Oh Where in the World is Jake?

Last night, around 10 pm, Eric and I headed to bed. He checked on the boys and noticed we were missing one. He asked me, "Where did you put Jake?". "In his bed!", I replied. Jake's tiny; he gets lost in the comfortor if he moves around, so we looked and shuffled the covers around. No Jake. He likes to try to climb up to Grant's bed every once in a while which Grant will have NONE of, but we checked up there too. I double checked. No Jake. He wasn't in my bed either. We found these two sleeping beauties in Ally's loft bed snoozing away.

Didn't I say that Ally spoils him rotten? We didn't move him. It was just too cute. Hope he sleeps in his own bed tonight!

BTW, if you were to zoom in, you may notice Jake's shiner. Yes, he does indeed have a shiner on his right eye. He hit himself in the eye with a toy at school. They iced it down a little, but it still left a mark! Really not a biggie as someone always has a bloody lip, bonk on the head, or skinned knee around here. However, my social worker scheduled a post placement for yesterday afternoon to meet Jake and see how he is doing in his new home. Thank goodness for a social worker who understands how boys work!

(Disclaimer: For those China adoptive parents dialing their agencies now wondering why they haven't had their 1 month post placement, you don't have to worry. My home study agency requires a one month visit regardless of the country specific requirements. )

Evidently, Jake was busy in school on Wednesday too because the asst. administrator stopped me and said that Jake had kissed a little girl in class. These days, 4 yr. olds are required to be treated like 14 yr. olds because some parents have lost their common sense evidently when they delivered their children into this world. School policy required they tell me. They thought maybe I could explain to him that kissing was for home and not school. Uhhh.....my Chinese is just not that good!


Jiayin Designs

My friend, Kelly, who we met in China when she and her hubby were adopting Miss Lydia, is helping with a new venture. She is helping a Christian woman in Beijing get a business venture off the ground. We were so happy to have Jake be "a part" of it a little as his picture is used on the website.
You can check it out at:

The artist in Beijing cuts the Chinese characters out of a sheet of sterling sliver and makes custom charms. I saw Kelly's charm of Lydia's Chinese name while in China. It is lovely and quite a piece to have. Really unique! Check it out!



There is something seriously wrong when your 4 yr. old pretends to smoke a cigarette with a Pocky stick (chocolate covered breadstick) !

I'm just sayin'......seriously wrong!


Laws of Combustion

It seems as if we have a lot of combustion around here. It comes in many forms. Boys! They combust in a number of ways.....

(DISCLAIMER: No children were harmed in the making of the picture)

Guess what happens when you blow bubbles into your monkey cup with the straw and the lid on it?
It combusts! Explodes with fury!
Uh-oh! Looks like Mama might not be to happy!

It's so cool that Mama doesn't get mad when I spill things! Love it!

Awwww Shucks! Looks like I'm stuck helping her clean up my mess!

In other news of combustion, the Mountain Dew was discovered this afternoon in the toy box in the playroom. Hmmmm...... I wonder who in the world would have done that? (SIGH)


You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

So we just past the 2 week mark of being home in the good 'ole USA. Jake no longer bites or kicks. He may throw the arm back to wallop Ally or Grant if he doesn't get his way, but has not actually hit in a while. This is probably because I yell the "AAA, ,AAA, AAA!!!" at him. He laughs all the time and has the cutest smile. He still holds out his hand for a good handshake when meeting someone, but I've noticed he frequently says, "Haaalo!". Of course, he is still showing off his magic trick skills and does his "high five" trick yelling out "Your tooooooooo slouw!". He says "Shea shea" and "thank you" interchangeably. Watch out if he starts taking his shirt off. He'll yell "Play BALL!" and is ready to wrestle. He knows the words apple, banana, egg, milk, and night-night. He can yell "STOP" better than anyone. He knows "Yes" but still frequently gives the Chinese grunt for yes. We're working on that one. He sings a combo of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and the "ABC" song all mushed together. The sounds for his letters are, uhhh, unique! He can count but leaves out 8 and 9 - who needs them anyway. He also likes to start out at "Twenty one, twenty two....". Whenever I count in Chinese, he counts in English. Jake is very good at saying, "Bye bye, peee-U!, and stinky!". Such a boy! He also understands and says "potty". Jake is quite the mimicker so I imagine he'll be picking up a few more words soon. Besides, the girls at the ballfield have been teaching him "I like fried chicken!". It can be so extremely frustrating at times to not have the verbal skills to get a point across, ask a question, or explain something. Jake doesn't really have "downtime". He is a whirlwind of activity floating from distraction to distraction. He takes things apart in record time. He likes to see how things work apparently. The frustration is definitely extreme sometimes especially when he screams at the top of his lungs. Screaming is what you do when you are 4 yrs. old and can't get your point across with words, and your siblings aren't cooperating with you. Like nails on a chalkboard, I tell ya'!

