Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Double Digits

Doodle turns 10 at 9:45 or so tonight (or, as she pointed out, 9:45 this morning since she was born in China)*. Ten appears to be one of those milestone birthdays, and I find myself spending a lot of time today thinking about both the past and the future. My kids' birthday are always a bit bittersweet because I think about their birth parents and all that they've lost. This milestone birthday seems to have made me particularly wistful.

I so clearly remember Doodle's first birthday that it seems like it was only yesterday. She couldn't walk yet (that came almost two months later) and she moved around best in backward crawl mode. She looked adorable--curly hair, chubby cheeks, and a cute one piece white sailor suit--as she demolished her first piece of cake. It was also her first and last adult oriented party: a dinner party where the only other kids were 2, 7, and 9. We had been mother and daughter for four months. I felt so blessed.

The last 9 years seem to have passed in the blink of an eye. My gorgeous baby has turned into a beautiful young lady. I so admire her selflessness, her people skills, her musicality, her resourcefulness, and her sense of humor. Lately her bedtime has been creeping toward 10 p.m. partly because I enjoy spending one-on-one time with her so much that I don't push her too hard to go to bed. It's hard to squeeze in time for games or significant talks with homework, soccer practice, piano lessons, flute practice, Girl Scouts, playdates, etc. so Doodle adapts by getting a bit less sleep. This is something she has been doing all her life: when I went back to work shortly before she turned 1, she willed herself to stay awake an hour later at night so that we could have more time together. And so it continues.

In 9 more years Doodle will celebrate her first birthday away from home as she finishes up her freshman year of college. I hope that time slows a bit in those 9 years. Or maybe not: I'm probably going to want the teen years to be over quickly.

* She was found with a note on a red envelope that provided the date and time of her birth.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rock On

"Where words fail, music speaks."
— Hans Christian Andersen
Doodle celebrated her upcoming (in three days) 10th birthday today with six of her BFFs at a rock music school/recording studio. The girls each went home with a CD of the group's recording of Hillary Duff's Come Clean.
First the girls learned the instrumental part, broken down so that a virtual novice could play it. After they recorded the instrumentals (with 4 girls on guitar, 1 on keyboards, 1 on drums, and 1 on bass), they ate brownies and chocolate covered strawberries before going back in the studio to record the vocals.
The result was pretty impressive, with the studio employees ranking it among the very best of the ones they've done for birthday parties. If I can figure out how to post it here, I will. All of the dads on pickup duty were interested in having their own birthday party at this school/studio. It seemed like one of those middle aged male fantasies but this place seriously does rock.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dates to Remember

April 16: the first time I paid more than $40 to fill my Subaru Outback gas tank ($3.39 a gallon at the time; it has gone up since then)

April 17: first time I mowed the grass this season

April 18: Doodle gets yet another cold/fever that lasts for four days

April 19: quick trip to Pennsylvania to take my aunt out to dinner for her birthday (we see an equal number of Clinton and Obama signs; I expect to be disappointed in my home state today)

April 20: more than 3 inches of rain and a wet basement floor, thankfully not from the rain but from an unbalanced washer load that overflowed

April 20: only 10 more days until Doodle turns 10

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Olympic Torch and National Geographic

While sitting in the dentist's waiting room this morning, Tootle and I enjoyed ogling the gorgeous pictures of China in the May issue of National Geographic, which is fully devoted to China and titled China: Inside the Dragon. In leafing through the issue, which I intend to buy at my earliest convenience (I can't wait to read the article by Amy Tan), I noticed a map of the Olympic Torch route. The torch will go through both Doodle's and Tootle's hometowns: Longyan, Fujian on May 13 and Hangzhou, Zhejiang on May 18. The best part is that we can go to the torch's Web site and see photos and videos of the torch's journey through these cities, and every other city on the route. The torch race route in 2002 passed within 100 yards of my office at the time, and I found it thrilling to watch it go past me, even if it was practically in the blink of an eye. I hope that all the issues that are currently polluting the 2008 Olympics dissipate and that the games are a huge success.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

And Skating Star

The girl who doesn't like tights apparently doesn't mind skating tights. One of Doodle's friends gave Tootle a skating dress that she has outgrown, and Tootle looooves it. Tootle's comfort level on the ice continues to astound me.

Star of the Week

Tootle is very proud to be Star of the Week in her class this week.In addition to posting a display on the wall with information and pictures of Tootle, her teacher will have each kid draw a picture of themselves and Tootle and write a few sentences about Tootle, to be compiled into a booklet. Over the weekend Tootle had to answer several questions for the display:

Where I was born: Hangzhou, China
Favorite color: sky blue
Number of pets: 4 (two cats and two goldfish)
Favorite book: Ruby's Beauty Shop by Rosemary Wells (it's a Max & Ruby book)
When I grow up: I want to be a doctor
Person I admire: her teacher (Tootle is a born politician, and her teacher is pretty great)

The poor kid has to have her first cavity filled tomorrow morning (it's her tooth that is far higher than the others because of her cleft palate, and thus it is very hard to brush). I hope to get a picture of the Star of the Week display when I drop her off at school after the dentist appointment.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

In the News...

