Sunday, July 29, 2007

Everyone's Having Fun

First of all ... YES, Wynn's first evening with babysitters went beautifully! Grandma and Grandpa did an excellent job taking her for a walk in her stroller and teaching her such classic games as "Push Your Toys Around in a Basket Making Motorboat Noises" and "Guess Which Hand the Toy is Hidden In". (She's figured out that Grandpa is really just a great big kid who likes to roll around on the floor too.) She went to sleep for them with no more than her usual fuss, and Scott and I got to go laugh our heads off at "Spamalot". A great evening for all. :-)

Today we visited some friends in St. Paul, and their daughter said she had something that would be "the most fun in the world" for Wynn - riding on a giant toy horse. Take at look at the pictures to see Wynn and Ruby playing on the horse together (I forgot to ask what the horse's name is. Oops!) Ruby is doing a great job as Wynn's honorary aunt; she's very sweet and gentle with Wynn and really knows how to make her smile - even when it involves Ruby acting like a dog and fetching a ball for Wynn about a bazillion times.

My family visited this evening to laugh at Wynn's antics. Everyone's rather fond of this little shoulder shrug she does with her hands turned up to say, "I don't know." This set of pictures shows Wynn testing Uncle Paul's Gucci sunglasses to see if they really are unbreakable. Apparently, they are. (She's like the gorilla in the old Samsonite luggage commercial, so those glasses took quite a beating!)


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Some New Pictures

Here are some new pictures of Wynn.

In the first two she is concentrating SO hard as she sorts through the goodies Grandma put in a purse for her. (Those things that look like dog treats are actually Scooby Snack graham crackers, lest you think we're feeding her Ranger's food - though, she WOULD eat it if offered.)

In the last picture she's standing in her closet modeling the hat she picked out to wear today. Since it's the hottest day of the summer around here, she thought a knit hat would make a nice addition to hot rod t-shirt and gingham shorts Mama picked out.

- Ann

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wynn Facts

Foods She's Tried and Loves:

• eggbake with sausage
• Reddi Whip (very nutritious, I know ...)
• Knox gelatin made with apple juice
• pumpkin muffins

Words She Totally Understands:

• bath and/or water
• hungry
• mine (as in "Keep your mitts off that, Kiddo.")
• puppies (meaning her stuffed animals - a useful distraction when she's doing something she shouldn't - "Wynn, where are your puppies?" always sends her to the other room to retrieve them.)
• stroller (as in "Go ride in your stroller with Baba so Mama can take a bath.")
• the "High and Low" song the Fisher-Price airplane sings. (If we start singing it, she goes and gets that specific toy. Another useful distraction.)
• Ranger (more about him later)

Hand Gestures She Makes:

• hungry (See a theme here?)
• no (done with a head shake)
• bye bye
• give me THAT (done often - VERY often)
• all done (done in reference to a book, a meal, a game, and/or time on the potty)
• "busy hands" (She twirls her hands around in the air as she walks, signalling that she is on a mission [i.e., about to get her sandbox toys to carry them to the swimming pool.])

A few nights ago several of these gestures were combined to form a bit of a sentence: "all done" + "no" + "bye bye". She did this to tell me she didn't want to go to sleep, and scurried backward off our bed as the big finish to make her point that she would be going to the living room to play with toys instead. (Oh, yeah. She can get off OUR bed by herself now. We're so doomed.)

Favorite Activities:

• being put in her booster chair (She giggles with glee. Seriously.)
• putting on a pull-up (as opposed to a diaper, which she finds insulting)
• having her teeth brushed (Yes, You read that right. These are her FAVORITE activities.)
• being wrapped up like a toddler enchilada in her jungle quilt
• trying to kiss the dog on the mouth
• getting Mama to read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear ..." to the dog
• trying to get the dog to play Hide and Seek with her
• playing in her bed (She's still not sleeping in it, though. Sigh.)

She'll be having her first evening with babysitters (Grandma and Grandpa) later this week. Fingers crossed that all goes well for everyone.

- Ann

Monday, July 16, 2007

That's Our Girl

We've gotten a few phone calls asking, so, for all you Twin Citians out there - yes, that WAS Wynn you saw briefly on the channel 4 news Saturday night. We went to a party that day to celebrate our friend RM's safe return from Iraq; WCCO was there covering the party; Scott was among those interviewed, and Wynn was media-savvy enough to give the cameraman a big, goofy grin, thus ensuring her a spot on the evening news.

This weekend Wynn started being more interested in books. She now holds them up, points at the pictures, and babbles along as if she's reading. Her favorite place to read is sitting on the potty chair. Hey, if ten times through "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" is what it takes to inspire her, so be it.

She continues to be a charming little mimic. Tonight, Scott was teasing her in her on-going quest for dominion over the remote. He tucked the remote down his shirt to hide it from her, which she, of course, was on to immediately. Now she's taking her toy shovel and spatula and sticking them down her shirt. When she has the toy hidden, she looks up innocently and holds her hands palms upward as if to say, "Nope, I don't have anything." We fear that she may eventually prove to be much smarter than we are. We figure we've got about two months before that happens, though.

