Sunday, July 27, 2008

Whip It!

This post hallmarks yet another gratuitous Cute Baby Video. I'm shameless, I know, but there seem to be a fair number of you out there who are also getting guilty pleasure watching these clips. Everybody has a right to giggle or coo once in a while, even if you're watching this on your iPhone from the cab of your 18-wheeler.

Katie is proving to be a chip off the old block, even if she didn't originate from this old block originally. Our family is known for its sweet tooth, and for good reason. None of us has ever knowingly passed up dessert. Tonight Soulmate and I were finishing the last of some wonderful strawberry shortcake kindly given to us by friends, and I put some extra Reddi-whip on Soulmate's.

Katie immediately demanded her fair share, with the following result:

I swear I'm not coaching her; we offer her a wide array of dining options including organic baby food from the health food aisle. She will eat almost anything you set in front of her (except fruit juice), but by far her favorites are pureed tater tot hotdish (thanks, Alice!) and DQ cookie dough blizzard (thanks, Soulmate!). In a pinch, though, Reddi-whip will do.

We just bought Katie a toothbrush today. It looks like she's going to need it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ow! Ooooh! Yowch!

Here is the route Big Jim took us on today--4 hills, 4 hours, 77 miles, 19.2 mph average speed, max speed 46mph, 3500 feet of climbing, and 5,000 calories burned. I saw my maximum heart rate (181 beats per minute for anyone who cares) on 3 of the 4 hills. Big Jim likes to go uphill really fast. I was pleased that I stayed with the climbers on 3 of the 4 hills (Tower road climb is too long and steep for me, especially after 2 previous hard climbs).

I was even more pleased that Big Jim had invited Larry Foss from THE FIX Active Body Massage to do hour-long sports specific massages after the ride. There is an audible and visible difference between a sports specific massage and a girlie massage: in the latter you may hear oohs and aahs and see eyes gently closed and little smiles playing about the lips of the recipient. In the former you may hear short shrieks of pain or long wails or moans and eyes screwed tightly shut and a risus sardonicus as the therapist grinds out all the tight ligaments and spasmed muscles.

Once Larry was done with my legs I felt like I could go for another 4 hills in 4 hours. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not.

On an entirely different subject, a friend of ours shipped over to "Southwest Asia" a few weeks ago and happened to be posted to one of the bases visited by Senator Obama in his visit there last week. Our friend is in the media center of the base, and is in charge of publicity on the base, so she was integrally involved both in publicizing the Candidate's visit and in enforcing a mandatory ban on non-military press coverage. Yes, she talked to him and shook his hand. I have a picture of it but decided not to post it in the interests of national security.

Attention Katie addicts: we have installed a baby swing under the deck so Soulmate and I can get a backache pushing Katie in it all day long. Of course she loves it, though not as much as being lugged around constantly (she doesn't care for the baby bjorn anymore so it's all the hard way). Our only consolation is that this clingy stage will end as soon as she starts to crawl and walk, so we're making the most of the cuddle time, even if both of my shoulders (operated and unoperated) feel like the ball is out of the socket chronically.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Too Tired to Write

Big Jim is taking a bunch of us around the 4 hour, 4 climb special tomorrow at 0730, and it's 2315 now, so I have about 8 hours until the pain starts. I haven't ridden seriously on a bike in 3 weeks, so I'll be suffering plenty. I have been bike commuting from home to work, then home for lunch and back, and finally home again for supper. A grand total of 40 minutes cruising the metrop on my Bianchi Cafe Racer. Life is good.

Big Jim has arranged hour-long massages after the big ride tomorrow. The soigneur is a former trainer for some pro cycling teams, so he'll know how to really dig into locked-up calf and thigh muscles. I've had these sweet painfests in France while climbing in the Alps. I can't wait--it hurts so good.

I don't have much for you Katie addicts tonight. I had a 2 hour play session this morning before shipping off to do surgery in the morning and clinic in the afternoon. I did get home for lunch, but the girls had just awakened from a late morning nap, so the mood was subdued or even a little cranky.

