Sunday, December 27, 2009

Critics' Corner

Today Wynn and I went on a date to the movies - her first time going to the theater. She's seen a play on stage - Cinderella at the Children's Theatre Company, but this was her first experience with the silver screen.

Here's how it went -

The Movie: Disney's The Princess and the Frog.

Wynn's Question on the Way There: "What does a movie theater look like?"

Her Impression of the Theater: totally-distracted by all the people, video games, and giant posters of Johnny Depp in the lobby; didn't even notice the concession stand was there

Her Out of Nowhere Moment of Reassurance in the Lobby: "Remember how I didn't pee at Cinderella? I'm not going to pee here too."

Where She Sat: my lap, the entire time

My Opinion of the Movie: beautifully-animated with upbeat and singable selection of songs and a positive message that's entirely in sync with President Obama's back-to-school address

Wynn's Opinion: "I don't like this show. It's about frogs, and I don't like frogs." (I took this as being exceedingly ironic, coming from a girl who is obsessed with geckos. When I pointed out the similarities between the two, she just rolled her eyes and gave me that You just don't get it, Mom look.)

I do understand her opinion, though. She was expecting a princess movie along the lines of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and, for most of this movie, the future princess is, in fact, a frog. Wynn likes her princess movies chock full of princess screen time, so this just wasn't her thing.

She does say that she enjoyed going to the movie, that she liked the singing and dancing parts, and that the Shadowman (the bad guy) was real scary - like Maleficent.

Let's call that two and a half stars, shall we?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yet Another Midwestern Blog Post Cleverly Entitled "White Christmas"

Why So Confused, Frosty?

When the forecasters started spinning tales of doom and gloom for the holidays, we quickly rearranged some plans and ended up doing our traditional Christmas Eve with my family - but on the 23rd. We figured it was going to be easier to do it a day early; then if things were really bad on the 24th, we could all just hunker down at home for the day and watch Wynn play with all her new toys.

Helping Grandpa Open One of His Gifts
(Hint: It was a BIG year for slippers!)

Our Christmas Eve Eve celebration was lovely and as low-key as could be, considering there was a three year old and a MOUNTAIN of gifts in the room. The biggest gift was sitting in front of the fireplace, topped with an enormous silver bow. Wynn knew it was for her, peeked through the wrap as best she could, spotted the roofline at the top and proclaimed, "It's a dollhouse." We tried to convince her that she was wrong; obviously, it was a refrigerator to keep apple juice and pizza in, but, there's no fooling Wynn. She still managed to get seriously excited when the time came to open it.

Oh, What Could it Possibly Be?!

She's deeply in love with her dollhouse (and all the accessories - including a pink convertible - that come with it). The only problem is, with SO MANY gifts and such a BIG dollhouse, we couldn't fit everything in the car for the ride home. So, the dollhouse is staying at Grandma and Grandpa's until they can transport it in a few days - once the storm of the century has passed. Meanwhile, Wynn is content as can be, playing with her dolls, games, and puzzles. We also cleaned her room a bit today and talked about how the dollhouse couldn't come home until there was enough room for it, which she totally bought.

The Gecko We'll Use to Stage a Monster Movie
at Her Dollhouse If Things Ever Get Dull

This Christmas has truly been the best yet with Wynn. It's the first time that she's anticipated the holiday and had enough background knowledge to talk about the things she was looking forward to: getting a tree, opening presents, watching the Grinch, etc. Watching her excitement build over the past few weeks has been such a treat.

The Gecko's Going for the Car First, I Guess

Our family outing this afternoon was to the front yard to build a snowman (her first!) and knock the snow off the pine branches.

Getting the Top Branches -
with a Boost from Baba

Note: Wynn has stated that we may give our frosted monstrosity of a gingerbread house to Santa. Apparently, reindeer LOVE frosting and can eat tons of it without getting sick. Excellent!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Making the Medicine Go Down

When we tried to give Wynn her second dose of penicillin (for strep), she protested.

The third dose she spat out into a cup of water.

The fourth dose went down - while we held her nose and tipped her head back.

Subsequent doses have gone down easily, accompanied by laughter.

Here's the (new and improved) procedure for getting her to take her medicine:

• Cheer, "Swallow fast! Swallow fast!" as you put the penicillin in her mouth.

• Hand her a cup of milk, so she can take a big swig.

• Produce an enormous box of Godiva chocolates and let her choose one.

Works like a charm.
Every time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yes, I Remember

We make a point of frequently talking to Wynn about China, adoption, and the day we became a family. These things have been part of the conversation at our house from the moment we got home two and a half years ago, so Wynn's familiar with the story and the terms. (She hasn't reached the age yet where she realizes that most of her friends' first moments with their families were different than hers, but that will come.)

