Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday Kaiden

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

GFCF Diet Bomb

Well so much for going off of the GFCF diet. I only put him on it as an experiment because for one, the entire family was moving that way and two, I'd read alot about the diet and autistic children. I thought it couldn't hurt any to try. Turns out, Kaiden needs to remain on this diet. He woke up this morning with eczema all over his chest and stomach area. I had forgotten how bad his eczema was those first few months that he was home with us until this morning. At least now I have hard evidence to show to Peter that it's not just 'vo-doo' medicine but actually has an impact on him and probably the girls as well.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rough Day

Today was the roughest day Kaiden has ever had at PT. His therapist is on to him and won't let him not do what he doesn't want to do. This is good in one way because if it was up to him, I think he'd roll his way to driver's education. It is bad in another way because ones he gets upset to the level he was at today, there's no progress being made whatsoever. I respect his PT but I think we need to find a better way.

On the flip side, OT was good. His therapist tried a nutri grain bar with him. As usual, he fussed and didn't like it at first but we both thought we saw him actually chew on it. By the end of our session he was willingly opening his mouth to eat it. I brought the rest of it home to try later tonight with him. We also started him on oral brush therapy. Guess what? He hated it. That's our normal. I do think he'll adjust fine just like he seems to be doing with his regular tooth brushing.

Although he has been gluten/casein free for the past few months, I thought it would be OK to try to bar because I'll try anything to get him to eat table foods.

Monday, October 5, 2009

School

Today was Kaiden's third day of 'school'. He has 2 other children in his class, both girls age 28 months old. School is supposed to prepare him socially for public pre-school next year. I still can not fathom the idea of putting him on a school bus and sending him off for the day, even for half of a day. I'm trying to keep my mind open to the possibility but that's difficult.

One girl missed today so it was just him and J. Given that I think 'socializing' my 23 month old who could care less about anything around him or even the people around him for that matter, it was a good day. He rode in a booster seat in a wagon all around the lobby. He didn't like it at first but he tolerated it and then seemed to actually enjoy it. He gave us about 30 minutes of his attention before he had enough and was done for the morning.

I'm still not sold on the idea of going that frequently though. It takes about 2 to 2.5 hours out of our morning. In order to give up that much of our time, something has to be very valuable. Nothing against the teachers or the school district for that matter. I blame it on the No Child Left Behind Act. He'd get more out of OT/PT than he does school.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

6 Months Ago Today


One of the first pictures of Kaiden on the day we brought him 'home' to the hotel.

6 months ago today I met my son. I'm in awe in how much he has changed in that time span. I know the saying goes that they grow fast. But when reality hits you, it's still hard to believe!


Almost 6 months later sporting his new haircut

Friday, September 11, 2009

Early On Orientation

I attended orientation today for Kaiden's Early On program. This is where he receives OT & PT weekly via the state. Most parents in attendance were new to the program this Fall so everything was a review for me. I went only so that I could obtain Kaiden's schedule. He will attend 'school' Mondays and Tuesdays for one hour each. I would have preferred a few days between sessions so that we could see if there was improvement from session to session but that is not how it worked out. He'll have 'class' on Mondays with 4 other students that are supposed to be developmentally at about the same stage. Then on Tuesdays he'll have one on one OT for 30 minutes and the same for PT. It is of course right smack dab in the middle of our morning homeschool routine but we'll adjust. That's one of the advantages of homeschooling : )

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CGH Blood Test Results

I received a phone call this morning from the genetics counselor at Children's Hospital. Kaiden's CGH blood test came back completely normal. Praise Him! She said that children change as they grow and that they would like to see him back in 6 months for a re-evaluation. At this point, we don't feel like we will do that. They can not find any underlying medical reason for his delays so we are going to move forward with the knowledge that they are most likely from institutionalization. He'll remain in the Early On program to catch up as best he can. No more specialist visits (except for pediatric opthamology) for Kaiden for awhile we hope.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Know

I know. I'm WAY behind in posting updates. 3 months to be exact. It's been a crazy, busy summer. Busier than normal and I hope not the new normal for us : ) Since I plan to print out the blog pages for Kaiden to have as a document to his first days (months, years) with us, I am going to try to get the blog updated and fill in some missing information. Everyone is sick here AGAIN today and although it is gorgeous outside (80 degrees and sunny!), we are going to have a jammie day which will allow me to do some catch up work on the laptop. The girls LOVE jammie days. We just lounge around the house in our jammies reading, snacking, and watching dvds at will. We are on season 8 already of Little House on the Prairie. KiKi is anxious to see Laura have her baby so we'll see if we can get that far today.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Poor Baby

Our little guy is sick. Ear and eye infection. As if he hasn't had to go to enough doctor's appointments, he had to go in again today. He has not been sleeping well at all for the past 2 weeks. He hasn't had a fever nor has it bothered him when he's laid down flat, they typical signs of an ear infection. But he has had a hard time falling asleep at night and has had woken up numerous times throughout the night. Now we know why. The only reason Pete took him in (on a Saturday no less, we were squeezed in as the last appointment of the day. Have I said how much I just love our pediatrician's office?) was because his eyes had a goopy green discharge. I thought it was allergies. How are we supposed to know he's sick if he doesn't display the typical signs? Dr. Clark gave him an extra strength antibiotic to kill both infections instead of the normal 'pink stuff'. I hope it works quickly.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Neurology Follow-Up

Today was Kaiden's 3 month neurology follow-up. It went just as I had thought it would. We still don't have the test results back from the CGH yet. Today was just 2 weeks and they said 2 - 3 weeks for those to be processed. So, that meant Dr. Allarakhia didn't have much to say. Kaiden is showing immense improvements so that rules out Reyes Syndrome (which we suspected from the beginning). He showed me pictures from the MRI (we had already spoken on the telephone following the MRI when he told me everything looked normal). His brain is mis-shapened from the flat side but he said that would not affect the functioning. His EEG didn't show any seizures and his urinalysis was normal (again, we had already spoken about these things after the tests were done). So, this left us with nothing new to discuss. He was impressed to see his improvements in person but is still convinced that something medical is underlying his delays. I'm beginning to doubt that. He said to come back in 6 months for another follow-up. Unless the CGH shows something to requrie that, we don't think we will need to do that.

Picture

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

X-Ray and Ultrasound


I took Kaiden to Royal Oak Beaumont Children's Hospital today for his x-ray and ultrasound. I normally take the kids to St. John Hospital in Detroit for everything. Dr. N suggested I take him to Troy Beaumont because it is much closer (just 3 miles as opposed to 15) and the pediatricians now have privileges there. I agreed so she wrote the order for Troy. I called Monday for an appointment and then informed me that children under 3 have to go to Royal Oak. Dr. N left last week for vacation for the rest of the month so if I wanted to go to St. John, I'd have to call another one of the docs for a new order. I was surprisingly impressed. I didn't even know Royal Oak had opened a Children's Hospital. I wasn't impressed that they charged for parking (St. John's is free unless you valet) though. Two dollars is two dollars that I didn't need to spend. But I guess that is not important. We didn't wait 5 minutes before the US tech came out to bring us in. Kaiden had to fast for 3 hours prior to the ultrasound. Our appointment was at 8:30 am so that meant he hadn't eaten since dinner the night before. On the telephone the clerk told me to expect it to take 45 minutes. I only took about 10 for her to get all of the images that she needed. She then went to get a physician to take a look at the images before sending us on our way just in case he wanted to see anything more. She came back with the physician who took a few more images himself. He told me right there that he didn't see anything to be concerned about. Kaiden was just full of gas. Then off to expose my son to x-ray. Just one picture. All looked normal. Gas. Again we waited for the doc to view the x-ray before they sent us off. Less than 5 minutes later and another physician came out to tell me everything appeared to be fine and they'd call our pediatrician later in the day to confirm once they had the final reading on it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Post Genetics Follow-Up

After Dr. Bawle bringing up 3 concerns yesterday, I thought we should take Kaiden in to see Dr. Nadarajah before proceeding with the ultrasound. I'm so thankful to have found Northpointe Pediatrics nine years ago. A good friend recommended them when I was pregnant with Kaeterina and we've been taking the kids there ever since.

