Sunday, December 30, 2007
Nana and her twin sister were born four days after Christmas. Most years we head to Pennsylvania a few days after Christmas so that the twins can celebrate their special day together. This year was no exception. The twins turned 71, and both are in good health, for which we are thankful.
Unfortunately my 87-year-old Aunt Ruth, who had to go into a nursing home this fall because one of my other aunts could no longer care for her, is rapidly deteriorating and likely will die in the next month. She has pulmonary fibrosis and has to use oxygen to breathe. She sometimes sleeps through several days and can become confused when she is awake. We tried to visit her during our trip, but we were unable to wake her (we and the staff tried for about 30 minutes). I regret taking the girls to the nursing home. They both were deeply shocked at how small and frail their aunt looks, and Tootle in particular clung to me and kept asking for reassurance that I won't look that old and frail anytime soon. I took the girls because my aunt has recently talked about them a lot, and I thought a visit from them would cheer her up. I too am haunted by my aunt's condition (last night I lay awake worrying that she will starve to death if she sleeps for increasingly long periods; she asked for no feeding treatments, etc.) and I'm so sorry that I didn't let the girls' last memory of their aunt be one of her sitting in a chair in her home in September. I just pray that she will be pain free and at peace when she dies. My mom and I will probably try to visit again in a week or two, but I'll leave the girls with other relatives.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
1. Doodle loves to have jam sessions where she accompanies a CD on her flute. Her favorite to get down to is:
B. Twelve Girl Band
C. High School Musical 2
D. Carrie Underwood
2. Tootle broke her right wrist in two places and had a cast for five weeks this fall. Her motto during this time was:
A. Have Sharpie, Please Sign
B. So Glad I’m a Leftie
C. What Do You Mean No Monkey Bars?
D. All of the above
3. Tootle loves kindergarten. Her favorite school activity is:
A. Computer station (even if she can’t log on to Webkinz)
B. Recess (even if she can’t swing on the monkey bars)
D. All of the above
4. Doodle, now a 4th grader, played on a soccer team this fall for the first time since she was 4. The Dynamites were division champions, and Doodle can’t wait to play again in the spring. The teammates try every position and Doodle’s favorite was
A. Goalie (nobody scored against her)
B. Defender (it’s hard to get past her)
C. Midfielder (she assisted in a goal)
D. All of the above
5. Donna played in the end of season parent-Dynamites game even though she had never played soccer before. She played defender and:
A. Had some nice passes to teammates
B. Kicked the ball straight into the stomach of a 6 year old opponent
C. Fell after kicking the ball, but only once
D. All of the above
6. Nana has much more free time now that Tootle is in kindergarten. She fills her time:
C. Cleaning and cooking and making the family’s life much easier
D. Volunteering at school
E. All of the above
7. Tootle loves soccer and ice skating. Tootle wants to learn how to spin on the ice but right now she is learning
A. Snowplow stops
C. Both A & B
8. Doodle had a poem published in a coffeetable book about adoption from China. Her poem is titled:
A. Ode to a Ladybug
B. My Sister
C. Stop Copying Me
Answers: C, D, D, D, D, E, C, B
Saturday, December 15, 2007
When we went skating this morning, also on the ice was one of Tootle's best friends, who was afraid to let go of her parents' hands so she could learn to skate on her own. Tootle joined in the fun, continually telling her friend to "step, step, glide." Eventually Tootle came over to me and said, "I've been thinking. E. really should take lessons." I advised her to tell her friend because I knew that her parents are trying to convince her to take lessons since everyone else in the family loves to skate. Tootle thought about that for a nanosecond and then said, "No, I can't. She wouldn't want to be my friend anymore." E.'s mom later confirmed Tootle's assessment.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
- In China Doodle would pat the crib bumpers, vigorously shake her head, and tug at her ears to keep from falling asleep. Her techniques have become more sophisticated, but she still doesn't like to sleep and requires less sleep than the average kid her age.
- Seven month old Doodle kicked her legs in excitement when we went shopping in Guangzhou. She still loves to shop and is a savvy consumer. She only buys sale items.
