Sunday, July 31, 2005
Today we packed up and headed east to Palm Springs so Tenley could meet Grandpa Duke and Great-great Aunty Violet.
It only takes about 45 minutes to get from our house to my Dad’s, and although she was due for a nap, Tenley decided not to nod off until we were on Palm Canyon Drive and were about 5 minutes away. Fortunately she wakes up pretty well, so there was no bitterness when we disturbed her. Actually, she probably thought we had gone back to China because it was well over 100 degrees today and the humidity was really high for the normally arid lower desert.
Dad & I are both cold blooded and reptile like so his house is always fairly warm which caused Jeff to break out in an immediate sweat but didn’t really bother me and certainly didn’t bother Tenley who only saw miles of unexplored carpet to crawl on and a doggy to chase.
We all sat on the floor and watched Tenley mangle the vertical blinds and crawl after Grandpa Duke’s Dachshund Heidi who really wanted to sniff and lick her but was startled by Ten’s loud noises and quick movements. After my Dad marveled at how long and skinny she was and how fast she scoots & crawls we all packed up and headed to the Senior Home my Great-great Aunty Violet lives in.
Aunty Vi is 94 and looks pretty darn good, and still has most of her faculties on most days. She’s been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first Great Grand-Daughter in the family, and when she called my Dad this morning and he told her she would see the baby today, she thought he was just pulling her leg. So she was overjoyed when we actually showed up with Tenley, and kept saying over and over how beautiful and smart she was. The only thing that was disappointing to her was that some of her friends were out to lunch (literally) and would miss seeing her. (There was one nice gentleman who was out to lunch in the figurative sense, as he cheerfully remarked “Oh, a puppy!” upon seeing Tenley crawling on the floor.) Tenley met several of the Seniors that Aunty Violet lives with and their visiting families, and particularly liked one gentleman who is the stereo typical image of a grandfather. After a couple hours we kissed Aunty Violet good bye and promised to send pictures and bring Tenley back soon.
We headed out to lunch, and then took Grandpa Duke back to his house, where he presented us with gifts for Tenley: a couple of gift certificates....and an iPod. Because that’s what every 10 month old needs- her very own iPod.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
The good news about giving birth is that you know this person from the moment that they arrive on the planet and you have some clues about the gene pool in which they are swimming. They also begin their quest for domination with these cute little “wahh” cries and spend their days eating and sleeping. This is not to say that biological Mothers have it any easier, they just get a longer transition period.
The bad news about adoption is that you’ve been handed a small person who has already discovered that they have lungs, and has already begun to develop a personality which you had not a cotton pickin’ thing to do with. They also have definite needs and wants, but no good way of expressing them except by blood curdling scream.
The other half of this equation is, of course, the Mother. For some people, like my childhood friend Lauren, I imagine Motherhood came pretty easily since she contributed substantially to the rearing of her 4 younger brothers. I, on the other hand, feel like I’m in the trash compactor from Star Wars. Being a Mom just does not come easily for me. I’m an only child, so I never dealt with babies or younger siblings, all the children I ever baby sat were at least potty trained, and I’ve spent the last 13 years answering only to myself and pretty much coming & going and doing as I pleased. So a complete loss of freedom and enslavement to a creature I have no experience with and feared for years is a very abrupt change. One which I have moments of anger and resentment over, and then guilt for feeling angry and resentful. This is not to say that I didn’t ask for this, but there’s no good way to prepare for the violent upheaval of your life that a child brings.
Then there’s Tenley. There are moments when I have suspicioned that she may be a minion of the Dark Lord, but I’ll get back to you when I find out. The truth is that Ten is not a bad child, or even a difficult child, but she is a challenging kid. I had hoped for a sweet docile baby, and I got the ever-busy iron-willed Warrior Princess. She knows what she wants, and has no qualms about letting you know of her displeasure when she doesn’t get it. Her temper is quick, and she has the ability to rage for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, at 10 months Tenley has no language skills yet (probably due to the fact that she heard Cantonese for the first 9 months of her life, and now hears only English) or any reasoning skills yet; so despite the fact that you patiently explain to her that Mommy has to do dishes because she has no more clean bottles and that we can play after the dishes are done, she does not sit and quietly babble and play with her toys, instead she screams this deep guttural roar that sounds like a pissed off baby lion. The roar increases in volume the longer you refuse to acquiesce, and becomes punctuated by deep gasps of breath intake and sobs until she is dripping with sweat and choking. This cycle only stops for feeding, napping, and if you are playing with her. I would guess that this desperate need for attention comes directly from a lack of attention in her orphanage – she’s afraid that if you stop paying attention to her, you might never pay attention to her again.
