Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shi Er Tong Yi Yuan

Please keep praying for our little guy.  His oxygen levels are still not high enough to for him to be release.  He has to be off of oxygen for 24 hours and maintain a 90% saturation level before they will let him go home.

Therapy to loosen the phlegm in his lungs.  Or as we like to call it - massage!

Nebulizer- he is not enthusiastic about this.

Still reasonably cheerful.

This oxometer is the coolest toy ever!

Oxygen through the nose, antibiotics through the head.

And yes, that is peeling wall paper in the back.  The environment is pretty grim but the care is good.  That is what really counts.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I was going to post about our weekend at the beach..

but that will have to wait as I ask you to pray for this little guy.  Low oxygen levels put him in the hospital yesterday.
His bed and my bed.   No cribs. Thankfully, we are in a room by ourselves.

Nebulizer treatment.

Still a happy guy, even with an oxygen nasal thing and IV antibiotics in his head.

Pray that his oxygen levels will go up and that we can go home tomorrow.  The doctors and nurses are wonderful but the conditions are grim.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Birds

You know you've lived in China for a while when you actually pay money to have pigeons land on your daughter.

We spent the weekend with dear friends on the coast of China.  Today we went to "Dove Park"  aka Pigeon Park.  For less than a dollar, you can enter this fenced in area, give the unenthusiastic man your money in exchange for some corn to feed the pigeons.  Then you stand there and let the pigeons land on you.
Yes,  visions of the Alfred Hitchcock classic "The Birds" did enter my brain.  Also thoughts of bird flu.  But clearly, Elisabeth  and her friend had fun.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I confess

that I bought this bread simply so that I could take a picture of the label.

It was simply too good to pass up.  I bought it at the store that promises us that we can buy "presh" food there.  Okay, then!  As long as the Bimbo bread is presh!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baby Pictures

A friend of mine commented that there were a lot of baby pictures on the blog.

Well, yes...yes there are!

Here are a few more of the happy guy.

Great eye contact.

Right foot up!

Two feet in the air.

This is my favorite!

He is looking at the cat.


Rest assured, we are involved in all kinds of productive activity.  But there are times I just can't get eyes off of this little guy.  Taking care of him is a gift.  I am so thankful to be able to mother him at this time in his life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rear Window

.We moved to a different district of our apartment complex last summer.  Our old apartment had great views of the city.  Our new apartment has great views of the park and we often see kites flying overhead.  It's a little more peaceful.
Here is the view from the back window of our 6th floor apartment looking towards part of the park,

Looking towards the San Hao bridge.  The bridge is often lit up at night.
Looking towards a huge new complex that is being built.  We could see these from our old apartment also.

A lovely courtyard below our building. We see people exercising here late at night.

Grandma walks with her little one.

The cat gets excited at what he believes to be a bird, but actually is a kite.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekly recap

Aside from my major miscommunication that I posted about below, we had a pretty good week.

There were two rather big things.

On Wednesday, we signed a long term foster care agreement for our little baby.  Our heart's desire is to see this sweet little guy in a home with people who love him.  Isn't that what we desire for all children?

Does he have some challenges?  Sure...but don't we all?

On Thursday, I took him to the ShenYang Children's Hospital for some testing.  He has some issues with a wet rattle at the back of his throat and his doctor wanted a swallow test if that was possible.  He also needed some blood work done since he is so malnourished.
I met a medical resident there who spoke both Chinese and English. We did the registration and took him into the intake area.  The person working the front desk listened to his lungs and said that he had very bad pneumonia and that he should be admitted right away.  He has had a very bad cold with lots of wheezing in his chest.  When we got him, he had aspiration pneumonia from being fed with a propped bottle while lying flat on his back.  If they had said he had pneumonia again, I wouldn't have been surprised.
My heart sank when they said to admit him.  Hospitals in China are often very crowded and not very peaceful places.  I felt that if he really was sick, I'd prefer him to be treated at home.  So we decided to call his regular pediatrician.  She was out of town but we got ahold of another doctor at the Clinic.  The doctors he sees work for an organization called ShenYang Light.  ShenYang Light is an amazing program here that does medical residency training and also works in orphanages and nursing homes.  Those doctors are heroes, pure and simple.  They were able to squeeze the baby in for a visit and found no pneumonia.  So I was able to take him home with me.  I was so thankful.
Since his immune system is so week, even now, his cold is a big thing.  But he is home with us and able to sleep and rest.  He has been a happy little guy for the last few days.

