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 CafĂ© 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.