On the upside, Tenley is funny as heck. She has a great smile, and a very cute giggle. After 4 weeks, she has decided that Jeff and I are important: she always looks to see where we are, and there are moments when nothing will do but that one of us holds her. We’re dealing with her tantrums and crazy behaviors better now too, because she’s started sleeping through the night – which means that we are now getting 6-10 hours of uninterrupted rest. She’s been eating cereal for the last 3 weeks, and she’ll start baby food next week – this means that she’s gained some much needed weight and I think she’s gotten taller too. Happily for us she loves the water – both the bath and the pool are favorites of hers, and the bonus is that splashing in the pool for a couple hours wears her out.
While her moods and neediness are ever changing, and her frequent angry screaming fits try my nerves, I know it will get better...and the truth is that I love her dearly and wouldn’t trade her for all the world.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Our family loves to get together and sit around eating and talking. We'll use almost any excuse. So this last week, Auntie Meg rounded up the family and had everyone over for a BBQ to celebrate: the birth of Sarah (July 4), Mary's pregnancy (due Jan), Kristy's pregnancy (due March), Vikki & Kipp's purchase of a new house, and the arrival of our Little Empress.
Tenley finally met all the menbers of our extended family that have been anxiously awaiting her arrival for the last year. She got passed around from person to person, and while she was rather stoic to most everyone, she did have big smiles for Aunties Meg & Lisa whom she's already seen & spent some time with. She cheerfully chased Meg's dog Reveille and scooted all over the floor (which eventually turned the front of the cute dress Meg had bought for her quite gray). She ate, took 2 naps, and did really really well considering all the new people and noise.
And then we went home. She ate, had a bath, and then had a 2 hour screaming meltdown. She was so tired, but so wound up and over excited. She refused to be comforted. We thought it might be her teeth, so we gave her some ibuprofin- but it didn't help. We tried a small 4oz bottle, which she ate...and then resumed screaming. Finally, at 11:00 at night we loaded her into the car and drove around town in our pajamas listening to Journey until there was silence from the back seat. We went home around 12:15 and carefully moved the sleeping monkey to her crib, where she mercifully slept until 7:00 am the next morning. And so did we.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Thursday, July 21, 2005
...And into the pool. It was over 100 degrees again in Riverside so Tenley decided to kick back in the pool at Grandma Susie's house. Mommy respectfully declined to be in the picture. The bigger pool is not really Tenley's favorite as all she really wants to do is crawl around in it. We are getting her a smaller kiddie pool so she can crawl around and splash to her heart's desire.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Tenley’s 1st playdate was with Amanda while we were in China, and she was the first baby Tenley evidenced any interest in. Amanda is a much sweeter soul who has little interest in sitting up, and none in crawling since she can roll anywhere she’d like to be. Unfortunately for her, Tenley is like a baby bulldozer and has this tendency to plow over Amanda and anyone else (including us) who might be in her path. Gaynor refers to her as “Tenley: Warrior Princess”- which is oh so appropriate, and I’m only sorry I didn’t think of it first!
Scott & Gaynor have a great house up on a hill in a gated “stepford community” that has a design reminiscent of what was being built in No. Kansas City in late 1996- which I loved for it’s open feeling and yet still compartmentalized rooms. Tenley loved the plush carpet in the den which she could run her fingers in, I envied the kitchen, and Jeff was trying to figure out if he could sneak the baby grand piano out the door and tow it home behind the Accord. We had a fabulous spread from a nearby deli, and Gaynor made brownies and a yummy coffee cake for dessert.
