Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Lions and Tigers and...Balloons??

So, it's the day after Christmas and there are shreds of wrapping paper strewn about, toys everywhere, dishes to be done and general cleaning to do after a crazy holiday. What do you do? Stay home and clean like responsible parents and adults? Absolutely not...you load the kid in the car and you drive to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Since neither of us wanted to sit at home and look at the mess that we were not about to clean up we decided to make use of the fabulous Zoo membership that Grandma Susie bought us.

The drive down was very easy and Tenley napped most of the way. Michelle had never been to the Wild Animal Park before and I hadn't been in many, many years so we didn't know if it was crowded or not. There was a fair number of people there but not so much that it was uncomfortable. The park is divided into sections and you can walk around and see various animals in their natural Southern California habitat. There is also a tram ride that takes you through every section of the park but the line for that was more than 3 hrs long and Tenley is not one to wait for anything.

We decided to head down to the Heart of Africa to see the Giraffes. On the way to that area there was a lot to look at. But the most interesting thing, as far as Tenley was concerned, was the biggest balloon she has ever seen. She kept pointing and saying "Up". The park has a new helium balloon and for $15 a person you can float up to 400 ft and get the true bird's eye view of the entire park. We opted to pass on that but Tenley pointed at the balloon every time she saw it.

We saw lions, giraffes and birds of all kinds, but much like the Zoo earlier in the month, Tenley's favourite animal seemed to be the gas powered carts that the employees drove around. Every time one would come by she would squeal with glee and wave at the cart as it drove by. It was hysterical.

We saw quite a bit of the park and really got our exercise as the park is built on hills. It was a very nice day and we can't wait to go back again. To see photos of Tenley and the animals, go to http://www.jeffandmichelle.net and click on the word Photos.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Tenley's 1st Christmas

Having no nap and then staying up well past 10 on Christmas Eve playing with her new Dance Bandstand, making Elmo say her name, and cuddling her newest stuffed animals she finally dropped over and slept the sleep of the dead until almost 9 on Christmas morning, so it was a good thing Jeff's parents were running a little late for breakfast.

After they arrived, we had eggs, bacon, apples and gingerbread waffles and then settled down in the living room for some serious wrapping paper shredding. Tenley has mastered the art of tissue paper removal and destruction, but she still needs some help with the wrapping paper. Eventually she shredded her way to a Little Touch Leap Pad, a Fridge Farm, Peek a Blocks, and a whole raft of other goodies. Jeff's grandparents made a very generous gift to his parents and to us (and the rest of the family members) that we were all very surprised and overwhelmed with. Soon it was over and his parents left us to race to LaHabra to see Beth & her new husband Bill; and Tenley and I settled into naps while Jeff did the dishes and watched Scrooged.

We got a call from my Mom at 3 to tell us that she wasn't feeling well at all, and to ask if we would kindly take her gifts and apologies to the family celebration that evening. We were happy to oblige, and while we were sorry she wasn't going, she was happy that she got to see Ten in her Christmas dress.

We trouped over to Jason & Ruthann's house for grazing and gifting. It was a very thin year since Jennifer, Todd & Jeffrey were in Missouri, Mom was sick, and Colin & Lynae were no-shows. In truth, this meant that the gift exchange went really quickly and we all returned to grazing and watching the floor show... which was Tenley.

Tenley got adorable clothes and great toys, and Jeff and I got really generous spa treatments, a cool candle holder, and these really neat table mats that Betsy quilted for us! Ten had a great time toddling all over the house, playing with Emma, and trying all the food.

At last it was 10 and our little fortune cookie was getting a bit stale. So we took our fabulous loot (thanks everybody) home and fell into bed. Tenley's first Christmas finally at an end.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, Tenley and I went to my Grandpa's (Tenley's Great-Grandpa) house for a family get together. Tenley had a blast running all over the back yard and picking up oranges that had fallen out of the tree. After she had picked up all of the oranges she made several people pick her up so she could grab them right out of the tree. Soon she found the grapefruit tree and was delighted that it was her size. Still just out of her reach but next year those grapefruit are all hers.

We had lunch and Tenley enjoyed turkey, ham, roast beef, bread, broccoli, potatos and cookies. She ate like a champ and then was ready to resume her terrorizing of the backyard. She only stopped long enough to open some presents. She got several very nice things that she liked a lot. However, nothing could compare with the oranges that were all over the backyard thanks to Tenley. After a few hours of visiting and no napping, it was time to go home and get ready for Christmas Eve happenings with Grandma Suzie.

Tenley had no nap today and was way over tired but she managed to press on to open more presents, have dinner and open yet more presents. We had a very enjoyable evening with Grandma Suzie and the presents were plentiful. Tenley enjoyed herself immensely with wrapping paper and tissue paper. The presents were ok but the wrapping and boxes were best. All in all, a very nice way to start Tenley's first Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Better Watch Out... Better Not Cry

Well, like every other family in America, we now have a picture of our little sweetie wailing on Santa's lap before her 1st Christmas.

We actually thought we were going to get a smiling picture, or at least a stoic one, since Tenley loves men. All men. The day before this was taken she accosted a grandfatherly type in Borders and insisted that he pick her up. The nice Mexican man walking into Alin Paper she was smiling and waving at. The kid in line behind us at Target who looks like he's a hit man for the IRA that she was playing peek-a-boo with and flirting with (at least all his tatoos were spelled correctly!). And everywhere we go, she points at Santa Claus- pictures, inflatables, manequins, live people- it doesen't matter. So we were quite surprised when it came time to actually meet the fat man in the red suit and she wanted none of it.

The photo location was being run by TweedleDee & TweedleDum, so we had a few minutes before the photo was going to be taken to introduce them. We sounded excited as we said "Look Tenley! It's Santa Claus!!" but she just stared at us. Santa held out his arms to try to get her to walk over to him. She clung to Mommy. Daddy took her and sat down next to Santa...she tried to climb off the other side of the bench. Finally the moment was upon us, and we handed her to Santa and Tenley wailed and had body racking sobs as she held up her arms and called for Mama who was standing with Daddy & Dee trying vainly to get her to look at us and smile. Uh-huh. Like that was gonna happen.

At last the ordeal was over and she snatched the See's candy stick the jolly guy offered, stuffed it in her mouth and toddled as fast as her little legs would carry her out of Santa's Beach Hut and into the safety of the Hello Kitty store.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Day of Bliss

Tuesday was a day of pure bliss for me. I took a Temazapam on Monday night, and in the morning I slept peacefully through Jeff’s morning routine, which on this day included rousing Tenley and depositing her and the bags I had prepared at Aunty Meg’s for the day.

I didn’t wake up until after 10 am. I had 2 whole cups of coffee while sitting down, as opposed to the ½ of one I usually get as I run around after Tenley. I ate a bannana and a bowl of cereal with dried fruit...and I didn’t have to share. It was heaven, and if I’d had the paper it would have been nirvana.

I’d like to say that I spent the rest of the day laying on the couch watching movies and eating ice cream, but I actually did something that made me feel even better: I cleaned my living room. It was a disaster, and Tenley doesn’t allow your attention to wander from her long enough to get any real picking up and cleaning done. She’s also terrified of the vaccume, so this was a prime time for some tlc for the abused carpets in the living room and her room. I also got her room picked up (she’s very into her board books, and yanks them off the shelf, carries them around, and then strews them all over the floor).

While most of my days go by pretty slowly, this one just flew. Before I knew it it was 5 o’clock and Jeff was off work and on his way to pick up the little fortune cookie.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my daughter, and I enjoy being home with her and seeing all of the little milestones she hits. But it was really nice not to run the second I got out of bed, to feel like I accomplished something (with visible results), and not to know what the letter of the day was on Sesame Street and where Dora went. It was like looking at a photograph of my pre-Mommy life, and reliving its memory for one brief sweet moment.

Tenley had a very exciting day too...read on to hear about it!

1st Haircut!

Aunty Meg requested to spend a day with her niece, so we set up Tuesday. Daddy dragged Tenley out of bed and into playclothes and dropped her off at Aunty Meg’s around 8ish.

They had breakfast, took a nice stroll around the neighborhood, toddled all over the front and back lawns, picked lemons, was harassed by the pointy little dog, and completely exhausted by the time it was lunch. She ate lunch, and desperately needed a nap, but was unwilling to give in to the sleep. At one point she backed herself against a wall, grabbed her lovey and looked all around her before piteously saying “maaamaaa” like “Mama, where are you??” There was no help for it- a ride in the car was going to be required.

