Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Tenley and I spend a quiet New Year's Eve at home while Mommy was at work. The biggest change in Tenley this past year has been her language development. Along with that has come the negotiation skills. This part cracks me (and Tenley) up on a regular basis. Take tonight for example: Tenley loves her chewable vitamins and is constantly asking to have one. I keep reminding her that they are only taken once a day and she has already had hers for today. She can have another one tomorrow.

At this, she smiled at me and said "Okay, have two!" I laughed again and told her no it's only one a day. She looked at me and finally said, "Hmmm, okay just one more." Then she laughs like a loon and we both crack up.

Another example comes from the anger department: today she got mad about something with her train and she picked up the whole set and threw it across the room. After I told her that her actions were totally unacceptable and that if she continued to throw her toys in anger we would throw them in the garbage, the tears really started. In between the sobs came "no throw toys away...pease no throw away." It was really cute and I had to remember that I was trying to explain that this was not good but I was also trying not to laugh at her.

She really is the most amazing little person. I can't wait to see what 2007 will hold for her and I can't wait to continue seeing life through her eyes.

Happy New Year from Jeff, Michelle and Tenley!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Birthday Kim

This is Kim. I met Kim back at the end of March because she and her son Jaxon previewed & joined Gymboree on the same day Tenley and I did. Tenley was immediately drawn to her because she’s Japanese and to a 1.5 year old an Asian is an Asian and Kim seemed nice and looked familiar to her. As a bonus, she had Jaxon and Tenley loves little boys.
So Kim and I talked and traded phone numbers and set up play dates. We got insanely lucky: Tenley and Jaxon genuinely like each other and enjoy each other’s company…and so do Kim and I.

In the past 9 months I have learned that Kim loves to knit and is quite an accomplished knitter (I got a cute little magenta clutch for Christmas & she’s knitting Tenley a sweater). In this respect I have also learned that she is foolishly optimistic because she is trying to teach me to knit…this may be why she shares my love of margaritas. She loves animals, likes Thai and Mexican food, shoes, make-up, and should not be left unattended in Nordstrom. She’s great fun to talk to, and as a NoCal transplant she can tell me about places I vaguely know, and some I’ve never heard of but might now like to see. Kim majored in fish and volunteered at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We both love to travel, eat, shop, watch movies, and occasionally escape our children. In a wonderful and bizarre twist of fate, we both married geeks that get along famously.

30 years ago today, Kim was “gifted” to her parents. In 2006 she was my late birthday present. I desperately wanted a Mom friend to hang out with and kvetch about Tenley to on the bad days. I wanted Tenley to have a friend to play with. In all the parenting books and magazines they make it sound so easy: just go hang out at your neighborhood park every day at the same time and you’ll make a friend! But I found it didn’t work that way, and I prayed very hard for a Mom Friend- and my prayers were answered- I got Kim.

We both have Forever Friends: people like Aunty Meg who have been in our lives forever and hold their own special untouchable place (partly because they know too much!) and who are more family than friends. But now we also have each other- a best friend who understands why you’re describing the contents of your child’s diaper in detail over dinner and thinks nothing of it.

Happy 30th Birthday Kim! Thank you for being my friend.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mucho Mouse

It’s been a banner week for Tenley: Disneyland 3 times in 2 weeks. First there was the Disney Family Christmas Party last Tuesday. It was, by far, the easiest of the 3 visits owing mostly to the fact that it was capacity controlled and there were no waits for anything.

Last Sunday we met up with three other families from our China travel group for our annual trip to D-Land to celebrate our girl’s birthdays. Normally we go in the fall (when all their birthdays actually occur), but due to scheduling conflicts we pushed back to December. Considering it was a Sunday during the Holidays, the parks were less crowded than I expected. Still, getting around with four 2 year olds, a 4 year old, a 5 year old, and 1 nine year old is like herding cats. Add to that the fact that Jeff and I were late and we spent 20 minutes playing “marco polo” on our cell phones trying to catch up with the group. We were able to get on several rides and saw one of the parades over at California Adventure; but mostly it was just great to see the girls together. It’s so amazing to see how much they’ve grown and changed- and yet are still the same kids- they have a special bond that transcends their time apart. Plus I really love seeing all the families.
Favourite moments from this trip include Gaynor overhearing 2 women in the Monsters Inc. line eyeing our little group of 5 seriously Caucasian adults, all the Fortune Cookies, and 1 blond haired biological child, and whispering “…I don’t know. Well, some of them must be adopted…” Gee, ya think??? There were also the 2 women in line for Dumbo (appropriate) who asked 1) were they all adopted? and 2) were they related? What- like someone had given birth to quadruplets and each family took 1?? Gaynor & I laughed so hard we almost shot Diet Coke out our noses.

Then Kim talked me into going with she & Jaxon on Wednesday. There really wasn’t any arm twisting involved: Ten loves it and I know what a drag it is to go by yourself. Uncle Kev signed us in and we took the kids to the Playhouse Disney Live show which they both seemed to enjoy in their own ways… Jaxon sat there in wide eyed wonder with his mouth hanging open in awe, and Tenley bounced off the walls and spent most of the show trying to put streamers from the confetti canons on my head. The rest of California Adventure was a bust: missed pictures with the Mouse, Monsters was down, rollercoaster closed, etc., but we went to Land and hit most of Ten’s faves. Kim wanted to ride Pirates, and the line was short, but I think Tenley would prefer to skip that one next time- she spent the ride clinging to me for dear life and burying her face on my shoulder. We arrived at Small World just in time to see all the lights come on, so I got a picture:

After that we rode Buzz Lightyear, bought a balloon & some goodies from the bakery and called it a night.

