Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Haircut

Zander had his first haircut on Saturday afternoon – and he HATED every minute of it!
Maybe we should have avoided such a stressful outing on the same day that Uruguay eliminated Korea from the World Cup (Jim was also a little bitter since he lost his wallet in Uruguay last December)! Nothing could comfort Zander during the trim – not even:
His best bud Dooly (pink Korean cartoon character):
His refreshing sippy cup:
A yummy strawberry lollipop:
A loving kiss from Daddy:
Finally, we found it!  A change of venue and a frozen yogurt with fruit!
Yikes - the first haircut may have even been worse than going to the pediatrician!

Zander Firsts

Last Thursday was a big day for us – we moved Zander from the Pack N Play in our room to the crib in his room. The bigger change we found, however, was transitioning from placing Zander into bed after he was already asleep to placing him in his crib awake – requiring him to soothe himself to sleep. Although it has been a difficult change (lots of crying!) we are confident that Zander was ready for this transition and that it will be much better for his ongoing sleep routine – he has since been sleeping for longer than the four-hour stretches that we experienced the first ~10 days.  He also is sleeping more total hours which we know is very good for him!  After one of his naps on Thursday, it became clear that Zander would soon need his first haircut:
Thursday was also Zander’s first visit to the large park/playground in our neighborhood – he loved it!  It took Zander a few minutes to adjust to walking in the sand (similar to when he first walked on grass):
Zander was also very hesitant on the swing at first, but once he got started, he was smiling and giggling in no time!
A new favorite pastime for Zander is playing Peek-A-Boo by hiding behind Mommy’s front door drapes - since this game started, the drape is no longer secured to the window, and Zander has kindly removed the curtain rod:
Friday we visited the pediatrician again to get Zander’s TB screening injection assessed (administered Wednesday) and to drop off some samples for additional testing. This was a much easier appointment than earlier in the week!  We also stopped by Babies R Us where Zander picked out his first lawnmower (a Bubble Mower, thanks for the recommendation Cole!) – he did a nice job evening out the deck for us.
Another new game that Daddy has introduced is "Super Zander" - where Zander gets to 'fly' around and see things from several feet higher a height than he is accustomed to.  Here's the technique:
...and here's how it looks when Super Zander is heading your way!  Crazy Wilson Boys!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bonding with Zander

The week with Zander has really flown by – we can’t believe that tomorrow marks two weeks since we’ve been back from Korea! It has been a busy week focused on lots of bonding activities (playing, exploring inside/outside, walks, trying new foods, etc.), and working toward a more sustainable schedule. We have made great progress on the sleeping front… recall that we started with a 4am bedtime… tonight was 9pm – yippee!  Speaking of bonding,  here is Jim taking Zander out in the morning to fetch the paper:
Zander loves exploring outside - both on our deck and front porch/sidewalk:
Monday afternoon our dear friend Jodi (from Minneapolis, but now lives in Philadelphia) visited Zander along with her twin girls Zoe and Gabrielle... who are already seven years old! It was wonderful to see them all, and they brought Zander a huge box of their favorite books all the way from Philly! Jodi also brought a special treat for Jim – his favorite: a big batch of chocolate chip cookie dough – yummy!  Zander loved playing with the girls - it was fun to watch them all interact:
After all that fun play, Zander needed a nap... as did Daddy.  Here they are in their respective Philadelphia gear:
Monday evening, the three of us loaded into the car to attend cousin Luke’s tee ball game (uncle Bob is one of the team coaches). Zander quickly reminded us not to take transitions for granted (e.g. in/out of car seat, stroller, high chair, etc.) – he became extremely upset when placed in his car seat and cried so hard that he vomited… all over our ‘new’ car, his new Philly’s hat and T-shirt (from Jim’s Aunt Gail), and worst of all, on his best pal Dooly (the big pink dinosaur). Gross!! We cleaned up the car, the boy and the doll and gave it a second shot – success!! Although we missed the first part of  the game, we enjoyed seeing Cousin Luke bat and play the field, as well as Uncle Bob coach a team of 4 to 5-year-olds. Woo Hoo!

