Archive for October, 2011

Pumpkin Carving!

This afternoon we went out as a family to get pumpkins to carve for Halloween.  Patrick, Ariel, and I each got big pumpkins to carve.  Xander helped me pick out my pumpkin but then he “carved” his little pumpkin we got a few weeks ago at the pumpkin patch.  We all had so much fun.  Ariel checked out all the pumpkins on the way home that were sitting out trying to decide how to layout her pumpkin face.  Xander watched what we were doing and then jumped right into his own pumpkin.  He had so much fun pulling out all the pumpkin guts and separating out the seeds.  However, at one point I looked up to see Xander scooping all the seeds out of the pot and into his pumpkin!  He thought he was SO FUNNY!  It was a fun afternoon activity and now we are ready for Halloween.

Our pumpkins ready to get started!

Ariel and Patrick with their pumpkins.

Everyone getting to work.

Lots of mess

Loving playing with the pumpkin guts.

Ariel's plan

Xander scooping the seeds back into his pumpkin

Xander and his pumpkin :)

All ready for tomorrow night!


On Wednesday, Oct. 19th Xander had surgery to repair his cleft lip and palate.  During the surgery they also began to do some repair work on his noes, attempted to fill in the gap in his gum line with donated bone marrow, and put tubes in his ears.  Needless to say, it was a BIG surgery.  Xander has done really well considering everything he’s been through.

We got to the hospital at 7:30 am and surgery was at 9 am.  Children’s Hospital here in Cincinnati is awesome!  Everyone was so nice to us and did everything they could to keep Xander calm and comfortable before going into surgery.  Due to the language barrier there really was no way for us to prepare him for what was going to happen.  The hospital did provide a translator for us the day of the surgery and she along with a child life specialist showed Xander a book that explained everything that would happen leading up to surgery and after.  He was very interested in the book and it seemed like he still understood a lot of the Mandarin so at least he had some idea of what was happening that day.  We were with him until he fell asleep for surgery.  I held him while they gave him the gas that put him to sleep and then they called us into recover before he ever opened his eyes.  So for all he knew we were always with him.

Surgery lasted a little over 3 hours.  That 1st day all Xander did was sleep and want to be held.  He never seemed to be in any pain and it was nice for Patrick and I to get a chance to just hold and snuggle with him.  He’s always on the move at home and you can never hold him for long :)  The 1st night in the hospital was horrible because we were up every hour.  Xander had an IV and had to use the bathroom every hour like clock work.  It took both Patrick and I to get him and his IV stand into the bathroom; it was quite a production.  Soon after his potty break the nurse would come in to check his IV and he got very nervous whenever they entered the room.  So neither of us would get back to sleep until after that was done and then before you knew it he had to go to the bathroom again!

The day after surgery he was more alert and sat up in the rocking chair in our room and watched TV a lot.  He was also interested in eating which was great.  However after a few bites of banana he realized how painful it was and no longer would put anything in his mouth.  This lasted from Thursday until Saturday night :(  It was so sad to see, he wanted to eat and held food in his hands for hours on end but would not put any of it in his mouth.  It made for a long few days.  We could not go home until he was drinking and eating at least a little bit.  Finally Saturday night he decided to let me give him fluids through a syringe and he drank a ton that night.  He also ate 1 green bean and a few noodles.  Sunday morning (his birthday) he continued to allow us to give him fluids and some baby food through the syringe so we  were finally released to come home.  Yay!

The surgery itself went very well and everyone at Children’s kept commenting on how great he looked.  He also charmed all the nurses who just couldn’t believe how cute he was.  Xander was also the talk of 3 North because he liked to cruse the halls with his stroller.  Sometimes he’d be pushing and at other times he’d be getting a ride :)  Everyone loved his car slippers and thought they were really cool!

He’s done well at home but sleeping has been an issue.  Our boy who always sleeps through the night is waking up often  :(  He has to wear arm restraints for the 1st 2 weeks to keep him from putting anything in his mouth so he does not accidentally poke a hole in his palate.   Well this prevents him from sucking on his shirt which was his way to comfort himself and not being able to do this has really been an issues at night.