The best part was meeting Scott & Gaynor’s great families, and seeing the babies together again at home. Joe & Sue who were also in 104 came and brought their 2 beautiful older daughters and their new sister Katie. It was so interesting to see the girls together and see all the things about them that were so alike ...and all the things that were so different. I look at Lauren and wonder what they’ll all be like in 3 years- and I hope we’re all still together so I can find out.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
It was for this very reason that Grandma Susie’s eyes lit up when she saw the Jump-A-Roo. Unlike the old Johnny Jump-Ups that attached to doorframes and caused children endure a variety of injuries as they bounced off the door frame like a pinball, the Jump-A-Roo is a free standing gadget with a seat and covered springs that allows little bounders to jump until their heart is content without the fear of a concussion as the door molding crashes down on their head. Given Tenley’s desire to stand and get her groove on, Grandma Susie rushed out and purchased one and brought it over.
Jeff accomplished the set-up, and when our little monkey awoke from her nap, we plunked her in it. We lowered it so her little feet could touch the ground, and she was happy to be in a supported standing position. She checked out the toys attached to the seat frame, but then seemed at a loss. So, I grabbed the sides of the seat frame and gently bounced her a few times. She got it....and then spent the next 30 minutes happily bouncing on her own. The only time she stopped was when she was stunned by the pretty lights on the detachable play tray, and when she accidentally bonked her head on the kangaroo on said tray.
With a little luck, the Jump-A-Roo will keep Tenley entertained long enough for Mommy to wash her bottles, and she’ll never know that her little legs & ab muscles are getting a workout that any supermodel would envy.
Tenley's newest feat is to stand on her...well, feet. She just loves to grab onto the sides of her playpen and pull herself up. The problem here is that babies learn to stand but cannot sit down yet so they don't know what to do. Tenley knows, she screams. You either have to pick her up or help her sit down so she can do the whole thing all over again. This child is dying to walk. She still doesn't crawl properly but is almost there. I imagine that the leap from crawl to walk will be a very short one. And then this very active and curious child will be mobile. God help us!
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
She's in her play area babbling contentedly at the cats and banging her keys against the floor.
That's where she's been since 12:30.
I had hoped a nice visit playing with Auntie Meg would wear her out, and it did... for 45 minutes. However, if she follows last night's pattern she'll go to sleep somewhere around 3, and not wake up until after 9 am. Which at least enables one of us to get 6 hours of sleep in a row.
The really funny thing about this is that just 2 months ago, I routinely stayed up until 2 or 3 and then didn't wake up until after nine, and I wasn't tired at all!! Maybe that's because my days consisted of leisurely running a few errands, painting the Disney Princesses on Tenley's closet and then having a nice little snooze until Jeff got home around 6ish and we began the "what do you want for dinner?" negotiations. Now my days involve trying to find activities to entertain someone barely 2 feet tall and with a vocabulary consisting only of grunts. At 10 months she doesn't have a long attention span; so my limited repertoire of peek-a-boo, itsy-bitsy-spider, patty cake and this little piggy is going to have to grow. My only respite comes when Sesame Street is on because like all children, she is riveted by Elmo. When she takes her minimal naps I load bottles, boil water to have on hand for bottles, and do dishes. If I'm lucky I can squeeze in an e-mail... generally to another more experienced parent for suggestions of other activities or advice on how to get her on a decent schedule. By the time she's finally in bed I no longer have the energy to paint my toes, download music, watch "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law" or whatever it was I used to do until 3.
Well, I've now used up my 15 minutes of Tenley entertaining herself, so It's time for me to climb back into her corral and begin banging stacking cups together until it bores her to sleep. Then maybe I can sleep. I hope.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Aunt Megan came home from a trip today and drove right to our house to meet Tenley. Tenley was very happy to meet her and was more than happy to try to take her sunglasses, earrings and necklace. Aunt Megan was very happy to jump into the pen with Tenley and play for quite a while.
Monday, July 11, 2005
A caged and tired little monkey known as Tenley peers out of her entrapment and wonders "if I make cute faces at them will they let me out?"
