Sunday, August 26, 2007

State Fair Photos

Today was Wynn's first visit to the Minnesota State Fair. We got there early, brought the good stroller, and left before the crowds got to be too much. Her favorite things were visiting the sheep barn, seeing the prize-winning rabbits, recognizing that those were fish in the DNR pond, and eating mini-doughnuts. She passed out in the car on the way home; she'd seen a LOT and was ready for some rest.

Seeing the Sheep

Taking a Break with Baba

Her First Pronto Pup Ever!

Click on this Picture to See Her "Sugar Lips" from the Doughnuts

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Our 50th Posting

Doesn't seem like we've posted 50 times, but I guess we just have a lot to say...

Wynn's all set to have surgery on September 6th. She'll be having her palate repaired and getting tubes in her ears; they figure if they've got her knocked out once, they might as well do both procedures. When we visited the ENT last week, the audiologist reported that Wynn had a mild loss at the lowest registers; she attributed it to excess fluid behind her eardrums, which the tubes will help. (The toddler-style hearing test involved me sitting in what looked like an old bank vault with Wynn on my lap. When she looked at the speaker the sound was coming from, pictures of Mickey Mouse would light up. It was hard for me to sit still and not "signal" her to turn her head.)

We've read the literature about the surgery and what to expect. We're concerned about how Wynn will take to the "no-no sleeves" she'll have to wear to keep her from bending her elbows - so she can't put her hands or toys in her mouth. She's so stinkin' independent about feeding herself (and even about wiping her face and hands when she's done); we anticipate a bumpy ride while she adjusts to the idea of being fed.

In other news, Wynn has chosen her licensed character to fall in love with: Curious George. She has a book and a stuffed animal that she just adores. The cartoon show was on PBS yesterday, and she sat on my lap for half an hour to watch him. She KNOWS it's him the second he comes on screen; she smiles, laughs, and points at the screen to say, "Look, Mama, that's George!" On yesterday's show George was practicing saying "Surprise!" for a party, so now Wynn is copying him by throwing her arms out to the side and yelling, "Ahhh...!" If I do it, she points at the TV as if to say, "That's where the monkey who says that lives!" At least it's not Barney.

The first picture today shows Wynn in the adorable outfit my mom made for her. When Mom brought the outfit over, she saw that the person Wynn's most cooperative with for dress up is Baba. If I want to change her clothes, it's pretty hit or miss.

The other picture is of an outfit Wynn "created" herself. She found my socks by the hamper, knew they were socks and that they go on your feet, so she pulled them up over her sweat pants and proudly modeled them for us.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stuff We Love

There's been a lot of trial and error around here in the two months since Gotcha day, and along the way we've discovered some products that are just wonderful. So, with a nod to Oprah's similarly-themed monthly magazine feature, we present Stuff We (and Wynn!) Love:

1. California Baby Shampoo - It takes care of Wynn's dry scalp issues and smells so delicious that I want to use it too. $8.99 a bottle at Target and worth every penny.

2. Honey Maid Graham Crackers - Apparently, they don't have to be shaped like zoo animals or teddy bears for kids to love them. Wynn feeds the other kinds of crackers to the dog, but she eats these square wonders hiding behind an end table to protect her stash from Ranger. I think of them as the Chanel suit of snack crackers: tasteful and simple with clean lines. A classic.

3. Dole Mandarin Oranges - Wynn is incredibly picky about fruit; she has rejected many a melon for not being up to her southern-China (where fresh fruit is abundant all year) tastes. She LOVES this fruit. It comes in big, clear plastic jars and seems to be on sale every other week. She's getting her vitamins, and we're not standing at the cutting board chopping up something we hope she'll approve of.

4. Goofy Spoons - We got these fantastic bent-handled toddler spoons as a gift. Of course, we threw away the packaging and don't know the brand name, but if you see them in the store, buy them! They're not only cool looking; they really work to get her to hold her spoon correctly. A toddler dumping less food in her lap = happy parents.

5. Melissa & Doug Alphabet Stacking and Nesting Boxes - Another gift we received. Wynn adores these and plays with them every day. Scott and I keep finding ourselves talking about her intellectual development as measured by the complexity of tasks she achieves with these boxes - She can "nest" them so quickly now and is working on stacking them. One day I set them in a line on the window sill, and now she puts them up there and points at them, which is her way of telling me to sing the alphabet song. She also likes to play a game where we hide a toy under one of them and shuffle them up for her to guess which one it's hidden under. (We have another similar toy, but those are made of wood and really hurt when Wynn drops them on her (and our!) feet, so these sturdy cardboard ones are a definite improvement.)