He is understanding more English than he is saying. He understands sit down, blow your nose, are you hungry, let's get a bath, etc. I think he is a smart little guy! He also can identify several body parts. Jake refers to himself as "San San" which is his Chinese nickname. He stutters a little, especially when excitedly talking in Chinese. I still absolutely love it when he goes on and on explaining something to me in Chinese detail and starts pointing the finger back and forth while tsk'ing with his tongue. Too funny! He is your typical 4 yr. old and loves to help Mama. I am becoming "Mommy" more and more, but Eric is still "Baba". He is cuddly, still rubbing ears for comfort, probably should be napping, but I'm not forcing the issue. Jake had never slept alone until the night we came home to the USA. He goes to bed without any problems and will occasionally get up to move a car around, then head back to bed.

I cannot even tell you what a different kid he is since we were in China. I had the "deer in the headlights" look the whole time we were there I think. Frankly, Jake terrified me. He terrified me to the point of sleepless nights, lots and lots of rolaids, and always overly nervous and frazzled. He was out of control. Eric could manage his behavior for the most part, but I could not. It always ended up with me being beat up! HA! It scared me to think what we may have done to our family, our nice, well behaved, controlled family. Our family that had a great balance. Jake seemed to be a wild child with a huge personality. He wouldn't even let me help him dress and would put his hands in his pockets when I came near him. His little body would tense up and he'd turn his back when I came towards him. He would always run from me and give me the "evil eye" (used to that one from Ally). Today, he holds my hand, is loving, listens fairly well, and takes instruction if he is actually understanding what I'm saying. He actually likes me! He gives kisses. Accepts and receives affection. He has bonded so well! He is attached to me and Eric. Loves his siblings more and more. He loves his grandparents too! We are working through this transition. Our work isn't over yet.

My point is adoption is difficult. Adopting an older child is REALLY difficult. I will certainly advocate for any adoption whether it is non-special needs, babies, special needs, or older child. But I would hate to give anyone an overly rosy picture of what it really is. Eric and I never expected it to be easy. We had many a conversation about the difficulties and what to expect. We thought about it and prayed about it. I read and read about older child adoption and the institutionalized child. We did our homestudy homework! We prepared for a long, difficult adjustment. However, all the preparation in the world cannot give a perfectly clear picture of what your child will be like and what feelings you will experience.

I've read before that adoption is like marriage. It takes time to fall in love with this new child with his own likes and dislikes, for him to fall in love with you, and for the love and interest to happen. Eric and I knew that Grant was ours from the first time we laid eyes on him laying in the crib in Kazakhstan. It was instant. I didn't expect it to happen that way, but it did. However, the kids we met at orphanage that were 5 and 6 yrs old have always been in our mind. They were perfect kids and wanted parents so badly. They would vie for our attention and call out, "MAMA, PAPA!" to say hello. They loved to play and were all smiles.

Why can't they have families? Just because they are a little older? That's why this time around, although still scary, we decided to bring home an older child. Well, that, and we both think we are too old to start over with a baby! Hehehehe! I'm glad we made this decision. It is amazing to see Jake's courage and resiliency. He has learned to trust us, love us, and depend on us. He has learned new rules, tried new food, accepted a new schedule, made new friends, accepted a new family, and learned a new language. His entire life, a life that he obviously loved, was taken away from him. He has handled this transition far better than I expected him to. I think he acted out while we were in China out of fear and confusion. Our coordinator said that Jake thought we were more of a vacation and then he'd be back with "first mama and baba". How confusing for a child. Today, he is truly a different child full of life, laughter, and personality. We have fallen in love during these weeks of transition. Jake loving us, loving his family, and us loving Jake. We are still adjusting as expected. We still have a ways to go, things to learn about each other, transitions to make, and feelings to overcome.