Fortunately, Meg needed to pick up some things at BaNana Beeps’ house, which was a nice 15-20 minute drive away...and since Tenley was asleep before they got out of Meg’s tract, she just drove around a little before heading to her destination. Beeps was delighted to see them, and they headed off together to achieve Meg’s one goal for the day: a haircut for Tenley.

Beeps stylist was able to take them as walk-ins and didn’t even charge them! Tenley sat on Meg’s lap, and the nice stylist evened up the sides and back so that it will start growing in as a neat bob. Tenley sat very still and patiently (surprise!!), Beeps took pictures, and Meg had them save some of her baby hair in a little bag for me. Afterwards they went to the mall for some Christmas shopping and some Cinnabon sticks as a treat.

Daddy picked her up at 5:15, and I called Meg to make sure she and the house were still in tact. They were, but Aunty Lisa was disappointed that she didn’t get home from work in time to play with Ten.

It was a really good busy day for a 15 month old! Ten did very well considering that this was the first time she has spent a whole day without Jeff or I ! Meg said she was only a little fussy, and that was because she was sooooo tired and desperately needed a nap.

Meg’s highlights of the day: Tenley coming over to her raising her arms and saying “Egg Ub!” (Meg Up!) and Ten falling asleep on her shoulder in the mall after her haircut.

And here is what prompted the only phone call to me all day:
When Meg’s Mom died last February, Meg expressed her hope that her Mom “got where she was supposed to go”. I shook my head and told her that I knew exactly where my Aunt was: sitting next to a crib in China watching over my baby. Meg nodded, and smiled through her tears and agreed that that would doubtless be where her Mother was, and I no longer needed to worry about my future daughter.
Fast forward ten months: Ten is at Meg’s house toddling around the living room and she walked over to a table and picked up a picture of my Aunt and carried it over to Meg held up the photo, pointed at Meg, smiled and said “Mama!” She would pat my Aunt’s image and then touch Meg’s nose and say “Mama”. She knew. Maybe it was coincidence, but in my heart I believe that she knew exactly who that was, and she wanted Meg to know that she knew her.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


This is a bath toy Octopus which can tell you if the water is too hot by changing color on the bottom and spelling the word HOT. It never really worked that well. In fact if the water was slightly warmer than say 68 degrees it screamed HOT. However, the other day it served another purpose. This little blue toy was the cause of Tenley's first word...Ocapus.

She has said Mama and Dada for a while now and she knows how to associate them to us. But while taking a bath the other night I grabbed the toy and said Octopus. Tenley smiled, reached out for it and said "Ocapus". At first I thought I was hearing things but then she repeated it several times. Sometimes with a prompt from me saying the word first and some by herself when she was pointing at it. I was so excited. My baby speaks and it's English. Thank God! Not that I was worried, mind you, but many people have asked what we would do when she started speaking Chinese. Silly people, my kid is a genius and she knows English.

Now she says Ocapus quite well. Other words will soon follow and then I'm sure she'll never be quiet again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ye Olde Companie Christmas Party

It's time for the annual Christmas Party at Jeff's "fun job", and when that company is Disneyland...three guesses where they hold the party! So we bundled Tenley up and headed back to Ratopia to frolic in the cold with Uncle Kevin & Tia Lorena.

We were supposed to meet at 7:30, but that didn't quite happen because we were stuck on Ball Rd. for over an hour trying to get into the parking structure. In a former life, Jeff was probably some blue blooded person who lost their head in a most unfortunate way, because it's always miserable situations like this that cause him to go into "Royal Highness" mode and begin declaring in his snottiest voice that this is "...ridiculous! Totally unacceptable! I am never never doing this again." As though he was the only person being detained on the street. Admittedly, it really did suck to be in our car, because Tenely gets really irritated about being strapped into a carseat for any great length of time, particularly if the car isn't moving. She was screaming so loud that we had to shout to each other in the front seat to be heard over the tantrum. This never helps the situation and was just fueling Prince Snottypants and his righteous indignation at being trapped in traffic.

We did finally arrive, and after meeting up with Kevin and Lorena and dropping off our bag of loot at the Toys For Tots drive we headed into the park and straight for my one and only requirement of the evening: a ride on Space Mountain. They broke Space Mountain 2 years ago while I was on a cruise in Hawaii with my Mom, and since it was scheduled to go down for a complete overhaul anyway, they decided not to fix it. So it's been 2 long years since I've had my SM fix, and I was really looking forward to hearing the new soundtrack and seeing the new interior. Since the Christmas party is usually seriously capacity controlled, it was only a quick 30 minute wait for 2 minutes of happiness. Tia Lorena took Tenley, and the boys and I made our way through - and I even waited 1 extra car so I could have the front seat. :) I was not dissappointed, and I wanted to go again.

Instead we headed over to Buzz Lightyear which Tenley enjoyed pointing at everything on, and I had beginner's luck and got the highest score for target shooting out of the 4 of us. After that we trooped out of Tomorrow Land and watched Tenley watch the parade and point at the princesses and clap. As soon as it was over, we decided to see what Ten thought of Pirates & Haunted Mansion. We're happy to report that she thinks they're just fine, and she thinks there should be more than 2 drops on Pirates and it should go faster.

On our way back to It's a Small World, we stopped to get hot pretzels and show Tenely the reindeer in Big Thunder Ranch (interesting note: if you put reindeer in a warm climate, their antlers fall off. Ask how I know that.) We also detoured to Mr. Toad which Tenley really liked and felt should be slower so she could get a good look at everything.

We finally made it to It's a Small World, which ranks high on the kid's list for the music and sparkly lights. For me, the best part of the ride was discovering that it really is a small world after all: the family in line behind us had 2 adopted Chinese daughters - and their little one, Jewel, was just home to the US from Yang Xi SWI...the same place as Tenley. We figured out that the girls would have been at Yang Xi at the same time, and I couldn't help but wonder if she was one of the precious little faces I saw still waiting for her forever family when we were there.

At that point it was late and the Tenster was getting tired, and the temperature was dropping, so we decided to pack it in. We stopped on Main St. for coffee & rice crispy treats before collecting our commerative ornaments and driving for home and feeling as though the Christmas season had really begun.

See the pictures at www.jeffandmichelle.net!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Aunty Beth Gets Married

Friday was a big day in the Park family: Jeff's sister Elizabeth married her boyfriend Bill. We knew they were going to married, the question was simply when. As soon as Beth had that rock on her finger, she wasted no time in setting a date and getting the wedding plans underway!

We had to be in La Habra at Green Hills Baptist Church at 4 for pictures, and the freeways were mercifully moving at a decent speed, despite the hour of day and the sky's threatining clouds. Pictures went well: the bride was lovely, the flowers were perky, the candles were filckering, and no one was having a meltdown.

Joyfully, Beth followed my request to perish the very thought of Tenley as a flower girl from her mind. While I'm sure she could have walked down the aisle, it was more likely that she would have stopped halfway to sit down and eat the flowers she was carrying. Instead, she just had to show up and be cute for pictures (which she did), and then spent her time toddling up and down the aisles of the church and climbing the steps to the sanctuary. The church nursury opened at 6:30, and Jeff and I cheerfully deposited her in it so we could go mingle with adults and enjoy the wedding in peace. Tenley wasn't sorry to see us go- the nursury was full of toys and a playstructure to climb on...and there were other kids!

The ceremony took 35ish minutes; and having promised to pray for the couple, prayed with the couple, witnessed the vows, and withnessed the couple staring lovingly into each other's eyes for 3 minutes while the soloist finished the song for the lighting of the unity candle (which took 30 seconds), there was a kiss and we adjourned to the Hall for the reception.

The reception was a junk food fantasy: there was coffee & punch to go with the ice cream, pie, chocolate fountains, cheese & crackers, and the cupcake tower that was erected in lieu of a traditional wedding cake. Yummy!! Jeff enjoyed milling around talking to various church members that he hadn't seen in awhile (he and Beth grew up attending GHBC), and I sat and chatted with Grandpa and Uncle Albert & Aunt Betty who live in AZ and who I am always delighted to see. Eventually someone came and found Jeff and told him that the nice girl staffing the nursury would like to go home, so he went and got Ten. Ten then toddled around the reception, met lots of people who read this blog, and had a fine time checking out the lights on the Christmas trees and the shiny balls that were used as decorations.

At last it was time for the couple to make an exit, so we blew bubbles at them and they drove off into the rain and their new life together. Then we drove off into the rain, and a well deserved sleep.

