Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our Little Monster

With three weeks of parenthood under our belts, it’s hard to imagine a time pre-Xian. Sleeping through the night has become such a distant memory and I hardly remember a time without the mandatory five cups of coffee to get me going in the morning. This past week has been especially draining. Xian has decided that she must be held at all times and we have a new two am witching hour. This is the time when our little princess wakes us up with blood curdling screams that continue for several hours. Frank is awesome about taking this shift. He entertains her until 4:30 when it’s time for Audrey’s morning walk. The other day, he came in to give me Xian and I jumped up in bed and began to rock the covers. When Frank told me he had the baby, I was so confused that I began to search throughout the bed for her. It took me a while to realize what was going on. Exhaustion is the new normal. Oh the joys of parenthood!

This morning began like many hours; however with one little twist thrown into the mix. Today at AST, we would be celebrating Halloween. We ran around frantically trying to get ready for the festivities while Xian respectfully slept. We had tried to order her a costume from the states but our little girl is such a tiny peanut that nothing would fit her. So, no costume for her. That is until our sister-in-law sent her a darling Frankenstein bib complete with a very feminine pink bow.


As Xian awoke with her usual endearing scream, we dressed her quickly in her Frankenstein garb and all morning activities were put on hold for a photo shoot. She was the perfect little actress, playing the part of Frankenstein quite well. Perhaps next year, we can convince her to play the part of a princess. . .

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It begins and hopefully ends with a toast

Adopting has been on the minds of Krista and I for quite some time. We hoped and hoped that this fall would bring a beautiful new life into our home. Throughout last year, baby items began showing up in our apartment and one of the primary reasons for moving into the "hills" at the end of the year was to give our future baby less polluted air. Baby carriers waited us in France - oh, here is Krista using her carrier on Xian's first walk...

As we packed our bags to leave my parents' home in Les Grangettes, we carefully packaged a bottle of Macvin du Jura, which is a specialty of the region my parents live in and (I believe) relatively impossible to find elsewhere. The bottle made it safely to Taiwan and was almost opened on a few occasions but for one reason or another we did not get a baby. Then, on October 5 we had Xian - the perfect baby for us. Several days later, the Macvin was opened for a small toast.

What happens now? Well, we begin the legal process which can take four to six months. Here's to lots of good thoughts and one more toast in the near future as Xian officially becomes a McGowan.

Monday, October 10, 2011

She moves!

Quickly becoming habit, but the first time...

Here is a post that I wrote in June 2006 just before I left for Peace Corps Guinea.

Have I mentioned before how wonderful the school community that I am in is? The hardest part of deciding to enter the Peace Corps was the knowledge that I would have to leave the amazing staff, students and others at Sunnyside. In a complete surprise, today’s morning meeting was a good-bye for me. Sarah, John and Jan had kind words for me, students read a “Remember Me” poem that they had written about me and several students gave anecdotes from the last three years. It’s fascinating to hear stories from the other side of the class room.

Sandwiched among many nice statements was my “rite of passage.” Several months ago the staff was shocked to hear that I had never changed a baby's diaper. Honestly, it has never been one of the items on my must-do list, though ranked on the try-to-avoid list. When Midwifery Day came and past without me seeing a baby’s bottom, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had avoided it! Today as Jan began talking she mentioned the words rite of passage and I immediately looked into the back of the auditorium to see a coworker’s newborn. The 240 students in the room probably didn’t yet know that I would soon be a source of entertainment for them but I was already sweating it. Finally, with an auditorium full of people, I managed to change little Noah’s diaper. I guess that I’m now prepared for anything!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Naming of an Angel

When naming our baby girl, we knew we wanted something unique and a blending of western and eastern cultures. Xian or 西安 in Chinese is translated as western peace. The pronunciation is similar to "she-an," while in English her name is pronounced "sigh-anne" or like the color, cyan.

Xian is the historic capital of China and the first place where I began to appreciate and fall in love with Asian culture. With Anne being my mother's name, we quickly became set on naming our angel, Xian.

