Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree











On Monday I decided to take down our Christmas decorations a bit earlier than usual. The next evening we needed a Christmas tree fix so we headed to downtown DC on a beautiful balmy night to see the National Christmas Tree. Tootle was most impressed by the trains that ran around the base of the tree. Doodle liked the individual trees for each state and snapping pictures. They both liked the yule log and the Starbucks hot chocolate that I bought to keep their hands and tummies warm. The highlight of the evening may have been the musical poles that we found as we strolled back to the car (a note sounds when you touch a pole). If it were up to the girls, they would have stayed there making music for hours.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching Up




We've been visiting relatives in Pennsylvania (and everyone but me got to try out new suitcases). Now we're home getting the house back in order. I have to sneak into work for a few hours on Tuesday but otherwise I'll be home with the girls all week. Both girls got flip video cameras and digital cameras for Christmas, and they've been busy producing a planned web show (inspired by i Carley, I'm sure). The girls also got a few Wii and Nintendo DS games, so they're playing games when they're not in production. And for those few moments when they can relax, fuzzy butterfly chairs from Nana. It's a wonderful life.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ten Years




On December 13, 1998, I became a mom in the hallway of the Lakeside Hotel in Fuzhou, Fujian, when I held Long Fuzhong in my arms for the first time. Although she had been sobbing in her caretaker's arms only a minute earlier, she calmly looked me in the eye and appraised me. With that look, I knew that all would be well. As we became acquainted over the next few days, Doodle began to show me parts of her personality that are still much in evidence today: her joy, her musicality, her humor. I was told that the translation of Fuzhong is "blessing to all." Doodle lives up to that name everyday. I'm shocked that 10 years have passed so rapidly. I want to slow down time so that the next 10 don't go by as rapidly. Today as we marked this momentous day, we took time to enjoy the little things: decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for a few presents, riding bikes, baking brownies, and having dinner at a favorite restaurant. Happy Forever Family Day, Doodle. I'm so proud of the young woman you are becoming, but I still don't want you to grow up too fast.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Eight Favorite Things Tag

Beverly at Motherhood and Other Ramblings tagged me for an 8 things meme:

8 Favorite TV Shows:
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • Top Chef
  • The Amazing Race
  • Project Runway
  • 60 Minutes
  • Suite Life of Zack and Cody (my list ends at the first 5, but I end up watching the last 3 a lot)
  • Wizards of Waverly Place
  • Cory in the House

8 Things I Look Forward To:

  • Celebrating 10 years with Doodle tomorrow
  • All the leaves being off the oak tree next door so I can stop raking (they all come into our yard)
  • Taking a week off work over the holidays
  • Sleep
  • Playing Blockus with the girls
  • Cleaning out the garage so I can park my car in it again
  • Watching the wonder of the kids' faces when they come down the stairs on Christmas morning
  • First snow of the season
8 Things On My Wish List:
  • GPS
  • Camera lens
  • A less stress free life for Doodle
  • Magic weight loss
  • Fewer sinus infections for Tootle
  • More developed youth program at church
  • Lower bills
  • Winning lottery ticket (I'm part of a group of 8 coworkers who play Powerball; our highest winnings in over a year: $7)
8 Things I Did Yesterday:
  • Worked through lunch and spent most of the day in meetings
  • Sent e-mail to Tootle's teacher about a gingerbread house situation
  • Moved things around in the living room to make way for the Christmas tree
  • Delivered dinner to a friend who just had surgery
  • Ordered a present for Nana online
  • Told Doodle how proud I am of how well she is handling stress this week
  • Made final arrangements for a friend of Doodle's to sleep over tonight (it's midnight and they're still awake)
  • Starting working on getting our Christmas card out
8 Favorite Restaurants:
  • Meiwah
  • Foong Lin
  • Oriental East (dim sum)
  • Macaroni Grill
  • Olive Garden
  • Cosi
  • Baja Fresh
  • California Pizza Kitchen

