will be a total wreck, Kevin will be spending all of his time in the bathroom, and we'll all be out of clean clothes and towels.

Gotta run... time to clean up Hannah again. :( I have a feeling we'll miss the Superbowl party too.

P.S. Here's links to other's blogs that were at the the Fleck's Chinese New Year Party. Carmen, I'm STILL bummed that we missed such a good time!

the adoption announcement

Hannah Claire's adoption announcement

Last week I finished Hannah Claire's adoption announcements. I'm so glad that I addressed the envelopes before she came home rather than after! I created them using my FotoFusion digital scrapbooking software and had them printed locally. The 4 x 6 envelopes were ordered from Envelopes Express. I'm really happy with the results, and they ended up costing less than a fourth the price of what I would have paid online for 5 x 7 announcements. I plan on making most of our future announcements and invitations this way.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Video: Eatin' Puffs and Dinner

It's been one month since THE DAY that we became a family of three. In a way, it seems like it's been a lot longer than that. We've learned how to make bottles with one hand, change diapers during a full on squirm, use baby suppositories, take showers while keeping an infant entertained through a clear plastic shower curtain, quickly fasten and unfasten car seats, and KEVIN has mastered the art of putting our daughter to sleep. I seriously lack "sleepy time skills" because I'm too "soft" and pick her up and hold her when she cries rather than say "No, lay down. Sleepy time." in a daddy voice that shows her you mean business.

While I'm away at work, Kevin's been learning more ways to make her laugh and make funny faces. She's clapping more and more readily, and is getting more animated with us all of the time. Now that we're settling into real life, here's two videos of me giving her a snack when I came home from work, and later some dinner. I'm really happy to see her hand-eye coordination improve. A month ago she could kind of pick up a puff, but it would be dropped and would never make it into her mouth.

She's getting closer and closer to weighing 16 pounds. We don't see any teeth wanting to poke in quite yet. We both have dental appointments in 5 weeks, and maybe we can convince our favorite smile team to peek in Hannah Claire's gummy mouth to tell us what they see.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How long until ATIN arrives?

Question: Anyone *recently* apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) with the IRS? Their web site says it usually takes 4-8 weeks to arrive, but what have the time frames been recently? I did my taxes tonight and I'm chomping at the bit to file, but need the ATIN number to do it. Reality: Travel expenses in Taiwan and being off work for five weeks have maxed out the credit card. We're fine, but I'm looking forward to the adoption tax credit to wipe away the temporary debt.

I've applied for a ATIN for Hannah Claire as I don't have our Certificate of Citizenship back yet, and I want to do our taxes now and not wait until we have a social security number for her. I'd like to apply for her SSN after readoption is finished so that her number will be issued in her adoptive name rather than her current legal name.

As long as I'm asking questions of you... if anyone has post requests our questions for me, feel free to ask away in the comments section of this post.

REAL LIFE started today as it was my first day back at work. I didn't peek in the nursery before I left because a) I didn't want to wake her b) I didn't want to get emotional and start crying and c) no time! I'm always so close to running late for work and always show up within 1-2 minutes of when I absolutely have to be there. It went fine. No tears, just tired feet from standing all day. I think Kevin was glad to get rid of me and be home with Hannah Claire all day after he took his mother to the airport, and I was glad to be back. Spending FIVE WEEKS TOGETHER with one's spouse 24 hours a day can be taxing on a marriage! I've been a grouch with Kevin the last two weeks. Sorry, honey. Please forgive me. I promise I'll be better.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Xin Nian Kuai Le! 新年快樂!

Happy New Year! From our family to yours, wishing you good luck and prosperity in the year of the Ox. We spent tonight at a local Chinese New Year party. We enjoyed Chinese food, crafts and games for the kiddos (lantern making and pin the tail on the ox), and of course taking lots of photos of all the little cuties. Grandma Adrienne had the honor (cough, cough) of being the oldest person at the party, so she got to hand out the red envelopes to all of the children and LOVED it. Hannah Claire got her first "taste" of the red envelope tradition. You'll see....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Happy Birthday to You..."