- Baby Doodle loved to cuddle and give awesome sloppy wet kisses. Fortunately the kisses are no longer sloppy, but Doodle continues to like to cuddle occasionally. I'm savoring this now because I know it won't last much longer.
- Baby Doodle loved music and could sing 2-3 word phrases before she could say them. Today she sings in the church choir and plays piano and flute.
The cheeks are much thinner now and the curls are gone, but Doodle remains an exceptionally beautiful girl, both inside and out. This is the message that I posted on the CCAI yahoo list in celebration of our one year anniversary in 1999 (gotta love the archives):One year ago today, Long Fuzhong came into my life, 12 hours after arriving in Guangzhou with 38 other expectant CCAI families. We all had a single goal—to bring our daughters home for Christmas. Within several hours of arriving in China, we were on the ground at the new Fuzhou airport, where we were met by our guides. As word spread that the airport had Western toilets, we all headed off for a visit to the restroom before collecting our luggage and starting on our 45 minute trip to the Lakeside Hotel. While in the bathroom, someone breathlessly reported that we would get the babies that night. The excitement level in the small space rose tremendously and the story was confirmed by Mr. Gu while we waited for the luggage.
Around dinnertime, the crib arrived and my impatience level grew by the minute as I paced my room, unpacked, and arranged the baby supplies. A short while later I poked my head out of my door when I heard noise. The babies from Changting had arrived and they were being introduced to their new families outside of Mr. Gu's room, only a few doors down from my room. I watched with awe and a bit of impatience as the babies were placed in their parents' arms. I remember Brynne wailing as she met Debbie (and how quickly they later bonded), which led to tears from each subsequent baby. The families with babies from Changting received bean curd as a gift from the orphanage and I recall thinking, “Am I really going to have to carry bean curd around in my suitcase?” After the last child was introduced to her parents, I went back to my room to wait some more. About an hour later, mostly spent waiting in my doorway, I was rewarded with the sight I had been waiting for—the group of nine children from Longyan parading down the hall, four on foot (two rather unsteady) and the other five being carried by nannies. I quickly spotted my curly haired, chubby cheeked daughter and began to follow the parade. Mr. Gu sent me, and the other anxious parents away, but only for a moment. When I returned, the children were being photographed together in Mr. Gu’s room. As they began to line up in the room to be presented to us, Doodle was at the front of the line, red faced and sobbing uncontrollably (and immortalized on videotape). It took all of my willpower to stop myself from grabbing her at that moment to comfort her.Fortunately, by the time we met about five to ten minutes later, she was composed and simply stared into my face as I first held her. Mr. Gu presented me with formula and cereal from CCAI and a precious gift from the nannies of photos of Longyan and the orphanage. It was over too quickly and I didn’t have enough hands to carry it all as well as Doodle. I was instructed to go directly back to my room with no care and feeding instructions. Questions would be answered the next day. Doodle and I then spent an hour getting to know each other and removing her six shirts. The shirt removal process was painfully slow since she cried every time I removed a piece of clothing and I then had to spend time comforting her before moving on to the next layer. Once Doodle was finally in her blanket sleeper, she drank about half a bottle and then conked out. I wanted to rouse her so we could continue to get acquainted, but I let her sleep and prepared for bed myself.