I need to make sure two 10 year olds are in bed so I'm going to skip tagging 8 others. If you're reading this and want to play along, please do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ted E. Bear


This week Tootle came home from school with a tote bag stuffed full with a teddy bear, a book, and a journal. Ted E. Bear is visiting us for the week and Tootle is charged with writing about his adventures in the journal. Thus far, Ted has helped Tootle light our Christmas count down candle, read with Tootle, and enjoyed Doodle's winter concert (more on that later). We have big plans for Ted for the rest of the week, including securing his help in decorating the Christmas tree.
The book in the bag, I'll Read to You, You Read to Me, is based on a clever concept. The book is made up of a series of two page short stories with purple text on the left, red text on the right, and blue text in the middle. The child reads the text on one side and the parent reads the words on the other side, with both reading the text in the middle. Tootle and I are having a blast reading the stories; thus far our favorite is about a snowman.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Facebook, or Brave New World

I joined Facebook early this year to help Love without Boundaries win $50,000 in the Facebook Challenge. LWB signed up more than 7,000 people and collected the grand prize. And now I had a Facebook page sitting there, empty and friendless. I started to get e-mails from real-life friends who wanted to "friend me" but I didn't really have the time to understand it all so I ignored the requests that trickled in. Last week I spent an afternoon with some nonprofit association colleagues discussing the future of publications (a bleak future for someone who loves the printed word where everything is free and online) and learned that several of their employers had set up Facebook accounts as placeholders for future use as their members become younger and more tech savvy. The very next day I got a friend request from one of my employer's members (a guy who is in his 50s), so I decided that it was time to take action. I accepted the friend requests that had piled up and started to send out requests to friends and colleagues. I uploaded a picture of the girls, spruced up my profile, and started exchanging messages with former coworkers whom I've lost touch with. And now I'm stuck. I haven't had the time to figure out how I post news items and I'm not sure if the Wall is the same thing. Plus, I'm unsure about how to deal with the mix of friends and work-related people/customers. I don't want to link to my blog there because I'm not sure if I want my current coworkers and customers to know about it in case I ever want to vent about them. Is there a Facebook for Dummies? Has anyone figured this all out?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dear Santa

Tootle's letter to the jolly guy in red, written on the postcard that we picked up at Macy's.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Card Outtakes

When we visited relatives in Pennsylvania this weekend, we went to the Harrisburg Mall to see the impressive sandcastle that is constructed every year as Santa's home in the mall. Tootle visited with Santa, but Doodle decided that she is too old. Tootle assured me that most mall Santas are simply Santa's helpers, but the one that she saw was the real deal. I attempted to use the sandcastle as the backdrop for our holiday card with some success as well as some failures. Here are the failures.










Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful

This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for many things:

The Thanksgiving letter that Doodle wrote as a school assignment. It was touching and very written. I hope she gets an A.

The fact that both girls helped prepare the turkey dinner and that both said they were most thankful for family. Tootle is also thankful for Santa Claus.

My mom. Life would be much more difficult without her help.

My job. I have a lot of flexibility in work hours and like my work most of the time. It could be a lot worse.

Living in this country. Things are going to be a bit bumpy for awhile as we recover from the economic mess, but I'm so hopeful for the future.

We made these pilgrims and Native Americans this morning. One of Tootle's friends spent the morning playing at our house because her mom is recovering from surgery. These so called "village people" make me smile, and the girls giggled a lot as they made them and played with them. After stuffing ourselves, we went to see the movie Bolt. This evening Tootle and I finished a difficult puzzle she was working on, and Doodle and I put some new music on her ipod.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Update


Our schedule on Saturday wasn't quite packed enough, so we decided to make dumplings in the afternoon. Tootle enjoyed perfecting her dumpling making craft, and we recruited Doodle's friend S to help. We also helped pack and decorate Thanksgiving boxes for the food drive at Tootle's school, went ice skating, and took Doodle to an evening birthday party at a bowling alley. (Tootle got invited to bowl a game too.) Sunday was much more low key. We ran errands after church, raked leaves, and then froze at Doodle's soccer practice.
Tootle's bully appears to have been successfully neutralized so she is happier at school. Doodle's problem doesn't have a quick fix but she is doing OK most of the time. I'm looking forward to a relaxing Thanksgiving break.