Today we celebrated Hannah Claire's first birthday with a little party for family. We didn't want to have too many people, as we didn't want to frighten her and derail any progress we'd made with attachment thus far. She was a little "touch me not" with close family at first, but warmed up more and more over the afternoon.



Our fun for the afternoon involved a Chinese custom called Zhua zhou where you lay out several different items in front of your child at the child's first birthday party to find out what they will be when they grow up. The object the child picks up and plays is supposed to be symbolic of the child's future career path. I read about this a nearly two years ago on Kobi's blog where Sherry did this for Kobi's first birthday. Apparently it left quite an impression on me as I remembered it when it was time to plan Hannah Claire's first birthday. The name of the ritual means "The catch of the year." In modern times the ritual is mainly for fun, but not long ago this ritual would effect the training that the parents prepared for their children.


toy dog - animal care
military training manual - military career
pen - writer
book - education
drum stick - music
digital multimeter (the yellow device) - engineering
camera - photography
twenty dollar bill - finance
gavel - law
American flag - politics
oral syringe - health care
spaghetti serving spoon - culinary arts



What did Hannah Claire go after? She fingered the drum stick for some time to the delight of her uncle, but didn't pick it up to play with it. We kept watching. After eyeing the military training manual and the digital multimeter (the yellow device that measures resistance, voltage, amperage, and ohms), she picked up the digital multimeter and put a corner of it into her mouth. That's it! She's interested in engineering, but would like to express her self with music as her hobby. I'm sure Kyle would love to go to Rose-Hulman and show you around 16 years from now. We can't have you going to Purdue, sweetheart! Hahaha! Interestingly, I'm checking out our digital multimeter... and it was made in Taiwan. How about that!




Let me put a disclaimer out there that we did this just for fun, and that our little bug can grow up to do anything she wants. There aren't a lot of party games one can play at a first birthday party. We'll have to save "the grand prize game" for a few years from now. I always liked playing that at parties with empty plastic Schwan's ice cream tubs, just like we were on The Bozo Show.



So... everyone wants to know if I let her have cake and ice cream. I didn't want to let her have it because we're not there yet with our eating skills for a preemie with an adjusted age of nine months. We just started working this week with Gerber's puffs and a little diced vegetables and fruits, so there's no way she's ready to have something like cake. She doesn't like cold things in her mouth yet, so ice cream isn't a good idea. After we sang "Happy Birthday" and I cut the cake, I let myself put the first piece of cake on her high chair tray. She had not had anything to eat or drink for two hours, so hopefully she wouldn't gag and puke in front of the party goers. She touched the cake, put a little bit of icing in her mouth, and started to cry. She didn't like the icing, most likely the texture. I got rid of the cake, cleaned her up and reassured her, and broke out something she knows... good old Baby Mum Mum rice crackers. That's still Hannah's favorite snack. She calmed down with a rice cracker, but only managed to land a third of the sweet potato puffs into her mouth. Sedona enjoyed the puffs later during clean up time.



Thanks to family members that traveled a couple of hours to come. We had a great time sharing Hannah's grins, laughs, clapping, high-fives, and a few cries with you. Hannah's relatives indulged her in all sorts of toys that require batteries and make very LOUD and repetitive sounds and a toy storage basket to contain/conceal toys in the living room.


Speaking of toys, Fisher Price has some sets of Little People that are Asian. If you can't find enough small sets that contain Asian Little People, you can purchase individual replacement Little People on eBay. Like... if you just want a Little People Asian Daddy, do a search for "fisher price little people Asian" and you'll find all sorts of singles for sale.

