One Year & Four Days…..

Exactly one year and four days ago, we were on our way home from China with our precious 13 mo old Maddie. Where did 2012 go?! It’s been a great year filled with lots of laughter, some tears, and lots of learning. How we love love love having Maddie. Can’t imagine life without her.

A quick look back on 2012.

Dec 14, 2011 – Greeted by friends at the Indianapolis airport. After 20h+ of travel, it was so good to be home!

Welcome Home Maddie01

Learned how to take more than a 45 min nap….SWADDLING was the answer!

I wonder who's addicted to swaddling, the child or the parents??

Swim lesson: Maddie loves the water!

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Super Bowl was in town so we bundled up to go check it out.

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Met Grandparents Ho – they were so much fun!

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Learned how to crawl.

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Formed a very scary bike gang.

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Did lots of exploring.

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Tea time

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July 4th!

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Maddie had an EARLY second birthday party with her almost bday twin Ana! (Girls are only one day apart).

Panda Party 50

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Panda friends

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First vacation with Maddie at friend’s cabin. We did some some hiking AND

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kayaking. Maddie was a pro.

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Maddie loved her first Halloween – really! She quickly got the hang of asking for candy & was much happier.

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In November, we went to Disney and Maddie fell in love with Cinderella.

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We also went to visit Elliana. Maddie loves Ellie! (It’s too bad they live so far away).

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Maddie has a very sweet boyfriend 😉

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Maddie loves grooming Santa’s reindeer at the Children’s Museum.

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It has been an amazing year and we LOVE being a family of three! Hopefully we will become a family of FOUR in 2013 as we’ve started another adoption process. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

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addicted to swaddling …

Every parent’s potential nightmare – bedtime.

One of every parent’s favorite time of the day – when their kids are peacefully asleep.

Funny how the two are related.  It makes for a great day when your child is peacefully sleeping.  Getting Maddie to sleep well was a challenge at first.  During the first week when we were home, she would wake up crying at least 5-6 times a night.  This made for a very stressful week.  Although some of this was certainly adjusting to a new crib, a new house, and jetlag, she would also thrash around in her crib when trying to go to sleep.  I even studied extensively on how young “restless leg syndrome” can present in infants.

Desperate times called for desperate measures.  And we were desperate.  I had the great idea of swaddling our giant 14 month, 33 inch long, 100 percentile in height baby.  No ordinary swaddling blanket would do.  We needed a bedsheet, a full bedsheet to be exact.  Well, it worked … sort of.  The bedsheet was a little too thick, and she was a sweaty mess in the morning (one of the dangers of swaddling is overheating, good thing we are in the winter time).

So, we ordered a special made swaddle “armcuff,” and blanket.  A small velcro blanket which binds the arms and then a larger blanket for the swaddling.  This is similar to the miracle blanket. http://www.miracleblanket.com/instructions.htm  except ours is custom made for our ginormous 14 month old.

We now swaddle everytime we put her to sleep.  Even though she usually gets out, we think it helps her fall asleep without too much kicking around.  I now understand parents that duct tape their kids in their swaddle.

I wonder who's addicted to swaddling, the child or the parents??

Cocooning – Will we have a butterfly emerge?

So, we are stuck in the house with our baby daughter for at least 30 days.  For her to begin a strong bond of attachment to us, we can’t have anyone over, or take her out anywhere for too much stimulation.  While that sounds horrible, you kind of get used to settling into a routine revolving around Maddie.  Also, with the both of us pitching in, it’s not so bad…

most of the time.  Still  we get rewarded with Maddie’s personality and her hammy ways.  She does entertain us most of the time with her cute ways.

Well, not quite never going out, we do take walks around the neighborhood:

so stinkin' cute!

Bathing: she loves baths.

Come to think of it, who wouldn’t like to sit naked in a tub of warm water, relax and be surrounded by favorite toys.  Maybe I should take baths with my PS3 and laptop…

oh wait, electrocution hazard.

Oh, the joys of teeth brushing.

Feeding:  It seems like some kids just can’t sit still.  While Maddie is generally a good eater, she has definitely started to express her preferences for food.  Even if she likes her food, she still can’t sit still.  We’ve tried three different chairs so that her feet doesn’t get all gunked up with food.

Check out this awesome video at feeding time: https://picasaweb.google.com/changsterho/MaddieSFirstMonth?authkey=Gv1sRgCKiU5J_Xoc3iEQ#5694644866628880066

Play:  Maddie is a good copier.  She picks up on our gestures pretty quickly, whether intentional or unintentional.

Angel taught her “so big.”  She pretty much does this whenever we ask how big Maddie is:

So big!

However, this recently popular gesture was definitely unintentional.

Wonder where it came from?

The first Ho family Christmas

Well, I (Chang) had to work on Christmas eve and Christmas.  Comes with the territory of being a quasi-doctor.  But we were able to celebrate Christmas the following day.  Maddie got quite a few toys which she enjoys:

Big fuzzy blocks from Aunt Wendy:

a toy car from the Holbergs

anyhows,  the gifts aside, what better way to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ by adding a baby of our own to the family.

Merry belated Christmas everyone, and happy new year from the Hos.

The Long Journey

You will probably notice that this post was actually posted over a week later. Oh well, as many other parents know very well, your time is not your own anymore after having children. Anyhoo, let’s travel in time and pretend you are reading this a week ago.

So, back in the wee hours of Dec. 14th (Beijing time, equivalent to evening of 13th Eastern) we started our journey back to the good ol’ US of A.

This includes a 3 hour flight from Guangzhou to Beijing, then clearing customs, and then waiting to get on our 14 hour flight to Chicago. Being parents that take the easy way out, we decide to have some man-made induced sleep (see “Don’t try this at home, folks!”)