My most interesting moment in the day came when we sat down at Carnation Café for lunch, and Tenley went into her usual don’t-want-to-sit-down-& eat! Must-bounce-around-and-want-to-run routine. I wasn’t in any mood to deal with it, so I very calmly and very sternly told her that even if she chose not to eat she must sit down and behave or we would not ride Dumbo. She looked at me with huge eyes as if trying to discern how serious I was, and I guess she knew I meant it, because she sobered quickly and sat still and ate her lunch! Hmmm! We’re starting to grasp actions & consequences! Score one for Mom.

It was a good time, and we enjoyed seeing the pretty lights and the reindeer… but if I don’t see Anaheim before March I think I’ll be ok. April would be ok too.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Turkey, Monsters & Santa- Oh MY!

It’s been a busy couple weeks around here.

First there was the fabulous Turkey Day feast at Don & Betsy’s. In keeping with our cruise, we ate our weight in food. There was all the usual- the bird, the potatos, rolls, stuffing, green bean casserole, veggies & cranberries; but there was also waldorf salad, a fabulous cheese plate, and a pumpkin gingerbread trifle on the dessert table. We hung out until Ten was tired and then we headed for home to lay on the couch like pythons in the sun. Jeff actually spent the whole weekend laying on the couch because it was his turn to get sick this year.

Week 1 of December was miserable: first there were the freezing winds that turned Tenley and I into walking tearing sneezing allergy-infested snotballs. It’s so much fun to try to sleep when you can’t breathe. Especially if you’re 2. Add to this Ten’s minor obsession with Monsters Inc. which caused her to figure out that bedtime = monsters come. No matter that the monsters in the movie are friendly, there was still an abnormal number of nightmares. So the Monsters are now on vacation, and we’re working to get her obsessed with something else.

By last weekend my allergies had turned into a fine head cold, so I was wrangling Tenley through a fog. Mercifully, my Mom saved me by taking Ten for a few hours on Sunday because Jeff was at Disneyland all weekend running Candlelight, which included such fun events as: a security guard having a heart attack in the middle of a show, several kids passing out, a kid being rushed to the hospital because he was having complications from an emergency appendectomy he had had 3 days earlier (what were his parents thinking??), Andy Garcia missing his cues and butchering the word “betrothed”, and Disney security refusing to let Hector Elizondo on the property.

This week has been exciting in good and bad ways. On Monday we went to Gymboree and then trotted out to Victoria Gardens to Christmas shop & have lunch with Aunty Meg. On Tuesday, Kim & I took Ten & Jaxon to the charity Cut-A-Thon my Mom’s Club was having at Monkey Dooz. We made the bold decision to have Tenley’s hair cut off into a chin length bob to try to make her thin hair look fuller…and not only did it work, but it looks super cute! Now everywhere we go Tenley flips her new ‘do at people and says “haircut”. After the excitement of a haircut we took the kids to see Santa for pictures.

Our visit to Santa went much better than last years visit. In ‘05 we got the obligatory sitting-on-Santa’s-lap-screaming-bloody-murder shot. This time she ran right in and gave Santa a hug and climbed into his lap. Then she sat there stoicly and forced the uninterested photography elf to tickle her with a feather duster until we got a giggle. I settled for the slightly demonic smile that came with the giggle.

We raced home from Victoria Gardens to pick up Jeff and change our clothes for the Disney Family Christmas party that night. We rendezvoused with Uncle Kev, Tia Lorena, & Miss Alexis for some dinner before heading into the park to accomplish Tenley’s agenda. Dinner was fine, and there was a nice Santa in front of a pretty tree in the lobby of the Grand Californian so we decided to have the girls pictures taken. Six month old Alexis sat on Santa’s lap and stared at him in wide eyed wonder while the photographer & her daddy snapped pictures. Then it was Ten’s turn. And it was a NO. Like a repeat of last year she came unglued and we got this great shot of poor Santa, freaked out Tenley, and Alexis looking at her like “What the f&%!k is wrong with you???” This resulted in the appearance of the lovey which Tenley managed to lose between the GC and Sephora. I was the only one really upset about it – I think it might have been the last lovey she had from the hotel China.

The rest of the evening went much better. It wasn’t crowded at all, and we waited no more than 15 minutes for any ride. Tenley accomplished her Disney itinerary (Dumbo, Rockets, Teacups, Carousel, Small World) without a hitch, and we even went on Peter Pan because the line was so short! (Interesting note: the 15 minute waits were for Space Mountain …and Peter Pan) Alexis & Ten both liked the Christmas Parade and the “snow” on Main Street. After Small World, we said goodnight to K, L &A and took Tenley up to the Princess Fantasy Faire to see the girls.

We found out that Mulan was trading off with Princess Minnie, so we waited for 10 minutes or so so Ten could have her picture taken with Mulan. It was worth the wait. Tenley’s whole face lit up and she ran right to Mulan and gave her a huge hug. Then she stood there smiling and shyly telling Mulan that her name was Tenley and she was 2. Mulan clued into Ten right away and asked her if she was from China too, to which Tenley proudly said “Yeah! China!”. She & Mulan traded big kisses and we called it a night.

Well, Tenley called it a night. She conked out before we reached the freeway. Sadly, Jeff and I were still conscious and stuck on a 4 lane freeway that had been reduced to one lane. Sucked to be us.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

We're Baaaaccck!!

