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February 2008

Saturday the 9th marked two years since Jude's birth. We are so grateful to his birthparents for the incredibly precious bundle they carefully laid outside the GuTian police station. We are also thankful for the small red note that was pinned to his clothes before he was left. It was their final gift to him, that he will be able to celebrate his birthday in the future, without wondering if it is truly his birth day. To celebrate his special day, we drove up to Atlanta to celebrate with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The name of the game on his birthday was balloons. Jude loves balloons. He spent a good bit of the day walking around collecting balloons into a huge balloon bouquet. He was perfectly content to forego any other part of the festivities. We persuaded him to let go of his beloved balloons long enough to blow out the candles on his cake (with balloons on it, appropriately enough) and open his gifts. While he doesn't enjoy being the center of attention, we did manage to get a few sweet smiles out of him when he got the chance to blow out the two little candles atop his cake. He perked up when the presents came out and he managed to do a fine job of ripping the paper off his gifts. He even made the predictable surprised expressions upon seeing his presents, placating his attentive audience and putting a smile on all of our faces. We all felt so blessed to be able to share in such a special day in our precious boy's life.

Jude continues to forge ahead in the gross motor arena. In January, we were thrilled to hear Jude's physical therapist announce that it was time to reduce his sessions from four to two every month! She has seen such amazing progress since he started in therapy back in August that she decided he needed fewer appointments. He continues to amaze us at how quickly he is catching up to his peers. He has mastered walking, can go up and down small inclines without falling, and can navigate our local play place without assistance. He is working on climbing, walking up stairs and learning to run! Yeah... I see some 'catch me if you can!' in my near future! His big sister Isabelle has taught him to crawl up on the ottoman, then onto the arm of the couch and finally hurl himself onto the couch cushions with reckless abandon. After all, what are big sisters for if not to teach you how to tread the fine line between fun and serious injury? In fact, he hasn't developed a healthy fear of anything so we have to constantly be on the lookout for his safety-- he can be his own worst enemy! He loves wrestling with baba and his big brothers, and he's one tough cookie. His trademark move is the 'Skull Crusher', where he pins his opponent (usually only baba will allow this move) and sits as hard as he can, repeatedly, on said opponent's head. He might have a future in wrestling if he weren't such a tiny wisp of a thing, he's definitely got the heart and attitude for it ;)

While our little man might be on the small side (like not even ON the growth charts) he is growing... a lot! He's grown 3 inches since his adoption and gained 4 pounds. If only it was as hard for ME to gain a pound as it is for HIM! He continues to insist on maintaining his extremely limited palette and, on the advice of our pediatrician, we are just waiting and hoping he will grow out of his resistance to even try new foods. Since we know his diet consisted of only a formula/congee mix for his first 16 months, we are trying to be patient as he, ever SO slowly, expands his repertoire. His daily intake usually goes something like this: noodles, Pringles (no 'chips', thank you!), mandarin oranges, yogurt, more Pringles, more noodles, apple, maybe some peas, more yogurt, an occasional banana and he *might* try a bite of ice cream - IF it's vanilla and has nothing mixed in. Exciting, eh?