The SuperYard turns out to be a Super purchase. It creates a nice environment for Tenley to play in and allows the cats to stick their paws through the holes and grab Tenley's toys. She doesn't appreciate that much. We're thinking of having a sign made that says "Don't Feed the Monkey"
Tenley has the Fisher-Price stacking rings that go on the post like most of us had as kids. She can't seem to figure out how to put those rings on that post but she figured out right quick if she swings this feather around, Beeps will chase it around and make Tenley giggle.
This is Tenley meeting her Grandma Barbara and her Great-Grandmother Loveta.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
In our house there are three cats and two servants. Now that the little empress of China has moved in, the cats adopted her as royalty and now there are three cats, the little empress and two servants. The oldest cat, Smudge, only cares for chicken or turkey but little else in the people food arena. The middle cat, Hobie, doesn't care for people food at all. The youngest cat, Beeps, thinks she is a seagull. This cat will eat anything, preferably off of your plate. So we always call it "Defending Your Dinner." Beeps will climb up to where you are eating and paw at your fork, spoon or plate in an effort to get what she wants.
Tonight, as you can see in the picture, Tenley got to play her first round of Defending Your Dinner. Although it was a bottle with formula in it, Beeps saw no reason that she shouldn't be allowed to share some of that. She perched right on the side of the crib and occassionally stuck out the paw of death to make a grab for the bottle. At one point she stood on my hand and tried to come over to Tenley for a more direct assault.
It will be a more interesting game once Tenley is eating solid food. Until then, I think Tenley has the upper hand in this round.
Today after a nice breakfast, Tenley slept for 4 hours. Michelle took this opportunity to have a nap herself. I was passed the tired point and could not sleep even when I tried. So when Tenley awoke I was there to change her and feed her so she could start playing again. After Michelle got up we took a nice walk outside in the sunshine so our bodies could get used to the fact that it was daytime and not nighttime.
After a quick trip to Target, in an effort to keep Tenley awake, we came home to bath time. Tenley loves the bath although because she cannot sit up perfectly yet she can't splash as much as she would like. So we brought out the bath duck. This was the perfect size for little bodies that need to be cleaned and like to splash. She immediately felt more comfortable and splashed so much that daddy had a bath too!
Bath time over, it was time for dinner and sleeping. We'll see if she makes it through the night or not. The search for sleep continues.
Today Mommy & Daddy took me to my first breakfast at Ruby's. It was very cold inside but the silverware was fun to throw on the ground. I met a nice waitress named Keleigh. She took this picture of my family. Now that breakfast is over maybe I should let Mommy and Daddy sleep a little. Nah!!
Our first night home was indeed a long one. Tenley fell asleep around 11pm and we finished up a few things and hit the bed at midnight. 2:30am on the dot that kid was up and ready to go. She showed no signs of sleep and had an absolute fit of the screaming variety if you tried to get her to sleep. At one point, I think around 5am, she was just asleep and I rocked her for a few more minutes before setting her in her crib. The second her head hit the mattress she started screaming again. Finally Michelle and I decided we were up and we would just wait to see when little miss busy pants would hit the wall and crash hard. Little did we know what we were up against.
Everything is so new she just doesn't want to miss anything. She was so tired that she would just sit glassy eyed and stare off into space. If you even tried to hold her or make like you were going to lay her down she would start screaming again. Then she was off playing again. Food didn't help it only seemed to fuel her for another few hours.
Finally around 7am we decided since we were up we would go to breakfast. Tenley fell asleep in the car on the way there but stayed awake through our breakfast and even ate some rice cereal. On the way home, after a little protest about being in the carseat, she fell asleep again. This time it seemed like she was out for good. I carried her in the house and put her in the crib and apart from a few moments of stiring, she is still out. We will see how long this lasts.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
We are home! What an interesting journey it was too. 45 mins of making friends with all the surrounding passengers by screaming before the plane ever took off, then the Benadryl kicked in and she was out. 8 hours later she awoke, had a bottle and looked to be wide awake for the rest of the flight. Great. But then while playing on the floor she dropped back off to sleep for another 3 hours. That was great. Then woke up about an hour and a half before the flight ended and then fell asleep again as we landed. Strange trip. Everyone was very nice about it and no one complained.
