Friday, June 30, 2006

No More Baby

Since Gwen has been a part of us, she has gone to bed with a bottle. At first, it was a bottle of formula, which went against everything I know to be true about dental hygeine, but it worked. We moved her quickly to water with really no trouble at all. But still, every nap, every bedtime, it was a bottle about a third full of water that she sucked herself to sleep with. Long after the bottle was dry, she would be sucking.

But this is a girl with a mouth full of teeth. The inevitable chewing on the bottle's nipple was occurring, obvious by the little breaks I was beginning to see in it. I had already thrown away one nipple that a had a large tear chewed open in it. When I was getting her ready for her nap today, I noticed that the nipple on the bottle she'd had last night also had a large tear, such that if I had put water in the bottle for her, it would have poured out. I let her take it to bed for her nap, but told her no water. A foolish thing to do, I admit, as she could easily have swallowed a piece of the silicon if it had been chewed off. But she had the bottle, empty though it was, and she was happy.

Well tonight, I decided that it was a perfect time to put an end to all this bottle stuff. I easily pulled off the tip of the damaged nipple and threw the small piece away. I showed her the bottle and how it was broken now. I said we couldn't use it anymore. I gave her a drink, "like a big girl", out of a cup, sang her a song and put her to bed. She asked, "Bottle?" I reminded her it was broken, prayed with her and kissed her, and walked out holding my breath. Not a peep.

About 15 minutes later Scott and I stood outside her bedroom door. She was making some little sounds... seemed like a sort of "ahhhh" and then fingers tapping over her mouth to interupt the noise. She was finding some other thing to do with her mouth as she fell asleep.

Now it has only been a couple of hours since she's been asleep. I don't know how often that empty bottle was going into her mouth in the night for momentary comfort. I guess I can let you know tomorrow how she made it through the night.

But for now, she's made one more little step toward growing up.

No longer the baby herself, today Gwen got to hold our friends' one month old baby, Owen. Do you think she's pleased?!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dancing into the Night

As you can see, Madelyn is the Dancing Queen! She managed to dance not only with Scott and I, but also with the bride and groom! Scott and I loved how she was completely unaware that people might be watching her... she just danced with abandon and loved every minute of it!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Catch

Just like at most weddings, Aunt Sarah's wedding on Saturday included the traditional bouquet toss. I sent Madelyn and Gwen out to join in the crowd of other eligible young ladies, and I told them to try to catch the flowers. One of the hopeful bridesmaids caught it (I think she had a deal going with the bride), leaving one little flower girl sorely disappointed. Gwen held her little hands out and sadly said, "My catch?"

Gwen on the edge of the crowd of girls waiting for the toss!

Making up with Kim, who caught the bouquet.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Flower Girls

Gwen and Madelyn had the honor of being flower girls in their Aunt Sarah's wedding this past Saturday. Our two nieces and the groom's niece were also flower girls... so there were five! Madelyn was the oldest one, and a seasoned one at that, this being her third wedding as a flower girl. She kept the others in line, although it wasn't easy riding herd on the two two year olds! Fortunately Aunt Sarah was pretty laid back about their performance.

Here the flower girls are making their way, in a sort of a clump, down the petal-strewn stone path towards the waiting bridesmaids. Notice that Gwen is already breaking from the pack to head towards me. Scott is in the back of the group, having just sent them off down the aisle.
After the ceremony, the bride and groom pose with their nieces and nephews.
Our family... hard to get everyone looking at once!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Unconventional Ice Cream Consumption

Look at my sister Madelyn! She thought it would be fun to eat ice cream with chopsticks! She fed me ice cream this way, too! Mommy didn't mind because we couldn't eat very much at a time like this.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Artist at Work

Notice: Masterpiece in progress. Please allow the resident artist some privacy.

Give Me the Words to Say

I had quite a conversation with a five and a half year old little sprite of a girl at Seth's baseball game last night. She was petite, with curly red hair that was escaping in tendrils from her ponytail. She wore wire rimmed glasses, and had smooth pale skin with a few freckles dotting her nose. She came over to join my girls to play with legos on the blanket I brought. She was very interested in Gwen. She looked at her, talked to her, asked me her name.

Finally, she asked, "Why is her skin brown and your skin white?" I explained that Gwen was Chinese, that we had adopted her, and that she had darker skin than me. She was amazed that Gwen was Chinese, it seemed to surprise her. Adoption, she had heard of that. Someone in her class was adopted, she said, but she didn't think it was from China.