Soulmate took Katie to Riverside Park and was about to put her on the swings when Katie basically swooned into an hour-long nap in the grass (well, on the changing pad lying on the grass). I got the call to meet them at the Flower Garden after clinic, so I rode my Bianchi cruiser in my street clothes with my Timbuktoo laptop bag to the Flower park, ate an ice cream bar from the visitors' center (Soulmate fed half of hers to Katie), and walked home, me pushing the Bianchi and Soulmate the stroller.

Here's Katie demonstrating the various features of the Baby Einstein bouncer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Soap Opera Continues...

I've come to understand that there are a certain number of fans of our little soap opera who are becoming impatient at the delay in posting recently. I must admit that work has gotten pretty busy, and when I'm not working I'd rather be playing with Katie and Soulmate than posting to Doc's Advice.

Past posts were easy because I was home (or in China) with Katie full time, so when she napped, I blogged. Now I actually have to ship off to the clinic and participate in a certain amount of professional activity before I get to come home and play, so posting has gone by the wayside.

Sunday was Soulmate's birthday (29th or some anniversary thereof), and when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, I should have known based on our recent acquisition and passage to parenthood: all she asked for was a nap.

Katie and I did one better: we took her to church, then to the best brunch in town, then home. Leaving her to read the Sunday paper and nap, Katie and I set off on a bike ride. We made it about 10 minutes and Katie was fast asleep, so I took all the low traffic routes I could think of around town and managed an hour and forty minutes on the bike.

When we got back, we were both hot and tired, so we went swimming:

After "swimming" in our $5 Menards baby pool we woke Mommy up from her 3 hour nap and headed to Cold Stone Creamery for a birthday treat. Soulmate has been putting mission critical stuff from her purse into the diaper bag and leaving the purse at home of late. Unfortunately, she left her driver's license at home, or she would have gotten a free birthday concoction. The diaper bag failed us, costing me 5 bucks. I'm gonna stick to $2 blizzards from now on.

We like to hang around on the deck during the summer, since it's so beautiful outside in MN at this time (and so uncomfortable in the winter). We're just hanging out on the deck, but Katie puts on a little show while sitting on the table, then abruptly announces with her thumb that the show's over.

And she's right. See you next time I feel like posting...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Special Delivery

Our friend Mike Shields has put together a 6 minute video review of Katie's homecoming reception at the airport. I think you'll like it.

That's it for today, because Katie is up and we need to go feed the goldfish...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Katie at the Pool Party

As previously mentioned, our little Katie is quite the party girl. In addition to private all-nighters with Mommy (who has never been much of a party girl herself), she presided over a large group of admirers at the church picnic last Sunday afternoon. Here is a slide show from that party (thanks Donna M. for the photos):

OK, maybe it looks a little like a private party for Katie and I, but there really were about 200 people there. Donna seems just a captivated with Katie as we are.

This week she has received a number of visitors of all ages, but has definitely favored those of similar size to herself. Savanna and Annika came over yesterday, and Annika (who shares the July 1, 2007 birthdate with Katie) was a favorite. Katie, in a magnanimous show of goodwill and friendship, stuck her finger up Annika's nose, to which Annika resonded by sticking her own finger up the same nostril. As Soulmate and I have recently discovered, sharing mucus is the ultimate form of affection.

This afternoon Katie debued at the annual office pool party at Ron and Miki's house. She had never even seen a pool; she only recently tried 3 inches of water in the bathtub with Mommy. Despite an initial negative response, I used the "frog in a pot" technique to stealthily dip her deeper and deeper in the water until both of us were up to our necks and she was happily floating around:

Last night was another short one for me with 2 trips to the hospital and 3 calls after midnight, so I'm going to turn in early and hope the party girl has had enough for the night.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Picture's worth a Thousand...

My first week back has been very busy, and call last night and tonight have not been particularly kind to me. Katie has been waking up around 6 or 6:30 every morning, which is great since she's sleeping through the night now. However, since I was up late on call last night, early up with the earlybird princess, and now up again on call, I'm pretty beat.