So you’ve been looking at LaFred for the better part of 2 weeks now and probably wondering if we fell off the planet. Nope. Tenley went to Grandma & Grandpa’s in Clovis and we went to Mexico.

Our Vacation

We ditched Tenley and Kim & Zak ditched Jaxon and the parents took off on a well deserved cruise. Eight days of sun, margaritas, and eating our bodyweight in food daily! It was fabulous: no one sat in our laps or wanted to walk up and down the stairs continuously, no one was forced to share their food, and we didn’t hear “no no no no nooooo!” “mine!” “share? some? some?” for over a week. However, Jeff read 4 books, Kim knitted 2 purses, Zak wrote 40 pages of fiction, and I lost track of my nap count. There were also a couple facials, a massage, a mani & pedi, 1 game of bingo, several games of shuffleboard, some sun, 2 or 3 games of gin, a giant coconut monkey filled with pina colada, shopping, and lots and lots of dessert.
The group consensus was that Acapulco was a dive, with the exception of El Zorrito which had beyond excellent food and killer margaritas (never mind that it took us 50 minutes in the humidity to walk there – our guide from earlier in the day had estimated 15- and we were only buoyed by Zak declaring “I think it’s right up here!” at every corner), Ziuhuatenauo was charming, pretty, and (surprise) clean- we would all go there again; we didn’t even bother getting off the ship in Puerto Vallarta- what with the picturesque Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club right at the end of the pier, and a good time was had in Cabo by all.
It was all over way too fast and it has been agreed that we need to do this again…soon.

Tenley's Vacation

Ten went to Camp Clovis to spend 9 days having frosted animal cookies for breakfast & terrorizing poor Charlie. Grandma Barbara says she did really well: bedtime occurred at 8:30 ish every night, an hour or so nap was taken daily, there was a consistently good appetite (despite having a cold), a new jacket and dress were purchased, the potty was sat on many times (but there was no activity), everyone else received assistance with their potty experiences, Charlie was chased, having her own slide to monopolize was bliss, a fine collection of ordinary-everyday rocks was established, she knew to tell people we were in “Messsico”, and she helped Grandma Christmas-cize the house. For the most part she had a good time, but this time she knew right away that we were missing and asked for us daily.

Grandma & Grandpa made the huge sacrifice and braved 6 hours of pre-Thanksgiving traffic to deliver her to us. She was both happy to see us and sad to say good bye to her grandparents. So we called it a success and we’re already plotting our next escape!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sharing the Lovey

The other day LaFred was having a small nap on one of the couch pillows. She was being cute so Michelle decided to snap a couple of quick pictures. Tenley saw this and decided, all on her own, to share her lovey with 'Fred. She told Michelle, Shhhh, Fred was sleeping and then she went over and put her lovey on Fred. It's very cute.

Everyone seems to be getting along and Tenley is bonding with LaFred since they are both the baby. Now Tenley has her own cat to grow up with.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Today I was sitting at work when my cell phone beeped. It was a text message from Michelle with a picture of a small kitty attached with a note that said “Isn’t she cute, can I have her?”

Now any of you who know Michelle knows that there isn’t an animal on the planet that she does not want to take into our house and make our pet. The easiest of these animals is the cat. We already have three cats. In Michelle’s world three, four or five…it’s all the same. While I love the cats as well, I think with three cats we were set. So I called Michelle and asked where she was. “The pet store with Kim” she replied. I immediately told her to leave the store and don’t look back. She had other ideas and started extolling the virtues of the cute little kitten she had just seen…and held???

Good grief, she had already held it before I called her. I knew then I was fighting a losing battle and my only position could be NO! I tried to tell her that three cats were plenty and we definitely didn’t need four. What if the other three don’t like her? What if she doesn’t like them? What if Tenley didn’t like her? (Okay, that was a stupid question)

We hung up with the understanding that they would leave the store. About 10 minutes later my phone rang again and it was Michelle telling me that Zack had told Kim that she could have a new cat! I said to Michelle “wasn’t it nice that Kim had a loving and understanding husband” and then told her to once again leave the store and not look back. Unfortunately she was still standing close to the cage and the little kitten was meowing loudly at Michelle. Now some of us hear “Meow, meow, meow” and it’s really cute. Michelle hears “Pick me up, love me and I will love you back and purr in your ear.”

We hung up again. Now I started to think about it and my co-worker, Allison, was not helping matters either since she is a cat person too. When next my phone rang it was Michelle telling me what time she had to work tonight and that I should meet her to pick up Tenley and the new cat. I told her absolutely not! She said ok, she would just take the cat home and it would be in the bathroom when I got there.

By this time, my defenses were low and I was out of excuses so I told her to get the cat. So like the dutiful father, I picked up Tenley at 5pm then she and I went home and played with the cute new kitty.

What can I say, I’m a pushover and a sucker for a cute face!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Kung Pow Chicken

I know we’re a little behind, but it took us a few days to recover from the Halloween festivities.

Last Sunday we met up with Doug, Tina & James; and Caryn, Tim & Hannah for the annual trip to Mickey’s Halloween Treat at California Adventure. Jeff had to work at D-land in the morning, so my in-laws politely gave Tenley and I a lift so we would only have one car there when the merriment ended in the double digit hours of the night. This gave us several hours to eat and play before donning costumes and trouping to treat stations in the park next door.

It was a grand idea, but Disneyland turned out to be incredibly crowded so we only managed to get on the carousel, the rockets, the teacups and Buzz Lightyear. Tenley also got a nice nap in allowing Jeff and I to have a leisurely lunch at the Hungry Bear.

