Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sick day on vacation

Wynn and Ann were both fighting a flu bug and not having much success Sunday night; Ann was really out of it Monday morning. I went to work in the morning and came back at lunchtime to take care of the ladies.  Wynn was taking it easy and was feeling pretty good after lunch - took Ann until evening to start feeling more like herself.

I love how Wynn can relax in just about any space / any position:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The End of Christmas 2013

We took down the tree this cold, cold morning and set the Christmas Castle out on the deck for the squirrels.  And Wynn built a solar-powered dinosaur robot.
It was a most excellent tree; still very fragrant and thirsty and held the ornaments beautifully.

The plastic fork & spoon for arms was Wynn's idea ... all the better to eat you with!
Squirrels love marshmallows and Kit Kat bars, apparently.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

We are thankful for everyone's good health this year, and the ability to share with the people and causes we care so much about.

So let's get going with the presents, already!

School pride!

Wynn drew one-page comics for each of us - she's explaining the action in this one to Uncle Paul...

A good day for Wynn, and good to know that we're donating an even bigger amount this season!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Xmas Cake 2013

The Betty Crocker kids' cookbook suggested we make a Santa's Castle Cake ... but it wasn't coming together well, so I grabbed some extra ingredients to shore up the castle wall - and well, the rest of the construction just kind of fell into place.  Santa's using a Japanese castle this year:

Only European kids served in this cafe. Is Becky really going to eat all those hamburgers by herself?
Santa's Castle looks like it's in Spain.

The construction hit a few snags, so I found some Kit Kats to shore up the castle walls, and, well, one thing led to another and now Santa is going to use a traditional Japanese fortress this year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Decorations 2013

We learned how to make six-sided snowflakes this month, and used different papers we had here at the house as well as bigger sheets from school!

We got our tree again from the University of Minnesota's Forestry students - it was frozen up with all the branches together like a collapsed umbrella when we picked it out from the lot, so we felt lucky that the tree was so full and bushy when it thawed out!
Ornaments that look like Wynn and Shadow!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bedtime Book Club - Harry Potter

Ann and I have decided that IT IS TIME - for Wynn to enter the world of Harry Potter!  Over Winter Break we'll read the whole first book to her & wrap it up by watching the first movie!  This should be fun!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bedtime Book Club - Folk Tales of West Lake

We got this slim volume from our friends JM and Elena - JM's father worked for Northwest and traveled quite a bit in Asia - this book was put out in Beijing in 1981!  Each chapter is a different folktale from the Hangzhou area in east-central China... lots of supernatural stories, a few ghosts, wise judges and clever inventors. Wynn is fascinated with the tales. I am noticing how most of the stories seem to end with 'and you can visit such and such place today'. (As if this were an advertising series put out by the Hangzhou Chamber of Commerce in the year 1581...) We both are picking up on some parts of these stories being used in other contemporary books we've read, and that's what is really neat about reading with Wynn - how she pulls together ideas from things she experienced a year or more ago!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Feast 2013

For the Thanksgiving meal today, instead of cooking at home or getting the "complete meal in a box" from Byerly's, we decided to go out instead. At lunchtime we went to Buca by the airport with Ann's family and had a table overflowing with yummy foods!
After this we all went back to our house for dessert ... and a long nap. Even splitting up the leftovers we will still probably get a couple days' worth of meals from it!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Using her language skills at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Kind of a bleh day outside, and we had a bad case of cabin fever, so we went out to lunch at United Noodles and stopped by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (also in South Minneapolis).  The MIA has the largest collections of Chinese and Japanese art outside those countries of any museum in the world - so we always have something new to discover. Traditional clothing from various ethnic groups in China, above.
Ceramic figurines of a wedding party, as gifts to that wedding party, over a thousand years old.
 Outside of how amazing the artworks are in their own regard, we particularly appreciate the MIA for helping us present and talk about Wynn's birth culture in a wonderful way. If we lived anywhere else in the U.S. we simply couldn't do this.

