Thursday, July 31, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Swing Time

Paring Down

We're doing some decluttering this summer, as part of a major reorganization of the girls' room. The girls share a large room that currently holds double bed bunk beds and a single bed. In a week or two, a friend is going to take the single bed for her daughter and we're going to take the bunk beds apart, which means that I need to clear more floor space in the room. I'm also going to get Doodle a proper study desk; her days of doing homework at the dining room table are over. Part 1 of the plan took place last weekend when we took wooden play kitchen furniture that I had borrowed back to my aunt's house in Pennsylvania (she's going to donate it to her church). This allows me to move a table and a toy chest that is currently in the girls' room to the basement playroom. Part 2 of the plan involves a yard sale in a few weeks, where I will sell a large dollhouse that the girls never play with, a three-wheeled scooter, assorted baby items that I've inexplicably held on to, books, VHS tapes (if anyone still wants them), and lots of kids clothes (even though I've given away a lot, piles remain). The kids are very excited about the yard sale, and I've already given them a lesson in how to properly price things so that they will sell. Tonight Doodle is having what is probably her last bunk bed sleepover.

On our way home from Pennsylvania, we saw a double rainbow, our second on this road in the past three months. I had my camera with me so that I could snap pictures of the girls on my aunt's swing, but it was in the trunk and it wasn't safe to stop along the busy highway. I need to remember to keep my camera in the car rather than in the trunk.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Camp Rock

Doodle and her BFF C went to Rock Band Camp for four hours a day this week. The instructors worked the kids hard, and it showed at tonight's 20-minute performance. The band of 10 kids (Doodle, C, and 8 boys) gave themselves the name Propaganda (only in the DC area) and wrote an instrumental song called Viscous Delusion. They also performed The Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go and another number. Doodle played the flute, giving the band a Jethro Tull like edge. Rock on.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dr. Bear Is Everywhere

Yesterday Tootle and I went to DC Childrens Hospital for her periodic craniofacial clinic visit, a 4-5 hour marathon where we see about six different medical professionals (dentist, audiologist, speech pathologist, ENT, psychiatrist, and plastic surgeon). Tootle's last appointment there was a year ago, and we were both struck by the now pervasive presence of the hospital's mascot: the lovable Dr. Bear. Tootle pointed out every place she say his image and by the end of the day she was singing a new ditty: "Dr. Bear, Dr. Bear. Dr. Bear is everywhere..." Dr. Bear even came home with us: I turned down her request to buy the $37 stuffed Dr. Bear in the gift shop (complete with a lab coat), but I did spring for a key chain (and she already has a sweatshirt from her hospital stay in November 2006).

We will next see Dr. Bear in 3-6 months when we return for a hearing test and ENT check with Dr. P. One of Tootle's ear tubes came out but it left behind a natural hole, which is currently functioning as the tube. When the hole closes up, fluid build up is likely to once again cause hearing loss, so we'll be monitoring the situation pretty closely.

In the past the dentist and plastic surgeon have hinted at the future need for bone grafting surgery. At this visit, they gave me some more detail. Once Tootle's six-year molars emerge, she will have an expander put in her mouth (like many kids) followed by bone grafting in the upper jaw (not so typical). Bone grafting involves taking a small amount of bone from one place (usually the hip, head, ribs, or leg) and placing it in the area of the cleft near the teeth. The procedure, which will occur in the next few years, provides support for unerupted teeth and teeth next to the cleft, provides support for the lip and nose and improves symmetry, and forms a continuous upper gum ridge, creating a more natural appearance and stability to the ridge. Thus far, Tootle only has one adult tooth and one that will likely emerge in the next month or so, so the expansion part of this process seems to be at least a year away. It will probably work out that just as Doodle finishes with the orthodontist, Tootle begins (although I would prefer a break).

Dr. B., the half way friendly/half way arrogant, well respected plastic surgeon, accompanied by an entourage of four interns, talked about the 2-3 little things he would like to do to improve Tootle's lip and nose, procedures that would take about 30 minutes to complete. We agreed that these procedures (snipping a nose pimple, taking a little skin from her smaller nostril to expand it, and a little lip work) can wait until Tootle is on the table for the bone grafting. If Tootle were being teased by her classmates, I would opt to do this right away. The reality is that no one ever notices her slightly crooked smile, faint surgery scar, and smaller nostril. Dr. B. and the interns opined that that's because she's so cute. I do want this work to be done eventually though because it likely would become a bigger issue once we hit the tween and teen years, but it can wait 2-3 years.

