Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Holly Jolliness


Wynn is quickly learning that both Mom and Baba are seriously good cooks, and that she needs to closely observe what we do so that she can assume her rightful place in the kitchen too. Here, testing the cake batter. (Inside-beater technique learned from Baba.)

Shadow wants in on the Xmas Morning unwrapping festivities. We are happy to see him figuring out our daily routines and learning how to read us. Still needs some work on "sit" and "heel," however.

We said, "she likes to imitate everyday routines; get her toys like little toolsets and vacuum cleaners." The folks said, "Really?" And we said, "trust us."

Totally nailed it! She's been pushing this Bissell look-alike around a couple times a day since Thursday afternoon. (If it only *really* worked...)

More presents? Is it like this here all the time?

"Magic, magic, poof!"
(You don't see the set of tools that she and Grandpa then played with for the next half hour.)

Baker, magical princess, carpenter, finance specialist, engineer, martial artist, author, and more. She's played at so many things just today. Yes, the carpet is strewn with toys. But to see her enjoy so many divergent activities fills us with amazement and wonder at what kind of person she will become.

There's still a lot of work ahead for all of us in 2009. Children to teach, dogs to train, dreams to pursue, a nation to rebuild, a world to save. The potential in our little girl, and what she has accomplished in this short while, inspires us. 

Keep reading, keep responding, keep working to realize the change inside all of us. Happy New Year!




Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fun in the snow, with a new friend

Winter break has begun, and fittingly we received a reasonable amount of snow today for the kids to frolic in.  After naptime this afternoon, Mom and Wynn suited up for a foray into the front yard.
I broke out the long coat, too, and leashed up the newest addition to our family to go for a short walk.
His name is Shadow, and he is a ten-month old tricolor Sheltie we adopted last weekend from a breeder in western Minnesota. This past week we have all been getting to know each other and establishing some ground rules - such as Shadow sleeps in the bed with Mom and Baba.
Wynn really seems to like him, and he has done very well around her. She is a little anxious about us paying attention to the pup - wiggling in when we are trying to teach him a command or engage him in play - but we won't go so far as to call it sibling rivalry. They're already figuring out how to collaborate with each other...

In other news, Wynn had a recent follow-up appointment with her surgeon, and it looks like it will be a couple more years before any additional reconstructive work is needed. In the upcoming year, we will be ratcheting up her speech therapy activities to try to stay a step ahead of her ballooning vocabulary.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's What We Call Hockey

Wynn calls all sports hockey. We're pretty sure Grandpa takes some of the responsibility for that. Here are some pictures from today's Division One Kitchen Table Assorted Plastic Toy Hockey Tournament.

The players take the ice.

Wynn hands out invisible pucks to all the players.

    Aerial Shot of the Action

   Boots Shortly Before Going to the Penalty Box for Standing on the Sheep's Back During Play

video
Yes, she is chanting, "Let's play hockey!" at the beginning.
Grandpa has a lot of explaining to do.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ah, Muffins ...

Wynn's uncle Paul introduced her to the wonderful world of baking muffins a couple weeks ago, and it has quickly become her latest passion/obsession. 

Once we figured out that she could rarely polish off a standard size muffin in its entirety, we got out the mini-muffin tins and have been using them several times a week since.

It did take her a couple days to master the subtle nuances that distinguish a cupcake from a muffin, though. After returning from a trip to the grocery store with Scott, she proudly held up a bag of muffin mix and proclaimed with awe, "Cupcakes in here!" 

Her jobs include: pouring the mix into the big bowl, stirring the mix, helping fill the tins, licking batter off her fingers, squealing with glee when they come of the oven, and, of course, eating them. So far she's made lemon poppyseed, blueberry, and chocolate chip.

Tonight's batch was extra-special because she made them with Baba and knew they were going to be served as dessert with dinner. 

I swear this photo is not staged.

She looks so determined.

It makes me smile to see Wynn so utterly charmed by baking. I have many memories of being in the kitchen with my grandma and mom - standing up on a chair so I could reach the bowl to stir, rolling out pie crusts, chopping nuts in one of those goofy little contraptions where you pound-pound-pound on the handle, etc. I love seeing Wynn so enthralled by this simple, fond thing from my childhood. She doesn't need a pile of toys that light up and play obnoxious music at her. Just give her a bag of muffin mix and twenty minutes of your time, and she's one happy girl.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Toddler Fashion Statement

It's a top. It's a bottom. 
So, obviously, they go together.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three Things That Have Scared Us Lately

1.  Hello Kitty: Ice Skating Princess  This innocent-looking book (It even comes with stickers!) is SO not healthy. In it we learn that boys skate fast and can jump really high, while girls are all about the fancy skating outfits. Girls are so consumed with worrying about getting their special skating dresses wet that they forget to tie their skates and fall SPLAT! But, if a girl wants to feel extra brave and get back up on the ice, all she needs is a sparkly crown to put on her head to inspire her. Seriously?! I think we'll be tossing this book and investing in a Wild jersey.

