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August 23, 2012

Heartbreaking

I should be sleeping, but it has been brought to my attention by a future sister-in-law who shall remain nameless that I’ve been lax in providing you with your Eleanor fix.

However, there’s not really much to report since the last update. Sleeping is still a challenge, though her schedule does seem to be improving. Still, we’re operating at a pretty severe sleep deficit at this point so it’s hard to find the mental bandwidth to blog just now.

Two bits of news: Kim’s parents came in for a quick visit on her birthday, and Eleanor behaved pretty much just as we’d hope, by which I mean she was just a little shy with them and turned to us for encouragement. It’s a good sign for the progression of her attachment, and it might — might — mean we could get to have visitors sooner than we thought. But first we need to get her sleep worked out, which could be weeks yet.

The other news is that we had to take her to the doctor today for her first exam…as well as five vaccinations…and two blood draws. Kim was on restraint duty for the injections, which was traumatizing enough. (El’s reaction when the nurse came back into the room with stickers for her was absolutely priceless. Heart-wrenching, but priceless. She may have been attempting to project herself elsewhere in time and space.)

Of course, that meant I was on restraint duty for the blood draws. I’m not entirely positive but I’m pretty sure we were in that chair for about a month and a half. I got to be a human straitjacket: one arm holding one of hers next to her body and her body next to mine; that hand holding her elbow; the other hand holding her wrist; chin and jaw trying to keep her head from whipping around while she demonstrated her impressive lung capacity. I also got to see the phlebotomist digging around a little in search of her tiny veins.

In case you don’t have kids, let me be explicit: This Sucks. You know that she’s terrified and miserable but you also know it has to be done to keep her healthy. Your heart is breaking for her but you have to be strong both physically and mentally, for her and for yourself. And of course the thought is constantly running through your head that she is never going to forgive you for the trauma you’re associated with here.

Fortunately, she allowed each of us to soothe her after her respective experiences, and after a lot of hiccuping, some ice cream, and a nap in the car, she appeared to have either forgiven or forgotten. Or perhaps just failed to recognize our role in all of this and just blames it all on the doctors.

I’m OK with this.

Just a few pics today, for those of you not on Facebook or Instagram. We’ll be taking more once we’re more awake, no doubt.

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August 18, 2012

What time is it? What day is it? Where am I?

I am very tired.

Our daughter, our little bundle of boundless love, is doing her best to help Mama and Baba experience the hidden secrets of the universe via extreme sleep deprivation. The last couple of days, she’s gone to bed around 7:30, popped back up around 11 and 12, and then come fully awake about two, clapping and laughing and ready to play.

This is challenging.

The girl is the most adorable human I’ve ever met, but that counts for surprisingly little when you’re working from a two-plus-week sleep deficit and you’re worried you’ll fall asleep on your feet and drop her.

I have a profound respect for single parents. The only way we’re staying even remotely coherent is by trading off nighttime duties and spelling each other during the day just to get a few moments to recharge. I couldn’t imagine doing this without Kim’s help.

On the plus side, this jet lag-induced sleeplessness is going to make the normal late-night soothings that are sure to come feel so much easier. So we have that going for us.

And fortunately the rest of this experience is so positive that it’s easy to forget the nighttime misery. Well, most of the time. In all seriousness, this kid is a joy and we continue to feel so fortunate that we found each other. But boy are we looking forward to something resembling a full night’s sleep.

And now, pictures!

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August 16, 2012

Time Travel

In case you pop by this blog every now and then, and are currently rubbing your eyes wondering where all the new posts came from, I’ll explain. Over the last two weeks, my wife and I have been in China, adopting our first child. Of course, I wanted to share all this with family and close friends, but at the same time didn’t want to advertise too loudly where we were at any given moment — or more specifically, where we weren’t, which is to say, home. So I hid it all behind a secret invisible magic wall.

But now that we are home, I figured I’d open it back up for general viewing. Feel free to follow along with our adventures.

I’d write more but my body still thinks it’s five in the morning. I’ll have more coherent thoughts soon…ish.


Doing Tomorrow’s Playing, Today!

Welp, in spite of the fact that the three of us have gotten a collective seven hours of sleep in the last 22, the girl seems to have decided that playtime in China should be playtime in America. At least it’s the future there.

I have no idea what I’m saying.

Whilst I try to keep her entertained and me caffeinated, please enjoy this photo, taken mere seconds after Eleanor officially became a U.S. citizen.

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And here’s one more, of Her Highness the Most Royal Princess Rufflebutt, after having surveyed her new domain and having found it adequate.

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August 15, 2012

Home!

We left our hotel twenty-four and a half hours ago. We’ve just landed in Cleveland.

We are fried.

Eleanor has been amazing but she’s starting to lose it now. We’ll update more once we get our brains back together, but I just wanted to say we made it and we’re well and we’re grateful for all your support.

Love, -joe and Kim and Eleanor

August 14, 2012

We’re on a Plane! Again!

And it’s supposed to be on time! This is shocking to me and probably now that I say this we will be massively delayed. But maybe not! Regardless, something like 15 hours from now we should be back in the US, though not yet home. We did get the seats we reserved this time, which should make this flight much more pleasant than the one here.

But then, on the other hand, we are now traveling with Baroness Squirmy Von Squirmington (of the Easthampton Von Squirmingtons) so who knows?

Will try to update from Newark if there’s time!


Heading Home

At last!

No time or access for long updates today. Leaving at 5:30 fir the three-hour drive to Hong Kong, then to Newark, then HOME.

Will try to update when we get home, if brain still works. That is, after all, more than 24 hours from now.