Thank you for being everywhere Dr. Bear. Your presence, and the yummy mac and cheese in the cafeteria, made our day of appointments a lot more bear-able.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Musical Beds

Last night Doodle fell asleep on my bed while she was watching TV. I was too tired to move her when I went to bed several hours later. At 3 a.m. Tootle came racing into my room to climb into bed and was displeased to see her sister there. I carried Doodle and her teddy bear to Tootle's bed, dropping the bear before leaving my room. As I tucked Doodle in, Tootle appeared at my side, carrying her sister's bear. At 6 a.m., Doodle, clutching her bear, came back in to my room, and hopped into an overcrowded bed. Tootle woke up and asked Doodle to get her bear for her. She did and everyone went back to sleep in an even more crowded bed for a brief time. I hope everyone manages to stay in their own beds tonight.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Skating School

Tootle went to skating school camp this week and declared it the best camp ever. I was pretty impressed at how much her skating improved in just 20 hours of camp. She's already set to sign up for next summer; the camp's 8 a.m. start time makes me a bit less enthusiastic. Doesn't she look like cotton candy in her blue skating skirt/gloves and pink camp t-shirt and skates?

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Doodle and A first met at a summer day camp four years ago. They reconnected at the same camp a year later and then didn't see each other for two years. Doodle didn't love her music camp quite as much this year (it's hard to top 50s and 60s rock) but she was thrilled to renew her friendship with A, who was also adopted from China. Some of the teenage apprentices couldn't tell the girls apart which bothered them at first (the differences are pretty pronounced: A has a rounder face and Doodle is about 2-3 inches taller) but then they decided to have fun with it. For the last three days of camp the girls planned to wear the same thing every day and switched their name tags. They tricked one boy on the first day but after that they were on to the pranksters. In addition to their birth country, the girls do have a few other things in common: they both have braces and they both play the flute. A and Doodle will go to the same middle school and high school so hopefully their friendship will continue for years to come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You've Got Mail

One of my greatest pleasures on recent business trips is the exchange of e-mail with Doodle. Last week before I left for a trip, Doodle told me that a camp counselor had told her fortune but no matter how much I coaxed she wouldn't tell me (although she was more than willing to share her friend's fortune). Early this week she shared the fortune in an e-mail that brought a smile to my face: "i get married at 30 and i have a girl and don't break many bones and i go on adventures with my husband." Are all kids her age so lazy that they can't capitalize I. I know she knows to do it; grammar and spelling are among her best subjects.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tea Time

After a long hard day of skating and biking


Tootle doesn't start day camp until next week and most of her friends seem to be out of town this week so she has had a lot of down time. She could be spending her day watching TV and on the computer, within limits of course, but she has opted to spin a long, complicated story involving her Littlest Pet Shop characters and American Idol (a show she has never seen since it's on after her bedtime). Yesterday she sat on the floor for three hours straight making this story unfold. As I eavesdropped, it appeared that several of the singers were having trouble with their vocal coach. My favorite part isn't that the character named Archuleta wins (Doodle liked that part) but the names for some of the other "singers": Vanilla (bubblegum music, maybe?), Marshmallow, and Skin Brownie (sounds like a rapper to me).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Walking the Cat

Doodle desperately wants a dog. She has found a way around my argument that I am allergic to dogs by doing her homework/Web research about hypoallergenic dogs. She has determined that a Bichon Frise would be a good fit for our family. I really don't want to get a dog for another year or two (I want her to be responsible enough/old enough to help care for it) but the sheer cuteness of these little fluff balls is hard to resist. Still I am holding firm for now. As an alternative, Doodle has decided to try to turn her cat into a dog by taking her for walks. Opal has been an indoor cat for 12 years but Doodle has decided to expose her to the great outdoors on a leash. Doodle was a bit surprised to learn that Opal won't simply walk up the street, preferring instead to amble into the hydrangeas and other bushes. In their two outings thus far, they haven't made it out of the yard, and I'd prefer that it stays that way. Opal seems to enjoy her time outside, and Doodle hasn't been quite as insistent in pleading for a dog, so perhaps this is a good solution for now. Bark, Opal.
P.S. Doodle took the closeup shot of Opal.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

We had a low key holiday. Doodle strained her hamstring muscle last night so we took it easy. Tootle enjoyed decorating her bike, and then riding through the neighborhood. Later we all went to the pool, where Doodle collected more than $2 in the coin toss and I dissuaded either of the girls from catching the goldfish that were released into the pool. I'm still amazed that they listened to me; all of their friends were scooping the fish up big time. Some families were going home with 30-plus fish. I thought enough people had complained about this cruel activity, but apparently not. The two fish that the girls brought home last year live on, but we don't need any more.
We skipped tonight's fireworks because of Doodle's injury and iffy weather. Fortunately we saw fireworks twice this week so no one was too disappointed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fireworks Prelude

By checking out the state fire marshal's web site, I discovered that we can see fireworks practically every night this week. Tonight we watched a local country club's fireworks from the lawn of the library. It was a beautiful night to catch fireflies, enjoy cool treats from the enterprising ice cream truck, and talk with friends and neighbors who also decided to come out for the show. Tootle sat on my lap and shrieked "that's the highest one yet" over and over again. She went to bed 2.5 hours after her usual bedtime and she is utterly incapable of sleeping in, so she is likely to be mighty tired in the morning. Hopefully she'll get more rest over the next few days so that she can enjoy Friday night's extravaganza with our China Moms group.