Next she wanted to know Gwen's Chinese name. A higher level of questioning began. I told her, it was Wang Yu, but that it wasn't pronounced how we thought it would be. I said it for her. It's very difficult to say correctly. Her little mouth tried to form the foreign sounds several times.

A little while later the next question came, the trickier question.
"Why didn't her real mommy want her?"

Deep breath. I can answer this question that a five year old stranger is asking me. It is a child's innocent question. Never mind that I am not in a hurry to have this question asked of me by another little innocent child, my own daughter. I will practice on the stranger. I can do it.

I did it. And I did okay.

"The lady who gave birth to Gwen couldn't take care of any baby. So she brought Gwen to a place where I could come get her and adopt her."

The little red headed stranger was satisfied. I am satisfied too. I passed the test. I will practice again, many times I hope, before Gwen asks me this question. And when she does, I know that God will give me the words she needs to hear.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Self Photo, by Madelyn

This girl is multi- talented, don't you think?! What a face! I think she may have been trying to look like Ginger, her guinea pig. :-)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Horsey Ride

One of the many duties of a daddy!
Happy Father's Day, Scott... You have definitely won the hearts of your four kids, and their mommy's, too!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reach for the Sky...

... or for Grandpa's kites on the beach.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Six months and one day

So this is a picture of Gwen and I last December, about 30 minutes after we first laid eyes on each other. Amazing. Amazing that it has already been six months, and amazing that it's only been six months. This little black haired girl is so much a part of us that we can hardly remember what we did without her! I think she feels very much a part of us, too. A new thing she has been saying seems to illustrate this point. She'll be with me and point to Scott, saying, "Mommy, my daddy." I answer her, "Yes Gwen, that's your daddy." She does this with all of us, and it reminds me of a dream I had a little over a year ago, before we had even seen her picture. In the dream I was holding her and she was saying of me to someone else, "That's my mommy." Everything seems to be hers these days, there are lots of "mys" being tossed around, but I'm so pleased and reassured that she seems to really know that we are hers!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Family Names

Gwen hit a speech milestone the other day... after months of either calling everyone "Mom", or only occassionally getting a name here and there, she finally got them all.

Gwen has a little tradition after meals. When we are finished and I lift her down out of her booster seat, she dances. Just a little minute of spinning and jumping, with the joy of a full tummy. She is usually the first one to leave the table (although I try to keep her with us until we all finish!), and perhaps she sees it as a chance to perform for a captive audience.

Last weekend we were eating dinner outside on the deck. When our dinner was over and I released Gwen from her seat, she looked around the table at the rest of us, and one by one she said all of our names.

"Daddy, Set (Seth), Ma-a-lyn, Ca (Caleb), Mommy". It was deliberate and careful, and she looked at each one of us as she said our names to the best of her ability.

She was calling for our attention. She got it.

And then, with all eyes on her, she danced.

Hurray for Gwen!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Gingerbread (Ginger for short)

See my sister's new pet?
I like to feed her!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

We've turned the page...

... on really enjoying being read to. When we first met Gwen, she tolerated books only if she had her bedtime bottle to keep her still while we read to her. Things have improved greatly since then, and there have been a good handful of books that she's liked, but mostly those were books that had some kind of bells and whistles to keep her interest, like flaps to peek under or textures to touch.

Caleb, being the first child, was the only one who received my undivided attention as a toddler. I started reading to him early and often. I was also pregnant when he was a toddler, so reading to him seemed like a nice, sedentary activity. We had lots of time to read... and at the age of two, he would sit and listen to stories for long stretches of time, much to my weary body's relief.

This fourth time around, I have much less time to read to my toddler. Fortunately I have other readers in my house now, readers who are doing a bang-up job of reading "Goodnight Moon" and other favorites to their little sister. I am trying to give myself some extra moments at naptime and bedtime to sit with Gwen and read, because now, instead of just making it through one book on her attention span, she is lingering over pages, making extra sound effects, turning back to favorite pages, and getting up to pick the next book when the first one is finished.

I'm so thankful. I love to read to my children. I would go so far to say that for me it is one of the greatest pleasures of parenting. Even if the story is so familiar that I could recite it in my sleep...

In the great green room, there was a telephone and a red balloon...