My creativity for blogging is suffering under the circumstances, but fortunately, Katie has made blogging very simple. All I do is post a video of her doing something adorable (or not doing anything at all, but still looking adorable), and Voila! instant blog material. Think I'm kidding? This is all you're getting tonight, and you better enjoy it...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Biking for Katie

My racing year ended in February when I discovered my torn left biceps and rotator cuff. Then I was forced off the bike entirely for 14 weeks after surgery, and finally suited up for my first training ride Memorial Day. What with a little side trip to China and a new hobby of watching Vesuvius erupt, I haven't had much time to train. I think my buddy Big Jim has given up on me entirely. I did promise him that 2009 training would start this Dec 1 as always, so he knows (and I know) that my racing career isn't over just yet.

For now, I have precious little to motivate me to train: if I don't race, I can't get dropped from the group, so what's the point of working so hard now? Still, there is the little problem of Dairy Queen: I'm addicted to the Chocolate X-treme blizzard with added thin mints (don't try it whatever you do or you'll end up spending your last dime on skid row or the equivalent--Cold Stone Creamery). I need something to motivate me to burn off all those empty calories, and I've found it.

I've always tried to bike commute to work when weather permits, and the weather we've had since we got back from China has been mighty fine. So now I ride to work in the morning (12 minutes), ride home for lunch, back to work and finally home in the evening. Sometimes after work Katie and I go through campus and down the trail and back for an extra 40 minute ride. That's almost 90 minutes on the bike!

Granted, I'm not doing lactate threshold intervals and climbing repeats at max heart rate. Most of the time I'm not even sweating, or if I am it's due to the heat and not my exertion level. Still, it's gotta be equivalent to at least a small-sized blizzard, huh? My weight remains 178 lb, which is my usual not-in-training weight, so as long as that doesn't get out of hand, next year's training won't require much catch-up to get back in racing shape.

What is it that so motivates me to ride back and forth for lunch and such? Take a look:

If you had such scintillating amusements every day, you'd ride home for lunch too.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cute Katie Vids

It's been a long week trying to help little Katie convert to Central Daylight Time. It really is like a religious conversion: after all the data and personal endorsements, in the end you have to choose what you are going to believe in. As far as CDT goes, Katie is still a skeptic. For now, she's going to sleep grudgingly at 8 or 9pm and waking up 2 or 3 times before she really goes into a deep sleep that lasts until 7am.

She is otherwise doing very well. She is a champion eater with a big appetite and no pickiness at all. Mount Vesuvius erupted a couple times earlier in the week, leaving a big clean up, but that's better than being bound up like she was last week. No fire on the mountain tonight.

Here are a couple of cute videos (I think so anyway). The first one is feedin' time, the second one defies succinct nomenclature, it's just entertaining:

I go back to work tomorrow, and my partners tell me it's hopping around the clinic right now, so I think I'll be hitting the road running. Katie has a little shock coming, since I've basically been in her field of view 24/7 since June 23. Tomorrow morning I have to make rounds at the hospital starting around 7:30, so our usual morning routine will be severely curtailed. I hope to make it home for lunch for a few minutes, and then back to work.

According to Soulmate, Katie will mostly miss the entertainment. Apparently, I'm her first choice for activities, but when it comes to meals or sleep, Soulmate is the choice. I can see her reasoning (if 12 month olds reason): I'm closer to Tigger and Soulmate is closer to Eyore. Soulmate is apparently a little boring during play time (I don't think so), and I'm a little too much at nap time or bedtime. So it goes.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Outside the Spacetime Continuum

Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity ushered in the concept of the Spacetime Continuum, that the universe has four dimensions, not three; that time slows down for objects traveling near the speed of light; that time is not constant but variable. I don't profess to understand a word of Einstein's writings, but I do know from recent experience that he was on to something.

Katie's time zone travel and subsequent resistance to a time zone shift represents a sort of time bend for us. Our life has seemed to be traveling near the speed of light ever since we left for China, so I shouldn't be surprised if time slows down on occasion. The source of the slowdown today was our attempt to take matters into our own hands and force poor little Katie to acquiesce to Central Daylight time.

As noted in previous posts, the little party girl has stayed up happily until 3am, smiling, laughing, and generally charming the socks off anything still awake at that hour. Then she sleeps until 1pm to get enough energy up to do it all over again. Soulmate has taken the brunt of these all-night raves, and she is pretty worn out.

