Friday, August 31, 2007

Hello? Hello? Anybody there??

I know, I know: it’s been really quiet over here and where the heck are all the cute pictures?? The answer is: the cute (but really really annoying as of late) kid has been with her grandparents all week, so we currently have no good stories or pictures. I wish I could apologize and tell you how sorry I am about this…but I’m not.

No, I’m really not sorry at all. Why?

1. Very peaceful 5 hour drive home from the grandparent’s where we were not forced to listen to The Wiggles or Between the Lions, continuously hand over toys, and I got to recline my seat and take a nap.
2. I have slept the sleep of the dead and have not stirred before 9am on any day this week.
3. We had a 2.5 hour fondue dinner at The Melting Pot on Tuesday night. It was divine. No one climbed on us, sat in our laps, or tried to get under the table…and we didn’t have to share- except with each other.
4. We rented- and watched- 2 movies this week. They were not animated.
5. I have not seen Little Bear for 7 days.
6. I got to have breakfast with both Auntie Meg & Auntie Kim this week. We walked in to these restaurants and said “2 please”. Not “2 and a highchair” or “2 adults & 2 kids”…just “2”.
7. I read an entire book from cover to cover.
8. Jeff took Wednesday off and we went to downtown Orange and went antiquineing. Lots of stores with cthokies and knick-knacks…and we didn’t have to worry about who was touching what.
9. I have swept and mopped my floors. Cleaned and re-filled the pool. Sifted through and culled from Tenley’s clothes and toys. Started watching “24” on DVD (finally). Got satellite TV. Taken a nap every day.
10. I have not said “What are you doing?!” “knock it off!” “that’s one” or “Hey! Listen to me!”…except to the dog. I have had a chance to relaaaax.

A rest has been needed: Tenley has decided to begin the pushing and testing phase. You know: the one where you tell her not to do something so she looks right at you and does it just to see if you actually meant it and what you’ll do. This phase also brings some of my least favourite verbal reasponses: “no”, “I’m in charge!” “I get choice!” “No Mommy, you wrong” “I don’t waaant to/that” “Stop it-mine-now”. Trust me, she’s still adorable (which is why she, like most children, will continue to live) and she has moments where she’s sweet and cute as heck…they’re just greatly out numbered at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong- I love my little girl. But sometimes you need to breathe and remember what life was like before them, and know that it will be that way again one day.

If you want to see what we were up to before Ten went to Camp Grandma, visit to see us (finally!!) meet up with the Mager’s and Double Happiness Donna with her virtual twins at Kidspace in Pasadena!

Plenty of exciting stuff coming up: Ten begins pre-school on 9/5, Ten’s 3rd birthday which will involve trips to the OC Fair and Disneyland, and we’re already making Haloween plans!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lauren's 5th Birthday Bash

Saturday brought another trip to Scott & Gaynor’s for Lauren’s birthday party. Miss Lauren was turning 5, and the invitation stated that there would be hair braiding and face painting…and that turned out to be quite the understatement.

It wasn’t hard to spot the birthday girl: she was in the one in pink with several hair braids, a painted face, glitter in her hair, lipstick, painted nails, flowery “tattoos” and 2 crowns on. By the end of the day, you had to work harder to find her because all the girls looked like that. “Hair braiding & face painting” turned out to be this nice lady with her daughter and 2 helpers who painted their faces, applied all the tattoos they had skin for, painted their nails, gave them bracelets & necklaces, put temporary color in their hair, and did Jamaican hair wraps and braids. I applaud Gaynor’s internet sleuthing skills for finding this woman- she was a huge hit- even the boys were lovin’ it. Simultaneously they were being entertained by Professor Playtime (another internet find!) who had them launching foam rockets, making giant bubbles, playing with a parachute, and enjoying the stash of toys he brought with him.

Lauren requested ice cream cone cupcakes (which I hadn’t seen since 3rd grade), and Gaynor’s sister baked ‘em up and arranged them on faux presents. It was a cute and tasty centerpiece. We did at least gorge on pizza, fruit, and finger sandwiches before we tackled the cupcakes and ice cream cake.

All the kids played amazingly well together and it was at least a good hour into the party before I saw tears or heard whining. Even then both were short lived.