On Tuesday Zander watched South Korea defeat Nigeria in World Cup action, securing a spot in the next round of play. Go Korea!  If both Korea and the US win their next rounds, the two will play each other, which would pose a cheering challenge for our family!
Zander does tend to clap when he sees sports on TV which makes his Daddy very proud. That afternoon, Zander experienced his first big shopping trip... Super Target. Tomorrow we may even try Babies R Us depending how the morning goes...

Wednesday was a rough day… our first visit to our pediatrician. Zander did great the first half of the visit – he was measured/weighed and had a general assessment performed. Things got pretty stressful when the doctor removed some hardened earwax from both his ears using a long instrument – it looked very painful and there were lots and lots of tears!! He then needed a TB screening which involved a needle injection… twice since the first one didn’t take properly. Nurses also came in to draw several vials of blood, but had trouble finding a veins on both arms and decided that Zander had endured enough for the day, so we took a raincheck. Zander received a great examination report – we are so thankful!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

What a wonderful Father's Day we had!  Back on Mother's Day in May, we mentioned on our post how we were hoping that Zander would be home to celebrate Father's Day with us - we are so thankful he is here! 

The highlight of our day was dinner at Amy's brother's home - Zander liked watching the big boys at play (Luke - 4, and Brady - 2.5 years).  Zander fell asleep right after dinner following his earliest morning start yet (6:45am following a Saturday 11:30pm bedtime).  Here are Bob and Jim - the Dads we celebrated, along with their boys.  (Cute Scooby PJ's!)
In honor of Father's Day, Amy 'interviewed' Jim on some of his key takeaways based on his first nine days of fatherhood:

What is your favorite thing about Zander?
Jim: Definitely his smile and his giggle.  (These two have been doing some serious playing as of late and it's hard sometimes to tell who is giggling more).

What has been your most memorable Zander moment?
Jim: The moment we met him - Monday, June 7th at the agency in Seoul.  Amy and I were waiting in the 'meeting' room and heard some noise in the hallway.  We looked, and around the corner walked Zander!  He was absolutely adorable wearing his little outfit with the tie.  He took a few steps into the room and gave us a big smile.  We didn't even know Zander was walking at that point - so the meeting was incredibly special and memorable. Also very memorable: any time Zander falls asleep in my arms.

What has been your biggest surprise about Zander?
Jim: His general easy-goingness - he is pretty low maintenance (all things considered!)... also - how much he loves to play!

What has been your most embarrassing Zander moment?
Jim: When I realized a few days in that when preparing Zander's formula, I was only giving him 40% of the recommended amount of powder.  He is supposed to take 5 scoops of formula in each bottle, but I was only giving him 2 scoops... it was a long plane trip and I think I got used with the fact that on the plane, I used 2 formula travel packets for each bottle, so I had "2" on my mind.  I felt so bad when I realized the error!

What experience with Zander do you look forward to most?
Jim: Having a catch with him - I can't wait! 

Here is Daddy in action - providing Zander with some expert guidance on brushing  (Zander is sporting the Buzz Lightyear PJ's he received as a gift from Luke & Brady in honor of the big Toy Story 3 premiere this weekend).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Very Special Week!

It has been an amazing first week with Zander!  Last Friday (June 11th) was our 'Forever Family Day' - the day we were united and arrived home from Seoul.  Here is our first photo as a family - taken at the Minneapolis airport after the LONG day of travel:
The photo is courtesy of Amy's brother Bob whose family (along with Nana Pat) surprised us at the airport.  Here they are waiting for us to arrive (Zander's Cousin Luke, Nana Pat, Aunt Heather, and Cousin Brady - missing is Uncle Bob who was the photographer).  What a special welcome surprise!
Bob recorded the surprise welcome on video - you will see us arriving on the left escalator:

We are so thankful to be together as a family at last!  Zander turned 14 months on Thursday and continues to become more comfortable with Mommy and Daddy, our home, yard, neighborhood, and car, as well as the differences in food, language, and (still working on this one) timezone!  We celebrated his milestone with lots of play, which, in combination with the significant schedule changes, resulted in Zander's first time passing out at the dinner table!
Today was a big social outing for Zander - we went to a barbecue at friends Tim and Kate's house.  Zander had a great time - a big nap on the drive over and during the early part of the festivities followed by a lot of exploring and playing - he even got to meet some friends younger than him.  He wore his stylin' new dinosaur onesie that was a gift from Bob & Heather.  Here he is with Daddy and fellow UCLA/Anderson alums Tim (with Quinn, 5 months) and Erica:
Zander enjoyed some yummy dishes from Brasa Rotisserie - yams, chicken and pork.  The other big highlight was playing on the slide:
Friday was a wonderful day to close out a very special and memorable week.  Zander has been such a blessing in our lives and we look forward to the continued adventures! 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Battle of the Time Zones...

Wow, how the time has flown!  All is well with Zander.  He now officially has under his belt: two baths, three walks in his stroller, a visit to the doctor, ~70 diaper changes, and numerous play sessions.  We could also mention the first projectile vomit in bed, but that part wasn't as fun. 

Our biggest barrier has been battling the clock - Zander is used to a schedule that is 14 hours ahead of ours, which we are finding is a big change!  We are slowly but surely making progress, but it has been hard on all three of us.  Our Sunday post reported a 4am Saturday bedtime... Sunday night was 3:30am, Monday 2:30am, and Tuesday 1:45am.  More progress tonight - he was asleep at about 12:30am, woo hoo!  Here is a late night photo of Zander exploring one of his toy bins - wheeee!
Mealtime has been fun as we continue to explore Zander's tastes and preferences.  Daddy even learned how to make rice porridge in our rice cooker to provide some very familiar cuisine - complete with peas and small pieces of seaweed (a very popular Korean staple/snack). It was so good Mommy & Daddy each had a bowl too!  We are starting to see Zander's sense of humor from time to time as well - such as the ever-popular spoon game during mealtime: 
Zander's first time outside since the flight from Korea was on Sunday afternoon when we took a short walk.  Before getting into his stroller, he explored a little on foot.  He was really taking it all in and quite unsure about the green grass, among other things, as you can tell by his expression:
Zander's first bath was on Sunday evening.  Again, he was a little uncertain at first (as were Mommy & Daddy), but everyone warmed up to the idea pretty quickly and he did great.  Here he is after all the splashing wearing a warm fuzzy towel (a gift from the Mains - thank you says Zander!).
Go Phillies!  On Wednesday, Zander sported his first Phillies gear - a fun gift from Jim's aunt Teresa and cousin Sara.  Daddy was proud to point out that Zander is officially 1-0 when cheering for the team - he watched them put away the Yankees this evening - go Phillies!
Finally, before bed, Zander got to help Daddy with some hard work on his laptop.  He seems to be quite the natural and we expect him to be texting (in English, ha ha) in no time!
Jim and Amy are still learning to manage parenthood with day-to-day activities, so we thank everyone for their patience in our slow response to some texts/emails/phone calls, etc.  We are thankful for the continued support of our family and friends - Nana Pat baked us a huge lasagna earlier in the week, along with some homemade cookies.  On Monday, a generous neighbor prepared a delicious pork chop bake for us, complete with a chocolate cake for dessert.  On Tuesday, Juli from Amy's Bunco group brought over a big plate of chocolate chip cookies (Jim's favorite!) and a wonderful giftcard that we will be using to get Zander's next big toy - possibly a play-size table & chairs or a lawnmower so he can start mowing with Daddy - thanks so much everyone!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Fun-Filled Day 1!

After arriving home from the airport late Friday night, we sat down in the family room with Zander and started to explore some of his new toys including his little Zander-chair (name embroidered on seat back).