Here’s mom and daughter all passed out:

So, once we get on the plane for the long flight from Beijing to Chicago, Maddie decides to take a big smelly dump. Angel and I are choking from the stench. I can see the poor passengers in front of us crinkle their noses and look around. Off I go, looking for a bathroom with a changing table.

Apparently of the four restrooms in the sheep and cattle section (“economy”), only one had a diaper changing station. And this restroom was locked:

Flight attendant: “I’m sorry sir, the FAA requires that we lock the back restrooms before takeoff”

Me: (frantic, with a squirming Maddie and a wild look) What?! She just pooped in her diaper and it stinks!

Flight attendant: (with a frown) I’m sorry the FAA…

Me: It stinks! Surely you can smell it! Everyone in the section can smell it!

Flight attendant: (exasperated) Sir, this never happened. I’m opening the door for you. We never had this conversation. Please stop throwing a tantrum.

Me: Thank you!

Well, thanks to the drugs, both of the female hos were passed out. Near the end of the flight, code brown reared it’s ugly head again:

Angel: I think she pooped again.

Chang: Oh great.

Angel: (taking Maddie’s pants off) It’s a blow out!

Chang: What’s that on her legs? Oh sh@t! it’s touching my jacket!

Angel: Quick, wrap her in an airline blanket! (what a smart woman).

After waiting in line for the one bathroom, the ordeal was over. Yes, my jacket is clean now, I know you were concerned. I can’t say the same for the blanket…

Here’s slap happy Maddie at the Chicago airport:

https://picasaweb.google.com/changsterho/MeetingMadeleineChinaDec2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCIfgl83C6cfKjQE#5688793866187771842

Finally, our long journey was over. We arrived safely at the Indy airport after 24+ hours. Check out the awesome friends that greeted us at 10:30pm at the airport!

https://picasaweb.google.com/changsterho/MeetingMadeleineChinaDec2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCIfgl83C6cfKjQE#5688801725566025666

The five goats of Yuexiu park

This afternoon we decided to strap Maddie on and take a mild hike in Yuexiu park, a large city park next to our hotel. This park contains the “Five goat statue” which is a famous representation of Guangzhou city.

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According to local legend, Guangzhou was a barren area and people starved of famine. Apparently 5 deities rode in wearing 5 colored robes on of course, 5 goats. These goats were carrying stalks of rice in their mouths which they gave to the people to plant. Ever since, Guangzhou has been fertile. The deities promptly left , after giving their gift while the goats stayed behind for some reason and turned to stone. Thus, this statue commemorates this legend and is a symbol of this city. Heck, even Starbucks has this statue on their guangzhou city mug. Crazy Cantonese people.

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Walking through a city’s major park gives you an idea of what locals do to chillax. Here are some interesting sights:

An old ladies dance club and fan dance club:

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One of the only “Engrish” signs I’ve seen. I admit I was expecting more, but the English here is getting better.

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What the heck does that mean?!

On the topic of signs, check this one out. Signs encouraging the population to be cultured are everywhere, and in every city. Hilarious.

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Finally, a bonus for you fans of idiom puzzles. We ran across an area where there were statues of famous idioms. Surprisingly, there are a few that are somewhat shared between the Chinese and English languages.

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Comment on the idioms and I will post answers.

Obnoxious Asian American..hopefully not us..

This morning we had an 830 US Consulate appointment and while not as chaotic as the clinic, it was still somewhat bumpy. Are things ever smooth here?

We got in line to wait for the consulate to open but since we weren’t sure which line to be in, Shiyan (Bethany’s guide) asked an Asian guy at the front of the line if this was the right one for adoption stuff and it was obvious from the dumb look on his face that he didn’t speak Mandarin. He started talking to her in Cantonese. After, someone else told us where to go. It ended up that we were right behind this Asian guy. He started chatting with an ex-pat next to us in English and in a very loud carrying voice…he started bad mouthing the Chinese and how rude they are. Then the two guys pretty much spent the next 10-15 minutes venting about the culture and the people here. I found this rude and offensive. I’m not saying I disagree with him about some of the unpleasantness here..I get quite frustrated and annoyed too with the pushing, shoving, lack of manners but to talk so loudly and rudely about the host country, that also indicates a lack of manners on this guy. Hopefully, we are never Obnoxious Asian Americans like this guy.

Appointment went as well as could be expected with the computer system down. Group of us took an oath for our adopted kids. Choked me up a little after the oath was completed and the US official said “Welcome your newest member of the family!” the officer told us they are working with DC to get the computers back online ASAP so the kids’ Visas can be printed and be ready for us by tomorrow BUT there is a small chance it may not be ready. PLEASE PRAY that Maddie’s Visa will be ready so we can depart on 12/14 as planned! We are ready to be HOME.

At our first port of entry (Chicago) and once we clear immigrations, Maddie will be an official US citizen! Yay!

Maddie’s been cranky the last couple of days and we think it’s because she’s teething. She’s drooling so much that’s it’s like a mini waterfall coming out of her mouth. Hoping that 8th tooth will come through soon so she’s not so uncomfortable for the loooooooong travel day on 14th. This is ALL the families ‘worry’ right now. All of us have at least one domestic China flight, then the 14h flight and one US domestic flight. Some families will have a long drive home too after all the flights. We are all hoping we will survive the grueling travel.

Someone is super tired today…she has NOT moved since Chang put her down at 1130am and it’s now almost 2. Waiting for her to wake up so we can go visit the famous 5 goats of Guangzhou. No idea why the goat statue is so famous here.

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