Friday, January 06, 2006

Pics from Home!

Aidan and his adoring fans at the airport.
Aidan loves his car seat...but did the car seat love aidan...see post!
I love water...can't wait for Coney this summer! I 'm a happy boy!
I told you one more picture and I would run you guys over!!!
Hey look at me...I sat up all by myself!
Lady you look nice...but I think you are up to something???
Doctor visit #2...did I hear them say they couldn't do that to me again!
At dad's office...the plans look good, but the finishes are so 2005!
Did I tell you that I love to eat!

January 5th

Well, it’s 4:30 a.m., and I got up to check on Aidan (still looking to make sure he’s still breathing! I don’t know when I’ll get over doing that) and so I thought it would be a good time to quickly update the website. In a nutshell, everything has been like a dream. Life really is wonderful for the Dannenfelsers.

As of yesterday afternoon, we’ve just been home with Aidan for a week. In some respects, we can’t believe how quickly time is flying, and in others, we feel like we’ve truly known him forever. We first met him a month ago today, and we now we really can’t imagine not having him in our lives. When we finally arrived in Cincinnati last Wednesday, it seemed surreal. On the car ride from the airport, I rode in the backseat with him, and kept looking at him and thinking – this is our baby! How amazing! During the ride, he broke in his new outfit and car seat with a dirty diaper, and so as soon as we came home, I took him straight up to his room to change him, and when I laid him down on the changing table, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was actually here, with us, in the midst of his toys and clothes and things, and the world just seemed right. It seemed as if the room we’d been preparing for him for months now finally sighed in contentment, and so did we. We all were exhausted, so we put him in his crib, and it fit him just right. We crawled into bed (the most heavenly, softest bed we’ve ever been in, we thought!) and slept as you do when all is right in the world.

We could be biased, but he really is a smart, beautiful, energetic, personable, lovable, fun-loving, sweet, interactive, happy child. He loves his mom and dad, his stroller, his walker, his car seat (but mostly when the car is moving . . . those pesky stoplights!!) his toys, his grandmas and grandpas and cousins and aunts and uncles, and is even starting to get used to the cat. He zooms around in his walker, but there are lots of roadblocks (rugs, chairs, high chair) that he has to maneuver. He also loves to crawl, and two days ago, he sat up by himself from being on his stomach, which gave rise to clapping and picture taking (by us, not him). Our house has already become Aidan’s house. Our house is happily strewn with a colorful assortment of toys, books, bibs, bottles, burp cloths, formula, walkers, teddy bears, diapers, puppets, puzzles, and baby food jars. We love everything about it. We used to like our home to look “just right,” with everything fluffed and in its place. We now think the place couldn’t be lovelier just as it is. We find lots of fun in feeding him. “Aidan, how about it? Peaches or apple with strawberries? Chicken noodle or Turkey and sweet potatoes?” The boy loves to eat. He doesn’t overeat, but he sucks down his bottles in minutes and happily (and cleanly – he is not a messy eater!) eats whatever interesting baby food we give him. He also adores those Gerber finger puffs, those airy cherry/banana treats that melt in his mouth. We give him some when we’re out to eat, and they keep him occupied (as do all the interesting people he can look around and lean back to look at) and happy. In the past week he’s learned how to pick them up with his finger and thumb instead of his whole hand. It’s unbelievable to watch how much he learns in so short of a time.

He likes to do what we do. If we eat or drink anything, he takes notice and often indicates that he, too, is a growing human being and don’t we think he’d like something as well? He wants to listen when we’re talking on the phone, bang on the computer keyboard as we’re returning a quick email, and chew on the remote control that we find so interesting. If mom and dad like it, he apparently reasons, it must be good. We’ll savor that attitude for as long as we can, since we know that sentiment is fleeting.

