Monday, March 31, 2008

26 Minutes

Do you know how long I have been waiting as a parent for a child who would go into a room and find a toy(s) to play with by herself without adult supervision? I think it has been since late 2002. Yes, I've been waiting for 5 1/2 years for a child who would self entertain.

I only mention this because for the last 26 minutes Olivia has been self entertaining in her room with her toys. Her toys that were purchased for the first child who we had hoped would self entertain...but alas, never did. Will wonders never cease, finally a prayer answered...self entertainment. Let's have a party!

What have I been doing for 26 minutes? Paying bills, reading the first 1/2 of my blog list and trying to figure out how to get the Muffin Man to let us adopt a stray cat that has been hanging around our house for the last 2 weeks. He is, shall we say vehemently opposed. He sites his cat allergies and Ava's cat allergies as good reasons in the no category. But really it is the cutest little black cat in the world and it is ripping my heart out to see it wander in and out of our yard and crying each morning as it tries to get into our garage. Oh, and in the yes, category it has really pretty green eyes. Olivia tried to feed it Teddy Grahams this morning after our walk. It refused...perhaps the bird head it ate this weekend is still making it full or so sick that it can't even stomach the thought of a Teddy Graham. It's a toss up.

We are up to 32 minutes of self entertainment. Should I check on her? Should I make sure she is not squirting Purell into her mouth like canned cheese? Should I make sure she is not peeling paint off the wall? Should I take my camera?
This, my friends is the face of self entertainment. Complete with minimal furniture displacement and random toy rearrangement. Nice diaper pail shot in the back, yes? That's the other thing I've been waiting to 5 1/2 years diaper pail. I'll take 'em as I get 'em.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Baby Blankets

I was walking through the fabric store a few weeks ago when Olivia pulled down a bolt off the shelf. Right onto the dirty floor. Within about 2 seconds she had herself wrapped in this fuzzy soft fabric and with a huge grin on her face proclaimed, "Sofffft."

To commemorate her prolific command of the word Sofffft, we bought some. What else would you expect? Perhaps going home and whipping up a darling scrap book page of her clear understanding of a new concept? Oh no, we just bought the fabric.

Then I sort of regretted it later, it wasn't bargain basement clearance and I truly had no real plan for the stuff. As she rolled around on the floor of the fabric store I merely got wrapped up in the fact that she said "soft" clear as a bell without any prompting or prodding. I know I've mentioned here before that Olivia's speech is improving but she will not be giving any long soloiquys on race injustice in this country in the next week or so. I sat on the idea of working with the fabric for a while. Then I folded it up and put it one a shelf. Then it literally came crashing down on me one afternoon...practically shaking a proverbial finger in my face, "You've done nothing with me."

Then I got tired of looking at it.
Then I had an idea. I'll just make some baby blankets out of it and mitre the edges with soft cotton. Then I will pair it with little diaper caddies that hold only 2 diapers and a slimline wipe case. And surely I'll find someone to buy it. Make it and they will come, right?

Only I couldn't for the life of me mitre the edges properly and I was pissed. So pissed that I couldn't figure it out that I got up in the middle of the night and googled Mitred Edges. Directions abounded. The next day I tried again. And failed again. I'm not sure what it is about my brain but things like right angles and inverted rectangles trigger synapse misfires and I usually give up and head for cookies.

So, for the last 2 days I've been obsessed with making these silly little blankets and diaper caddies. Now that I have figured it out I have no more desire to make them. Obsession cured! I'm like that...when the challenge is over, be gone with you, little mitred edges and soft stretchy baby material.

Here they are. If you'd like a set just email me. They are $45.00 each. Be warned, a fair amount of blood sweat and tears went into making them. (Don't worry the diaper caddy that contained real blood with my DNA intact was sacrificed to the sewing room circular file.)

Oh, I almost forget, they are about 24"x30" and are perfect for car or stroller rides or to snuggle up with in the crib. Or, in our case watching Elmo. The little diaper caddies hold 2 diapers and a package of wipes...great for car rides or eating out.

Back to twoladybugs and maddening 2 year old potty training follies soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ambling Around On The Island

Some days as a stay at home mother the thought of emptying the dishwasher yet one more time or folding my husband's mound of underwear in the laundry room is enough to make me scream silently and then go rock myself in a corner. It can be that mind numbing. But then just as I am forming some real day dream in my head about careening off to some important and mentally challenging career a little kid comes along and attaches herself to my pant leg and simply says, "Wuv Yu, mama." And I stop, I smile, and think it's a journey, not a destination this kid rearing gig of mine. If I were working, I wouldn't know that she knows the toy bus is yellow and that she she can say "Wuv Yu, mama" right now. Granted I would probably only have to wait until 6pm to hear "Wuv Yu, mama." But still, you get my point. It seems to be very important to me to hear the "Wuv Yu" moments as they come during the day.