Adoption is difficult for everyone, but worth all the pain. No child should sleep among rows and rows of metal beds with nannies caring for them year after year. Every child deserves a family regardless of their age, needs, or race. Every child deserves to know what it is like to have loving parents.


Because Omi wants videos!

These were Jake's shoes that he was sooooo proud of on the day we met him. Yes, they are pink and purple and his foster family bought them for him for this occasion. The staff at the orphanage told us that he showed them off when he came that Sunday. I kept all of his "arrival clothes", but just took a pic of these so I could return them to the orphanage for someone else to use. You could probably see Eric cringing at the pink and purple that Jake so proudly showed us! HA! I remember Grant came to us in a purple onesie with a bow!

There was a little square in Yinchuan where a mall was. There wasn't much of a place to let the kids run around. Jake and Grant found it amusing to torture the birds a little.

Jake is talking about his magic trick. He's all about the magic tricks!

And, a video of Jake singing in Yinchuan for your viewing pleasure! Just click here and it will take you to his video on you tube. Last one, click here for a video of our first meeting with Jake in the Yinchuan orphanage.


The Asian Market

This week, I went to an Asian grocery about 45 min. from my house. It won't be a weekly visit, but I will definitely be going back. I can buy Bok Choy at my local store, but this store has some of those not so common vegetables like the Choy sum, I believe it's called. If you have been to China recently, you would have had the green stemmed veggie in soups and sauteed alone. It is yummy! Every time I asked what it was called, they said we didn't have it in the U.S. and they didn't know an English name for it. This Asian grocery had it! I bought 2 fresh bunches of it and we've enjoyed one already. I was hoping to buy the garlic stemmed bunches. In China, we ate what we thought were deliciously seasoned green beans. We found that they were the stems from the garlic cloves. They were pretty thick and sauteed up for us. Absolutely delicious!!!!! Maybe they'll have it next time. I also bought:
fresh noodles,
instant spicy seaweed soup (Jake's call),
candied "small apple" strips (not sure what the small apple/cherry was, but everyone was eating them candied on a stick),
spicy beef jerky,
green tea watermelon seeds (again, Jake's call),
Pocky! (my call!) ~this is a very thin bread stick dipped in strawberry or chocolate (yes, Kelly, I found it!)
frozen dumplings for soup and frozen potstickers
freshly made leek/veggie dumplings (not steamed)
large steamed veggie dumplings
choy sum (might also be known as yok choy)
rice cracker cookies (Jake's favorite cookie)
a strawberry candy (again, Jake's pick)
canned herbal tea
canned coconut juice drink
AND............frozen sweet pea Popsicles! You have no idea how excited Jake and I were to find these little gems. Whenever we took the kids to 7Eleven in China, he would always pick this out and enjoy every bite! So we bought a few!

We purchased a few other little things as well. I was very happy to find this little, jammed packed store. The clerk did not speak English and only asked me questions in Chinese. I only understood a couple of her questions (how many children? how old are they?). She spoke with Jake a bit and were talking about his new family. Honestly, he didn't seem overjoyed when talking with her or about our family. Gosh! Hope he didn't say he didn't care for me! HA!

Jake had more blood work done today and enjoyed a water ice afterward. Hopefully, this will be it for a month or two! And, you all will be very happy to note, that I finally got all the crud out of Jake's belly button! Grant's belly button took me a couple of weeks of bath soaking to get clean when I first got him. Jake has a whole 4 yrs on me, and it took some time. I felt the need to explain when he had his pediatrician's visit too! Don't get me wrong, Jake was clean and very well kept. However, belly button crud always seems to be overlooked and little boys won't let you dig to get it clean. Now that I've grossed out all my blog readers.............

