Monday, January 30, 2006

Welcome Year 4704!

Gung Hay Fat Choi!! Wishing a prosperous and Happy New Year to all!!

There are certain things that you're supposed to do to prepare for Chinese New Year: you clean the whole house prior to the start of the New Year, you make an offering to the Kitchen God, you pay off debts and settle your accounts, and everyone gets a haircut and new clothes. We did none of this.

I didn't get the house cleaned, we won't be finished paying for Tenley's adoption before she's 7 (unless we win the lottery), Jeff didn't get a haircut, and Tenley wore the traditional clothes we bought for her in China, even though the pants were a tad on the short side. We did, however, follow the traditions of gathering with friends and family and having sumptous meals!

We started yesterday by heading out to the Zimmer Children's Museum in LA where the Families With Children from China were having a little get together and playtime. If you live in the area and haven't taken your kids there yet, you should: it's small (so it's do-able, and you won't lose your kids) but it has an ambulance to climb inside and play with, a water table, a "deli" where kids can play with the food & cash register, a soft room to crawl around in, walls with magnetic poetry and all sorts of other fun things to do. Tenely loved climbing in and out of the ambulance, playing with the plastic food, and toddling everywhere following the older kids around. We wisely did not show her the water table. There was no shortage of adorable little girls running around in traditional Chinese outfits, and I think some of the other museum patrons didn't quite know what to make of us. Most fun was that a group from 3 years ago that adopted their kids from the Sichuan province were having a little reunion, and that included Scott, Gaynor, Lauren & Amanda as well as the Wu's who's darling son came from Sichuan, and beautiful daughter was one of Tenley's Yang Xi "sisters". It was great to see all of them, and to meet their friends from their 1st trip to China, some of whom are waiting to go again this year!

After the Zimmer we headed over to Jerry's Famous Deli where, as usual, Tenley ate her weight in food. Gaynor & I orderd a bowl of Matzo ball soup for our 3 girls (and Scott) to split since the Matzo ball is roughly the size of a regulation softball. I think Tenley may very well have eaten half of it; along with 4 pickles, a potato pancake the size of a tea saucer, several hijacked french fries, some of her dad's ham sandwhich and 1/3 of a strawberry shake!!

We said goodbye to our friends too soon, and headed off to Brea to meet with Karen our Social Worker for our 1st post placement report. It was a brief chat with Karen wanting to know how we were adjusting to parenthood, and talking mostly about Tenley's adjustment to us and how she was developing. Tenley spent her time toddling all over the rec room, going through all the cabinets in the kitchenette, and playing with the TV remotes.

After we left Karen, we drove off to Victoria Gardens for dinner at PF Changs with our extended family. Tenley was fawned over by Aunties Meg, Lisa, Jen & Vikki; she pouted over being denied Grandma Suzie & Daddy's diet cokes, and everyone had great Chinese food!

By the time dinner was over, we were all exausted and headed home to fall into bed. We may, or may not get to attend the FCC Chinese New Year Banquet happening on Feb 11, since we haven't sent in our reservation yet! If not, I call this a fine welcome to the Year of the Dog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Tenley tries on grandpa's cowbow hat and decides she likes it!

Monday, January 23, 2006


Ack! Julie got me!

For those who may not read alot of blogs, or have only read this one (heaven forbid), there is a game of cyber tag going around on blogs and when you get tagged you have to answer some questions and then tag other hapless bloggers to answer the same. I have now been tagged, so here's more than you probably ever wanted to know about me:

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was in college at Central Missouri State Univeristy (go Mules!), working on a degree in Communications and having a blast with my sorority sisters (Alpha Sigma Alpha) under 3 or so feet of snow.

What were you doing a year ago?

Since we were DTC in October, I was happily buying baby supplies for the future Tenley; and planning my baby shower with my Aunt while I cared for her as she battled Graft Vs. Host disease post Leukemia.

5 (ok 6)Snacks you enjoy:

Pretzels- soft, hard, with cheese or mustard...whatever.
Chocolate chip cookie dough. No need to bake.
Veggies & dip- carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper strips, & cucumbers with ranch.
Hummus & pita bread.
Anything from the fried food group. Mozzerlla, zuchini, fries, mushrooms...anything.
Ice Cream! Boston Cream Pie or Gold Medal Ribbon from Baskin Robbins, Chocolate Malted Crunch from Thrifty.