When D,T &J and C,T &H arrived we all hooked up at Café Orleans, had a great dinner and then made our way through the gathering parade crowd to the Baby Center to change diapers & put on costumes. So we went in with 3 kids, and came out with Elmo, Cinderella and a chicken. On our way out we stopped at the giant Mickey Mouse pumpkin in Town Square to snap a few pictures.

We let the kids run across the plaza and into DCA. While we waited for the rope to drop and Tim changed into his Genie costume, Tenley the Chicken ran all over with her dad chasing her, and James/Elmo took a header and bit his tongue causing us to seek out light and something to staunch the flow of blood.

Eventually we were all fixed up and we headed into the Hollywood Backlot area to begin the marathon crusade to help Doug and Tina acquire enough candy so that they wouldn’t have to buy any to hand out on Halloween night. We only remained with our group for 2 treat stations because Tenley, as usual, had other ideas. Last year, Ten had just started walking and as long as we let her walk she didn’t care what we did. This year, she knows what the rides are and she realized that there are live bands and dance floors. It began with an incessant demand to ride the Monsters Inc. ride- which she loved. By then we had lost everyone, so we set out on our own- this event was about Tenley, not us, so we decided that whatever she wanted to do was fine.

We ran around A Bug’s Land and got some candy before Tenley saw her first band and ran for the dance floor like a moth to a flame. Our little chicken ran right into the middle of the crowd and joined right into the “Hokey Pokey” (which she did remarkably well at). And then she got into “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” with a little help from the dance hosts. After shaking her little fluffy butt to the “Purple People Eater” we herded her along. Of all the nights not to have the video camera.

Through the magic of cell phones we were able to play Marco Polo with the rest of the gang and meet up on our way to Pacific Wharf . Tenley was utterly fascinated with Tim in the Genie costume and would follow him and wave at him wherever he went. We ditched our group over on the Paradise Pier because Tenley was in awe of the Sun Wheel and kept asking “Ride it? Ride it?” Jeff thought it would be fun to go on the swinging cars, so for the sake of the Kung Pow Chicken I said “ok”. Now if you’ve never seen the Sun Wheel, I should explain that it’s a ginormous ferris wheel with a sun motif built in…and half the cars (the ones that are attached to the sunbeams) slide along them as the wheel goes around. Ugh. I rode with my head buried on Jeff’s shoulder and Tenley pronounced it “scary” on the second time around. King Neptune’s carousel was not scary and earned a “Whee! More??” She wanted to go on the Jumping Jellyfish, but the line was awfully long, and she was really disappointed that we couldn’t go on the rollercoaster.

The only consolation was that the kid has figured out what candy is, and was also happy to go and search for more. We didn’t actually make it to all 13 treat stations which was fine with me because a) there was more than enough candy for a family of 5 or 6 – and I had already unloaded a bunch of it to Doug & Tina, and b) the nice Disney people were being more than accommodating of my love of Tootsie Rolls and Twix.

Possibly the best moment of the night happened as we were making our way out of the park. Ever see a cat chase a flashlight? Picture it with a 2 year old in a chicken costume. There was a moving light that projected Halloween pictures on the ground in various colors. Tenley saw it and spent a good 15 minutes chasing the pictures on the ground all around a five foot area. Again, where was the video camera??? Jeff did get a 15 sec. film of it on his cell phone, and if we can figure out a way to post it we will.

Tenley stopped to get her groove on to “The Monster Mash” and try out a hoola hoop before we left the Treat. We denied her her very favourite ride at Disneyland- the parking lot tram- and instead opted to walk back to the garage. I had remembered to bring her pjs, so we plucked our chicken and sure enough she was out before we were on the fwy.

Next year, we bring the video camera.

See all the pictures at ...just click on photos!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Tale of the Six Pretzel Fish

The Crime Scene
This morning, Princess Tenley was woken early, taken to fetch visiting Grandma Barbara, and by 11 was back at home running amok while Daddy got ready to go to work and Mommy got ready to take Ten & Grandma Barbara to Village Venture in Claremont.

It was during this, that with her usual lack of spatial awareness, she tripped on her blue snack bowl and spilled 6 pretzel fish. No biggie- but if you don’t pick them up they’ll end up being ground into the carpet, and the 1 survivor will get kicked under the couch where 2 weeks from now it will be “found food” for Tenley to shove in her mouth and cause her dad and I to pry her jaws open to make sure it isn’t money, a rubber band, etc. So in an effort to teach our toddler to be responsible for her actions and to clean up her messes, Daddy called after her and said “Ten, you spilled your fish. Come here and pick them up.” Tenley’s response was to continue what she was doing and to shake her little head as she casually said “no.” He tried again. “Ten, your fish are on the floor- you need to put them back in the bowl.” This time she actually stopped what she was doing to look at him and say “no.” Daddy is the pushover, so Mommy the Evil Authoritarian decided to wade in. “Tenley?” She ignores me. “Tenley! Daddy asked you to pick up your fish. Go put them in the bowl- NOW.” Tenley looked me in the eye, stomped her little foot, and said “NO” and went back to what she was doing. Big mistake.

In a blinding flash of light Mommy the Evil Authoritarian morphed into her stubborn- beyond- reason pale skinned, flame haired Irish ancestors, leapt the kitchen gate, grabbed her by her little arm and said “You do NOT speak to Mommy that way. When Mommy and Daddy ask you to do something, you need to do it!”, then I dragged her to the bowl and said “Now pick up your fish and put them back in the bowl like you were told! We are not going to do anything else until you pick up your fish.”