With my first daughter, who is now 6 years old I could hardly call those early years after her adoption "stay at home" motherhood and existence. We were never home, unless you count the fact that we technically lived here and we slept here. We playdated until we were ready to drop, we Gymboree'd every single week, we library story houred each and every Wednesday, we practically lived at the Children's Museum, we took Kindermusik lessons, we took gymnastics and swimming, ballet and tap. She thrived in the excitement and learned so quickly each and every thing life had to toss her way. Now that I look back on those first few years with Ava, I wonder in my heart if she didn't have some mild form of sensory integration problems. She simply was not happy unless she was moving. Even if it was a stroller ride at the mall, she was happy. Sitting at home in the playroom was NOT an option and she would scream until I plopped her body in the car and we did something. Luckily she wasn't picky as long as we would move it, move it. Today she seems to have worked through some of her down time issues and is happy with a mix of high energy activity and some downtime on the couch reading a book or playing a quiet game. For this I am grateful.

Then, in Sept. 2006 we brought Olivia home at 10 months old. She showed early on a completely opposite personality from her sister. She was quiet, easy, and very happy in her comfort zone which included our playroom and her bedroom. One block off the cul-de-sac and she would scare easily. She despised crowds and in the early days would cower and shake in large public places. She was exceedingly kind to everyone and everything and could melt your heart in about 3 seconds flat. All the attachment books offered advice to keep adopted children like this home the first year or more. Form the secure attachment before you do anything else. Let her know this is her home and that will not change, she can trust her family. And that is what we did. With the exception of a few short toddler classes and a twice monthly play date we have stayed home. Exposure to babysitters has been almost none, with no family in town there are no huge Sunday family gatherings. She attends a Moms morning out one morning a week but even for that we had to struggle to find peace and normalcy.

Now it is the 18 month anniversary of Olivia's coming home. She has bonded securely and is a happy healthy child. It is time for some balance. I can't help but sense she needs a slight push out of the nest even if only in small short doses.

A new gym membership has been healthy for me both physically and emotionally these past two weeks. I find myself feeling like I'm in a time warp for 1 hour out of the day without Olivia attached to my hip. I am exceedingly conscious of my body on the elliptical and the people around me as I bob and sway to Amy Winehouse, sweating and panting. It feels so different to be somewhere without her. I strangely stare at each person at the gym wondering if they have a child downstairs in the kid play area. I turn my ipod down to hear the seemingly inevitable page I will receive telling me to come collect my crying child, and yet guiltily I savor each moment until I hear my name over the PA system.

Yesterday I fought pangs of guilt and I pushed her to play in the play area alone, even though she clearly was not thrilled to be alone in the big room full of kids without mommy. When we came home she talked about KidsZone and how she cried. But then I would ask her if she'd like to try KidsZone at the gym again? She'd shake her head yes and say "no cry". Oh, the stab of mommy guilt, be still my heart.

Stepping back from the little cries of missing mommy I think we will not give in and forget about finding a little balance and a little time (very short periods of time) away from each other. It will be good for both of us when my body and mind are a little tighter and her confidence to be on her own is a little stronger.

Friday, March 21, 2008

At Which I Bow Before The Porcelain Goddess

It's not what you think....there are no fabulous stories of chocolate martinis and hard bodied men holding back my waist length chi straightened blond locks while he looks lovingly at my short skirted bottom.

Oh, if only....

This bowing in reverence has everything to do with how freaking hard it can be to potty train another human being. I know what you are thinking, the mighty Olivia is only 2 years 4 months, why is she having a kitten? Sure, in China and lots of other places in the world kids are trained by this age but hey we live in slackerville...they won't go to 3rd grade in diapers right? Well, not riding the normal school bus they won't. But she started it, I swear she did. I'm merely an innocent pawn in her grand scheme to drive me to the nearest psychotherapist seeking chemical intervention.

Setting The Stage...

Often, we'd be at the supermarket or fabric store (I know, I know another problem for another day) and she'd be in the cart pointing to her diaper and say "Mama, pee pee...diaper." And then she'd look up at me with those amazing doe eyes of hers with urgent written all over. We'd scuttle into the public bathroom and she would reluctantly sit on the potty never producing 1 ounce. Not to be discouraged, I started gently encouraging her to try at home. Also met with luke warm reception and a minutia of actual production. Still, I would not be deterred, since she started it! "She's so smart", I told myself with an air of Mommy snobbery. This is the part where I'll be getting the kick in the ass for the air of superciliousness, it's coming up.

