Saturday, November 29, 2008

She LOVES to talk on the phone.

I forgot to mention that Baby S was about 10 minutes into that "conversation," when my neurons finally fired and I then got the camera. She has about 4 telephones but lately anything becomes a phone. A few days ago, a tortilla chip became a telephone. P looked at me and asked what the heck was Baby S doing. She was simply engaging in creative thinking. So I was glad that I caught her using the "right" toy for the "right" action.

Friday, November 28, 2008

And then it happened.

Removed in deference to J & Baby S.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Message From Baby S

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

First and foremost, we are thankful for J and Baby S. For a couple of so not great parents, we have been blessed with two amazing children. Although they were born over two decades apart, in two different countries and under completely different circumstances, we are amazed at how similar they are. That is one incredible gift. We are proud of the adult J has become and are looking forward to Baby S maturing into an equally decent human being. In return for our good fortune we promise never to pit you against each other, to always provide unconditional love and support you on your endeavors. When you two are happy, we are happy.

Our day began with an early morning phone call from J. He and his girlfriend S recently moved to a new apartment, in a much safer part of town, and this made us very happy. Sadly, J could not join us for Thanksgiving because he had to work. He will also be working on Christmas day, but assured us that he will be here on Christmas Eve. Last year he got Christmas day off, so it’s time for someone else to spend time with his/her family. We are excited about his visit and especially his time with Baby S. Little sister has been missing him so much that she no longer fixates on the Mama picture in her Who Loves Baby photo album. Now she goes to J’s picture and kisses it. I know, stinkin’ cute.

Then as we were getting the stuffing ready and about to pop the bird in the oven, we received a phone call from Grandpa. Yet another reason for us to be thankful. A later event in the day made us appreciate Grandpa more than ever. He has accepted my children without reservation, and although we have had our moments, the man does not hold a grudge, nor engages in petty behavior. We are very fortunate to have him in our lives. We talked for over an hour and were very surprised when he offered to meet us in San Francisco in a few months. Got to get the granddaughter fix.

Abuela and Abuelo were visiting one of J’s and Baby S’s cousins for Thanksgiving, so we left them a message at home. All three of us said something and P had to be a show off and say “Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias.” He knows my mother eats that stuff up and is devilishly trying to make a liar out of me (regarding his monolingual status). It’s OK with me because I much rather have my mother getting along with my husband and truly liking him, than having her mount a one woman attack filled with hatred. We are thankful for their presence in our lives. Although they live far away, they keep in touch by phone and e-mail. Abuela informed me last week that she is visiting in March to celebrate J’s (3/21) and Baby S’s (3/15) birthdays. We were concerned that J would not be able to make it but he said that he would inform his supervisor that he would be taking time off in March to visit with his Abuela. Also, looks like she’ll get to meet Grandpa when we meet in San Francisco.

While Abuela/Abuelo and Grandpa have not met, they have something special in common, they share two grandchildren. All three have been very generous with their support and unabashed love for J and Baby S. The adoption process is filled with many painful moments, and having someone understand that is priceless. To Abuela/Abuelo and Grandpa, Baby S was real the moment they were informed about our decision to adopt. It was their granddaughter, not a concept or something to be ridiculed. They began using her name immediately, and gave us hope when we were depressed about the long wait. At times things were so bad that I could not even discuss the wait with my mother. She would send me an e-mail and just remind me that our daughter was coming home and that she was certain that it would be a perfect fit for our family. They all shared in our joy when we received the referral and keep up with us via this blog, enjoying every picture, video and silly story posted. Again, we are thankful for their love, support and enthusiasm over the many boring things we do.

As I mentioned before, P has been working overtime and those hours finally caught up with him. Add to that the 2-3 nights that Baby S has used him as a kicking bag, and you have a very tired BaBa. So we did a lot of nothing and P did his part getting the house and the food ready for dinner. The weather was perfect, and we spent hours outside watching Baby S play. She realized very early that BaBa was not going to work and she was elated. Paragons of good parenting that we are, we allowed her to play in her diaper and bare feet. She played with the many dead leaves on the lawn and kept yanking blades of grass and placing them on her head.

It was really nice to sit outside and just enjoy our baby girl. Baby S even played for an extended period of time with her back to us, something that would have never happened a month ago. She is at her best when she is with both of us, you can tell that her confidence level increases significantly. I am so going to miss my little snuggle bug when I return to work.

I will be writing about the rest of the day in a new post, because this post is about good things and I do not want negativity amidst all the good things that we enjoyed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day Trip Part II: Yunnan Ham

When we received Baby S's referral pictures, we were so glad that she was smiling in one of them. Now we think she was laughing at us, knowing what was coming :). P started referring to her as a ham, which she is. We had never heard of Yunnan and naturally sought information about her birthplace. Yunnan Province is known for more than their beautiful children, they are also known for their mushrooms and ham. P couldn't resist and began to call Baby S The Yunnan Ham. And The is important because P calls himself The P.

Upon returning from China, we right away missed the food and P set to find Yunnan cuisine. Fat chance of that happening in our area, but he found a restaurant in San Francisco that serves Yunnan Ham. Within two weeks of arriving home, P decided that it was a must for our Yunnan Ham to visit. BTW, only we get to call Baby S YH. :)

After her exhausting educational outing, we treated Baby S to a late lunch in China Town. I made a wrong turn and we ended up at a stop light in front of the hospital where P was born. This is also the reason we chose SFO as Baby S's port of entry. I am glad that he looked up from his iPhone (he was navigating), or we would have missed it.

Z & Y Restaurant.

The Yunnan Ham eats Yunnan Ham.

We also had the best Chow Mein we have ever had. We need to return and make sure since we had not had breakfast/lunch and it was almost three by the time we ate. Baby S was fed in a timely manner. We had the restaurant to ourselves and the waitresses played with Baby S during the entire time we were there. I was wondering how she'd react to being in a place with so many women that look like her. I was preparing myself for the probability that she would just reach out and want to be held by them. Baby S was friendly, but kept her distance; P and I had to encourage her to shake the hand of one of the waitresses. She was very formal with Baby S and said, "Nice to meet you S." As soon as she extended her hand, Baby S pointed at me and said "Mama." I'm sure that had she been alone with P she would have done the same with him. OK, so stranger anxiety, check.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day Trip Part I: California Academy of Sciences

Since we are at our four month at home, we thought it'd be a good idea to take Baby S to the California Academy of Sciences, since they recently renovated their exhibits. Also, we wanted to get an idea of how she would handle the drive to the Bay Area. Although she is 20-months, she has only used a carseat for four months, and she is not a fan.

The indoor pictures did not turn out too well, but we were more invested in enjoying Baby S than in getting the cameras settings right. Something had to give. This was the largest crowd that Baby S has been exposed to since leaving China. We think she did a great job, although she was initially overwhelmed. We had a really nice day and we think Baby S was more at ease navigating the crowds than when we took her to the Guangzhou Zoo.

We left home at 6:00 a.m. and did not bother to get her out of her pajamas. Baby S slept until we almost reached the Bay Area. As usual, she was all smiles upon awakening and happy to have BaBa sitting next to her.

After a quick change of clothing we headed over to wait on the long line. This is an unusual picture, because Baby S is not trying to rip off her jacket and fleece blanket. She seems to suffer from the same affliction as her brother, a deep seeded hatred of long sleeves and long pants. That is one battle I never enjoyed with J and quite frankly I am not looking forward to a second helping.

Baby S tolerates denim jackets but has learned to take them off. She has many beautiful coats but she acts as though we are pouring acid on her skin when we try them on. She likes her bear jacket (see video a few posts below), and she asks to wear it, but only because of the bear pockets. She also likes the pink fleece jacket her Auntie C sent her, but we think she looks at it as a stuffed toy (it's really nice and fluffy).

Baby S was born in Southern China and her area is known for its "eternal Spring." One thing we noticed right away about her referral pictures was that she was not dressed in several layers of clothing as is customary in China. On Family Day she came to us wearing only one pair of pants, shirt and light sweater. Maybe she is just not used to so much clothing. We are sure that when she is cold, she will gladly accept whatever we use to keep her warm.

Our social butterfly greeting those in line and those walking by.

This school of fish had P and I reminiscing about snorkling and diving in Maui, and making plans to return ASAP. For Baby S, of course, not for us...

Baby S pretending to listen to her BaBa's lecture about species, habitat, etc. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, choo-choo train).

Dude, that fish is like WAY bigger than me!

BaBa, the fish are absolutely enthralling, really, but, could we focus on my outfit for a while? I totally rock this look.

Tropical coral reef, P's hook to get me to visit P.R. for the first time in 25 years.

Not the best picture, but at least Baby S was looking at the camera. This one was taken with my diaper bag camera (I do not own a purse), thus the suckiness.

We ended our visit by introducing Baby S to the play area. It was crowded, but she did very well, once we taught her how to use the equipment. Here she is after watching Mama brave the dark tunnel twice. Years from now, as we are telling her how her Mama made a fool out of herself demonstrating, she will look at us and say, "Really, what's the purpose?"

Playing peekaboo; by this time she had reached her limit and we retreated to a quiet corner to play one-on-one, read books and wait for BaBa to get the car.

Enjoying African penguins, not THE penguins (Antarctic), but they will do for now. Can't wait to take her to Sea World.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Random Cuteness

Coming out of zombie mode to let you know that we had a great time in San Francisco yesterday. We visited the Academy of Sciences, where Baby S was able to get a close look at beautiful fishes and penguins, her BaBa's passion. Based on her reaction, she is going to enjoy her visits to Maui and P.R., so get ready Abuela, Abuelo and Grandpa. You have a future snorkler coming your way.

I will be posting pictures tomorrow, our four-month anniversary at home. For now, some random cuteness, because no one has ever died from such a thing. These pictures were taken Tuesday, while I was cleaning and prepping the van for our little adventure.

I know it is not polite to gush, but I am in awe of how much I love this precious child. Check out the knee rolls.

Baby S loves to sit on her little chair. Sometimes when we walk from the car to the house she plants her little butt on the chair and does not leave until she's ready. I thought it was a given that she would sit while I cleaned the van. Silly woman, again, what was I thinking. Baby S thought that it would be so much fun to instead lug the chair around. Is 20-months the new two?

Helping BaBa change the batteries in her music and lights mirror. Best $20 I have spent (Not my $$, but Abuela's. But I did do the spending.) in a long time. Makes long drives almost bearable.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chasing Baby S

Needless to say, we did not get to go on our planned morning walk (see previous post) yesterday. Once Baby S woke up we played with her, had a late breakfast and wasted the morning away. As we were getting ready to leave for our walk, Baby S received a package full of goodies from her Abuela and Abuelo. We had Baby S open the gifts right away and that took another hour of the day. But so well worth it because Baby S loved all the gifts, and assumed that the Puerto Rican candy that my mother sent for P (I have never been a fan of the stuff) was obviously hers. And boy was it fun to wrestle the candy container from her.

I think it was almost three when we made it to our walk. Baby S and I have done that walk numerous times, but this is the first time that P was able to join us. P wanted to play with the camera and take pictures of his favorite subject. In China, P took care of the video and I did (most of) the still photography.

It was a beautiful day, Baby S was in a great mood, and we had a very relaxing walk. I had the fun job of distracting/chasing Baby S, to allow P to snap away. It was fun, but we both have a lot to learn about sunlight, shadows, etc. Below are a few pictures.

Baby S is very active, perpetual motion, and it is very difficult to get a picture of her still. P did a great job.

I know we are biased, but we both love, no, we FLOVE this picture.

Our view on our walk back to the car.

Baby S was so full of energy and jazzed about her squeaky sandals that she walked across the bridge (app. ¼ mile) on her own.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Guess Who's Up At 4:00 A.M.?

Today, Baby S is 20 months old. and our girl sure was in a hurry to celebrate. Even though it is a Saturday, P has been working some serious long hours this week and is dead tired, Baby S apparently could not wait to get up and see what the big 20-month is all about. She is now (well, we all are) watching N0ggin. Ah to be young and full of energy. Wouldn't it be nice to look half as good at 4:00 a.m.?

My mother (not my Mami) used to say, "Youth is wasted on the young." In my youthful ignorance I thought that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard. Payback is certainly a b*tch, and I owe my mother a huge apology. Abuela, your granddaughter is happily dishing out payback. :)

At approximately 4:30 a.m., I went downstairs to make Baby S a bottle, with high hopes that it would get her back to sleep. Silly me, since it appears that Baby S has made an executive decision to give up the only bottle she takes all day. SIGH... but I digress. While warming up the milk, I hear a very loud game of "Where's Baby S? There she is!" So loud that P could not hear me asking them to pipe down. We do have neighbors and I'm pretty certain that they could not care less about the party going on in our house. I then called P's cell hoping to get his attention, but he and Baby S were so loud he could not hear it ring. When I finally got his attention and mentioned that most people are still in bed at the crack of dawn, P sheepishly said, "Oh, really?" And that is why our daughter is destined to follow her big brother's footsteps into the Smart A$$ Hall of Fame. Truth is they never had a chance with our wonderful role modeling. Consideration for the neighbors aside, it was really nice to hear them so carried away with laughter.

Three and a half hours later...

All is well with the world as Baby S and P return to dreamland. Looks like the Where's Baby S game paid off. Me? I am cursed with the inability to return to sleep, no matter how tired I am.

Friday, November 14, 2008

For Abuela

Here's the funny part, P is responsible for this. Baby S loves to climb on her BaBa, look for his bellybutton and tickle him. I use the words bellybutton or navel, but P uses ombligo. I have totally given up on P learning Spanish, so I do not understand why all of a sudden he is using Spanish with Baby S. Now if you use the English words, she does not know what it is, because to her, it is her ombligo (weego, weego). OK, that last part is my fault.

Today we had unseasonably warm weather (80 degrees), so Baby S and I took advantage of this gift and spent the afternoon playing outside. She was so happy to see and use her sandbox and scooter again. This is the first time that she has managed to get on and off the scooter all by her tiny self. We are very proud of her development over the past four months, yet there's a part of us that wishes we could stop time; just for a little while. Why do they have to grow up so fast?

Mami & Papi

This picture was taken Wednesday, at approximately 5:30 a.m. P has been working earlier this week and Baby S decided it would be fun to join us at such an ungodly hour. While I was getting her bottle ready, I overheard P say to Baby S, "****** (1st name), here, let's keep you warm."

When I saw her, I immediately thought of Mami, Baby S's great-grandmother and namesake. Mami never wore pants, but when she would get cold in the evenings, she would drape a blanket over her legs. Although Mami and Papi are always in my thoughts, at times like this, I miss them even more. BTW, Mami did not suck her fingers, did not have a Snoopy rocking chair, and did not clutch a raggedy thing called Funky Dog. :)

Then yesterday, Baby S decided to channel Papi, her great-grandfather. Until he passed away at 90, this is the way Papi sat. Not only could he sit like that, but could hold that position for a LONG time. I remember trying to emulate him as a child, and finding the position so darn uncomfortable. My attempts at being just like Papi never lasted long. Baby S usually does not sit like this; I think we have only seen her do this a handful of times. I guess she wanted to send a shout out to her great-grandparents.

New behavior this week: I Want. We were at Co$tco (aka the $100 store) this week and Baby S decided that she wanted EVERY single toy she saw. The funny thing is that she went wild over a huge dinosaur that scared the living daylights out of her the previous week. P and I kindly reminded her that although she carries both our last names, well, she is not a Jolie-Pitt.

Pretty good for an almost 20-month old. Baby S really impressed me when she managed to stack 5 blocks on her own. A few minutes later, she stacked 6, but since this picture was taken with my (very slow) cell phone camera, I was unable to capture her feat before she gleefully knocked them down.

All four pictures were taken with my cell phone, yet the Co$tco picture is the only decent of the bunch.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baba Time

Just because Baby S is very possessive of her Mama, does not mean that she does not adore her Baba. But she is used to the fact that he leaves every morning, comes home for lunch, leaves again, then returns for dinner. Since we have our meals together, Baby S associates hunger with Baba’s presence. On the 2-3 times that P has not made it home for lunch, Baby S has refused to eat, even though she was obviously hungry. It is really cute to see her look towards the door and ask, “Baba?” when she is hungry.

Baby S loves to shower her parents with kisses, especially at bedtime. She very adeptly uses kissing as a stalling tool. However, during the past few days, she has been withholding kisses from P, who is understandably hurt. The girl is strong-minded and I think the more P begs for a kiss, the least likely he is to get one. Last night, P decided to use play and Cheerios to get kisses and it worked.

Baby S also likes to torture her Baba by pretending that she does not know how to say Baba. The kicker is that when P is not home, she says Baba all the time. It is one of her first words when she wakes up, when she is hungry, and when I do not let her get away with whatever dangerous stunt she is attempting at any given time.

Sometimes, Baby S decides that she will summon her Baba by the sheer power of her lungs. And boy, are they powerful. She yells BABA at the top of her lungs, then turns towards the front door with the funniest face. It is just so freaking cute. Another Baby S moment I need to get on tape.

Below are two short videos of Baby S and her Baba playing before bedtime. With J, I was careful to make his nighttime routine as quiet as possible. Baby S is a tough one to get to sleep, so we are resorting to tiring her into submission.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Mama!

Baby S has been calling me Mama since our second day in China. And as you can see in the video (previous post), she likes to remind me of who I am. Several times a day, she feels the need to point at me and say Mama. After all, at my advanced age, Alzheimer’s can strike at any time.

In the four months that we have been a family, Baby S has become very comfortable at home, knows she owns P and I and is not afraid to flaunt that knowledge. Maybe because we are together 24/7, or maybe because it is her nature not share, the bottom line is Baby S does not like to share her Mama.

Every morning we go through our goodbye ritual, and it still cracks us up. P usually kisses us both, but as soon as he kisses me, Baby S is quick to interrupt any affection displayed. After all, what the heck is the matter with us? After 12 years, we should be sick of kissing. For every kiss P gives me, she must give me one. The girl is not shy about expressing her consternation with her Baba.

A few months ago, I hurt my right knee and P was rather worried. P arrived home one afternoon and asked me if I was hurting, while caressing my knee. Baby S stopped what she was doing, walked over to us, removed his hand, and began to caress my knee, while glaring at her Baba. Dude, I know we shouldn’t laugh, but it was really funny.

If P sits too close to me, Baby S makes sure to sit between us. Sometimes we do not make it that easy on her and we are truly amazed at how persistent someone so small can be. She just forces her little body between us, then triumphantly declares “Mama.”

Baby S is also a world class flirt. We are going to be in so much trouble in the future. Maybe a baby On Star system would help. P and I are not winkers, yet she has it down. Well, the double wink, because like her dad, she cannot wink. In her case, I’m sure it’s due to her age.

Whenever we are out, Baby S decides to charm people and smiles, winks and babbles at them. But the minute someone talks to her, she becomes serious, points at me and says “Mama.” And, there is nothing friendly about her tone; it’s like a “Hey, keep your distance stranger, even if I began the interaction, because my Mama can kick your butt.” I see a few beatings in my future.

Yesterday, P had to go to work to check on his equipment and we stayed home. When Baby S realized that P was gone she was rather upset. I decided to indulge her in one of her favorite activities, watching herself. Baby S is her greatest fan and can spend an hour looking at her pictures or video. The videos are her favorites and I have to tape her enjoying herself, because it is hilarious. She applauds, squeals, says oh and gives kisses.

However, yesterday, Baby S managed to kick up her possessiveness up a notch. People, Baby S became jealous of Baby S. We were watching the video (previous post) and she was doing her thing, enjoying the cute baby, until the baby had the audacity to call me Mama. That did it for her, she was not happy. She became very serious, climbed on my lap, while still glaring at the baby on the screen, pointed at me and began her chant of Mama, Mama, Mama. So there baby on the video! Better not mess with Baby S.

10/31/2008: Waiting for Baba and practicing her quacking.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Four Months Ago

We met the most amazing little girl in the world. She did not cry, did not even make a sound. P just reminded me last night that we thought she could not even sit on her own. At 15 months, her little legs were not strong enough to walk, and even though after two days she warmed up to us, and became rather vocal (LOUD), this only happened in the privacy of our hotel room. Whenever we left that safe place, she would pretend that she was mute and hardly mobile.

Our travel mates (except for the only other experienced parent couple in our group) lamented her lack of, well, liveliness. They were kind, but could not help commenting on how Baby S… “She doesn’t make a sound, are you sure she can… can she stand on her own… my daughter is 6 months younger and is bigger than her… and blah, blah, blah.

This is for another post, but P and I, like most parents, have wondered how the CCAA matches a child to a family. Initially, we thought it was a matter of supply and demand or what baby/orphanage was next in line. Every day, Baby S demonstrates why she is here with us, and we are each and every time humbled. Our fate as a family was carefully orchestrated, and we are forever grateful.

This video was taken last night at Wally Mart. P placed his iPhone (Yes, I also have one. No, don't ask for the numbers. If you don't have them, it is because only our children, and a few others NEED to have them.) on a stereo on display, to play one of his favorite songs, Dead Man’s Party (by 0ingo B0ingo). It is a staple at our home and it is cute to see Baby S recognizing the song. Please, no comments about lyric content, as P and I strongly believe that it is never too early to introduce OUR children to inappropriate lyrics. J grew up with the same music, is now an adult, and is not a serial killer, sociopath, etc. :)

We will be updating the Blog this weekend. Sorry about the lapse.


Happily walking on her own (she usually wants to be carried) with the balloon she picked to celebrate our Family Day.