With that, the lower lip jutted out, the back arched and the 30 minute laying on the floor- kicking- screaming- fist pounding tantrum began.

First there was angry crying and screaming.

Then she decided to try to get Daddy and Grandma to save her. I was proud of them both for telling her “no, I’m not going to cuddle you & save you. You need to pick up your fish.” That produced more tears, fist pounding, and angry roaring.

Her next tactic was distraction. “Wiggles??” “Buzz Lightyear?” “Style?” “Shoes?” “George??” Each of these was asked hopefully, as though we might just want to put in a Wiggles DVD and forget the whole fish thing. But no, each time she was reminded that we were not going to do anything else until she picked up those fish. Cue more wailing and rolling around on the floor in anger.

Sensing that she had done something wrong (although apparently she couldn’t fathom why we were being so mean) she decided to try to use her tears and pitiful state to her advantage. “S-s-sorrrry D-d-daddyyyy” as she crawled over the fish and into his lap. “S-s-s-sorry” Her contrition was spoiled by the fact that as she was hugging Daddy she was trying to get the Lovey out of his back pocket. Daddy hugged her and said, “It’s nice that you’re sorry, but you still need to pick up your fish.” Ack! Foiled again! More angry wailing.

In between bouts of wailing we had tried to play on her sympathies and tell her that the fish were lonely and wanted to be back in the bowl with their friends. We had worked her knowledge of boo-boos by pointing out that they could get stepped on. We pointed out that if left unattended Beeps would eat them. I sang the “Clean it Up” song. George offered to help. Finally we decided to compromise: we would help her put the fish back in the bowl.

The 3 adults sat down on the floor with her, and each picked up one of the 6 wayward fish as we told Tenley we would help her put them away. We told her to pick one up so she could put one in the bowl too. She sat there staring at us. Finally Jeff said, “Ok you can have mine” and he handed her the fish. Which she stuffed into her mouth. We’re all trying desperately not to laugh. Barbara says “Do you want mine?” as Tenley reaches out and snatches the fish and stuffs that in her mouth too. My fish was next. She grabbed 2 more off the floor and stuffed them in. She was determined not to give in- she was NOT going to put those fish back in the bowl like she was told- she would eat them before she put them away!

Unfortunately for Tenley, 5 pretzel fish was her little mouth’s limit. Faced with the inevitable, she finally picked up the 1 remaining fish and dropped it in the bowl. Mommy, Daddy and Grandma cheered like she had just found the cure for cancer. Tenley smiled and laughed sending a spray of salt and crumbs over the former scene of such drama.

The fish finally removed from the floor, we gave her a style and her shoes and got on with our day.

The Drama Queen

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Toddler Indecision

Last night, while mommy was at work, Tenley and I were playing at home when I realized that she had not eaten and might be hungry. When Tenley is hungry she will usually tell you but if you have to ask her it gets interesting. If you say “Tenley, are you hungry?” she will look at you like you are speaking greek. But if you say “Eat?” she will respond. Go figure!

So I looked at her and said “Eat?” and she responded “Okay!” She ate a bowl of potato cheese soup from Marie Callendars. When she was done she looked at me and said “Hicken” and then pointed at her fingers. I said “Chicken fingers?” and she again responded “Okay!”

Whenever you ask Tenley a question she takes it as an offer and responds affirmatively. So you always have to be careful with what you ask her as she may accept your offer and then complain bitterly if you don’t provide the agreed upon items or services.

Now tasked, by Tenley, with providing chicken fingers to eat and given the lack of said chicken fingers in the house, we piled into the car and headed to the nearest chicken finger emporium. Tenley likes the chicken from Carl’s Jr. so I went there. I was in the drive through line, ordering the chicken when all of a sudden from the back seat I hear “NO chicken fingers…yucky!” Too late, I had already ordered. I figured as soon as we got back home Ten would eat the chicken with no problem. Boy was I wrong!!!

We got back home and I cut up a few pieces of chicken and put them on one of Tenley’s little plates for her to eat. Eating the chicken was the furthest thing from her little mind. She took the plate and dumped the chicken on her Thomas train table and proceeded to mangle the chicken and spread it all over her train set. When I asked her what she was doing she replied “Chicken yucky.”

So once again I was duped into action by Tenley. The action I was performing was providing requested food for my child. The actual action that she got me to perform was giving her a ride in the car. I’m pretty sure if we could see into, and understand, Tenley’s little mind, it would have gone something like this…

Hmmmm, I’m bored. Maybe I’ll get that man to take me for a ride in the car.
I know, I’ll ask for food that we don’t have here. He’ll be excited because I might
want to eat something so he’ll do whatever I ask. That’s a good plan.
Tomorrow I’ll go back to planning on taking over the world!

Most people think of themselves as mommy and daddy. The kids just think of us as staff! Good thing she’s so cute.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Language Explosion

Here is Tenley trying out a bike at Wal-Mart and wearing her most coveted item, the bike helmet!

Other parents always told us that when a toddler gets language that they really get it. I am totally in awe of Tenley’s ability to say words and use them correctly…even the words and phrases that we didn’t know she knew.

Last night as Tenley was watching the Wiggles, for the three hundredth time, she made the usual strange face she gets when filling her diaper. All of a sudden she started yelling, “Potty, potty” and she ran over to her potty chair and sat down. It was so cute but not two seconds after sitting down she looked at me with a slightly worried look on her face and pronounced, “Too late.”