He doesn’t like naps. He sleeps 10-11 hours at night (yes, we’re very lucky!!) but isn’t too happy to be put down in the morning or afternoon, although he acts tired and rubs his eyes and so we know he should sleep. I think he doesn’t want to miss anything. Usually, we rock him to sleep and that helps to calm him down for a nap, but not always. Sometimes we give up and let him play and figure when he tires himself he’ll go down. Considering he sleeps so well at night, we think he’s doing really well. He transitioned to the time difference here in a snap. He hasn’t woken up during the night once since he’s been home. Also, he likes to be naked or in his onesie and to play with his feet, and doesn’t like when we take too long to put his clothes on. Darn those baby clothing designers! Don’t they know that any more than 3 buttons or snaps is just too daggone many??

Yesterday we took him to the International Adoption Clinic at Children’s Hospital here in Cincinnati. Well, he’s just doing great. He’s right in the middle of the American growth chart for height and weight, which they said is really rare for adopted kids (and a testament to the great care he received in Kazakhstan), and at the top of the growth chart for head size (Yes, he has a big melon! He’s good-looking with lots of brains – look out world!). Developmentally, he’s right on target, and he allowed the nurse to take some blood for a few tests like a champ. His reward was a Lion King sticker that he wanted to chew on. Next week we take him to the pediatrician for a general check-up and a couple of vaccinations.

Anyway, this past week with the three of us at home has been absolutely wonderful. We feel like we’ve always been a family. We’ve realized three important things in the last month: home is great, we have terrific family and friends, and there’s nothing better that bringing home a baby boy.

We’ll keep posting pictures and little updates for those who want to follow along!

Hope you’re all enjoying 2006!

Love,Scott, Jeanette and Aidan

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Aidan's in the House!!!!

We made it back safe and sound...the flights were real long but Aidan was a champ. We landed in Cincy right after 2pm yesterday. We were greeted by lots of smiling faces. We will fill you in on the details and post a few pics later.

Thanks for all your thoughts and is great!!!

Scott, Jeanette and Aidan

Monday, December 26, 2005

Good News

We got some great news today...we are scheduled to go to the US Embassy tomorrow at 3pm, which means we can leave on Wednesday the 28th. We changed our flights and we will be arriving back to Cincy at 2:20pm on Wednesday afternoon. We will be flying Northwest/KLM from Almaty to Amsterdam to Detroit to Cincinnati. If you were planning on meeting us at the airport sorry for the change...but we had to take the 2 day jump! We will be happy to see anyone who can make it on Wednesday afternoon!

Thanks for all the wonderful thoughts and messages...they all meant so much to us over the past few weeks. We feel extermely fortunate and very loved. We can't wait to see you all. Aidan can't wait to meet all of his family and friends.

We will try to periodically update the blog when we get back to let everyone know how we are doing.

We wish everyone a Happy New Year and we will see you all soon!

Scott, Jeanette, and Aidan

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Night

Out the Door To Xmas Dinner with our Friends
The whole gang (plus another WPA family)
Outside the German Restaurant
Good Night From Our Santa Baby!

Christmas in Kazakhstan


It’s Christmas night here in Almaty, Aidan just went down for the night (we hope!), we’ve sat down to watch a few DVD’s (Gilmore Girls, for those of you who want to know) and I have a minute to catch up on the posts!! We hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas and we miss you all!!

We’ve had a terrific and amazing (and, yes, we’ll admit, at times challenging) first few days as new parents with Aidan. He is a beautiful, sweet, energetic, and full of life. He’s also teething and getting used to his new surroundings, so he’s been a little fussy and frustrated, no doubt also due in part to our loving inexperience. All in all, he is doing really well with his new life and we’re completely crazy about him.