2. The Power of No  Two year-olds are expected to go through the "no stage", but we are both taken aback by the calm, certain, Jedi-like way Wynn looks at us and says, "No." She doesn't raise her voice. She doesn't whine. It's all so matter-of-fact, as if she believes it would never even enter our minds to disagree with her. So far we've been diffusing her power with selective deafness and reminders that she doesn't get her way no matter how many times she says it.

3. Thunk!  Clunk!  That was the sound Wynn's precious head made as it whacked against the wall and floor as she tumbled down the steps yesterday. These sounds were quickly followed by, "Waaaa!" I took the crying as a good sign - Well, she's breathing - and hurried down to assess the damage. No blood. No twisted limbs. No trip to the ER needed. Some hugs, comforting words, and a little Tylenol took care of it all. When I asked her if the fall had scared her, she nodded. Scared me too, Kiddo. Scared me too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Toilet Training, Day One

1.  Generating Enthusiasm
Before basic training began, many discussions were had about how awesome it is to wear underwear. It is vastly superior to diapers, signals that one is a big kid, etc. I could feel enthusiasm about the wearing of the underwear building throughout the week. Wynn's nods became much more emphatic when the topic came up, and , on Saturday, she announced her intention to start wearing, "UHN-a-WAY-uh".  

2.  Establishing Expectations and a Common Language
Before the UHN-a-WAY-uh was put on, a follow-up conversation was had about what it would feel like if an accident were to happen. All parties agreed that it would feel, "Icky" and that it would be avoided by saying, "Potty now. Potty now," if one felt the need to go.

3.  Procuring the Underwear (Duh.)
A pack of Elmo underwear had been purchased earlier as an enticement (See "Generating Enthusiasm" above). The pair adorned with Elmo floating in a field of rainbows was chosen for the maiden voyage. "I got UHN-a-WAY-uh!" was shouted with pride. We all took a moment to admire how her clothes fit so much better without that puffy diaper.

4.  Venturing Forth
Mom took Wynn on a shopping trip, reviewing the, "Potty now. Potty now," procedure in the car and talking about how stores have bathrooms we can use. All went well. Wynn kept her cool and stayed dry through JoAnn, Etc. and lunch at McDonald's. 

5.  Trying the Public Facilities
By the time we reached Target, Mom's confidence in Wynn's ability to stay dry waned. Wynn nodded when asked if she'd like to use the bathroom, but her enthusiasm disappeared when faced with the reality of putting her bare bottom on that toilet with the black seat. Adding to the confusion was Mom's insistence that she didn't have to take the pants and underwear off to sit on the potty. Why are my pants around my ankles? She stiffened up like a board - refused to bend at the knees and/or waist. Mission aborted.

6.  Selecting New Acquisitions 
Wynn chose three more kinds of underwear to add to her collection: more Elmo ones, Minnie Mouse, and some Hanes with the random pairing of cartoon monkeys and frogs on them. That she turned up her nose at the Hello Kitty ones was a bit of a shock, but we love that the Disney Princesses don't even come up on her radar. She carried her selections to the register herself and plopped them on the counter at the check-out with great pride.

7.  Having an Accident
It was poop. It was solid. It was, some would say, inevitable.

8.  Choosing a New Pair to Wear
She went with Minnie Mouse and whatever that girl duck who hangs out with Donald is called. 

9.  Slipping Into the Familiar
After a discussion about the physics of sleep and the effects of unconsciousness on one's ability to control the bladder, Wynn readily agreed to wearing a diaper to sleep. 

So ended Day One of Toilet Training. 

Day Two involved a big pouty frown, a bottle of Resolve, and finding a poop in the washing machine.

I can only imagine what adventures will Day Three will bring.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recent, Random Pictures

Wynn and Baba Checking Out the Sunset

This Is What Happens When Toddlers Dress Themselves

Where's Wynn?