Scattergories

I saw this on Beverly's blog and decided to play along. Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following. They have to be real places, names, things…nothing made up! You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME: Donna
BOY NAME: Donald
4 LETTER WORD: door
GIRL NAME: Delia
OCCUPATION: dermatologist
A COLOR: dark blue
SOMETHING YOU WEAR: dungarees
BEVERAGE: daiquiri
FOOD: dumplings
SOMETHING FOUND IN A BATHROOM: dental floss
A PLACE: Denver, CO
REASON FOR BEING LATE: dream
SOMETHING YOU SHOUT: Darn!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seeking Counsel

I've been on the phone with the guidance counselors at both girls' schools today. Tootle is being teased by a few kids in her class about the small size of her left nostril, the result of being born with a cleft lip/palate. This one has taken me by surprise because the Hangzhou surgeon did such a good job that many adults don't even notice Tootle's deformity. I'm a bit biased, but she really is a beautiful girl. Last week one night she told me that several kids were asking her about her nostril and faint surgery scar and that she didn't like school and didn't want to go the next day. I asked her how she responded and she told me that she ignored them. I suggested that she could just matter of factly tell the curious kids that that's simply how she was born. That technique worked for the curious kids but it didn't work on a mean girl in the class who has continued to tease Tootle about it every day. While Tootle is going to school willingly, this is bothering her. An e-mail to the teacher went unanswered, so today I called the guidance counselor, who was very responsive. He pulled Tootle out of class to talk to her and she was unable to answer him except by nodding her head yes or no, so she clearly is upset. She asked him not to talk to the girl about this specific situation; I think Tootle fears retribution. But he does meet with this girl on a regular basis so he is going to discuss it with her in a general sense. I'm choosing to view this as an opportunity to arm Tootle with tools to deal with mean people, but I'd rather that she didn't have to deal with this at the age of six.

Doodle is having a rough time coping with the stress/pressure of school this year. It's a bit of a mystery because her report card showed no struggles, and her teachers report that she is doing very well, but I have to recognize the validity of her feelings and equip her with tools to cope with stress. It's a bit unnerving to try to calm down your 10 year old who is hyperventilating over a science test that you know she is prepared for. Doodle started seeing a licensed clinical social worker this week who specializes in anxiety disorders and often works with adopted children. The first session went well, and I'm hopeful that Doodle will be able to handle stress much better soon. I chose a LCSW who works with adopted kids in case Doodle has any underlying adoption concerns that she has been unable to talk to me about. Doodle's school guidance counselor is keeping Doodle's various teachers informed and is having occasional lunch sessions with her and a group of friends. I hope that we can nip this in the bud before middle school.

Writer's Block?

Has Tootle lost her muse already? This morning I came across three incomplete books, two of which only had a cover and a first page. The life of a busy author, who also has to fit in Chinese, Daisies, and skating, isn't an easy one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Prolific

Tootle is a budding author. She writes at least one book a day now, sometimes 3 pages in length and other times as many as 16. She reports that she plans to write 100 books before Christmas. Thus far, the books have centered on the fictional adventures of bunnies and cats. The exception is a nonfiction book about the care and feeding of cats. My favorite recent addition is that she includes a description on the back cover and indicates whether the book is "fiction" or "information." A few of the books have been wrapped up to be given as Christmas presents. I suggested that she do the illustrations for these special books in color rather than pencil. She rejected this idea, saying that chapter books don't have color pictures. I should have known better than to mess with her creative process.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Anticipation