So, on the advice of several wise friends, Soulmate got her to go to sleep last night at 1:30 (a minor victory in its own right), and I woke her up at 8am this morning. Then commenced a day of trying to keep her awake until 8pm, which we hope will be her regular bedtime. The first 2 hours were a breeze, but around 11am, she got pretty crabby. By continually altering her activities and keeping her moving, we succeeded in keeping her awake all day except for 2 fairly brief episodes of dozing in her car seat.

Sure enough, she was exhausted by 8 pm, and even a trip to DQ didn't faze her. She got a bath, a bottle, and a kiss and a prayer from daddy, and commenced to fall immediately into a deep sleep. I don't know if we've succeeded in breaking the Spacetime quandry or not, but the evidence so far is promising. The party girl is nowhere to be found.

Speaking of Einstein: it seems like everything written in conjuction with Einstein is confusing. One of our insomnia inducing forays today was to Target to get a sort of personal amusement park, and wouldn't you know it, it's produced (or at least endorsed) by Baby Einstein:

The assembly instructions (written in 3 languages for clarity) reads something like an essay on the theory of relativity. Once an Einstein, always an Einstein I guess.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Hodgepodge

I spent the morning trying to organize the photos and videos I took for our China trip to adopt Katie. It's quite a task, maybe a Sisyphean one. In the process, I've unearthed a couple of other pictures and videos from my cell phone that may be of at least passing interest.

Here is a video of the lobby of the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou:

This is a "jade" junk (Chinese sailing vessel), entirely hand carved at about 7 feet long by 6 feet high. I doubt it's actually made of jade, which by our shopping expedition proved it to be a very pricy stone, even for one the size and shape of a lifesaver. In any case, it's beautiful and intricate, and must have taken someone a year to carve.

By the way, a traditional Chinese first birthday gift (which of course we got for Katie) is in fact the above mentioned lifesaver shaped piece of jade. You tie a loop of red thread (red for good luck) around the jade and hang it around your baby's neck as a sign of good luck and long life (pretty much all the gifts given in China signify good luck, long life, and/or prosperity). Of course you take the jade necklace off almost as soon as you tie it on her neck, since a one year old isn't likely to leave such a pricy bauble around her neck for long.

Maybe Katie would though: one thing I've noticed about her is that she has a significant jewelery fetish, starting with the silver bracelet that the orphanage director gave her, and moving on to almost anything Soulmate or I happen to be wearing. I've worn this chain for almost 3 years, with a cross and 2 pendants to remind me of the three people I cherish most: God, Soulmate, and Katie.

Katie has obviously picked up on the meaning, since she can't keep her hands off the chain, even pulling it out of my shirt when she wants to play with it. Or maybe she just wants to add it to her growing collection.

I've noticed with growing discomfort that she is quite happy shopping. Soulmate, Katie, and I were running errands after Katie's doctor visit today, and she was a little fussy in the car seat. But going into Target, the bike shop, and T.J. Maxx she brightened up and began to "talk" a mile a minute. A shopaholic at age one--my VISA card is already throbbing.

Lunchtime is always fun. Today Katie discovered pureed prunes, and took an immediate liking to them, showing her pleasure by spreading them all over my shirt. Privately, I've always enjoyed prunes, but with their, er, reputation, I've never really consumed them publicly, not wanting to appear to have a certain, er, difficulty. Anyway, Katie doesn't have any of the same kind of squeamishness.

Here's Katie in the Chariot. We took our first real bike ride today, going for 40 minutes with nary a whimper. I think she's already dialed in to the whole biking thing, especially when she leaves the sweating to me.

The wind played havoc with the sound on this video (and the sound quality on my cell phone is marginal on a good day, but here we are on the Beaver Islands trail:

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Hard Day's Night

Soulmate and I have had a shock course in night-time parenting. The ear infection wasn't a big deal, after all, I'm an ENT doc, so we didn't even have to endure a night visit to the ER like so many new parents. Even the teething issue is no big deal; Katie has such a sunny personality that we only deal with short bouts of teeth related crankiness.