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Elmo = Rock Star


We went to the Zoo Boo at Como Park last night. Wow. It was ridiculously crowded. We trudged about a mile and a half from our parking place to the zoo entrance, got yelled at by a guy who accused us of cutting in line (No, Sir, we didn't.), and then stood like good little sheep in a crowd of people for the next hour or so. It was so crowded that we couldn't really appreciate any of the decorations or interact with the people in costume. At one point I said to Scott, "This really reminds of the Beijing airport." That is not a compliment, by the way.

The spookiest part of the Zoo Boo was the way the other kids reacted to Wynn's Elmo costume. They'd wander over to us with these zombie-like expressions on their faces, saying, "El-mo. El-mo." Very Night of the Living Dead. They all wanted to touch her, so she got pet on the head and the hands by a bunch of kids she didn't know, which was not to her liking at all. Two little twin brothers went so far as to take turns punching her as she sat in her stroller. Their mom was sufficiently mortified and apologetic, but, still. While I LOVE being a parent, I'm finding that I don't often enjoy being one in the company of a bunch of other parents and their children. 

The best part of this weekend was raking leaves out in the backyard. Wynn, Scott, and I each had our own rake. Her way of helping involved taking leaves out of the pile and putting them on the green moss next to it, but we appreciate her desire to help out. Last year she was a little too little for jumping in the leaves, so I gladly gave her a tutorial on the finer points; she got the hang of it right away.   :-)



When last we blogged, it was the day Ranger passed away, and Wynn still hadn't figured out what happened. About two days after, she and I were on the porch looking at some flowers friends had sent. I told her that they had sent flowers because they knew Mom was sad. When I asked her if she knew why, she pressed her little cheek against mine and whispered, "Ranger gone." No tears, but the beginnings of understanding. 

The next night she woke up at midnight screaming. Scott can usually calm her down just by going in her room and hugging her, but she was beyond that. I realized that she was calling out, "Mom!" and "Ranger!" I went to her room, and we all sat together and hugged and talked about how Mom and Baba don't leave. It was heartbreaking for us to hear her grieving cry again; it was just as it sounded that first night in Nanning, filled with the profound sadness that comes from losing someone you love. We've had a few moments of separation anxiety since - that I had three nights of conferences and wasn't getting home before her bedtime didn't help. We've moved on to talking about getting another Sheltie, but realize that we need to give it time.



Thursday, October 2, 2008

Always Gentle. Always Love.

As Wynn first learned how to treat a dog, she sometimes squeezed Ranger too enthusiastically or didn't look out for him the way she should.  He got stepped on a few times, and I would tell her that the rule was "Always gentle. Always love." Only touch him with gentleness. Always regard him with love.  He patiently tolerated her early, well-meaning shows of awkward affection, and the two of them grew to love one another completely.

Today Ranger had to leave us.  The veterinarians at our clinic and the University of Minnesota did everything they could to give us more time with our precious boy, but pancreatic cancer took him away from us much, much too early. Saying good-bye to our "first born" is devastating to Scott and I, but we take comfort in knowing that we did everything we could for him, that he didn't suffer, and that he always knew that he was truly loved. 

Wynn has been watching Scott and I as we cry at this loss, and she looks empathetic and concerned at how obviously sad we are.  We've explained to her that he's gone, that he was too sick for the doctors to make him better, and that he loved us all. Death is such an abstract thing for her to try to understand; she sees its effect on us but doesn't really know what it all means.

We are glad to have taken some pictures and video of the two of them together. As she gets older, we'll remind her of her first dog and tell her about the things they did together: how she'd hug him when she was mad at us, how he'd plop himself down on the floor next to Wynn and I as we read bedtime stories, etc.  

Anyone who ever visited our house knows about mild-mannered Ranger's one very peculiar habit. A true herding dog at heart, he hated to see the flock (that'd be us) split up. Whenever anyone would go down the stairs, leaving the pack, he'd bark like crazy and spin in circles at the top of the stairs. Scott and I eventually said that Ranger was just "barking you out", much as a polite host would "see you out".  Scott took this video on Monday morning, the last day Ranger still had his full, strong bark.  It's of Ranger and Wynn barking me out on my way to work.




video

We miss you already, Ranger.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

One Little Monkey Jumping on the Bed


That's her new fleece blanket she's standing on. She picked out the fabric herself (MUCH better than the horse heads on a sea of plaid she saw first). The nice lady at the cutting table innocently asked, "Is that George?" Wynn looked at her as if to say, "Um, no!"