Even since Tootle saw her beloved kindergarten teacher and her darling baby girl on Halloween, she has been counting down the last 17 days with much anticipation. Mrs A's maternity leave ended today. Mrs. A's former students stop by her room every morning to see her on their way to their classrooms, and she always makes time to listen to them. Sometimes there are as many as 20 kids in the classroom while the current crop of kindergartners wait in the hallway until it is time to come in. Tootle had been incensed that she couldn't do this when school started but now she'll be making up for lost time. This morning she wrote one of her little books for Mrs. A's baby and proudly presented it to Mrs. A. Mrs. A promised that she would read it to her daughter tonight. How sweet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

All Gone

Our delicious pumpkins are all gone, and the squirrels now need to go on a diet.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Horsing Around

Tootle's Daisies troop went on its first "field trip" this weekend, visiting a horse farm to learn about and ride the horses. Tootle loved riding Danny. Fortunately she hasn't asked for riding lessons yet. The outing meant that I had to miss Doodle's parent-girls end of season soccer game. Imagine my disappointment that I didn't get to make a fool of myself. We did get home in time to catch the end of the party that followed the game.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Photography Club

Doodle is in her school's photography club this year. Here are some of her early shots. I'm particularly impressed by the one of the sunset filtered through our blind.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pumpkin Mutilation Continues

Our two remaining pumpkins are being eaten by squirrels.

Rest in Peace

Joey died last night, surrounded by his parents, brother, and grandparents. He had a staph infection. His body, with his weak heart, wasn't strong enough to fight it. He had a heart checkup at the hospital last week, and he may have picked up the infection there (his checkups always involved a stay in the hospital). I'm having a hard time believing that the chubby blond smiling boy who my girls just played with on Sunday is no longer among us. He had just started to talk, calling his parents mama and dada. Because Joey's health was so fragile, our relationship with him was a bit distant. We played with and smiled at him but never held him. It saddens me that I won't see his big smile and dancing blue eyes again except in my memories. Please continue to pray for the family.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prayer Request

My next door neighbor's 10-month old son, Joey, is in the hospital in critical condition, and doctors haven't been able to determine the cause. The prognosis appears to be pretty grim. Joey was born with severe heart problems and has had several surgeries in his short life. His current problem is not heart related. Joey is on the transplant list, although doctors had been hopeful that he won't need one. We just saw Joey on Sunday, and I was pleased with how healthy and happy he looked as the girls played peek a boo with him. He loves watching the girls run around with his big brother, Bobby. A day later he was sick, and on Tuesday he went to the hospital. Please keep Colleen, Adam, Bobby, and especially Joey in your thoughts and prayers.

More Reason to Hope


Tootle finished her first soccer season last weekend. I am very proud of the passion and joy with which she played. I am most proud of how well she performed as a teammate. She has the athleticism and skills to be one of the players who hogged the ball and scored often. Instead she put her focus on being a good teammate by passing to others and playing awesome defense. The undefeated Marshmallows toasted their season with marshmallows as they received their trophies. I hope every season will be such a positive experience.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dreams

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
--From Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

For over a year, I have had a dream that a visionary leader would be elected who would closely mirror my values and who would understand that big changes are needed to ensure my daughters' future is a bright one. That happened last night. I am filled with hope, especially after receiving an e-mail from the president elect himself last night, thanking me and millions of others for our support and stating, "We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next." The grassroots effort will need to continue in order to encourage innovation, save the environment, and bring prosperity back. After eight long years of aimlessness, greed, and divisiveness, we will be on the right track again.

My mom reported this morning that she had a dream that Malia Obama enrolled at Doodle's school and was assigned to her class. In the dream, Doodle befriends Malia and has playdates at the White House. I think Malia is likely to go to one of a handful of DC public elementary school or one of the city's excellent private schools. Chelsea Clinton went to Sidwell Friends, where Doodle has been to summer camp. Doodle's public school in Maryland would be an excellent choice for the Obamas--it too is led by an energetic, visionary African American--but it's unlikely to happen.