See more of Beth's Wedding pictures at www.jeffandmichelle.net!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

You Belong in the Zoo

Grandma Suzie, lucky dog that she is, was going on a little cruise to Mexico in a large cabin with a balcony that was a religious experience, and needed a lift to the Port of San Diego last Saturday. We were more than happy to take her, and she hoped we would be able to go do something after we dropped her off so it wouldn't be an endless incarceration in a car seat for Tenley. I said we'd probably just go for a stroll around Sea Port Village & grab some lunch, since we'd love to go to the zoo but at $32 each for Jeff and I it just wasn't in the budget! Mom was stunned to hear how expensive zoo admission was (it had gone up quite a bit since she had last taken me), and we both agreed that $64 for 1 visit was highway robbery, especially when you can get a family annual pass to both the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park for only $22 more. So, Grandma Suzie up and bought the family one for Christmas!

So Tenley made her first trek to the San Diego Zoo. She loved the petting zoo, and toddled all over with a big smile on her face and pounced on several very tolerant goats. She was so excited that they let her hug them and touch their fur. After each one she would stand up and clap. She was also interested in the otters, racoons, red pandas and warthogs who were all very active. She was also very awed about the elephants, and when one of them trumpeted she squealed and clapped. But her favourite "animal" of the day - by far- was the tour bus. Everytime one of those noisy brown double deckers came by Ten's head would whip around to stare at it in wide eyed wonder and then the pointing, grunting and excited leg kicking would follow. Go figure.

We had a nice lunch at a cafe by the Koalas, and then we decided to pack it in since the wind was starting to kick up and we were exausted. We had forgotton that the Zoo is built on hills and our calfs and thighs were starting to register some complaints.

It was a good start, even though we never made it to the giraffes and the line for the pandas was prohibitively long. I was delighted to see that the Balboa Park carousel is still out in front of the zoo, as I have very fond memories of my parents always buying me a merry-go-round ride after a visit to the zoo, and I'm looking forward to passing those memories on to Tenley.

Our next stop is going to be the Wild Animal Park, since Jeff hasn't been there since he was a kid and I've never been. Hopefully we'll get there during the holiday season when they have whole bunch of lighted sculptures & such, so we can indulge Tenley's love of animals and all things shiny at the same time!

Friday, December 02, 2005


Thanksgiving was a day full of family, turkey and driving. We started the day looking for our camera which we never found. Grandma Susie took this pic of Tenley in her Thanksgiving dress and it was one of the few we got that day.

We started the day by driving to Aunt Melinda's house where Tenley got to meet more family that she had not seen yet. There were cousins galore, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents. It was overwhelming and she behaved like a champ.

After a couple hours of visiting we jumped back in the car and drove to Don & Betsy's house (our usual Thanksgiving hang out) for lunch. There we had the usual fabulous Don Walke turkey with all the trimmings. After we ate, Tenley had a great time running all over the patio and the back yard grass. Everyone held her and chased her on the lawn. She laughed and giggled all day long.

All in all she had a great first Thanksgiving holiday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tenley Does Disneyland

Ok, I'm a little behind, but I'm trying to catch up! Waaaay back on Nov. 13th, we met up with Scott & Gaynor and their 2 cuties Lauren & Amanda, and Joe (sans Sue- sadly) with his 3 beauties Amanda, Roxy, & Kate at Disneyland.

This was Tenley's 1st trip to the Tragic..er..Magic Kingdom, and we weren't sure what she was going to make of the whole thing. We knew she'd have a great time looking at everything, but the rides were a question. 3 year old Lauren likes the "girly" rides like Small World, the Carousel, and Dumbo...although she was very brave and went on her 1st roller coaster ride and lived to tell the tale! We were all very proud of her!! Big Amanda & Roxy as the 2 oldest kids had the most varied taste in rides, and the little ones (like the adults) didn't care much.

Everyone went on the carousel, and as predicted, Tenley was done with that by the second revolution and screamed until Jeff removed her from the offending horse and held her for the rest of the ride. It's a Small World, however, was a different story: she sat in Jeff's lap with eyes wide and a look of wonder on her little face. She swayed to the music, pointed at everything, squealed in delight and clapped her hands. As far as Tenley was concerned, we could have stayed there all day. She was also delighted with the Jungle Cruise, and stood on the seat hanging on to my shoulder with one hand and pointing at all the animals with the other. No so with the Tiki Room- she liked those singing birds for all of 2 minutes, and then she wanted to get down and run around. That would have been rude, so instead she spent most of the show in a corner being held by daddy & having a small meltdown. Unfortunately, she didn't make it to Dumbo: 6 hours into the day (and long after all the other little girls had had a nap) she gave up the ghost and fell asleep in my arms while we waited in line. She only napped for about an hour, and woke up while the guys and the 3 big girls were on the Autopia. Scott & I were looking forward to a spin on Space Mountain, but the FastPasses were gone before noon, and the standby time was 75 minutes, so we gave it a miss.

Highlights of the day:

Seeing 11 of us crowded around 1 tiny table at Village Haus having lunch. It was hilarious.

The warm smile that flooded the face of the older Chinese gentleman when I said "thank you" in Chinese for allowing us to swipe a chair from his table.

Having Roxy velcro herself to me and make me her buddy for the day. She wanted to sit next to me or on me everywhere and hold my hand as we walked. It's a fabulous feeling when a child chooses you to trust and be close with. It also was a great reminder of why I love the 3-6 age, and of how much I'm looking forward to being with Tenley when she hits it.

Gaynor buying Tenley, Amanda & Kate their 1st mouse ears. I remember getting ears as a kid, and it was fun to see my kid wearing them...especially since their golden 5oth Anniversary ears. Thanks Gaynor!!!!

Sharing my Dole Pineapple whip before the Tiki Room show. I love the whip, and so did everyone but Little Amanda!

Watching Tenley toddle around in front of the kennels while we waited to rendezvous with everyone in the morning. (see video at www.jeffandmichelle.net click on Tenley's page!)

Just seeing everyone again, and reveling in how much our girls have grown and progressed since our days in China!!!

Unfortunately, we didn't get many pictures. :( But, we'll be back at Dismal...er...Disneyland on Dec. 5 for the Cast Christmas Party, and we hope to get some more then. We're also going to try some different rides with the Tenster- I have a feeling she'll like things like Mr. Toad & Pirates of the Caribbean.

It was a good 1st trip and it was so great to see everyone!!! I don't know if we'll get a chance to meet up again during the holidays, but I'm looking forward to a Group 103/104 6 Month Reunion in January, and Chinese New Year in Feb!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hat Part V

Here is yet another in a long string of attempts to find the perfect hat for Tenley. Tenley is sporting her Golden Mouse Ears in support of Disneyland's 50th Anniversary year. This hat didn't seem to bother her as much as the others. Maybe this one is a keeper...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Celebratin' With Vikki & Kipp

Tenley's big day on Saturday was spent at our friends Don & Betsy's house at a little shindig celebrating the engagement of their daughter Vikki & her boyfriend (now fiancee) Kipp. An engagement party may not sound like a big deal, but our little extended family is incapable of throwing a party lasting less than 6 hours and hosting less than 30 people. To a 14 month old, that is alot of excitement.

The day didn't actually start the way I wanted, because little miss busy pants woke up waaay earlier than I expected/wanted her to. I was grateful Jeff hadn't left for his shift at Disney yet, because we were able to trade off entertaining Ten while we got ourselves and her ready. The big problem was that Ten was going to be ready for a nap just about the time we were supposed to be arriving at D&B's to help finish setting up the festivities.

If their house had been a mile further, she would have been asleep when we arrived, but she was only heavy lidded and in true Tenley form, she perked right up as soon as she realized we were somewhere new and that there were kitties to chase.

Ten had a great time toddling all over the house, climbing the stairs, and introducing herself to everyone that came through the door. As usual she ate like a horse: 4 mini quiche, a slice of turkey, 2 slices of marble pound cake, 2 cubes of cheese, and 4 apple slices. However, with all that activity and food, the lack of nap was becoming apparent in her steadily decreased attention span and increased level of crank. She wanted to nap, and she would grab her lovey and put her head on my shoulder, but she just couldn't give over to it and after only a moment she would pick her head back up and look around again. Fortunately, at that moment Bumpa Don wandered into the den to see what Aunty Meg, Ten & I were up to. Tenley trotted right over to him and demanded to be picked up. She giggled at him and then stuck her thumb in her mouth and put her head on his shoulder. I tossed him the lovey. 5 minutes later my kid was dead asleep and we laid her on her quilt, and I went out to party and have conversation with real adults!!! Way to go Bumpa Don- you're my hero!