She LOVES the Elmo t-shirt!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yes, We've Been Busy

Sorry we haven't updated for so long, but we've been trying to keep up with THIS ...


video


September News Stories

Wynn Develops Passion for Ham
She figured out that she could eat from the bag after we pick up the ham at the deli, so now she spends a couple aisles at the store chomping happily on ham. As soon as she sees the deli, she starts shouting, "Ham! Ham!" She squeals with delight as the clerk puts the ham in the bag, "I love ham!" As we go through the store, she tells other shoppers, "I got ham!" It's a bit of a ruckus we cause, but it's just too funny.

Movin' on Up
Wynn moved up to a new classroom early this month. She's in a room with kids who are three years old. Bigger room! More books! A computer! Trips to the science lab and poetry corner! And, best of all ... a MUCH bigger slide to play on! She's usually outside when I go to pick her up, and I always find her on the slide. It's a big one that curves in a circle, and I've seen her ride it alone and bobsled-style with a couple friends. Her teacher commented on how Wynn goes down it over and over and over. Hey, she knows what she likes.

Farewell, Board Books
After discovering that there are many titles about Dora, Clifford, and Curious George in softcover, Wynn had moved away from the board books and up to some more complex stories. The top of her bedtime request list includes Looking for a Moose (Grandpa's favorite), Clifford's First Halloween, Apples and Pumpkins, and Dora's Sharing Day. Sometimes she treats us by reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? to us; I cried the first time I heard her do it.

Wynn Loves Ranger
Sweet, adorable Ranger has been having some rough times lately. He's been in and out of the doggie hospital with kidney stones and stomach troubles. He rejects most food, so he's losing weight and is getting IV fluids and antibiotics. Our vet, who Scott is on a first name basis with now, is hopeful, but it's been a lot of work taking him back and forth to the clinic, giving him his medications, and TRYING to get him to eat. Wynn has been her kind and understanding self through all of this. When we tell her he doesn't feel well, she looks at him sadly and gives him a great big hug. We can't imagine a little dog and a little girl who get along better than these two.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Everybody Barfs on Baba

On Wednesday Wynn came home from daycare with a 102.6 degree temperature and a belly full of quesadilla, which she threw up on her DVD player, the table, the floor, her placemat, her shirt, and herself.  (That's right.  My daughter was watching a DVD while eating her dinner, thus guaranteeing me a lock on the mother of the year award.)

Not to be outdone, Ranger threw up twice Thursday morning - once in Wynn's room and once on the new carpet in the living room (gasp!).  When I came into Wynn's room to clean it up, Ranger was pouting, and Wynn was standing next to him, looking sympathetic and petting him gently.  

Today, they both decided to up the ante.  Ranger went first.  This afternoon he came in from his walk and started doing the "pre-game show" he puts on before throwing up.  Scott's pretty tough about vomit, so he put his hands under the dog's mouth and caught it.  Ugh.  

Wynn is feeling MUCH better - even managed a brief visit to the State Fair this morning, but she was overtired at bedtime and went into one of her crying rages.  As usually happens, she got herself so wound up that she barfed - all over Baba.  I could hear him from the living room, "I'm in a pool of it.  I don't even know where to start."

When I came in to offer assistance, Scott said, "Why don't you just throw up on me now, too?  Might as well be the whole family at this point."  

Thursday night I asked Wynn about our plan to go to the fair:
"Will we eat food at the fair?"
"Yep."
"What kind of food?"
"Mmmm..."
"Will we eat hot dogs?"
"No."
"Fruit?"
"No."
"Ice cream?"
"No."
"Then what WILL we eat?"
"Donuts."
"Is that all we're going to eat?"
"Yep."
Yes, that's an inflatable Dora.
Yes, it cost more than it needed to.
And, yes, she loves the darn thing.



Monday, August 18, 2008

Tantrums, Headstands, and Pie



We're getting near the end of summer.  Wynn and I only have two more "girl days" left (when she's not in daycare, but Baba's at work).  Most of our girl days have involved speech therapy, which she's getting better and better at, with trips to the store, the library, and the zoo thrown in.  

She's hit the age of rebellion, and, though she's still ridiculously cooperative 95% of the time, she's pitched her share of tantrums lately.  I took her to Como Zoo the other day; it was rainy with no crowds, so we really got to see the animals and have fun.  She recognized the zoo as we pulled up - "Animals!!" - and skipped along cheering, "Flowers!" and, "Oh, MORE flowers!" as we entered the park.  We had a great time; we even got to see the gorilla up close and a puffin swimming underwater.  When it was time to leave, though, she saw a car in the lot that was similar to ours.  She INSISTED that we get in it.  I told her that, no, the gray Honda with Maryland plates was not ours, but she went on and on.  By the time we got to our real car, she was in full-blown tantrum.  There was screaming, kicking, and refusal to listen to reason ("See, there's your car seat and toys in the back.").  I had to strap her in while she acted as if I were abducting her.  The other parents in the lot just gave me the look - Yep, I've been there too.