6. Sterilite Storage Bowls - Four bowls and lids for $3.99 at Target; they even throw in a free set of measuring cups. Wynn has hours of fun with this super-cheap toy ... putting LEGO's in them, pretending to mix whatever's in the bowl with her spatula, wearing them as hats, etc. Cheap. Easy. Fun. And I can put them through the dishwasher if they get too grimy. Doesn't get much better than that.

7. Dreft Stain Remover - This was recommended by a friend who has four kids, so she knows about stain removal! It comes in a big bottle, is cheaper than the other brands, works beautifully, and smells like baby. Good stuff.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Twirling Elmo of Death

Yes, we are one of the millions of families who have obtained lead-contaminated Fisher-Price toys, in this case, an Elmo lawn sprinkler. (Whomever gave us this, you're a good person and it's not your fault!)

Ann followed up on the recall instructions - there is a multi-page form we need to fill out, then we need to box up Elmo and mail him back to Mattel. At least they are picking up the cost of the postage.

We haven't even had a chance to use him yet ... watering restrictions due to the drought here in Minnesota, you know. We're only permitted to water on even-numbered days, between 6-10 am and 6-10 pm. However, we can fill the kiddie pool any time we like -- that's a permitted use.

Saw a piece on TV tonight where an activist said, "well of course it's from China" with the implication that everything from there is suspect and anyone dealing with the Chinese is likewise guilty of poisoning our children, pets, and air. Folks, it's not as simple as that.

We don't have to look very far to see where decisions to cut corners, scale back inspections, manage to ever-tighter budgets and letting things slide can lead to. I've eaten lunch several times in the past week at a park which overlooks downtown Minneapolis and watched the helicopters circle the 35W bridge collapse. There weren't evil people plotting for this to happen, there weren't evil people at Mattel, and there weren't evil people at the manufacturing facility in Guangdong. Just folks trying to get a job done with what the resources and time they had; a series of tradeoff decisions innocent enough in isolation, but in combination deadly. People must take responsibility to be sure, but I can't imagine our governor or a purchasing manager intending through their actions for anyone to get hurt.

We saw and met all sorts of people in China working their tails off and doing their best to do a good job as they understood it and were trained to do. Reminded us of a place called America. The smog in Beijing was really bad, and it leaks over the Pacific every now and then. But we put those factories there, by our choices of where we shop, what brands to buy, and at what price points.

And I happen to know we have a little Chinese import sleeping in her bed right now who is as pure, and good, and wholesome as any child from any place could be.


Sunday, August 12, 2007


This weekend we went to the Children's Home Society China Reunion, which was lots of fun. Scott and I both commented on how nice it was to be at a gathering filled with families that look like ours and to know that everyone in that room had made their own personal journey through "the process". We saw a few familes we'd seen in China back in June, lots of the CHSFS people we've worked with along the way, Molly - our amazing representative from Guangzhou, and a former student of mine - one of my absolute favorites ever - and her family. We took the long way home, so Wynn got her daily nap while riding in the car, and my parents came over to visit at dinner time. It was a good day.

Recently, a comment that an acquaintance who reads our blog made got me thinking. She said, "You're such a perfect family." I know that she meant that we fit so well together and things do seem to be moving along swimmingly, but I got a little hung up on the word perfect. Scott and I talked a lot before we left for China, and we came up with our mantra as new parents: "Mistakes will be made."

I think our experiences may come across to people as having been relatively easy because we have both approached the adoption process and our first fumbling steps as parents with a sense of humor and the attitude that we're going to try our best not to sweat the small stuff. Sure, there are days when Scott comes home worn out from work and just wants to eat a nice meal and watch "The Daily Show", while I've been taking care of Wynn all day and feel ready to just hand her over and say, "She's all yours, Buddy." Yes, we do get frustrated when Wynn doesn't understand the concept of Saturday and wakes us up at 6 AM. And the stains... a LOT of things have gotten stained since she showed up. We acknowledge the fatigue and frustrations to one another, but we also know that they're so insignificant compared to seeing Wynn smile when she wakes up in the morning, hearing her squeal with delight when she sees a moth flying around in the yard, or trying to keep track of every time she learns something new.

