Monday, February 24, 2014

Piragua, raspado, shaved ice, they are all good.

The day we visited Fairmount Park I hoped we would run into a piragua vendor, except that around here they are called raspados (shaved).  P found a raspado place, it had good reviews, so we headed to satisfy our frozen treat craving. JJ remembers piraguas well, he had them here in Southern CA, in Mexico and Puerto Rico.  The funny thing is that he could not recall his usual. I remember well because although there are many flavors and combinations, I always have fresa (strawberry) and tamarindo (tamarind syrup).  It's the most popular flavor in Puerto Rico and JJ always had the same.    As soon as we entered the shop JJ was mildly disappointed. He expected blocks of ice everywhere, and the clerks shaving the ice for each order. It is the only way he has ever seen it done. That place was packed, and the only way to keep up is to have a shaver/freezer combo. That thing was huge, but it did not provide JJ with the trip down memory lane he wanted.

These raspados also lacked the familiar cone shape JJ remembered.

JJ, SS and I ordered the same, but P stepped out of convention and ordered strawberry/watermelon. It's not his fault, the guy does not have the Puerto Rican gene like the three of us.

The pictures on the wall depict well what JJ expected. We told JJ that as soon as we have the time we will go to what was once the Museum of Science and Industry in L.A., and we are sure there will be vendors there, just like in his childhood.  Even better, the museum now houses the shuttle Endeavor, and we want to share that part of history with SS. 

On the drive home I realized that I had pictures from SS's first piragua in Puerto Rico.  I jokingly refer to it as the most expensive piragua ever, since it was the focus amd highlight of our trip last year.  I was so sad when we departed P.R the first time, because we were unable to get a freaking piragua.  I was determined to introduce SS to that beloved part of my childhood. JJ had already had the pleasure when he was 12 and spent a month on the island.

Downtown Ponce almost a year ago. It was such a rough week for SS and I that I could not even post the pictures. It's also the first time since meeting SS that I took so little pictures. That trip confirmed what I suspected, traveling with SS without P royally sucks in so many ways. It started at baggage claim on arrival and only went downhill from there. And it did not help that SS was not prepared for a week long separation from her Baba.  She really had a horrible time emotionally, my heart ached for her. I also gained a greater appreciation for all P does when we travel. He takes care of all our luggage and carseat installation. My job is to look after SS, take pictures and video, and drive. I never realized before that I had the better part of the deal. 

Since I barely posted from P.R. I did not get to document our first trip without the Ergo. Man that carrier was such a lifesaver. I really missed it in Atlanta when they changed our departure gate and we had to take the train to the opposite side of the terminal.  SS did well, but it's so convenient to just place the kid in and have both hands free. It also signified a big change for us, my baby was growing up. That stung a little because I really enjoyed having SS so close to me. It's difficult to think about next month and know the Ergo won't be coming along. P told me that SS really loved her Ergo time as well. He thinks she would gladly get in it if I asked. Nah, SS is a big girl, and it's time to allow her to move on and gain independence. 

Now this is how it's done!

SS went for it, the much parent dreaded sugar rush/brain freeze.

Now we have all had raspados in So Cal and shaved ice in Maui. We need to get P a piragua sometime in the future. This post makes me happy because there's shaved ice in our immediate future. And sun, sand, seafood, sunscreen, snorkels, condo with two pools, actually visiting a beach...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Super hero bowling.

I have never been into video games, just not my thing. But recently we dusted our old Wii to allow SS to play bowling.  We try to play here and there after dinner, not as good as a walk, but at least there's some movement involved. SS enjoys it, and she definitely has a funny way of playing. She has had some great shots that seemed impossible given how she contorted her body to "throw." SS enjoys playing as different characters which is a hoot. We are hoping SS moves to other games where her balance and coordination will be challenged.  There is a game simulating the ski long jump that will require her to stand on the Wii fit platform and lean her body forward. SS has no idea we are working on her balance and coordination, she is just playing a game. And we get some family bonding time.

