“For I know the plans I have for you…to give you hope and a future.”

With Great Joy We Introduce Our Newest Son Aaron Donald Walsh Ho

With Great Joy We Introduce Our Newest Son Aaron Donald Walsh Ho
Born January 17, 2007 Guangdong Province, The People's Republic of China Forever Ours April 12, 2010
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter, and...The Boys Know...

This morning the boys were thrilled to find their Easter baskets and hunting for the Easter eggs the Easter Bunny left hidden in the living room and playroom.

The Easter Bunny put quarters in the eggs. The boys enjoyed counting their money and putting the coins into their piggy banks.

The boys each received a Hess truck, Donovan's with a jet airplane, and Aaron's with a space shuttle.

The highlight of Easter 2011 for our boys included:....
Toy Story backpacks, Toy Story lunchboxes, Toy Story t-shirts, Buzz Lightyear hats, new Disney Cars hats...Toy Story lanyards and Disney trading pins...(you've guessed by now right?) and cards from Mommy and Daddy with Mickey and Minnie on them because... after 5 months of waiting to tell them...the boys KNOW...WE ARE GOING TO DISNEYWORLD FOR 9 DAYS in May! (May 4-12) and we are ECSTATIC!!
Thank you to all my online friends at RQ who first helped me prepare for our big trip to China, and now for our big trip to Disney! It's been HOURS and HOURS of researching and planning...and we are now ready and SO EXCITED! The boys were even more excited to learn that Grandma is coming with us to Disney!! She wouldn't miss it for the world.

Grandma arrived around 10:30 this morning, and gave the boys some Easter gifts. She also informed the boys that when she pulled in the driveway she thought she saw a few Easter eggs. So, we headed outside for another Easter Egg hunt! The boys had so much fun working together on that hunt to find the eggs hidden in our yard. After lunch (and a little candy), we took a walk around the neighborhood, followed by playtime in the sandbox. The boys are now napping and we are looking forward to our holiday dinner this evening.

Happy Easter!

I do plan to post on our blog each evening from Disney, with photos and sharing what we did/saw each day. We are SO EXCITED! This week before we leave will be a very busy one, and I'm in the midst of packing and picking up last minute things. It's likely I won't post on our blog until we get to Disney! We are staying right on Disney property, at the Dolphin, which is walking distance to Epcot.

Our schedule is:
Day 1 Arrive around 1:30, afternoon/evening at Epcot, dinner at Garden Grill (with characters)
Day 2 Animal Kingdom all day, dinner at Rainforest Cafe
Day 3 Magic Kingdom, lunch at Crystal Palace (with Pooh, etc.) stay for parade at 3 and eat dinner at Magic Kingdom
Day 4 Magic Kingdom, eat dinner at Liberty Tree Inn at Magic Kingdom
Day 5 MOTHER's DAY Epcot, afternoon at pool at hotel, dinner at Teppan Edo (Epcot)
Day 6 Hollywood Studios, lunch there at Pizza Planet, back to hotel in afternoon for naps and/or pool, dinner at The Wave (Contemporary Hotel)
Day 7 Hollywood Studios, stay for parade at 3, dinner at Flying Fish (Boardwalk Hotel)
Day 8 Magic Kingdom all day
Day 9 Animal Kingdom until 2 pm. 5:00 flight home.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Home 1 Year Today and Easter Preparations

One year ago today, our plane touched down at JFK airport (and Aaron became a U.S. Citizen when our plane touched down on U.S. soil). The 6 hour (which became 8 hour) layover in a very overheated terminal at JFK is one I will never forget - it was close to unbearable, when all we wanted was to GET HOME! The photo of Aaron and I waiting for our luggage at the Burlington Airport says it all - exhaustion.

I will always remember arriving home around midnight, my mom having waited up for us, Aaron meeting Grandma and playing with her in the playroom while we made something to eat for him and unloaded our luggage. Aaron was THRILLED to peek at his new "big" brother, Donovan, while Donovan slept, and then Aaron easily fell asleep on a twin size mattress on our floor. I love this photo of Donovan getting his first glimpse of his new brother early the next morning.

