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 ( 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 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 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.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

9 1/2 Weeks

Right now in China it’s half past noon on Monday September 5th. In approximately 3.5 hours the families in groups 105, 106 & some P’s will have their lives forever altered when they have their Gotcha Day and are united with their Chinese daughters.

It’s hard to believe that we were there meeting Tenley not quite 10 weeks ago – not even 3 months yet... because to us it seems forever ago. This got me to thinking about how much has happened and how far we’ve come in this short amount of time.


We were handed Tenley shortly after 3 pm on Monday June 27, 2005.

She was 9 months old.
She had 1 tooth.
She was filthy, smelled bad and had never had a real bath.
She had very little hair in general, a bald spot in the back, and they had shaved the front 2 inches of her hairline where her bangs should be (we have no idea why).
She could barely sit up on her own.
She couldn’t crawl, but she could scoot army style with amazing speed.
She weighed only 16 lbs, her ribs stuck out, her legs were like little sticks, and the skin on her knees and elbows was really dark because when undernourished the skin will grab on to anything it can.
She wore size 3-6 month clothes.
The only “food” she would willingly eat was formula. She had no idea what to do with Cheerios & biter biscuits.
We had to introduce the sippy cup to her to get fluids in her, because the only thing she’d ever had from a bottle was formula, she would choke on water or juice because it was so thin and if you took the bottle away she’d go ballistic because she thought you were taking away food.
The orphanage report said she was active, and it was a huge understatement. If she let you hold her you had better be standing and preferably moving; but she’d rather just be on the floor moving herself.
The SWI report also said that she was a deep sleeper- this was true. What it didn’t tell you was that you had to get her to sleep, which she would fight with everything she had including kicking, screaming, backbending- the works.
When terrified (like the day they handed her to us) she would go silent and her legs would go completely stiff.


Today is Sunday, Sept. 4th. Tenley has been with us for 69 days.

In 9 days Tenley will be 12 months old!
She has 4 teeth...and she knows how to use them.
She’s clean, smells like Gerber Grins & Giggles, and loves the bath.
Her hair is growing, the bald spot has grown in, and her real hairline has started appear in front.
Not only does she now sit up confidently on her own, but she crawls, pulls up, stands, takes steps with help, and is starting to stand up without holding on to anything.
She now weighs almost 19 lbs. and has grown 2 inches.
She’s starting to outgrow size 6-9 month clothes... several of which are rompers that no longer fit because she has developed proper chubby baby thighs.
She still likes formula (preferably mixed with barley baby cereal), loves goldfish, puffs, and biter biscuits; and has given the finger to baby food- she wants big people food.
She now knows how to use a sippy cup with a no-spill valve, and drink from a straw. Now if we could just get her to hold the sippy cup....
She remains a deep sleeper, and now knows when her bedtime is and usually goes down without a fuss. The rest of her schedule is ...flexible
She waves hello
She smiles and giggles lots.
She babbles Ma-ma-ma & Da-da-da...and has started associating them with the correct people
She loves to be tossed in the air.
Kitties and doggies are very exciting.
Swimming is a favorite activity.
She wakes up happy.
Loves music (reggae, bluegrass, punk, 50’s rock) loves to dance.
She’s a US citizen and has a SSN & a e-mail address.

There’s something new everyday. She’ll be walking in no time, and it will be interesting to see what her first real word is- she understands alot of what is said to her.

I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months. I feel like I was hit by a truck- but it also seems like Tenley has been here forever. Those nice people in China have no idea what’s about to happen to them. It’s been quite the rollercoaster ride already, and I can’t wait to see what’s at the top of the next hill.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Pi R Squared, Cornbread R Yummy

Today was one of a very few rare and wonderous days that have happened since we have come home:

Today, I was my daughter's favourite person. Today I was the person she wanted to hold her. There could not be enough hugs, kisses or cuddles in this day... as long as they came from me. Daddy was still wondrous and amazing and loved... but she still reached for me, and then wanted me to hold her for more than a moment.

These days don't happen often yet, and other Moms tell me that there will come a day when I will wish I was not her favourite person...but for now I revel in them. Having her sit in my lap snuggled against me for 10 minutes is a miracle, and feeling her snuggle into me and fall asleep as we rock in the glider is 20 minutes of heaven. These are the moments that make you want to be a parent, and that make the sleepless nights and and temper tantrums worthwhile.

The only negative thing I can say at all is that I think my baby may not be feeling so hot, since she's had a bit of a runny nose and hasn't had much of an appetite today. Hopefully it's nothing more than some seasonal allergies that a few tiny doses of Benadryl will help her through. Her appetite did pick up this evening at Soup Plantation when she discovered cornbread which she began wolfing down as though she had not seen food in a week.

3 Cornbread, a bath and 10 last blissfull minutes of snuggling and swaying in the dark and my little Warrior Princess sleeps. Tomorrow I may be chopped liver, but today I was the One and Only: her Mommy.