He is constantly surprising us with his intelligence, it won't be long and he'll have outsmarted all of us. He also has excellent manners and if he needs help with something he carries it to me saying, "Please! Help!" Who could say no to that? He is using some three word sentences now, all used in a 'tattle tale' manner, referring to Isabelle ;) He seems to think he is Isabelle's BIG brother and has a duty to tell me what she's doing or not doing correctly. One day we were all sitting at the table, the kids were eating, (guess what? Ramen Noodles) and I reminded a distracted Isabelle to eat her noodles. Jude later piped up, "Mei Mei! Eat! Noodles!" His vocabulary continues to multiply... there doesn't seem to be any words that he doesn't understand! No matter what we say or ask him to do, he figures out how to do it. His latest trick (another wonderful lesson taught by Isabelle) is pushing his chair up to the kitchen counter to get whatever it is that he wants. In other words, this boy is TROUBLE. He attracts it. He can't resist it. The dog's food and water act as a magnet and he is steel... "must. mix. dog food. dog water." He stares at me helplessly as I find him time and time again sitting in a puddle of spilled water, hands full of wet dog food. Just the other day Sophie ran in to find me saying, "Mommy! Jude put something in the potty!" I dropped what I was doing and rounded the corner only to find Jude standing in front of the potty, proudly watching whatever it was that he put into it swirl around and down into the hole. Upon questioning Sophie, I realized he'd flushed a fake orange, about the size of a racquetball, right down the pooper. Thankfully, we figured out we could retrieve it with the shop vac and we didn't have to call a plumber. We'll be keeping that tip up our sleeve for future reference, no doubt ;) And while he's been busy putting things into the potty, he's also learning how to use the potty! He will go pee on the potty before bath time and sometimes requests to go on the potty during the day. His motivation is the wad of tp he gets in order to 'wipe'... all he does is throw it in the potty, but it seems to be worth it to him ;)

Enjoying his first Christmas at home

Jie Jie and Di Di watching a movie together

Jude steering his 'ship'!

The shirt says it all

Can never have too many hats!

"Balloons! Mine!"

Happy 2nd Birthday, sweet boy!

A few of Jude's favorite things :)
Jude still prefers his immediate family over large crowds. He is his most expressive and outgoing where he feels safe and secure. He is usually willing to offer a "bye bye" to most strangers, but little else in the way of interaction. He has such a loving demeanor at home, he freely offers huge smiles, hugs and kisses to everyone in the family. He still has his favorites, but is slowly realizing what fun being part of a big family can be. His best time of day is the evening, and he loves that he gets to stay up past everyone else's bedtime to play with mama and baba. It gives us an opportunity to love on him uninterrupted, play with him and ensure that he gets enough one on one time with both of us. We usually put him to bed about 9:30 PM and sleeps well through the night. God really blessed us in that respect! He's up and ready to go by 7:30 AM and has consolidated his napping schedule to one afternoon nap from 2:30 to 4:30 or so. He usually wakes up in a pleasant mood, but needs mama to hold him for a while before he's ready to play. His pillow has become a real security 'blanket' for him, he loves to put the corner of the pillow up to his lips as he's going to sleep. Often he'll just want to hold his pillow for security. I'm so glad to finally have a little one with a 'lovey', if I had known his preferred object would be his pillow, I'd have bought a few of them! He also loves to sleep with Velvet, our Jack Russell, who amazingly loves him right back. This is a dog that has barely managed to endure all of our children pulling, tugging, poking and basically torturing her. I often find her sleeping with him on his little toddler bed, snuggled up next to his feet, perfectly content. I love to see the two of them together, and I imagine someday soon he's going to want to have her on a leash walking her down the street :)

Other than Velvet and his pillow, Jude has some things that he can't live without. He's sort of obsessed with shoes. And since his next oldest siblings are girls... well, he's crazy about the girls' shoes: dress up shoes, crocs, slippers... he's not picky. Anything that he can put on his feet (and usually the wrong foot) will do. Add this to his newest love of his sister's purse (purple with a big pink flower) and sometimes he looks a bit, well, girly! He does refer to his purse as 'backpack' so for now, we're just letting him explore his feminine side ;) He does love some traditional boy things, though. For his birthday he received a Magtastic set of balls and cylinders that are like Magnetix, but for babies. He LOVES these, not really for the magnetic aspect, but for all the balls! He adores balls of all shapes and sizes, and if often seem carrying at least one around. He is just beginning to play with Hot Wheels and has realized that they are not 'choo choos' as he used to call them, but cars :) He even adds his own sound effects as he pushes them around and we are grateful that, due to all his big brothers, we already have a large collection for him to enjoy.

We feel so honored that God chose us to be Jude's family. He is such a joy to parent; both Chris and I are completely smitten with him. He's funny, smart, engaging, silly, feisty and full of himself. Just like a little boy should be. Bring on the terrible twos!!

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