Xian's middle name, Odile, is French and is shared by Frank's mother. 
So, Xian Odile it is-a blend of American, Chinese and French.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Xian Odile McGowan enters our life

All eyes were on us as we made our way down the long hall, through the packed waiting room and out of the medical clinic door. In our arms were boxes of diapers, a baby bath tub, a small care package and the amazing, beautiful, adorable... Xian.

Several hours earlier our evening followed the path of many others. I finished soccer practice and in the spirit of avoiding the need to cook, we rode our scooter to our favorite pizza restaurant. Breaking tradition, the order of a slightly different pizza had just been ordered when my phone began ringing. Unknown caller. No one ever calls me so I ignored the call. Krista, thinking it odd that I would receive a call, checked her phone. Missed call after missed call after missed call. Something important - baby was available but we needed to go immediately!

Throwing the pizza into a box, we raced home to let Audrey out, grabbed the already packed baby bag and headed out the door. We've been waiting for a baby since our return from France and have weathered a few disappointments. Would this be the one?

Driving to the clinic was nerve-wracking. Trying to balance building excitement with the reality that we may return home empty-handed was difficult. At the clinic, we first met Xian. Wow! She is so tiny!

From Xian

For the number people: 17 inches / 5.5 lbs

After seeing Xian, we met and talked with her birth mother before leaving the clinic. Unbelievable - hours before we had no idea that our lives would change that night. The feeling was amazing - an instantaneous growth in my heart unlike I've ever experienced. Love blossomed as I held this precious little girl.

Xian Odile McGowan
Born 10.4.11
Joined us on 10.5.11

Saturday, October 1, 2011

E. Hehuan Shan

Our Saturday began by grabbing various items and hoping the camping bins were stocked for a get-away in eastern Taiwan. For some reason, we have recently stagnated since returning to Taichung with few weekend trips. The first stop was a local park for Audrey to get a quick run-about and we "discovered" the first forgotten item - leash and collar. How could we forget this? She's more fun off-leash anyways...

Stop number 2 seems to have become an essential part of Saturday mornings. Maybe it's our need for some western indulgence but we often find ourselves heading down Jinhua Road for the Early Bird Diner on most Saturdays. Bottomless cups of coffee, blueberry pancakes (with whipped cream!), and Krista's essential starter - bacon - are all served up. Needless to say, we were on the slow path out of town but eventually got rolling and found light traffic on the freeways all the way to Puli.

From Puli, the route necks down to a narrow lane in each direction heavily traveled by tour buses and big trucks. Today, cabbages seemed to be a popular item of transport. We then passed the craziness that is Cingjing Farm. At some point, a government official decided that it would be great to have farms in various districts for the Taiwanese to visit. This one was crowded with lots of people who appeared to be looking at sheep.

The road got narrower as we neared the mountain - entering Taroko Gorge National Park and crossing the altitude mark of 3000m. The hot, sunny weather of Taichung was replaced by clouds, rain and wind. Opening the car door in the parking lot was a risk as it almost became unhinged due to the strong wind. After a quick lunch inside the Freeca, we let out our over-excited pooch and began heading up towards Hehuan Shan (shan means mountain).

Taiwan does not receive much snow but if one wanted to find it in the winter time, Hehuan would be a good bet. At some point there was even skiing!

Enjoying the open spaces and lack of concrete, we seemed immune to the conditions. At first...Nearing the peak, we realized the extent of our lackadaisical packing job. Our clothes were completely soaked through! The light raincoats we brought as an afterthought did little for the constant rain and Krista did not have a change of clothes in the car.

Krista's and Audrey's first Taiwan peak - E. Hehuan Shan - 3,422 m (11,227 ft)

"the view"

The return leg was quick as we scurried down in the hopes of warming up. Several large Taiwanese groups were climbing up and made us wonder how busy the mountain would be on a sunny day. The shift cloud banks offered few glimpses of the beauty to be found in the high mountains of Taiwan.

Satisfied with a fun hike, we toweled off our wet dog and began the trek back home. Next time, a change of clothes and a bit better weather gear will accompany us into the mountains.