I was supposed to attend the Leadership Summitt today at Grace Community Church. Pete knew I would not be able to pay attention knowing he had Kaiden and Kierstyn at the doctor's office so he strongly suggested that I skip it today. I'm bummed about that but know he's correct.

Dr. N gave me a stronger prescription ointment for Kaiden's eczema. She did find his left testicle. Pete was relieved : ) She said that sometimes when he moves a certain way, the muscle will retract and it'll be hard to locate but not to worry that it was there and had come down. She also wasn't concerned about a mass in his lower abdominal area. She did an exam and said it was definitely stool and that we should start him on Miralax which I had done the day before after seeing Dr. Bawle. But she did order an ultrasound and x-ray just to be sure. I'll take him to Beaumont tomorrow for those. He has a daily bowel movement (sorry if that is too much information) so I'm a bit concerned about this.

I've been doing a lot of research on autisum for the past month and half. Kaiden's symptoms do fall on the Autism spectrum. But they also fall in the 'normal' range for the neglect of an institutionalized child. Dr. N asked if we had any more questions before we left today and so Pete told her that I thought Kaiden had Autism. Which is not completely true. Dr. A said it was possible so I was only researching it just to be prepared. Dr. N discussed the symptoms of ASD with us in more detail and explained how yes Kaiden does show signs of it but it is too early to narrow it down to that. It could be any number of other things. She is more concerned about his fine/gross motor skill delays which indicate that he has something more going on that just ASD. That was a relief. I already knew and understood all that she said, but it was reassuring to hear her say that she didn't think it was ASD.

Welcome to Northpointe Pediatrics

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dr. Bawle - Genetics



Today was our appointment with Dr. Bawle at Children's Hospital in Detroit. We had to wait almost 3 months to get an appointment with her. I spent one hour with a genetics counselor going over Kaiden's medical history. I thought that would take one minute since I had mailed in a 6 page questionnaire and they had all of his reports from the other specialists ahead of time as well as the fact that we don't have much of a medical history and zero family medical/birth/pregnancy history. But she wanted to go over all the specialists reports.

After that, then Dr. Bawle came in to do a complete physical on him. The first few things she mentioned were a surprise to me. She said she didn't think he had a left testicle. We've only had two appointments with our pediatrician since we've been home and although she's had numerous things to discuss with us, I thought she would have noticed that. Dr. Bawle also felt something on his left lower abdominal area. She didn't think it was a tumor but she didn't think it was just stool either because it was hard and would not roll as it should have. Kaiden had just had a bowel movement prior to coming into the examining room so this sort of made sense. She gave me a script to have an ultrasound done and suggested that I call our pediatrician to discuss it further.

Based on the fact that Kaiden is making improvements instead of progressing backwards, Dr. Bawle did not order the Reyes test. She did want to order the CGH test. The genetics counselor discussed with me the option of having the blood drawn today and ordering the test today or calling my insurance company first to find out if it is going to be a covered test (some insurances do not cover genetic testing) and coming back to have the blood drawn if we decide to proceed with it. Although it meant I would have to hold Kaiden while his blood was being drawn (that is normally Pete's responsibility), I choose to just have it done right then while I was already there. I don't particularly care for going to Children's Hospital. I also wanted to get it going as soon as we could since it seemed like we had been waiting forever to get here! It's the only option we have for finding out some of his medical history so I knew we would get it done whether it was a covered test or not. As it turns out, as long as the phsycian provides medical reasoning for the test, our insurance will cover it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

July Update

It has been a super busy month! It started out with me catching a cold. Luckily, no one else caught it. The girls had 2 weeks of evening swim lessons, then one week of vacation bible school, followed by one week of soccer camp for K2 & K3.

It was an uneventful month for Kaiden as far as any appointments go. He has continued to make small progresses. He is eating third foods very well and will eat some table foods (applesauce, oatmeal, berries) as long as they are mashed. I've also started making my own baby food in the mini food processor. Baby food gets expensive when you can go through 6 jars a day! We are trying the sippy cup now as well, with and without the spout. He enjoys apple juice but he doesn't like getting it from the sippy cup. He is also starting to not like the bottle as much. This makes getting fluids into him difficult. He is becoming more active as well. Sitting up unassisted for short periods of time as well as rolling all around the living room floor. He will roll over to get to his bottle when he is hungry but he doesn't seem to purposefully roll over for anything else.

We are looking forward to the genetics appointment next week.

Friday, July 10, 2009

MRI & CAT Scan Results

I received phone calls this week from both Kaiden's neurologist and neurosurgeon. Both tests came back perfectly normal. Praise the Lord!

His neurosurgeon said that we could still try a re-shaping helmet but he did not recommend it. We agreed and so are not going to do it. With Kaiden still not having full neck strength, we feel that the helmet could potentially do more harm than good. It would be added weight on his head and it probably would not do any noticeable re-shaping.

His neurologist said that now we need to wait for Dr. Bawle to run the CGH blood test to tell us if he had any chromosomal abnormalities. We don't see Dr. Bawle until August.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

MRI & Cat Scan

Today was our second attempt at Kaiden's MRI. This time it was a success. They had to use full anesthesia so we were confident that it would work this time. St. John was also able to get his CAT scan done immediately following while still under anesthesia. This is why I love that hospital so much. They are always very accommodating. They normally do CAT scans on Wednesday but even with only one day's notice, they were able to work it out so he wouldn't have to go in again and be put under for a second time. We expect to hear from his neurologist with the results after the holiday week-end. We had to do the CAT scan first so they gave us the paperwork for both that and the MRI so that he could be moved from one area to the next without any interruptions. When the CAT scan was done and they moved us down to the MRI waiting room, we took our paperwork to the desk. They had saved the paperwork from last month! The receptionist was so upset that they had us complete it again (it was really no big deal, it was only one sheet of paper double sided) that she gave us each a $5 credit to the cafe to get breakfast while we waited for the MRI to be done which takes longer than the CAT scan. We only sat for about 5 minutes once we got back from the cafe and Kaiden was done. We were at the hospital for only a total of about 2 hours.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

MRI. Fail.

Today Kaiden was scheduled for his brain MRI. Because we had to be at the hospital one hour before the appointment which meant 7:30 am, the girls had a sleep-over at Nanu & Papa's so they didn't have to get up at 6:00 am. They always love those!

We arrived promptly at 7:30 am to the hospital. Of course we had to do paperwork and answer all of the same questions that we had to answer on the telephone twice before (once when scheduling and then again yesterday). We had to accomplish this with a screaming hungry baby because we couldn't feed him before the sedation.

Then the nurses took us back to a room to take his vitals. It was a slow day for them today apparently because for the one hour that we had to sit in the room, we were able to hear very clearly all of the drama surrounding one nurse's pending wedding as well as the staff opinion's on the Red Wings and GM bankruptcy.

After the vitals were done the nurses called the physician in to exam him to make sure he was OK to take the sedative. They said it should take 15 minutes. He was given chlorate hydrate which is supposed to make him just sleepy. Then we were allowed to give him a bottle. They came back after 15 minutes to find him playing with his Daddy. They came back another 15 minutes later to find the same thing. Then they gave him another half dose and said this would surely put him out. Another 15 minutes later and the same thing. He was acting droggy but not ready to go to sleep. I climbed in bed with him because that is how he goes to bed at night, and covered us up to try to darken the room so he'd know it was bedtime. When the nurses saw this, they said they could take us to a dark room if that would help. Off to the waiting room we went. As soon as they left and shut the door, I laid him on the floor on his blanket. It was pure darkness in that room. He was asleep within 5 minutes.

Pete went to get the nurse to take him for the MRI now. Hoping he would stay asleep for the 20 minutes that they needed. Within about 10 minutes I told Pete he was awake because I could hear him crying. Sure enough, 5 minutes later and the nurses were back with him. They needed just 6 more minutes but he wasn't having it.

I thought for sure he'd fall asleep on the way home but he didn't. He stayed awake and playful until his normal naptime. Then he took a nice long 2.5 hour nap.