We had family meet us at the airport where Tenley met her Grandparents and Great Grandparents. Then it was off on the long drive from LAX to Riverside. One thing though, Tenley had never been strapped into a carseat before. This was going to be fun. Naturally about 10 mins into the drive she registered her complaints. This was followed by sleeping for most of the way home. She woke up in the terrible traffic of the 91 Freeway and pretty much let us know about her displeasure the rest of the way home.
Home. What a fabulous place. Who would have thought that 3 weeks could seem like 3 years. Tenley took to her new environment with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. There was carpet to scoot all over, tile to feel and cats to chase. As far as we know Tenley has never seen any animals before but she seems enthralled by the cats. They move independently and make sounds. They are the best toys she has ever seen. For their part, the cats are very tolerant of Tenley so far. We are watching the progress closely. The best part is when one of the cats lays down on the floor and Tenley spots them. Off she goes in her fastest scoot to grab a tail or to just stare them down. It is hysterical. I foresee many funny posts about cats and Tenley in the coming months.
So the Quest For Tenley is over. A few minor paperwork items are left but the quest itself is at an end. What now you ask, The Taming of Tenley! Check back as we will be blogging daily about the antics of our precious daughter and her unshakeable will of iron. Stay tuned!
After a good night's sleep, a bottle, bath and new outfit, Tenley was ready to tackle her day. That of course began with playing with the hotel slippers. We went down and had some breakfast and now we are getting ready to check out and go to the airport for the long journey home. Next Stop America!!
Friday, July 08, 2005
We have fled Guangzhou and arrived in Hong Kong at last. Our train trip down was very nice and uneventful although getting to the train station was quite the brouhaha. Our train was at 3:45 pm so we were told we should leave by 2:15pm. Our bad, we assumed we would have a car or bus so we were not concerned. Turns out that we were taking the China Hotel shuttle and it left exactly at 2:15pm while we were checking out. We jumped in a Taxi with Philip, one of the China Team members, and sped off to the train station...for exactly 30 seconds. That was when we hit Guangzhou traffic. Luckily Philip, being Chinese, was able to give play by play driving directions to the taxi driver. The drive there was slower than LA traffic on the 91 freeway.
We finally got to the station, hired a couple of on the spot porters for our massive amounts of luggage and ran for our train. The line for customs was huge and Philip and our on the spot porters were not allowed to go into that area because they had no tickets and no passports. That left Michelle and me to carry Tenley, two huge duffle bags, two rolling carry-on bags, our backpacks, the extra bag and the stroller through customs and to the train. What a mess.
We got through customs ok, and then on to the train waiting area. Once there we were told we could check our luggage so I went over to the check-in desk and was told to take my bags on the train. By the time I came back Shel had made friends with a nice lady from Hong Kong who offered to help us. She went to the desk and argued with the people there. As it turns out, we were too late to check our luggage. She still was very helpful and carried the stroller down the escalator to the train platform for us. We didn't get her name but she helped us out so much just with the stroller.
The train was very nice. We were in Premium class and it showed. Tenley was not too happy about having to sit down for the ride but had some toys to play with and did ok. She finally fell asleep with about an hour left to go. The train got to Hong Kong around 5:45pm and thank God, people here speak english. The taxi driver was exceptionally nice and got us to the hotel post haste. The staff at the hotel was fabulous and we were put into our suite where Tenley promptly christened the room by having 3 poopy diapers in the space of 15 mins. I think she had been saving up for a special occassion. The first even involved a wardrobe malfunction that caused a change of clothes. We know our friend Tina will feel our pain on that one.
After a little unpacking, room service was ordered and we are beat. We leave for the airport tomorrow afternoon and then on to LAX. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, is The Box. Not quite as ominous as The Monolith from 2001, but should probably be said with the horror as The Blob. It looks innocent, right? Apparently not to the Chinese govenment. Here's the story:
When we got to Hong Kong the 1st time Jeff got a nice little cold. Which he shared with me. So by the time we got to Guangzhou, I was sick too. Sadly, I didn't pack too well in the drug department, and I had too little cold medicine for 2....and we were getting Tenley on Monday and we didn't want to share with her.