I had a fine time chatting with other grown-ups and even got a snack, a slice of cake, and 2 glasses of sangria before I heard a piteous wail and and a muffled pounding on the door of the den. Poor Tenley had woken up in a strange place all by herself and was a little upset. She calmed right down, and chased away her sorrows with another piece of pound cake and 2 more apples.

Mostly she loved being outside in D & B's backyard. Kipp's nephew Aidian was out playing in the grass, and Tenley was darned if she was going to let him have all the fun...and besides he's a boy: shouldn't he have been paying attention and adoring her? Don't all boys? She crawled around on the grass, toddled around the patio (hoping someone would share their mimosa), chased and pet Dinah the cat, and loved ringing the windchimes.

I think my favourite moment was when Cousin Caleb came and had brought his Thomas the Train toys. Now Caleb loves Thomas (even more than Bob the Builder) and like all good almost 3 year olds, he has no intention of sharing- especially not his prized possessions. Tenley of course, has no clue what Thomas is, and lives by the Toddler's Creed of "if I can see it, it's mine." Lynae, Caleb's mom, tried valliently to convince him that it was ok to share, and that Tenley wouldn't take his Thomas toys, but he was having none of it. As soon as she would come near he would throw his entire body over the track and cars to keep her from getting near it. Tenley tried to lure him away by batting her eyes at Colin, Caleb's dad, and eating all Caleb's snacks. Caleb was undeterred. Eventually he was lured into the house for a snack and potty...and then Tenley struck. She ran to the footstool where Caleb's railroad empire was being built, grabbed two pieces of track and went running down the patio waving one in each hand. It took five minutes for me to stop laughing long enough to go retrieve the snatched track.

We made it to the opening of the gifts, but by then Tenley was toast, and it was time to go. My little social butterfly seemed to have a great time, and had definately enjoyed being picked up and carried around by everyone. She was in a good mood for the whole 8 hours we were there, and had no meltdowns...just a little whiny when she got tired. I'm so proud of her for being such a trooper, and so happy to see her recognizing and bonding to the members of my family.

More party pix at www.jeffandmichelle.net!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Last Weekend

It's the Chick-fil-a Cow!!
We found this poor holstein dancing around on Foothill Blvd. last Friday when we popped over to Victoria Gardens to get the cake mix Jeff was lusting for. We just had to get a picture!!

Since Tenley has another big weekend coming up, I guess I should talk about last weekend!

As though she knew we had somewhere to be in the morning, last Friday Tenley decided to pass on her 9:30 bedtime and stay up until 12:30. Of course because she stayed up late she also slept in, leaving me with only enough time to get her up, feed her and get her dressed and out the door. Except that the little pee monster had overloaded her diaper and her pj’s, sheet and herself were soaked and stinky. So much for breakfast- bath time instead!

Our destination was Mary’s baby shower at Jen’s house, which was fine with Tenley because there was food to devour and stairs to climb. So my agenda for the day became: follow the kid up the stairs, carry the kid down the stairs, stuff in a couple bites of fruit- repeat. We eventually distracted her from the stairs, and she toddled happily about visiting with everybody, and cruising by mom for food. She was thankfully in a good mood until the very end when she began to get cranky having played hard and been charming for 5 hours with no nap. Her highlights of the day included playing with the Big-Sis-To-Be Emma in the back yard and discovering rose petals and bark chips, climbing the stairs, and sampling the yummy cake.

At the end of the shower we decided to get the rest of the extended family and go out for dinner. So I dropped Meg at her house, and went home to change Tenley& I’s clothes and collect Jeff who was just back from an MMD shift at Disneyland. Amazingly Ooka, the local hibachi place, could accommodate a reservation for 14 at the last minute on a Sat night! Unfortunately, Tenley had only had a piddly hour long nap in the car on the way home from Jen’s, and she couldn’t really accommodate staying up and in a good mood long enough for us to eat. However, my totally fabulous husband was also a little tired and happily handed me my wallet, cell phone, and a wad of cash and took the little fortune cookie home leaving me to have drinks and dinner with grown-ups!!

Sunday was another first for Tenley- it was her first SSC lunch. The Secret Squirrel Club was started when we all worked for an employer we all universally disliked. Our SSC lunches were a great escape, and after we all moved on we just continued to get together every month or so to catch up.

There were only 4 Squirrels at this lunch- the 4 with kids! This was the first chance Kristen & Amy had to meet Tenley; and Kristen, Tracy, & I’s first chance to meet Amy’s cutie pie Cody who was born while we were in China. Tenley and Natalie seemed to enjoy seeing each other again...and it’s always interesting to see how alike and different they are since they’re only 3 weeks apart! The only bummer to the whole lunch was finding out that (another squirrel) Susie’s husband Mike had passed away. Mike was a great guy, and I’m still stunned to think that he’s gone.

All in all a good action packed weekend, and Tenley received constant input- which is the way she likes it. Stay tuned- we have another busy weekend starting tomorrow!!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Sweet Tooth

Here's our little sweetie enjoying a cotton candy flavored Dum-dum surrounded by a small bit of her Halloween haul. Fortunately, the Dum-dum is the only thing she's had. Jeff and I are helping out by disposing of the Twix, Snickers & Tootise Rolls (my fave), and the girls in Jeff's office are doing their share with the M&M's, Starburst, Butterfinger, etc.

And here's your laugh for the day:

All I have to say is that if either of these guys ever shows up to take Tenley out, she's not goin'!


...and make sure your sound is on.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Another Night Out

"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known."

Garrison Keillor

Tonight we went with Megan, Betsy and Jason & Ruthann to see Garrison Keillor at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. Tenley went to stay with Auntie Jen for the night.

We laughed until our sides hurt while we listened to Mr. Keillor tell us a story about his youth in Lake Wobegon, MN. Tenley ran all over Jen’s house and climbed the stairs repeatedly.

When we got back to Jen & Todd’s house around 10:30pm or so, we were wondering if Tenley would be asleep or not. The answer was immediately apparent since we were greeted by a smiling baby face through the window of the front door as Todd held her up to see us. I don’t think Michelle or I were delusional enough to think that our child would be asleep as she should have been. No, there were too many things to do at this new place that she had never been before. After we made sure that Jen & Todd still had their sanity and that their house was still intact, we left took Tenley home. We did tell her that she would be back soon for a baby shower and she could once again climb the stairs repeatedly in her vain attempt to get somewhere more interesting.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hat part IV

In the ongoing quest to find a hat that Tenley will wear happily, Daddy has finally resorted to making hats from paper menus at restaurants. This hat, much like the others, did not go over that well. "Still trying Grandma Susie!"

Halloween...Now & Then

If you had been hanging out with Jeff and I seven years ago on October 31, 1998; this is what you would have seen. The bride wore Converse hi-tops, the wedding cake was Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, and the minister had vampire fangs. No, our colors were not black & orange, and no- we're not Satanists...it was the only day our site was available. The fact that it was Halloween meant that there were no children at our wedding (which was the plan), it was really easy to get a florist and a caterer, and everyone (particularly gift-giving relatives) remembers our anniversary.

We've had some really great anniversaries, and some not so great ones. There have been 2 cruises, a dinner at the Chart House, a disastrous night in a cabin in Lake Arrowhead, one we can't remember, and last year was spent packing wildly for a 10 day trip to London which began on Nov 1.

Now, if you'd been hanging out with us this year on Lucky Anniversary #7, this is what you would have seen:

Yep, it's our sublime bovine mugging for the camera at Grandma Susie's house before she begins Trick-or-Treating on her 1st Halloween. We actually took her to the Baptist church down the street (look Grandma Barbara- we took her to church!) where they were having a Halloween carnival and a "Trunk-or-Treat" where the church members decorate their open trunks and hand out candy in the parking lot. Tenley enjoyed looking at all the kids and adults dressed in their costumes, met a couple of nice dogs, and danced to the Christian rock the DJ was blaring.

Afterwards we went to Ruby's (Jeff's favourite) for milkshakes and burgers. We stopped into Barnes and Noble to look for a Thanksgiving book for Ten, but there were none suitable. Although, she was really into "The Story of Kawanzaa" (we have no idea why- she kept turning the pages, pointing to the pictures, and talking to the book) and we had quite a time getting her to put it down. At bedtime we tried to read the Care Bears Halloween book that Aunty Jen & Uncle Todd sent her (thanks guys!!) but mostly Tenely just wanted to eat it. We decided she had enough fiber in her diet, and put it away for next year.