That day had beautiful weather and we spent a lot of time outside, the boys digging in their sandpile (this was just before Rupert built a sandbox for the boys) and riding bikes. The jetlag those first 7-10 cays was not pleasant, and Aaron adjusted much faster than I did - soon happily moving into the "big boys' bedroom" with Donovan.

And today, we have come full circle, as we prepare to celebrate the only holiday Aaron has not yet celebrated in our family. After tomorrow's Easter holiday, Aaron will have celebrated a full year in our family, learning new traditions. Through it all, I have been amazed at the enthusiasm and openness Aaron has embraced all aspects of his new life - dressing up as a monkey and saying "trick or treat" to receive candy, learning about the Chinese Moon Festival, eating a big turkey dinner, cutting a tree and putting it in our living room, visiting Santa, learning about Baby Jesus, enjoying Chinese New Year and receiving lai see (lucky money), exchanging valentines, and now preparing for Easter. After tomorrow, we begin the second year with Aaron, and he will be able to reflect on his previous experience with the holidays and traditions he has already experienced first-hand, rather than constantly learning and being told about them!
Below are 4 photos taken yesterday after the boys dyed eggs.

This afternoon the boys attended an Easter egg hunt, hosted by the family of one of the boys in Donovan's preschool class. (This sweet boy is a good friend of Donovan's, one he has recently begun having playdates with.) Donovan and Aaron have been looking forward to the egg hunt, and were worried when we woke up to heavy rain this morning. Luckiily, the rain cleared. Who would have ever thought that with Easter at the end of April, the temperature would be 40 degrees, and my boys would be wearing fleece coats and winter hats for an EASTER egg hunt!!! The boys had so much fun at the Easter egg hunt - Aaron's first. His smile in the first two photos below certainly show what Aaron thought of the egg hunt!

Once home, the boys had so much fun counting their Easter Eggs. Donovan counted his 27 eggs, and Aaron counted his 18 eggs. We also discovered that while Donovan had more eggs than Aaron, Aaron had more larger eggs than Donovan. Most of the smaller eggs contained candy and most of the larger eggs contained toys. The boys have been having tons of fun with two toys that have parachutes attached to toy rabbits!
Aaron counting his Easter Eggs.

Aaron thrilled with his eggs!

Donovan and his eggs.

Donovan quite happy with his eggs!!

And so, we prepare to celebrate the Easter holiday tomorrow. The Easter baskets are out, carrots have been left out for the Easter Bunny, and the boys are finishing watching an Easter video before bath and bed this evening. Tomorrow will be such a special day for them...in so many ways...tune in tomorrow for the boys' reaction to the big news they find out tomorrow!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Donovan's 1st Birthday Party for a Classmate

This is Donovan before we left for a birthday party for 2 boys in his class.

This was the first birthday party Donovan has attended that was not for family or close family friends. It was held at a local gymnastic academy. Donovan loved running along a long trampoline and then jumping down into a pit of foam pieces, doing an obstacle course, trying out the balance beams, and swinging on ropes.

Donovan had so much fun!

Boston Here We Come...

We are heading to Boston early tomorrow morning. After checking into our hotel, we plan to take the T to Chinatown to walk around and do some shopping. Then we will head back to our hotel for dinner, baths, and an early bedtime. Tuesday back on the T to The Children's Museum.
Donovan's preschool class did extensive studying of trains and subways in the fall, so both he and Aaron and looking forward to riding the T again. Aaron keeps reminding us he rode on a monorail at JFK airport (true) and I've been hinting that he and Donovan will soon ride on another monorail (we are telling them on Easter the full details of what we have planned that involves a monorail!). Donovan's class has recently been studying about cities, skyscrapers and architecture (and Philippe Petit!), so there will be lots to discuss as we walk around the city. We will be taking photos in Boston.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Adoption Day Anniversary (one year ago)

One year ago, on April 13, we returned to the Civil Affairs office in Guangzhou, after having Aaron with us for 18 hours, and finalized his adoption.

With the official who registered/notarized the adoption.

I remember our guide (knowing we were going to Xiangjiang Safari Park all day the next day, and an all day trip to the orphanage the following day) then suggested we quickly head over to the Medical Exam on Shamian Island, and so we did. It was a lot to do all in one morning, and Aaron did great!
Just after the Medical Exam.

Lunch back at the hotel with our "Noodle Boy!"