No, it's the jet lag that's killing us. Specifically, it's Katie's slow move to Central Daylight Time that is killing us. Last night she finally drifted off at 2am. The night before it wasn't until 7am, and she then slept 10 hours straight. Before that it was 9am and 8 hours of sleep. The trouble is, we don't really know whether a particular sleep session is a nap or the real deal.

So we tend to try to "get stuff done" while she's sleeping, only to have her sleep all day after staying up playing all night. She's a true party girl: she's happy, smiling, and dancing at 3am. All this without any mind-altering drugs. Well, OK, Soulmate's cousin got us on to a homeopathic med for teething that's supposed to help your teething toddler go to her happy place. The thing is, Katie is almost always in her happy place already.

We've tried to heed the advice of other parents to sleep when she sleeps, but the lure of organizing, going riding, or blogging is just too great. Sometimes sleep just overcomes one of us while playing with her or (in this case) just waiting for dinner. The dogs have been angelic since Katie came home. Semper fidelis isn't just for the Marines, you know. Dogs have had it dialed from the first day they were domesticated. Or maybe Buddy and Pippin are just waiting for dinner.

Anyway, as I write this, Katie has been asleep for over an hour. It's now 9:50, so the big question is: nap or the real deal? We don't have anything to do in the morning besides sleep, so if it's just a nap, it'll be party time in another hour or so.

Oops, I hear a little voice over the monitor--guess the party's about to start!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Katie's First Ride

For you gearheads yearning to hear something about bikes on this purportedly bike-oriented blog, today's your day. Katie experiences her first bike ride, albeit somewhat vicariously since she's happily ensconsed in a Chariot trailer. It didn't last long, partly because the helmet I bought last month is a little too generous in size, basically protecting not only her head, but her eyes, ears, nose, and larynx (almost).

N.B. I always wear a helmet while biking. Always. Except today, in solidarity with Katie. Once she has a good-fitting helmet (like tomorrow), we'll all three wear our helmets every time we ride bikes. It's just good sense. Or do I have to go into the gory details of helmetless bike crashes to convince you?

Oh, and by the way, just for the record: don't ever ride against traffic under any circumstances. I don't care what your Dad and teacher and gym coach said; it's just plain dumb. Oh yeah, also don't blast through stop lights and stop signs without stopping. You make all the road ragin' SUV pilots and glass-piped pickup jockeys turn all blotchy red and start making funny sounds, like they're having trouble breathing, and you make it hard for the rest of the biking world. Suffice it to say that when a pickup and a bike tangle, the bike always loses. 'Nuf said.

Earlier today and yesterday morning I rode with Big Jim, so my legs are a little fried. I was happy enough to take a couple of passes around the block with Katie, and then load her into the stroller for a short walk. She has to get used to all these restraining devices, like trailers, joggers, strollers, car seats, and for Pete's sake those grocery carts with a built-in kiddie seat. I confess I never once noticed them in a store until today, when Soulmate suggested we put Katie in one. We ended up taking her out right away and it just kept us from being able to put stuff in the cart. So much for modern conveniences.

Well, it's 4:30am, and we've been up for 3 or 4 hours. The smallest of the 3 of us is bright-eyed and bushy tailed, the other two are more of the bleary-eyed variety. There doesn't seem to be much movement on the time change thing. She is so cute and playful that it would be a really fun time if we'd slept the night. It's harder to be charmed to death when you're sleep-deprived. We were hoping to make an appearance at church, but it looks like we'll be sleeping in today...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Whew, Glad That's Over

Doc's back in the land of the living after 48 hours in the twilight zone. It's been a blur since we woke up at 4:15am Wednesday in Guangzhou, checked out of the White Swan Hotel, and headed for the airport. We ran the usual security gauntlet after checking our bags and getting our boarding passes, then waited for an hour or so before boarding a plane bound for Tokyo.

The plane was full of Caucasian families with newly adopted Chinese babies and children. We had run into most of them along the way in Guangzhou, either in the playroom at the hotel, or on the street shopping among the many tourist-oriented shops on Shamian Island. It was fun to compare notes with each family regarding how long they waited, how old their child was, and where they're from. I always enjoy hearing peoples' stories.

