Saturday, September 27, 2008

Feeling Better

Oliver is doing much better. His breathing is better, he's happier, and he's playing quite a bit. He's still not doing such a good job keeping his bottle down, but he's eating cereal, baby food, and drinking juice. He's definitely getting better every day.

We go back to the doctor's tomorrow for a follow-up.

It seems like several of the babies from our orphanage had bronchitis. Most of them who were adopted with Ollie have coughs and are getting treated. Unfortunately Ollie's wasn't knocked out by the first round of anitbiotics and flared up badly right before we were to fly home. Oh well. The important thing is he's getting better. We'll be home later this week. I hope the poor babies still in the orphanage are doing ok.

Tony and Leigh

Sick in Hanoi

We should be in the air now on our way home. But we're still here nursing Oliver over his bronchitis. He's doing a little better today, but he's still having a hard time keeping down his bottle--I think every surface of this room has been puked on, including mommy and daddy about 10 times each. Thank god we have a washing machine; it's running nonstop. Oliver also has a raspy cough and pretty bad rattle in his chest. And you can tell he just doesn't feel very good.

But he's breathing a little better, and he is playing a little. The doctors and nurses at the SOS international clinic have been fantastic. They lent us the nebulizer (sp?), so we give him those treatments twice a day. Plus he has antibiotics and something for his fever. Hopefully he'll be getting better every day. And the Doctor thinks he should be well enough to fly by Wednesday.

We know he'll get better soon, but it's been a tough couple of days. Finally we realize what our parents went through every time we were sick. It's hard to see the little guy not feeling well, and it's a pretty hopeless feeling when you can't do anything to help him. It's been rough as new parents in a strange land with a sick little baby. But Grandma and Grandpa Frattolillio have been terrific. A huge help to us and Oliver. We're all very lucky they're here with us. And my mom gave a great phone consultation, since she's too far away to make a house call.

We've had such a great time here that I had been slightly sad to see our stay in Vietnam end--I guess it's true you should be careful what you wish for, eh? Right now I can't wait to take Ollie home. Soon enough.
Tony and Leigh

Friday, September 26, 2008

We could leave but

Oliver is sick again. We took him to the doctor this morning. He has really bad bronchitis and they don't want us flying with him. It was a long morning. The poor little guy had a chest x-ray, blood work, IV antibotics and fluids. He was very happy when they took off the bandages and he could have his hand back. He was pathetic trying to get his hand in his mouth. Within a hour after he had the medicine and fluids he perked up. We go back to the doctor Sunday and they think we should be able to fly on Wednesday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We're done!

We have Oliver's passport and most important we have his visa to come into the US. That's it. He's ours and we can come home. Luckily, we were able to get on an earlier flight. We are leaving Hanoi on Saturday. We land late Saturday night in Newark.

We went out to celebrate with two other wonderful families. The Bensons and Harrisons. They also adopted beautiful babies from our orphanage (the beautiful Madeleine and handsome Nam) Along for the ride is Alexander, Katrina and Adam's son, whom Ollie just loves. Alexander is 4 and he thinks we have all moved to Vietnam. The babies are thriving. It was so fun to celebrate. We kept on saying that we couldn't believe that this is it. It felt like the last day of camp.

Mom and Dad are watching Oliver tomorrow morning while we go to our cooking class. We are going to the market too. I asked Anthony to steer me away from the dog section. Wish us luck!

Sorry for the lack of posts, but we're having problems charging our computer again. We'll see.

Today is our appointment at the US Embassy for Oliver to get his visa. It's the last step in the process. Everything should be all lined up, but we'll be glad when this last appointment is done.

Oliver has been really good. He's slept completely through the night the last five nights. He wakes up happy and ready to tear things up! Of course, I'm sure we'll be back to square one once we deal with the long flight, jet lag, and new adjustment back home.

Yesterday we did a lot of shopping. It was fun. There are a lot of good silk products, artwork, ceramics, and other handi-crafts. LEigh got a beautiful silk dress. I tried to buy a linen shirt, something cool and comfortable for this heat, but I guess I'm a little, ah, larger than the average Vietnamese man. It couldn't button the large across my chest.

We had dinner at a terrific place, and as usual, the waitress held Ollie while we ate. I could get used to this, but something tells me this won't be the way at restaurants back in America. For lunch we had bahn minh, Vietnamese sandwiches. We can actually get really good ones back in New York, but we wanted to get them here. This version really piled on the meats and pate, plus some cucumbers and greens, all on a really good baguette. A French influence, obviously. Goes good with a cold Tiger beer.

Ollie is really into taking a bath. He splashes like crazy, just like the pool. Wait until we get this poor kid some bath toys.