Here's tonight's bedtime conversation between the two of us. (Picture her with a snotty nose and watery eyes from having a cold.)

Wynn: Remember when I was a tiny little baby? (Holds her fingers up to emphasize tiny, as if she were the size of spool of thread.)

Me: Yes, I remember. You were so tiny.

Wynn: Remember when I was in China?

Me: Yes, you were in China, and Baba and I were here.

Wynn: And you said, "That's our girl. Let's go get her!"

Me: Yes, we saw your picture and knew you were our daughter. We came as fast as we could.

Wynn: And when Baba picked me up -

Me: Yes, Baba carried you back to the hotel room in China.

Wynn: And I cried on Baba.

Me: You did cry.

Wynn: It was 'cause I didn't know who you was yet.

Me: Yep, we knew you were our daughter, but you didn't know who we were.

Wynn: I didn't know yet, but now I know. You Mom and Baba. (big smile)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting Ready for Xmas

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we took Wynn to (what we stubbornly continue to refer to as) the Dayton's Holiday display in downtown Minneapolis. This year's theme is "A Day in the Life of an Elf", and Wynn was totally into it. Her favorite character was an elf who'd gotten his head stuck in a box and was blindly twirling in circles. (Her sense of humor is a bit twisted sometimes.) She still mentions him every now and then - and then bursts into fits of laughter.

Having your picture taken with Santa was an option, but we chose to whisk her past that line and go to the table where you could write him a letter instead.

She sat herself down, grabbed a crayon and a postcard, and proceeded to write W-Y-N-N. (Scott and I both got all teary-eyed and blubbery with parental pride at that point.) She didn't know how to write what she wanted to ask for, so she drew a picture instead: a Santa hat (?!) Apparently, she likes his hat and wants one just like it. Go figure!

Thanksgiving was a fun, low-stress event. Wynn loaded up on turkey and stuffing; then she helped her uncle Paul assemble the gingerbread house kit he'd brought. She had a blast, but it's a frosting-lacquered mess ...
She insists that we have to keep it until Christmas, but even Wynn admits that it's not fit for consumption. "We'd get sick," she says, "Too much frosting." When I asked her if we should put it out in the yard for the squirrels, she got all serious and warned, "Oh, no. It make squirrels sick too." So, for now, our kitchen has the overwhelming smell of canned frosting and commercial grade gingerbread lingering in the air, but Wynn beams with pride at the little house and says making it was her favorite part of Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Battle Ready

You know your daughter has watched Mulan a few too many times when she turns her kiddie rake into a weapon and turns an afternoon of leaf raking into battle practice. With a couple disco moves thrown in for good measure.

And I simply can't get over what a big girl face she has now...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween, and Getting Over the Flu

What did Wynn want to be this year? "A GECKO!!" So Ann made her a tail to go with her green pants and shirt. She found a green hoodie at Old Navy and was planning to sew big eyes on the hood.

"No, Mom. I don't need extra eyes. I use my own eyes."

Wynn was so excited to go trick-or-treating this year.
It took soooo long to finally get dark.

Carrying her rubber gecko around to make sure everyone
knew what the costume was supposed to be.

She and Ann were out about 20 minutes and came home with her pail full of goodies. Happy, and ready to call it a night.

I manned the home front and gave out generous portions of Skittles to the neighborhood kids while trying not to cough on them.

The flu bug held strong in my body through Thursday morning, when I woke up with a 101.7 temperature. I doubled down on Advil and Tylenol and took a long, cool shower, kept the car windows cracked open taking Wynn to daycare, and drank lots of hot coffee. (That old Chinese saying about fighting fever with heat started making sense...) By 10:00 my temp was back down to normal, although it started creeping back up into the 99s by evening.

Friday I woke up for the first time without any fever, though plenty tired and with a very upset digestive tract and very sore throat. Felt much better on Saturday although had to stop and sit or lie down every couple hours; less coughing than previous days. Actually managed to do some yard work Sunday (albeit more hands-and-knees work than full-blown leaf raking.)

Went to work today, and even though I mostly just went through the 400 emails waiting from last week, ran a few reports, and had catch-up conversations with my boss and coworkers, I came home utterly exhausted. But glad to be back in the land of the living.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Folks, you do not want this bug.

Good news is that Wynn has largely shaken off the effects of the virus, with just a lingering cough and occasional sneeziness. She's full of energy and enthusiasm & went back to daycare on Wednesday.