Technically not a super hero, but SS has certainly elevated pirates to that status.

We can't blame the girl for loving that hammer, even her Mama thinks is one cool toy.

I initially didn't realize that SS was using her right hand, but P noted that SS must hold the hammer in her left hand.

SS does not need a costume to look or act scary, and she certainly wears them all well. But we are partial to her Batman Dark Knight Rises. Probably because she does dark and scary so well. 

I never took a good picture of SS wearing her wolverine costume, and look, she has outgrown it. We have no choice but get SS another one. P said no one can say SS does not play dress up. That is a common complaint about SS's dislike for the princess crap. Our daughter plays dress up, just not the way people stuck in silly gender roles want her to play.

As I was perusing through the pictures I noticed something above SS's head on this one. We have no idea how she got her hand prints up there, or what the heck was on her hands at the time.

This was her second strike, I missed the first one while briefly turning away.

We all got strikes in the same frame, SS thought that was really cool.

Friday, February 21, 2014

No longer a beginner, SS earned qualifying score.

It's been five days since I last posted, P took Saturday off, and it just felt wrong for me to go to work. We ended up staying home Tuesday as well. We sure know how to make a pity party last.  But it was a really good break, spending time with a certain clueless little girl and just letting things settle.  We are probably going to get SS's blood work done Friday, my day off. The lab's schedule just doesn't work well with ours. If P can join us fine, but I have done it before with SS and I think we are going to be just fine. I might call in advance because last time they really had to carefully calculate the absolute minimum of blood they could take, due to SS's size. Our girl is a trooper and she will rise to the occasion, then guilt us into buying another treat. I'm going to try my best to post in the next week, but things are going to get busy as we prepare for our little birthday getaway.  The more I think about it, the more I cringe wondering how on earth I ended up agreeing to so much planning and expense, for such a short time.

Today was tournament day, last day of this archery session, although it seems it went by too fast. We really think it was a much shorter session. P texted me that SS earned a qualifying score. That's great, but what does that mean? Until today SS was a beginner, and today's score now qualifies her as intermediate. Here's the thing about qualifying, only tournament scores count. All those bulls eyes during class do not count, it only counts to have a good day on tournament day.  And I'm surprised today was SS's day, because P told me she was a beast. Onward to the Olympics little beast!

I quickly asked P if he took pictures, and apparently it was not possible with our daughter's p*ss poor attitude.  At least it did not impede her scoring. Many kids reach that goal after only their first session. We have seen beginners nail bulls eyes by their second class. For us, the beauty of SS's achievements are measured differently. That Olympics remark was merely making fun of ourselves. We are proud that SS has managed to hold on to that huge bow. We are immensely relieved that she has not managed to make her arrow boomerang into the crowd, getting her mug in the news that evening. We are just happy that she tries, for as long as SS wants to try archery.  Or karate, music, soccer, alpine skiing, snow boarding. OK, the last two just to mess with P, who hyperventilated when he saw SS's look of awe and determination at the female snowboarders and skiers.  He said absolutely NOT, and I said why not, just to see the look on his face. It was almost as good as when I suggested sitting SS on the trunk of that elephant in China.

We do not see archery or whatever activity she is in as the thing that will define SS, but one of the many things she will get to experience throughout her childhood. It feels good to be able to offer her the opportunities (low budget as they are) and watch her find her niche. One day she might find her bliss, and we pray that the activity that makes SS happy, is one she can also master. In the meantime we just watch in awe at the things she by all means should not be doing, but is at least participating. So even in a day with a p*ss poor attitude, we can't help but laugh at the box of chocolates SS has turned out to be. You never know what you are going to get. What we get we enjoy and we treasure.

SS's Lego area, we had to get her table out of JJ's room to give him breathing room.

Cute, but we will be discussing your attitude young lady.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

SS had her first field sobriety test.