The funny thing is that when Jeff and I got married, countless people told us how stupid we were to get married on Halloween because when we had kids we'd spend every anniversary trick-or-treating or at some dumb Halloween party and we'd hate it. But honestly, I had a great time last night. Holidays are great when seen through the eyes of a child- even one as young as Tenely who doesn't quite know what's going on yet. And I suppose that if you feel like your anniversary is the 1 night of the year you must have romantic alone time with your spouse, then I can see why it would be dumb to get married on Halloween...but Jeff and I cuddle on the couch and watch TV or read books at night after Tenley goes to sleep; and tomorrow night Tenley will hang out at Camp Gutjahr while we go see Garrison Keilor...I guess it really comes down to the fact that we celebrate our marriage (and each other) all the time, so giving up the actual day for a few years is no big deal...and childhood is so fleeting- it won't be long before Tenley is going to Halloween sleepovers at her friends house to paint her nails & gossip about boys... I think we'll enjoy every minute of it while we can.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Party'n With the Grown Ups

Here's Tenley in the tub modeling the "Queen Amidala" hair-do that Jeff gave her while she scrubbed up before party time.

We made the trek to Granada Hills on Sat. night to see our friends Darrin & Heather and celebrate Heather's big 3-0. As much fun as it was for us to see Darrin & Heather and some extended friends, I think Tenley had an even better time toddling all over their beautiful new hardwood floors, playing with Allie the Dog, and coveting Heather's large shiny birthday balloon boquet. She apparently decided that Heather is a good cook, and scarfed down 5 mini quiches, 4 meatballs, cheese and half a cupcake.

Darrin & Heather had decorated and Tenley had a grand time ignoring the toys we brought for her and instead choosing to beat on the big pumpkin, throw the tiny pumpkins, try to get the cling-on bloody footprints off the floor, beg for food from other party guests, and smile winningly at people so they would pick her up and take her over to play with the balloons. Fortunately, several other guests were also parents and were therefore very understanding. The only bummer was that all the other parents were using this as date night, so we had the only crumb cruncher in attendance.

The party was great, and Ten was really well behaved. She stayed up until 10:30 when we said goodbye, and then fell right to sleep in the car on the long drive home. It was fun to see Darrin again...and I can't believe Heather is 30!!! Hopefully we'll get to see them again before next year!

Date Night

Friday was "date night" to celebrate our anniversary a little early. We left the little fortune cookie with Grandma Susie, along with our condolences, because she had refused to have a nap and was rather cranky.

Jeff and I trotted off to the Pechanga Indain Casino & Resort in Temecula to see 12 Girls Band in concert. We left a little later than we wanted to, and while we had little traffic and no trouble finding Pechanga, it meant that we had no time to have a decent dinner. We ended up having a slice of really bland white cake with strawberries, a very buttery croissant, and 2 diet cokes that cost $11. Ugh.

The good news is that the concert was great, and it wasn't sold out so no one was sitting in front of us and we could see the whole stage. We were some of the few Caucausian people in the audience, and I'm betting that some of the Chinese people there actually knew the some of the girls judging by the fact that several of them seemed to have their own cheering sections. The 12 Girls played some old favourites, and some new songs from their new album "Romantic Energy". There was a huge line of people after the concert waiting to buy the CDs and have the girls sign them.

We skipped the autograph session and headed for home...with a quick stop at Del Taco for some real (?) food. All in all, a good date night!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Pumpkin in the Pumpkins

Apparently, if you adopt a little girl from China and you have a blog, you must take her to a pumpkin patch prior to Halloween and then post at least 1 cute pictute from the event. Tenley is merely the last (but certainly not least!) of her China sisters to make a pilgrimage to the local gourd purveoyr.

We were actually supposed to go see the vegetables last weekend, but it was raining and with Ten having an ear infection we decided to hold off. This turned out to be good, because so did the Inland Empire playgroup from Families With Children From China, and we were able to go with them and meet a bunch of the other cuties that live in our neck of the woods.

The Pumpkin Patch of choice is at Live Oak Canyon in Yucaipa, where there are not only an abundance of pumpkins in various sizes and varieties, but also: hay pyramid to climb, a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, bounce houses & slides, hayrides, and this ATV train thing that looked like alot of fun. Tenley was really keen on the hay pyramid- she loved the way it felt in her hands and that she could pull it out and throw it around. She was unimpressed with the pumpkins themselves, even after we showed her how they make sounds when you drum on them or that they could be rolled. She kept pointing at the ATV ride, and there were some kids on it that didn't look too much older than Tenley, so I think we'll have pictures of she and daddy on it next year.

All the pumpkins were making Jeff hungry, so we trotted off to Victoria Gardens for a snack and to get a pumpkin bundt mix from Williams Sonoma. The pumpkin bundt mix refused to leave without it's best friends, the pumpkin pecan bread mix and the mulling spices, so we took them all home. We also ended up with some more clothes for Tenley from Osh Kosh (store closing, everything 30-70% off), and I found 2 adorable dresses for Christmas but we couldn't decide which one we liked better so we bought 1 for this year, and 1 for next!

More pictures from the pumpkin patch and Victoria Gardens at www.jeffandmichelle.net Also visit Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch at: www.liveoakcanyon.com

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Trick or Treat'n with the Rat

Isn't our little cow udderly adorable???

Tenley's Saturday began with a quick breakfast and then we fetched Grandma Susie and headed to downtown Claremont for the annual Village Venture. It's a fabulous street fair with all kinds of great arts, crafts and gifts as well as food, primo sales in the shops, and a children's area. We didn't even make it through half of the fair, but we did have a great lunch in an Italian restaurant, and we were eventually successful at getting Ten the one thing her heart desired that she continually pointed at from the moment we arrived: a balloon.

We had to leave Claremont far sooner than I would have liked to, but I had to dash back home and get Tenley and I changed so we could rush off to Anaheim and attend Mickey's Halloween Treat at Disney's California Adventure.

We met up with Doug and Tina and Tenley's future husband James (who was cuter than cute in his Eeyore costume), and Carin and Tim and their cutie Hannah (who was a lovely Snow White in a dress her Mommy did a bang up job on!) for dinner at Mari's and then off to the festivities at 7:30.

We made it to all 13 treat stations, and Doug & Tina achieved their goal of scoring enough candy so they wouldn't have to buy any to hand out on Halloween! James nodded off 1 hour into the event, and Hannah passed out with treat bag still in hand at 9. Tenley, on the other hand, had bloodshot eyes but was still wide awake and going strong when the event ended at 10:30. She simply refused to miss anything. We brought a stroller, but she insisted on being carried or holding our fingers and walking...needless to say, Jeff & I 's backs and shoulders are killing us.

We skipped having Tenley's picture taken with Mickey (dressed as Zorro, but looking remarkably like The Hamburgler) because the line was too long; but Mommy insisted on taking her picture with Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House. I think I was more excited about Bear than she was: Bear has got to be one of the coolest things to ever come out of the Henson Workshop - the Muppeteer inside has the ability to make such a huge array of facial expressions, and quite frankly Bear is just cute & cuddly. DCA has 3 real Bear costumes straight from Henson for the Playhouse Disney Live! show, and I was delighted that he was out for pictures. Tenley, on the other hand, was underwhelmed with Bear, but climbing out of our arms to go see Goliath the Lion from Jojo's Circus. I think she's only ever seen Jojo's Circus once, so Goliath must have just had kitty appeal.

The adults had a great time too: the people watching was stellar!! One poor guy, a grown adult I might add, was forced to wear a Donald Duck costume and was walking around looking suitably emasculated. Mrs. Potts has to be the most unflattering costume on anyone. It was nice to see that people found something to do with their Renaissance Faire costumes in the off season. I'm deeply concerned about the pack of Jedi Knights with the $200+ lightsabers (they actually light up and make the sound when you turn them on or swing them around) who were heatedly discussing Anakin's ability/inability with a lightsaber as they waited in line for candy. And I leave you all with this thought: just because a Jessica Rabbit costume comes in your size does not mean you should buy it and wear it!!!!!!!