He smiled a lot and seemed very curious about his new surroundings!  Then, off to bed at about 12:30 am.  After some early crying and squirming, Zander fell asleep... and then so did Mommy and Daddy.  He moves around a lot in his sleep, but stayed asleep until about 7:30am when he cried for his bottle.  After downing a bottle and a quick change, he fell back asleep until about 12:30 pm!!  Here's a pic of Zander, Dooly, Jim and Scoob during their late morning snooze.
Eventually, we got Zander up and then spent the day exploring more of the house, eating and playing with more toys!  Here's a pic of one of his new favorite toys (a gift from Zander's #1 blog fans Mary, John, and Coleman) that lights up and spins around.  This one was a great distraction on the airplane, too!

He's a total joy.  Smiling a lot, laughing -- and the day has flown by!  Here are some other highlights of the day!
We continue to be spoiled - Heather brought us a delicious chicken stir-fry dinner complete with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!  We were planning to give Zander his first bath in the evening - but it was already getting late, and he seemed pretty tired, so we called it a night and hit the sack at ~10pm.  All seemed fine and dandy... until Zander initiated a mandatory midnight-4:00am play session!!  We are hopeful this is a result of jet lag vs. a normal pattern.  Fortunately, we were all able to enjoy two, four-hour blocks of sleep after that - 4:00am-8:00am and then again from ~8:00 to noon.  Now we are getting ready for that bath!!

Once again, we wanted to say thanks to everyone who has supported us throughout our journey.  It's been a really special experience that we'll never forget, and we've loved all of the comments on the blog, phone calls, text messages, emails, prayers, and everything else that all of our wonderful family and friends have done on our behalf!  We love you all!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Long Journey Home...

The trip home went as well as we could have expected!  We met at the agency at 2 pm where Zander was already waiting.  It was very emotional - his foster mother and her daughter had tears in their eyes, and it was obviously a very difficult separation for them.  (We are unbelievably thankful for how well they have taken care of Zander - we'll be sending them updates in the coming years so that they can see him grow in his new, loving environment .)

Zander spent most of the time at the agency playing quietly, and we were introduced to his favorite stuffed animal --> who was lovingly referred to as his "girlfriend".  She's a pink dinosaur named Dooly and they have seldom been far apart since we met her.  Here they are at the agency just before our departure (we were delighted to see him dressed up in his little tie again):
The agency visit was really short.  Within 30 minutes, our luggage was loaded into a van and we were off to the airport.  As the van pulled away, there was not a dry eye in the crowd - the foster family, our new "Forever Family" and even the agency workers.  Zander had a bottle of formula that ultimately kept him occupied for the early portion of the ride to the airport, and then he fell asleep in Jim's lap.

After a rocky start at the Seoul airport, the flights themselves were very suprisingly uneventful.  Mom and Dad's inexperience clearly showed during our 1st diaper change at the airport, but we managed our way through.  Zander cried really hard during and after the diaper and clothes change, and then vomited all over his clean clothes and on both Amy and Jim.  Amy's sports instincts were clearly still in-tact as she managed to catch a handful of the vomit in her hand.  Then, we just looked at each other wondering where we had packed stuff to clean him (and us) up!  :-)

Things settled down nicely as we got to the plane.  It seems that Zander has the same gift that Amy does with respect to sleeping well most anywhere provided gentle motion!  He slept for much of the 9-1/2 hour flight to Seattle. (We were delighted that he really seemed to warm up to us quickly -- which was surprising after his anxiety earlier in the week during our 2nd visit with him.) We spent our ~3 hour layover in Seattle snacking, playing, and processing Zander's temporary green card.

The final 3 hour leg to Minneapolis was essentially the same.  He drank his bottle and fell asleep again.  While we had purchased a 3rd seat for Zander on the international flight, we only had 2 seats on the domestic flight.  Fortunately, Zander was our lucky charm - we ended up with an entire row of 4 seats to ourselves - very comfortable!