SS had her neurological consult Friday morning with Dr. A, and once again we found ourselves by the Mission Inn.  It's funny how we keep coming back that that area.   I am a firm believer in preparing kids for upcoming events. no matter how innocuous they might be. P feels the less notice for potentially difficult events the better. He was advocating to tell SS in the morning, on the drive there. No way dude, no way. I did feel awfully inadequate telling SS the night before, and she reacted as expected. We did explain that Dr. A was only going to ask us questions about her time in China and at home, then move on to ask her to do things, like jumping on one foot, but no shots, and nothing painful.   

We have had concerns about SS's CNS since we met her but our concerns have been dismissed. You know, the perception that since we are older parents we are hyper vigilant. Gee, like it's such a bad thing to be proactive.  Bottom line is that SS is very uncoordinated, and still uses a straw to drink not because we want to impede her becoming a big girl, but because she still chokes on liquids. SS has difficulty chewing and swallowing. We worry because she still can't pedal, and because bruises on her legs and Bandaids are normal, since she is always tripping. SS's balance is definitely off.

Since the consult was scheduled on my day off P felt OK not taking the time off. But a couple of days before the appointment the butterflies in my stomach would not leave me alone.  I asked him to please join us, and we are thankful he has a job were taking time with such short notice is not a problem. I have been around the adoption boards long enough to know what to expect at different consults.  When JJ had his neuro consult an EEG was a must. I knew the Dr. would most likely request one for SS. That's an easy one, because all one has to do to prepare is make sure to keep the child awake as late as possible, with the hope they will sleep during the test.

Now it is becoming more common for Dr.'s to order an MRI. Yikes, I have had so many of those, and I hated each and every one of them. Being still for 45 minutes is difficult for any adult, let alone a child. But I took P's advise and since I was anxious about the consult, well, I shelved the MRI concern for when that bridge presented itself.

SS was not a happy camper and her demeanor completely changed as soon as we entered the examination room. She just would not buy that it would not be a painful consult.  Dr. A is very soft spoken, and thankfully a child neurologist. The first thing he did was address SS's fear, explaining that he was a fun doctor, not a shot to be had in his office, and no pain. He had read whatever history we could provide, but what he really needed, specific birth history (forceps, vaginal, c-section) that we could not provide. But he at least had enough to understand our concerns, and not once did he dismissed us as hyper vigilant.

SS actually laughed through the reflex testing, and Dr. A seemed satisfied with her visual tracking. When it came to balance we knew we had a problem. SS did not hop until very late, let alone on one foot. She managed to do it, but with difficulty.  Then SS was asked to tandem gait, the famous field sobriety test. It's where the toes of the back foot touch the heel of the front foot at each step.  I mentally kicked myself for not asking SS to try that before. I also wondered why Dr. S and Dr. B never asked during their many exams with SS. Our girl flunked and miserably, she cannot get her feet so close together. When P helped her get the feet positioned properly, it resulted on SS losing balance. Good thing Dr. A was expecting just that and she did not hit the tile floor.

SS needs to have an MRI, the doctor won't even bother with the EEG. We know that there's no way SS can endure the MRI without sedation. Then there's the noise, SS has issues with noise and that machine noise level even disturbs me, and I don't have SS's issues. Dr. A warned us that the possibility of general anesthesia is greater than sedation. OK, now we do have a problem. We are not sure that we want SS under general. She is too small, and we are not sure we want to risk the possible negative consequences.  We have not talked much about this yet, because Dr. A blindsided us with a second concern.  That concern was a kick in the gut for both of us. We left the office with an order for am MRI and also for blood work (no surprise there), and for a karyotype.