5 Things you would do if you were a millionare:

Grab Meg, get on plane and fly 1st class to NY, go directly (by limo) to Louis Vuitton store and buy a full matching set of luggage, spend the rest of the week eating, seeing Broadway shows, and shopping to fill the luggage.
Buy Mom a condo in Montery or Carmel, buy a big old house to restore with lots of acreage for our family.
Travel!! I love to travel! I have so many places in the world I haven't seen yet. We'd only go home to do laundry and get home studies for Tenley's sisters completed.
Get Tenley a sister or 2. Or 3. Get as many animals as the law will allow from the local shelter. And a horse- I've always wanted to own a horse.
Hire a masseuse, personal chef and several maids- including one to do nothing but pick up and organize my closet.

5 Bad Habits:

I talk to myself. Constantly. People look at me like I'm retarded. I've taken to leaving my cell headset in my ear while I drive so I don't get looks from other drivers. At least now I have Tenley to talk to.
I am a slob. Slob doesn't actually cover it. Pig is more like it. I'd like to be exasperated at Tenley for strewing her toys & clothes all over the floor & refusing to pick them up...but sadly, I completely understand.
I go grocery shopping and plan meals for the week, and then everynight when Jeff gets home I convince him to go out to dinner because I don't feel like cooking. Thereby wasting money and food.
I have a mouth like a drunken sailor. It would not have surprised me if Tenley's first word had been asshole....and that's the least of what I use (especially when driving). I've given up cussing for Lent for the last 5 years and it still hasn't worked.
I am a paper magnet. And I seem to have great difficulty parting with it. Ask Jeff about my magazine collection. In my defense, I come by this problem genetically- when my grandmother passed away it took 2 weeks to clean out all the piles of magazines & newspapers she was "saving" and we're still finding newspaper clippings stashed in odd places.

5 (well 7 actually) things I like doing:

I love to read. An afternoon curled up with a good book is heaven.
I love to travel. I have a long list of places I want to see before I die, the problem is that I keep visiting places I already love! I'm pretty much ready to pack a bag & head to the airport or cruise terminal at any time.
Being in the water. I love the feeling of peace that comes with submerging myself into the gentle pressure of a swimming pool, that you can't see my tears in the shower, that I can feel my pores open in the steam of a jacuzzi, that the rain brings out all the colors in the world around me, and that the ocean is endless and powerful- when I am in it I am reminded of how small I am in the universe and I am awed by it's beauty.
Eating. The family motto is "I could eat". As far as I am concerned there are way more than the 4 basic food groups. There are also the: cheesecake, fried, mixed drink, snack, and county fair food groups.
Get together with my "family". I am blessed with the greatest extended family on the planet, and we frequently get together to dine and hang out. I love seeing them- anytime, anywhere.
Antique shopping. I love browing through antique stores marveling at the wonders of yesterday.
Sleep. Napping is bliss to me. Nothing better than a long nap with a gentle breeze wafting over my body which is ideally covered in cats.

5 things I would never buy, wear, or get new again:

Stirrup pants. Ok, they were in at the time and I was a size 1 so it was ok....but still. And now I would never encase myself in floral print spandex willingly.
Sun-In. I remember wanting to be a blonde and thinking that hosing my head in Sun-In for an entire summer was a good idea...I looked like an Irish Setter by September. Now, I pay a professional.
Rollerblades/skates. Anyone who knows me knows how klutzy I's knee surgery waiting to happen.
A Subaru XT Turbo. Lemon with a capitol L. The XT's were great, but they crammed a turbo on to a car that was never meant to have one. Also, the car was designed badly- you had to pull the entire engine or the dash to do just about anything except change the oil. It was no loss when it was totaled.
Thong underwear. I have yet to meet a pair that could remotely be called comfortable. Also, in the quest for no panty lines, women seem to have forgotton about the butt jiggle- unless you can bounce a quarter off your booty I'm beggin' you to find some full coverage microfiber. Also, there are still thong lines, and a hot pink thong should not be worn under canary yellow linen pants. Really.

5 Favourite toys:

The drawing tablet+ Photoshop/Illustrator on the Mac. I love the stuff I can do with my photography!
The internet- I'm an addict and I think it's fabulous that I can chat with friends across the country, check the weather in other countries, purchase clothes and cosmetics, hear the latest news, read movie reviews and tell complete strangers about my daughter and read all about others... at 3 am in my pjs.
Cameras- both my digital and my 35mm SLR. Now I want a digital 35mm SLR...and a couple new lenses.
Tenley! She's free entertainment. And I love taking her places and showing her all the wonders around her. Nothing better than seeing her little face light up with delight when you've held her up to touch a cow or started a game of peek-a-boo. I hope she never loses her sense of wonder in the world.
My cell phone. It's the bottom of the line model, but I love downloading ring tones & wall paper and that I can text message my friends and use it as an alarm clock!