We arrived in Minneapolis at around ~9 pm and headed downstairs to collect our luggage so that we could finally head home - all three of us were pretty exhausted.  Then - there was a major unexpected surprise as we headed down the escalator to find Amy's brother Bob, his wife Heather, their boys Luke and Brady, and Amy's mom Nana Pat were waiting for us with a huge Welcome Home sign!  It was awesome to see their friendly faces and the welcome crew helped us to change and feed Zander, collect luggage, get the car loaded, and celebrate our very memorable Forever Family Day!
After the celebration, we finally loaded Zander into his carseat (first time - fortunately he did not seem to mind) and he fell asleep once more on the ride to our home where we had one more surpise in store for us.  Luke and Brady (and Bob, Heather and Pat) had left us some balloons, flowers, signs and more of their own toys that the boys wanted to give to Baby Zander.  They also stocked our refrigerator, and there was a very special "Zander and Mommy" mug with a picture of Amy and Zander during our first meeting at the agency.  What a very special way to finish off our long journey and be welcomed home!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Heading Out...

Wow, the trip has flown by!  We are on our way to the agency and then will be en route to the airport.  Thanks for everyone's advice for the plane ride - much appreciated.  And yes, Jim just made us watch a YouTube video on how to change a diaper (he's still looking for the version for first time parents on a plane with a non-English speaking baby).

We have put on a lot of kilometers since arriving in Seoul! A lot of our travel has been on foot, which is challenging at times since there are few street signs and since addresses are based on the order in which they were established vs. numerically ordered like we are used to. Our other main means for transport is the subway - super safe, clean, and easy to use.
Shopping has certainly been a theme of the trip.  We recently visited an upscale department store called Shinsegae - 13 floors of fashion! Fun to see, although we spent most our time in the basement which contained a full grocery story (live octopus and all) and marketplace of local and international cuisine, complete with samples for tasting. We tried what looked to be a traditional Vietnamese steamed bun - it was similar to what we expected, except the filling was Korean style - hot and spicy!  Here is picture of a fun shopping find - Korea crocs (modeled by Scoob):

We spent our last night at the Seoul Tower - a huge landmark that offers beautiful sites of the city.  The trek up was a bit crazy, but we made it okay.  We had a wonderful 'celebration' dinner complete with soju and Cass beer.  Delicious!

Emotional Second Visit

Today's visit with Zander was emotional all around - we are filled with joy and excitement about starting our lives together, yet at the same time we are sad to see Zander's time with a very loving foster family come to an end.  Zander cried a lot during our visit today, especially when his foster mother left the room for a little bit - we suspect this means we will have a very long flight home tomorrow!  Here is Zander during the first few minutes of today's visit (before the waterworks began) - he is sporting a jersey of the national soccer team (Red Devils) in preparation for the World Cup kickoff.

After the meeting, our social worker gave us a tour of the agency facility which includes the area where newborns wait to be placed into foster care.  The staff cares for over 60 infants at a time in this facility, which includes a hospital area.  Here is the room in which Zander stayed:
Tomorrow is the big day!  We will return to the agency at 2:00pm where we will again meet the foster family.  There will be a short prayer ceremony for Zander, and then we'll all head to the airport.  Then the real adventure begins!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Few Last Date Nights...

We are eagerly awaiting our second meeting with Zander on Thursday morning at 11:00am.  In the meantime, we are trying to experience as much of the Korean culture as possible.  Tuesday night we saw a fantastic production called 'Nanta' (http://www.nanta.co.kr/) - somewhat similar to 'Stomp' as far as musical rhythms, but instead set in a Korean kitchen where cooks are preparing for a large wedding event.  Tonight was 'Jump' (http://www.yegam.com/jump/kor) - a whacky comedy featuring the martial arts.  Both were fun, but Nanta was definitely our favorite. 
Then we hit a traditional Korean BBQ - it was delicious!  We had two kinds of rib meat that we cooked at the individual BBQ station at our table.  Side dishes include a salad, bean sprouts, sauteed chunks of garlic (potent!), onions, and red bean sauce.  Very flavorful... especially when you add the hot peppers! 
We needed another 'cool off stop' following the meal... and made our second visit to Cold Stone for ice cream.  We headed back around 11pm on a weeknight and the streets were still packed - Koreans stay up late!  We've heard that it is not uncommon for even young children to come home between 10-11pm following academy (extra schooling focused on language, music, etc.).  We hope that Zander will be open to somewhat of an earlier bedtime...