That request kicked me in the gut much harder that it impacted P's. I'm the worrier in this relationship, the one running through all the what ifs, and a karyotype was nowhere near my radar. I was so glad P was with me, because my mind just went blank for a moment. We are not going to discuss the concern because we need to wrap our brains around it first. Other than us and JJ, only two other people know.  We are human, and each turned to a trusted person to vent. Maybe when we get the results we might share, but as I'm typing here, not sure either one of us would want to now or in the future. Not everything in SS's life is fodder for the blog.

Bottom line is that those sixteen months at the SWI will forever define our baby's health and development.  No matter that SS received excellent health care at home, that we have done our best trying to feed her properly, that we gave up a much needed second income, so SS could have one on one care. It really doesn't matter that as difficult as it was financially SS attended preschool, to fill the gaps that one on one time with her Mama could not cover  (such as socialization). It doesn't matter that we chose karate and soccer hoping that it would help her coordination.  None of that matters, because the effects of sixteen months of malnutrition are irreversible. SS's premature birth does not help matters. She came into this world with a not yet developed neurological system. Yes, all kids come into the world not completely cooked. But unlike full term babies, SS was really far from cooked. That is not what did her in, it was the malnutrition.

I decided to go to work and put in five hours of mindless rote work to work through what I was feeling. Anger, I thought sadness would win out, but no, anger was what fueled me for five hours. Angry that our baby was held for sixteen months when she was targeted for international adoption when she arrived at the SWI. Angry that she only had 24 ounces of formula as her sole sustenance at sixteen months. Anger that SS did not know what a rattle was, and could not hold on to one when we met.  Anger that SS was not walking when we met and it was due to her malnutrition. Anger about anything and everything that happened those sixteen months that led us to that consult, and Dr. A's concerns. Just plain angry.

Dr. A did say something that while said to make us feel better, does not negate its truth. He told us that upon reading about SS's birth and time in China, he was not expecting what he saw when he walked in the examination room. Dr. A was not expecting to see as well behaved, calm (kids with neuro issues are constant motion types), healthy child. A child who pretty much missed kinder and yet is keeping up in a regular education class. Dr. A was expecting a much lesser level of functioning.  He said it was due to the excellent care we have provided, but we beg to differ. We know that SS's level of functioning is due to SS, to her incredible spirit, her uncanny ability to survive, not only that, but to thrive. And as angry as I am about everything I ranted in my mind about, SS would not be such a remarkable child without  the road that brought her home, her forever home.

So what's next? We should get a phone call in 2-3 weeks to schedule the MRI. Yesterday a good friend asked me why wait so long? Let's get this done, and I get where she's coming from. because right now she is as scared as we are and praying for our girl. We are OK waiting because the outcome of the MRI has already been decided. Whatever is there is there, and all we are going to do is learn to live with it, to control it, to monitor changes, and to get SS the help she needs. The same goes for the karyotype, her chromosomes are there and nothing is going to change how they look.  Trying to make us feel better once again Dr. A said he wanted the karyotype because there is so much we do not know about SS's birth.  True, and that is the case with 99% of kids adopted from China. I hang around those boards enough to know that karyotypes are not ordered for all. This is not our first rodeo, and we know he has valid concerns.

SS has a birthday coming and if we can save unpleasant things until then we are OK with waiting. We want SS to enjoy her week in Maui, although we know she'll be upset about the homework we are taking. P and I also need to discuss the sedation vs. general anesthesia issue. The bottom line will be what is in SS's best interest and we are the only ones equipped to make that decision. At least SS will be in a hospital for the MRI, and that is much different than when her dentist wanted to put her under. Anything can happen anywhere, and we did not feel the dentist's office could deal with an emergency situation, so we opted out. P has already made the point that in a hospital SS is assured a faster response and better care. I completely agree with him, but not ready to say just go ahead with general.

Dr. A is reccomending speech, physical and occupational therapy. He was happy to hear that speech therapy is alrady happening. He told us that the school district has a legal obligation to accommodate SS. That we knew, but we also know what a tough road that is. Dr. A stated that the schools respond well to a letter form a neurologist. We guess there is hope there.  Plus SS has three adults at home fighting for her. I am not doing this alone, like I did with JJ. We can lean on each other.