WHEW! Ok, I made it! Now it's my turn to tag others!! The following people my consider themselves officially TAGGED:

Shana -
Dennis & Terri -

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Multi-Purpose Item

Step up and see Grandma Susie's multi-use, dual-purpose, all-helpful cat perch / shoe attacher. Good for napping kitties or installing foot wear on a very, very busy toddler!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

6 Months Together

2 Days after Christmas a small milestone was reached: we had been a family for 6 months. While it doesn’t sound like a long time, there are days when we joke that we feel as though we came out of the womb with Tenley. Still, it’s truly amazing the changes we’ve seen take place in these first 6 months. Here’s the recap:

On June 27th we stepped out of the over air conditioned lobby of the China Hotel onto a bus that wound through the crowded muggy streets of Guangzhou to the civil affairs office where we would meet our daughter for the first time. I remember being nervous, and questions racing through my mind: what if they handed us a different baby? What if she just screamed? What if she was sick? Would the care takers cry when they gave us their children?

Sometime around 3:30 my questions were answered. The orphanage director came in carrying a 9 month old baby girl who was definately the kid in my pictures except for the utterly vacant look in her eyes and her legs being completely stiff with terror. No, the director didn’t cry- she was new and didn’t really know our girls, in fact they had their names scotch taped to the front of their outfits so they would know who they were. Tenley didn’t cry either- she was so overwhelmed that she put her thumb in her mouth and fell asleep on my shoulder. I kept pressing my nose to the top of her head wanting to get that baby smell, but since she’d never had a real bath, she stank to high heaven. She weighed only 16 lbs, and was 27 inches long; she was long and skinny with toothpick legs, ribs that stuck out, and a bad haircut.

Our first few days with Tenley revealed that she was a hearty eater, a reluctant but heavy sleeper, really busy & interested in everything, couldn’t really sit up- she flopped to the side in a mermaid type pose, scooted army style on her belly loved to be mobile. She knew her name, and would respond to it, but hadn’t said any words yet.

A half a year later:

She weighs 20 lbs. (still the 5th percentile) and is 31inches long (in the 75th percentile up from the 10th!)

She is a definate toddler- she toddles everywhere. She’s starting to do the toddler run and beginning to climb up onto the furniture- she already knows how to climb down off it.

She speaks! Mama, Daddy, up, and octopus are all clear and associated with the correct people/object/activity. She has randomly said hi, bye, and out and associated those correctly as well- she just won’t say them consistently. She’s trying to say nap, banana, Meg, and Gramma. She understands almost everything that is said to her and can respond positively or negatively to nap, bath, eat.

She has started cutting her 7th tooth, and her hair is growing in nicely.

She loves music in any form and will dance along to it even if it’s a commercial jingle. She likes pianos, and daddy is looking forward to teaching her to play.

Her favourite movies are Disney’s Hercules (she loves the music) and the Joy Luck Club (nothing better than a movie full of Chinese women talking). She adores Moose A. Moose who does the bumps on Noggin, and likes to watch Jack’s Big Music Show, Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues & Sesame Street.

Her father and I can currently recite “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket”, “Go Dog Go”, and “Put Me in the Zoo” because we have been asked to read them so many times. I am about 5 minutes away from knowing “I’ll Teach my Dog Alot of Words” and “Hand Hand Fingers Thumb.”

She eats like a horse!!! It’s a good thing she’s so active because if she wasn’t she would be as big as a house. Banannas are her #1 choice currently but she loves animal cookies, hot dogs, mac & cheese, oatmeal, tuna salad, fruit...and just about anything else we’re willing to give her. The only thing she isn’t too fond of is carrots.

She’s gearing up for her terrible twos- she already has a small fit when you tell her “no” or she doesn’t get her way. We knew she had a temper, and she occasionally demonstrates just how nasty it can get. Some of it is humorous: stomping and kvetching in baby babble while clapping her hands fiercely; some of it is not humorous: throwing things, screaming and kicking, and even biting once or twice.

She loves to be outside, go places, and meet new people. She’s a huge flirt- young, old, cute, ugly, gay, straight, - any man will do for practicing her smiles and batting her eyelashes.