Tonight she is wearing her black princess boots, thanks a bunch Claire, and refuses to remove them for any reason. She is walking around the living room telling me and everyone “Wearing boots!”…”Black boots!” She is so proud of her boots.

After the Wiggles I turned on Oobi, another favorite show, and she named all the characters and then told me “Oobi no boots…Tenley black boots, nice!!”

She talks constantly now and it is totally mesmerizing. She is far more entertaining than anything on TV.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tagged for Secrets

My friend Maren, from Disneyland, tagged me on her blog for 10 secrets. So here goes 10 secrets, or something like that, of Jeff and Tenley….

10. Jeff likes children’s programming on TV. (I guess not that big of secret to most)

9. Tenley eats 5 popsicles a day. (sugar free of course!)

8. When Mommy is at work Jeff & Tenley frequently eat fast food. Yum!

7. Tenley likes boys with tattoos and motorcycles. She is always flirting with them the most.

6. Like Maren, Jeff can polish off an entire box of Mac & Cheese in one sitting. Also goes for a box of cereal like Cap’n Crunch.

5. Some kids like to wear their parents shoes but Tenley likes to wear our socks!

4. Jeff has been watching the entire series of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” from the beginning on DVD.

3. Tenley likes to put DVDs into the cat box. Nice.

2. Jeff says that Tenley is the most fascinating person he has ever known and at the same time can be the most frustrating person he has ever known.

1. Tenley has started taking her clothes off during the night and has started climbing out of her crib.

Now that I look at these I think they are not all that interesting. But I have now complied with the “tag” from Maren.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


As Tenley becomes more verbal and learns new words she is becoming more entertaining with her Tenleyisms. Some of her words, though clear when she started saying them, have become increasingly degraded as she gets comfortable with them. One of my favorites is “Dumbo” – her favorite ride at Disneyland. When she first started saying it she was very clear. Now it has degraded to “Bumoan” and if you say Dumbo she then lifts her arms up and down while saying “Up down”.

Lately she has been learning to string words together and this comes out in some funny word combinations. I’m sure she knows what she is saying but half the time I have no idea.

The other day she had me just rolling on the floor with laughter from the statements she made. I had a large coke sitting on the counter and Tenley decided she needed some of that. She jumped up on the couch and pressed her nose to mine and said “Daddy’s Coke?, Daddy’s Coke?, Me Some, Me Some, Share!” She was so insistent and it was the funniest thing ever.

Tonight she started throwing water in the air during her bath and saying “Shower” every time the water hit her in the head. I asked her what she was doing and she said “Taking shower”.

A while back both Michelle and I stated it would be nice if she would just start talking so we would know what she wanted. Of course now she never shuts up and it is really, really cute!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pumpkin Patch Particulars

Last Sunday we took Tenley to Tanaka Farms in Irvine to roam around their pumpkin patch. Toword the end of October last year we hit a patch in Yucaipa with the Inland Empire FCC Play Group. At that time Tenley had only been walking for a few weeks and was toddling around and falling down a lot. This year she has been walking for more than a year and she was still toddling around and falling down a lot.

Tanaka farms was really nice. It had a very large field of u-pick pumpkins, a hay bale maze, a couple of hay bale towers to climb on, a u-pick vegetable patch, petting zoo, snack bar and tractor wagon rides. Getting into the pumpkin patch lot was a total disaster as they share a driveway with a golf course that was having a luxury auto show, and apparently if you owned a car that cost $100,000 or more it was compulsory to attend. Their $15 premiere parking lot was full and backing up out to the street so the Irvine police shut down the driveway just as we got there. After driving around through the ridiculous traffic twice, we settled on a spot a few blocks away and walked.

When we arrived we found the entrance and paid for the petting zoo and our wagon ride. Then we chose a wheelbarrow and took off into the patch to get a pumpkin. We were looking for something small to medium so Tenley could enjoy carving her first pumpkin. All three of us were climbing through the patch in different areas. Michelle and I were looking for pumpkins and Tenley was looking for anything to pick up and rip apart. Occasionally she would stop and yell for me to look at her. When I did she would lift up one foot completely tangled in pumpkin vines and say "Help!" or point to some decaying piece of vine or her dirty hands and say "Yuk! It was too funny.

There were lady bugs flying all around and we kept pointing them out to Tenley who like a typical toddler was too slow to see them. Finally one landed on her upper arm and then walked all the way down her arm to her hand before flying off. As soon as it was gone she smiled real big and said "More?"

Eventually we found a picture perfect round bright orange pumpkin, and after I talked Michelle into using a can of Libby's and out of buying a second one to make pumpkin pie, we decided to go check out the maze.

I pointed Tenley toward the start of the maze and off she went running along. About 3 or 4 turns into it we decided the maze was boring and we were getting hot so it was off to the petting zoo! We grabbed Tenley and jumped onto the wagon ride to the other part of the farm.
*Note: I would recommend doing this itinerary in reverse- petting zoo, then pick pumpkin so you don't have to haul the gourd with you. It was a good thing ours was pretty small. Also, don't bother with a stroller unless it has 4wd.

The petting zoo was two pens that were enclosed and were full of goats, pigs and a llama. Michelle and Tenley went into the zoo armed with two cones of feed ready to pet the animals. Unfortunately, Tenley still doesen't get the concept of cup your hands, put feed in, hold out to animal. Eventually Michelle ended up feeding the goats the alfalfa pellets & Tenley just held out the empty ice cream cones. The goats, for their part, were remarkably un-helpful. None of them were that interested in being fed- so odd for petting zoo goats.