And for the record, knowing what we know now, worrying about what we are worrying about now... We would do it all over again, and without regrets. Because in the middle of this we had to admit that we have not closed that door, the one that might lead to more heartache and worries.

And up we go! All the way to the second floor.

The girl was making it clear how she felt about us dragging her to an appointment that was certainly going to cause her pain.

A screenshot of P's Weather Channel app. He texted it to me at work to cheer me up. It worked.

I made it home just in time to grab SS and drive to archery class. The coach was uncharacteristically late and SS was really upset at the prospect of missing class. Six year olds are not known for consistency, and it makes us glad that SS still enjoys this class, and we hope she sticks with it a while longer. SS's target was moved closer to accommodate for her not wearing glasses. That very expensive frame is cheap. P had just adjusted the temples the night before, but not only were they lose, they were crooked, making it difficult for SS to wear them and aim. SS was THRILLED to pop a balloon.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's 2014

To the second best thing we have ever tag teamed. And to anyone who comes across this post.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I have the most popular desk at work.

I arrived from lunch to find an instant message letting me know I had a delivery at the lobby. I walked to the most crowded I've ever seen our lobby to find a flower arrangement. Nah that could not be for me. We agreed to delay our Valentine's until next month. But when has P honored those agreements?

Everyone keeps stoping by my desk, with awwwws, squeals and even some asking if they can smell the roses. I had to place them where I could also look at my other funny Valentine on my calendar. Thank you Baby for making me feel so special. Not so thankful for the unexpected attention and blushing I'm enduring.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Arts and crafts fun at Lunar Fest.

***This post was obviously supposed to follow the Lunar Fest post, and I have no idea why I neglected to publish.***

SS is not an arts and crafts child, she is obviously action oriented. When arts and crafts incorporate chaos and destruction SS will be on board. The kid surprised me at the Lunar Festival. She wanted to do everything in the children's village and more than once.  That was something that would never happen at the celebrations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It would be impossible to have an arts and craft area for so many little ones. 

It was hot for this time of the year that day. I was grateful to have the Hummer to keep SS comfortable.  Unlike this picture I was able to keep her with her back to the sun.  SS had Parmesan and garlic swirl fries. Never had them like that and they were yummy. I texted P a picture and he asked how would SS ever eat all that. She did with little help from JJ and I. She then tore into the rice, noodle and teriyaki beef plate. If there's over priced food SS is hungry. 

After lunch we headed over to the Children's Village not knowing what to expect. They had so many activities, and the children could choose to take them home, work on them there, or have the volunteers half complete them.  SS took the color yourself calendars to complete at home. She loved the chopstick activity. 

The guy in the pic above also did SS's tattoo

SS chose year of the dragon for this activity even though the horse was available. She remembered her Mama was born in the year of the dragon.

Another fun station.

The color your fan activity came in handy.

Cooling off and recharging the cell phone at the library.  SS decided to work on another activity, the lucky coin purse.

The anime crowd was out in force.

This group did an amazing job with the drums and most were women. I need to add the video later, they were amazing.

P could not stop laughing when he saw this picture. As a matter of fact, whenever he sees it he has a fight of laughter, tears and all. Why?  Because he thinks SS looks like an old Asian lady.

Here P, happy?

This lantern activity was our last, and SS was very upset that it was time to go home. The kids used their thumbprints to decorate a dragon lantern. It reminded me of SS's footprint on our adoption papers. I was very disappointed that SS was not interested in learning how to write her name in Chinese.  That was the one activity I felt was the most important. I also did not like how dismissive she was of the idea. That led to another round of she really needs to go to Chinese School talk. We need to look for other options other than Saturdays and so far away. 