See more pictures from Mickey's Halloween Treat at www.jeffandmichelle.net just click on "pictures"!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Last Flight of the "Busy Bee"

Here’s Tenley modeling the adorable yellow “Busy Bee” pj’s that Susan gave to us in China when it turned out that I only brought 1 item of sleepwear that was going to fit. They were great – just a bit big, and the theme was oh so appropriate. I had Jeff hold her hands so I could get this picture, because it’s probably the last time they will be worn. My little girl is 13 months today, and the once “a bit too big” jammies are now “a bit too small”. As tiny as Tenley is by US growth charts, I’m amazed at how much she’s grown in the 14 weeks since we’ve been home. The day after Gotcha, I put her in a 3-6 month outfit that actually fit her (at 9 months old). Mostly she was a solid 6 month size; many 6-9 month clothes were too big. Now, the 6 months are history, and I’m slowly retiring the 6-9’s in favour of solid 9’s and a few 9-12’s. Sadly, I think she has some precious outfits that will never fit again, and many that never made it on her body!

In other news:

Tenley also has her first cold. Her nose was a little runny and we attributed it to teething, but a couple days later the sneezing began, and now she’s all stuffed up with gobs of disgusting green goo leaking out of her olfactory appendage. It’s sticky, gross, vile and relentless. It also means that my mostly non-drooling child now rivals a St.Bernard because she has temporarily turned into a mouth breather. Sleep has been spotty: sometimes the Benadryl lets her sleep, but she wakes up every time she rolls over and can’t breathe. She tries very hard to go back to sleep, but it’s extremely difficult to suck your thumb and breathe through your mouth, and that makes her angry and then the screaming begins. But, misery loves company, and like any good little germ monger she has shared her nasty cold with Mommy & Daddy. Gee, thanks!

The cold has not stopped her from practicing her new found walking skills. She still has a tendency to lead with her chest, and sometimes you can see her standing there wanting to take a step – but forgetting how to make her feet move! However, if there’s something she wants badly (like say, a blissfully unaware sleeping cat to terrorize) she’ll take off at a trot without thinking twice. She’s also most comfortable walking barefoot (which I’m told is normal), if you put her tennis shoes on she becomes very awkward & clumsy because she can’t bend her feet the same way.

And since she’s got a whopper of a cold, she has suddenly figured out how to give kisses! For the last few weeks if you puckered your lips and made the kissy-kissy sound while you showed her your cheek, and if it was an odd numbered day, the moon was full, and the tide was breaking to the left she would gift you with a toddler kiss that’s really more like getting your cheek licked as she presses her open mouth and tongue against your cheek. This week she has started giving them out spontaneously, and has decided to kiss/lick on the lips. While I treasure every gooey second of them, I wish she had figured this out when she wasn’t sick!

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Yesterday around 3:30 in the afternoon, Tenley & I were hanging out in her corral playing with her ABC ball and watching Blue's Clues....okay I was the one playing with the ABC ball, Ten was "cruising" around the edge of the corral and stopping in front of the TV to point at Blue and dance. Then she turned around and grabbed the edge of the corral from behind so that she was facing me as I sat on the opposite side of the enclosure. I smiled at her, held out my arms and said "Come to Mama!" expecting that she would reach forward and grab my hands so I could help her. But she didn't. Instead, she squealed and walked the 4 steps to my waiting arms all by herself. I was dumbstruck.


I squeezed Ten & told her how great that was and how proud I was of her! She had a huge grin - I think she knew she had just done something pretty swell. First I called Daddy, who was thrilled and immediately asked if I had taken pictures. I had to remind him that I had not sprouted an extra set of arms when I became a mom (which would have been really helpful), so much like feeding the giraffe there was no way to get photos of the momentous event. He had forgotton about the lack of extra arms, but we both agreed it was damn cool to see your kid do this for the first time. Then I called Grandma Suzie, who was also thrilled and immediately asked about pictures. She had to be reminded about the lack of extra arms (but also agrees that they would come in really handy) and that Jeff was at work...which you would think she would remember since they work in the same place!! Then I called Aunty Meg who was flying and left a message on her cell. I couldn't call Grandma Barbara & Grandpa Dave because they're on a cruise.

Tenley happily repeated her new trick and walked straight into Daddy's arms about 5 minutes after he got home. Grandma Suzie called at 9 to find out why there were still no pictures of the milestone posted here. Today, we finally managed to get the picture you see above. The most she's taken is 7 steps, and she's usually way too excited about it and tries to run causing her to crash into whichever parent she was heading towords.

As proud as I am of her accomplishment, inside I'm also groaning: Ten is already extremely busy, and once she's a confident walker I think she'll be running everywhere. I see track shoes, exaustion, and a baby leash in my future. On the plus side, this means I can start putting her into all the cute dresses I have for her, and I should lose about 10 lbs. from chasing her around.

PS: If you haven't visited our website www.jeffandmichelle.net be sure to check it out. Click on Tenley's page and you can see Quick Time movies of Gotcha Day and her 1st Birthday! We'll post one of her walking as soon as we get some footage!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I Am Grateful

So there was something that I forgot to mention when I wrote about my trip to Palm Springs with Tenley. I forgot to mention that I am married to a really fabulous guy. He's too good for me. I'm blessed with spending my life with my best friend who makes me laugh so hard it hurts, does nice things for me everyday (like getting up out of bed and bringing me Advil & water because I casually mention that I have a headache), he writes me love letters, puts up with my general craziness and messiness, and works hard so I can stay home and be a Mommy. He's also a great Dad who not only plays with his kid; but feeds her, bathes her, changes diapers, sings lullbyes, and dries tears. I feel compelled to mention how lucky I am to have this man as my partner, because I spent 3 days as a "single mom".

I have always had a certain respect for single moms (and dads!), and I have gained a new level of appreciation for them. I have had the briefest glimpse of how tired they must be after working all day and then coming home to care for one of these little dynamos. I am in awe of their fortitude, self reliance and stamina. I greatly admire those, like my own mother, who carry on and provide a great life for their children all by themselves when, by accident or design, they are left to do the job alone. I kneel in amazement at those who intentionally choose to take on the challenge of raising a child all on their own!

To those of you out there who have done, or are currently doing this parenting job alone - I salute you! You are amazing people, doing the most difficult of all jobs and you have my utmost respect.

To my own mother: thank you- I could not have asked for a finer woman to have raised me, you have been a great mom (and dad) and I am still in awe of all you have done and continue to do for me. I can never repay you, I can only try to do as much for Tenley. And Jeff: I could not ask for a better husband, Tenley could not hope for a more loving Dad. I am so very very lucky to have you here to help me.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Nattie Turns 1

On Saturday, Tenley went to her first friend's birthday party! My friend Tracy (pictured above holding her daughter, the birthday girl) invited us over to see Natalie turn one and demolish a cake.

I can't believe it's been a year already! It seems like just yesterday I was talking to Tracy's belly and we were tossing names around. Now here are our girls already a year old. This was the first chance Tracy had to meet Tenley since she came home, so it was really fun for the girls to meet each other, and for us to compare notes since they're only 3 weeks apart in age. Natalie is already walking and says several words - of course she has the advantage of both her adoring mom and fabulous older sister Taylor to help her learn all those new skills!! She's also much bigger than Tenley- Ten is just starting to outgrow size 6 month clothes, and Nattie is already in 18 months! However, Tenley has more teeth and has more hair (finally) and has ditched the 2am bottle...which Nattie refuses to give up much to her mother's chagrin. But both girls are happy and healthy - and they'll get more teeth & hair and decide to walk and talk when it's their time.

The party was great: Tracy had yummy BBQ Beef (which Tenley devoured), lots of fruit coleslaw, chips and Tracy2 made cold gazpatcho soup which was all kinds of good. Nattie had a 2 tier green polka dot cake with Tinkerbell on it, and a mini version of it to destroy. There was the pool and the bounce house with a slide that all the kids couldn't get enough of.

Tracy & I threw the big kids out of the bounce house for a few minutes so we could take Ten & Nattie in. Nattie crawled around and finally went over to the mesh windows and mugged for the video camera. Tenley seemed really unsure of the whole thing. I held her and jumped with her, but I could tell by the way she was clinging to me that she was none too certain of her surroundings. She scratched on the floor and walls, and looked a trifle miffed when the rocking of the floor would knock her over. But I think she got the idea because she stood up and put a death grip on my shoulders and began bouncing up and down. Later the moms threw all the kids out and got in there and bounced around ourselves - that was fun...I haven't done that in a long time.