So I commandeerd Sarah on the China Team to take me to a pharmacy. This turned out to be a real pharmacy, so while I couldn't get Tylenol Cold or Robitussin, I did pick up a couple extra asthma inhalers and some Zithromax. I also got some Chinese cold capsules and some herbal cough medicine that came in these funny glass vials that you had to suck with a tiny straw. They helped a little, but it wasn't doing the trick. I was going to have to resort to desperate measures.
Knowing that California was 1 day behind us, and that Megan had a Fed Ex discount, I called Mom and asked her to hit the Sav-On and have Meg grab some of Ten's Link-A-Doos (which I forgot to pack) and ship the whole mess to us at the China Hotel! With one little caveat: you can not ship "medicine" to mainland China, so the contents of the box would have to be listed as something else. This is the point where the whole thing goes to hell.
The nice idiots at Fed Ex told Meg to list the medicine as "mineral products". This little care package weighed in at three pounds, so Meg wrote 3lb in the total weight, and guessed the value was about $18. Off it went!! Now, judging by the previous to packages we sent to China, it should have arrived on Thursday June 30, or Friday July 1st at the latest.
Except that the Chinese government guys can't read. Somehow they read Meg's "3lb" as 321lbs, which would be 146 Kilograms...and of course something that heavy couldn't be worth only $18. So the customs goons flagged down my box and sent me a 3 page fax (in Chinese) telling me that I needed to write down the contents of the box in Chinese, tell them what company I was with, what company the box was for, and re-valuate it. I was more than happy to do it, but I don't speak, read, or write Chinese.
This would now require the help of the China Team. First I tried to get Jackie (who is a Buisness English major) to help me out. That didn't go so well. So Jackie & Mary pawned my little problem off to Philip. Philip was helpful, but by now it was Saturday and there would be no one at Fed Ex until Monday. Philip finally got a letter written explaining that my little 6x8 box only weighed three pounds and contained cold medicine, baby toys and a personal letter. This was faxed on Tuesday. On Wednesday, my Fed Ex caseworker called Philip and said that the customs goons wanted to see copies of my prescriptions, or a note in Chinese from my doctor. Philip called her back and explained that these were not prescription drugs. That was ok, but now the customs goons wanted a letter listing the ingredients of each drug in the box in Chinese....sure, no problem...if Philip had nothing else to do, and if I knew exactly what was in the box!!!!! But I didn't send it!!!!! I eventually got online and found the ingredients to Halls coughdrops, Robitussin, and Chloraseptic...and somehow Philip figured out how to write dextromorthorphan in Chinese. Now, I called my case worker to impress upon her the urgency of a decision- it was already Thursday morning and we were leaving Friday afternoon, so if they couldn't get it to us by noon Friday, I wanted it returned to sender. At 5:18 on Thursday night, Philip found out that the customs goons had cleared my package and it would be delivered by 12 noon on Friday.
At 10:27am it arrived, and I sprinted downstairs to fetch my cold medicine, despite the fact that my cold was pretty well done days ago.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Tonight was the farewell dinner at a local seafood restaurant. It was very nice and the food was pretty good. The babies were all dressed up and everyone was in a good mood. Probably because they are all going home tomorrow. Norman spoke for a bit and then the Martin and China team gave out gifts to all the babies. Dinner came next and was the usual BBQ Pork, Fish, Veggies, Goose, Jellyfish, Rice, Soup and these really yummy pastry things that you dipped into a creamy sweet sauce.
After dinner was mostly done, Martin and the team went around table by table for the Rice Wine toasting. After several shots of this stuff at each table Martin was sufficiently hammered. Then the singing began. Jimmy sang and really nice song for us, the China team sang a song and then Martin sang a song for us. One of the gentlemen on the trip with his family noted at this point "Great, I flew 10,000 miles to hear a drunk Chinese man sing a song." It was really funny.
At this point it was getting late for the kids and very, very loud in the room. A few families left to go back to the hotel to begin the long night of packing. The rest of the families stayed and I'm sure had a wonderful time at the farewell dinner.