Then one day she found her panties in her drawer and asked to wear them. (It was something like "Elmo panties, help....on." Which is Olivia speak for "Mama, could you please help me put these on? Oh great, sure, let's just go potty and you can wear the Elmo panties, I responded. Off we trot to the bathroom and darn it if she doesn't completely flip out at the thought of sitting on the potty, complete with crocodile tears and hyperventilation for full effect. I'm befuzzled...she started it. So, I play hardball..."As soon as you pee pee in the potty one time, you get to wear the Elmo panties all you like." Come on, is that not reasonable? Gees, she keeps asking and then weaseling and seriously has not peed in that potty one time. I clearly have no idea if she even really gets what she needs to do in there. She does however fully understand the idea of complicated mental torture in the form of verbal trickery.

So, then it happens....I'm growing weary of this asking for potty and then refusing to even sit on the damn thing about 6 times a day. So, I completely cave and offer her sugar if she pees just one time on the potty after asking me to do it. Apparently she's been taking negotiation 101 from Bush on the side because her heels are dug down deep and she is unapologetic now about wanting those lollipops and Elmo panties while refusing to even try to sit down on ye' old porcelain goddess.

The State Of Affairs As It Is Today

The Elmo panties are untouched by the little buttless wonder...lollipops are collecting dust on top of the fridge and I've told her. "No more potty talk until you mean business, sister." Capishe?

She's gong to be in size 4 diapers forever, I know it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Balancing A News Roundup

What a hodge podge of a few weeks we've had. The Muffin Man has been traveling, in and out he has been. I've been loving my new Emerald 830 and also hating it and then loving it takes a while to really develop a true and deep female relationship with one's sewing machine so I haven't been freaking out about the small stuff. Although it is making me seriously want big time sewing lessons, but since most places frown on two year olds with mouths full of lollipops ripping stock down off of tables, that pretty much leaves me out of luck with lessons right now. All the while I've been spending every waking moment filling handbag and accessory orders. Which has left me with this conclusion....

balance is good. Or well, it would be good.

So, in the eternal search for balance that is my that reaches for balance like my 2 year old reaches for strawberry fruit leather, I have joined my local parks and recreation gym. Want to know the best part about said gym? The room called kid zone. Yes, that is the one that lets you deposit toddlers amongst 100 toys and climbing apparatus only to return 1 hour later...tired from exercising a maximus gluttious and then catching a shower! ALONE, or well sort of alone since during the time of day I would be interested in exercising also includes a room full of lactating mothers and senior citizens. Now, those are the folks I like to hang out next to at the gym. Chubby hubbies and wrinkly people. I know that makes me seem shallow but darn it if I don't absolutely hate to exercise amongst girls who look like the chick on the cover of this month's Shape magazine. Yeah, see that itty bitty yellow bikini? I didn't need to see that either. It is not good for my fragile self esteem. So, starting this week...Livi will learn a wee bit more about independence as she navigates kid zone and I will learn a little more about how much it hurts to stretch a muscle covered in a healthy layer of cellulite for the first time in too many years to count.

Oh, one more note on mind, body, spirit wellness. I'm completely and officially obsessed with Tai Chi now at Chinese school on Sundays. It has been my personal mission to learn this in it's entirety this past 2 weeks. It's been a kick in the pants but I love it. It makes my forearms hurt, I have no idea why...and there are no wrinkly or lactating people for me to hang with. Only very svelte little Asian people who seriously look amazing and well balanced as they practice. One can only dream.

In other news about balance, Ava Jing has mastered a 2 wheel bicycle. Well, if you consider going forwards and not turning a mastering of craft. She is riding a 2 wheeler without adult help. Let's leave it at that. Way to go baby girl.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Emerald 830

Oh boy, I can't believe I just did it. I got in the car drove to the Husquavarna dealership toting my two year old (to be sure I couldn't concentrate or make a rational decision) and bought a new sewing machine. I barely did any research, I asked only minimal questions...I just whipped out my card and bought the thing. Mother of God, what am I doing? I might rip off the mattress tag next people.

Why would I do such a thing?

My old beloved machine...also a Viking Husquavarna that my mother purchased in 1978 and passed on down to me...thanks mom...up and croaked yesterday. Or was it a thunk? It was a cross between a croak and a thunk and now the stitch length and reverse button twirl. This is a bad thing. It is supposed to dial slowly but now it twirls quickly and falls out. Yes, falls out of the hole and onto the floor. This twirl is I am guessing about another $400 twirly fix. Oh dear. So it was either put some cash into a new sparkly machine or put money into my beloved but dying old machine.

I decided on the former.