Yesterday, Christmas Eve, Aidan again woke up happy (after a 3 a.m. bottle) and was happy to play on a comforter on the floor with his toys. We gave him a bath in a little red plastic tub in the shower stall (there’s no bathtub), and he liked it! I see swimming lessons in his near future. Anyway, we dressed him in a little red fleece outfit with a train on the front and decided to take a walk to the mall, the Ramstore. We called our travel partners and we all thought we’d meet for lunch at the food court. Before lunch, we stopped at the grocery and bought more formula (3 days, and one can already gone!) and bottled water and paper towels. Then we met up with Kris and Dan and Ann (and Shaylen and Clara) at the food court, near an indoor skating rink. We ate pizza and fruit salad while we watched little girls practice their figure 8’s. Aidan liked watching the little kids at the food court. We also took a few pictures by the BIG Christmas tree outside of the mall. Then we walked back to the apartment, and tried to put Aidan down for a nap. He would have none of it. We know that he’s still getting used to everything, and it’s likely causing him (among other things – i.e., teething, etc.) to not want to sleep, but then he gets very cranky and then it becomes impossible to put him down. We struggled with him all afternoon but he refused to take a nap, so we eventually gave up and let him play with his toys, but he obviously was very fussy. At 6:00, we met our friends out for Christmas Eve dinner at a restaurant called the Guinness Pub (yes, a friendly irish pub-like place), and I had chicken curry (yes, not irish) and Scott had chicken wings. We had a big cozy booth for all of us, and it was fun, but Aidan was not happy. He was tired and having a rough time with his teeth so we called it a little early night at 8:00 and went home and put him right to bed for the night.

Scott and I stayed up and wrapped the few little presents that we had brought from home for Aidan and put them under our little tree. It was a lot of fun- our first Christmas playing Santa, and it was great! We were exhausted so we wished each other a Merry Christmas and went to bed at 10:00.

Luckily, we all slept until 7:00 a.m.! Aidan woke up much happier, all smiles and ready for his very first Christmas!! We fed him a bottle, gave him a bath, and put him in his cute striped sleeper. Then, we turned on the Christmas music, lit our Home for the Holidays candle, showed him the tree and all the little presents! He seemed to know right away that the presents were for him, because he started reaching for them right away. We had fun opening the rattles, the stuffed animals, and the books. He liked all his presents, and christened everything but giving them a good chew! Pretty soon he was surrounded by paper and gifts, just like a little elf. He was happy to play with his presents and crawl after mom and dad as we were all getting ready for the day. Our friend, Ann, had located a Catholic church – the only one in Almaty - and we decided to carpool to the noon mass. Aidan looked so cute in his striped Santa hat and his red polartec snowsuit. We were a few minutes late because our driver underestimated how long it would take to get there – it was on the outskirts of the city, and it was a bumpy 25 minute ride, but we made it. We snuck in the back and took a back pew. Aidan was entertained for about 20 minutes, and then we gave him a bottle, let him play with Lobby, and tried to keep him from getting fussy. Eventually we took turns taking him to the back of church, and we think he liked the view better from there because he was in a better mood then.

After church, we went back to the apartment and tried again to put Aidan down for a nap, but he didn’t want to go so we didn’t force it. We had a nice afternoon though. He was a happy crawling boy, motoring all around the apartment and looking at everything. He’s so cute when he crawls, because his arms are really stiff and he slaps the floor hard with each hand, very deliberately. He smiles the whole time like he’s very proud of himself! He did end up falling asleep for about an hour, and Scott and I watched the Polar Express, which I thought was a very cute Christmas movie for a lazy Christmas afternoon. The apartment smelled like our Christmas candle and it was warm and cozy in here and if we blinked our eyes, it seemed like home.

For dinner we met our friends at the German restaurant. The atmosphere was terrific – the inside was designed as if you were walking in a little German village, complete with Christmas decorations. We had given Aidan a little baby Tylenol before dinner, and that helped a lot – he was happy to sit on our laps and bang on the table. We laughed a lot and ate good food (I had chicken and mushrooms and Scott had chicken shashlyk – Kazakh style shish kabab). We again are so glad for our lovely travel partners. They have made this trip, especially during the holiday, so so nice.