To the Happy Hippy, Rest assured... the baby safety foam is installed on the fireplace hearth and doing it's job at preventing our silly monkey from getting scrapes and goose eggs. :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

photos of our one year old





Today Hannah Claire, Daddy, and Grandma Adrienne went to the mall and had her one year photos taken. I packed a bag with three outfits and accessories, and let Kevin choose whatever he wanted. I think they turned out great, very natural. This is what she looks like playing with us at home with her gummy smile. It was a especially good day for Daddy, as we turned a corner with Hannah Claire's attachment to Kevin.

I think things are peachy with how Hannah feels about me. She definitely knows I'm the mommy. Our eye contact is fine, but improving more and more each week. She'd be happy playing with both of us are in the room, and a little over a week ago she started getting upset and crying when I walk out of the room. She didn't used to do that... and used to be fine as long as someone, anyone, was in the room. She'd be happy playing with Kevin in his arms, but if she saw me leave she'd get upset, cry a whiny cry, and come crawling after me.

When Kevin came home tonight after spending a whole day with Hannah Claire without me, he went to leave the room and started walking down a hallway. Hannah Claire immediately started whining and I'm yelling, "Kevin! Kevin! Come back here!" We tested it, and had Kevin engage her and then walk out of the room... and she'd start crying all over again. It made me start crying! I don't ever think I'd be so happy to hear a baby cry! So excited to make the step from "I like to be held but don't care who holds me" to "Where's my Daddy going? Come back!"

Redirect: Share in Tisra's joy!

Singing praises for Tisra and family as they've found their daughter in India. I have seen a pic of this little cutie, and she's lovely. Just lovely! Congratulations and our blessings!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

first doctor visit

I have to start out this post by saying that I highly recommend Dr. Keck at the International Adoption Clinic at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. We had well over 45 minutes of "face time" with the doctor today. She's very thorough, has a wonderful bedside manner, and is obviously very experienced with preemie issues and international adoption issues.

I'm relieved to know that the doctor says Hannah Claire's right on target developmentally for and adjusted age of nine months, especially as she's become much more stable sitting over the last three weeks since we've had her. We'll be moving to a US preemie formula for at least three more months until she's 12 months adjusted age. Her arm muscles are a little tight, which could be preemie related, so we'll be be doing some physical play that involves stretching her arms all the way out. We'll schedule an appointment with an audiologist to recheck her hearing. We need an appointment with a pediatric opthamologist to check her eyes. Things were looking good with her eyes in Taiwan until the most recent checkup. Dr. Keck said that she was "delightful" and doing great for such a little preemie. We think so too!

We'll need to return to Riley for an appointment with a dermatologist that specializes in hemangiomas. Hemangiomas are blood filled birthmarks/tumors that are the most common tumor of infancy. Because Hannah has a few, there is a risk that she could have some internally. The so called "hemangioma queen" dermatologist at Riley will evaluate the problem areas and will most likely sedate Hannah Claire for an MRI to make sure that she does not have any internal ones that could affect vital organs, the brain, etc. This is all no surprise to us, and we knew all about this when we were presented with her referral. Note that I've debated if I should discuss this on the blog for her privacy, but decided that because they are visible to the world... and there will always be people asking (and BELIEVE me they HAVE asked), "Oooh, what happened to her there?" there's no sense in hiding it.

My only surprise during the visit is that the doctor recommended that she be evaluated by a speech language pathologist that specializes in children and swallowing issues. Hannah Claire does occasionally choke and cough during bottle feedings, usually 1-2 times during every other bottle. The doctor told us that this is most likely preemie related. Of course, I called my favorite SLP Amy on the phone right after we leave and enjoyed a conversation about this in the middle of Nordstrom's children's department. (Oooh! They had a Hello Kitty t-shirt that was pink and white and said "I'm a keeper" that was sooo totally cute and I really wanted it, but Kevin frowned at the $22 price tag for a baby's t-shirt and I didn't overrule him.)