The plane left at 8:30am and landed in Tokyo at 2:30 (but we gained an hour going west, so the trip actually lasted 5 hours). We said goodbye to the Peters and Ottenbreits, two of the three families we've been traveling with for the past 11 days. Gordon and Haruyo Wright and their little daughter Sumi continued on with us to Minneapolis.

Their last day in Guangzhou was spent fruitlessly trying to convince some evil bureauocrat at the Japanese embassy to grant Sumi a visa that would allow them to stay in Tokyo for a week to visit Haruyo's elderly mother. Gordon and Haruyo already had a visa in advance, but needed one for little Sumi. Alas, the E.B. said they would have to wait the usual 4 business days, which would have required that they sit around Guangzhou for 6 days before going to Tokyo. They decided to postpone that trip until Christmas and headed home with us.

Katie was an angel for nearly the entire trip, alternately sleeping like a baby (obviously) and playing with us. She didn't get cranky, even when mommy and daddy did. Once in a while she needed a walk up and down the aisles to keep her from fussing, but I guess that's reasonable, since we made several trips to the W.C. during the flight.

We cleared customs in Minneapolis, and when we came off the elevator and exited the blast doors from customs, the paraparazzi were in full force waiting for us (thanks to Kari Ottenbreit for the tip on using Picasa's slide show feature instead of uploading all these photos one at a time):

There to greet us at the airport were: Grandpa and Grandma, Auntie Sue and Uncle Jeff, Cousins Jenny and Joshua, Rev. Ed and Becky Tedeschi (Soulmate's pastor growing up who supplied all the photos--thanks a million, Becky!), Rev. Mike and Mona Shields (Soulmate's youth pastor growing up--both pastors are considered "family"), and Kathryn Bauermeister, our adoption coordinator and her three adopted Chinese daughters Emily, Lulu, and Zoe. Wow, what a reception!

We hit McDonald's for a late lunch, then stopped by Grandma and Grandpa's place to pick up our truck and a bunch of stuff, then headed up the freeway for home. I don't remember any of this, because my McD's chocolate shake put me to sleep in the back of the van immediately, and evidently Katie and I slept the rest of the 90 minute trip home.

I wish I could say it all ended happily ever after, but unfortunately, our first night home wasn't exactly what I had scripted. Soon after Grandpa and Grandma left, Katie became uncharacteristically fussy. We figured she was just cranky from the long flight and all the attention (mommy and daddy certainly were), but as the evening wore on and she didn't respond to any of the items on our short checklist (hungry? wet diaper? dirty diaper? sleepy? daddy's watch poking you in the back of the head?), Soulmate suggested I check her ears.

"Pishposh" said I, "I checked her ears before we left, and she didn't fuss at all with any of the airplane descents, so she couldn't possibly have an ear infection!" I guess I forgot what I often tell parents who come in to discuss tubes for their child's recurring ear infections: it takes less than 8 hours to go from perfectly normal ears to a full-blown ear infection with a bulging eardrum.

Doc ate crow again as he looked in Katie's right ear and saw a red, bulging eardrum. Fortunately I had begged the pharmacist to give me 2 bottles of amoxicillin powder to take on the trip. Having had no reason to use them on Katie or the other children, I was able to mix up a batch and dose her up. Since it takes at least 4 hours for the antibiotic to begin working, I knew we still had a battle to fight, and sure enough, she fussed pretty badly until 3am.

Doc doesn't sleep on airplanes, and Soulmate only slept a little while when I made her--she was worried that Katie would fall off the seat onto the floor, so I informed her that I was on duty for the duration. I held her in my lap and she (mostly) slept through "27 dresses", "Horton Hears a Who", "Definitely Maybe" (which Doc wished fervently that he could have slept through as well), and assorted episodes of "Cash Cab", as well as airline instructions on how to keep from getting leg vein clots. In short, by the time we dosed Katie with Amoxicillin, we had been up for about 33 hours straight.