Tootle had a dream that "our team, Brock (that's how she pronounces it) Obama" won and that our team had more candy than the other team.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coloring in the Map


Doodle and I are watching the election returns together. She is coloring in the map for a media class assignment. It makes me very happy that she was able to color Pennsylvania, my home state, blue. I think she'll be finishing her coloring in the morning, but I'll keep watching as long as it takes.

Historic Day

I arrived at my polling place at 7:05 today--5 minutes after it opened--and stood in line for about 1.5 hours to cast my vote. I've never had to wait more than 30 minutes to vote before. Neighborhood friends were a few places ahead of me, a couple originally from India was in front of me, and an African American woman who had never voted before was behind me. The first time voter was in her 50s and told me that her sisters were also voting for the first time, as was her son who just turned 18. I loved the diversity and the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Eve Bullets

  • My Obama/Biden car magnet arrived in the mail today. I dashed to the grocery store tonight for a few items, and I'm sure my magnet was the deciding factor for some uncommitted voters (insert heavy sarcasm here).
  • I wish I had made the time to do more for Obama: I have friends and neighbors who are doing legal work, making calls, etc., but things like Halloween events planning, sickness, and school struggles have kept me home. I'll do my part in the voting booth tomorrow.
  • There will be one fewer vote for McCain in Pennsylvania. My mom's twin sister broke her leg after the deadline for absentee voting so she won't be able to exercise her right to vote this year. She's in a wheelchair because she is unable to use crutches due to a shoulder injury a few years ago. Fortunately they live in a ranch house.
  • We made some goodies for the election day bake sale at Doodle's school. Feeling a bit pinched for time, I bought Ghiradelli brownie mix for the first time. I got two boxes so we could try it before offering them for sale. The brownies got a big thumbs up from Doodle who said they were like "eating heaven." We also made whoopie pies.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Teenagers

I generally think that teenagers are too old for trick or treating but two older boys got my best costume vote last night. One of the boys had a Dick Cheney mask on one shoulder and a George W. Bush mask on the other shoulder. He had a sign on his chest that read "Your second worst nightmare." His friend was dressed as the worst nightmare: John McCain. When I opined that Sarah Palin is actually my worst nightmare, the boys agreed but admitted that neither was willing to dress like her.

This afternoon we saw a not so positive example of teenager behavior. When we got home from Tootle's soccer game, after being away for about four hours, we noticed that our jack o lanterns were missing. We found them smashed far down the street. Our next door neighbor, who was working on his car, remembers seeing a group of teenagers kicking something orange down the street. I wasn't aware that pumpkins made good soccer balls. Grrr.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I love a parade.
Doodle the witch.

Handing out candy with Doodle's friend L. who goes trick or treating with us every year. We gave candy to about 160 trick or treaters tonight.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Tradition

When Doodle was in first grade, I hosted a Halloween party for her and her friends. On Sunday, the tradition continued, with Tootle and 12 of her friends. At Doodle's party we made life size hay scarecrows. Fun, but messy. Tootle's party was not quite as ambitious but still packed with activities. First I took a picture of each girl in costume and then had them decorate a wooden frame in which I slipped the picture before they left (the joys of photo printers). Next they made a cute candy corn craft. And then I was crazy enough to have them make gak. After that, I sent them outside to wrap each other up as mummies. This was followed up by a pinata and a treasure hunt, adding up to two hours of nonstop shrieking, laughter, and fun.
Tootle is Padme from Star Wars. I am still finding feathers from two of the party guests' cat costumes all over the house. We also had two High School Musical characters, a mouse, Hannah Montana, Princess Fiona from Shrek, two witches, a Washington Redskin, and my personal favorite, a flamenco dancer.