We really had a nice little holiday here in Kazakhstan, and feel so lucky to have Aidan, the best Christmas present ever.

We wish all of you the merriest of Christmases. Thanks to all of you for your warm Christmas wishes, and we send them back to you threefold.

With love,
The Dannenfelsers

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Morning

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

Christmas Eve

Our little tree in Almaty...Santa, the boy is here this year!

Aidan's been a very good boy this year.

Mom, I 'm a boy not an elf!

It's starting to look a little like Christmas in Kaz!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

December 22nd and 23rd

Ok, maybe it’s my first initiation as a new mother, but I’m already behind on my posts. MANY APOLOGIES to all of you!! It’s been such a crazy amazing two days that I finally have found a few minutes to fill everyone in.

Well, Thursday was the best day of our lives. We tried to enjoy what we knew may be a last lazy morning, sleeping in and then having breakfast and cappuccinos at the hotel restaurant, but we were so happy and excited that it didn’t matter. Our drivers picked us up at 10:10 to take us all to the baby house to get the babies. We stopped at a local bakery to get three cakes, one each for our babies’ caregivers (Aidan and Clara were in the same group) and one for the baby house director. I should mention that the cakes here are so beautiful. The decorations are so detailed and lovely - our cake for Aidan’s caregivers was yellow with beautiful flowers and butterflies, and the doctor’s cake looked like a big basket of strawberries, for example. Then we headed off to the baby house, for the final time. It already seemed like a dream! When we got there, we all gathered in the music room. Shaylen was brought down by her caregivers to Kris and Dan, but Scott and Ann and I had to go up to the babies’ group to get Aidan and Clara. Well, our interpreter had gone upstairs to the babies’ group ahead of us, and she said that when Aidan saw her he was excited at first, but when we he realized we weren’t with her, he started crying. So, the only day we saw him crying was the day we came to take him home for good!! That was a good thing, though, because that meant that he was upset when he thought we weren’t coming to see him. He settled down as soon as we scooped him up!!

We took all the babies back down to the music room to say goodbye to the caregivers and doctors. The doctors looked at our photo album and commented on what a beautiful home and family (and parents!) Aidan would have. The dads had to sign something, presumably releasing Aidan to us, and the baby house director then gave a speech, thanking all of us for adopting these children and for making the long journey here to become their parents, and wishing all of us much happiness and health in our lives. Aidan’s favorite caregiver came down to say goodbye – she hugged and squeezed him and pinched his cheeks and gave him a big kiss. It was very bittersweet for her, we could tell, and we felt for her and all the wonderful people who take such good care of these babies. They all took the cakes (and gifts we had brought) back to their offices and we all say goodbye. We then changed Aidan into his “big boy” striped shirt, overalls, shoes, and red polartec, and then stuffed him into his huge penguin snowsuit and hat (they are very particular here about having babies completely covered outside). We left the baby house and went right back to the hotel. Aidan slept the whole way back to the hotel, and once we got back to the hotel, we took off his snowsuit and he was drenched in sweat, head to toe!! So we changed his clothes and he was a happy man. We families had scheduled a thank you lunch to Olga, Assia and the drivers at 2:00 at the hotel, and of course he finally fell asleep in his crib 15 minutes before 2:00! I went to the lunch at 2:00, and Scott let him sleep for about half and hour, and then brought him down to the lunch with his bottle. The lunch was so nice – Olga, Assia, and Andrei, the driver with the best English, each gave a lovely t0ast, wishing all of us much health and happiness and expressing their gratitude for coming so far to adopt these beautiful kids. Ann and I each gave a little toast as well, for all of their kindness, and hard work, and patience for all of our (well, mostly my) silly questions. We had chicken and potatoes and chocolate pudding and wine and champagne, and it was a very special long lunch that we all enjoyed.