Love to all,
-joe & Kim

August 13, 2012

Reflections Before Our Final Day in China

We are about ready to crash (yes, it’s not yet nine o’clock, shut up), diving into sleep for our second-to-last night here. Today was a very full day: up at six to leave for Eleanor’s visa appointment at 7:30, back for lunch — instant noodles from the 7-Eleven, surprisingly tasty — shopping, walking, more shopping, Thai food for dinner, Eleanor time in the room, and a long and contentious bedtime.

The most memorable part of the day for me was the electronics mall. Our guide, myself, and a couple other guys headed out to see if we could score some cheap geek stuff. And oh, did we ever. The electronics mall nearby is five floors of tiny stalls shoehorned together, selling anything having to do with anything that uses a battery or has a screen. In two hours we saw about seventy-five percent of one floor — and according to our guide this was one of the smaller such malls in town. My compatriots bought iPhone cases ($1.20ish), “Sony” earbuds (about $4), Bluetooth keyboards (about $12) and a zoom lens for an iPad (maybe $15).

Me, I got a nice webcam, a retro phone handset for my iPhone, and two retractable travel cables with iPhone, Kindle, and mini-USB connectors. Total cost: 85 Yuan — about thirteen dollars.

Afterward, my ladies and I went out for more souvenirs and stumbled on a shop we hadn’t seen yet, one with more authentic stuff than most of the tchotchke stands on the island. Kim was very excited to find a handmade crocheted doll for Eleanor (have you ever tried to find an Asian doll in Cleveland?) and we got some other fun stuff for L’s room and such.

(I have to say, though, my favorite souvenir is one we found yesterday: a shelf lamp in the shape of a beautiful book, with a woodcut on the front that the light shines softly through. It opens and closes like a book to give off more or less light. It’s very cool. It’s also a beautiful red color — the color of good fortune in China — and features lovely, subtle, stylized rabbits in the woodcut, which is appropriate for Eleanor since she was born in the year of the Rabbit.)

And speaking of Eleanor: she’s recently learned that she can walk if we’re holding her hands. This is very exciting for her. Very. Exciting. In fact, it’s so exciting that it’s pretty much the only thing she wants to do now. Food, play, bottles — who needs them? She’s got two feet and knows how to use them.

Fortunately the hallways in the hotel are long enough to wear her out pretty quickly. Unfortunately, her height is such that they wear our backs out pretty quickly too. We walk together when we can, each of us holding a hand, but she seems to prefer just one driver.

When we simply can’t handle the walk, we sit across from each other on the floor and let her plunge headlong from one to the other. She would do this for hours if we let her.

Meanwhile, we find ourself thinking a lot about going home. This has been a wonderful trip, full of happiness and laughter and adventures. We will look back fondly and look forward to returning. But, you know, it’s time to go home. We have one day of relaxation, then one very long day of travel. We’re sad to leave, but home can’t come soon enough.

With this in mind, we assembled the following list of things we plan to never take for granted again:

  • Air conditioning
  • Humidity below ninety-eight percent
  • Ice in drinks
  • Being in similar time zones to family and friends
  • Walking or driving without fearing for one’s life
  • Diners
  • Couches with cushions
  • Being understood
  • Non-negotiable pricing
  • Drinkable water
  • The ability to eat raw produce
  • Uncensored internet
  • Blue sky
  • Sleep
  • Coffee
  • Closets and dressers
  • Sturdy cribs
  • Recognizable food products
  • Real bacon
  • Appliances, especially dishwashers
  • Western pharmacies
  • Our cats
  • Open space
  • Home cooked meals
  • The predictability of everything around us

At the same time, we already know there are many things we’ll miss a lot. Such as:

  • Almost everything about Chongqing
  • Never having to clean our room
  • Not even momentarily thinking about work
  • Ridiculously cheap electronics
  • Walking everywhere
  • Bao for breakfast
  • The surprised giggles when we say “thank you” in Mandarin
  • The gorgeous Asian architecture
  • The supermarkets
  • Creative transportation by the locals
  • Awesome t-shirts
  • The beautiful faces of the children
  • Red and gold lanterns
  • The newness of everything around us

In the balance, I think home wins. But we’ll be back.

And now, some random photos from the last day or two:

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Eleanor Update

This is Kim again!

Today, we have have Eleanor for one week…our weekaversary?

This morning we went to our embassy appointment. All the paperwork has been submitted for Eleanor’s visa. Picking up the visa is the final step before we go home. That should happen tomorrow at 1530. We head back home Wednesday morning!

We both have mixed emotions about returning home. This has been an amazing trip. It’s one we’ll never forget. As I said in my last blog post, China is amazing. We’ve seen things that I never dreamt of seeing, but we’ve also slept in strange beds and eaten unusual food for the last two weeks. I am craving fresh veggies and the smell of my own sheets. I am also craving fabric softener and clothing out of a dryer (they don’t use either here). I will be happy to select my clothes out of a closet rather than a suit case.

Joe and I are already planning a trip back to China. In my version, we head back in a couple of years to adopt another baby. In Joe’s version, we come back in 16 years or so for Eleanor’s heritage trip. Either way, we are coming back.

Eleanor is doing great! She eats like a champ and is pretty happy overall. She seems to only get crabby right before sleep times and meal times. She’s babbling more now that she’s getting used to us and she happily shrieks fairly frequently. I am looking forward to getting home and getting her used to some sort of schedule. This has been hard on her, but she is showing that she is an adventurous and curious little girl.

As we say many times every day, we are so lucky.

August 11, 2012

Warning: Cuteness at Maximum Capacity. Overload Imminent.

Today our daughter discovered she can roll over. Also, that she’s ticklish.

I took video.

We assume no responsibility for any effects that this magnitude of cuteness may have on you, your mental status, the local wildlife, or your fertility.

You have been warned.