The year has gone so quickly. While it seems like Aaron has always been in our family, it also often seems like it was just yesterday when we were walking the streets of Guangzhou with him. Looking forward to this next year together as a family. We certainly have some exciting things coming our way...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Get Your Tissues Ready!!!!!!

Tonight, Aaron pointed up at the photo above my bed (below, first photo I ever saw of him)

and then pointed across the room at this photo (below)

Do you have your Kleenex ready?
and he said, "Mommy, I didn't smile in China. Do you know why I didn't smile?"
And so I replied, "I don't know Aaron...why didn't you smile in China?"
and he answered, "Because I didn't have Mommy and Daddy yet."
Then he proceeded to point to this photo (below, taken on Chinese New Year this year)

and said, "Now I smile SO MUCH. Because now I have Mommy and Daddy. I love you Mommy!" and then ran in to his bedroom (where Daddy was) and repeated the same conversation with him. We did take a moment to point out to him that he did smile in China, just not in those photos. He was quick to respond, "I didn't smile in THOSE PHOTOS because I didn't have Mommy and Daddy yet."

Adopting a child won't change the world, but for that child, the world will change.

One Year Ago, April 12, We Met Our Son!

Last year, on April 12, we sat on a black leather couch in the Adoption Registry Office in Guangzhou, waiting for the Civil Affairs office to reopen from lunch, and for the children from the Bao'an orphanage to arrive. As we sat there waiting (we were early), the elevator doors opened, and our son walked off an elevator and into our lives. The year has gone so fast. When I see photos of Guangzhou, from other families traveling to adopt their children, in an instant I am taken back to the sights, smells(!), and feel of China, and what it felt like to finally have our son with us.
These are a few photos from our first day with Aaron.

Waiting for Aaron to Arrive...

Photo of the 3 of us with two caregivers from the orphanage who brought the children from the orphanage to Guanzghou (about a 2 hour ride).

Mommy & Aaron

A Happy Boy (with his juice)

Father and Son Looking Down at the City Streets Below

Today, while Donovan was at preschool, Aaron and I had some errands to run. When we were in the car, I mentioned to Aaron that one year ago today we met him in China. He said, "And you gave me a green and white sippy cup with a straw and it had grape juice in it. We took lots of pictures [true!]. Then we got in the minivan. At the hotel you gave me some toys and I got to ride in a blue and orange stroller." These are things I have NOT mentioned to him in the year we have been home. I was planning to look through his scrapbook with him this week of the day we met, day we adopted him, safari park, orphanage visit, etc.....I am amazed he remembered those details on his own- well, I take that back - nothing should amaze me at this point about this incredible little boy. He has a phenomenal memory.
As we drove in the car, Aaron was pointing out UPS trucks, dump trucks, cement mixers, garbage trucks, etc, and saying "There's Koto's Steakhouse where we went to dinner with Grandma, and there's Kids Town where we buy my sneakers." He remembers every detail of what we do!
When we got to the mall, we had items to return to both Kohl's and JcPenny, and decided to park by Kohl's and afterwards, walk across the parking lot on this gorgeous sunny day to JcPenny. As we held hands, Aaron exclaiming, "I'm Buzz Lightyear...to infinity and beyond" as he skipped and jumped over the cracks in the sidewalk, he stopped and looked up at me, and said, "I love you so much Mommy!" and wrapped his arms around my legs, and of course, I just melted. We are so lucky!

what a differene a year makes! While of course I want Aaron to be proud of the country he was born in and his culture, when people look at him they see a typical 4 year old American boy, and when I look at him, I just see the most gorgeous smile, his enthusiasm for life, his happiness, and most of all...I just see, my son!

The photo above was taken on Chinese New Year.

Friday, April 8, 2011

One Year Ago We Were in China

One Year ago, on April 8th, our plane touched down in Hong Kong, and after a short layover, we flew into Guangzhou. After that, we had three full days in which we did some sightseeing and acclimated ourselves to our surroundings and the time difference, before meeting our son.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One Year Ago We started our Trip to China

One Year ago our trip to meet our new son began. On the afternoon of April 6, we flew from our local airport to JFK. We spent the night at a hotel near the airport, in preparation for an early morning flight on Cathay Pacific to HK, and then on to Guangzhou, where we would stay for 2 weeks.