The fourth graders at Doodle's school were invited to the grand opening of the Newseum in downtown D.C. on Friday, and I got to tag along as a chaperon. Admission was free on opening day but starting today is $20 for adults. The fee seems a bit steep but I could easily spend many hours at this museum. On our whirlwind tour, the girls that I was in charge of did an assignment involving comparison of the front pages of the day's newspapers in two different cities; saw exhibits on 9-11 and the Berlin Wall; and got to be reporters, doing a brief stand up in studio. They give you a snapshot and a code to download the report. Our code isn't working yet but I can't wait to see it. This normally costs an extra $8, but it was free yesterday.
In other news, Doodle found a switchblade made by Smith & Wesson in the grass beside our driveway this afternoon. After considering just throwing it in the trash, I called the police and an officer came to take a report and take possession of the weapon. Juvenile crimes seems to be up in our area, and I hope that the police start patrolling a bit more. The officer asked if we have any neighbors with teenage sons and said that he would make a report and dispose of the weapon. The answer to the officer's question is no; most of the neighborhood kids, and there are a lot of them, are 10 and under.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Eye Pod

Doodle multi-tasked last night, listening to her iPod while watching Idol Gives Back. She was upset by the story of the three orphan boys in Africa whose parents died of AIDS. She reached into her wallet and gave me $10 to add to my pledge.

Class Snapshot

Doodle brought home her class picture yesterday. Doodle looks particularly stunning, and her beauty practically pops off the print (OK, I'm a bit biased but she does look terrific). The photographer didn't get the lighting quite right so most of the Caucasian kids look very pale/washed out, which led me to do a check of the class racial demographics:

17 Caucasians
6 African Americans
3 Asian Americans (2 of whom are adopted from China and 1 of whom immigrated from Vietnam)
2 Hispanic Americans
1 Middle Easterner (he arrived in the U.S. this fall and speaks Arabic and French)

This seems fairly representative of U.S. demographics, with Asians and African Americans a bit overrepresented and Hispanics a bit underrepresented. I'm satisfied with the diversity level in the class.

The 4th graders have been studying immigration and recently had parents who immigrated from Denmark and Argentina as adults come in to speak about their experience. The kids also had to interview someone in their family about immigration. My family is Pennsylvania Dutch and came to the U.S. several hundred years ago so Doodle couldn't interview anyone. Instead she had to research our family history and had some fun reporting on Pennsylvania Dutch phrases that are still used by her aunts today (outten the lights instead of turn off the lights, etc).

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Green Eggs

After a late afternoon pediatric dentist appointment for both girls and a quick trip to Pet Smart and Kohl's, we stopped at IHOP for dinner (I can't remember the last time we went there, probably five years ago or so). IHOP is currently offering several Horton Hears a Who inspired kids' meals, and Tootle enthusiastically ordered Jo Jo's Breakfast, which featured pancakes with boysenberry and blueberry glazes and topped with a lollipop along with green eggs and ham. Thankfully the green was spinach rather than dye, but I was skeptical about whether Tootle would enjoy it. She scarfed it down, declaring it delicious between bites. She even asked me to make it at home, so I need to put spinach on the grocery list. She also enjoyed the pancakes, but only ate one bite of the ham. I'm a mean mommy who drew the line at Beezlenut Splash, a lemon lime drink with chunks of jello in it. Tootle seemed happy with her chocolate milk, but I might have given in to the messy drink if I had known how much she would enjoy her healthy spinach.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Soccer Season Starts

The Dynamites won 3-1, but it wasn't pretty. Several of the kids fell in the big mud slick in the middle of the field. Better get some more stain remover.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cherry Blossom Time

When it's 70 degrees and sunny on a Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m., you postpone dinner and enjoy the marvelous blossoms.

April Fools

From breakfast time until it was time for me to leave for work, Tootle spent nearly every minute trying to trick me. I had lice in my hair, caterpillars on the window, etc. She didn't get my hint that she should wait until I was unsuspecting.

Tootle's teacher and the teacher in the classroom next to theirs "got" their unsuspecting classes today. Yesterday Tootle came home with the news that her class would be getting a new boy today, a twin whose sister would be in the class next door (this would make the third set of twins in these two classes). A few minutes ago Tootle called with the news that it was all a trick. Rex and his sister Roxi were dinosaur balloons. Tootle had as much success tricking her teacher as she did me: zero. I may have to fake it tonight.