Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekend in Photos

Long Fu Girls in Numbers

The girls from Doodle's orphanage all have the last name of Long (the orphanage is Longyan) and a first name that begins with Fu. As we spent a hot, sticky weekend with 4 of the 9 Long Fu girls from our travel group--3 of whom are 10 and 1 who is 11--I noted some similarities and some differences:

  • Girls with pierced ears: 3, all within the last year (Doodle is the odd girl out here but she doesn't seem interested)
  • Girls who play instruments: 3, perhaps next time we can have a classical guitar, flute, and clarinet concert
  • Long hair: 4 (when you have such gorgeous hair, why not let it grow long)
  • Sports: 3 who play soccer and 1 who plays softball and does karate
  • Oldest child in family: 3
  • Only child: 1
  • Budding photographers: 4
  • Took Chinese language class at a younger age but no longer participate or show much interest in their heritage: 4

The girls got along very well but they no longer hold each other's hands as they walk around. Saturday's activities included a long visit to the zoo, a movie (Wall-E), and dinner and play time at our house (we canceled the sleepover part of the plan due to Friday's health drama). On Sunday we hit the National Archives, Air & Space Museum, and the Natural History Museum. A fun but exhausting weekend.

We parents spent some time talking about the girls' lack of interest in their heritage. It's something we worry about a bit, but thus far the girls all seem comfortable with who they are. I will probably use this summer's Olympics to rekindle Doodle's interest in China; it has dwindled substantially since an all time high three years ago when we went to China to bring her sister home. One of the families is going to China next spring but they have decided not to visit either of their daughters' birthplaces, focusing instead on Beijing, Shanghai, etc. I hope to take the girls back in the next two years and I would like to visit both of their birthplaces. Tootle's orphanage is much more open and easier to get to, but I also want to make the effort for Doodle. In the meantime, at least we are keeping these links to families who share in Doodle's story. I feel fortunate that we like these families so much.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Scariest Day Ever

Friday morning did not start out well. Tootle woke up at 5 a.m. with a fever and a desire to vomit. This should have been my sign that this day was doomed. Once Doodle woke up around 8, she discovered that she had drooled some blood from her tooth extraction onto her sheets. She quickly came downstairs and reported that she was hungry and had a headache. Figuring that she could be a bit dehydrated because she hadn't eaten or drank much the night before, I got her some Gatorade as she hoisted herself onto the kitchen counter (something that I always discourage but that she sometimes does anyway). I started to make her breakfast but quickly turned around when I saw her pouring her Gatorade onto the kitchen floor. I started to yell at her that this was not funny when she suddenly fell forward. I caught her and tried to get her to stand. She was totally limp and her eyes rolled back in her head. I have never been so frightened in my life. I screamed for my mom to call 911 and carried Doodle into the living room as I tried to get her to respond. As I started to talk to the 911 operator, Doodle came to and started to cry because she was disoriented. The paramedics came within 5-7 minutes and found that her vital signs were good but advised me to either have her ride in the ambulance to the emergency room or be driven there by me. I drove her, and was impressed with how quickly the emergency room staff got us into a pediatric room and being cared for. The ultimate diagnosis, after having her blood pressure and pulse checked about 5 times, an EKG, and some juice and cookies, was dehydration, and Doodle and I were home by 10:30.

Later in the afternoon I took Tootle to the doctor, and she was diagnosed with an ear infection. I hope that they both are able to hang out with our travel group visitors today. We missed out on Friday's fun, but I don't think anyone would have wanted to risk the possibility of Doodle fainting at the White House in 95 degree heat, and Tootle was so lethargic that she barely moved from the sofa. She did perk up in the evening after her first dose of antibiotics, and Doodle guzzled fluids and seems fine, so things are looking up. I hope Doodle never faints again; it's way too scary.