In honor of imperfections everywhere, I present to you our own blooper reel of pictures of Wynn. They may not be perfect pictures, but, when you're working with a toddler, perfection isn't a realistic goal now, is it? :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Today we took Wynn to Gillette Hospital to meet with the surgeon about her cleft palate. She'd been in an extremely cranky mood before we left, so we hoped for the best as we traveled down to St. Paul for the appointment. She was reasonably good under the circumstances; mostly she hated being put flat on her back to be measured. (Speaking of weights and measures ... our little Wynn has gained about two pounds! YES! Those McDonald's shakes sure do the job, don't they?)

The surgeon wants to get Wynn in to repair her palate as soon as possible. At eighteen months, she's at a rather critical age for speech development, so time is of the essence. He's having us go see an ENT first to check as to whether she'll need tubes in her ears (Cleft kids have more ear infections than average.), and he anticipates we can get her in for the palate repair surgery in early September. That's kind of a lousy time in terms of my work schedule, but Scott's up for the challenge (He's taken care of me after a couple of operations, yanno.), and it's really about doing what's best for her.

This was our first visit to Gillette Hospital, and we'd both just like to say that it was the most efficiently run medical facility we've ever seen - and we've seen our fair share. With absolutley no disrespect we describe it as being run on a fast food model of organization. We did new patient check-in, height and weight, consulted with the surgeon, and had photographs taken in 35 minutes flat. That's about as long as we'd normally expect to sit in a doctor's office waiting room on a GOOD day, so we were surprised that it went so quickly. They're extremely orgainized, have a great communications systems set up, and obviously have well-defined roles that help them all function so smoothly as a team. We left the height and weight room and were handed our file and told, "They're ready for you in Blue 4." We followed the signs, met with the surgeon, and were instructed to go to the photography room at the end of the hall, "They're expecting you." Wow. Everyone knew what was going on and had updated information along the way. They even had an air hockey table in the waiting room - not that we were there long enough to play. :-)

Tomorrow we'll be taking Wynn to her pediatrician's office to get her shots. Four of them. Yikes.

- Ann

Almost forgot ... Wynn slept in her own bed last night without rolling out! She woke up once and made a little concerned peep, so I told her it was okay and that she should go back to sleep, which she did. Tonight we're trying it with no grown-up in the room. She'll probably sleep just fine while I toss and turn in the other room being absolutely CERTAIN that I heard her make a noise.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Movin' On Up

We are in the process of getting Wynn to sleep in her own room at night. Our current strategy involves putting the air mattress on the floor next to her bed - Scott and I (and Ranger) slept on it Saturday night, and Wynn slept in her bed next to us. Everything went just fine.

Scott and Ranger moved back to the master bedroom Sunday night, while I stayed in Wynn's room next to her. All went well again, except this time she rolled out of her bed onto the air mattress at about five o'clock. She did, however, take a two-hour nap in her bed Monday afternoon without rolling. My suspicion is that she knows when I'm there and when I'm not. So, tonight we're testing my theory - the air mattress has been moved to another part of her room so it's not right up to her bed. I'll still be in the room, and we've put a bunch of pillows alongside her bed so she'll have a soft, safe landing if she rolls out. Fingers crossed that she respects the edge and stays in her bed all night.

In the pictures you can see the Saturday set-up in Wynn's room. She LOVES the air mattress and immediately started bouncing up and down on it. In one picture she's playing her new game with Scott. When we ask her where she keeps her jelly, she lifts up her shirt to say "In my belly, which I want you to tickle while laughing at how clever I am." The game is adorable, but now Wynn answers every question with that same answer:
"Where's your nose, Wynn?"
"In my belly."
"Do you love Ranger, Wynn?"
"In my belly."
"What's the square root of 64?"
"In my belly."

The only questions she answers differently are:
"Do you need a diaper change?" (She walks to the bathroom and signals for you to follow along.)
"Are you hungry?" (She nods emphatically.)
"Would you like to go shopping with Mama?" (She giggles and runs to the top of the stairs.)
"Who gives the best hugs?" (She leans in and gives you a big hug.)

You'll notice one of the pictures is not a particularly good one of Scott or of Wynn, but the expression on Ranger's face really sums up how he's feeling about this whole toddler situation. At least I remembered to buy chew sticks last week, thus confirming for him that he is still loved.

Tomorrow we're going to see the cleft palate specialist, so we should have an update for you in a day or two.