Now we go back on July 2 to try again. This time they will perform full sedation so that they are sure he is sound asleep for the entire test. More waiting.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Second Therapy Visit

Today was Kaiden's second visit to therapy. He had 30 mins with OT followed by 30 mins with PT. Luckily he fell asleep early today while playing so I didn't have to wake him up to go. He had been up for 2 hours already and we went for a walk so I was a bit worried that he wouldn't do so well after all of that fresh air. But boy was I surprised. Today was a big milestone for us. I felt like a first time Mom all over again. During his OT visit he wanted to suck his finger often so the OT said, why don't' we try putting food on it and see how it goes. It was going well so she said, let's push it and see how it goes. She pulled his finger out and put food into his mouth on a spoon on the inside of his cheek between his cheek and gums. And he swallowed! She kept this up for about a quarter of a jar of bananas and then let me do another quarter of a jar. At first he would suck his finger after his bite, I think to help swallow the food. But eventually he caught on and stopped doing that. He even opened up his mouth when we would bring the spoon within his eyesight! I brought the jar home and finished it up with him. Then tonight, just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I tried to feed him a jar of peas. I always started the girls with vegetables since they aren't sweet so they wouldn't refuse them later. We tried all of the first foods in his bottles without any troubles so I thought he'd take the peas on a spoon. Nope. He completely refused them. Then I tried sweet potatoes and he ate the whole jar again! I think we are on to something now. Here's a short video that K2 shot of him eating.



After OT he had PT. He wasn't interested in anything she wanted to do with him. She had to set him down twice because he got so mad. We know that he has to be pushed but when he starts screaming, there is no point in trying to push him any further. I am hoping that in the Fall we can move his times to the morning when he is more engaging.

Friday, May 15, 2009

ENT Visit

This afternoon Kaiden has his appointment with the Pediatric ENT, Dr. Madgy at Chilren's Hospital downtown. I had planned to go to his office in Clinton Township by myself but the office needed to re-scheduled and I was able to get into the downtown office quicker. Since it was in the afternoon on a Friday when Pete normally works from home, I asked him to come with me. I've never been to this hospital so I felt more comfortable not going by myself.

Our appointment was for 1:10. We didn't get seen until 2:15 pm. Then we were first seen by a resident. I'm usually understanding when it comes to seeing residents since I worked at St. John's and know that they have to learn somehow. However, after waiting for well over 1 hour to see the physician, I was less than patient. I was heating up thinking that we weren't going to see Madgy when he did finally come in. Apparently the resident does the in-take interview and then Madgy takes over.

As Kaiden's pediatrician suspected, Madgy 'wasn't impressed' with his tongue tie. That was what he said. Madgy said that it was minor and that it could or could not help him if they clipped it. Then we were off to see the audiologist to repeat the two hearing tests that the audiologist at Early On had already done. Kaiden 'failed' this hearing test. He is unresponsive and doesn't recognize his name so we don't think his is deaf, but I do think he may have some hearing loss. Pete thinks his hearing is fine. The audiologist concluded as did the other one that Kaiden would need a Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test done and he'd need to be sedated for it since he needed to be quiet. An ABR test is used for hearing and brain (neurological) functioning. The ABR test involves attaching electrodes to the head to record electrical activity from the auditory nerve (the hearing nerve) and other parts of the brain. I asked if this could be done at St. John's when he has his MRI sine he has to be sedated for that. The audiologist called over to St. John's to inquire but she said that the test that they do isn't as extensive as the one that they do at Children's Hospital. They are also very booked up for this test and the first opening isn't until sometime in July. I'm currently on the waiting list for when that schedule opens up to be put on.

Madgy said we'll address the tongue tie after we come back to see him after the ABR. If it was one of the girls, I'd let it wait. But if there is any chance that this could in anyway impact Kaiden in the future, I just want it taken care of now. I don't want it to be an issue or non-issue later down the road.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

MISD Early On Meeting

This after was our first team meeting with Kaiden's parent coordinator, occupational therapist, and physical therapist. In this meeting, we laid out his main goal for each area of development, and then 3 sub-goals for those. The meeting lasted for about an hour. I was very pleased with the goals outlined. All of the ladies that I met seemed to really care about Kaiden's development.

He will start therapy next week, twice per week, for one hour each day. Once they receive the reports from his other doctors (neuro, optho, & ENT) then he may qualify for more services. For right now though, I think this is a good place to start.

Therapy is suppose to occur in his 'natural environment', home, but they feel that he'll progress better at the center with the equipment that they have there. This means they will pay me mileage reimbursement. Seems kind of silly to me, that they would pay my mileage to get there for free services, but that's the government for you.

Neurology

This morning Kaiden has his appointment with the neurologist. We saw Dr. Allarakiah with St. John's. He is well known in this area so we felt very comfortable with seeing him. I was planning to go alone but Pete had to work late tonight so he came with me. I'm glad he did. I thought this was going to be an uneventful appointment - just routine. There was a lot of information to process. Honestly, although we didn't say it to each other, we weren't expecting much out of this appointment. We both thought Kaiden was delayed from neglect in the orphanage and with time he'd just catch up. Well, we were wrong. But we don't have any clear answers yet. More tests and appointments are needed.

Dr. Allarakiah was very surprised that Kaiden is so delayed. He too confirmed that Kaiden is at around a 2 - 4 month old developmentally. Closer to 2 months but he said 4 months because he can roll over both ways. He said about halfway through the appointment that if his delays were due solely to being in an orphanage, that at least his gross motor skills would be further along. He'd expect him to be at least sitting up and pulling himself up.

Without any history, pregnancy, birth, or his own family medical history, Dr. Allarakhia said that we have to begin by ruling out a number of possibilities. In order to do this, he ordered a Brain MRI with sedation (scheduled for June 4) , EEG (still trying to schedule), and urinalysis (we did this riht away today). He referred us to Dr. Bawles, Genetics, for a few different blood tests that only she would have access to. She is also a professor of pediatrics. I couldn't get an appointment to see her until the end of July. He wants a complete metabolic work-up and a test to rule out Rett's Syndrome. We don' think he has Rett's but we don't know what his state of health was like before we got him, so we'll do the test just to be sure. Boys with Rett's rarely survive, but he said they are seeing more and more boys with it. He said Kaiden could have any number of other syndroms, but not likely because his facial features appear to be normal. He said Kaiden could also have something along the autism spectrum, but he wasn't so sure about that either.

So all in all, a lot of information to process, more than I expected. And more tests for poor Kaiden.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quiet Week

We have a slow week this week. Kaiden does not have any appointments. He was supposed to have the ENT but the office had to change that to next week. Next week, is going to be a very busy week to make up for it. We are planning to just enjoy quieter times around here to prepare.

Kaiden is making slow daily progress. He continues to hold his head up more and more each day for longer periods of time. He now rolls off of his gymni mat. He is rolling all over the place. He appears to have found himself in the mirror that hangs down from the gymni. He is fascinated with that. Still no attempts to play with anything with his hands. He also is starting to sit up. I use that term loosely. He sits up but yet leans forward at the same time. He doesn't use his hands to prop himself up but keeps them at his side. Others that don't seem him as regularly as we do have even made comments on the progress that he has made. This may seem like nothing to many, but for us, these are all important things that will lead to more movements and growth in his development.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Michigan Early On


Today was Kaiden's appointment with Michigan's Early On program. Early On assists families with infants and toddlers, from birth until they turn 36 months or 3 years of age, who may be experiencing delays in their development or if they have a diagnosed disability. When they turn 3 (or actually, the Fall that they turn 3) they are then part of the local school system. Children are then eligible for various preschool programs that are designed to better assist the developmentally delayed children. One of the most appealing things about NYC was their public school system. Now that is a school district that has their act together to care for the more advanced children. Those close to me know that I've always been frustrated with our state public school system because they are not prepared to deal with gifted children, until usually middle school, but more commonly in high school. Hence, the big reason why I homeschool the girls. I'd always say in the past that if I'd had a slow child, that I lived in the perfect state for that. Well, now I'm happy to live where we do : ) But, I digress.

Our pediatrician evaluated Kaiden to be at around a 4 month old. The specialists today said he is more like between and 2 & 4 month old. Ok, not that big of a difference in my mind but to them, it was a difference. He qualifies for their services. No kidding : ) He'll get started now even though they run on a school year which will be over in just about 1.5 months. But, at least we'll have some specific exercises to begin with him to do over the summer. We can also use our health insurance to get private OT & PT during this time. But we won't decide on that until we get to that time. Normally, they like to have children wait until they have been home for a few months to see how much they can naturally catch up but since he's so far behind, we'll go ahead and go started now.