Somewhere between Thanksgiving & Christmas she decided to keep me. There was a change in her attitude towords me. Don’t get me wrong- she is still Daddy’s Little Princess all the way- if he’s around I am still chopped liver and he is the only one she wants to carry her/feed her/ dry tears etc. On one hand I am thrilled that Tenley loves her Daddy and is so well bonded to him, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to occasionally being crushed when I am rejected in his favor.

She gives us those fabulous full body toddler hugs- and there’s just nothing better than when she comes up and spontaneously gives you a hug and kiss and lays her head on your shoulder.

Being Tenley’s Mom is without a doubt the hardest and most exausting job I have ever had...but it is also the most rewarding and amazing endeavor I have ever undertaken. My beautiful daughter continues to amaze me with exactly how smart and clever she is. We are so lucky that this little girl was chosen for us – and my heart breaks for the woman who had to give her up because she’s missing so much.

I can’t believe we’ve been together for a half a year, and I can’t wait to see what the next half a year will bring.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy Chanukah, Happy New Year

Happy Chanukah

Back on the 30th of December, we headed out to Scott & Gaynor's house for the annual Chanukah Fest! Unfortunately, we were so busy chatting with adults and eating the super yummy food that we only got 1 picture!! The one we did get was a so-so picture of Amanda standing on the dining room table and clapping, and it's not nearly as cute as it was in person! Tenley was able to properly appreciate the curving staircase in the house on this visit, and able to strenously object to us telling her to get off of it. She and Amanda definately recognize each other and had a good time playing together, I was most impressed that Amanda managed to keep Tenley from taking the stroller she was pushing around! We had a great time and I'm rationing the latkes Gaynor sent home with me.

Happy New Year

On the same 30th of December, Auntie Meg & Auntie Lisa decided they were sick of the pressure to have dates and find something "fun" to do for New Year's Eve, and instead just invited the extended family over for potluck & cocktails. As usual, an evening with the family ended up being as much fun as any other party I've been to, and it was nice to spend the evening grazing and hanging out. Tenley ate her weight in Honeybaked Ham and homemade Mac & Cheese, and then hijacked Jen's chocolate cake, Dad's cheesecake, Grandma's butter cookie, and Mom's pumpkin strusel cake. She made it all the way to midnight and then felt that in addition to kisses she should get some can see what she thought of that in the picture above.
However, it turns out that Tenley (like her mom) never wants the party to end: she dozed off on the way home and then slept peacefully until 3:30 when she decided that the party should go on! So we were all back up by 4, and didn't get back to bed until after 8:30 in the morning. So, the 1st really started for us at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon when we all came to again.

Happy New Year Again

Since the 1st fell on a Sunday, everyone took the 2nd off too; so we had Grandma Susie and Aunties Meg & Lisa over for brunch and the last of the Christmas gift opening. We would have watched the dead flowers roll by in the pouring rain, but as we still had no cable, we settled for devouring the monkey bread and watching Mom & Meg unwrap their loot.

Honestly, I was happy to see the back of 2005. It was a very bittersweet year: it brought me unspeakable happiness in the form of my daughter, in Megan coming back to California, several good friends having beautiful babies, and my first visit to China; but Megan came home to care for her dying mother, my mom got diabetes, my sorority sister Sara lost her home and restaurant in Katrina, my father's best friend died just before Christmas, and several of our friends lost beloved pets. It was a year of amazing gifts with amazing loss. I hope that 2006 brings more of the sweet than the bitter.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

1957 House

Well, sometime last week we lost our cable. Apparently, the way our building is wired you need to be a crack military strategist to figure out who's feed is who's and some idiot at the cable company disconnected us along with the guys who moved out of #21.

So we became 1957 House with no TV and no internet. We couldn't get it back until Tuesday because of the New Year holiday and everyone taking the 2nd off as well. I really didn't care about the lack of TV - the only thing I was going to miss was the dead flowers rolling by in the rain...but the internet was another story. I was shocked and slightly appalled at how cut off I felt without internet access! Considering that the internet didn't really exist until I was in college, it's amazing how dependant on it I've become.

We are now re-wired, and I think I have finally caught up on all my e-mail and hopefully we'll get some pictures of New Year's Eve up later today!

P.S: As I was writing this, I realized that it had become awfully quiet in the room, and I turned around to find my lovely daughter removing all the kleenex from the box and strewing it around her and then destroying random pieces. I did get 1 picture, and I'm sure Jeff will stick it in the "Random But Cute" album on!