We got a chocolate dipped strawberry, a huge popsicle, and a soda for our hike back to the car, and then it was back to home having happily kicked off the harvest season and a very busy October.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Quirky Tenley

So as Tenley is getting older her little quirks are really starting to crack me up.

Example #1: Tenley received an American Girl “Bitty Baby” for her birthday from Scott, Gaynor, Lauren and Amanda. I’ve never seen her show much interest in a baby doll before but when I opened the package she oohed and aaahhed over it. Once the package was opened her face lit up and screamed “Baby!” She immediately grabbed the doll and started hugging it and talking to it. The very best part of this is that this doll is the kind where the eyes close when it lays down to simulate sleep. As the doll is lying on its blanket, Tenley runs by and yells “Wake Up Baby!” She continues yelling at the baby to wake up until I finish laughing and tell her she needs to pick up the baby to watch it wake up. She does this with the joy and glee that only a 2-year old can have. She giggles, drops the baby and runs away only to come back five minutes later yelling for the baby to wake up. She is hysterical!

Example #2: I take Tenley to the park and run off some of her excess energy. This seems to work quite nicely most nights. Tonight on the play structure she ran from one side to the other crossing two bridges in the process. On the way by me she will stop, wave and say “Bye-bye, nice time!” Off she goes for another round each time doing the same thing. I think it’s very polite that she is telling me she had a nice time. When she says bye-bye I ask her where she is going and each time the answer is different. Sometimes she is going home, sometimes she is going to the store, and sometimes she is going to the mall. Tonight for the first time she told me she was going to Arizona. Not sure where she heard that word but she said it quite clearly two or three times. By this time I am laughing uncontrollably. To the odd passer by I must look like a total idiot standing around a kids park laughing my head off.

The rest of her strange quirks are all typical little kid things like she hates having sand in her shoes and insists on taking them off to clean them off while still in the sandbox. Never mind that she just finished pulling her waistband out and dumping handfuls of sand down her pants, sand in the shoes is totally unacceptable.

I watched her pull apart a leaf tonight for the better part of 15 minutes. She would examine each piece and talk to it before she cast it aside in favor of the next shred of leaf.

She found a stick on the ground and walked around waving it in the air and when I asked her what she was doing and she said she was drawing clouds in the sky.

By this time it was dark and I was all laughed out so we went back to the car. As soon as the door was opened she yelled “Hi” to George who was waiting patiently in the car for us to return. All the way home she told George all about bridges and swinging and playing in the sand.

She is the most amazing little person I have ever seen. She has so much intelligence and energy and it all comes out in the funniest ways!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Wow-amazing how fast a year goes! On this day last year I was on a plane headed home from DC with Meg…and Tenley was at home with Daddy trying to walk and turning 1.

Today Tenley is 2. She can not only walk, but she can run and throw herself onto the floor in a kicking flailing temper-tantrum like a proper two year old. She’s adding to her vocabulary daily, and starting to string 2 or 3 words together. Some times this is good (ie. “Apple juice please”) and sometimes this is not so good (“no share- mine!”). She remains happily obsessed with Elmo who has taught her to count to 10…although she sometimes gets lost around 7 or 8. More personality emerges and I marvel at what a bruiser she still is, and yet is already showing the very girly girl characteristics of enjoying shoes, shopping and handbags. Interest is starting to show in things like potty training and in making choices for herself (ie. red glitter ruby slippers must be worn with everything). There are moments where I am just stunned at what a little girl she's become. I look at the pictures from her first birthday party and I laugh- it's hard to believe that it's the same child. She's just changed and developed so much in this last year. My favourite things are how affectionate she's become, and that she now calls me "mommy".

We started this years birthday by getting up late and having breakfast during Jack’s Big Music Show while Ten demonstrated that she has learned what to do with wrapped presents by quickly revealing the 2 cute outfits that Aunty Jen & Uncle Todd sent her.

Then we met up with Kim & Ten’s best buddy Jaxon at Victoria Gardens. We started with lunch at Lucielle’s BBQ. We made a quick trip to Ulta for hairpins & conditioner, and then I introduced Kim to the Lucy ( store. I love Lucy because it has stylish comfy active wear - perfect for moms. We were the only customers at the time, so we let the kids happily run amok through the dressing rooms while we scoured the sales racks.

After a quick stop at the potty rooms, we turned the kids loose in the fountain where they ran, laughed and splashed as they explored the water and got thoroughly soaked. When they had had enough, we dried them off & headed for home.

Tenley and I finally got home, and Jeff and I decided that Rainforest Café was a good spot for a 2 year old’s birthday dinner. We requested a table by the fish because like all good toddlers, Tenley is fascinated with fish. Sure enough, the fish and animatronic animals were a hit, a cheese pizza was devoured, and Tenley was serenaded by 6 guys in safari outfits who came bearing ice cream.

The mall the restaurant was located in was deserted, so we let her run as fast as her little legs would carry her for awhile; but when we saw the Build a Bear store we caught her & turned her around before we were forced to buy more clothes for George the Cross-dressing Giraffe (Grandma Suzie just bought him shoes, rollerskates, and a leash so Ten can now tow him around). Jeff finally managed to herd her out the door and then we went home to watch the Wiggles before it was bedtime.

It may not sound exciting to us grown-ups, but to a two year old it was a heck of a day.

Happy 2nd Birthday Tenster!
Mommy & Daddy love you.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Shopping With Tenley

When shopping with Tenley at the local Target, its best to let her do her own thing.....