Speaking of tears…I may, or may not, have mentioned in a previous post that my daughter lacks spatial awareness of any kind. She frequently drops things on the dog or a cat, walks right in front of oncoming shopping carts or herds of pedestrians, trips over her own toys and walks into walls/signs/counters/opening car doors. For those who may doubt this, or think it’s just part of being a toddler: Lauren & Amanda have this nice play structure in their backyard that has a tower, slide, 2 swings & trapeze bar. All playset manufacturers will tell you that you are supposed to have 6’ of clearance on all sides- I presume so kids can get around other kids swinging. This is wasted on Ten. What does my kid do? Walk right in front of one of the boys swinging and get a sturdy Nike right in the middle of the back sending her face first into the rubber mulch. She wasn’t hurt at all- mostly just scared- and after some wailing all was right in her world again. She went back out to play, and I reassured the boy who caught her that she was just fine, it was an accident, and it was not his fault. We all laughed that that would teach her…she wouldn’t be doing that again. We spoke too soon. A half hour or so later, Ten is playing on the tower with some of the other kids, and I’m pushing Lauren on the swings. What does my kid do? Yes, again, she walks right in front of Lauren. But this time she wasn’t so lucky. I had just given Lauren a substantial push, and on the upswing, Tenley took a knee to the left temple. It hurt her and she doubled over, but not far enough: Lauren’s feet caught her in the shoulder and head on the backswing. Now she was on the ground doing the silent scream. I caught the swing, and having arrested Lauren’s motion went to pull my child up from the heap she was lying in surrounded by an open mouthed crowd of grade school onlookers. As I picked up the now loudly screaming child, I noticed Lauren was crying too. I was about to try to pick her up too when Scott came up to rescue his birthday princess. No permanent damage was done: just a cut on the temple and a bruise on the shoulder. So, apparently she didn’t learn.... and there is no way all toddlers can be this clueless- the human race would be dying out or severly brain damaged! I won’t even elaborate on the fact that later she fell off a chair and whacked the back of her head on oak cabinets.

We were, as usual, the last to leave. We always overstay our welcome there by at least an hour, partly because we love visiting them and don’t get to see them very often, and partly because we always dread the drive home- which is foolish because it always takes half the time to get home than it did to get there!

It was a great party- a huge success! I only hope I can pull off Tenley’s next month with such flair!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Like Hearding Cats...

Tenley had her second ballet class on Friday. There is very little about this that resembles an actual ballet class- but hey they're only 2!

Regardless, it's hilariously funny and awfully cute.

They begin class by walking through this tiny toddler size door that sits by itself on one end of the room. This week the cute little African-American girl in the pink was very concerned with the door and spent most of class opening and closing it. Last week it was Tenley and another little girl who had a silent war going: Tenley would close the door, and as soon as this little one saw it was closed she would open it. Repeat.

Their ballet mistress tries to teach them to stand up straight and look ahead by telling them to imagine an animal in any color they want, and to put it on their head. Then she reminds them to keep their chins up so their animal doesen't fall off. This week they had no sooner put them on their heads than Tenley turned to the little girl standing next to her and said "yours fell off."

They do try to get them to do some elementary dance stretches like the "butterfly" where you put the soles of your feet together and bounce your knees. Tenley just sat indian style and picked at her finger nails. The little girl in the blue tu-tu to the left of the picture refused to do anything with the class-she just kind of wandered around and twirled...and she certainly wasn't going to hold anyone's hand.

The ballet mistress was trying to get them all to stand in a straight line facing the mirrors. For 2 year olds, this is a straight line. Then she was tring to get them to hop on one foot. Most of them just stood there looking stunned, and then they would start jumping up and down with both feet as though they were trying to kill roaches.

One of Ten's favourite parts of the class: the scarves. Last week she pushed kids out of the way to get a pink scarf. This week she decided to hang back & be polite and ended up with a white one. You should have seen the look on her face when she was given the last scarf and it was white "you want me to use this??"
The cutie in the pale blue with the pink scarf to Tenley's right in the picture was also adopted from the Hunan province of China just a month and a half after we got Ten! So cool to have another Red Thread girl in the class!

Eventually Ten got over her disappointment with the white scarf and happily waved it around and mugged for daddy & the camera.

Tenley got obsessed with ballet after she saw 5 seconds of it in a PBS ad after an episode of Sesame Street. She lucked out in getting to take this class: the ballet school offered it through the city, and it was only supposed to be for 3-4 year olds...but the city misprinted it and said 2-3 year olds, and the ballet school was flooded with 2 year olds wanting to do they honored the mistake.
So far she seems to really like it, we'll see if she continues to show interest. And I think it might be time for me to bust out my old ballet slippers & practice with her at home!
But I still want to know who thought it was a good idea to make the 2-3 year olds uniform pink shoes, pink tights, and a white leotard. Who puts a toddler in white?!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Daddy Gives In

We have cats. We have had cats for 10 years now. We have four cats. I was quite sure we didn't need any other living creature in our house. Then Tenley started wanting a dog. Mommy has always talked about a dog someday and now she had a kindred spirit in the house to wear daddy down.

I was quite firm every time I said "NO!" I have done well for the past two years now. Then came yesterday. We went out to run some errands and decided that we would stop by the pet store so Tenley could see the fish, birds and rodents. It's like the local zoo without admission.

Saturdays and Sundays are pet adoption days at the pet store. I told Michelle to stay away from them because we didn't need another cat. The thought of a dog had never entered my mind. Why should it? I have issued my command very sternly on several occasions, "No dogs!"

Tenley and I were making our way through the store admiring birds and fish and hamsters, when I noticed that Michelle was nowhere to be seen. I looked around and found her with the pet adoption people and worse, she was holding a dog. I took Tenley over to let her pet the puppies and to, once again, issue my command.

