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!