Here Tenley has chosen a large purse to carry around while reading a Little Mermaid book.

Yesterday Tenley chose an orange backpack to wear around the store.

However, the backpack was not enough and she needed a matching football to help her on her shopping trip.

I've found that if you let her indulge herself a little, the shopping trip will go much smoother. The other side effect is that since her hands are full she has no room to reach out and grab items off the shelf. Plus she's really cute!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sticker Fun

This is what happens when a toddler gets a hold of post-it stickers...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

White Trash Child

The other day while Michelle was at work Tenley and I went to Target to pick up a few things. The first problem I did not really notice was that Tenley had a runny nose and was wiping it all over her arm, hands and shirt. Then there was the crying fit she had about being in the car seat again. By the time we got to Target she was a mess. Still, being a dad, I didn’t really notice.

Upon entering Target the first thing that Tenley did was start asking for popcorn and an Icee. Michelle had told me recently that for a dollar you get a small bag of popcorn and a small drink. She had been getting that for Tenley while they shopped. I thought that was a good idea and went over to the food area. Unfortunately there was quite a long line and Tenley, not being the patient type, started crying again. This produced more tears and runny nose which once again was being wiped everywhere but the Kleenex I had.

After we got our popcorn and drink we started our shopping trip. Up and down the aisles Tenley was spilling her drink and wiping her runny nose all over her shirt. Once again Daddy was not really paying that much attention. She was quiet and there was popcorn…what else did I need to know? Somewhere along the way she managed to get something black all over her shirt as well.

Pretty soon the popcorn lost its appeal, the drink was gone and Tenley was walking on her own through Target. Soon enough the crying began again because she didn’t get the Thomas the Train Backpack that cost $25 and was the same size as she is. As the wailing began in earnest, my eyes were opened and all of a sudden I had a white trash baby in Target. She was beyond dirty, snotty, food on her face and in her hair which was half out of its pony tails and standing on end. She had an overall look of neglect about her, like I had shopped at the nearest Goodwill store for her second hand clothes and never bothered to bathe her.

Instantly I became the parent that I used to look at and sneer “Why don’t they take better care of that child. I would never go out in public like that!” I grabbed her, ran to the nearest cashier and paid for the few items I had and raced out of there before anyone had the chance to judge me a bad parent.

Yikes, things are different when the white trash child is your own!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Addition

Mommy was at work so I took Tenley to Gymboree last night for open play gym time. This is a great part of Gymboree that happens every Monday and Friday night. The best part about this is that it tires Tenley out quite nicely.

About 40 mins into playing Tenley came up to me and promptly announced "Bye Bye!" She was done and ready to go. So I put her shoes on and opened the door for her to walk out. She took off running toward the door and out into the open mall. She turned left and went immediately into the Build A Bear store. I chased her in and found her standing in front of the bins contemplating which animal she was going to hold.

This happens frequently and usually after she touches a few of the animals she is content to leave without spending any money. However, this time was different and you could see by the look on Tenley's face as she was about to make a choice that she intended to keep. She looked over each bin and settled on the Giraffes. She grabbed one and it would have taken the jaws of life to get it away from her. Almost immediately one of the workers at the store saw Tenley and her big wallet (me) and came right over to help us complete our new Giraffe. Tenley got to pick out a heart for the Giraffe which she kissed before she put inside. After stuffing and sewing up the back the Giraffe was ready for an air bath and some clothing.

First Tenley picked out a little purple skirt for the Giraffe. I told her I didn’t think that the Giraffe would look good in the skirt and she should try again. This time, after much debating, she chose a Hello Kitty T-Shirt. We took the Giraffe to the dressing area and I put the shirt on the Giraffe. Let me tell you, if you haven’t dressed a Giraffe lately, it’s not as easy as it might seem.

Next we moved on to the computer for naming and printing of the birth certificate. Here’s where it gets really funny… as I filled out the form on the screen I came to the section that asked for the name. I looked at Tenley and said, “What do you want to name your Giraffe?” She looked back at me for a moment or two and then proudly stated a name. I had to stop and think, did I just hear what I think I heard? I asked her to say the name again and she stated it proudly again. This time another store worker was passing by and asked me , “did she just say what I think she said?” I asked one more time and this time, very loudly Tenley stated that the Giraffe’s name was going to be George. I have no idea where she heard this name or even that she knew how to say it. I almost fell off my seat laughing. It was so cute. George the Giraffe wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt.

We printed the birth certificate, paid for George and then headed off for home. I tried to carry the box for Tenley but she was having none of that. George was hers and she was going to carry the box even if it was almost as big as she is.

We got George home and she spoke to him all night. When it was time for bed, we were saying goodnight to the cats, and everything else in the house, when she started getting whiny and calling for George. So we went back out to the living room and got George and put him in the crib with her. She went right to sleep with George watching over her. When Michelle got home from work we both crept in to see George. Tenley was dead asleep with her feet resting on George. It was very cute. She was sleeping hard but that wouldn’t last…but that’s another story.

George and Tenley sharing a cute moment!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Grandma's House

Here are a couple of cute pics from our visit this weekend to Clovis to see Grandma and Grandpa.

"You don't see me." Tenley wears Charlie's protective cone like a party hat!

Tenley gets this inquisitive look occassionally. Usually followed by something she shouldn't be doing.

Grandma knows how to make good pig tails in Tenley's hair. Tenley calls this "style!"

Swim Buddies

Tenley and Charlie share a dip in the pool on Friday at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Posted by Picasa