"Put the dog down and back away slowly" I stated firmly. But it was an awful cute doggie. Next thing I know she is talking to one of the ladies about a whole pen of german shepard puppies. I thought I had my next victory when I stated "No male dogs". I had previously heard one of the workers say that all the puppies were male. I thought we could escape soon since there were no females. Then someone jumped in the pen and started looking under the dogs to verify. Ugh! Two females. Before I could say maybe we should go, Michelle had one of the females in her arms and the worker lady had the other.

Then while I was looking for an escape I heard Michelle say something to the lady and without warning I had the above pictured puppy in my arms. I swear it smiled at me. I was licked and her tail wagged and before I knew it we were buying a collar and leash. Yikes! Michelle said it was the right dog at the right time...fate! So we named her Kismet.

She is a German Shepard mix (probably with chow) about 8-10 weeks old. She is peaceful and quiet. Likes to be scratched and hugged. Tenley is just over the moon about this dog and couldn't stop smiling all the way home as Kismet lay sleeping in her lap.

So now the count is one wife, one toddler, four cats and one dog. I am severly outnumbered. Since we started the process for child adoption number two this week, I think I am going down!

How do you spell Daddy? P-U-S-H-O-V-E-R

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cowabunga! The 2007 OC Fair

Taking an almost 3 year old to the county fair is rather like a certain Charles Dickens’ novel: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Ok, there was no wisdom. Had there been wisdom, we might not have gone at all.

We chose to hit the OC County Fair on the 1st, because they had this slick deal going where if you brought in 3 gently used or 1 new children’s book you got in free! This was great as far as we were concerned because a) it was an excuse to weed out some of Tenley’s older books, and b) we got something for free! A sixteen dollar value!

See, the thing about Ten is that she’s at that charming age where she decides what she wants, and will then whine, pout or tantrum to try to get her way. And as far as she’s concerned, it’s her way or the highway- what you want is irrelevant. Unfortunately for her, she was adopted by very stubborn parents who refuse to give in to unreasonable demands and bad behaviour.

The first of many tantrums began a scant 15 minutes after we arrived because we headed into the Visual Arts building to enjoy a little air conditioning instead of going directly to the Kiddie Midway to get on cheesy carnival rides. After repeated choruses of “No no no! I don’t want to look at that!” and her running off away from us toward the door, she got strapped into the stroller and wailed and whined while we enjoyed the art and ignored her.

We let her back out and headed next door to the Carnival of Products. There are certain products that one can only aquire at the fair (really great mop that we finally had to replace, oriental lily bulbs & plumeria for cheap, yummy dip mix, etc) so we needed to hit the 1 and only shopping building at OC. Well, we only got through half of that building. At that point, we gave up and took the little beast to the cheesy rides.

As soon as she had ride tickets and we were standing in the sun & humidity to get her on the rides, she was an adorable little angel. No tantrums, waited her turn patiently, smiles & giggles on all the rides. It was great, except that we were hot & sweaty and Jeff & I were starving.

We announced that it was time for dinner and Mr. Hyde reappeared. “No no nooo! I don wanna eat!!” We tried to explain that she didn’t have to eat, but mommy & daddy were going to pass out because we were hungry. “No! No you not hungry! You not! I don wanna eat!!” Repeat. Continuously. She didn’t eat either. Well, she munched on a few fries, but despite repeated offers she refused bites of our bbq chicken sandwiches. I got some really dirty looks from the people at the next table when I was forced to sit my daughter down and tell her quite firmly that her behavior was completely unacceptable and that if she didn’t knock it off we would leave right now.

Dr. Jeykll reappeared as soon as we left the dining hay bales. Mr. Hyde residue evaporated as Tenley saw we were heading to one of her favourite fair activities: the pony ride. She was all smiles as she rode in circles on a pony that she christened “Bullseye” after Woody’s horse in Toy Story 2. We segued over to the barns to see the animals. Cows & sheep were pet, llamas were pronounced “funny”, and pig and chicken noises were made. Then we were informed that it was time for more rides.

The dad and I had other ideas and then subjected our child to the other half of the commercial building, the community building (love the community building: got new pens to use at work, new chip clips, and a cool crayon pouch for Ten made out of recycled plastic). Ten did think the community building was ok, especially seeing that she got a tattoo from the Girl Scouts. She was really pretty good, so we rewarded her with getting her face painted. And, after much admiration of her beautiful self, we went back and used up the rest of the ride tickets.

When we had ridden the last bouncing dune buggy, we strolled over to the crafters village and bought a new Robert Marble for the kitchen, got Jeff a fair t-shirt since this years’ theme was Cowabunga, and a large bag of kettle corn as we made our way to the exit.

Consensus: we will visit the LA Co. fair in Sept. twice: once with and once without Tenley. We will budget more for rides than food; and we may, for the first time ever, get wristbands and enhance our visit with margaritas.

Ballerina Girl

Our little girl started Ballet class yesterday at Riverside Ballet Arts. She is in the two year old class on Friday afternoons. They run, jump, hop, skip and learn basic, basic ballet moves. So far this class seems to be a hit. Tenley was all smiles from start to finish and as soon as the class was over she was talking about going back next week. A star born!