So... after the appointment we go to the lab for all of these titers and tests for our cutie patootie. This was the hard part of the day. I hear about all of these parents that can't stand to watch their children be in pain. That wasn't the issue at all. Hannah Claire is a fighter. We know this from our struggles with the nasal saline and bulb syringe for her boogers. I held her abdomen tightly with one hand, pinned down another arm with my other hand, Kevin's holding her down too... I think her head and neck, the phlebotomist is holding the arm that's getting stuck with both hands, the phlebotomist is getting kicked in the legs from Hannah's little feet. I think they needed like 8-9 vials of blood. One arm pooped out, so she had to get stuck a second time in the other arm. My right arm was sooooooo tired from holding her down, oh my gosh! Because the phlebotomist needed both hands to hold her arm still, Kevin got to hand off multi colored vials to the phlebotomist and even stick the vials into the retrieval section where the blood flows into. It was crazy, and oh man... did she ever throw a royal mad baby fit! Grandma Adrienne could her her screaming through two hospital doors. After we were finished I gave her a bottle and the mad baby tears slowly stopped and her eyes closed into bottle bliss. "Shushhhh, baby. It's okay. I'll take you to the mall and we'll buy you a pretty dress. That will make us all feel better, won't it?" Well, it certainly made Mama feel better after all that drama!

So, we went to the mall, found the pretty dress AND matching shoes, Hannah had her first taste of mushed up french fries, liked them AND didn't puke them back at me, and then she slept in the car pretty much all the way home.

P.S. Oh! I forgot to add, we had our first sighting as bloggers today. A woman at Riley stopped me in the waiting room, smiled, and asked where Hannah was from. Praying I wouldn't have to be on the defensive with lame-o insensitive adoption comments or questions, I answered, "She was born in Taiwan," and smiled. THEN I noticed her CUTE little boy that was most likely an international adoptee as well. Yay! She asked, "Do you guys live near ____________? I know Kelli _______. She told me that you might be here today too." Hahahahaha!!! How funny is that!!!

family resemblance

Notice the nice family resemblance.

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I'm sure there's little biddies out there thinking, "Oh, how horrible! How could parents do that to such a sweet child?" Yeah yeah... they just don't know how to have a good time. :) Thanks for the good times, Alexis! You are BOOTIFUL! Nana, I promise the first birthday photos will be much sweeter than this.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

twice initiated

I was initiated into motherhood twice tonight. I tried to be a good mommy and fed her baby prunes for dinner to keep the poo poo coming. An hour or so later I was enjoying a dessert with a little whipped cream on top. Hannah was watching me eat intently. I decided to put a pea sized amount into her mouth to see what she'd do, as I've been trying to decide if I'm actually going to let her put any cake and/or ice cream in her mouth at her birthday party. She looked at me in horror with the bit of whipped cream in her mouth, moving her tongue all around. A few seconds later she made herself gag, and all of the prunes came up all over my brand new green shirt, all over her jammies, on my pants, in her hair, etc etc etc. I was horrified, all alone with baby puke while Kevin and his mom were at the grocery. I stripped us both down, put us in the shower, and cried a little while I held her and washed her hair.

Tonight after spending half an hour trying to put her to sleep, she got really mad, worked herself up into a royal screaming "mad baby" fit, and projectile puked formula in her crib, on the pretty bumper, through the crib rails, and on the wall. I picked her up when I thought she was done and got a shoulder full for myself. Not again.

She's still screaming mad unless we're holding her... and when we're holding her she won't sleep. Daddy, smart guy that he is, decided to take matters into his own hands and they're out for a car ride. This better work.

Dani, if you're reading this... I'll bet you're laughing your ass off at me. I took a photo of the prune puke shirt just for you. Cheers!

P.S. It worked, but she screamed all the way to the high school before she stopped crying. Gads! I'm going to bed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Video: Isn't She Lovely - Meeting Grandma Adrienne

Kevin's mother is visiting us this week to get to know Hannah Claire and celebrate her first birthday. She turns one on Thursday, and her party with our family is on Saturday. Every day, every hour, every minute is precious.