We've been watching the Olympics on TV and have been feeling great pride at seeing Beijing and the people of China doing such a great job of hosting the world.  Sure, they had to do a LOT to make the city amenable to the athletes (like getting rid of all that smog), but we've been enjoying watching the TV reporters as they get settled, meet the people, and eventually get that look of "this place is amazing" that comes over them.  When you're in China, you definitely feel its foreignness, but you can't help but be charmed by the warmth of its people.  

Watching the Olympic coverage with Wynn has been fun.  She enjoys all the gymnastics and was trying to do a headstand like the men in the floor routine last night.  Her favorite sport so far has been the equestrian event.  She LOVES when the horses jump those rails; she shouts, "Go! Go! Jump!" over and over.  When they come to a particularly tall rail, she looks stunned and says, "Oh, Big!"  When I tell her that the show is coming from China, she smiles and points at herself, then me and Scott.  We've made it a point to talk to her about China and our time there - looking at pictures, telling stories, etc.  We don't know if she consciously remembers China, but she certainly knows the word, that it's a place, and that we met there.  

Yesterday Wynn made her first foray into the world of baking; she and I made a blueberry pie.  ("Pie" is one of the words she's been working on in speech.)  She helped me put the crust neatly in the pie plate, dumped the ingredients in the bowl, and was in charge of stirring.  She loved making the top crust.  Instead of lattice work, we took cookie cutters and cut out shapes to set on top of the pie.  I could only find a few cutters, so we ended up with an odd assortment - Minnesota, a pig, a donkey, and a bell.  

As you can tell by the picture of her cramming some in her mouth, it was delicious.

Ann


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summer Sights

We've taken Wynn to see two great sights that we recommend to other toddler-totin' Twin Citians. 

The first was the Star Wars exhibit at the Science Museum.  Wynn has seen snippets of one of the movies and has a toy Chewbacca and an R2D2 she plays with, so she recognized what she was looking at.  Waiting in line was part of the journey, but she handled it well.  There were big posters of some of the characters hanging on the walls, and when she saw Darth Vader, she said, "Bad guy!" Apparently, he's so bad that she can't tolerate the sight of him, so she put her hands over her eyes too.

She did love the droids and the Wookies (Those suckers are HUGE!).  When she caught her first glimpse of R2D2, she started stomping her feet and flapping her arms.  I know him!



Her favorite part of the whole thing was the audio tour speakers by many of the displays.  She pushed a lot of big blue buttons but never figured out to hold the speaker to her ear.

The other cool thing we visited was Blooming Butterflies at Como Zoo.  They've enclosed a garden and stocked it with all sorts of butterflies from around the world.  It was fun to see the exotic ones from climates warmer than Minnesota can provide (No offense to our lovely monarch population.)  Wynn was mesmerized by all the butterflies swirling around our heads. She got very still and silent and just gaped at how they moved.  Even though it was rather crowded, it felt like the calmest place in the city.

In speech therapy news, she continues to make progress but resists identifying pictures on cards.  Today Becca was working to get Wynn to say pie.  She showed her pictures, said the word several times, and even talked about how yummy it is.  Wynn just looked bored and distracted.  Finally I asked Wynn, "If you wanted a piece of pie, what would you say?"  Over her shoulder she gave me the most clear-as-a-bell, matter-of-fact, "Pie."  It's in there, you just have to know how to get it out of her.


http://www.smm.org/starwars/
http://www.comozooconservatory.org/como_zoo/Blooming%20Butterflies.shtml


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Work and Play

We had our first sign of a struggle at speech therapy this week. Much of the testing they do to see which phonemes a child can and cannot say is done by showing pictures or toy models of items and asking, "What's that?" Apparently, most kids cooperatively reply, "Cow," or "Cat," or "Pig." Wynn does not. She shoots us this look like You know it's a cow. I know it's a cow. Why are we having this conversation? Wynn likes talking in real situations, and being asked to identify items in pictures isn't real, so she shuts right down. When we get her playing, THEN she starts talking - mostly to tell us what we're supposed to do.