Soulmate and I took turns rocking her in the "magic chair" (a little re-upholstered swivel rocker that Grandma used to rock Soulmate when she was a little tyke) until she finally went to sleep at 3am. I put her in bed between us, and we all 3 slept fitfully until around 10am. Soulmate couldn't sleep because she had caught the cold that Katie and I had, and she was coughing up a lung all night long. So she got up and unpacked most of the suitcases.

This morning Katie was much better, and has had 2 naps, the second of which continues now. Soulmate is also sleeping, so I’m not sure if they’ll both be up most of the night with time zone insomnia or what. I’ve had 3 single espressos throughout the day today to keep me going, so I think I’ll be able to crash when the time comes this evening.

We had a pleasant if short visit this afternoon from cousin Kristi, her husband Raul, his mom, and their 3 kids Ann Marie, Sabrina, and 3 month old Noah. They are on their way from Rochester to the farm up north, and stopped by for a first visit to the princess. Ann Marie has been very excited to meet her new “cousin” and give her a poster she made last week. Unfortunately, they left the poster behind when they left, so Katie will have to wait for the present until next visit.

There being nothing further to report, a motion is made and carried to post this blog and wait for the princess to awaken. Thanks to all of you who have been following our little voyage; I hope to continue regular updates as events or as least cute pictures present themselves. We appreciate your prayers and thoughts, and we can feel the love.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Katie!

Happy first birthday, Katie!

Today is our last day in Guangzhou; we leave at 8:20am tomorrow. Meanwhile, our thoughts drift to life back home in the States.

Our friends the Rammels are breaking in our 2 dogs by exposing them to large doses of little girls. Their daughters, Savannah and Annika, have been teaching Buddy and Pippin how to properly play with baby girls. We miss the dogs, but Beth really hasn't mentioned them every day like she has in the past, so I think little Katie is getting all her attention right now. The mommy factor has kicked in--and so has the daddy factor, in a big way.

Today is quite a rush, with finishing up shopping and sight seeing, bonding with Katie, and our big appointment at the U.S. Consulate at 3pm today. After we get back and relax for a few minutes, we'll dress Katie in her traditional silk red dress (red for good luck), and go to our new favorite Thai restaurant 2 blocks from the hotel.

We've ordered a chocolate cake (with panda bears and Happy Birthday, Katie! on it), and we've learned a few Chinese customs for a first birthday: you serve noodles (for long life), give a little lifesaver shaped jade on a red silk thread for her to wear around her neck, and put a little red envelope with a dollar coin under her pillow for "sweet dreams".

Also, after the party, we are supposed to put her on the floor at home (well, in the hotel room) and surround her with household objects: pen, paper, wallet, chopsticks, computer, whatever we can find. The first thing she grabs a hold of is supposed to predict her future vocation, talents, or interest. If I had to guess, it will be the computer, since she can't keep her fingers off of it whenever we watch Baby Einstein.

Tomorrow we leave the hotel before 5am for an hour bus ride to the airport to check in for an 8:20 departure for Tokyo. We get there at 2pm and leave again at 3:30pm. Then it's a 12 hour flight direct to Minneapolis, but because we cross 14 time zones, we get in at noon the same day (but it will feel like 2:30am to us and Katie!).

Well, the party didn't come off exactly as planned, but it was memorable enough. With all the running and activity, Katie missed her morning nap and only slept a little while before the Consulate appointment in the afternoon. OK, the staffer who swore us in also led the group (probably 60 couples and their adoptive--and biological--children) in singing happy birthday to Katie.

She sat with her thumb in her mouth, looking inscrutable during the song, then played on the bus ride home. All attempts to get her to sleep failed, so we dressed her in her red silk special occasion dress and hoped for the best. It was not to be. We got some good pictures of her with 2 of the 3 other girls in our group, but when we got to the restaurant, she started to get very tired and crabby, which lasted throughout the dinner until everyone had left.

After that, she settled down enough to have some of her birthday cake, and then we headed back to the hotel for packing in anticipation of a 4:30am wake-up call. Since it's 11pm now (and Katie's been asleep for 2 hours), I'd better help Soulmate finish packing. That's it for our China experience, since the next time I post, we'll be back in the States. Thanks for stopping by!

I leave you with some scenes from the party: