Thursday, January 29, 2009

A relaxing bubble bath in the morning and an exciting slide in the afternoon.

JJ called this morning and it was quite the treat for Baby S. Although she gets very shy when someone talks to her on the phone and barely whispers hi, she enjoys listening to voices through the speaker so much. JJ's voice is the only other voice she recognizes besides ours and she really likes to hear her big brother talk. For me, the best part is that he called just because. As the parent of a grown child, to hear that child's voice unprompted is always heart warming. The downside is that after our conversation ended, Baby S was really excited and wanted to start the whole let's look at every picture of JJ ritual. Uh, nope, not going there.

So I offered her a bubble bath to distract and relax her. We were due to meet P for lunch and I did not want her bouncing off the walls in public. We attract enough attention as it is. Baby S was happy to see her Baba and screamed when she saw him. But overall, I think the bath did relax her.

This afternoon I finally got around to picking up Abuela and Abuelo's Dia de Reyes gift for Baby S, a just her size slide. When we arrived home it was a warm 72 degrees, and emboldened by my recent vacuum assembly I decided to give Baby S's new toy a try. I must admit that I am proud of my efforts. Even though the same blindfolded monkey could have assembled the slide, but only after two banana daiquiris. :) Thank you Abuela and Abuelo for the cool present. Baby S also loves that she can crawl under the slide. She has been using our end tables and coffee table as a crawl through toy since arriving home. We gave up and no longer place anything there, so she is in heaven.

Baby S dice: Gracias Abuela y Abuelo por comprarme un juguete tan bueno. Hay una parte donde puedo gatear debajo de la chorrera.

I want to get Mama's camera wet. Maybe she'll stop taking pictures for a while.

Rats, it did not work.

Bathing beauty.


OK, what's the deal? I keep turning the wheel and this thing is not moving.

I see you.

Do not be fooled by that ou, ou, she does that all the time now.

P has been working with Baby S on her body parts and she has added arm, hand and foot to those she can recognize and say.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

S is for stubborn

As I mentioned, I have been taking advantage of Baby S's new found semi-independence to go back over photographs and posting belated posts. Just today I added JJ's visit back in September. The pictures below were taken September 10, after JJ left us. Baby S was restless and fought sleep til the bitter end. I could not get her to relax and she kept insisting on going over every single picture of JJ we have in our living room. We have a big collage with over 40 pictures and most are his. We also have other assorted pictures around the living room. I am ashamed to say that as I type this, we only have the three referral pictures and the Santa picture framed. Oh, wait, there are two framed pictures of JJ and Baby S.

Anyway, to go over all of her brother's pictures takes quite a while. I finally put her down and refused to go over all the pictures again. She stood by the ottoman and cried. I went to the kitchen to get something, walked back and found her out and standing up. And that is the essence of Baby S, she is stubborn. We know that stubborn streak helped her through those 15 months she spent in a SWI and helped her get her needs met. I think we are going to need reinforcements soon.

*****Piggy bank update*****
My mother was shocked to see my piggy bank on the blog. She informed me that she bought it for me when I was 3 years old. Dude, that is one old pig. She never expected the swine to be passed on to two grandchildren born 24 years apart. Funny, both JJ and Baby S were born in the year of the pig.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baby S makes peace with the vacuum cleaner and takes a nap with an old friend.

Baby S is afraid of the vacuum cleaner because of the noise. I can't vacuum while she's asleep for fear of her waking up freaked out and I can't vacuum if I am alone with her for the same reason. It's been a drag having to wait for P to be home in order to vacuum. Yesterday we purchased a new vacuum cleaner and since P has been working so many hours I decided to try to put it together (just the handle). I am useless when it comes to assembling things and was very proud of myself for doing something a monkey can do blindfolded, and after six banana daiquiris.

Baby S was observing every move I made, probably wondering why we chose to bring a second evil appliance into our home. Since she seemed interested I decided to try it out and Baby S did not cry, but would run out of my way. She did not look scared at all and I had more personal space than I have had in six months. Score! Then Baby S became very bold and began to play tag with the vacuum. She would run, touch it, then run away laughing. When I was done Baby S walked over to the vacuum, squatted, tilted her head and said "Hi!" to her new friend. It was really cute and sad, as in forget about that promising personal space thing.

I went into the kitchen to make her lunch and noticed that Baby S had found one of the toys we got for her for Halloween. She fell in love with that skull light at the store and simply adores it. Our daughter, the same child who is deadly afraid of pumpkins. That is, unless the pumpkins are carved with skulls, ghosts and other monsters. Baby S took Mr. Skull (see picture below) then proceeded to whack the heck out of the vacuum. It appears that as far as she is concerned, a vacuum is a vacuum and they all must be related, so she took six months worth of frustrations out on the less intimidating of the two. Our daughter will pick a fight with anything.

Baby S celebrated her victory over the evil machine by falling asleep clutching Mr. Skull. I pried it from her then placed him at the foot of her crib. When I heard her stir I looked at the monitor and saw her reaching out for him. With her batteries back on full charge Baby S spent time crawling through her tube. I forgot how exhausting it is to be a kid. Oh yeah, she is wearing jammies. She was about to fall asleep wearing a onesie and I grabbed the first item within reach.

How touching, a baby and her beloved skull. CC@@ you have made us proud.

She is actually awake, trying to fake out Mama.

Enjoying some tube time. Look at her hand, she can't go through unless she is holding a toy. Yesterday she tried to take Rody with her.

This is my old piggy bank that I wrote about yesterday. An orange pig with green eyes, creepy. It is only filled half way but it weights more than Baby S. I did not realize how much she was drooling until I downloaded the picture.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Now that I realize that it is Chinese New Year I am even more bummed out about our aborted trip to visit JJ and S. That's what the celebration is all about, spending time with family. I know, I am a really bad mother forgetting such an important occasion, but Baby S has been keeping me very busy and it slipped my mind. Besides, P was very aware of the date.

Last year we read in a blog about the tradition of placing eight coins in a red envelope above the front door for good luck. We have been collecting quarters for Baby S a piggy bank that I received as a gift when I was 4-5 years old. That is the same piggy bank where JJ's quarters were kept for him. Anyway, we decided to use eight quarters. Initially we had no idea when to take the quarters down and decided to keep them there until Baby S came home and have her remove the envelope. Then we found out that they are supposed to remain until they fall or until the next year. Alrighty then, Baby S should be taking that envelope down tonight.

We took Baby S out for lunch and darn right Chinese it was. She stuffed her beautiful little face with green beans, noodles, fried rice, chicken, egg foo yung and her new favorite, grapes. The funny thing is that she was using the sign for apple when she wanted grapes. I had no clue what the sign for grapes is but P did a quick search with his phone and Baby S got it on her first try. We are still impressed by how quickly she picks up signs. She also managed to draw attention to herself by screaming "MO, MO, MO" at the top of her lungs. The fact that P and I would say "inside voice" in a very soft voice did not get through to her.

An elderly lady at a nearby table came by several times to talk to Baby S. Our daughter was not the least bit friendly. Both P and I encouraged her to say hi but Baby S would not budge. The woman was persistent and Baby S waved hi and when she came to say goodbye our daughter enthusiastically waved bye. The woman asked Baby S's name and we gave her nickname as it is the first thing that comes to our lips. The woman looked puzzled and asked, "What does that mean in English?" Heh. Baby S's nickname is just the last letters of her first name.

Hoping everyone has a great New Year.

Isn't this the cutest utensil set? JJ and S bought it for Baby S about two years ago (if not longer, have to ask them). Can you see the kid size chopsticks in the middle? Baby S is ready for Asian and Western cuisine. They gave her two but we liked them so much that we kept the second set for her hypothetical baby bother. We chose not to take them to China because we are notorious for losing things (it's a miracle JJ made it to adulthood without being left behind at a gas station and that we did not leave Baby S in Tokyo) and we wanted Baby S to enjoy the set for a long time. What better occasion than Chinese New Year's lunch to use them.

She loves green beans and of course, noodles.

The child size chopsticks are really easy for me to use. Soon Baby S will be trying them out on her own. The joys of motherhood, feeding her with my right hand, while taking a picture with my left.

Happy Chinese New Year. Go Oxen!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Baby nightmares.

Our plans to visit JJ will not materialize due to P's work. Friday, at approximately 5:30 p.m. Baby S was about to have meltdown because P was not home. She has a rather accurate internal clock and knows when her Baba is due home. Weird, because children are notoriously lousy when it comes to the concept of time. I texted P to make sure he was OK, as he usually calls or texts when he is running late. P called me a few minutes later to inform me that he had an emergency meeting at work. Bottom line is that a less experienced lab tech managed to screw up and old reliable P is needed to help catch up. And that is when P was told that as part of the backlash he would have to work through the weekend but cannot take Monday and Tuesday off. It is a three hour drive to JJ's home and there is no way we are going to have Baby S in the car for six hours and have her spend three hours with her brother. We know it'll be too much and she'd be devastated. So now we wait until P can manage a Monday and Tuesday off. We are beyond bummed out because we really miss JJ and were looking forward to seeing SSS, Luke, Taun, Eric and Auntie C. Oh well, such is life.

We had the night from he** last night. Baby S had a decent day even though her Baba had to work. She was her rambunctious self and surprised us when at 8:00 p.m. she walked over to her rocking chair, sat down and immediately fell asleep. Baby S always fights sleep and even though she is getting better she just does not drop like that. P and I were stunned, just watching her and wondering if she was truly asleep (see pictures below). We waited ten minutes then decided to place her in her crib. P was beat and asked me to lay down with him while he fell asleep. Then by 9:00 p.m. I too fell asleep.

About an hour later we heard Baby S cry her I'm-really-scared-and-about-to-meltdown-cry. Come to think of it we had not heard it in a while, not with that intensity. P bolted from bed and tried to calm her down. I do not know what's wrong with me because I think I dozed off and was awakened by another bout of crying. Baby S had a nightmare and it must have been the mother of all baby nightmares. Poor thing was sobbing and just crawling out of her skin. She decided that using P as a kicking bag was what she needed and boy did she kick him for a long time. I got the head butting part. At a point P was so sore that he went to sleep at the foot of the bed, but Baby S's tossing and turning kept him up all night. P did not complain once. Now that she's sleeping on her own he realizes that our baby days are numbered and is enjoying whatever he can get. Funny because P has always maintained that babies are highly overrated and was relieved when we found out Baby S would be 15-months old on Family Day. He nicely but sincerely told me that had she been younger I would have been on my own with her until she became more "interesting." :) I do not mind because I have known this for a very long time. P is just not into infants and he's always been honest about his lack of enthusiasm for them.

At approximately 3:00 a.m. P returned to the head of the bed. As soon as he laid down Baby S rolled on top of him, fell asleep and was stuck to her Baba like glue. Just as I am about to fall asleep Baby S began that frantic cry and I could tell by her eyes and body language that she was in the midst of another nightmare. Whatever it was it scared the daylights out of her. As any parent knows the worse thing is to be unable to console your child. We were very frustrated.

P was exhausted this morning and I expect him to go straight to bed when he comes home. I was left with a very cranky and aggressive Baby S. She has spent the day crying, throwing tantrums, head butting me and hitting herself. But in true Baby S fashion she turned into "Adorable, Jolly, Charming Baby S" when P came home for lunch. Maybe she felt bad about all the kicking she did last night and decided to give him a break.

Now that Baby S does not have to be on me all the time I have the opportunity to add belated post to the blog. I'm mainly working on getting as many pictures and video uploaded and saving them as drafts. I added pics and video of her first visit to the lake on September 6. Just click on the sidebar on 2008 and you should be able to view the post. I'm currently working on an August post and there are two more lake visits. It was a good weekend and we ended up at the lake three times in four days.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Baby Van Gogh

She is not, but this is only the second time she has held crayons in her hands. I wanted to post her first "drawing" (this is her second), but P wrote her name on it and I'm too dense to figure out how to blur it. Check out the cute Crayon holders, made for little hands and Baby S's hands are VERY small. JJ used plain crayons as a child, so P and I were trying to figure out how to get the Crayons in and out of the Tadoodles, when Baby S walked up to us holding a Crayon in her hand. She then proceeded to place it in her mouth. The Crayons are washable and non toxic, but we still do not want her to make a habit out of placing them in her mouth. Neither one of us had ever seen these contraptions, P and I are WAY older, and yet she managed to figure them out. However, she would not tell us how to get the crayon back in. :) Talk about feeling dumb...

We have a surprise for Baby S, she is going to visit JJ and S next Monday. She really misses her big brother, so P is going to work this weekend and take Monday and Tuesday off, JJ's days off from work. I know she is going to be so excited to see him and we might drop by JJ & S's work, where Baby S has quite a few fans.

We are hoping to meet with SSS, Luke and their parents. Baby S has become familiar with SSS & Luke through their blog. Just today she was watching video of her older bud in waiting riding a bike. Taun, she was squealing and giggling. Apparently there is something about an older man riding a bike with training wheels. :)

Then of course there is Auntie C, who we are hoping is not skiing in Utah yet (Ski for Light). Auntie C is legally blind and participates in SFL every year. She also competed in the paralympics biathlon (cross country skiing and shooting) in Norway some years ago. Auntie C wants to teach us how to cross country ski, hopefully in March. Baby S is going to be very comfortable, as she will be bundled up, in a carrier and tied to her Mama or Baba's waist. At least that's the plan at this time. Who knows, P or I might end up being pulled by Baby S. :)

Actually, we have two surprises for Baby S. Abuela is coming to visit March 12-26. Arriving just before Baby S's birthday (03/15) and departing after JJ's (03/21). I think I might have redeemed myself for being the child from hell by conveniently lining up her grandchildren's birthdays. That's enough, right?

I have a few pictures I neglected to post so here they are now.

Baby S last night chilaxin' with Funky Dog.

Cutie patootie.

This is Rody, the current object of Baby S's affection. I told P about how Baby S was bouncing on him like a mad toddler at the store, and I guess he thought I was exaggerating. So last night, Baby S demonstrated how fast she can bounce and knocked his socks off. She also added a stunt element to her play as she bounces then throws herself off Rody. Good thing that he is so close to the ground. Baby S still managed to land on my knee three times. We are so going to make it to the ER soon. When she is riding Rody like a rodeo bull or a Bronco we are unable to take pictures because we have to be right there prepared to catch her. Talk about a wild and crazy kid. Once we get her to stop throwing herself off him we'll take a video.

Dude, no more drinking binges in the middle of the week.

Taken this morning while Baby S was enjoying her waffle and milk. That is some serious messy hair she had going on, due to all the trashing she does at night. We had another baby step last night. Baby S awoke at midnight whimpering and P realized that he had not used an overnight diaper. He changed her diaper and returned to bed without her. When Baby S wakes up we usually bring her to bed with us. Last night P placed her back in her crib and she returned to sleep.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Six months home and we discovered she likes beets.

Six months ago we arrived at SFO jet lagged, with terrible head colds, sleep deprived and with a restless 16-month old who had never sat in a carseat. Ah, good times... Funny thing that today our bodies decided to take us back there because all three of us have been coughing and sneezing. At least we do not have to relive the drive home. :)

Before we departed for China we mentioned to our relatives that if they wished they could meet us at SFO upon arrival. We never mentioned it again to anyone because once you get a referral your world is turned upside down and you are lucky if you end up packing underwear. Lately we have been reminiscing about our journey home and the state we were in upon arrival and let me tell you that we have had some good laughs at how naive we were. We are both so glad that only Baby S and hundreds of strangers were the only witnesses to the mess that were P and K.

Our day began at 5:00 a.m., we showered, dressed, did a last run through our hotel room and received breakfast to go. No more sitting at the top floor restaurant and taking our time. Our guide Sara and our luggage were in one taxi, the three of us followed in a second taxi.

Sara stayed with us through checking in, where I noticed a red mark on Baby S and almost gave P a heart attack when I said it out loud. Oh, I forgot we did not blog about that then. See, one of the kids from another province and one that we had no contact with had chicken pox,and that led to a second (there should have been a third but that is another post)medical exam. P and I were SO scared that Baby S would be denied entry into the U.S. So why did I open my big mouth? I guess I was tired and extremely nervous. Thankfully Sara was blissfully unaware and P did not have to kill me to save his daughter. Once we were checked in Sara walked us to the security line, we said goodbye, provided gifts for her and the other guides and were on our own. We probably should have been overwhelmed and scared but we had done so many things without the guides that it did not faze us. Still, we needed to clear two more security checks then we could breathe.

P was upset with me because in China and Japan there is absolutely no liquids allowed through security. Heck, they confiscated our spray on sunblock in Kunming. I still insisted on bringing baby food for Baby S and hot water in the thermos. That was an automatic delay through security but I pointed at Baby S (snug in the Ergo and no I did not take her out) and stated that she was due for a feeding and they allowed me to keep the water and the baby food. While we were waiting for our flight P looked at me making a bottle, laughed and said, "You would risk incurring the wrath of airport security for your kids. In China no less." Baby I'd do anything for my children (except stop embarrassing them), and the worse that could happen was to have the items confiscated. Big deal...

Baby S slept the entire flight from Guangzhou to Tokyo. She awoke in Tokyo refreshed and not having a clue what was waiting for her. She did not sleep during the Tokyo to SFO flight, which of course was the ten hour trek. Baby S and I were in the two seat side and P was in the aisle seat across from us. Having that extra seat did not make a difference because Baby S wanted to be on her Mama and would not accept the comfort of her own seat thank-you-very-much. Eventually P gave up his seat and sat next to me and Baby S decided to make a concession and laid on the two of us here and there.

About two hours before landing I began to feel like I was run over by an eighteen wheeler. I do rather well without sleep and a hell of a lot better than P. I am also used to overextending myself and recuperating just fine. But the thing about jet lag is that it does not mess with you that much on the way to China. No, your body toughens and gears up for the experience of a lifetime. So what if you waited three years? So what if you have not slept in three days? So what if you had three days to plan your International travel? You are going to meet your baby, and once you meet that sweet angel you run on pure adrenaline. You begin to thank your body (and your lucky stars), but what you do not know is that your body is planning major payback.

Your body waits until you are almost home, waiting to exhale and then releases three weeks of tiredness and the jet lag from the flight to China, all on top of what you are now experiencing. Add the cold, tired baby and cranky husband to the mix and you are in heaven. No, you wish you were on your way to heaven.

Once we landed I texted JJ and we gathered our things. This is when P noticed that he had lost one of his lenses and he did not have a spare set of glasses. We both began to frantically look for that lens. I knew I was in no condition to drive and the man is blind without them so I was not budging. Lucky us we had the rudest crew Northwest Airlines had at its disposal. It appears that they were due to catch a connecting flight soon or were coming home for a rest period. Does not matter, they were cranky and rude. One flight attendant came to ask "What seems to be the problem?" Another flight attendant replied, "He lost a lens," first flight attendant, "There is no time for that." Excuse me? I calmly informed her that we were not leaving until we found the lens as we had a long drive ahead of us. We found the lens and the crew proceeded to basically tell us to get the hell out of the plane, using the words "shoo and go" as their goodbyes. Like I said, good times.

As we are rushing to retrieve our luggage we realized that Baby S was clad in a onesie. Yeah, classy way to arrive home. We stopped to freshen her up and change her into the denim outfit and squeaky shoes. P reminded me that we needed to stop at La Taqueria for her first steps on U.S. soil. This meant that we could not put her down and I was about to give up at that point. Really, does it really matter? To P it did. I can now look back and laugh but we looked absolutely crazy juggling our carry on, changing Baby S and making sure her feet did not touch the ground.

Our luggage were the only ones left when we arrived. The employee looking over them happened to be the same woman that greeted us upon checking in two weeks earlier and remembered us. Somehow Baby S's name came up on our SFO to Tokyo tickets (even though she had a one way ticket home)and she had asked us where was our baby. We told her about adopting from China. We were so exhausted that it took us a while to remember her. She said, "Now you have the baby," congratulated us and off we were.

That was one crazy flight and I do not even want to think what we looked like when we arrived home. Baby S on the other hand looked marvelous the entire time and we are so grateful to have her home. Since we could not make it to La Taqueria to celebrate, we took her out for pizza. Baby S loves beans and quickly traded her slice of pizza for the kidney and garbanzo beans from the salad bar. P then got her beets and I have no idea what made him think that kids eat that stuff. Much to our surprise, Baby S stuffed her little face with the beet strings. Mami loved beets, she would have love to see Baby S wolfing them down.

After lunch we returned to the toy store where P bought Rody as a Happy Six Months home present. We are hoping that it doubles as an exert yourself into an early bedtime gift. :)

Our little bean eater. What the heck kind of kid turns down pizza in favor of beans and beets?

Cleaning after herself.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How did Baby S commemorate such a historic occasion?

She tried to shove a Cheerio up her nose. I caught her just in time but must admit that I thought about grabbing my camera to save the moment for posterity. You know, like when she gets her Ph.D. Baby S has never done this before and I'm glad that I was able to possibly postpone her first ER adventure.

Instead of nasal shenanigans I will post a few pictures of Baby S playing with her cars. They are a set of 4, from P@rents, less than $20, and best of all, she really likes them.

What a day.

A little over ten years ago I was deemed unsuitable as a partner for P due to my race. Needless to say we were both shocked upon hearing this and it is still a source of pain so many years later. I admit that I can think of a laundry list of reasons why I might not be considered suitable (and vice versa), but race? We knew early in our relationship that we wanted children and well, I can't change (nor would ever want to) where the stork dropped me off so this was a source of concern for us.

Two years ago I was denied a job blatantly based on my race. This led to the realization that there was no way we could raise Baby S in the area where we lived. We had moved there due to P's studies and I hated every single day of the wasted decade I spent in that hell hole. Why stay? JJ liked the area, and for some reason I cannot understand it comes as a shock to people that he is not Caucasian. Must be the pasty appearance he acquired from lack of sunlight (kidding JJ). Coupled with P's last name, well it has made it easier. I recalled looking at a speeding ticket he received a few years ago and under race the officer wrote W. Huh? My kid?

During our wait for Baby S we discussed the repercussions of our baby daughter coming into an already diverse family. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would love her the same as I loved JJ. However, when the race issue would worm its way into our lives, I could not help but worry about her. P never wavered and pointed out that I did not have an issue, he didn't and JJ certainly could not care less. P made it clear from the beginning that a domestic or an European adoption were NOT options for him. We are a racially mixed family and Number 2 (how we referred to Baby S before P named her) would reflect that fact. I still worried, because while P might be color blind, society is not and I was painfully aware of what my children might encounter. When we were informed that Baby S is from the Yi minority group, P and I were not surprised. This child belongs with us, this tidbit was just icing on an already delicious cake.

I do want to note that JJ was well received by his girlfriend's family and his race has never been an issue.

I'm not a political person although I have voted in every election since my 18th birthday. I just choose not to discuss politics and do not get all worked up over things. P is more outspoken than I, listens to talk radio (gag me) and enjoys talking politics. One of the biggest arguments we have had involved voting. I had worked a wicked week with way too much overtime and we were babysitting two amazing but very energetic children overnight. I was beat and P just kept nagging me about voting and quizzing me on the propositions. It is the first time I seriously considered not voting. What freaking difference does it make? In our case, P is probably alive today because I voted. Had I stayed home, I would have ripped his heart out with my bare hands. ;)

P was understandably surprised when I told him back in November that it was important to me that Baby S voted with me. I told him that we could take turns voting with her, but as women and racial minorities, it is something I had to do. I knew it was a symbolic gesture that she would not remember and I'm not that sure how much it will matter to her in the future. Luckily for us, we got the only electronic booth in our voting place. Baby S's first vote was on Proposition 8; as I guided her tiny index finger to the screen, I told her that I will always be proud of her and her brother and that I want them (if they choose that path) to marry the person who makes them happy regardless of gender or race.

That night, when 0b@ma was confirmed as president elect, we were watching with Baby S. For the first time I felt, I don't know, different, it mattered. We texted JJ, told Baby S and got her on video attempting to say 0b@ma. We held each other and cuddled Baby S, and I found myself teary eyed. It mattered because of our children and their future. JJ and Baby S, aim high, dream big, work harder, there is one less obstacle in your way. I'm not foolish enough to think race is no longer an issue, but watching the inauguration today (a first for me) with so many beautiful different looking faces made me feel good.

All that being said, how cute is 0b@ama's niece? You have to be darn cute to upstage B0no. Her mother, 0bama's sister is Caucasian and Indonesian, and her father is Malaysian and Chinese. How's that for diverse?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

An afternoon at the playground.

Today we had a high of 70 degrees and headed to a local park to allow Baby S to burn some of that abundant energy. Look behind Baby S on that first picture and you will see Joseph's lower body. Baby S noticed him, his father, mother and 5-month old sister as soon as we arrived. Joseph and family are Japanese and Baby S was clearly taken with him. He is 27-months old and they played together for a while. It turns out that the father Jay, is a dentist and studied at L0ma Lind@ University. We talked about Southern California and how much we miss the area. Joseph and Baby S (and his baby sis) were the only Asian children in the playground and it was funny watching them check each other out, and how they studied each other's faces. A reminded of how important it is to be exposed to others who look like her.

Baby S was so much more confident today than any other time we have visited an outdoor playground. While she does well at the Mall, there is something about the full size structures that intimidates her. The only total miss was the swings, as she absolutely hates them. I'm pretty sure that in a few months she'll get over her fear.

Baby S enjoyed climbing on the playhouse and using the slide. She actually interacted with the other children and was not glued to my leg or P's. What really surprised us was that she spent about 15 minutes playing while P and I sat about 15 feet away. Baby S would occasionally look our way and smile, but was not anxious, just doing her thing. P and I recalled that on Thanksgiving we were thrilled because she played with her back to us, a first for her. Now she is confident enough to play on her own. Baby steps, baby steps.

Other than the puzzle at the Mall, slides are her favorite thing.

She did well climbing.

Remorseful, we have yet to find out what about. Do we really want to know?

Mama, I can't stop!

Not a fan of the swing. Don't worry Abuela, P removed her immediately.

Oh yeah she's happy. How do we know? Because the happy tongue is out in full force. We took 167 pictures and that tongue was out in most of them. We are afraid that she is going to end up biting her tongue and hurting herself.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Beautiful weather today, but a rough day for Baby S.

This morning it was 35 degrees and by noon it was 72. Baby S had a good morning and was bathed and ready to roll when Baba came home for lunch. The plan was to go shopping after lunch. P stepped outside with her for a few minutes, kissed her goodbye then handed her to me. When I closed the door Baby S began to wail. She sometimes whimpers or whines but this was different, so I opened the door and P came out of the car to wave goodbye again and that calmed her down.

Once I closed the door the real meltdown began and she was just inconsolable. During our first two weeks home Baby S would become upset when P left, but once she realized her Baba returns she's been OK with his absence. Not today, and she kept the crying, kicking and screaming for an hour.

She exhausted herself into a nap. I like her arm over her face. When she woke up she was not done missing Baba and it was really difficult to get her socks and shoes on. Funky Dog usually stays at home, unless we are out of the area, but she would not part with him this afternoon. I hate walking around with that thing in public, but she really needed him. We went shopping and I bribed her with a churro but she would not budge. Baby S never turns down sweets or anything with zero nutritional value. She shook her head no and said "Baba."

We came home and I got out the bubbles and that cheered her up for about an hour. My gosh, I have no idea where she gets all that energy, but if we could somehow harvest it, the world's energy problems would be solved. She ran after the bubbles, she laughed, applauded and shouted "bubbles," and she had a blast.

Then at 4:30 p.m. Baby S decided that it was time for Baba to come home and the crying began. She thought every car was Baba and when she realized it was not him a fit would ensue. Just our luck that we live on such a busy street. I tried bringing her inside but that increased the crying and kicking. I was so relieved when P arrived. I have no idea when was the last time I was so happy to see him.

Ever since we met, Baby S has been OK with both of us, but I am THE person she needs all the time. Over the past two weeks I have noticed a difference regarding her need for her Baba. Usually when P comes home, Baby S does the happy dance, they play, laugh, cuddle, but if I am out of her sight she becomes anxious and must find her Mama. If she is sad, hurt, scared or upset she must have me. But within the past two weeks she has been calling out for her Baba during those occasions as well.

It really saddens P that she cries for him but I keep reassuring him that this is a positive development. Baby S is finally secure enough that her Mama is here for her and is now moving on to form that same attachment with her Baba. Or I could be making all of this up. :)

Do you know how difficult it is to get a picture of Baby S with both feet on the ground, let alone still? That is why all her pictures make her look like a runaway train. Warm weather cute outfit courtesy of her Aunt Court or her Nana. I think those are supposed to be capri pants. Heh.

Baby S is downstairs with Baba enjoying some one on one time, while I post and recuperate from her meltdown. We are then going to watch the X Files movie. JJ, P and I used to watch the series, always with the lights off. We hope Baby S enjoys it as much.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby prank calls. All parents do this, right?

The week after Christmas my cell rang as Baby S and I were cuddling. I looked over at the caller ID and saw the word BLOCKED. Since I don’t give my number away willy nilly I was tempted to ignore the call. Then I thought it might be someone important from a blocked number, so I answered. As soon as I heard P’s voice I wondered then quickly remembered why his number was blocked. The night we went to Jack’s for dinner, after walking around for an hour, we returned to find out that we had some more time to wait. So we sat at the bar and tried to entertain a tired Baby S the best way we could.

We took turns talking and playing with her but she began to become understandably restless. I had given my phone to JJ so he could surf the Internet and P was doing the same with his. P then turns to me and says, “Quick, give me seven random numbers.” I look at him, ask why and he says, “Come on, just give me seven numbers.” He had that twinkle in his eye I know too well and I also know that it never ends well, so I said no. He then asked JJ for seven numbers, and once JJ realized that I was giving him The Look (hey, I’m still his mother) he went back to his phone. P called me a chicken and a party pooper and informed me that with or without my help, Baby S was going to make her first prank calls.

I reminded P about caller ID but the smart aleck was way ahead of me and had blocked his number. And yes, he did dial a random number and then allowed our daughter to annoy an innocent individual who was probably in the middle of eating dinner. Baby S, on December 23, 2008 at J@ck’s Grill and using your Baba’s iPh0ne (an antique by the time you read this), you made your first prank call. Not bad for a 21-month old with limited language skills.

P, as much as I appreciate your naughty side, when Baby S gets in trouble for engaging in “pranks,” you are on your own honey. ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

JJ, she is SO your sister.

No Baba, no eating.

One of JJ's guilty pleasures is cheese sauce (or nacho cheese sauce). P and I are absolutely disgusted by the stuff, but we have different yet equally disgusting guilty pleasures. When JJ and his friends get together, they explore new ways in which to use the offensive food item. JJ then regales us with tales of their experiments.

Today, P had a business lunch so Baby S and I were on our own. As he left this morning, P apologized and told me he knew it would be tough. This happened at 5:00 a.m., and I had a whopping two hours sleep, so his apology and empathy did not make much sense. I do this every day, right?

Then lunch time rolled around and Baby S was hungry. She did the sign for more, said "Mo," and made the sign for eating. Heh, the girl knows her Mama is dense so she is now covering all her bases. No matter what food I presented, she shook her head, said "No," then pointed at the door and yelled "Baba." Light bulb went off and our earlier conversation sunk in. P was referring to lunch time and Baby S not eating.

I realized that Baby S would not eat anything at home and began to think of what to get her. C0$stco, her favorite (she loves the hot dogs), was out of the question because she's only been there with her Baba. I thought a quesadilla from T@aco B*ll might work.

Once we arrived I remembered that they have potatoes (always a hit with Baby S) that are bathed in cheese sauce and sour cream. I decided to get an order of potatoes and ask for the cheese and sour cream on the side. However, when it was our turn to order Baby S was frantically making the sign for more, screaming "MO, MO, MO, MAMA, MO'" and doing the sign for eating. The girl knows how to get attention. The cashier was very amused and asked me her age, then commented on how beautiful and smart Baby S is. I was more concerned about the fact that I was sure everyone in that place thought that I never feed my daughter, based on her cute little stunt.

By the time our order was ready I remembered that I forgot to ask for the sides and Baby S was about to jump off her high chair so reordering was not an option. I cringed when I saw the cheese sauce but thought, what the heck, it's not like I'm feeding her plutonium. Much to my surprise she LOVED them. I had to take out my phone and capture the moment for JJ and P.

I texted P, then called him, expecting him to be less than happy. P REALLY hates cheese sauce and does not want Baby S to become a fast food casualty. He was OK with it and said, "After all she is JJ's sister, what were we to expect?" Besides, since she is so underweight cheese potatoes are not going to send her to an early grave or open the door to a a career as the first female Sumo wrestler. Baby S ate half the potatoes there and finished the rest when her Baba came home. That is the most she has eaten in quite a while.

We then went to the grocery store where Baby S amused herself with the butterfly on her blouse. At one point I turned away from her to look at a price, heard giggling and turned around to see my daughter naked from the waist up. She took off her blouse and was smiling, proud of her handiwork. I put her blouse back on and mumbled something about how inattentive I must come across, then a woman next to us stated, "Don't worry, I saw her do it. She did it in a flash, I take it she is really good at dressing herself." The scary part is that we ALWAYS dress Baby S. It is one of many areas where P and I agreed to that delaying her independence was beneficial to her recognizing us as the people who would be meeting her needs. So, where did she get this good at taking her clothes off? Our little nudist.

Today we had a high of 74 degrees. Got to love California, especially if you are a sunshine whore like P and I. It was beautiful outside and P decided to come home at 4:00, so we could spend some time outside with Baby S, while there was still daylight. It reminded us of Thanksgiving, when we sat outside for a few hours, watching Baby S play, clad only in her diaper. This time we actually had her fully clothed.

Cute picture, drool and everything.

This is one of the best parts of Baby S's day. I really get a kick out of her happy dance and when she does the sign for up.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

@#%&*^ @*&^%$

One of the interesting aspects of having a child Baby S’s age is when they unexpectedly give you a glimpse of yourself. It’s been so long since what we do and say would really impact someone impressionable, but things have changed.

This afternoon I left Baby S on the sofa to refill her sippy cup with milk (yeah, she is gulping the stuff down). Baby S was very tired, fighting sleep as usual and not a happy camper. Behind the sofa, I stepped on a toy and it not only stunned me and annoyed me, but hurt like a mother sucker. So there I was holding my foot, grunting and desperately withholding the seven hundred expletives I was dying to let loose.

I finally managed to put myself together, and resumed my walk over to the fridge. I realized that Baby S was quiet (always a cause for concern) and then I saw her walk to the spot of my mishap (I had removed, OK tossed, the offending toy). She then held one foot and jumped around grunting and perfectly imitating my ridiculous performance. Except that it looked really cute when she did it. :)

Yeah, she had me laughing really hard and it stopped her whining and crying so a win-win situation. One of those reminders that we are being watched closely. This is going to be really difficult.

"Is that a China doll you have there?"

We knew it would eventually happen, but darn, it did not make the experience any less excrutiating. We have yet to be out in public with Baby S without having someone approach us. When JJ was here he was rather amused, because he knows that I'd rather fall face down on my own vomit that attract attention. So for him, it was funny watching me squirm. BTW, 98% of the comments we get have been positive.

December 31, afternoon, and P reminds me that I have to pick up a few items at C0$tco. First, what kind of idiot goes into that madness to pick up a couple of items? You are reading her ramblings. But P rarely asks for something so I tend to accommodate him when he does ask.

As we entered the store I see a woman I'm pretty sure I have never seen before. She is smiling in our direction and waving. I thought Baby S was up to her switch and bait greeting thing, so I smiled back. I stopped for the first item and turn around to find the same smiling face. OK, no biggie as there were many others waiting to obtain the same item.

Baby S and I move on to look at some sweatshirts and when I look up, yeah, you got it, same smiling face looking at us. Now I'm starting to feel a bit uncomfortable and by now I'm certain that I do not know this woman. It's at this point that I noticed that she does not have a shopping cart nor is carrying any items. Weird shopper I guess.

I decided to get out of the store ASAP, as it was getting really crowded and to be honest did not think much about the smiling woman (SW). Just as I'm contemplating which line to take a chance on, I heard someone say something in my direction, but kept walking. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder (A BIG NO NO with me) and I turned around to once again find SW.

SW: "Is that a China doll you have there?"
Me: Wishing P was with me and returning as benign a smile as I could muster: "This is my daughter, her name is Baby S."
SW: "OMG she is absolutely beautiful."
Me: "Thank you."
SW: "But you know, is she one of them?"
Me: "One of them? Oh, if you are wondering where she was born, she was indeed born in China."
SW: Very happy with her deductive skills: "I knew it, those China dolls are beautiful."
Me: "Do you have children?"
SW:"No, but I have nieces and nephews."
Me: "Are they Caucasian?"
SW: "Of course."
Me: "How would you feel if someone referred to them as Caucasian dolls?" Still smiling and just hoping she got it.
SW: "Oh, they are not beautiful."
Me: Totally thinking, WTF? Did she just diss her nieces and nephews? At this point I realize that the perma-grin she was wearing was most likely the result of being dropped on her head more than the allowed limit, and she would never get it. Still, UGH!

This is one of the reasons why we are the only parents in our travel group who departed from China without purchasing a single silk (or like a favorite blogger dubs them, "silkester") outfit. We do not have a problem with those that do, but to us, it just perpetuates that freaking myth. And, if we ever change our minds, a quick trip to San Francisco will solve the problem.

I know people are curious and I know that Baby S is an engaging little creature. One who hides her less than desirable qualities for her Mama and Baba's private enjoyment. But come on! I must admit that I think I have spoken to more strangers in the past six months than in my entire life.

As Baby S grows and understands more, I know interactions like this are going to take a different meaning as we do not want her to be solely defined by her birth country or by how she became our forever child.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

She has Mole's Disease and Baby Alzheimer's

We have not posted a Public Service Announcement since we were in Kunming, so we have decided to educate the public on Baby S's conditions. We realize that most of you have never heard of Mole's Disease, and there is a good reason for this. Until July 7, 2008, P was the only person diagnosed with said malady. So, what is MD? It is the inability to open one's eyes in the morning. P contracted MD when we moved from Southern California to Northern California to attend school. Every morning, he would surprise me by waking up, walking to the shower, showering and shaving, all without opening his eyes and with the lights off. Then he would walk into our room and announce, "Let there be light." That was my cue to turn the lights on, and P would scream like a mad man after opening his eyes. Since this happened Monday through Friday at 5:00 a.m. I can assure you that our neighbors were not amused.

Imagine our surprise when we met Baby S and on our first morning with her we discovered that she too is afflicted with MD. You have no idea how many mornings I have inadvertently turned on our bedroom light, only to have Baby S scream at me and P frantically shouting, "What the hell do you think you are doing? She is in pain." Needless to say, Baby S gets a kick out of this and screams more at her Mama for her lack of sensitivity to her condition.

Now on to Baby Alzheimer's. As we have posted somewhere before, Baby S has the attention span of a gnat. Just DO NOT tell her great-grandmother M, because M thinks that Baby S is the smartest baby in the world (she told me last time we talked, how cute is that?) and we do not have the heart to tell her the truth. We realized that something was wrong in China, because Baby S would begin crying, then a dust particle would engage her attention and she would forget what had her in tears and go study said dust particle.

We thought that this was the result of the life altering experience we had put her through and once home and settled it would disappear. Here we are six months later, and is still happening. The video below was taken yesterday and illustrates what this condition has done to our beautiful Baby S. After posting this video, we also know that any possibility of going to heaven just went out the window. ;) It's OK, we are more comfortable in hot weather.

Where's Baby S?

There she is!

Practicing for her future career as a building inspector.

Before Abuela takes out a contract on us (again), we would like to explain that Baby S DID NOT fall. She and her Mama were walking into the room and Baby S was all happy and giggling, then just threw herself on the floor.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Has it really been six months since we met the most amazing little girl in the world?

I freaked when I realized that P had removed Baby S's bib.

WOW, it really was six months ago that we entered the Kunming Civil Affairs Office and saw Baby S for the first time. And what an incredible six months we have been blessed to experience. As expected, our lives have changed significantly since but in a positive manner. As much as we like to make fun of her stubbornness, it is her capacity to love and her happy go lucky nature that floors us on a daily basis. The last times our lives were impacted in the same manner were when we became a family and when JJ survived a PE. She truly makes us very happy.

One of the first things we noticed in China was Baby S's capacity for empathy. Whenever she heard a child cry, she would immediately search for the source and smile or reach out to the child. True, big freaking deal as she spent 15 months in a SWI, but she is the same today. On the occasions that I have cried from happiness, she also has become upset.

We had such an occasion this morning as Baby S and I were in the shower. She saw me doing something that she's seen me do for the last six months, shaving my legs (shut up, I am anal about it and do it daily). As I placed my right foot on the tub's edge, Baby S placed her hand under her knee and lifted her left leg, placing her foot on the tub's edge. She made sure that her toes were touching mine, looked up at me and gave me the most amazing smile. G-d knows that my greatest fear is my children (or anyone else for that matter) imitating my actions, but that little gesture warmed my heart and made my day. Baby S was so proud of herself and I could not help but cry. It gets worse, I also cried when I told P about it this afternoon. This child has broken me to the point that my eyes leak for no gosh darn reason (hey, I got a reputation as Evil Incarnate and The Forces from Hell to protect).

As you can see by the picture above, we took Baby S to a very exclusive place for lunch to celebrate such a milestone. We did learn that she likes peaches and cottage cheese and as usual Baby S got quite a lot of attention. This usually happens because she can be heard screaming throughout the store, but today it was enhanced by her squeaky shoes. Mental note: K, if you really do not want to be stared, pointed at or have people approach you, leave the squeaky shoes at home or at least remove the squeaker.

Yeah! I mounted and dismounted on my own.

After lunch Baby S and I went shopping, and she had a HUGE meltdown at T@rget. I had to carry her around the store (we are very strict about having her sit in the cart) to get her to stop crying. I was able to find a cute lavender snow bib and it matches the jacket that Baba bought for her when he visited his grandmother in January 2006. I know that is when we were LID, our mental illness is a long standing problem. That jacket holds sentimental value because P videotaped himself talking to Baby S outside his grandmother's building. It was snowing and P was showing snow to Baby S for the first time (crazy I tell you). The funny thing is that P was wearing jeans and a short sleeve shirt, while telling Baby S about the jacket he bought for her and how she must always dress warm in that kind of weather. It is our first documented instance of "do as say not as I do," and we have had quite a few laughs about it over the past two years. Come on, this is going to be GOLD in the future for Baby S.

At the register, the cashier was a very friendly young man who was talking baby talk to Baby S. When he rang the bib he pointed at Baby S and asked, "Is this for her?" I responded yes and he exclaimed, "Your daughter knows how to ski?" I said he was friendly not a rocket scientist. Got to tell you, it was very difficult to refrain from replying, "Yes, you should see her doing the Giant Slalom." But, since I'm working on that trying to get into heaven thing, I simply told him that it is for snow play and possibly being carried on her Mama's back during a cross country trek. He seemed relieved and stated, "Good, because I am 22 and can't ski worth sh*t, so I was feeling pretty dumb for a minute there." I am happy to inform you that his friendliness, ease with children and looks might prevent him from being selected out. Heh, my daughter, the Giant Slalom queen.

Rody, I OWN you.

The two pictures above were taken at our next stop, a toy store that is closing soon. Too bad because they have some neat stuff like Rody, the red creature with Baby S. The purpose of Rody is to allow toddlers to have a soft ride on toy. In the first picture, Baby S is applauding herself about bouncing on Rody and dismounting on her own.

Then that stubborn streak took over Baby S and reminded me why she is so amazing. She decided that she was going to pick up Rody, quite the task given its size and weight (and HER size and weight). She tried several times, gathering the attention of the sales clerks and the other two customers there. I tried to redirect her several times, but Baby S was hyper focused on prevailing. She squatted, placed her arms around Rody, grunted like an Olympic weight lifter and beamed as she picked him up. Much to my chagrin, she received a lot of kudos from the onlookers. Baby S placed the toy down, applauded and said "Good girl!"

One sales clerk asked me Baby S's weight and was very surprised that she pulled it off. She told me, "Your daughter is very determined, I feel sorry for you and your husband, you know, in the future." I told her that she could start feeling sorry for us right now as she is wiping the floor with our sorry arses.

The tongue strikes again.

This is the current wallpaper on my cell phone. It's so Baby S.

The tongue, sigh. As I have mentioned before, Baby S's tongue is rather large for such a small person and she LOVES to stick it out all the time. The pictures above were taken New Year's eve and she is wearing an outfit that her Nana sent. It's really cute and the kicker is that the blouse has the inscription "I love Spring." Instead, I ended up with this. The pictures do capture Baby S's quirky and funny sides.

Baby S laughs a lot and people usually comment on how happy she is. Not sure that she gets the happiness concept but we believe that she is settling home and it appears that our screw ups have not dampened her faith in our parenting. Which, she should, you know, really question. There has not been a day in the last six months that she has not smiled/laughed or make us do the same.

Baby S's first laugh with us happened as we were about to leave the hotel on Family Day. Remember how we were "offered" the opportunity to finalize the adoption in a few hours? It was actually 45 minutes. We were not only nervous, excited, stunned and tired, but also pressed for time. My decision to give Baby S a bath, albeit a quick one, was a really lame one. I asked P to please open the can of formula while I dressed Baby S. When he did, the freaking thing popped (probably from the pressure, we had just landed) and P found himself covered with the powder and NO time to change (but he was able to dust himself off) . The powder was also over the sink, the carpet and our suitcases. As P is refraining from cussing we heard her, we heard her laugh! OMG, the sweetest, most melodic, heart warming laugh since JJ's. She thought her Baba was funny. Although we both knew that the really hard part of our journey to Baby S had just begun, we also knew that it would be OK. Baby S is the perfect compliment to JJ, a little sister to carry on his well honed craft of making fun of us. And that was without his loving guidance. Dude, we are dreading our old age.

Not everything has been roses, puppy dogs, eternal bliss and unprecedented harmony. Parenting is not easy and when you add the whole International Adoption angle, well, it is a rocky road. But one that if given the opportunity we will travel again without second's hesitation.

This post is not only too long but boring as heck. Thankfully, Abuela is the only person who reads this blog so I don't feel too bad about boring her to sleep. My posts are the sure fix to insomnia. :) Anyhoo, I will be addressing the sleeping, eating and other adjustment issues in detail later. For now, Baby S has fully transitioned into her crib, although we have decided to have her fall asleep with us most of the time for bonding purposes. I admire P for waiting so long and making sure that Baby S was truly ready to sleep on her own. The guy took a lot of flak about this and I am so proud that he followed his instincts. Baby, you have no idea how your easy going nature about this made all the difference.

Baby S has considerably decreased her food intake and it is driving us mad. To be honest, P is more upset than I am and just can't let go. She really needs to gain weight. I am a hypocrite because after JJ I maintained that I would not engage in the food wars again. JJ was doing just fine until in my ignorance (he was really skinny at that point) I turned him from a healthy eater (only ate when he was hungry) into a social eater. Sadly, coupled with ill advised medication, it became a problem for my once healthy and fit baby boy. However, Baby S is a completely different child and she is really underweight and was undernourished when we met. Baby S's doctor is satisfied with her development and maybe this is more about our need to make things better to make up for the 15 months that our precious baby girl was not getting the nutrition she needed and deserved. Like the sleep issue, we know that it will be resolved.