The second thing had to do with our English Corner.  Every Friday night we go to an English corner that includes students from a local university.  We usually have some kind of presentation and then break up into small groups for discussion.  This week, we did a mock wedding with all the trimmings!  We went over customs, the vows, the traditions and more.  We acted out  a wedding and then broke up into groups to talk about weddings and marriage.  There were many good questions about divorce, staying married, choosing a spouse.  It was a good investment of our time as marriages in China can be really challenging.  Work schedules, long distance marriages, the one child policy all affect marriages here.

One thing that Elisabeth found at the market here cracked us up.

Yes, those are smiley face French fries that are being cooked up in a wok!  It's always fun to have fun food!

Cringeworthy mistakes

Many years ago, Paul and I lived in Germany.  We lived in a beautiful apartment that was in the bottom part of a beautiful house on top of a hill.  We went to the same fellowship as our landlords and became friends with them. One Saturday, we went away for the day.  When we got out, our landlady came running out- "Where were you?" she cried?  "We were at a seminar all day."  "What?  You were invited to Maren's birthday party!  We waited and waited for you to come!"  She was truly upset and I was truly puzzled.  Apparently at some point, we had a conversation in German about Maren's party.  My high school German had not held up enough to understand this and because of that, we hurt a little girl's feelings.  I still cringe when I think about that...and it was in 1987!

I have a lovely tutor who meets with me several times a week.  She has been incredibly helpful in helping me study Chinese and is just a wonderful person all around.  Last Spring, her brother was in a hit and run fatal accident and she has been gone for several months, dealing with all the legal matters.   While she was gone, several families helped her financially, as she is dependent upon tutoring for income.

So last week she called Paul.  His understanding of the phone call was that it had to do with a meal on Thursday night.  He said he would check with me.  She called me.  My understanding of the phone call and follow-up conversation was that she needed to change tutoring times and that she was cooking at our mutual friend's house on Thursday.  We also wanted her to tutor our daughter so that confused the conversation even more.
Fast forward to last Thursday night.  At 5:00, she called me to ask where we were.  I was confused and thought she wanted to tutor.  So I said that I forgot that she wanted to tutor that night.  She seemed shocked and put our mutual American friend on the phone.

My huge mistake!  Wo cuo le!  Bu hao yisi!  She had invited us to our mutual friend's apartment for a huge dinner.  It was her way of saying thank you for helping her during her hard time.  I was mortified.  Sick to my stomach.  I know that my Chinese isn't very good but I felt terrible that I had totally missed that invitation.

Elisabeth had too much homework to do so she didn't go.  Paul was at work but still managed to show up on time.  I packed up the baby and walked over to an amazing meal.  I apologized profusely but I still feel terrible.
The food was fantastic. Her husband is a cook and wow!  It was an 8 dish meal with spicy tofu, scallops and broccoli, two kinds of beef, eggplant and more.

I know these kinds of situations will happen again-language misunderstandings can not be avoided.  I am glad that she had a merciful and forgiving spirit.  But I think I'll be cringing about this for a long time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grow, Baby, Grow!

4.5 kilograms and a bundle of sweetness and joy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A few more cultural differences.

One of the reasons that I keep this blog is to remind myself of what it is like here.  We've been here a little over a  year and the extraordinary becomes ordinary pretty quickly.  I am not as hyper-vigilant as I used to be when I ride my bike in our city.  I don't know if that is good or bad!  I am somewhat used to the constant noise of living in a huge city.  I can push my way out of a bus with the best of them, all without making eye contact.
There are a few things that still stand out to me.  Here are a few.

1.  Dishes are put away wet.  We thought that we had a leak under our stove as we saw water in a large mixing bowl that was stored under the stove.  But when the same person put the bowl away again, we saw water at the bottom of the bowl.  A friend told me that it's really common to put dishes away wet.  Remember, no diswashers!  It's just a head shaker for me and one to not question -just make sure that person doesn't put our dishes away!

2.  Perception of cold.  Last year, I got lots of stares as I wore sandals without socks into a warm October.  But I was flabbergasted when it turned cold and I saw people without hats or gloves.  The difference?  In China, feet shouldn't get cold.  In my part of the world, heads shouldn't get cold.
This is felt really strongly with children.  I've brought our foster baby out a few times.  He is a hot, hot kid- sweating at night and like a little water bottle for warmth.  However, according to the grandmas in our neighborhood, he is massively underdressed.  I brought him to the babysitter (ayi) in a onesie on a hot summer day and she asked me where his clothes were.  I thought he was wearing them!

3.  Education.  I am taking Chinese at one of the top universities in our city.  The instructors are top notch, the text books are good and I am so glad I am there.  But it is a totally different system.  Basically, I went in and told the front office that I wanted to try their program for two weeks.  They said okay, gave me the books, told me to go to Beginner 2 level and that was that.  No name, no deposit-nothing.  They did tell me not to write in the books.  After a week, I knew that I wanted to continue so I went to pay my tuition (in cash!) and fill out a form.  "Come back tomorrow."  Okay.  I came back.  "Come back on Monday." one was in the office on Monday.  So today I went in during our class break and told them that they needed to take my money!  I almost believe that I could have attended the whole semester and not paid.  Not that I would have.
Another difference is in study.  In China, you prepare before you come to class and then the teacher teaches you.  So the night before class, I prepare all the exercises with my tutor or alone so that I understand the teacher.  It's almost impossible to understand the lesson unless you do it this way.  In the US, I taught a concept and then assigned homework.  It's the opposite here!  It works...but it is very hard work.

The weather is starting to turn a little here.  We still have warm days and cool nights.  Paul is happy teaching some oral English at a local university and forming relationships there.  I love my classes and being around an international population again.  We have a group of North Koreans in our classes and I am totally fascinated by that.  There are a few young girls and some men.  The men all wear pins with their country leader on them. It's just amazing to meet people from such a mysterious place.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A little lightness.

The blog has been fairly heavy lately with some of the more serious things in our lives.  So I thought I would show a few lighter moments in our lives.

Oh, Panera Bread!  How we miss you!  Fortunately Elisabeth found the recipe for broccoli cheese soup.  She made it and bread bowls for dinner!  Fantastic!

Thumbs up!  Or V for Victory!  Or Asian Peace sign!  You choose!  Either way it was good soup.

In addition to the fantastic wasabi crackers that I bought today, here are some Big Cow Biscuits!  I guess it's better than Big Cow Pies!

Finger Biscuits.  Almost but not as good as the Korean Mother's Finger biscuits that I posted a few months ago.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jie Jie and Di Di.

Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate. - Charlotte Gray

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weekly Recap

So what have we been up to this week?  Teaching and learning!

Elisabeth went away to her high school camp.  Every year, the high schoolers go up to the mountains for a few days.  This year, the speaker taught from the book of Ephesians on being aliens and strangers in the land.  Valuable teaching for kids who are growing up in a country that is not their passport country.  For some this is their third or fourth country to live in.

Paul started teaching oral English at the local pharmaceutical university.  We are involved with an English corner that involves many of  students from this university.  The job is part time and the hours change every day.  This gives him time to be involved with some of the students and student leaders.  It also gives him time to keep studying Chinese and the other activities that we are involved in.

I started studying Chinese again.  I switched programs this year to a university near our home.  I really enjoyed our private language school last year but wanted to study at a university this year.  I have a grammar class, reading (yes, all in characters), speaking and listening.  My classmates are Korean, Japanese, Russian and North Korean.  Yes, I met my first North Korean- a very sweet girl of about 19 or 20.
The classes are interesting.  I expected a more teacher center approach but the teacher's are remarkably accessible and expect a high level of involvement.  Homework is usually preparation of the next lesson.  I really am reaching a new level of empathy for my ESL students as I am now learning Chinese in Chinese!  All the grammar explanations, all the instructions are in Chinese.  It's interesting how much you can pick up even if you don't understand all of  the language.

The baby keep growing and developing.  He has discovered he can bubble and spit a little and thinks these are the coolest things ever.  I've been consulting over the internet with a friend who is a professor of speech pathology about some of his swallowing issues (he has a wet rattle) and that has been remarkably helpful.  We are hoping to start him on some solid food soon.  He still feeds every two hours during the day but sleep pretty well through the night.  He has a lot of anxiety about day time sleeping so getting him down for a nap can be arduous.  Aside from that, he is delightful!

The high temperature today is 77 and there is a definite coolness to the air.  As much as I like the cooling down, it means that winter is on the way.  At least this year I am mentally prepared for the cold!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Best weight gain ever!

From 3.3 kilograms to 3.9!  That's a weight gain of a little over a pound!  We gave him a little modesty with some scribbles!

His lying on the couch days are may be over soon as he is starting to roll!

Oh how we love this baby and delight to see his progress!