And you want to know what sealed the deal for me? While I was there oogling the new Emerald 830 another nice lady came up and was interested in a $6000 embroidery machine. I just about had a kitten on the sales floor. Oh, I tried to be cool and all but this lady was seriously interested in a designer $6000 machine. (She was very nice by the way and has a daughter from Korea, I learned.) The lady and the sales lady started talking a language of hoops, and embroidery thread and downloadable patterns from the internet that I did not even understand. Seriously, at one point they must have spoken for 5 minutes and I understood about 6 words...It reminded me of waiting to sign up for next semester at Chinese school, I usually only understand about 1 word in 6 in that line each semester.

So there I was feeding Liv the 8th snack in an hour to bribe her to not whine when the lady was playing with the $6000 embroidery machine and there I was contemplating my little lower end machine (albeit sort of expensive relatively for me) and I just said, "I'm doing it." Bam.

And I did. And now I am the proud owner of a Husquavarna Emerald 830. It's in the box. I'm terrified to open it. Seriously, terrified. And excited. It is so smooth, that is if I can open the box and get it up and running.

I may not sew on it I may just open it up and stare at is so pretty. Kidding, I'm going to go learn how to use the thing and then create something amazing. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sisters of Circumstance Published

A few months ago I submitted an article I wrote to the Healing Garden journal, a Michigan based wellness magazine, about my daughter Ava and her LBF, little best friend. They are running a series on globalization.

I've written about LBF here at the blog now and again. She and Ava play quite a bit together and do have a special bond. I am in constant wonder with regards to how the universe guided my daughter to meet another little girl in China in a fancy hotel conference room after coming from less than auspicious beginnings and then end up growing up together a world away in America, living only a few miles apart. I know first hand Ava and her LBF are not the only ones...I read much more amazing stories of Chinese siblings meeting in America and Chinese children caring for each other in orphanages and then meeting again after adoption all the time. These stories inspire me and are a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

This story, Sisters of Circumstance, is not particularly awe inspiring but it is a true one of how my little girl has the amazing gift of friendship in her life. Only time will tell as they age and move on to separate schools and separate interests next year but I do hope they maintain their love for each other.

Please feel free to click on the article if you'd like. Click Table of Contents and then Sisters of Circumstance in the Life and Living section.
Healing Garden Journal

Monday, March 03, 2008

Back to the Tundra

We don't actually live in the tundra but damn if a quick trip to Florida doesn't make it seem like it.
Ironically enough we go to Florida and the weather is a perfect balmy 75 degrees and what do we do the first day? Go to Sea World. Where the girls loved seeing penguins. Who can blame them? They were pretty darn cute.

My favorite was those sharks. I am a sucker for aquariums...could stare at those fish all day. The pass through glass tunnel with sharks swimming over and all around? Fabulous. Then we meandered ever to the stingray pond where you can buy food and feed them. Ava wanted to pitch a tent and spend the night. She was completely captured by those stingray or is it stangrays or stingrai? I don't get it...they were slimy and those wavy fins sort of creep me out. But not Ava...she leaned over that pond edge and personally gave each and every ray a soft loving stroke.

Here we are at Lego land. We got stuck at Lego land. How does that happen? Well, we ended up being held capture by a torrential rain pour and the only cover was the covered lego stand. Not the worst place in the world to get stuck in a rain storm, especially if you are an engineer by way of college degree.

We were there so long my dad got busy building a new 1/2 inch scale replica of the Hoover dam. Or was it Godzilla in his red phase?

Then Ava and Liv got in on the action with their own creations.

Does Liv look like she is seriously considering a career in architecture or what? My mom and I simply took the hour to plan our action plan running through rain drops to procure a Starbucks since us creative types can't be bothered with too many damn legos. The Muffin Man decided to stake out the birthday party happening next to us to see if he could score a birthday cupcake with this amazing green frosting. No luck...the birthday party people were not generous with the leftover cupcakes...sad. We had to run to House of Blues for burgers and fries as soon as the rain let up a bit for consolation.

Over all we had a wild blast down in the land of mouse. The kids were ridiculously fun to be with, I was mentally and emotionally prepared for at least one barfing session and one nuclear meltdown in public and was pleasantly surprised when neither were an issue. Although I did contemplate tossing Ava into the Shamu tank when she incessantly kept asking for carnival games and stuffed animals at Sea World only to be met with my constant parental warnings of "isn't being a Sea World enough to be thankful for".

The Magic Kingdom was a hoot. Ava rode her first real roller coaster and Livi owned the carosel. I waited a record 45 minutes for a 2 minute ride on Dumbo with my 2 children which surely solidifies my space in perpetual heavenly existence when my time here on earth is complete. I'm using that one in my back pocket after I lost 1/2 a notch when I simply refused to swim in the big pool at the hotel with Ava, instead opting for the hot tub ONLY due to the fact that it was not the normal 90 degrees I like when hitting the big pool. So much for mother of the year.

How many more months until the next Florida vacation?