Wait, there’s more!

For all of you faithful AWS fans, I bring good news! There is more adorable kid photos and family chaos over at Have Stroller, Will Travel- the continuing adventures of Alexander the Great.

Have Stroller, Will Travel is a combination of family stories, travel diaries, and product reviews.  We look forward to sharing updates on Alexander through his continuing development and medical care, adoption-related topics, and general family and friend news. We are so very blessed to have family and friends from coast to coast, and we hope that our new site will serve to keep you all as updated as you’d like to be about our family adventures.

How can you not keeping following along with my adventures? You KNOW you want to!

How can you not keep following along with my adventures? You KNOW you want to!

So buckle up, grab your sippy cup or snack trapper, and we’ll see you over at Have Stroller, Will Travel!

First Museum Trip

Although I thought for sure that Alexander’s first museum experience would be my favorite natural history museum in Chicago, his first adventure was in Guangzhou! We didn’t have time to post about all of our adventures, so I’m starting to fill in the gaps while we’re settling in at home. So don’t mind the slight retrospective commentary– there will be more where this came from.

Thanks to a rainstorm during our trip while in Guangzhou, our planned excursion to a botanic garden was replaced by a visit to the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King— an absolutely incredible place.


An exquisite jade carving depicting the phoenix and dragon

An exquisite jade carving depicting the phoenix and dragon

A full-body suit of jade found in the tomb. Jade is often called "Crazy Stone" in China because of its fluctuating value.

A full-body suit of jade found in the tomb. Jade is often called “Crazy Stone” in China because of its fluctuating value. Right now, a small jade bracelet will run you about $6k. It would have been only a few hundred dollars less than a decade ago.

We were able to enter the excavated tomb-- which is housed under this glass dome.

We were able to enter the excavated tomb– which is housed under this glass dome.

What I found most incredible about the museum is that the tomb’s rich contents were found in full– especially when you consider how many Egyptian tombs were plundered.  The contents displayed in and around the tomb at the museum were just unbelievable– and it was a fantastic first museum experience for Alexander. Though he didn’t read all of the label copy ( I don’t think he read ANY of it!), several squeals indicated that he is a museum kid!

One more cute photo from our day at the museum

One more cute photo from our day at the museum


Koalas in Spaceships

The slight lull in posting about our adventures is the result of having family visit this past weekend and starting to begin the Long String of Medical Appointments for our little man.  Alexander has now met his grandparents on both sides, and everyone appears to be charmed by his huge smile and laugh.

Friday, we had our first appointment at the Adoption Clinic at Comer Children’s Hospital– a great team of medical professionals that are very experienced in dealing with patients such as our son. They are incredibly sensitive to his developmental and nutritional needs in the context of being an internationally adopted child.  We’re really happy so far, and we look forward to working with the team.

We had our second visit to Comer just this morning, where our guy got his first blood draw.  He was as cool as a cucumber during the first visit aside from a few sad “La’s”, but today was a different story. As soon as the little koalas-in-spaceships hospital gown came out, he knew the deal. No amount of artfully blown bubbles, movies, or toys would distract him from whichever medical personnel was administering care. I think they took a total of 8 vials of blood from our little guy, who was thoroughly unhappy. The staff was incredibly gentle, and we had an advocate who helped us decide if he was too stressed to continue.  Though he was clearly terrified, we did our best to soothe him, and they were able to complete all the needed labwork. Wow, there is nothing worse that seeing your child in a hospital gown howling. I also apologize to all the families outside the lab this morning whose patients looked appropriately terrified by the racket we made.

In the end, we had a very successful visit. Things are rolling along, Alexander is gaining weight and appears to be adjusting well. I almost took a picture of him this morning after the appointment, with his angry face and little bandages on each arm. Thank goodness though– when you’re little, a warm bottle and a long afternoon nap can make any situation a little better.





Rockin’ the Suburbs

This will be one of the last posts at 67sixteen at A Wide Sea. Soon, there will be a new subpage devoted to our family life adventures — clever name TBD. For now though, I’ll still regale you with photos of our adorable son. After all, that’s why you’re reading this, right?

We’ve been jumping into real life here– Alexander has already frequented his local Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Target, and various grocery stores. He even survived a trip to the outlets– though he suspiciously began to whine before his mother could do a quick spin through Ann Taylor– I think his father may have influenced that a little.

He went to his first Mass at St Joan of Arc this past weekend and was greeted with much enthusiasm– he loves music and chanting! There were “la la’s” all around! He also got to greet new friends at a picnic later that day.