I've included a couple pictures today. What I love about the first one is that she looks like she's auditioning for "The Exorcist: The Toddler Years". (It's oatmeal, and I keep assuring Scott that her self-feeding abilities will improve with practice.) What I love about the other picture is that in the background you can see all the trays from our kitchen strewn across the living room floor AND Scott passed out with a bowl on his head. Our house isn't as neat as it once was (and we swear our kitchen shrank by about 40% while we were gone), but we're having fun.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

1-1/2 years old! Thank you, neighbors.

Today Wynn is 18 months old. Here she is attempting to play with everything in her room, all at once.

Tonight we joined our neighbors for our annual cookout and get-together. One of the reasons why we felt that adoption was the right thing to do is because we live on a street where people do routinely chat with their neighbors, that we all know each others' dogs and stop to pet them and give them treats, and that the kids who live here are genuinely welcome to play in each others' yards, go swimming and fishing, ride their bikes and such, knowing that all the adults here care about them and are watching out for them.

Whether at work or on the road, when we tell other people about the place we live, inevitably we hear, "that's the way it was when I was a kid." But often said with a sense of loss. And to be sure, we've both lived in places where we didn't know our next-door neighbors and probably just as well... mega apartment complexes as well as typical suburban plats. But those weren't places where we would have wanted to raise a child. Nor, live, for any extended amount of time.

As I looked at the apartment towers in China I wondered what kind of social atmosphere could exist there. Would the sense of community break down? But Wynn and her foster mother lived in such a place, and our little girl has consistently shown empathy toward other people, and has no problem joining other kids in play. So that gives me hope.

As far as our neighborhood, it is this way because we collectively want it to be this way, and we make the effort. It is pleasant work. And while I could certainly see our family in the future spending an extended period in China living the expat experience, I know I could never leave our home - we love this place too much.

What we didn't expect tonight at the cookout was that everyone came explicitly to see Wynn. She was the star of the party, got to meet all the neighbors she hadn't seen since arriving here, including a couple of boys her age - one adopted from Guatemala, the other from Ethiopia. She even got presents! She also got to steal most of the dinner from my plate (and after we fed her full of mac'n'cheese before coming over...)

Thank you, Bald Eagle neighbors. Not just for the gifts tonight, but for the bigger gift of creating and maintaining this wonderful, nurturing, and supportive place where Wynn can grow strong and confident and loved.


Adjusting to Normal

We're still having trouble convincing Wynn to fall asleep at night, but we think that might have something to do with her being a toddler...

We've set a appointment for Wynn to see the cleft palate specialist in early-August. It'll be nice to hear what he has to say and get some specifics on what kind of surgical schedule we're looking at. While we're not looking forward to major medical procedures for her, we're happy to be in a place where quality medical care is available. Once her palate repair is underway, getting liquids in her should be easier, and it will help with her speech also. (Although, she did very clearly say, "banana" this morning as I was slicing one up for her.)

This morning she figured out the difference between the REAL remote that actually turns to TV on and off and the FAKE remote that has no batteries; she prefers the real one. She managed to turn the TV on by herself. When Elmo came on, she looked a little perplexed, so she hit another button; Darth Vader appeared on on the screen, and she started to smile and laugh.

Today's pictures show Wynn playing with Nick and Megan, who visited her yesterday - and brought a sandbox and a McDonald's Happy Meal luncheon to enjoy at the mini picnic table. Very much appreciated.

You can also see how she's bonding with Ranger; it's FUN to delicately drop your rice on the floor and watch the dog eat it.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Where'd She Learn That?

As we've been spending more and more time with our daughter, Scott and I are finding ourselves wondering about some of the things Wynn does. We're so happy to have her with us now, but we're very aware of the fact that she had a history before us. When she puts up her arms and sticks her hands through the armholes of her shirt to help get herself dressed, we wonder how old she was when she learned that. When she's having trouble falling asleep and starts humming "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", we wonder who first sang that tune to her. And where in the world did she learn that weird tiger cub humming thing she does when she's happy?!

We sent a disposable camera to her foster mom several weeks before we went to China. We got the film developed once we were home, and it's interesting for us to see the contrast between the home she had there and the one she has with us. I'm glad we didn't see the pictures before we went; if we'd seen them then, we'd be more apt to be judgmental as we see her in a crib with wooden slats instead of a mattress and riding on back of a bike with no safety equipment visible. Having been to China, and having truly fallen in love with the place and the people we met there, we now look at these pictures knowing that it's simply a different culture with different ways of doing things. What matters most is that she was so obviously loved and cared for. Her foster mom guided her into becoming the strong, funny, and opinionated little girl we're so lucky to have as our daughter.