We're working on ways to get her to say the names of the items without asking the verboten, "What's that?" I've made up a game where I show her two items: "Wynn, I have a banana and a potato." Then I put them both behind my back. I pull out one hand, which has one of the toys hidden in it. I ask, "Do you think it's the banana or the potato?" She replies most of the time, so that's one way we can test her. It's pretty much our job to stay one step ahead of her, and it's getting harder all the time.

Another game at speech involved digging toys out of a big bucket of beans. She was, of course, to say what each toy was as she pulled it out. She pulled out what Becca expected her to label as bug; instead, she said, "Ladybug." A few toys later she pulled out another bug and correctly labeled it, "Dragonfly." She obviously has the vocabulary, and the syllables and intonation are correct; we're working on fine tuning the consonants - she tends to leave a few out here and there.

It's not all work around here; Wynn has also been having a lot of fun playing this summer. She likes to go to the park and ride on the swings. Splashing in the kiddie pool is a big favorite as well. When it's too hot to play outside, she loves her LEGO's, play food, books, and crayons.

We went for a walk at the nature center on the 4th of July. This picture shows why Mama's arms are getting so strong. (Wynn slept peacefully through the fireworks that night.)

Here we are checking out the interior of a small plane at our local airport's open house. Wynn says, "Airplane," whenever she sees one, which makes Baba very proud.


video

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yep, She's an American

Even though she's only been in speech therapy for a week, Wynn's already showing progress. She's talking more often, saying more words, and is getting clearer (and funnier!) with each passing day. Yesterday she cheered, "Gramma house!" when I told her we were going over for a visit; we've never heard her put those two words together before.

Our proudest moment of patriotism was as she and I pulled up to McDonald's to get dinner last night. She saw the golden arches and started calling out, "McDonal! McDonal!" while happily kicking her feet. She pointed. She smiled. She knew exactly where we were. When the voice came through to take our order at the drive-through, Wynn shouted over and over at the top of her lungs, "Hi, McDonal!! Hi, McDonal!"

We brought the food home, and she HAD to carry the bag. While I got juice out of the fridge, she set the table; we each got two napkins, and she put our sandwiches at the appropriate spots at the table. She pointed at mine, grinned with pride and said, "Hamugger!"

In one short year she's learned SO much about this country and what it has to offer.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

P and B

Wynn started speech therapy this week. She's having trouble forming some of her letters, which is often the case with cleft palate. She's struggling the most with what are, for many kids, fairly simple initial consonants - P, B, T, and D sounds. We're focusing on the P's and B's to start with.

The therapy center we found for her is FANTASTIC. Their philosophy is to get the kids playing and then find opportunities to insert the therapy naturally into the play. (Much wiser than trying to sit a two year old down and say, "Now we're going to do this.") They do both physical and speech therapy, so there's a gymnasium with a trampoline and swings. Wynn even got to pet the therapy dog on her first visit. Becca, her therapist, is very engaging, and, even though Wynn was a bit shy at first, she opened up to her big time on the second visit.

Today we played with all kinds of toys - a Big, Bouncy Ball, several Pink Pigs, and some Pictures of PuPPies to get Wynn talking. Her favorite part is when we Blow BuBBles. She yells, "Blow!", and Becca and I take turns with the BuBBle wand. Wynn chases after them and says, "PoP! PoP!" as she catches them. When she wants us to do it again, she says, "More BuBBles!"

Becca laughed at Wynn's goofball sense of humor. (She started sneaking up on Becca when she was going to blow a big bubble; she'd pop it while it was still on the wand and then giggle at her own cleverness.) She also commented on how enthusiastic Wynn is about EVERYTHING.

It's nice to see Wynn having so much fun at speech, and I'm learning a lot of little things to do with her at home to reinforce what she's learning in therapy. As we left today, Wynn said "Bye!" to Becca and then blew her a kiss. Apparently, that wasn't enough, so she went over and gave her five too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stuff Wynn Loves

Here's the second in our continuing series of Stuff Wynn Loves!

Good Guys!
I bought this shirt for her at Target a month or two ago, and it has quickly become her favorite. She picks it out of the closet and screams, "Good guys!!" When asked who the Good Guys fight, she says with dread and menace, "Bad Guys!" She even does a little shake of the head, as if to say, "Why do they have to be so darn bad?" Though she recognizes Spiderman, they talk about the Masters of the Universe at daycare; she has a whole routine of gestures and faces she makes when we call out their names. Cute, but a little bizarre.