Several of you have asked about how he’s handling our feline family members. The cats are fairly indifferent, though they’ll let him touch their fur IF they’re in the mood. We’re thrilled that the cats aren’t terrified of him, and that he’s not outright allergic to them. He has two tiny stuffed animal versions of Val and Benny, and I think those are keeping him happy until he can chase the real deal around the house.

Thanks for this photo Nicole! At Marianjoy rehab center visiting with SJA friends

Thanks for this photo Nicole! At Marianjoy rehab center visiting with SJA friends

I find my parents tolerable... for now!

I find my parents tolerable… for now!

I am now outnumbered. The Kelly men are debating new routers.

I am now outnumbered. The Kelly men are debating new routers.

A photo for Victoria- he's captivated by the bacon brownies...

A photo for Victoria- he’s captivated by the bacon brownies…

First trip the zoo- El tigre stayed awake the whole morning!

First trip the zoo- El tigre stayed awake the whole morning!

Consider upgrading your washer and dryer-- because I create a LOT of laundry!

Consider upgrading your washer and dryer– because I create a LOT of laundry!

Sunday morning newspaper-- like father, like son.

Sunday morning newspaper– like father, like son.

First family dinner out with the neighbors and "the girl next door"

First family dinner out with the neighbors and “the girl next door”

Don't let a 16 month old navigate your zoo trip.

Don’t let a 16 month old navigate your zoo trip.

The Kellys don’t sit still. We knew our lives would inevitably change when Alexander came home. We go to bed earlier. We wake up earlier. But some things haven’t changed– we have yet to put on a kid’s CD, we’ve grilled out at home, and we’ve gone out to restaurants. We know that our extended travels might have to be put on-hold while we get our little man some much needed medical treatments, but our new family motto still stands– Have Stroller, Will Travel.



Settling In

Now that we’ve been parents for officially two weeks, Brian and I can now claim complete authority and expertise over The Way to Raise Children ™. In all seriousness, it’s hard to believe we’ve only known our little guy for 14 days.  Many of you have asked us how our bonding/attachment is going– in brief, it’s going well, but we also know that building his trust will take a long time. He’s been with a lot of caring, different people in the last 15 or so months, so understanding that we’re the end of the line might take a little while to set in.

Brian posted earlier about working through Alexander’s jet lag, but I figured I’d add in a little something about all the parenting realities that are setting in for us. So in no particular order, I’ll list off a few parenting “been there, done that” experiences that have already come to pass at Casa Kelly:

  • I have sniffed at my kid’s butt in public.
  • I have looked down at my clothing to find stains…. and I’m not really sure what they are or where they came from.
  • I have had extensive and somewhat celebratory conversations with Brian about human excrement.
  • I have used the word “cleanish” and phrase “clean enough” far too often.
  • I now judge stores based on how safe the shopping cart kid seat looks.
  • Watch what routines you introduce to your kids. Brian started a small schtick with a squeaky toy clam, and now it’s practically a mandatory morning game. Dance, parents! Dance for me!
Thanks to me, everything you know is wrong. Welcome to parenthood!

Thanks to me, everything you know is wrong. Welcome to parenthood!









The New Normal

We’re looking for it. The search for it has been the main reason things have been quiet here on the blog for a couple of days. A few days in a row where Alexander thinks his naptime is bedtime and vice versa have left us with a sleepy little guy who still wakes up entirely too early. Last night, though, he slept through the night, like he had been doing when we were in China.

Back on the other side of the planet, we were amazed at how well he slept. The first night, we were able to get more than six hours of sleep, and we only got that little because we were both kind of freaking out that there was a little person in the room who was depending on us in an extraordinary way. Back in the Western Hemisphere, since Kathleen and I can push through the jet lag and he can’t, it took him a little longer than it did us to make the 13-hour shift. The kid can sleep anywhere, it seems, so he slept pretty well on plane. He was still firmly on China time when we got back, so he really slept a nap when it was actually nighttime. And if that guy isn’t sleeping, well, yeah, neither are we.

It seems we’re finding our new normal. I’ve taken this entire week off work, and will be working from home more than usual in the coming weeks. We’re using this time to figure out what works for him and for us. So far so good.

A Day of Firsts

Today, we decided to jump into life as a family of three. After being holed up in our room all day yesterday following registration, we were more than ready to get some (not so fresh) air, and enjoy the day. We ran into the two other adoptive families at breakfast in the hotel this morning– one of them being the folks I had contacted prior to China, and the other family being a kind young couple from Holland who we met during placement. (It’s amazing how much of a bonding experience it can be when you watch someone meet their long-awaited child for the first time! The four of us sat nervously around in the waiting room on placement day practically jumping out of our seats every time the door opened.)