I met with 3 different people during our 2 hour visit with them. I was not looking forward to this appointment because of my anti-public school system attitude, for my children, but I tried to go in open minded. To say the least, I was very pleased. All 3 women were warm, welcoming, and really seemed to have a love for children. We (Kaiden & I; Pete won't possibly be able to miss work for all of these upcoming appointments so he'll just come to the most nerve wracking ones) met with a Occupational Therapist (OT), Audiologist, and a Coordinator.

I'm just a little bit familiar with this program because when I was doing in-home daycare before K3 was born, I had a little girl that was enrolled in it. Now that I think back on it, she was more delayed than even I realized at that time. But after going through with these services, she started making remarkable progress.

The Coordinator is basically our go between us and all of the 'team' that will work with Kaiden. She'll be the one that sets up his first meeting in 2 weeks with the team and schedules all follow up evaluations that will be needed. He'll go twice per week for a 1 hour visit with the OT & PT. A speech therapist will see him on an as needed basis since his motor skills are more of the focus right now. He'll also be evaluated by a psychologist in the Fall as part of his 'transition' year. I can't imagine that that would take that long : )

He didn't have an appointment with the audiologist but she was free so she saw him. No surprises there. He wasn't responsive. She couldn't rule out any hearing loss so he needs to see an ENT, preferable the one that works out of Children's Hospital downtown because they have an Audiologist on staff that can do this hearing test that he needs done at the same time as our visit. Check. Already have an appointment with him in 2.5 weeks. Good news is that his ear drums are fine so his ear infection must be gone.

The OT was wonderful. She was patient and gentle with Kaiden. She got us started on "brush therapy and joint compression" with him at home to be done about 5 - 6 times a day, basically at every diaper change so we remember to do it. It'll only take about 5 minutes to do. This will help him with sensory integration and get his joints used to pressure for crawling & walking. Also some different touches to do around his face and mouth to get him working towards foods. And, try and rub different textures on his hands like silk, and this brush, and any other types of materials that we may have to try to get him to engage his hands for toy play. She was happy to hear that we already have our appointment with the neurologist and it's the one that they recommend as well.

He'll need to get some more medical testing done (ENT, neuro, vision, etc.) to rule all any under-lying medical conditions for the delays. These things should all be taken care of over the summer so we'll be in a good position to make progress come the Fall.

Kaiden turns 2 in the Fall, in October, which means next Fall of 2010, he'll be eligible to start pre-school. They call next year his transition year, preparing him for school. I can't imagine him being ready for that. He doesn't have to attend, but, if we want to use these services, then he has to in order to get them done through the school district. Right now though, I can't even think that far! I'm glad that they can.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pediatric Opthamologist

Today was our first appointment with Dr. O'Malley. He is who our pediatrician referred us to. I was happy about that since I had 3 others refer us to him as well. We brought Kaiden's medical file (all two half pages) from China with us but he didn't give much credit to them. I was really impressed with him. He was very personable and handled Kaiden very well. He's been practicing for 30 years but doesn't act like he could be that old. He said right off that bat that it wasn't a retinoblastoma or it'd be coming out of his ear by now. That's a relief! But I still wonder why he sat on the waiting child list for so long. His medical condition was never updated on the waiting child list after his second procedure where they ruled out the retinoblastoma, almost certainly. I think it's because he was waiting for us to realize that he was waiting for us : )

Kaiden did well for the first part of the exam. Then it was time to dialate his eyes and sit and wait for 20 minutes. That went quickly because there were some very poorly behaved boys in the waiting room that were entertaining to watch : ) Kaiden did not like this second part of the exam. He cried through the entire thing but Dr. O'Malley worked very quickly with him. He said that in his 30 years of practicing and having practiced on 5 different continents (including China multiple times) that he has never seen anything like this in a child so young. We are still baffled that they even found this in China when he was so young. He just looks cross eyed to us. Dr. O'Malley will have to do some research and finds Kaiden's case very interesting. But the important thing is that it is not cancer, it is treatable, and there is no rush to do anything about it. The next step is to see a neurologist which we already had scheduled for in May because of his developmental delays. O'Malley said that at this point, we'll take a wait and see approach. Give him some time to develop and see how he progresses on his own. He doesn't want to push Kaiden through a bunch of tests right away until he's been seen by these other specialists. He did describe one test that he will want to do but that requires anesthesia, so again, it can wait. We'll see the neurologist (which happens to be who he'd recommend we see also) and then come back to him in 8 weeks. We didn't get an exact 'diagnosis', something to call this condition, but he described in great detail what was going on. There is some kind of mass sitting in the back of his eye interfering with his vision.

Pete was with me for this appointment but we can see many, many more in our future. He won't be able to take time off of work for so many but he wanted to make it to this one. Besides, he gets to go to all of the immunization appointments alone : )

Next week is his OT assessment.

Friday, April 10, 2009

False Alarm

This afternoon, just as I was about to head out with K1 to Whole Foods to try to do some grocery shopping, I got a call from our pediatrician. It appears that his sodium level was too low and another marker for his metabolism was low. He could possibly have metabolic acidosis. Of course I had not ever heard of this before but it didn't sound good. She said that it might not be anything but when could I get him back in to have more blood drawn. Oh, and there wasn't enough blood to do his full hepatitis screening so they'd need more blood for that. His left arm was not a good arm for the draw so they had used his right arm and it was bruised up from them attempting to take 7 tubes. I joking said to Pete last night that I thought they were going to run out of blood, and, well, they did just that! This is Good Friday mind you, and I have just gotten off the phone with Pete to tell him not to come home early because I was leaving for shopping and the girls were down for naps so he might as well stay and work later. He is at best 45 minutes away from the hospital. So, I said to her, I can take him tomorrow, assuming that the labs will be open. She replies with, well, it would be better if he went today, right now actually. She'd have the office nurse call the lab to see how late they would be open and her call me back. I then called Pete and told him that he did in fact need to leave right now and meet me at the hospital. There was no way I was going to be able to make Kaiden go through that again, just a day later. It's now 1:45 pm and the lab closes at 3 pm. At least we are only 15 minutes away from it. At least Opa & Oma had already agreed to watch the other girls so I could go grocery shopping.

I put the girls down for naps and left with K1 & Kaiden to meet Pete at the hospital. I had to stop off at the pediatrician's office to pick the blood draw orders but I should still beat Pete to the hospital by at least 30 minutes. I hate parking there because it is just a large parking structure and a large hospital so I got valet parking. I called Pete to see where he was so that I could gage how soon I could sign in for the blood draw. He walked in just 5 minutes behind us. I don't even want to know how fast he must have been driving!

K1 & I waited in the lobby while Pete took Kaiden in. Because his right arm was so bruised from the day before, they had to use the left arm that doesn't have a good vein in it. Poor baby. It went quickly so Pete took Kaiden home and Kaeterina and I still treked half way around the world to go to Whole Foods. Ok, so maybe it is not that far, but it sure feels like it. It's a 40 minute drive if there isn't any traffic! But, I knew it was the only place I'd be able to find a gluten free ham to have for Easter dinner. The sacrifices I make for my family : )

Our pediatrician just called me. It was a false alarm. The tests came back normal. We still have to wait for the hepatitis screening but at least what she was concerned about is fine. I'm not worried about his hepatitis screening either. That test from China is generally accurate and all of his came back negative for those.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lab Visit

Kaiden was able to give us a stool sample this morning so I could take that into the lab for testing. He also needed a complete blood work-up and a chest x-ray. I won't normally take the kids for any appointments requiring needles but Pete also couldn't go into work even later again. I won't be doing that again. The poor baby had to give 6 vials of blood. I can barely give blood myself let alone hold down my screaming baby while they poke him. I went all the way to St. John in Detroit just because I like those phlebotomists the best. They have a lot of experience poking babies. He was good for his chest x-rays too until we had to hold his head up. Then more screaming but that only lasted for a few minutes.

I had to take his outfit off for his x-ray because it had metal buttons on it. I'm glad I did because one of his band-aids from his shots fell off to relieve 3 blisters under them! I thought he was having a reaction to the immunization or possibly the antibiotic. After leaving the hospital, I called his pediatrician to see if I could bring him in for her to look at it. She was very surprised when she saw him. She knew it couldn't be a latex band-aid because they are a latex free office. She determined that he was allergic to the adhesive in the band-aid. Now we can't use band-aids! We'll have to remember to tell them that whenever he gets shots. Now what am I going to do without those miracle boo-boo fixers???

Tomorrow he has to go back to the office to have his TB test read. I sure am thankful that we are still living with the in-laws. It means we are only 1 hour away from our pediatrician and that I have a babysitter for the other girls. It sure makes things convenient right now.

On a positive note, Kaiden did wake up at 2 am crying. I fed him a bottle in the dark and he fell back asleep until 6 am. 6 am is a much more do-able wake-up time!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

First Doctor's Visit

Today Kaiden has his first visit with our pediatrician. Our adoption agency recommends that we visit a physician that has extensive experience with international adoption. Both of the doctors recommended are each 1 hour away. We are opting to use the girls' current pediatrician and see how things go. We have been very happy with this practice for almost 9 years now and one of the doctors is well known throughout the country.

The visit went relatively smooth. We were there for over an hour. He was a level 5 visit. None of the girls' visits have ever been over a level 3! Somethings we expected and somethings were a surprise to us. One surprise but easily dealt with was that he had an ear infection in his left ear. That is also the side of his head that is flat from him lying on it. We got a prescription for the 'pink stuff' to take care of that.

He'll need a chest x-ray to look at his lungs and rib cage. He has a cough (we are using a cool mist humidifier) and green runny nose. If it's a sinus infection, the penicillin will take care of that too. His rib cage is also malformed. It kind of rolls up at the bottom. I didn't notice that until we were on the plane ride home and he was laying on my lap on his side.

The one thing we knew of because it was his listed special need was that he'll need to see a pediatric opthamologist for his left eye. I received 3 separate recommendations for Dr. O'Malley and that is also who our pediatrician recommended as well.

Because of being in an orphanage, he is developmentally delayed. He is almost 18 months old and he's at about what a 4 month old can do. But in just the month that we have had him, he already is improving his neck control. He's still a weeble wobble but he's making slow progress. We are supposed to give him as much tummy time as he'll tolerate and keep turning his head so he'll stay off of the left side. This means he needs to see the pediatric neurologist. We can ask him about a helmet to fix the shape of his head but it might be too late. It might be fully formed already but we can ask.

The neurologist will order PT & OT (and eventually speech) therapy so we can set that up now. We actually have his appointment for that assessment set up before we see the neurologist so we can take the results with us. He should qualify for the MISD's Early On intervention program for these services. When I was doing in-home daycare, I had 2 girls that received these services. Both of their parents were happy with the programs. One thing for sure is that our state ranks very poorly in being prepared to deal with gifted children but they have wonderful services for special needs children.

Next is the ENT. He has a tongue tie which maybe part of why he refuses solid foods. We could wait to deal with this until later since he has so many other things going on but he needs a hearing screening. It's the same doctor for both so we'll address that right away too.

Since we don't know if his immunizations that he received in China were any good, we opted to just start from scratch. He received a TB test which was one poke in the arm. Then he received 3 shots in the legs. He needed one more but since we was already being poked and we only live 1 mile away, he'll go back in 2 weeks to get the other one. He'll go back to see the pediatrician in 2 months for his next shots and to follow up with all of his specialist visits.

I took the first available appointment for all of his physicians and they are still spread out over the next 2 - 6 weeks. Some of the doctors are extremely difficult to get in with. I'm taking that as a good sign that they will be excellent.

Long Night

Kaiden had a long night tonight. He started waking up around 2 - 3 am three days ago. I figure it's because of the jet lag. He didn't wake up during the night while we were in China. Only once that I know of and he rocked himself back to sleep. Now he's sleeping with us so I know each time he wakes up. He started crying when he wakes up during the night too. He didn't do that in China either. As part of the bonding process, we are supposed to hold him to fall asleep. Well, he doesn't like that either. It took Pete 45 minutes of holding him screaming and crying before he finally quit and went to sleep. At least he went back to sleep and didn't think it was time to get up and play. So now I sit here, wide awake, since we all went to bed at 7 pm last night. Except poor Pete. He was up until Kaiden woke up and fell back asleep.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kaiden's New Chair




If you followed us on Facebook while we were in China, then you saw the ridiculous pictures of Kaiden in the infant bouncy seat. We needed something to lift him up off the ground but that didn't cause him to sit upright completely since he didn't (and still doesn't) have head control. He has head control muscles but he doesn't use them to hold his head up straight. He has made progress in this area though in just the 3 weeks that we've had him.



When we got home, I didn't want to spend the money on a bouncy seat since really, he's over the weight limit for it. But he can't hold his head up long enough for the exersaucer, he hates the swing, and I thought he needed more variety than the highchair. Then I remembered that when the girls were young, my parents had an infant to toddler rocker that held up to 40 pounds. Perfect! So here he is not looking quite so over-grown in this chair.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Still Jet-lagged

Well after being home for 3 days now, we are all still jet-lagged. Pete is the closest one to being back on a normal schedule. I thought for sure that on Saturday when we all woke up around 6:30 am that we were back to normal. Wishful thinking. I think today is going to be the worst day yet. All of us except for Pete went to bed yesterday around 7ish. Bad idea. Kaiden and I were up at 1 am followed by K2 at 2:30 and K1 & K3 at 4:30 am. I'm hoping to have all of us take a nap today and stay up late so we all sleep in tomorrow. Hopefully that will get us back on track. I'm told traveling back East is harder than traveling West but I'm praying that' wrong news for us.

We are all adjusting more each day. Kaiden now recognizes my voice. When I talk, he tends to turn his head towards me. He can hold his head up longer more and more each day. We won't really know the extend of his delays until we start with his doctor visits. He has his first one with our Pediatrician on Wednesday.

The more that I read about Reactive Atachment Disorder (RAD) the more that I see the long road that we have ahead of us. I started learning about it just before we left so I'd know a little about what types of activities we needed to do but there is a lot more. It's hard to not let people hold him but for now, that is what we have to do. He still doesn't like to be held but he's getting more used to the immediate family doing it each day. I've ordered a Mei Tai carrier to help in being able to hold him more often (he's quite big so our arms tire quickly) but it won't be here for another week or more.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

We Are Home

And exhausted. Think it'll take us a few days to get adjusted back to this time schedule.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Headed Home

Today we start our journey home. We had a quiet last morning. Those that know me well, know that any quiet/leisurely activity is out of the norm. After the usual breakfast buffet, we stopped a Starbucks and headed over to the playground. The school kids were out for PE as we were walking by so we stopped to watch them exercise in unison to music. It was very interesting to watch. Our girls met up with J & K and played a bit.

I had to make one last minute stop at a shop to get one (well, 4) last minutes items for the kids. They sell really cute mei mei (little sister) and di di (little brother) and jie jie (big sister) t-shirts. They were only $3 US so I had to get them. And of course, we saw what I thought was the CUTEST little Chinese style skirt/shirt outfits. Pete was off looking for sunglasses so I got each o the girls one for their birthdays. At $8 US, how can you pass that up!? Shopping is so VERY inexpensive!

Then back to the hotel to shower the girls and pack up all last minute items before the bellman came. We have out appointment at the US Consulate at 3 pm. Our flight for Beijing leaves at 6:45 pm so we have to go directly to the airport from the US Consulate. I'm told this appointment goes very quickly.

Our flight from Guangzhou leaves at around 6:45 pm. We arrive in Beijing around 9:45 pm. We hope to get to the hotel by 11 pm but it'll probably be closer to midnight. Then we get to sleep for a few hours and back up to head back to the airport. Our flight leaves Beijing at 9 am. We land in Narita, Japan at 1:40 pm, and then leave for Detroit at 3:05 pm. We learned on the way here, that that 1.5 hours goes very quickly between flights. Lastly we settle in for the long flight home. We land in Detroit at 1:50 pm on 4/2/09. We'll get our day back that we lost on the way here then.

I'm sure it's going to take us a few days to get over the jet lag and get back on the US time schedule. I'm told it's harder going back East than it is coming West.

Pete returns to work on Monday so we'll be enjoying our last few days all together before we start to settle into our new life as a family of SIX in the US!

We still have quite aways to go in the bonding process. It'll take a few months for Kaiden to really connect with each of us and learn to trust us. We appreciate everyone's love and prayers that they have given our family through this time. As cute and adorable as Kaiden is and as inviting as his smile is, please be understanding when we don't give him to you to hold. As part of the bonding process, he should only be held by us so that we can form that bond with him quicker. We're anxious for everyone to love on him, but not until he is ready : ) We are looking forward to visiting with all of friends and family when we return!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chen Family Temple

Our itinerary for Guangzhou was completely wrong too. We were supposed to go to the Chen Family Temple on Sunday but we went today, Wednesday. Our itinerary also said we had an appointment with the US Consulate. We didn't. Our guide did though. She took all of our paperwork with fees and handled all of the processing. The only thing we have to show up for here is the swearing in which is tomorrow, right before we leave.

This morning we visited the Chen Family Temple. It was a nice structure to look at but I've started to feel like once you've seen one ancient Asian structure, you've seen them all. The girls bored very quickly. Luckily we only there for about 1.5 hours.

After this we went to a park with a famous statue of 5 goats at the top of a hill. We climbed up and took a few pictures. Then the girls were bored again. We thought we'd walk around some but Kaiden was not happy and the girls didn't want to walk much so we headed back to the base of the park to wait for the group to be ready to leave.

We had our usual group of tourists staring at us and wanting to take pictures of the girls. They are good sports about it for the most part and smile for the cameras. After 10 minutes of this, they tired of it so we went to sit on the bus to wait. Keirstyn is getting a taste of what being a 'rockstar' would be like. I think she doesn't like it much and may change her mind about her career aspirations.

Back to the hotel for more free time. We walked around looking for a new place to try for lunch. We heard the German restaurant was good. We walked there and took a look at the menu before sitting down. It was a bit expensive to just try out and it didn't appear that there was much that Pete could eat. I didn't want to waste more money like we did on the Italian restaurant the day before so we went back to Lucy's for a third time. At least we knew what was there and it was our cheapest option outside of fast food.

4 pm was picture time. It is a Chinese adoption tradion that all adopted children from the same agency being adopted at the same time sit on the famous 'red couch' (and there's actually like 8 of them in the same area) and have their picture taken as a group in traditional Chinese outifits. Kaiden fell asleep JUST before they started to do this. Amazingly, he slept right through it! He was the only baby/toddler of the group. I think most of the kids were in the 3 - 6 year old range and Kaiden's only 17 months. The girls dressed up in their Chinese dresses too for a family picture. I wanted to get some shots of them alone but since Kaiden's nap was interrupted and we were all getting hungry, I skipped it. Next time : )

Time for dinner. K's family had visited a Brazilian restuarant on their first trip that they said was wonderful. But we'd have to take taxis. More money. No one really wanted to spend more money and some families still have another full day here. Back to Lucy's. Four times is a charm. Dinner was not so great but the company was fabulous. I wish we had had more time to get to know J & K's families. But, we probably would have killed each other had we had to spend 2 full weeks in a hotel in Beijing. Plus it was fabulous to be able to stay with the M family.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Physical Day

We all woke up this morning feeling well! YEAH! The hotel has a wonderful breakfast bar so we'll be eating breakfast in the hotel everyday, it's also included in our room rate so why not eat here.

This seems to be THE place where everyone that is doing an adoption stays. The only people I see here are those that are adopting and business men. It is a very beautiful hotel. The restaurant where we eat breakfast is next to an indoor waterfall and little river with coy fish so the girls really enjoy the scenery while we all eat.

Today Pete took Kaiden for his physical. We are now with 6 other families instead of 2 so everything will take even longer. Only 5 families had to get their physicals done since 2 are from this province and had theirs done earlier in the week. It was a basic simple physical. Think high school sports physical simple. Weight, height, push around on his belly type of thing. They were surprised that he couldn't hold his head up. We've been told that is common. After-all, he probably spent most of his time laying in a crib. They asked if we thought he was mentally OK. They thought his eyes were fine. Really? Like do see him crossing them??? They tried to get him to turn his head to the right by making noises. Pete pointed out to him that his head was flat on the left from always looking that way so it was extra hard to turn it. That was it. Physical over.

Thanks to directions from K's family, we found the Italian restaurant for lunch. We'd have been better off not finding it. It was not horrible. Just not worth the money. The 3 girls shared a pizza that was big enough to feed 8 of them. Reasonably prices at 56 RMB (that's about $8) but 60 RMB for TWO cokes!! Ridiculous. Salmon was 108 RMB and I had spaghetti with mean sauce for 70 RMB. Total bill of $300 RMB ($43) Just too expensive for lunch.

Next on the agenda was the park. The girls have been asking for time at the park since we got here. Pete took a lot of pictures of the girls playing. They all had a good time. They needed the time to run around and play. I'll add the pictures later once Pete gets them loaded. Sorry for not having many pictures up lately. We had battery issues. Now we have batteries but limited internet time. I'll update the posts with pictures later.

For dinner we had a group dinner. Cantonese. It was YUM-O! For Asian style food anyway. I've been very adventurous eating, well for me anyways, on this trip. There wasn't much Pete could eat. Gluten/wheat do not translate well so we haven't been able to ask what is in food so we are just guessing based on what it looks like. We knew it was going to be like this which is just one more reason why we were so blessed to be able to spend so much time at the M home, where we knew exactly what was in the food that he was eating. He had green peas and garlic broccoli at the restaurant. That's it. I felt bad as we sat there enjoying rolls, chicken, beef, etc. We sat with K's family. It was a very enjoyable evening.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Shopping

Today was a better day. I woke up feeling better but not great yet. I got all the kids ready and took them down for the breakfast buffet while Pete slept. We got back after breakfast and Pete got up and got ready to go out with us for the morning. He felt better, but he too wasn't quite well.

Today was a shopping day. Didn't we do enough shopping in Beijing? But, we needed a suitcase so we went. The first stop was a jade store. Just another over-priced tourist trap. We didn't buy anything except a few pops across the street from it. We went to the bus to wait. K and his Dad were on it too so we had sometime to chat. Funny thing is that we are all so busy with our own stuff, that we barely have time to talk to the other families. I've learned more about how their trip is going by reading their blog than by talking to them in person.

Next stop was the pearl market. And a pearl market it was. Like 5 floors of nothing but pearls. It was more like a mall to me. I preferred the pearl market in Beijing. Not necessarily because of the pearls, but because it had a variety of other stuff. Again, we didn't plan to buy anything but I did want a suitcase. Yes all of our stuff did fit in our suitcases to get here, but we had a 'group weigh' to get here. That meant that our suitcases were't noticed as being over-weight. Going home, we are alone, so I needed another suitcase to spread the extra 40 pounds out. Paying $20 for a suitcase was way cheaper than paying $150 per bag for being over-weight if we get a cranky airline worker. So we left the mall and ventured down the street to find a suitcase store. Sure enough, just a block down, and we found one. I told the salesgirl I was only paying 175 yuan and to show me what she'd sell me for that price. It's an ugly brown color but it'll be easier to find on the luggage rack than all of our black ones. I sure wish I had kept all of my lavendar luggage that Pete convinced me to get rid of a few years back : ) Time to head back to the hotel now.

We were told of a restaurant just down the street, Lucy's, that had decent food and was reasonably priced, so we went there for lunch. Pricing was OK. Food was OK. Nothing to write home about but it at least wasn't fast food. We were able to sit outside and had a view of the river so that was nice.

I stayed in the room while Pete went to meet with our guide to complete our paperwork. I really think this step could have been done in the US ahead of time with our GWCA Rep, but that's OK. We were told that we needed our original homestudy. This is the second time this has been an issue on this trip. It is quite aggravating because I wanted to bring it just in case. BUT, our paperwork check-list from GWCA very specifically said to leave all of our orignal documents at home. I even showed that part to Pete to make sure. Twice. Three times. But I did as it said and left them home. Now our guide says that we need it. I don't understand why because the US has an original already. They have it have it in order for us to get our I-171 H. Our guide said she will call the Embassy tomorrow to verify.

Time for dinner. We thought we'd try the Italian restuarant that we were told about that was supposed to be decent and have reasonable pricing. I love my Man but God sure didn't give hime the gift of direction. Once we started out looking for it, we couldn't find it. Of course I wasn't going to walk far either. We'll look for it tomorrow. Back to Lucy's we went. We all ordered single items (like corn on the cob, baked potato, rolls, etc.) We thought that would be cheaper and more edible. We were wrong. How can you screw up a baked potato? Sour cream had a weird texture and the potato's color was weird. Oh well. Anyone that knows me, knows how ridiculously picky of an eater I am. That's why I have a case of granola bars with me : )

We walked home along the river and the girls admired the lights from all of the buildings. And as per our normal routine now, stopped for a photograph. K2 sure is getting a taste of the 'famous' life. I know I'd never want to be famous. I'm still amazed at all the people that want to take their picture.

Now what to do with the rest of the evening? Well, K1 bought Ratatoullie, the movie, for 10 yuan. That's about $1.30 US. Sadly, it's the only entertainment we have here for the evenings. It's cheaper to buy a movie off the street corner than to rent them at home! But what else are you going to do...

First Day in Guangzhou

Today was our first day in Guangzhou. Our first flight here was cancelled so we ended up leaving 2 hours later than originally planned. That worked out well so I didn't have to get up early and rush to get ready to leave. I was feeling anxious, there was the whole flying thing that I still don't like, and leaving the comforts of the M home, and going through customs, and all that, so I took half a Zanax to ease the anxiety. It didn't seem to be working as my stomach was getting really upset so I took a full Zanax. We were all spread out on the plane. We were able to switch a few seats around so Pete and K1 were next to each other and I was 3 rows behind them with K1 & K2 with K4 on my lap. My stomach was still upset and I was getting the chills. Once I got the chills I realized it wasn't anxiety but the stomach flu. Great. Pete took K4 for the rest of the flight and I just did the best that I could without throwing up. It made for a very long flight.

We finally arrived at the hotel, the famed White Swan and got all checked in around 5 pm. I immediately got into my jammies. Pete went with the guide for what was supposed to be a 20 minute ground tour around the hotel so we'd know where things were. He didn't return until almost 2 hours later. The kids did great though. They helped play with K4 while I lay on the the couch not being able to get warm, even after taking some Pepto and Tylenol. I headed to bed once Pete returned and he took care of the kids until bedtime. Finally about 8:30 pm I woke up vomitting. Man, did that make me feel so much better! Not perfect but much better.

Pete woke me up around 2 am with his upset stomach. Great. This is just the beginning to this leg of the trip that we wanted! The best part is that K4 was in bed sleeping between the both of us. Please pray that he doesn't get it!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Last Day In Beijing

Today was our last full day in Beijing. It was a free day with our group as well. Mrs. M had a driver today so we were able to spend the day getting last minute things done. Nothing too exciting. K3 and AM5 both came with Mrs. M and myself. The rest of the kids stayed home with Pete and Ayi.

We started the day off by visiting the 2008 Beijing Olympic Park. Very cool to see in person. I just took a few pictures of the Water Cube and Birds Nests. We were, of course, stopped by others to take pictures of the girls. I don't think I'll ever get used to that here. It just seems so odd to me although I do understand their interest.

From there we went back to the market. I had a few things that I still hadn't bought over the past 2 days of shopping that I wanted to get for others back home. We spent 3 hours at the market that we had already spent 3 hours at on Wednesday! I hope family/friends enjoy the things that we picked out. We also needed a couple more carry-on suitcases since we only had 2 for a family of 6, so this worked out perfectly to pick up 2 more so that we are able to bring everything back home.

The girls were being so patient while shopping and were getting hungry so picked up some McDonald's for them to heat on the way to the next stop. That was the first time that we had to buy fast food in the 2 weeks that we've been here now. It tasted pretty close to the same as home. The sauces were different for the chicken nuggets and they had pineapple and red bean pies. I didn't try any of those things. Stuck with what I know.

From there we had to go back to The Shard Box that I visited on Tuesday with Mrs. M. I had a small cross shaped necklace made with every one's birthstone. It came out really cute. I'm very happy with it.

Then we were finally ready to head home. Once home and unloaded, we walked up to the Euro Market to treat everyone to Cold Stone Creamery. And you wouldn't believe it this, but we had a bit more shopping still to do! Quick stop into LeYou for diapers and another bottle. Jenny Lou's for snacks on the airplane tomorrow. Mrs. M had to pick up a present for Mr. M. Then finally headed home to start to pack.

We had another authentic Chinese dinner made by Ayi. Pete didn't get to try them but we had pork Chinese dumplings. They were YUM-O! The girls didn't like them but I'm not surprised. Ayi has been wonderful cooking special things for Pete over the past 11 days. We have all eaten way better than we had anticipated. I'll never get over the amazement of the hospitality of the M family and their Ayi.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pearl Market

Well K1 didn't escape the stomach bug that K2 had yesterday. She was clingy last night so I knew it was coming. We put her to bed with a bucket just in case. Sure enough, just after we tucked the girls in, K3 came out to let us know K1 was getting sick. Luckily she is old enough now that she can pretty much make it into the bucket so we don't have as much to clean up. After a good nights rest, she didn't want to stay home today. Mrs. M's girls are on Spring Break today and tomorrow so she had arranged to have her mini-van and driver today so we could all go out without having to get multiple taxis.

After a few re-arranging of appointments and getting a few errands done, we made it to the Pearl Market around 11 am. Imagine 4 adults and 6 kiddos in one mini-van! AM5 had a play date at a water park so we dropped her off for that first. That left us with only 5 kiddos for the shopping. We are such a spectacle everywhere we go. All of the Chinese are just amazed that we have 4 kids. Often people ask if K2 & K3 are twins or assumed all 5 ids were ours. After awhile, I just stopped correcting them, letting them know LM7 was not ours. I mean, once you get past 3 kids, what's a few more?

I was very proud of my Man. He was quite the bargain shopper. He set a price and that was it. He never budged. We bought many gifts to have to give to Kaiden as he gets older (like jade cuff links, tea set, Olympic pen, etc.) as well as a few gifts for people back home. After our purging last year, I was very selective in the things that I bought not only for us, but for others as well. The girls even spent their own money that they have been saving for 3 years on things that they wanted. Of course K2 wanted everything and K3 wanted everything that K2 wanted. We helped her be selective though. Lots of jewelry was purchase. K1 was very selective on her. She wasn't wasting her money on anything that she didn't really want. I was proud of her for not just buying any old thing.

No pictures for today. My camera battery is dead and we didn't want to haul Pete's around.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Llama Temple

More pictures of Kaiden here:

And here:

K2 had another bout of vomitting last night. LM1 had it the day before we so are guessing it is just another bug. K2 and Pete were up until 2 am with it. So far today she seems to be doing better. She stayed home to rest. She's just laid on the couch all morning watching movies. One of her favorite things to do anyways. And since she was sick, she was able to watch all of those Barbie movies that Mommy normally won't let her do.

I had planned to stay home anyways with Kaiden. He doesn't do so well with long days out, with all that activity. He's miserable and makes sure everyone around him knows it. I don't mind missing some of these things and I'd rather do what's best for him and the girls.

Today our group went to visit the Llama Temple. Pete took Kaeterina and Kenadie. They saw the largest Buddha in the world, it was 18 meters high, which is about 60 feet tall. It was so big, that they had to build the building around it after it was built. They enjoyed it. It was a short trip though. They were home by lunch time.

After they got home, Pete fed them all lunch and put them down for naps. Mrs. C had an appointment in town so I went with her. I hung out at Starbucks while she had her appointment. Then we went to a store called The Shard Box. Very cool store. They've taken old broken pieces of ancient vases and such and made things out of them like necklaces and boxes. I was able to get all of the kids (hard habit to break, I wrote girls are first and then remembered that we have a boy now!) a fwe surprise presents, plus one for myself : )

They also went to see a tea ceremony that was close by. Kaeterina really enjoyed that part. I would have like to go to that but that's OK.

The Forbidden City



Today we had an early morning to visit The Forbidden City. It is the annual Tomb Sweeping Festival today in China. That means there are more people than normal in the city so more traffic than normal. It typically takes us about 30 minutes to get back downtown but since we had to leave during 'rush hour' and we didn't know what to expect, we left at 7:30 am. It still only ended up taking us 40 minutes to get back to the hotel but I'm glad we left early just in case.



I've figured out that Kaiden has a morning naptime of 9 am. He only naps well if he is left alone, preferably in his playpen with no one else in the room to bother him. This means he didn't nap well in the bus on our way to The Forbidden City. I've also figured out that he only likes warm bottles. It's been so long since I've given Kenadie a bottle that I had forgotten that they are normally warm since my girls took cold bottles towards the end of bottle feeding. This meant he woulldn't take a bottle while we were there. It made for a long visit.



I'm glad I went, so that I could say I've been there, but I don't ever need to go visit it again. It just a bunch of old buildings spaced far apart to look at. 80% of the relics (vases, figurines, etc.) were removed and taken to a Forbidden City Museum in Taiwan. Go figure that sense out.



After this, we went for a traditional Chinese noodle lunch. It was actually good, for my picky standards. We were finally able to warm Kaiden's bottle up, but then he wanted to go to sleep. He refuses to sleep while being held. Pete took him to the bus to lay down and he was instantly fine. This meant both Pete & I missed most of lunch. Pete shouldn't have eaten most of what was served anyways. The girls didn't like most of it, which is normal for them. At least it was cheap, only $20 for all 5 of us. Just another reminder that we need to avoid restaurants.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

1 Week Update on Kaiden







How is Kaiden doing now that we have had him for one full week? Pretty well I think. As well as can be expected. We are all of course still adjusting. I'm sure that process will take quite sometime.

Everyone is always doting on him and the girls are always wanting to hold him. I think we wear him out quite quickly. He's generally a happy baby although I do think he is teething. He seems to fuss and then calm down when I give him orajel on his gums. He has many teeth already. It looks like another one is coming in on top.

He still does not eat well. He absolutely refuses anything solid, even 1st foods baby food. He's supposedly ate congee in the orphanage but he refuses even that. We can get some baby grain cereal in him if we really push it. I think I have found a bottle that he'll take. Absolutely no to a sippy cup. He will drink Pediasure cold and Enfagrow formula warm. He only averages about 2 ounces per feed and the most we've ever gotten into him at one time is 4 ounces. I think he's eating a little more each day. I'm not worried about him dehydrating yet because he does still have tears and a few wet diapers a day. Just not enough.

He's a GREAT sleeper! He sleeps through the night for about 10 hours. He takes a morning and an afternoon nap still. The orphanage told us he only naps once per day from 11 - 1:30 pm but those times don't seem to work with him. He did wake up once during the night that I heard him (he's sleeping in our bedroom in a pack n play) but he put himself back to sleep. He doesn't cry when he wakes up, only when he's hungry and tired. I now know that I need to buy a pack n play for him to sleep in just as soon as we get home. He's not ready for a bed yet. I think he sleeps a lot because he's used to being bored and we are quite a lot for him to take.

He also needs his alone time. I've noticed that when we hold him too much or have him out and about too much, he gets very fussy. Once I lay him down and leave him alone, he settles right down. He'll need time to get used to all of us.




Quiet Day





Today was a quiet day in Shunyi (that is the area of Beijing that we are staying in with the M family). It was more typical of what our normal life is like back home. I didn't take any pictures today either except for a few of the kids hanging out at home playing.

We started the day off slowly with breakfast and then church at 10:15 am. The M's attend a Community Church that is just a few minute drive from their home. It is a special church that only ex-pats can attend. You have to have your foreign passport in order to be able to attend. It reminded me of a New Community service back home. They had a choir visiting from Mobile that sang for the first 15 minutes or so. When this is over, the children head downstairs for Children's Church. Then Pastor that is not their usual did the sermon on Worship. Accoustics were bad but from what we could hear, it was good. Pete came in late because Kaiden didn't want to be in the stroller and was fussing. Then the Pastor ended with more worship and the choir circled around the congreation and sang a few more songs. It was very moving. At this point, what we are going through hit me and I cried for the first time since we've gotten here. I'm just in awe of what God is doing in our lives right now. We are so blessed in so many different ways that it is over-whelming.

Then we headed to a local restaurant for lunch called Smallville. The restaurant was donated to this couple that has a orphanage for special needs children. All profits go towards their orphanage. Older children in the orphanage work in the restaurant to learn life skills as well.

Off to buy some lunch meat at the local meat shop and a movie for movie night. Movies around here only cost around $1 - 2. That's pretty darn cheap. It's the only form of entertainment that they get besides HBO.

We took the kids up to the clubhouse to play a bit but Kaiden was again fussy so I brought him home and got him ready for bed. The rest of the kids arrived back shortly after I was done with Kaiden so they could all get ready for bed early.

Dominoes cheese pizza and cheesey dots were for dinner. Pete and Kaeterina had left-over gluten- free pancakes : ) It tasted pretty darn close to home.

All in all, not a very exciting day. But it was nice to have alittle normal for the day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sony ExploraScience

Today was another scheduled free day with our group. I was bummed because we were supposed to go to The Forbidden City. Now that is bumped to Monday. Tomorrow the group is going shopping to the Pearl Market. We are going to skip that as well and go shopping one day later in the week with Mrs. M.

Pete and the girls went with the M family this morning to the girls school, ISB, for a 'trunk' fundraiser sale. They were able to play on the school playground for about an hour while Mr. & Mrs. M did some shopping. I stayed home with Kaiden so that he could get a good morning nap in.

After lunch, we all headed out to the Sony ExploraScience center. The M family has a mini-van and a driver so we were able to use that today to get around. Imagine 4 adults and 6 kids in a mini van : 0 Sony is located inside Chaoyang Park. I'm impressed with the size and number of parks in Beijing. I never would have expected so many. That aspect reminds me of NYC. It was only about $15 for all 9 of us to get in. It was a cloudy over - cast day so it was a good day to be inside. The Park looks like it would be a fun place to hang out during better weather. It had an amusement park in it as well but we didn't do any of the rides.

After this we did a little bit of shoping. I was able to get a few Chinese books, some even with pin-yin. Pete also got Kaiden an Olympic medal since he did live here during that time period.

Then it was home for our normal bed time routine. Just anothe relaxing day here in Beijing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Finding Place






Today all 3 girls went to school with the M girls. That left Pete, Kaiden, and I with the morning free. We thought this would be a good time to find Kaiden's "finding place". This is the place where Kaiden was abandoned. It's part of his police record so we had the exact address. It was only a 40 minute ride from where we are staying so we called a taxi and were off.

Here are a few pictures. He was found outside of a hotel room door. That seemed kind of odd to me. Normally children are abandoned in a very busy place like in front of the police station or at the orphanage gates so that they are found very quickly. It was a very strange feeling to be there. I had a hard time imagining all of the feelings that must have gone through his birth mother's mind. I'm thankful that he has become apart of our family but at the same time, I have a deep sadness for his mother.

When we returned home from there, I took Pete and Kaiden for a walk to show them around where Mrs. M had taken me yesterday afternoon. We did a bit of grocery shopping just to see how the locals have to do it here. There aren't not any major chains like Kroger or Meijer that we are used to. Just two small markets within walking distance that have to cater to roughly 50+ different nationalities that live around here. It was nice quiet time for just the 3 of us. We did a little bit of shopping and headed home just in time to greet the girls at the bus. They all had a wonderful day. K3 even said she wants to go to school. Of course she'll changer her tune once we get home and back to our normal homeschooling schedule.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Only in China

Only in China do I find myself doing things that I would never do in the USA. Take taxi rides as an example. Here in China, the only seat belt law is for the driver, and that law is rarely followed. We have been putting 6 people in a sedan size taxi with Pete up front (wearing his seat belt) and the 4 kids and I in the backseat, Kaiden rides on my lap. Can you imagine that? I'd NEVER ride like this in the USA. The drivers have never said we had too many people. They just let us pile in. We couldn't put our seat belts on in the back seat if we wanted to anyways, nor use a car seat, because the seats all have covers on them so you can't get to the belts. Today, I ventured out home on my own with Kaiden, and he laid across the backseat napping with me holding on to him with my hand. Funny thing is, accidents are very rare here. We've seen only 1 in the week that we've been here. We're told that everyone drives defensively. I can see that. I don't see how accidents don't happen but they don't. So in a very strange way, I've felt safe driving this way. Never in the USA though.