Drums!
Some days it feels like we're living with the touring company of Stomp! around here. Her two favorite "drums" are the laundry hamper (a metal IKEA trash can - very loud) and the toilet. For sticks she likes to experiment with hairbrushes, LEGOs, small plastic animals, etc. We took her to a parade last week and, you guessed it, she loved the drums in the marching band. (Note to well-meaning friends and family: This blog entry is is NO way a request for you to go out and get Wynn a toy drum set. Really. She's absolutely content pounding away on the toilet and the hamper. Really. We mean it.)

Ranger
(No, he doesn't always look like that.)
Speaking of good guys ... Ranger is Wynn's best buddy, whether he wants to be or not. The other day she was mad at me, so she went over and buried her face in his fur. She threw her little arms around his neck and clung to him for at least ten minutes. He patiently sat there and rolled his eyes. There was never this much drama until SHE came along.

Hidden Vegetables
Two of Wynn's favorite summer snacks contain hidden vegetables. While she does love plain ol' veggies - spinach, broccoli, and, yes, even peas - V8 Fusion in Acai Mixed Berry flavor and the Flat Earth Baked Veggie Crisps in Farmland Cheddar are big winners in her book. When I ask what kind of juice she wants, she says, "Acai!" It looks and smells like an exotically-named grape juice to me, but, hey, she loves the stuff. The Veggie Crisps are kept in a lower cupboard at our house, so she can help herself, which she loves. She'll go and get one, bring it to me, show it and make the question sound to make sure it's okay to have. She does this a couple times, until I say, "Yep, but that's the last one."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Time Flies. Mosquitos Bite.

We realize that we've been negligent in updating the blog. It wasn't that nothing was happening in May; it's just that we never seemed to find the time to write it all down. May highlights include: Wynn's first exposure to the flora and fauna of Minnesota in the spring - and the allergies that go with it. Lots of sneezing. Lots of watery eyes. A couple "I got a belly full of snot and I need to chuck it up on you" moments. You get the picture.

The other kids at daycare have started calling her Wynnie, which hasn't quite caught on at home. As I left with her yesterday, the other kids all called out, "Bye, Wynnie!" as we passed by. She gave them her best rock star/ diva wave as we headed for the door. Now its cute. When she's twelve, not so much.

We're getting a lot more words out of her lately. She's started referring to animals by their names instead of their noises, and "circles" refers to cucumber slices. She also does a clear-as-a-bell "Go!" when she's ready for you to roll a ball to her. Her first REAL sentence came this week, and she uses it often - "I got that." It's said with pride as she climbs on the toilet by herself, gets into her carseat, helps herself to a cracker in the cupboard, etc. She's very into celebrating her independence; "I got that" seems a perfect sentence for her to have as her first.
A recent addition to our home is a roller coaster. Her maiden voyage on it was in the living room, but now it's an outside toy. She adores it and loves taking her panda and baby doll for rides on it. It's also great for rolling a ball down. When I asked her last night if she loves her Uncle Paul (Bringer of the Roller Coaster), she nodded her head and gave an emphatic, "Yep!"
Wynn has also created her own game, which she's trying to teach me the finer points of. I'm not certain how score is kept, but I know it involves wearing groovy sunglasses while rolling a soccer ball back and forth across the coffee table. Your hands are not allowed to touch the ball; you must grip it with LEGO's instead. (Notice those lovely mosquito bites on her arms and face.)
Now that June is here, we're having a lot of "A year ago ... " conversations. We marvel at how quickly the time has gone (and what a big girl she's growing to be). Was it really a year ago (today) that we got on the plane? Still, it's hard for us to remember our lives before Wynn. It's as if she's always been our girl.

Looking over pictures from last summer's trip, we are stunned by how small she was and how her face so often had that uncertain look on it. I sat cuddled up with her on the sofa the other night, running my hand through her hair while she contentedly watched Curious George on TV. There she was with her feet propped on my lap, leaning her head into my side - so relaxed, so comfortable, so at home. It's such a long and happy way from being in a hotel room with the little girl who wouldn't allow me to touch her those first few days last June.

Ann

Sunday, April 27, 2008

In Charge

Winter has been taking its time leaving the Northland, but last week we experienced a few nice days. Wynn took advantage by tapping Baba to carry her around the park in her backpack:
On the other pleasant day, she spread her rock star charms around the neighborhood from the comfort of her stroller, sporting her new sunglasses:

She really likes the way she looks in 'shades. Sometimes she mixes things up by wearing them upside down, just to stay on the leading edge of fashion...