Although our guide was understandably concerned about taking Alexander out for the day given his feeding needs, we decided that we might as well just go for it.  He was incredible during our first family roadtrip to Pingyao, a UNESCO world heritage site. I’ll let you check Wikipedia for the details, but the basics is that the architecture dates back more than 2,500 years and is still occupied by residents. The two of us switched off hauling Alexander in our carrier, and he did great.

View from the temple top-- a scary, scary climb when you've got a kid strapped to your chest

View from the temple top– a scary, scary climb when you’ve got a kid strapped to your chest

Checking out the lobby of a local Pingyao hotel

Checking out the lobby of a local Pingyao hotel

Original architecture

Original architecture

Original wall of Pingyao

Original wall of Pingyao

We aren't conspicuous at all!

We aren’t conspicuous at all!

Beautiful old alleyways

Beautiful old alleyways

Standing in front of the original bank of China. Yes, for all of China!

Standing in front of the original bank of China. Yes, for all of China!

Another first we had today was our first “on the fly” changing experience. Believe it or not, in Pingyao, the bathrooms (public and private) aren’t exactly suited for diaper changing. Moreover, in Chinese culture, young children generally don’t wear diapers. The youngest often walk around without pants at all, and children of crawling/walking age wear split pants– yes, they’re exactly what they sound like. We wondered when we met Alexander whether he would arrive with split pants, but the welfare institute put him in diapers for the journey to us. Anyhow… we ended up changing Alexander in the middle of Pingyao on the side of a street with a bit of an audience (two Westerners with a Chinese child with a cleft in diapers… what!?!?!) Let’s just say it was memorable! Luckily, we had our little man almost completely covered up (poor hot thing), so all the local tourists cooed over our son instead of lecturing us in Mandarin in proper child-dressing etiquette.

One thing I was hoping to do was attempt a bit of haggling while shopping. After being given the green light with our guide that it was suitable in the shops we were near, I was successful in knocking down the price of a few items. Alexander was the perfect assistant by beginning to whine during negotiations– anything to get those people out of the store! Thanks, son!

The Kelly men after a long day

The Kelly men after a long day

El Tigre after a long day in the carrier

El Tigre after a long day in the carrier

All in all, today was a great first family outing. We’re taking every tiny victory- especially when they end with our son smiling!

Showers and manicures

Showers and manicures



Speaking of Harmony…

This morning, after our final official paperwork, we got back to the hotel and have been holed up ever since. We’re planning on doing some touring tomorrow, so the plan has been to get some quality bonding in today. It’s gone mostly well, especially since we’ve figured out The Secret of the Bottle™.

Still, keeping him entertained is a bit of a challenge. We could probably rock him to sleep anytime, but we know that will bite us overnight. After his dinnertime feeding, we decided to give him a bath. He needed it, but it was also just an activity. Afterwards, Kathleen put him in a sleeper and she made the executive decision to throw some music on. I didn’t want too high energy, but something he might at least notice. I queued up Barenaked Ladies’ Gordon, and with just a hint of encouragement from Kathleen, he started bouncing around and waving his arms and smiling.

So yeah, BNL FTW.IMG_0980

Cleanapalooza 2013

48 hours from now, we’ll be in the homestretch of our flight to Beijing. Wow, we’re almost there! Suitcases are out, lists have been made, and clothing is being packed.

Today, I embarked on a cleaning tornado to whip the house into some sense of order before we leave. I won’t tell you how many vacuum canisters of cat hair I dumped, but I think that I might have enough for something here. Just kidding! Although I still have a bit to wrap up tomorrow, I promised myself a little quiet time before the craziness begins.

In packing-land, I’ve managed to organize our suitcases using really large ziplock bags.  Since our entire time in Beijing will be pre-Alexander, I wanted a way to differentiate between our stuff and his gear without totally wrecking each suitcase. We’ve accepted the fact that we’ll have laundry done at some point (which I’ve never done before when traveling), but I also packed some travel packets of handwash detergent for small things. We made our umpteenth trip to Target in the last 5 days. I think the cashiers are starting to recognize us…

I met with our neighbors today who will assume “Cat Command” while we’re gone, and Brian dropped off car keys with our good friends for our eventual pickup on July 4th.

The long, long list of things to accomplish is getting shorter. The end is in sight!