As an unexpected bonus, today the museum had activity stations in various places where people could handle items from the collections (or reproductions) and talk with curators and academic specialists. In the Chinese exhibit we got to hold 3,000-year-old artifacts, learn more about ink and brushes, and Wynn talked for about 5 minutes IN MANDARIN with this curator!  She did very, very well!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hawaiian Luau day

United Noodles in South Minneapolis is our first-choice Asian market here in the Twin Cities (there are about three others nearby that we visit occasionally), and it's not just for the selection or how well the store is organized; it's also because of how welcome we feel there.
Today was U.N.'s annual Hawaiian culture festival; they had local dancers going for much of the day, plus special island-authentic foods at the deli. We needed a few ingredients from the store anyway so Wynn and I went over to check it out.
Quite the crowd! In fact I've never been there when so many people are in the store. And all eating and buying things - it's great publicity for sure but it's even better for community-building.
 Wynn was fascinated by the dancers; no surprise with that!

We know the owner of the store, too. What a whopping big rice cooker he's using!

Wynn got her lei from the store owner's mom, and showed off some of the moves she picked up!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Best Buds at Pickup

I love picking Wynn up from school because I get to see how she interacts with her friends! Here she is with her best bud Tess.  That smile just melts my heart...
Someone else is losing her teeth, too!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Turkey trot

We went out to the orchard by our old house this morning for fresh apples & pies. Two groups of turkeys - each pack this size - were strutting around on the road into the orchard. Perhaps they don't know that a little turkey-eating holiday is coming up in a few weeks?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Costume 2013

Matching detective outfits!  And she earned a good haul of candy, too!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Speech update & next-surgery status

Took Wynn today to see her speech pathologist & oral surgeon - all smiles as she continues to make good progress. 

The next surgery is going to be in June 2014 (what we are trying to get on the schedule at least) and will be a complex one - although something this team has handled many times. They'll be taking a small core of bone out of Wynn's leg and grafting it in the small fistula that sits just behind her right front jaw - it's a hole from her mouth up into her sinus cavity. 

(When she was little sometimes spaghetti would sneak its way through and she'd look at us with a noodle hanging out of her nose.)

This will be a two-step process of course and will require an overnight stay in the hospital ... she won't feel like running around the next day for sure, and it'll be two weeks of liquid diet and then two weeks of soft / mushy diet after the surgery.

Not pleasant but it is the critical next step in helping her mouth make better-defined speech.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Carving 2013

Instead of just cutting a hole at the top of the pumpkin this year, we decided to try going in from different directions - we did one from the bottom, one from the side, and one with almost half the top taken off...
These were all from our own garden, too. We grew "pie pumpkins" instead of the "jack-o-lantern" variety & we thought it was a lot easier to cut, scoop, and clean them this time.

I saved a set of seeds to plant next year - and a much larger clump to dry and roast for snacking this Fall!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Getting ready for the Butterfly

Wynn had impressions taken of her upper and lower teeth this afternoon - she'll be getting a "butterfly" - something that looks like a retainer that goes on the roof of her mouth and gently pushes on the upper jawline so that her upper teeth are pointing up and down instead of ever so slightly inwards.  As a result of her palate surgery way back in 2007, that roof-of-mouth tissue is pulling the teeth, like a rubber band that has been stretched trying to get back to its original shape. This retainer-spreader will be in until Summer 2014 - when her next surgery takes place...

Friday, October 11, 2013

A look inside Wynn's 2nd-grade classroom

Yinghua Academy is a great place and we are so thankful that Wynn gets to go there. The academic program is first-rate and all the teachers and staff know Wynn & clearly show how much they value her as a person and excellent student!

If you are wondering what a Chinese-immersion classroom looks like, here are some photos - in many respects very much like a regular American elementary classroom, but you see a lot more labeling and written material here - because of course they're trying to make the school a "text-rich environment".