SS looks all happy here but she had a fit when it was time to leave. We still needed to drop by our old house in UCR student housing, since JJ had not been there in a while. It was nice going back and man, that huge backyard and awesome huge tree would have been awesome for SS to play around. The tiny house not so much.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

SS received her first Valentine this year.

When SS and P arrived home yesterday she was holding what I thought was a Valentine project she made at school or at B&G.  I was mistaken,  it was a gift from her boy friend S. That's right, her boy friend, not her boyfriend. I don't recall if we have addressed her B&G admirer (there are many more, but this kid is intense) before, and I'm too lazy to read my own ramblings. The boy lacks pigmentation, I was shocked the first time I saw him. I know daddy's girls end up marrying a guy like their dad. I never considered myself one, until Papi's and P's similarities were brought to my attention. OMG, they are about the same height, string beans (Papi until death, P when we met), have the same posture and lack of rear end. And they are the only men, other than my son, whose hand I can hold comfortably. But SS, your Baba while fair skinned, can be outside longer than ten minutes without suffering third degree burns. Seriously that is how fair skinned that kid is.

S took a liking to SS last summer and the boy has not stopped liking our daughter. He brings her snacks, even though there is a strict no food sharing policy. S brings her super hero stickers, cards, and drawings.  He begged for her phone number, but since we only have cells, he came up empty handed. No way are we giving our phone numbers to a six year old (other than SS).  We must admit that Mr. Lack of Pigmentation did a good job trying to woo our daughter with his Valentine.

It appears that Mr. S could not find an A , but that did not keep him from giving his giant whatever it is to SS. He simply wrote the A, and that IS the cutest part about his creation. Mr. S, we appreciate your efforts, but our daughter is not permitted to date until she is 47. Heck yeah, we are in absolute denial and not looking forward to middle and high school.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

B&G Clubhouse Reopening.

SS has been excited about the reopening of the B&G clubhouse. It was September 24 when the fire forced the closing and we are sure that SS was not the only kid happy to have more space. Last night as we were cuddling with SS P asked me if he had mentioned that SS was in the club's flyer. No, I did not know, because I am certain we were not asked. I usually worry about things like that but P quickly dismissed my concern. He said it was on the door and probably made just for that purpose. I asked P to ask for a copy, heck if  my kid is pictured I should get a copy.  I was not quite prepared for what I found when I got home. The flyer was not made just for the door, it's the flyer they circulate all over to promote the club. And there was my daughter in all her uncombed hair glory smiling at me. I'm still not sure how to feel about it.  It's not like SS is the only Asian child at the club and they needed her to be the token kid to represent her race. It's difficult to get out of my social worker paranoia, and must admit that I am glad it is not what I do now. But it's still there, especially with SS being so young.  Still, not too thrilled about it, but it's what we get with parenting SS. And that childcare as low as $46 a week??????? We were both saying WTF, that does not even cover two days for us.

It rained last night and it continued to drizzle during the day. SS was so happy because it was chilly enough in the evening to wear her purple coat. She just loves this coat and would not even take it off indoors. It reminded me of when we moved and she threw a fit as we were about to pack her coat. She cried so much that although we were in a hurry we left that wardrobe box opened until SS fell asleep.  We think she's had it for almost 3 years now, and it still fits.

They had a game where SS won a hush puppy, not the shoes, but the delicious, artery clogging fried goodie. SS loves those things.

I swear we thought SS was in the computer room watching a movie as we waited for the ceremony to begin. Then P says, "what the heck is she doing up there?" I turned around to see the director getting our attention, and holding our daughter's hand. He then picked up SS and introduced her to the crowd, and asked them to say hi to her. I did not get the beginning because I was as stunned as P was. The looks we got as she ran towards us were priceless. And if there was a doubt as to who I was, SS later ran to me while yelling Mama, excited to show me her mini parfait.

Yes those two plain looking, wall flowers are my parents. It's been a rough six years for them and one would think they'd be used to it by now.

Pleased to meet you, my name is Arroz Blanco.