Bad news is that I'm still struggling with fever - 99.5 on average, spiking to 101.5 as I woke up this morning. Have been using full doses of Advil, supplemented by smaller amounts of Tylenol. Drinking juices and water regularly. Sleep has not been a friend - I get a few hours overnight, plus catnaps during the day. (Having Wynn at school finally gives me a chance to rest.) Either the coughing or the fever will wake me up; want to wrap myself in blankets even though I'm sizzling...

Shadow snuggled next to me most of the night. Very sweet pup. But I have no energy to run around and play fetch with him like he wants to.

And when Wynn got home last night, so excited after a fun day with her friends, I was so sad that all I could do was lie there on the couch and watch her, and wish that she wasn't so loud with that beautiful voice and expressive vocabulary of hers.

I miss hugging my wife. I miss sleeping in my own bed.

Folks, you do not want this bug.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Yep, we got the flu.

I can tell you exactly when it hit: 4 am Saturday morning. I woke up to hear Wynn whimpering in her room. Usually she cries when something has bothered her enough to wake up in the middle of the night, so I knew something was wrong. When I hugged her I could tell right away ... and the thermometer confirmed, 100.9 degrees.

I got right on it with Children's Advil, cool washcloths, and water. She managed to fall asleep about 5 am and finally woke up at 8.

Saturday night was the highest fever at 104.5, but that was only when the Advil wore off. Most of the time this weekend she was perky and full of energy, with some sneezing and coughing. But when the drugs cut out, you could tell immediately.

I think her fever finally broke sometime Sunday night, as she hasn't recorded anything above normal when I check, and I haven't given her any Advil today. We spent the day at home, where so far she has played very nicely and taken it easy on me. This photo is of the nap I hear her waking up from just now...

Sure enough, about 11 this morning, the fever hit me. I've managed to even barf a little this afternoon.

Since I'm not going to be getting a lot of productive work done at the office, I should probably put a plug in for the new Learning Chart that we've just launched:

TREND enterprises, Inc. part number T-38333 "Fight the Flu"

17" x 22" chart, with reproducible activities on the back. Great for classrooms, restrooms, offices, cafeterias.

Suggested retail price just $1.99 through the end of this year.

You can find this chart at the school supply store near you, or directly from TREND.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Headed for Home

Wynn has gotten a good night's sleep,
packed her bags,
and stolen my Domo hat.
She's ready to roll.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Planes, Trains, and ... Buses?

Today we made good use of Seattle's mass transit system, taking the Link to Tukwila and transferring to a bus for the ride to the Museum of Flight. We'd been on the Link before, so that was old hat, but we rode it to the end of the line today and got to see more of the surrounding area.

The Museum of Flight was huge and impressive. Wynn got a chance to get out of the backpack and roam around a bit, racing me across the pedestrian footbridge and pushing every button and knob she could reach. She desperately wanted to get in the cockpit of a fighter plane, but there was a bit of a line. We tried to just keep going, but she was not having that. We waited our turn, and she got her picture taken at the controls.

My favorite part of the museum was outside, where we got to tour the original Air Force One (in service from the Eisenhower through Nixon administrations, so LBJ was sworn in on it on the way back from Dallas in '63) and a Concorde.

Wynn was partial to the gift shop, where she tried on the kiddy Top Gun helmet but ended up getting a box of space mission toys - think Army men with space ships and a lunar module.

We got off at the Chinatown stop on the way back to the hotel and picked up a few more goodies, including a lucky cat for Wynn. It's pink, plastic, and has a solar cell that powers it as it waves. It is currently presiding over about thirty tiny plastic astronauts on the coffee table in our room.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tonight's Lead Story

Shopping at Uwajimaya Market

Wynn decided to bring two toy animals along on our trip: a rubber gecko and her Cuddle Bunny Snuggle Bunny, which is, if you couldn't guess, a stuffed rabbit. Cuddle Bunny Snuggle Bunny sleeps in the bed with us, curled up in Wynn's arms.

When we got back from our morning's adventures - riding the light rail to the Uwajimaya Market and Kinokuniya Bookstore in Chinatown and being interviewed for the Channel 7 News about the rain (seriously, we were on tonight's local news) - Wynn was ready to nap, but couldn't find her Cuddle Bunny Snuggle Bunny anywhere. Scott dutifully pitched in, searching every drawer, digging around in the bed, etc. No sign of the rabbit. We figured out that Wynn had left the (white) rabbit in among the (white) sheets on the bed, and housekeeping had already been by, so Cuddle Bunny Snuggle Bunny was most likely on her way to being commercially laundered. Try explaining that to a three year old!