Friday, June 27, 2008


The ringlets, baby fat, and baby talk are long, long gone, but today Doodle lost the last physical reminder of her babyhood: her 20th baby tooth. (Doodle may be a petite 10 year old, but she has the mouth of a 12-year-old, according to the dental authorities.) This pesky molar has stalled Doodle's orthodontia plan for several months, and while it was wiggly, it wasn't quite ready to come out yet. However, the adult tooth wanted to make its appearance and put pressure on the gums, leading to an abscess. After waiting about a week for the antibiotics to do their job, today the dentist pulled baby tooth #20, to keep the abscess from coming back. Doodle was very brave even though the tooth didn't stop bleeding for some time. In a few minutes, I will put a note from the Tooth Fairy and an extra special amount of money under her pillow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Two of the families that we keep in touch with from our 1998 travel group arrive today for a nearly 10-year reunion with our family and another family that lives in our area. I can't wait to see the girls interact as tweens. Tootle is nervous that no one will play with her because she is two years younger than any of the seven kids who are coming, but I expect that she'll manage to fit right in. We're hosting a picnic for the families and a sleepover for the girls, and I've been sprucing up the yard and house for weeks. The frenzied cleaning has also brought out my desire to purge a lot of the junk from our house, and that effort will be continuing. Wish me luck with the sleepover. My only hope is that the girls may fall asleep easily after a full day in the 95 degree heat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Consumer Power

Doodle recently earned her Consumer Power Junior Girl Scouts badge. Doodle is an awesome shopper, and in some ways it seems like she has been working on this badge since she was two years old. When we would go in to a store like Gymboree, Doodle would go through the clothes rack to find her size*, look at the tag, and then declare, "We can't buy this mommy. It's not on sale." or "Can I have this? It's on sale." (She was able to recognize if something was marked down, and knew that I love a bargain.) The clerk's mouth would drop open in surprise to see my little shopper in action.

Last month Doodle displayed her shopping skills online as she looked for an electric guitar that she wanted to buy with her own money. I didn't want the guitar to arrive before school ended, fearing that it would distract her from working on her last book report, etc., so I had her do a short report on the pros and cons of the guitar she coveted. The guitar arrived last week, the first week that school was out. Learning to play the guitar and composing music didn't take up all of her time last week so she also spent time on e-Bay, looking for a baseball autographed by her favorite player. She conned me into winning it for her, again paying for it herself. Her piggy bank is much emptier now so thankfully she is in day camp for the next three weeks.

* Doodle knew her numbers by the time she was 18 months old; sadly her early promise in math faded once she hit elementary school.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strawberry Fields

A perfect day to leave work early and go to the strawberry patch. So sweet and yummy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On Loss

My girls have lost so much in their lives: birth parents, foster families, and their homeland. Perhaps that's why Doodle takes loss so hard. Her grief over my Aunt Ruth's death this winter was far greater than I would have expected, and she continues to struggle with sadness over this loss. This was the first death that Doodle has had to experience. We had our family reunion on Sunday, an event where Aunt Ruth typically reigned supreme as the eldest person there. Doodle cried about Aunt Ruth and didn't sleep well both on the night before and the night of the reunion. I simply held her, listened, and told her that it's good to hold her aunt in her memories and to think about the good times, which might even bring a smile to her face rather than tears. Tootle was a bit subdued after the reunion too, and the girls told me that they talked with each other about how much they missed Aunt Ruth. I'm grateful that they are able to talk about their feelings rather than keeping them bottled up inside, but I also wish that this was easier.
P.S. Despite the void left by Aunt Ruth's absence, the reunion was fun. We picnicked with more than 70 of our relatives, and the girls had a blast with their cousins.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Another Reminder

There have been too many reminders recently of how fleeting and precious life is---Maria Sue Chapman, Tim Russert... This morning it hit me in a much more personal way. One of my colleagues at work lost his valiant year-long fight against colon cancer on Father's Day. Chuck managed my employer's finances; he did his job well and he always had a smile and a caring word for everyone. He continued to work until fairly recently despite undergoing intensive chemo treatment. I sometimes wanted to admonish him to go home and enjoy his family, but he was where he wanted to be and he did always make a lot of time for family, so I held my tongue. Chuck was a loving husband and a wonderful father of three boys , and he will be greatly missed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