Should have taken a snapshot of all my Asian groceries, and I bet you're glad that I didn't take a picture of Jake's black, cruddy bellybutton!


Jake's View of China

Like I said, I hope no one gets sea sick. Jake loved taking pics in China. He had quite the photographer stance down and everything. Okay, so focusing isn't his thing. This is only a handful of the pictures he took. I can't seem to let myself delete these pictures. I think they are too funny!


Coming to the USA! It's not all you thought it'd be!

Today, thought I'd post a bit of Jake's ride to the USA! The pics are NOT in order as blogger is being as stubborn as Jake! Sorry!

Touchdown at immigration. Jake's first picture as an American citizen. Oh yeah, that reminds me of something I wanted to tell. Immigration: Don't know how many blog readers have been through immigration, but I've been twice now. Both times it was an eye opening, miserable experience. The officers are very stern with US citizens, but once they are finished with you, they warm up slightly. If you are an immigrant, however, they are absolutely the rudest human beings on the planet. I'm all for scrutiny, investigation, looking for the hard facts, not letting terrorists, traffickers, and criminals in. In fact, I'm all for stern immigration officers. However, being extremely condescending and overly rude is offensive to me as an American citizen. For example, and I have several: As we were sitting in the immigration room, there was an Indian family; the mom in her sari, her husband in his suit, and their two sons in nice suits wearing their sandals. The immigration officer said to the woman, "You, over here" without looking at her. Of course, she didn't respond. Again, this time looking, "You, over here, now!" pointing at her. She timidly walked toward him. He said, "Sign here". She didn't understand him and just looked at him. He was visibly irritated and pointed to her husband and said, "You, come over here and make her sign this!". The man did as he was told and his wife signed her name to something. I highly doubt she or her husband knew what they had just signed their name to. They quietly sat back down and had the "deer in the headlights look". After a few minutes, the immigration officer said, "Get out of here. I already told you to go!". Nice! Welcome to America, "The Melting Pot", "The Land of Opportunity". Seriously? Maybe a little more respect? It was this way when Grant and I went through immigration in 2004 in the Philadelphia Int'l Airport. I just think there has to be a show of respect somewhere along the line. Don't you? No wonder other countries don't like us if this is what foreign citizens experience upon arrival to America. Let's just say, I wasn't proud!

Jake was checking out the scenery, more like the sun. It was constantly light as we traveled to and from China flying over Canada, Alaska, the Bering Strait, and International Date Line.

Any good Asian kid gives the "Victory" sign in a picture!

Knocked out.....finally! Ahhhh.....bliss! He took up three seats (his, Eric's, and his feet on the other passengers lap!).

My girlfriend took this pic of Jake the first time he went to the park here at home. He loved it as you can tell. Love this pic!

Loving the window!

Our constant sun
You can look forward to a post of Jake's pics. He loves taking pictures and took quite a few in China. Hope no one gets seasick.


You know the noodles were good when.........

You know the spicy noodle soup was good when......

.......it ends up all over your new monkey shirt.

Mama couldn't possibly be mad at me 'cause I'm so darn cute when I slurp my noodles so loudly the dog comes running!

I know this face is super cute so I'll try it! It ALWAYS works! It was hard work drinking the spicy broth too!

Jake has eaten 2 eggo waffles, one boiled egg, one banana, 2 glasses of milk, spicy noodle soup, another banana (cause mama forgot I already ate one today), 2 glasses of milk, watermelon juice, cottage cheese and hot spicy salsa, chips, some of mama's salad, glass of milk,mandarin orange, and rice crackers after school, an entire roasted sweet potato skin and all, roast beef, a roll, garlic broccoli, green beans, and corn. I think that's it, but I can't be sure. I always seem to find an apple core or banana peel on my floor on a daily basis. Where the heck does he put it? I think we are going to have to take a loan out soon to keep our groceries coming in! My only solace is that I know have a really cool partner to eat spicy food with. The hotter the better!