With the poor weather today, Baba had no more excuses for avoiding a big house project: replacing the kitchen sink and its faucet. He spent most of the afternoon very uncomfortably on his back wrestling with uncooperative fasteners, tubing the wrong size, and eventually a big explosive leak when he crawled back under the staircase to turn the water back on. (He may be calling in injured tomorrow...) Thankfully he had two resources to save the day: a next-door neighbor who happens to be a retired plumber, and Wynn's expert supervision.



Saturday, March 29, 2008

March Madness


March started off with stomach flu for the whole family - Grandma and Grandpa too! That was our "in like a lion" part, and we hope today's sunny weather, warmer temperatures, and cheerful disposition from the toddler indicate that it will be going "out like a lamb". We went out for a trike ride around the neighborhood after lunch (chicken nuggets dipped in lingonberry preserves - very Minnesotan), and she squealed with glee most of the way.

We had the honor of being guest speakers on a panel at Children's Home Society, our adoption agency. The panel was made up of several families who have adopted, and the audience was comprised of families who are considering adoption. We talked about our experiences and answered questions, and Wynn behaved FABULOUSLY - she didn't poop or pitch a fit or anything. Seriously, she was a great representative of what a special needs child can be. When we started the process of adoption, we did not intend to go through the special needs program, but during our home study we found that we were actually very open to it. That path led us to Wynn, so we're so glad that - even though the home study process is long and entails a shocking amount of work - we did it.

We've had some struggles with getting Wynn to sleep lately. We don't know if she's been getting over-tired or if the longer hours of daylight are throwing her off, but we've had a few evenings of screaming and fidgeting before she finally falls asleep. We do all the bedtime rituals - taking the bath, putting away the toys, talking about how Mama has her pajamas on too, reading books, listening to quiet music ..., but some nights, it just doesn't work. (On the worst night of it this week, I woke up on her bedroom floor, drooling on my arm, wondering where I was and how long I'd been there.)


She looked adorable on Easter Sunday, but we learned that two celebrations at two locations on the same day is way too much for a two year-old. We really didn't push the Easter Bunny thing; maybe we'll mention him next year when she's a little more likely to understand what we're talking about. Since she's such a big fan of healthy snacks (tomatoes, celery, bananas, spinach), we went with a no candy policy for Easter. She really doesn't know what candy is yet, and we figure she has her whole life to learn about the joy of peanut butter cups.

- Ann


She Loves Her Dishwasher Box Fort



Wonder Woman!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pigtails!

When I picked up Wynn at daycare this week, they told me they'd given her pigtails. Having her hair up was a new experience for Wynn, and she spent the rest of the afternoon admiring herself in the mirror, feeling her pigtails while laughing, and watching her shadow outside to see how her pigtails bounced.



The winter weather has hinted that it might go away soon, so now Wynn is obsessed with going out and riding around the block on her trike. Her legs aren't long enough to reach the pedals, so she tucks them underneath her and watches the pedals spin while Mama pushes the trike along.

She's also discovered puddles and loves to stand and stare at the BIG one in our driveway. She doesn't want to step in it and splash, but I sense she'll catch on to that game soon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Advice

A bit of advice for any new/expecting parents out there ...

Today's car seats are a wonderful thing. You know your kid is safe in the backseat and that, should need be, the car seat cover is designed to be easily removed and laundered. Our advice to you is that you learn how to remove the seat cover BEFORE it is covered with vomit. Do a dry run or two, so to speak. You should be able to whip that sucker off of there in two seconds flat with one hand. You do not - repeat, NOT - want to be fumbling around with it once the vomit has come.

Live and learn. :-)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February Visits

Earlier this month, in what we hope will become a Chinese New Year tradition, we got together with two of the other Minneapolis-St. Paul area families who traveled with us in China. How wonderful to see how the other kids are adapting and thriving!

We posed them on the couch in the same manner as the famous "red couch" at the White Swan Hotel back in Guangzhou. Wynn is the smallest and youngest, at 2 years. Her fellow Guangxi Girl, Jenna, is two and a half, lively and bright. ( She's sort of a sneak preview of how big Wynn will be this summer!) And Josh, from Anhui province, is 3 years old; quite a gentleman and already speaking fluent English.



We are also talking about a summer get-together for our one-year Gotcha Day celebration!

Another special visit took place last weekend - a "make-up" for Wynn's recent birthday (the colds and flu going around hit our household hard in January.) My folks came up from the southern metro with a gift that Wynn will get a great deal of use from once the snow melts!



We've already taken her on a couple rides around the block, and she loves her trike (even if she can't quite reach the pedals.)