Tonight 19 month old Doodle laughed and chattered as I pulled her shirt over her head. As I put on her pajamas, she began to sing the part of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” she learned today: “Up above the da da da.” The curls are gone (sniff) and the cheeks are much slimmer, and my baby is becoming a little girl. When she says “happy” or “mama home,” my heart bursts with joy. I am truly blessed.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
According to the recipe, you soak 6 quarts dandelion flowers in 4 quarts of cold water for 3 days and 3 nights.Strain through cloth and add to the liquid 4 pounds of white sugar, 2 slices of lemon, and 2 tablespoons of yeast. Let stand for 4 days and 4 nights. Strain again, then bottle for use.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Doodle literally "rocked" her book report presentation last month, earning an A+ (one of only two in her class) for her nonfiction report on rocks and gems. January's book report is an autobiography. At last report, Doodle is planning to start reading Jane Goodall's My Life with the Chimpanzees over the holiday break. I'm glad Doodle's school puts emphasis on oral presentations at an early age. She'll be thankful for all the practice when she's out in the business world.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
As we watched the show (which was really impressive for a high school production), I realized that Doodle will be a student at this school in just five years. She informed me afterwards that she'll be in the orchestra pit instead of on stage.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
An hour later as Opal the cat helped to tuck in Doodle, Doodle stroked her beloved cat and asked: "What are we going to do with Opal's fur?" I looked puzzled, so Doodle added, "You know when she dies." It appears that Doodle thinks we should have the cat stuffed, a la Sorrow, the stuffed dog that floats in John Irving's The Hotel New Hampshire. We talked about burial and cremation but Doodle is still in favor of taxidermy. I just did a google search, and it appears that you can freeze dry your dead pet. I hope that Opal is with us for years to come and that Doodle doesn't revisit this topic for some time. Death was probably on Doodle's mind because we learned this afternoon that our former pastor just died, only a few weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and four months after leaving our church for a new assignment. He was in his 50s. I hugged the girls extra tight tonight (despite our rather unusual conversations).
I wish Tootle had been willing to continue to speak Chinese when she came home but she was determined to make English her only language. I have a neighbor who is fluent in Mandarin and a Chinese coworker who were lined up and ready to work with her to retain at least some of her Mandarin but she refused to listen to them or respond when they spoke to her. She is an obstinate child. Today she only uses one Chinese phrase: "bu yao." She says this when she is finished with her dinner without cleaning off her plate or if she tries something and doesn't like it. Doodle, adopted at 7 months, has a larger Chinese vocabulary than Tootle. More than two years later, there is some hope, however. Tootle has expressed interest in taking the once a week Chinese class offered at her school starting in January. I think she'll pick it up easily and the tones will come naturally, so I have my fingers crossed that we'll be turning in the registration form. I don't believe in forcing my kids to do things that they don't want to do (I may push a bit but I don't bulldoze) so Tootle will have to agree to the class. Conversely, once committed she will attend until the end of the year whether she likes it or not. I don't allow the girls to bail out of things that they've committed to do.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
- In working with a colleague on a book that we are coediting, I am feeling jealous of her life. She has homes in Manhattan and the Jersey shore, a fulfilling career, and adult kids who are out doing good in the world. I don't want the girls to leave the nest yet (and maybe never), and my friend is a bit older than me, but I do want her life in 10-15 years.
- Doodle has a more exciting social life than I do. Tonight she went to dinner at a friend's house and then to see The Bee Movie with the friend's family. Tootle and I stopped at McDonald's for dinner and then went to the grocery store to pick up snacks for tomorrow morning's soccer game in 40 degree weather.
- I have to put away/recycle the girls' spring/summer clothes and organize the piled up fall/winter stuff in drawers. I loathe this job. I think I'll make Doodle my apprentice so she can be responsible for her own stuff in the spring.
- I am facing certain humiliation on Sunday. Doodle's soccer team caps off their season with a girls vs. parents game. I've never played soccer in my life, but my precious daughter expects me to do it. One friend is planning to send in her teenage son as her substitute. I can't copy her idea because even though Tootle would definitely play better than I can, she's on the injured list for another week. Doesn't Doodle realize that I'm certain to embarrass her?
Time to raid the Halloween candy stash.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
When Tootle went to the orthopedist yesterday, she chose a glow in the dark cast, just the thing for Halloween. She's excited about having her classmates sign it today. I'll post a picture tonight.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The other surprise is that Tootle doesn't like being in the spotlight despite her outgoing, exuberant personality. Tootle became upset at tonight's soccer practice as I answered lots of questions from parents and Doodle's teammates about her condition. Tootle had the same reaction earlier in the day as I talked with neighbors and even to friends on the phone. Even when the well wishes came from Doodle's friends, Tootle clammed up, and I had to answer for her. She doesn't want to go to school tomorrow because she knows that her classmates and friends in other classes will want to know what happened. I tell her that it's a good thing because it shows that people care about her, but I don't think I've convinced her.