West Pagoda and Buddhist Temple of Yinchuan

I posted about the West Pagoda while we in China. However, I didn't get to post like I wanted to and thought I'd share some other pictures. The West Pagoda is part of a working Buddhist temple. They are very busy with visitors two days out of the month when the locals come to burn incense and worship this happy, fat statue. Kind of sad, isn't it? While we were there, there were a few locals coming to burn incense. It was really beautiful and old though.

Chinese Fire Extinguisher

Prayer Books

Buddhist Monk's dog. HA! No idea why I took this picture. There was another dog that was locked up with a huge lock in a small pen with lots of trash. He looked so old that he couldn't have had a lot of "kick" left in him. Really kind of sad! Boy, he must have done something bad in a past life!

This bridge takes you past the drum tower.

This is inside the Buddhist Temple. The monks can go in here, but the locals have a kneeling bench outside of this entrance.

This pagoda was huge! I believe they said this one was 930 years old, but was rebuilt in 1820 due to an earthquake. We were allowed to walk up and around, but not inside.

One of my pics I found interesting. Sorry!

If you look closely, you can see the monk calling the pigeons and feeding them.

One of the entrances to the monks' quarters.

The monks placed their handprints on the building wall in hopes of good fortune in life.

One of the bell towers.

These outside metal pieces were the incense burners.

Very interesting place. However, a short walk down the road outside of the temple is a new, large mosque. As I've mentioned before, this area of Hui Chinese, an ethnic minority, are Muslim. There were people burning incense there the day we were there. I think for a lot of people there it is just done out of tradition. The Chinese are so rich in tradition. For example, even though they are Muslim, the weekend we left Yinchuan, people were selling paper flowers and paper, fake money for people to visit ancestral graves and burn so they would have money to spend in the afterlife. People were traveling distances to visit these graves. Very interesting as I had read about this and other beliefs in many a book of the years. Interesting to see they still actively participate in these traditions.

On another note: In China, Jake talked our ear off in Chinese. Oh, the stories he would tell. He talked everyone's ear off including our coordinator, other adoptive families, shopkeepers, ayis, the maid, the security guards.....anyone who would listen! He still will have moments of non stop talking in Chinese. BUT he knows I'm not great at understanding him and he isn't as talkative. I can't wait till we can have conversations! Can't wait till he can tell me things....what hurts, when he's hungry and what it is exactly he want to eat, what he's thinking about, what he wants to do. The few people we have here in town that speak Mandarin do not really understand him because of his accent/dialect. He has banana, apple, all done, and ouch! down pat. I took him for the blood work that is needed today. He is too little to have it all done at once so we will have to go back one time, maybe two! So wishing we didn't have to stick and poke the poor guy! We took my friends' advice and stopped by for a Rita's water ice. Jake ate his and mine, which is typical of Jake. I've never seen such a small kid eat so much!


Bits and Pieces of our Lives

I went back in to school to help out yesterday and took "little man" with me. We looked over the Chinese word for school and teacher so he'd get the idea (along with the school uniform). He did great, so I'm told. He mimicked the words the teacher said for the colors and participated in music class to some degree. He "colored" which is very new to him I think. He was just making tiny marks on the paper so he could see what the color did to the paper, but yesterday he ended up scribbling. He was so excited to show me the little certificate the teacher gave him and his stickers he got. He's such a people person and loves to play that I think a few hours a week in school will be good for him. He'll probably pick up English even quicker too.

(I swear, every time I stick him in the tub, I remember how tiny he is. From the backside, he looks like a skinny infant! There is absolutely nothing to him!) He is so little! If you know Jake, you know his favorite thing is a "junta fong o jia" a really big digger or excavator. I always thought those kid videos of real trash trucks, fire trucks, real trains, etc. were lame. Now......not so lame! I've been you tubing 3 min. segments of peace and quiet in the form of moving diggers and construction equipment. If anyone gets on the computer, he'll come over and ask for a "fong o jia". He sits mesmerized for as long as the video runs. Looking for a nice "fong o jia" video now~

Singing Happy Birthday, again! Boy, do we know how to draw out a birthday celebration. Thanks to all who left comments and called to wish him a Happy Birthday! He really felt special!

This needs no other explanation other than what sisters do to little brothers. This is definite blackmail material!


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