The other thing going on is he has to wear these nostril retainers for 6 weeks.  They are basically 1 inch tubes up his nose that are keeping his nostrils open.  The hope is that these retainers will help the cartilage in his nose to heal in the correct position so that his left nostril will no longer be flat.  This will help him in breathing and make his nose look more like everyone else.   Well the nostril retainers are REALLY uncomfortable; I feel so bad for him and can’t imagine wearing them myself.  At night they seem to bother him a lot and I think they are part of the reason why he continues to wake up.  The 1st day home was awful because the nostril retainers kept falling out and it’s really traumatic for both Xander & us to put them back in.  They were out 5 times that morning and it was horrible.   That night Patrick made a few modifications to them so we could tape them to his face and now they still in, thank goodness.  We still take them out every couple of days to clean them but for the most part they stay in now.

Here are a few pictures from the last few days at home.

1 week past surgery. You can see the nostril retainers starting to slide out.

1 week post surgery with the nostril retainers out.

Drinking his milkshake with the syringe.

Feeding Mama with his toy syringe... totally his idea.

Baba got addicted to Angry Birds in the hospital. Xander is checking it out with his football.

Bear got everything Xander did in the hospital. Bear also now has Xander's 1st set of nostril retainers taped on him (Xander went up to a bigger size and Bear got his old ones).

3rd Birthday Party!!!

Yesterday we celebrated Xander’s 3 birthday (a week early) and Kal-el’s 2nd birthday (a day early) with our family.  We had the party at our house and it was so much fun.  The boys opened their presents right away and then enjoyed playing with them the rest of the night.  We got pizza for dinner but Xander dined on Ramon Noodles (one of his favorites) and then ended the evening with cake and ice  cream.  Xander ate a few bites of cake but had seconds of ice cream :)  It was a great celebration for 2 wonderful little boys!

Elmo for both boys!

Xander really liked opening gifts.

Xander's 1st light saber Playing with his new train with Ariel

Time to sing!

Enjoying his birthday ice cream & cake.

Xander’s Words and Signs

Xander is coming up on his 3rd birthday (Oct 23) and has been with us for 2 months as of yesterday. He is starting to learn words so quickly that we wanted to do a quick inventory of what he is able to say as of today. When we first got him we were told that he could only say about 2 or 3 words in Mandarin. His first real English words ever spoken were “football” and “bye bye.” However, today he is able to say about 30 words already.

As of Oct 16, 2011, Xander has the following words:
bye bye
basketball (sounds like basball)
motorcycle (sounds like mo-uh-cycle)
bike (sounds like bye)
truck (sounds like uh)
baba (daddy)
mama (mommy)
schubie (our dog – sounds like “I” “E”)
mouth (sound like mou)
helicopter (sound like huh-huh)
car (sounds like ar)
lawnmower (sounds like on-mow-uh)
nutella (sounds like utella)
walk (sound like wall)

He also knows signs for…
come here
brush teeth
all done

Learning these signs and words has really cut down on the temper tantrums we had early on which were partly driven by the frustration of not being able to communicate what he wanted.

As far as listening comprehension goes, he understands much, much more than he is able to communicate himself. He is really learning fast and it is fun to see.


This afternoon we took Xander to HallZooween at the Cincinnati Zoo.  My parents are visiting with us and they came too.  It was a really fun afternoon.  Xander has an Elmo costume that he brought with him and he even wore it for a while today.  At 1st he really didn’t get the whole trick-or-treating thing but after a while he really got into it and it was so much fun watching him walk through the zoo with his candy bucket.

At 1st it was Elmo who was riding in the stroller.

Watching the train go by with Baba & Grandma

Xander meets Darth Vader & Janga Fett

Xander & Elmo stop to eat a cookie we got at a trick-or-treat tent.

It's Elmo!

Ready for Trick-Or-Treat

Bert was at the zoo too!

Is it Elmo or is it Xander?

Today marks 2 months together!  Can’t believe how fast the time has gone by!