We found out more of how he was cared for at the orphanage. He was rocked to sleep every night by the nannies, fed every three hours, held constantly, and was almost never alone. Not easy being an orphan, but it seems like he was very well cared for. It's clear how everyone on the street reacts to him and us that the Vietnamese take very good care of their children.

Here are some pictures from Hanoi, plus a couple more from the orphanage.

Tony and Leigh

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Grandpa and Oliver

We're not posting as much as we'd planned, simply because we're having too much fun and are too busy.

Things are going very well. Oliver is a very good little boy. For the last three nights he has slept completely through the night. He takes a couple of naps during the day. He's a good eater (as his belly and chubby thighs prove), and he is very happy and laughs and plays. He is good when he goes out on the town with his parents and grandparents.

Grandma and Grandpa left for Cambodia yesterday. They've gone to Seim Reap to see the ancient temple complex at Angkor Wat. It sounds amazing. A little too much for a baby Ollie's age (and we can't take him out of the country yet anyway), but I'm sure Joan and Frank are having a great time. They're back tomorrow. We can't wait to hear about it and see the photos.

Ollie has really been having a good time with his parents, especially mom. He loves to be held by Leigh, and he likes to play with her. Leigh is terrific with him. A natural. He has a good time playing with me too, and often climbs all over me and grabs me when we sit on the floor and play.

We've been doing more of the same. Shopping, walking around town, going out to eat, and hanging out at the nice pool here at the hotel. There are a few day trips we'd like to take outside of Hanoi, but our schedule with Oliver's appointments makes it tough. I'm not sure what we'll be able to do, or if we're going to get to see the museum of ethnology that we wanted to go to.

One thing we are going to do is take a cooking class. We're doing that Friday. The food here is amazing, and we think it would be fun to learn some of the specialties and techniques. The class is combined with a trip to the market, which is half the fun. The markets are crazy. Long lines of stalls of women squatting on the ground selling everything imaginable: spices; greens, herbs and vegetables; all kinds of tropical fruits; slabs of pork, beef, and other meat; chickens, pigeons and unidentifiable sparrow-like birds; all kinds of weird looking eggs. We've even seen some insects and larva fried and for sale. And then there are the tubs of fish, still flipping and flopping in the water. And, of course, you can see most of this stuff being carried in hanging woven baskets slung from a bamboo pole across the backs of women. Lots of cool sights in the market but you feel a little funny snapping photos of people as they go about their daily business. But I enjoy the markets very much. Yesterday in one I bought these tiny crabs that had been coated with batter and chopped chilies and deep fried. You ate them whole. Yum.

Today Oliver was really into the pool. He was fearless--splashing, dunking his face, floating on his back. He's an adventurous little boy.

OK, Ollie is up from his afternoon nap, and we've got to figure out dinner. More tomorrow.
Tony and Leigh

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday in Ha Noi

Just a quick post this morning. Ollie is taking a nap, and we're trying to get stuff together so that when he wakes we're ready to hit the town and do some shopping. 

Yesterday we went to the literature temple, which was beautiful. And then we walked around a bit. It was hot and we were thirsty, so while Ollie slept in the sling, mom and dad stopped at a bia hoi place (means fresh beer) for a cold draft beer and a snack. The usual deal--small place, little stools, tasty food (we had fried rice and almost ordered the "rooster"), and again Ollie was the hit of the place. Once he woke up, the proprietor scooped him up and held him, carried him around the place, let all the other customers fool with him, while we ate. 

Here are some pictures from that, as well as a few from earlier in the week, including Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. We'll try to write more later tonight, but today is my birthday, so we want to spend the day out and about, not in front of the computer. 

Tony and Leigh

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ollie in Hanoi

(Note: This isn't letting us add photos to this post for some reason, so we're going to post without and try to post the photos on their own. Hope it works)

It's Saturday morning here in Hanoi, and we're ready to hit the town. Not sure what our plans are--maybe the Temple of Literature (sounds right up my alley) or just another walk around the streets, shops, and markets of the Old Quarter. But we're feeling energetic because last night all three of us slept the best we have in days. Oliver went to sleep at 8:20, woke up once at 10:40, and stayed asleep until 6. After the restless nights we've had, we were thrilled. He seems like he's not as scared or freaked out as he has been the first few nights. So today he's full of smiles and energy. 

Yesterday we took him out for a walk around the Old Quarter. Every street is filled with shops. Every single square inch, including people selling stuff on the sidewalk. And most streets specialize in one thing and are named that way. Silver street (Hang Bac), Basket street (Hung Bo), Silk street (Hung Dao), etc. Most of these names are traditional, but there are also streets that sell toys, plumbing supplies, art, spices, cheap clothes, etc. 

Oliver had a good time. We went to Hang Bong, which is know for its art galleries. Vietnam has a pretty well respected art scene. After a while, Oliver got hungry so we sat down on the street to feed him a bottle and I realized that I had forgot his bottle liners. Mom shook her head, but smiled. So all three of us jumped in a TukTuk, one of those bicycle-driven rickshaws. The young guy pedaled us all over town to find a bottle, all for like three dollars. We made Ollie one and sat at a small Bun Cha place to have lunch. 

Lunch, like all the food we've eaten, was great. The Vietnamese are big snackers, and everywhere you look there are people selling street food, cooking on charcoal cookers or open burners with big pots and serving their one specialty right there on the sidewalk. There are also lots of women selling baguettes, fruit, and drinks. Most of the women carry their wares in baskets hanging from a bamboo poll that they carry across their back. And they wear the traditional conical straw hat. 

Bun Cha is a very popular Vietnamese lunch. It's grilled meat, served in a bowl of nauc cham (a mix of fish sauce, lime juice, grated carrot, chili, garlic, and sugar), and served with cold rice noodles and salad greens, cilantro, and mint. Our place was typical: we sat on tiny, low stools (the Vietnamese are very comfortable squatting) at small communal tables. The waitresses and cooks were very friendly, and they loved Oliver. The people here love children. They all ask if Ollie is Vietnamese, ask his age, and fool with him, even the men. The women in our bun cha spot actually scooped Ollie up and help him while we ate. And they cleaned his face--guess we didn't do a good enough job wiping the cookie off of his face. 

Ok, time to hit the town. We'll try to post again, with new pics and more orphanage pics from Grandpa's camera. 

Tony and Leigh 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oliver is here

Sorry for the lack of blog posts, but I did not have the right converter for my laptop, and the battery had died. It's fixed now, so I'll post just a few shots now a brief note, with a promise of much more coming (and hopefully video) every day from here on out. 

We went to the orphanage in Ba Via on Monday and got Oliver. Its hard to put that experience in words. It was a two-hour bus trip outside of Hanoi past some factories, an area that looks like it's being prepped for a major government development, and then a series of small villages surrounded by rice paddies and water buffalo. The orphanage was small but clean and run by a kind director and nannies. It was clear they loved the babies very much. Some were crying when it was time to hand Oliver over to us. The babies were in a very small one-story building with sides open to the outside. As we walked up we could see the nannies sitting on the floor with the babies. We recognized Oliver right away. At first he didn't want to come to us, but soon we were all sitting on the floor playing. 

For the last few days we've just been getting to know each other back in Hanoi. Ollie is very sweet. He laughs and smiles, and his favorite thing to do so far is to bang on the table with an empty water bottle. He is a very sweet baby. And handsome, we think. 

He isn't sleeping very good. He wakes up every hour and half or so and cries and wants to be held. He seems a little scared and confused at night. That's to be expected, I guess, considering that everything he has ever know has changed dramatically in the last few days. He is very much a mama's boy. He loves Leigh and seems most comfortable when she is holding him. He has also been very good with his grandparents. He likes to play with them, and he as been very good when they've watched him.

He had a rattle in his chest when we got him, so we took him to the doctor. He has bronchitis, so he's on an antibiotic, and the doctor gave him a nebulizer, which he actually liked. He fell asleep with the mask on his face! He also had a pretty bad heat rash, and some bad scars from the chicken pox which worked its way through the orphanage recently. Other than that, he was in good health. He weighs 19 pounds, and has a belly and very chubby thighs. 

Last night we took him out to dinner and he was the hit of the place--all the waiters were fooling with him. Today we may go to a museum about Vietnam's ethnic groups. 

More posts to come...

Sunday, September 14, 2008


We arrived safe and sound Saturday afternoon. It is hard to believe how long the trip was because it really went fast.

Hanoi is amazing. We are enjoyng ourselves so much. The people are very friendly. The food has been incredible. We have had one delicious thing after the next.

Tomorrow is the big day. We get Oliver in the afternoon. We are having the G&R tomorrow too at 4:30 pm. I don't know if we will be able to post pictures on Monday, but as soon as we are up to it we will.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Leaving today

I can hardly believe it, but we leave for Vietnam this evening. We'll be in Hanoi Saturday morning and have Oliver Monday. By the time everyone wakes up Monday the three of us will be in our hotel room.

We will do our best to post pictures and to let you know how we are doing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

So excited

We leave for Vietnam in three days! I can't even believe it. Yesterday several families from our agency went to the orphanage to get their children. They took so many pictures. We have over 30 new pictures. Thank you so much Dana, Gerry, and Alicia!

I'll just post a couple. Although it was hard to choose.