School's Out for the Summer

As the girls head into the somewhat lazy and definitely hazy days of summer, my work schedule kicked into high gear and I was forced to work several 14 hour days this week at the same time that I was preparing teacher gifts, playing Tooth Fairy, and accompanying Tootle's class on a field trip to a farm to pick strawberries. The kids all wilted in the 95 degree heat, and the strawberries were pretty mushy but it was still fun. On the bus ride back to school, in between games of Rock-Paper-Scissors, I learned that one of the boys is convinced that Tootle has a crush on him because she chased him around the playground one day making kissing noises. (I can't imagine her doing this but they both said it was true.) Tootle told him that she was just joking and that she likes another boy, the one who she played with at recess nearly every day this year. This kid is going to keep me hopping.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A New Tradition

In our house the Tooth Fairy traditionally gives a $1 bill and a Sacajawea $1 coin. I keep a stash of Sacajawea coins in one of my dresser drawers. Last night I took a gold coin out of its hiding place and put it under Tootle's pillow along with a note from the Tooth Fairy and a $1 bill. This morning Tootle excitedly showed me her goodies. She asked me what the coin was. I pretended to look at it, but then did a double take because I saw that I had given her a Chuck E Cheese token instead of the Sacajawea coin. Tootle was very pleased with the token. I guess we'll be visiting Chuck E soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Calling the Tooth Fairy

Tootle finally lost her first baby tooth today. She wrote the tooth fairy a note asking if she could keep the tooth. I think it's safe to say that the tooth will be there in the morning.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hi Ya!

Despite the 100 plus degree reading on the thermometer, Tootle's Kung Fu Panda birthday party was totally cool. Tootle and 14 of her friends practiced their karate kicks, decorated panda cupcakes, had a relay race, did tattoos and face painting, made dragon necklaces, had popsicles and ice cream cake, and simply played on the playground. Tootle is very proud that she raised more than $300 for Half the Sky. I'm pretty proud of her for very willingly/eagerly forfeiting presents at such a young age.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Tootle celebrated her sixth birthday today!!! The multiple exclamation points are necessary to convey this message with the same level of enthusiasm as Tootle did in telling numerous people that it was her birthday. It was such a monumental occasion that our school district gave everyone the day off school (and last night's storms that knocked out power to 70 schools may have had something to do with it too). Because we still had no power this morning, both girls went to the office with me this morning. We lasted about 6 hours before packing it in and going to the pool and then out to dinner. Our power was restored about 5 p.m. May all of Tootle's birthdays be as memorable as this one. Now on to Saturday's party; at last count, Tootle will party with 16 of her friends and the heat index is supposed to top 100.

P.S. The loose tooth is still just that, so Tootle will lose her first tooth at age 6 (it can't stay loose for 365 days, can it?).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wash Outs

Rain, rain go away. This afternoon we had a tornado warning, and the schools decided to hold the kids at school for an extra 15 minutes or so until it was safe to leave. The storm also knocked out our power at home, and more importantly, the power at the soccer organization's office. Doodle finally had her soccer skills evaluation last weekend, and the office promised to post the results on its Web site but 5 p.m. today, except a notice went up about an hour ago saying that they lost their power too and won't be able to post until the power is restored. I keep refreshing the site to no avail. I don't think we'll see the results until tomorrow morning. This has been the rainiest spring in a long time; Doodle has had 3 soccer games rained out, 2 of which they will try to make up over the next two weekends. Time to hit refresh again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Race Is On

Tootle is about to lose her first baby tooth. It has been very loose for weeks and now I'm not sure how it is holding on and the adult tooth is starting to push up behind it. The question is: will she lose the tooth in the next two days before she turns 6 or will she be 6 when the tooth fairy visits her for the first time? I've tried wiggling it out and tying dental floss around it and pulling without luck. I may try again tonight. I know that I won't do what my mom did to me: tied a string around my tooth and a nearby closet doorknob and then closed the door. It worked but of course scarred me for life.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Sometimes when Tootle wakes up and I'm in the shower, she climbs into my bed and turns on the TV. She knows that she is only allowed to watch PBS or the Disney Channel at that time of day. Today when I emerged from the shower, I found her perched on my bed watching an infomercial for the Chic Shaper bra. As I got dressed she continued to watch the infomercial and I asked her why she was so fascinated with it (I was too interested in why she would find this programming interesting to ask her to change it). No answer, as she kept her eyes glued on the tube. It must have been a 30 minute infomercial because Tootle watched it for at least 15 minutes before I coaxed her downstairs for breakfast. I never did find out what she found so compelling about the infomercial.