We're trying to figure out if we can go from two naps to one nap. She's never ready to go down for a morning nap. When she does we're lucky if it's for an hour.

Our appointment at the Riley Children's Hospital International Adoption Clinic is Wednesday. I filled out all of their intake forms today but still need to make photocopies of Hannah's medical info for them. She has some health issues, some stemming from being a preemie born at 28 weeks. I'm really interested in hearing about where they think we should be at with feeding and sleep schedule. Because she's so little, she was a preemie, and she was institutionalized, I feel like the normal rules just don't apply and I don't know if we're on track or not. I feel like she's grown a whole bunch just since we've been home. Her little body has filled out more. There's a little belly now where she used to look kinda skinny. Her cheeks are fuller and pinker and her arms and legs have more baby fat. She's much more stable sitting, she goes down from standing to her knees much more easily, and she enjoys stands supported by one hand all of the time now. When she first came home she's only take half a container of baby food before she's refuse more. Now she'll routinely take a whole container twice a day, and just yesterday grunted for more when a small jar was empty. I feel like she's gaining more weight at home because she has someone with patience who's encouraging every bite, and always willing to try to get her to take one more bite when she starts to refuse.

We stopped the 1/2 teaspoonful of Miralax in a bottle once daily because we had some horribly messy diapers, but the constipation came right back yesterday. She grunted painfully through a clay like turd last night until I slipped her some liquid glycerine to help the rest of the poo slide on out. We started back on the Miralax just using a 1/4 teaspoonful daily, and we'll see if that's a happy medium. Prunes just don't cut it with this girl, and she won't take juice straight up or diulted with water.

I have a dream.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Video: Thousand Year Old Egg

My laptop has been admitted to Kevin's computer ICU. Ever since we went to Taiwan I've been having problems with Explorer locking up on me, with growing frequency. My theory is that I caught a virus while being online at the hotel. We have a firewall at home that catches everything. Wish I would have installed Norton to protect me while we were in Taiwan. Live and learn, I guess.

Now that my laptop is back, I made a little video with some footage that I've been saving for several weeks. This was WAY FUN to make. So glad I could find just the right music to put with it. Sadly, I don't have any video footage of sampling stinky tofu for the first time... but that's another post!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

finding the pieces

Over the last week, I think we're really starting to see Hannah Claire's little personality come out. Generally, she's a very laid back but curious baby. When she's upset, there's a reason for it. She likes to babble, read books with others, and play independently. In small groups or one-on-one, she makes cheesy grins and grunts at others to get your attention and to have you make funny faces back at her. In larger groups she's quiet and curious, her little head moving around to check out all of the faces and hear all of the sounds.


As a testimony to how easy going she is, she always sleeps in the car... no matter what time it is. She's fine if her nap is delayed, and as long as she's being stimulated she won't fuss for a few hours. She likes baths, likes having lotion put on her, and really likes her rice crackers. With Gerber baby food she's a veggie girl and gets most excited about peas, green beans, and sweet potatoes... not so much a fan of applesauce and baby food peaches. Daddy made "peaches and cream cereal" two days ago with canned peaches, formula, and rice cereal... and that was a huge it. Yesterday daddy made smoothie with frozen blackberries (seeds strained) and she really liked that. Can't wait to see what colors of poo we'll see today.


Three days ago I taught Hannah how give a high-five, and she picked up on that in just a couple of minutes. Unfortunately, Sedona doesn't understand why I'm talking to the baby and not the babydog when I use the word "give me five" over, and over, and over. Sedona knows a lot of the phrases that we use with Hannah like give me five, no, stay, come here... and seems confused. We're working on waving bye-bye right now. She has started crawling towards us and putting up her hands to be picked up. She does this with Nana (my mother), Kevin, and me. Nana's been spending lots of time playing with Hannah Claire on snowy mornings. It gives Mama and Daddy a nice break to take showers, fold laundry, and clean up the kitchen.