Anyway, we had a great time! I was glad that Tracy invited us, and Nattie & Tenley seemed to like each other - Nattie even shared her toys! I hope we get the girls together again soon, and I'm looking forward to many many more birthday parties (and bounce houses)!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Diet Coke No No

Here's Tenley using a skill she acquired from Grandma Susie...drinking Diet Coke. Actually she was only trying to drink the Diet Coke but missed her mouth and decided to dump the entire thing in Mom's new red diaper bag instead!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hippo Walk

So Tenley is about 5 minutes away from walking. If she wants to get somewhere fast, she crawls; but otherwise she prefers to grab Mom or Dad's index fingers and take steps. She's still leading with her chest (hasn't quite found her center of gravity) so I think it will be a couple weeks before she takes her first solo steps.

Until then, she has her new best friend The Hippo. Jeff and I saw the hippo months ago on sale at Target, but we decided not to get it right then. Grandma Suzie decided it was now time for the hippo & made the purchase! The hippo is really pretty cool: you can ride on him and scoot him along with your feet, or you can push him with the handle and walk behind him and he gobbles up Fisher Price Peek-A-Blocks if you toss them in his path. When we first took him out of the box, she eyed him suspiciously. If we set her on the seat & pushed him she threatened to cry. She was angry that he kept taking her blocks. So we let him hang out in her room for a couple weeks. Jeff and I played with him. We demonstrated how to push him. She remained uncovinced.

However, after assisted toddling all over Grandpa Duke's house and coming home to find her corral was down, she decided to give the hippo a chance. She was not dissappointed! She pushed her new friend back and forth across the living room floor from Daddy to Mommy (who turned it around for her) for a couple hours yesterday, and then again this morning. Her whole face lit up and she squealed with delight as she realized that she was walking by herself.

She's still a little unsteady, so we haven't thrown any Peek-A-Blocks in his path to gobble up, because if he misses she's likely to trip on the block and go down face first into a heap...and there's nothing worse than a hippo wreck in your hall. But all too soon I fear that my days will consist of throwing ever more blocks on the floor to be gobbled by the hippo, and that she will be zooming all over the house trying to get the hippo to gobble the cats. ...and that's fine- because that's what bright blue hippos are for.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Palm Springs Follies

At left: the Serval - common in Africa, weighing 15-30lbs, 41- 61 inches in length, amazing hearing.

At Right: the Caracal- found in India, Asia & Africa, one of the best hunters in the cat family, weighing 35- 50 lbs

Part I

After a late start on Sunday, Tenley and I arrived at Grandpa Duke’s house in Palm Springs to do a few days of house/dog sitting. We spent the afternoon getting groceries and settling in. Ten loves Grandpa Duke’s house because he has alot of floor space and not alot of furniture, so her world was suddenly filled with acres of carpet for crawling and endless pathways for practicing walking while holding on to Mommy’s fingers. Not only that, but there was one of those living breathing stuffed animals to chase around! After dinner I put Ten & Heidi (the pointy dog) in the stroller and we went for a walk around the neighborhood. My late grandparent’s, and now my father’s, house is in the old part of Palm Springs where there are only street lights on major streets, but not in the residential areas. I love walking here at night: you can see so many stars, and the warm desert breeze makes them twinkle; and when I was a child everyone illuminated the palm trees and cactus in their rocky front yards with colored up-lights. It was like walking through an aquarium without the water. After our walk, Ten had a bath and went happily to sleep in James’ Pack-N-Play (on loan as a crib). I made muffins and then headed off to do battle with the wiener dog for space on the 30+ year twin bed with the permanent Roger Schilken dent in it.

Part II

Tenley slept in until 9 on Monday, and after her breakfast we went over to the senior community to see Great-great Aunty Violet. She was asleep when we arrived, so we went into the gathering room of her cottage to hang out until she got up. One of the staff came over to talk to us, and after the usual comments about how cute Tenley is and how old she is, the girl got a quizzical look on her face and said “You didn’t just adopt her from China, did you?” “Yep! She’s been home 11 weeks.” I answered proudly. The girl looked stunned. “Oh my God! She’s real!” she exclaimed. “Very” I responded (knowing that I myself have thought that same thing on several occasions). She looked embarrassed as she explained “We’ve all heard Violet talk about somebody getting a baby from China, and we all just thought...” she trailed off. “You thought she was crazy.” I supplied. I laughed and told her not to worry that Violet was a little off occasionally (when you’re 94 you’re allowed to be) but in this case she was lucid. We had a nice visit and then headed home for a nap and a dip in the kiddie pool.
My nap was interrupted by a phone call from my Aunt Sandra who is in a health care facility in Palm Desert. Seems my Aunty Violet (her mother) called her to say I was in town. So the next thing I knew I was heading over to meet her friend Debbie so I could get baby shower gifts she’s had for me since April, and directions to her facility so I could visit her since we would be in Palm Desert on Tuesday anyway. :::sigh:::

Part III

Tenley woke up early on Tuesday, which fit in well with my plans to be at the Living Desert (www.livingdesert.org) as close to their 9 am opening as possible. We got there with plenty of time to get oriented and head to the giraffe habitat for the 10 am feeding. The giraffes are like Pavlov’s dogs: they ring a bell at 10 am, and the big guys lumber over to the raised platform for treats of apple & carrots which the more than willing guests like Tenley & I place on their long gray tounges. We then headed over to the show, which I was glad was only 30 minutes – and surprised at how much attention Tenley paid to the animals they introduced. She seemed genuinely interested (pointing & grunting) in the Coati (a member of the racoon family), the Serval (whose big ears can hear rodents in their burrows underground) and the Caracal (a member of the mountain lion family). We also strolled around the desert habitat and saw Bat-Eared Foxes, Aardwolfs, Warthogs, Bobcats, and Ocelots.
Tenley fell asleep (rather like the Cheetahs) and we left and headed around the corner to see Aunty Sandy. We had a nice visit with her, and then we headed home for naps. The nice surprise of the day was that Jeff came down to have dinner with us! We headed over to Ruby’s on Palm Canyon which has a nice large patio for dining al fresco – perfect with the mild balmy nights in the lower desert right now. Tenley charmed the nice couple from Cornwall, England at the table next to us, as well as: the lady with the dog by the rail, the gay couple by the window, and the waiter.
Soon it was Wed., and I was packing up the car so we could head home after one more quick visit with Aunty Violet. Aunty Violet was thrilled that we came again, and thrilled that the nice Chinese lady who has the room next to hers was finally able to meet Tenley. The Warrior Princess slept all the way home to Riverside, content in the knowledge that she had conquered the desert.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hop Along Tenley

We put Tenley on this nice brown horse named Dr. Pepper for a quick circle trip. At one year old, Tenley just made it to ride the pony. I got to walk along side of her and help her out on her first horsey ride. She seemed to enjoy it while she was just sitting there. Then the horse started moving. That was a different matter altogether. She was concerned. This was followed by relaxation as she realized this was not too bad. Soon Tenley, being a very busy little girl, felt that this ride was taking too long. Then the "get me off of this thing" melt down occurred.

After the horse ride was done and I took her off the horse, all the tears were gone and she began to charm everyone around her yet again. ;-)
One of the things we did at the fair was find the petting zoo so we could introduce Tenley to a Llama. This llama had other things than petting on his mind as he was busy knocking people over to get the ice cream cone filled with feed pellets. Tenley did really well with the animals and couldn't understand why they wouldn't hold still so she could pet them. She met a llama, several goats, a burro, a large pot-bellied pig and a deer.

Frolickin' At The Fair

On Saturday we took Tenley to the LA County Fair. She was a little "sheepish" at first but seemed to enjoy herself as the day went on. All three of us ate our way through the fair and enjoyed a large amount of people watching! Tenley got to use one of her newest skills, pointing, at the fair. Now if we can just teach her a little tact she will make a much better people watcher.

Catching Up

Mission Semi-Accomplished

My 1st trip to DC was fabulous! I was really sorry that the terrorists ruined Jeff & I's trip there in '01, because there was so much more I would liked to have seen. We did get to Arlington Cemetary where we paid a visit to our friend Todd, who has sadly gone there far too soon. We took a nice little hop on-hop off tour where we drove past the Capitol & White House, and we got off to visit the Lincoln Memorial (where we stood in awe of the Gettysburg Address and wondered why more schools don't take the time to really teach it- and what it meant), and to visit the Vietnam, Korea, and WWII Memorials. I was saddened by the number of names etched into the marble of Vietnam, I loved the humanity of the Korean Memorial, and the granduer of the WWII. On Sunday, we got up bright and early (so as to avoid the crowds at the Black Family Reunion Celebration taking place on the Mall) and went to The Holocaust Museum. Everyone should go at least once. It was heart wrenching and moving, and the only reason I wasn't more emotionally devastated was that I had studied it so much and had seen so many of the images before. However, I was sicked by new horrors that I learned of; and I learned a great deal more about the tragedy that befell so many people. On a lighter note, I had great tapas and the best sangria I have ever met, and I had Ethiopian food for the first time! We didn't get to see Jodi, but we did get Meg packed up and got everything shipped safely back to CA.

Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder

Last week Southern California had the kind of thunder storm you usually only see in the Midwest & East. I hadn't seen one like it since I was In college in Missouri. It was the kind where you hear the thunder rolling and when it breaks over head the whole building shakes. Lightening split the sky in jagged forks and licked at the ground. The rain came in torrents (reminded me of Hong Kong). No one in town slept, and poor Tenley had never been through anything like it. The thunder woke her up three times: she would wail and bury her face in her lovey, and then Jeff or I would go in and comfort her. The first time I went in, right after I picked her up we lost the power (which, by the way, totally freaks me out- too many movies where something bad happens right after that!) and she and I stood swaying in the darkness until the booming stopped. Eventually we closed her window and that seemed to help.

Water Water Everywhere

It had to happen. It happened to #1. It happened to #2 - twice. We're #3...so we were due. On Tuesday afternoon I trotted into the kitchen to make Tenley a little snack and the kitchen floor was covered in water. I checked the sink, but no - it was pouring out from under the base boards. I ran to the front bathroom, and it too was a lake. Ditto on the master bath. We had a slab leak. The pipes in our building are under the concrete slab, and at 40+ years old they're starting to have some issues. The end result was that we had no water in the place for 2 days and they had to rip out our master bath so they could jack hammer the cement and fix the problem. Hopefully we'll get a new shower & floor this week.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

1st Birthday Bash

Today was Tenley’s First Birthday Bash!

The family once again took over Aunty Meg’s house and covered it with streamers and balloons, brought way too much food and ignored my request for no presents!!

Doug & Tina made the trek (and brought salsa & guac...and 5 lbs of chips from LaTolteca- yummy) and we were delighted to see how well James is sitting up now! He also flashed us his winning smile and babbled happily as he made the rounds to all the Aunties and Grandmas in Waiting. My great friend Michelle also made the trek with her husband Joe and their cutie pie Madison- it was very exciting to see Miss Maddie since she was only 3 weeks old at my baby shower...now she’s so big!! She too has a winning smile and it won’t be long before she’s sitting up too and before both she and James are toddling along beside Tenley.

Tenley crawled everywhere, showed everyone how close she is to walking, terrorized the dog, and was entertained for hours by the balloons. Then there was the cake: I was all for giving her an unfrosted cupcake to devour, but Aunty Meg wouldn’t hear of it. I wasn’t sure she would cooperate about grubbing her hands into a big gooey pile of frosting...and she did start out very daintily sticking one or two fingers in and then sucking the frosting off.... but then as you can see by the pictures, she got the hang of it.

She was gifted with savings bonds (college education! Woo-hoo!), cute outfits & pj’s, a book, a super soft new lovey, toys, Gymboree, and a very soft totally cute fleece blanket that she will have to fight Mommy for!

Despite the fact that she only took a 1 hr nap before the party, she was in a really good mood the whole time and seemed to have lots of fun. She was so tired and kept rubbing her eyes and grabbing her lovey, but she refused to have a nap. Finally, she had little baby ADD, and could barely stand up, so we took her home and put our exhausted Monkey Princess to bed- one year older, one day more loved.

Friday, September 16, 2005

"You WILL put that camera down and you WILL go get me some funnel cake!"

Knott's Berry Farm

Tonight we went with our Friends Doug & Tina and their son James to Knott's Berry Farm. Tenley seemed very uninterested and let's face it, we were there so Tina and I could ride a rollercoaster. This had nothing to do with James or Tenley. They are too young to care. However, we were able to get a few cute shots of Tenley. This seems to be her trademark smile. It's cute and that's why we keep posting it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

One Year Old Today

"It's my birthday!!"
"Today I am 1 year old"

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cat Damage

"I've just done something bad to Hobie but I'm real cute and you can't get mad at me!"

"P.S. Hobie wants to know when I'm going back to China?"

Hat Part III

"Why do you insist on putting these ridiculous hats on me? You know I won't wear them!"

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Captivity - Day Two

Saturday, Sept. 10th. Day Two of my captivity by Tenley Warrior Princess. Today her highness decided that 5:15am was a good time to start the day. Breakfast was commanded but my services were not needed as she clearly decided that today was a day to feed herself. I was to be on hand for her amusement and in case she needed to be held after a nasty fall from trying to walk. It was a day of naps and playing all over the house, chasing kitties and going to the mall. Thankfully, today there were no Spaghetti O's. Tenley looks forward to the return of her mommy who cleverly distracted her with sleep and then made a late night escape to another state. I'm sure she will be made to pay upon her return. Lots of hugs and kisses will be required to make amends for mommy's escape and for leaving her with daddy for 5 days.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Uh Oh, Spaghetti O's!

Today, I worked from home and watched Tenley while Michelle is out of town. Lunch time came around and I gave Tenley something new...Spaghetti O's. We thought she might like these so Michelle bought some and we thought we'd give them a try.

Tenley was apprehensive at first but after she had a bite or two she decided these things were all right. I pulled her high chair closer to me while I was at the computer answering some email. She was happily eating when out of nowhere I was hit with a stray Spaghetti O. This was followed by an evil little giggle followed by more flying pasta. When all was said and done, Tenley was covered, I was covered, the cats were covered and the floor was covered with Spaghetti O's.

A friend from work informed me that Spaghetti O's are not food to eat they are food to throw and all kids love them. Next time, I'll wear rain gear!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

DC or Bust

I am running out on my family. I have taken the cash, packed my bags, in the morning I'm heading to the airport with an attractive blonde and I have left my husband and daughter to fend for themselves!

For 4 1/2 days.

The attractive blonde is Aunty Meg, and I'd like to tell you we're heading somewhere where they serve pretty colored drinks with umbrellas and they have a worl-class spa; but we're not. We are heading to Washington DC on a mission.

Our mission, which we have decided to accept, is:
1. Clean out Meg's storage unit
a. Pack up what she wants, donate what she doesn't want.
2. Pack up any items Meg wants from her soon to be ex-condo
3. Ship everything home to CA
4. Fix Adam's wireless network.
5. Pay a visit to our friend Jodi who just gave birth to her 3rd son (after 33 hrs of labor & an emergency c-section when her bladder burst). Jodi could use some help, even if we just corral her older kids & rock the baby so she can get a shower & a nap (Jodi's husband & in-laws are useless).

We are cramming in 1 day of total touristy sight-seeing, because this is the first time I will have visited our nation's capital. I did try to go once before- Jeff & I were supposed to go in Oct 2001... needless to say that didn't happen. I'm also looking forward to visiting some of the local haunts that Meg has talked about so often from when she lived here- plus I'll finally get to meet her cats, see the condo and say hi to Adam!

Jeff will be Mr. Mom and work from home, and Grandma Suzie & Grandma Barbara will be doing a day as well. I think Jeff already has hot weekend plans to go out with Doug , Tina & the Puxter- as well as pay a visit to Uncle Kevin, Tia Lorena & Uncle Kev's mom (who hasn't met Tenley yet).

I'm sure I will have stories to tell when I get back. Until then, I will miss my husband and daughter...and hope that I can turn off my Mom hearing and get 4 nights of deep deep sleep.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Happy Meal Joy

Today, Michelle and I took Tenley out to get some fresh air and go for a walk around the Ontario Mills Mall. After the one mile walk around the interior, we decided we were hungry and Tenley should probably eat too. Due to very tight budget not necessarily to culinary choice, we drove across the parking lot to the McDonalds. We ordered two happy meals for us and a small hamburger for Tenley.

Michelle reached in her bag and then handed Tenley the toy sweeper truck from the meal. What is it about a Happy Meal toy that can make a child smile like they've never seen a toy before in their life. Tenley took a moment to ponder the toy truck, turning it around in her hands. Her mouth was hanging open with the appropriate sense of awe that only a Happy Meal toy can bring. I was struggling to get the camera out of the diaper bag when her whole face lit up and she began banging the truck on the table and speaking harshly with it. Then she started shreaking with glee and waving it around to show everyone her new prize! That's when we got this picture.

After our quick meal Tenley proudly carried her new toy out to the car and played with it all the way home.