At the Completely Awesome Kinokuniya Bookstore

Wynn was distraught. The pouty lip came out. The eyes welled with tears. She held me and went on and on, "But I need my Cuddle Bunny Snuggle Bunny. She's my cuddle friend. I miss her. She is probably crying because she's lost." No nap was going to happen, so I carried my pouty, barefooted pre-schooler down to the front desk and told them our tale of woe.

About an hour later, there was a knock on our door. There was a member of the hotel staff, holding Cuddle Bunny Snuggle Bunny, a card from the housekeeping staff, and a tin of Starbuck's mints for us. Wynn jumped up and down and cheered with excitement. I'll admit, I even welled up a bit to see her so relieved.

After the crisis was resolved , we walked down to the Seattle Aquarium to see the octopus. Wynn decided it was kinda creepy looking, but she loved the sea otters.

Checking Out the Anemones and Starfish

We stopped off for some salmon chowder and sandwiches at Pike Place Market and then walked back up the hill to our hotel. We've settled in for the evening - doing some laundry, reading books, and resting our legs from all the uphill climbing a visit to Seattle requires.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wet and Whiny

After dinner we went on an hour-long cruise around Elliott Bay. It started raining again as soon as we got in line for the boat, but it kept to a light drizzle - and actually cleared up by the time we got back to shore.

Wynn got a little fussy on the boat - she was tired, she was wet, and she was upset about not getting her standard allotment of play time. By the end of the cruise, she was asking to go back to the hotel. "Where's the Seattle?!" she whined over and over, wanting to get back on dry land and hang out with her toys and games again.

Icons of Seattle Tourism

We took advantage of today's lack of rain and got out to visit two of Seattle's more touristy spots: The Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. Both were fun, and neither gave off that annoying tourist trap vibe.

We went to the Market after breakfast; it's only a few blocks down the street from our hotel. There was more to it than I expected; it's not just the guys throwing the fish (though we did see the guys, and, yes, they threw the fish). There are also beautiful fruit and vegetable stands, vendors selling fresh flowers, and a whole bunch of tiny places that sell amazing-looking food from all around the world. We sighed at the freshly-made bao and promised Wynn we'd go back later to get cinnamon twists at the bakery. Wynn picked out some lovely raspberries and strawberries at one of the fruit stands, and we all snacked on them as we continued our tour.

We paused briefly to visit Starbuck's #1 (or, as we call it "The Mother Ship Calling Us Home"). Scott has been snapping a picture every time we pass a Starbuck's, and it's starting to get a bit ridiculous. Seriously, we've passed about ten of them within a mile of our hotel.

Starbuck's One

The way to the Space Needle is via the Monorail, so we got to ride on that this morning. Wynn thought it was pretty cool that we were riding on a train through the trees, but she did pitch a bit of a fit when we sat in the "wrong" seats. We made it up to her by letting her choose our seats for the return ride. The Monorail itself is, shall we say, of a certain vintage, so it has old vinyl seats and feels a bit like riding a city bus in Eau Claire; still, it was a quick, fun ride and a way to see a bit more of the city.

No Idea Who That Guy Behind Us Is,
But He Sure Seems Friendly

Speaking of seeing the city - the Space Needle rocks! Sure, it's a big ol' tourist site, but it's also really nice. The whole "architecture of the future" thing is subtle enough to be fun - not tacky, and the view from the top is gorgeous. I can't think of many other postcard places I've been to and bought the t-shirt that were so calm and beautiful. We have a deal with the City Pass we bought where we can go back to the Needle again tomorrow for free, and I'm thinking we may end up doing that in the evening to see the city lights.

Looking Up

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Here We Are, Seattle!

As we drove to the airport this morning, Wynn called from the back seat, "Here we come, airport! Here we come, airplane!" She's been excited about this trip for several weeks - both the prospect of riding on a plane and getting to visit Seattle (mostly because we told her they have an octopus at the Seattle Aquarium).

She was her usual contented self on the plane ride; though, she did have one of those moments of pre-schooler perfect timing when we hit a really rough patch of turbulence, the captain said that everyone was to stay strapped in - even the flight crew, and she immediately chimed in with, "I need to go potty." I told her that the captain was the boss, so we'd all have to wait until he said we could go. She gave the response she always gives when told she'll have to wait: "But I don't know how." But wait she did. And she used the goofy silver airplane toilet with no complaint when the time came.

It was pouring out and rather windy when we arrived, which felt kinda refreshing after all that dry airplane air. Wynn saw it and started singing "Rain, Rain, Go Away", but we figured, eh, it's Seattle. It's supposed to rain.

