Saturday, February 26, 2011

This little guy wants to move.

Our little foster son is almost 16 months.  He has been with us for around six months.  He seems to be developmentally pretty on track for a little guy with Down Syndrome.  That is my mama bear opinion anyway.  He is 9 - 10 kilograms (about 20 pounds).  That is a gain of about 12 - 14 pounds in six months.  People ask how we did it- we just call it the "Chunk him up" diet.  We put extra formula and cereal in his bottle.  The amount was told to us by his doctor.  Putting cereal in his bottle took some getting used to because I used to work with teen parents and that was something we told them not to do!  But because of his poor swallow reflex and aspiration pneumonia, he needed the thickness of the cereal.  Plus the extra calories.  Now we just put in a small amount of cereal with the formula.
We try to make every bite count.  We cook, puree and freeze vegetables, which we include with his cereal. We can get cooked sweet potatoes on the street here- we buy those for about 50 cents!  One lasts through two or three dinners.  The day starts off with oatmeal chopped and bananas.  He snacks on cereal and small crackers.  For dinner, we just grind up whatever we are eating.
Getting healthy means wanting to move.  He can roll.  He can sit by himself if we put him in a sitting position.  Now, he really, really wants to move and is doing everything he can to do it.

He does this a lot-has since the beginning.  He is incredibly flexible, one of the characteristics of Down Syndrome.

Strong at pushing up and schooches a little.

Almost crawling- strong arms, strong legs but coordinating opposite and alternate body movement is not quite there.

Since he can't really crawl yet, he does this to move!  He arches and scooches backwards. It gets him about an inch back but hey!  it's progress!

He likes to look at toys and is beginning to hold them with two hands or pass from one hand to another.

He loves to touch different surfaces and will spent a lot of time touching different things.

This position usually means "Pick me up."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spring is Coming! A few random photo's.

Just because we are still wearing long underwear doesn't mean Spring isn't coming.  Look at the river by our house!

The ice is melting!

This is the building near our home that caught on fire on Chun Jie.  Cause of the fire- fireworks.  The damage is pretty amazing!  More amazing-  no one was killed or hurt!  The building is a hotel but many people live there long term.  Because of Chun Jie, most people were out.

These are outside a friend's apartment.  There is a kind of Spanish theme and they are actually really attractive buildings and grounds.

"Because of a similar aesthetic, similar life experiences, we come together, we live in harmony, we are the same as each other, because the heart of barcelona."

"In barcelona you will find a lot of details have been closer to your heart and architecture, and the surrounding neighborhood and life away."

"Everyone has a different attitude to life, everyone wants to have the same preferences with their own people live together."

"Spanish Impression and a deep artistic spirit make the housing an ideal space."

I guess what I notice about these signs is that advertising is advertising, no matter what the language or culture.  They are trying to sell an experience to draw people to live there.  Apparently it's working because the apartments are pretty full!

Look- our baby is a Gleek!

Weirdest cat ever... drinking water in the shower with the shower on!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Guest Blogger: The Man of the House!

Let me share my recent story of medical care in China.

So, I had not been feeling well for several days.  Then we went out for "hot pot," which we all love.  Mind you, I use the clear "qing" pot, not the spicy "la" pot.  But later that night my belly hurt like crazy.  I think the term "excruciating pain" would do it.  I woke up with a sharp, stabbing pain on the left side.  Of course, I thought that the next morning I'd feel better.  "No more hot pot," if you know what I mean.  Well the next day, "no more hot pot" but the pain continued for the next few days.

After a few days, I went to the "international clinic" to see a Western doctor.  There were a few bangs on the feet, moving my knees around, pressure on different parts of the abdomen, and then finally pushing on that particular painful spot.  "Ouch" is not enough to describe the sensation.  He pressed on the opposite side, which had absolutely no pain, and then suddenly released.  Pain went flying from one side of the abdomen to the other. Oh, the doctor was now certain it was diverticulitis and peritonitis.  The doctor said that if the CT scan showed no "free air" in the abdomen, then ten days of anti-biotics would work.

They sent me on a day long journey through two different Chinese hospitals to rule out the need for surgery.  I first needed a CT scan and then off for a consultation with a surgeon at the best hospital in town.  With the exception of the sheer numbers of people  who were waiting to see doctors, I would say the quality of care was comparable to medical care in the U.S.

Now to the best part.

The cost of the CT scan was $115, the surgeon consultation fee was $8, and the radiologist consultation fee was $8.  Again, let me say the quality of care was comparable to the US, the CT scanner was the same as one you would see in the US.  

I feel better in the belly and better in the pocketbook.  I am very thankful.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Not really a China post.

This has been a hard week for our family.  We are dealing with some decisions and none of them are easy.  We have good support from good people.  But life feels very serious right now.
My husband has been seriously ill this week. He started feeling ill on Sunday evening and was awake for three nights.  Wednesday he went to the international clinic and was diagnosed with diverticulitis and peritonitis.  So far   it's been treated with heavy antibiotics but he has been in considerable pain and  is fatigued.  He promised to blog about his experience in the hospital later.
People often think that the things that stress you the most are cultural differences.  That can be true.  In this land of the only indulged child,  there can be unbelievable rudeness.  I was standing in line at the market the other day and two girls pushed ahead of me to buy their drinks.  They saw me, they looked at me and they did it anyway.  That kind of thing can be enraging.
But really, the things that make you tired are the ordinary.  It's caring for a teenager and a baby. Okay, maybe that isn't so common.  It's sickness, it's running out of milk, it's lack of sleep and so on.
So today, I feel tired and a little blue.  I read the Book of Common Prayer Evening Compline and it comforted my soul with its beautiful words and profound meaning.
Part of the reading was from the Psalms
Psalm 107:1-32
1Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

2Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,

3And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west, 
From the north and from the south. 

4They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.

5Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.

6Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.

7And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.

8Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

9For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness. 

That is one of my favorite verses in the Bible and He has proved it over and over to me.  No matter how dark today is, He will be faithful.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sure, I can sit!

When we got our little guy last August, he could barely hold his head up, let alone sit unattended.  I didn't know much about Down Syndrome and I thought that the combination of Down Syndrome and being severely malnourished would combine to his development and recovery rather slow.
I couldn't have been more wrong.  This guy wants to sit, crawl and play.  He "talks" up a storm and interacts with us.  He hates his bath and "scolds" us after we give him one.  He kicks, he raises up, he rolls, he lies on his stomach and tries to scoot.  He can sit unattended if we put him in the position.  He is so proud of himself and we are proud of him.

We are thinking a lot these days about what his future will be.  In many ways, it is truly out of our hands.  He is our foster son, not our adopted son.  We want the best for him but have no power to make that happen.  His future may be in his home country, with a loving long term foster family.  It may be with a forever family.  It may be in an institutional setting.  We don't know.  We know what we hope and pray for our little guy.
Sure, he can sit.  That's a major thing.  But he can also love and is easy to love.  That's the most important thing.
Ni Hao Yall

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We live in an amazing place.

It's cold here.  But nothing that some hand knits can't take care of!  A Frogtree yarn hat and a Manos Uruguay yarn shawl keeps our little guy warm when we go outside.

Jie Jie is back from the Philippines and feeding our little guy.  Yes, the chopstick training starts early!

We have fun New Year statues

We can buy fun name stamps or chops.  So can the President!

We have wonderful examples of English gone slightly wrong.

The sentence structure in the above two ads has the same mistake.  I've seen that mistake in ads all over China.  I am trying to figure out what the structure relationship is to Chinese.  It seems to be similar to the command structure in Chinese as in "gei wo/give me."  But in English, it's the wrong part of speech.

I think I need mild hair care.  I am too old for wild hair care.

Even the buildings are smart here.

We have a place to worship,  I mean buy English books.  This is in Beijing.

Sun rising over Beijing hutongs.

Mysterious door ways.

Joyful New Year decorations.

I never want to lose the sense of amazement and wonder that we live here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leaving our calling cards.

One of my favorite books is Little Women.   In one of the chapters, Jo and Meg go calling on people and leave their calling cards.  The social part of visiting people was an important part of the culture of that day and that is true in China today.
Of course, social life in China wouldn't be social life unless it involved food!  We had several meals with several friends.
Our first meal was in a restaurant with our friend, Hongwen.  We knew Hongwen in the USA.  She came to our city to help her son while he was a graduate student. We have reconnected with her here and really have fun when we see her.  She is a retired public health official and Chinese traditional dancer.  She still dances almost every day.

Our friend and her a very tired little boy.

The husband of the niece who is a very nice guy.  We just feel like the more we can get our little guy out, the more people can see that children with Down Syndrome are more like us than different.  Many Chinese have never spent much or any time with children with special needs.

The son who works in Beijing but comes home to his mother for Chinese New Year.  Plus the fruit sculpture that I think was meant to look like a rabbit but no one agreed. 

The very sweet niece and the girl friend.

Let's just say that the fish was very, very fresh.

The next day, we went to our friend's house.  These are parents of friends that we also know in the USA.  They are super grandparents and just really interesting people.  Plus, they speak Chinese slowly so that we will understand!  

Our little guy got to hang out on the blanket.

He was "spoken" to sleep.  The grandma held him and spoke Chinese to him until he was memorized to sleep.  I wish I had taken a picture- it was so sweet!

I thought I didn't have my camera so I didn't take a picture of the incredibly fantastic meal.  But this is also very traditional Chinese- snacks of fruit and nuts.  Plus tea served in a glass.

Peeling the apples.  I am not sure why but the apples here are fantastic.

The sweet grandma.

After lunch and spending the afternoon with our friends, we took a taxi home.  Paul had coal dust all over his pants and we needed to get them soaking in hot water.  After changing clothes, we put our little guy back in the stroller and walked over to our friend's house for corn chowder.  These are American friends who also foster a special needs little guy.  They also have three other children that we like very much.  So it was a good evening. After dinner, we wrapped up our little guy and walked him home under a cold night.  It was a good day for visiting.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Going on a date in China.

Our lives have changed pretty dramatically since we have had Mr. Cuter than cute foster son.  My life in particular is much more circumscribed.  I am home  a lot.  When I was studying Chinese at the university last fall, we had a helper come in for part of the day.  That meant that I could go to class, run a few errands  and just get out a little.  However, I am not studying at the university this semester so we let our helper go.  So right now it's just me and the little guy at home most days.
But today, we asked a fellow foster mom to watch him so we could go out for dinner.  It was wonderful.  So this is how it went.

First we had to get our little guy in his big blue puffy suit and walk down six flights of stairs to get him to our friend's house.  He gets excited when he see the puffy suit because he knows he is going out.

Every door in our building has these dui lian over their doors. These are put up on Chinese New Year and stay up all year.  The meaning is this- the red scares off the monster Nian and the words are usually blessing. This one is hand painted.  The character in the middle is "fu."  It means something like "abundance."  If you turn the character upside down, it means something like "arrived. "  So abundance has arrived in the new year.

There is lots of alcohol consumed over the new year.

There was a little crying when we dropped our little guy off.  Apparently this went on most of the time we were gone.  But we left him in good hands.  He is very cute when he cries.

We took off on our bikes and stopped for a phone call with Hu Xian Sheng.  We are having lunch with him and his wife this week.  Yes, it is still winter in our city but look- the snow is melting.

We stopped off at the bank to get some cash.  This is a New Year decoration combining a rabbit (it's year of the rabbit), a fish (meaning abundance)  and the character "fu" which means riches and blessings.

These gold mannequin legs have been outside this store forever.  I finally got a picture.  I have no idea why they are there.

Chun Bing!  The best food in China is in small, hole in the wall places.  To those who worry about germs and food poisoning by eating in such place, I say you don't know what you are missing!  Cheap and really good food.

The peppers from the pork.

This is outside the restaurant.  Those are our  trusty bikes.  The sign says "Don't forget to eat Chun Bing for Chun Jie" or don't forget to eat Spring pancakes for Spring Festival.

Off we went to the big super market to buy some stuff.  I know, I know- we are the master's of the romantic date!

We rode our bikes up this road to go and look at this.

Big fire near our house because of fireworks.  It was amazing to see the destruction.  We can't believe no one was killed.

We rode our bikes back along the river.  There is still some ice on the river but it's definitely heading towards Spring.  It was fun to ride in the semi-darkness and see the lit up buildings on the other side of the river.

We got back to find our little guy in fine hands.  It was good to go out!
That's a date in China in a snap shot!
Ni Hao Yall