Only in the last few days Hannah Claire has started voicing a preference to be held by me rather than Kevin. She'll cry for me when I do the baby hand off. She'll be content with him and will see me walk through the room, and will start fussing for me. I think this is because I've spent more time playing eye-contact names and singing with her than Kevin has. He thinks it's because he's the one that has done more snot sucking torture with the bulb syringe and thinks she resents him for it. The new deal is that I do the bad cop stuff like nose wiping and using the bulb syringe where he gets to give all of the bottles. I'm encouraging him to try some patty cake, but Kevin's a lot more interested in interactive toddler play than baby play where you're not quite sure if she's really listening to you or not.

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We're figuring it out, and realizing that she's easygoing... but it's just really hard jumping into being a first time parent.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

attention ladies at the courthouse

Attention ladies at the courthouse that are regular readers of this blog: I'm getting flack from Nana and Grandpa because Hannah Claire hasn't visited the ladies at the courthouse yet. Grandpa will be in Superior Court tomorrow (Thursday) at 11am and we plan to meet him there. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Visiting with Lora and Allie

Today Hannah and I set off for a play date at Lora and Allie's house. Hannah Claire and Allie lived at the same orphanage in Taiwan at overlapping times, but they're far enough apart in age that they wouldn't have had any interaction with each other. I think that it's pretty neat that we don't live all that far away from each other.

Lora beat me to the punch and posted about our day together already. Heehee! Go ahead to her blog first (click here) and you can see her photos of our day together.

Anyhow... here's a little part of the story that makes my connection with Lora extra special. The week that we got Hannah Claire's referral, I spilled the beans to Lora about the match. She just knew that something was up and teased me until I told her what was going on. We messaged each other back and forth online and I revealed that Hannah Claire was an itty bitty preemie. Lora had recently visited the nursery, and messaged back that she thought she's seen my baby! Well, of course I called her on the phone right away, and after sharing a photo we knew that the baby she remembered was our very own Hannah Claire! When in Taiwan, Lora remarked to the nannies that this one baby looked "no bigger than a ruler" and she was able to watch her for a little while. I'll be forever greatful to Lora for sharing this special "little" story about seeing Hannah... even before we ever knew about her.

Today there was 2-5" of snow in the forecast. I wasn't worried about driving as it was too cold for sleet and freezing rain, and it wasn't going to be enough snow that would be hard for the plows. I bundled up Hannah Claire in our warmest blanket, packed her little snowsuit just in case we'd have a car problem, lugged the diaper bag and two cameras... and we're off! It took me 45 minutes to get myself ready, and another 42 minutes to get her awake, fed, clean, diapered, dressed, bundled, happy, and secured.

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The weather concerned Nana enough to make her call this afternoon to make sure that we made it home safe. Lora called too, just checking on us. I think Hannah Claire slept in the car the entire time there and back. I heard her stir a couple of times, but there was no crying at all. Humm... after looking at these photos, maybe I was just enjoying a coffee buzz thinking... hey, it's all warm here in the car. Feels good with the heater blowing on my feet, too!

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Is this a pacifier clip, or a leash?

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Allie was so good with Hannah Claire. She seemed to sense that she was "a baby" and was someone that she needed to be gentle with. When Allie first saw Hannah, she bent over and cocked her head to the side to get a good look at her face. She smiled and waved to Hannah, and tapped her a little bit to say hi. Allie shared her toys so well, and her mommy should be so proud of her sharing skills today! Allie seemed to understand everything we said and used several words with me. I gave her a Baby Mum-mum rice cracker wrapper, and asked her to take it to her mommy. She took it to Mommy, and Mommy told her to put it in the trash. Allie was so happy to be helpful and put it in the trash and had the biggest grin on her face.

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Getting two babies to look at the camera at the same time is tougher than herding cats. Thanks for inviting us over to play today, ladies! We had a great time! Next time we'll have to have a tea party. :)