Doodle was already scheduled to go home with one of her teammates for a playdate so she arrived home shortly after we did, much more concerned about her sister than her team's first loss. Tootle knew that Doodle would want to mother her and that a hug might hurt, so she greeted Doodle with "Don't hug me." That didn't stop Doodle from fawning over her sister until she went to bed about 30 minutes later. I woke Tootle at 2 a.m. for more Ibuprofen and icing and haven't been able to get back to sleep. Tootle is sleeping comfortably and it's probably time for me to try again.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tootle is an ice cream fiend. She would eat it three times a day if I let her, and she has been known to ask for it for breakfast. Doodle prefers gummy candies and popcorn, the things that she can't have while she's in braces. They both like chocolate but not quite as much as I do. To see other adorable kids with sweet teeth, go here.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tootle: What does s-e-e spell?
Tootle: Very good, mommy! How about l-i-k-e?
Tootle: That's right! How about y-o-u?
Me: You. You've learned a lot of sight words in the last few weeks. I'm proud of you.
Tootle beamed and then went off to brush her teeth. She's going to be a bee for Halloween. Perhaps she'll be a spelling bee.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Doodle doesn't complain about homework too much, but both she and I wish that there wasn't quite so much of it in fourth grade. She seems to be spending about 90 minutes a night on homework, not because she is struggling, but because of the volume of the work. Here is her typical week:
Monday: piano lesson, math homework, study for spelling quiz, science or social studies homework, read for 15 minutes, write in reading journal (the assignment is to write at least three sentences about what they read but Doodle usually writes about a page), practice flute
Tuesday: Girl Scouts, math homework, science or social studies homework, read for 15 minutes, write in reading journal, practice piano and flute
Wednesday: soccer practice, math homework, come up with five spelling words to add to the standard list of 12 words for the class, science or social studies homework, read for 15 minutes, write in reading journal, practice piano and flute
Thursday: playdate, math homework, write sentences for each of the spelling words, study for science quiz, read for 15 minutes, write in reading journal, practice piano and flute
Friday: playdate, practice piano and flute
Saturday: soccer game, work on monthly poetry presentation or book report, practice piano and flute
Sunday: church, soccer practice, practice piano and flute
I'd like Doodle to take yoga to help her deal with stress but ironically there just isn't time. Maybe when soccer is over, although thus far she is handling the stress of her workload better than she did last year. She loves music and writing so at least some of the work is enjoyable, and the science curriculum this year is a lot of fun. If she could get over her aversion to math (one that I share, unfortunately), she probably wouldn't need yoga.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I can't get that kid's song out of my head after spending yesterday with Doodle and her classmates on a glorious all-day (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) field trip to the Chesapeake Bay. The kids spent part of the day at an archaeological museum and the rest of their time seining in the bay (fishing in waders with a big net) and collecting fossilized shells and shark teeth. I didn't even need to take Tylenol because I did not get a spot on the buses so I rode in a car with three other parents. Those bus rides are noisy and don't involve a stop at Starbucks.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Tootle loves swinging on the monkey bars. She must spend most of recess on the monkey bars and she has been obsessed with mastering the tougher bars on the new playground equipment (check, accomplished last week). Her obsession has now come with a price: calluses. She spent the weekend debating whether the bothersome calluses are worth it or whether she should give up the beloved bars. The decision appears to have been made for her, at least temporarily: several of the calluses have opened up and it is now too painful to grip the bars, at least for a few days. I feel bad for her so she may get an extra treat as a sort of workers' comp for the playground set.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Tootle's penchant for french toast may be beginning to fade a bit. This week she requested soup one morning and hard boiled eggs another day; today it was back to french toast. On the day that she had hard boiled eggs, Tootle's kindergarten teacher surveyed the class about what they had for breakfast (they are doing a social studies unit on grocery stores). Tootle was the only one who had eggs. The most popular choices were cereal, followed by waffles, Tootle reported. One girl had oatmeal, which led Tootle to ask to have it someday soon. Perhaps oatmeal will become the next breakfast obsession.
I'm glad Doodle hasn't been surveyed. She is an unconventional breakfast eater. This week she has had pizza, ramen noodles, chicken nuggets, fries, and today cereal. She doesn't love breakfast foods so she frequently has dinner for breakfast.