Friday, July 6, 2007

More Pictures

Wynn's feeling better.
Scott's feeling better.
The whole family went to IKEA today in search of a picnic table for Wynn. (She inhaled a plate of macaroni and cheese while we were there. Good "fatten up the toddler" food.)
Here are some pictures we took this afternoon of Wynn playing in her kiddie pool and telling Baba how to put together her picnic table.

- Ann

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Back to the Doctor

Today was Wynn's wellness appoitnment at the doctor's office - to follow-up on her pneumonia and start getting data for her medical record. They did the weights and measures; here's how she fared: head circumference in the 50th percentile, height in the 5th percentile, and weight below the 5th percentile for her age - told you she's tiny. The doctor did remind us that the percentiles are based on all American babies, regardless of ethnic backgound. Being Asian, Wynn's going to tend to be smaller; still, we've been instructed to fatten her up. (That's why we stopped at McD's for dinner after the appointment; she REALLY likes chocolate shakes!)

Part of the visit today was a pretty hefty blood draw - five vials. She didn't like getting stuck; she wailed and cried the entire time. To her credit, though, she did stop crying within about two minutes of the blood draw. The tech's comment on working with her was, "Wow, she's strong!" Because of her size, I think people tend to expect her to be either much younger or much more frail than she actually is. There were three of us working to keep her arm straight and to stop her from wiggling too much - three of us vs. one tiny little her.

Another aspect of establishing medical records for Wynn involves collecting stool samples. We got the "equipment" on Monday and hoped (if that's the right word) to get the four required samples in time for today's appointment. We laughed out loud as we read the instructions: Do NOT get urine on the stool. Do NOT let the stool go in the toilet. Do NOT get the stool wet. (Wasn't that one of the warnings in "Gremlins"?) Wynn somehow sensed that we wanted those samples, so she and her colon promptly went on strike. So, we've had a ridiculous amount of fuss these past few days trying to coax our toddler into producing four pristine poops for us to bring in. She's never seen a potty chair before, so that just made her scream. All manner of wrestling holds, distractions, and bribes were used in our attempts to get the coveted samples, all the while we were telling her, "No, you can't just go in your diaper, Honey. You might pee too, and that would skew the data!" Anyhow, we're four days into the process and have only collected two viable samples, which Scott quickly mixed with the formulas and test tubes provided by the clinic. It's very CSI around here. (A few possible test subjects were lost in the bathtub tonight. What a waste.)

While all this has been going on, Scott's been coming down with the same crud Wynn's got. He's all congested, has a scratchy throat and fever, and feels like someone's punched him the ribs. The doctor told him to wait a few days since it's a virus; his grown-up immune system should be able to knock it out on its own. Fingers crossed!


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tossing and Turning

Wynn had a follow-up appointment with the doctor yesterday, which went very well. He listened to her lungs; there's still something in there, but it's not too bad. She's having more productive (i.e., disgusting) coughs since she started on the medicine. It's hard to wrap your mind around seeing a big green blob of snot on her face and thinking, "Well, that's a good sign." Luckily, it's easy to get her to take the medicine; they flavor it up real nice, so she opens her mouth like a little bird the second she sees the medicine dropper.

Speaking of the medicine dropper ... we finally found a way to get more liquids into her. The spoon method took FOREVER, and she (and we!) were getting bored and frustrated having to get out the spoon every time she needed a drink. I saw how eagerly she took the medicine, so last night I sat her down with a cup of apple juice and the dropper. Voila! She loved the juice so much she smacked her lips between "sips". We will need to get her drinking independently eventually (I'm not going along to kindergarten, afterall.), but at least we've got a faster way to pump the liquids in her now.

The doctor's advice yesterday was to fatten her up - in his words, "Butter up that bread!", so we're working on introducing more fats into her diet. As we thought about what she'd been eating, we realized that her diet was almost fat free. No wonder she's so skinny; she's been on the ZONE diet for the last year and a half! (We keep having to buy new clothes for her; everything we have is WAY too big. She fits in a twelve-month top and needs size SIX months on the bottom. All those lovely 18 month and 2T sundresses we have will be worn next summer, I guess. Or this winter with tights and a turtleneck.) After a quest for "fatten up the toddler" food at the grocery store last night, we discovered that she very much enjoys the Eggo mini pancake. She polished off the first two and then brought us the empty bowl to say, "I'll have a few more of those please."

The biggest fight we're having with her (other than getting her to wear shoes) is getting her to go to sleep at night. Once we've got her out, we don't hear a peep from her for eight hours, but she resists falling asleep with such fury! It took over an hour of watching her flop around, kick her feet, talk to her stuffed dog, hum songs to herself, etc. before she finally dropped off. We're working on the going to bed rituals - snack time, bath time, put on lotion, put on pajamas, turn down the lights, etc., but she's just not playing along yet.

Meanwhile, enjoy some pictures from the Forbidden City in Beijing.