Last Sunday Xander met his cousin Kal-el for the 1st time.  The meeting went well however Xander did not like it when Kal-el played with his toys.  Kal-el didn’t really care and played with them anyway :)

Kal-el and Xander

Reading together with Baba/Uncle Patrick

3 Year Old Pictures

Today we took Xander to have his 3 year old pictures taken.  At 1st he wasn’t too sure about it but then he started to warm up to it all.  Patrick was the hero that got him to smile.  Enjoy some of the pictures!

Shaw Farms

Today we took Xander to Shaw Farms for an afternoon of fall fun.  It was a gorgeous day; sunny and in the low 80’s.  Actually it was probably a little too hot but we still had a great time.  As soon as we got there we got tickets for the hay ride.  Xander was very interested in the tractor and I think he had a lot of fun on the hay ride.

We are waiting for the hay ride to start.

Xander loved looking at the big wheels on the tractor.

Taking a closer look at the tractor after the ride.

After our hay ride we walked over to check out all the other things to do.  They had a ton of little houses, tractors, and wood animals for the kids to play on.  They also had some real animals to see.  In the barn they had a band playing and of course there was tons of pumpkins as well.

Xander loved going into all the little houses.

They had one tractor that was HUGE!

This tractor was just his size and he's saying "hi" to the camera :)

Checking out the Indian.

The band playing in the barn.

Taking it all in

Lot's of pumpkins

The Wizard from The Wizard of Oz... or is it Xander?

The last thing we did before we left was go out into the pumpkin patch and Xander picked a pumpkin.  I’m not sure he really got the whole thing, but he liked his pumpkin.

Xander and his pumpkin

Heading home after a great adventure!

Certificate of Citizenship!

Today we got in the mail Xander’s Certificate of Citizenship!  Yay!  He has been a citizen sense the day we landed in the US but now we have the paperwork to prove it :)  The other wonderful piece of info was his American name is actually on his COC which means we will not need to do a name change in the courts here.  Yay, again!  I guess this means next week we’ll be visiting the social security office to get our little American a social security number.

Xander checking out his COC

A Few Videos For Your Enjoyment!

Fun With Play-Doh


A Future Star Is Born


McCoy Dance Party


Xander Goes Down the Slide

(By himself!)


Adoption Timeline
  • Summer 2010 - started talking about adoption
  • Aug 19, 2010 - participated in webinar
  • Sep 22, 2010 - mailed in adoption application
  • Sep 28, 2010 - adoption application accepted
  • Oct 8, 2010 - fingerprints for home study
  • Oct 14, 2010 - fire inspection done
  • Oct 25, 2010 - Patrick & Kimberly complete physicals for the adoption
  • Nov 4, 2010 - finished Heart of the Matters Parent Education
  • Nov 9, 2010 - Ariel's physical is completed
  • Nov 15, 2010 - 1st Home Study Visit
  • Dec 10, 2010 - Kimberly's Individual Interview with Social Worker
  • Dec 16, 2010 - Patrick & Ariel's Individual Interview with Social Worker
  • Dec 19, 2010 - Received rough draft of Home Study to review
  • Jan 7, 2011 - Received Final Home Study
  • Jan 7, 2011 - Sent I800A form into USCIS
  • Jan 18, 2011 - We see our son's face for the 1st time!
  • Jan 21, 2011 - Submit Letter of Intent to China
  • Jan 27, 2011 - Receive Pre-Approval from China
  • March 7, 2011 - I800a approval
  • March 24, 2011 - Dossier to China
  • April 2, 2011 - Log In Date
  • May 16, 2011 - LOA
  • June 2, 2011 - I800 Approval
  • June 10, 2011 - Cable sent by National Visa Center
  • June 13, 2011 - NVC Letter & final paper work sent to Agency!!!!
  • June 23, 2011 - Article 5 papers dropped off
  • July 8, 2011 - Article 5 pick up
  • July 19, 2011 - Travel Approval!!!!!!
  • August 15, 2011 - Forever Family Day!!!!!!
  • August 25, 2011 - Arrive home; Xander becomes a US citizen :)