The ride in from the airport was very nice. Our driver and fellow passenger were outgoing and friendly, immediately striking up a conversation with us that lasted the whole way to the hotel. They recommended restaurants and sights to see and pointed out interesting stuff along the route as well. (Wow, Boeing HQ is huge!)

Our hotel is lovely. We have a full-sized kitchen, a free breakfast buffet, and a balcony we can hang out on and admire the city. We found a great grocery store - Kress IGA - just six blocks from our hotel. It's in the basement of a historic building, stocks mostly organic produce, and has an amazing deli and salad bar. We stocked up on a few necessities and walked back up the hill to, as Wynn calls it, "our home". (Our initial impression of Seattle-ites as friendly was confirmed as we struck up a conversation with another couple carrying a little girl in a backpack, just like Wynn riding on Baba's back.)

We've had our baths - it's a whirlpool tub, but I don't think Wynn's up to the turbo jets yet - eaten a snack, and lounged on the bed looking at the Seattle skyline out the window. We haven't decided what we're going to do tomorrow, but, so far, we're glad we're here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

If You Give a Tot a Camera ...

We went on a little weekend getaway to Duluth. Wynn, who is drawn to all gizmos with buttons to push, took some pictures of our trip for everyone to see. Here they are -

Still Life with Sandal on Hotel Carpeting

Deck with Parking Lot: First in a Series

Mom's Suitcase

Growling with the Grizzly Bear
(Okay, I took the last one.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Definitely Baba's Girl

Wynn and I have been going out to the airport to do some airplane-watching recently.
Much to my relief, the railings along the parking deck are at just the right height for safety, while still allowing someone a great view.
She genuinely enjoys watching takeoffs and landings, and tells me to "catch it! catch it!" with my camera. On the way home, she'll flip through the photos on the camera's screen with pride as if she'd taken them herself.

She also likes riding on the underground trains there, too. "Like Tokyo!" she says.

She rode around on my back when we went out on Labor Day this week, appearing like this. She certainly charmed all the flight crews and security on our little adventure.
Next month, another family trip! Wynn now knows her way around the airport, and even which airplane we'll be going to Seattle on.

No, really, she does. "It's the long one!" Which is right, the 757-300...

Could I *be* more proud of this smart little one? --Scott

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bu dui! It's Kai-lan at Target!

Well, we'd heard that Nickelodeon was going to be coming out with Ni Hao, Kai-lan items last Xmas, and when they didn't, thought that might be the end of that for the program as well. But when we got home and resumed shopping like normal American consumers (I went two weeks without stepping into a Target. But there's a patch for that.), this is what we came across:
Not just one or two items, but a whole endcap - plus clothing over in the girls' and toddlers' sections, too!
Oh, and school supplies!

This doll is now sitting on Wynn's bed:
She got the Mr. Fluffy Bake Shop block set, but has no idea this is still sitting on a high shelf in her room, waiting for the right moment to appear.
Are we bad parents for so quickly jumping onto a branding bandwagon? We tried hard, really, to keep the Disney princesses out of the house. And there will be no Barbies (he says, now.)

But Kai-lan is a really good show, well-written, not pushing anything except thinking things through, working hard, and helping your friends. Plus, you know, she's Chinese. And they teach Mandarin words.

You can get Spanish vocabulary pretty much anywhere, anytime in children's programming anymore. (Dragon Tales? I thought dragons spoke Welsh, or um, Mandarin...) But this is the only half-hour in the day where our daughter gets that cultural and linguistic identification. (Our local PBS station pulled Sagwa...)

Plus, she's so darn cute. They actually care about the art in this show, unlike a certain other bilingual young lady living in a tropical area who has a talking monkey friend...

"Baba, enough with the picture taking already."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Face

Obviously, much has happened since our return from Japan.

We've been so busy that I just got around to looking at many of the pictures from the trip.

Here's a new-found favorite; it's Wynn on the bus to Narita, doing her Great Norma Desmond face.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Some Pictures as We Pack our Bags

The bus for the airport leaves in about three hours, so we're packing our suitcases, going to the 7-11 to spend some of our coins, trying to keep Wynn happy/busy, and looking forward to a loooooong flight home.

Last night when I asked Wynn what she was going to do on the plane today, she said, "Play and eat!" Hope she fits some sleep in there too.

Entrance to the Imperial Palace Gardens

Enjoying the Gardens

"Electric Town" in Akihabara

We Don't Have Them Back Home Anymore,
But They Still Exist

The Control Panel on Our Hotel Room Toilet
(All Western Tourists are Required to
Take Pictures of Japanese Toilets)

Udon Shop Where We Had Dinner
View from the Top of the Government Center

Our Hotel

Bye, Tokyo!