In the evening, we figured out how to make cereal (not too hard!) fed Aidan, gave him a little bath in the sink and put him to bed – all fun little victories. Scott is very good at getting the little guy to sleep. He has the special touch. He slept fine all night – from 9 to 630 – but Scott and I didn’t sleep at all! We kept waking up to make sure he was ok and was still breathing. I sort of felt like a zombie by the time we had to get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for our 8 pick-up for our 10 a.m. flight. Now I do know what everyone means when they say you never sleep again! :)

Aidan woke up happy to see us, which made us feel great! The rest of the trip to the airport and waiting for the plane became sort of tiring for all of us, though. Luckily, Olga and the drivers took care of getting our tickets and checking our baggage, so we really just had to wait, but Aidan was getting tired of his snowsuit and getting hungry and pretty fussy. I tried to wait to give him his bottle until take off, but about 5 minutes before we got on the plane he made clear that he wanted it, so I fed it to him then, as we’re standing in line to go to the plane and Scott’s having to mess with showing all of our tickets and passports and his birth certificate. So then we have to walk across the cold tarmac to the airplane, and a helicopter decides to land right then, and is whipping air at all of us as we’re making a mad dash for the plane! Once we got on the plane, we all sighed in relief. Aidan did very well on his first plane ride. He liked to look out the window, and smile at the little boy in the adjoining row, and play the seat back in front of us. He slept a little bit too. I gave him another bottle because he was acting hungry about halfway through the fligth, and then tried to give him some water to suck on as we were landing, but he didn’t want that. The flight was nice, we had calm sunny weather the whole way and there weren’t any unplanned stops in Atyrau or other cold remote location.

When we got off of the plane, we met Ann’s dad, who has flown here from New York to help her this last week and help her on the way home (Hi Poppa!) and our drivers. The traffic here is horrendous – everyone is on the roads for the upcoming holiday next weekend (New Year is just like Christmas here - tree, gifts, the whole works), at least that’s what Dima, our driver, says. A few people celebrate Christmas, too, so they are on the roads too. It took forever to get to our apartment due to the traffic, and because we had to stop and get Aidan’s picture taken for the Embassy (he did well posing, he's a natural). Our apartment, though, is very nice. A modern type kitchen, big living room with plenty of space to lay a blanket down for Aidan to play on, two bedrooms and a modern bathroom. We’re also within walking distance of the Ramstore – a mall that really is like a mall by our standards, plus it has a HUGE grocery story like home. The only downside of the apartment here in Almaty is that it is a 5 floor walk up with no elevator, so bringing our luggage (and groceries) up was sort of a trick.

Last night we put up our lovely Christmas tree (a foam wall sticker) and hung our 3 red velvet stockings underneath it with scotch tape. Then we decided to go on an outing to the Ramstore, and we bundled Aidan up and walked over there. We had pizza and Basken Robbins ice chocolate almond ice cream (delicious!) and then bought a few necessaries at the grocery store, along with some Christmas candy and a 2 foot tall fake Christmas tree. We put Aidan to bed when we got back without his bottle because he was so sleepy. For all of you people who may be worried out there, he did eat a whole bowl of cereal and a jar of carrots before we went shopping. And, we ended up giving him another bottle at 3:15 a.m.! So he’s eating plenty!! We also have had our first couple dirty diapers!! So I guess we’re parents now.

Well, we’re happy to be here in Almaty, one step closer to home!! It’s Christmas Eve morning here, and we miss all of you and wish each and every one of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! When Aidan wakes up, we’ll decide which holiday (and later, we’re sure, mortifyingly embarrassing) outfit to put him up today and tomorrow! We're listening right now to our favorite Christmas CD, which, as I write, is playing "Oh There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays."

Scott, Jeanette and Aidan

We made to Almaty,again!

We made it back to Almaty...Aidan did great...we can't wait for next friday's flights!!!
Aidan getting his first bath.

The Group ready to go back to Almaty.

Aidan on his first flight.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

We got Him!

The Dannenfelsers and Assia (our interpreter)
Leaving the Babyhouse
Crashed out on the ride home