Sunday, March 29, 2009

"The Phone...the phone is RING-ing!"

Stanzi was in a bad mood yesterday. Maybe it's the teething--who knows? But here's the effect that the Wonder Pets have on her. There are a few television shows that she likes, but nothing compares to the Wonder Pets. As soon as she heard that music she stopped fussing, broke into a big smile and started moving to the beat. I downloaded the theme song from iTunes so I could play it for her anytime.

But now I can't get that music out of my head....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Older Video

This video takes place in the lobby of the Galactic Peace Hotel (I still love that name) in Nanchang. It's the first time Monica and Stanzi met face-to-face. The original video was much longer, because I had failed to turn off the camera and it kept running for nearly four minutes. Only the first fifteen seconds are at all interesting, but I didn't bother trying to upload a video that was mostly useless, and because the file was huge (nearly 300 MB) it would have taken ages to upload. Anyway, I finally figured out how to edit video using the Flip software, so I cut out all the superfluous stuff. Here it is--Monica and Stanzi meeting for the first time. Wow, it really is amazing how much our little girl has changed in just over a month's time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

There's POOP! In the POTTY!

Over the weekend we bought Stanzi a potty chair. We figured that since it's so glaringly obvious when her bowels are moving (our little drama queen) we might as well start getting her used to dropping her payload into some toilet-like receptacle.

She had just finished her supper tonight when she got that look on her face (a look not wholly unlike the one in the photo; and no, she wasn't pooping when I took that) and started grunting. I whisked her into the bathroom, where Monica quickly removed her pants and diaper and sat her upon the potty chair, which is made to look like a frog. And about thirty seconds later--well, you get the point.

This has been a good day all around. This morning she went with Monica to the library for story time. Midday she had a nice long nap, and in the afternoon a lady from the county's "Help Me Grow" program came by--at our request--to assess how she's developing. As we expected, she's a bit behind, particularly in communications skills. But the lady reassured us that it's nothing to worry about, and in a couple of areas, such as fine motor skills, she's right where most 13-month-olds are. Stanzi and I had some playtime this afternoon, and now Mommy is giving her a bottle and putting her to bed.

Poop in the potty. It doesn't get any better than that. Maybe that should get mentioned on her "Help Me Grow" assessment....

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Toy

I don't really have a lot of time to blog today as Stanzi will wake up from her nap soon, but I wanted to share some new video. John and I didn't even think they made baby "walkers" anymore, but we found one at WalMart yesterday and "The Gibbon" absolutely loves it. I wish we had more floor space, but the weather should start getting nice enough for her to use it on the patio. If you want to hear her giggling (and grunting), make sure you pause the music player at the bottom of the screen before playing the video. This kid is adorable!

Tomorrow morning Stanzi and I are going to the public library for "Baby Lap Time" which is a story time with music and movement for children up to 18 months old. I'm not sure what to expect, but it's free and it gets us out of the house. Tomorrow afternoon a representative from "Help Me Grow" is coming over to assess Stanzi's motor skills and verbal development. I'm very curious to see where she stands.

On Friday afternoon there was a wonderful party to welcome Stanzi to Ashland. Many thanks to John's colleagues for all of the work they put into that shindig. Stanzi has so many delightful new toys, clothes, blankets and other goodies because of our thoughtful and generous friends. You all reminded us, once again, why we love calling Ashland home.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Status Report

Can you believe this is the same little girl who used to SCREAM at the top of her lungs every time we tried to give her a bath? We laughed when we read suggestions in parenting books about making bath time part of a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual. But now she seems to enjoy being in the tub. She sure likes her rubber duck, anyway.

It's been hard to blog since we've been back from China, particularly now that spring break is over and I'm back to teaching. Last week was wonderful, though. When I got back from Idaho last Sunday night I saw big improvements in Stanzi's development in the four short days that I was gone. And in the past week I tried to make up for my absence with a lot of daddy-daughter time. It seemed to work, and now it seems hard to believe that she wanted nothing to do with me during our first few days together. Now whenever she seems me she flashes that million-dollar smile. Man, I'm in serious trouble with this one....

Stanzi's sleeping has gotten much better. She generally wakes us up once per night to take a bottle, although one night she surprised us by sleeping straight through. Generally speaking, though, she hates to go to bed, and kicks up a major fuss almost every night when we try to put her down. However, everything we've heard suggests that that's perfectly normal. She appears to be laboring under the delusion that Monica and I are doing something super-exciting after she goes to sleep.

Everything else is working out just fine! Most of the time she's a wonderfully pleasant little girl. She loves the dogs, except when they start barking too loudly for her, and they seem awfully fond of her, except when she tries to pull on their ears. She's still eating like a horse, but she's become far more discriminating in her choices. She has no interest whatsoever in baby food. She has ten teeth now, and she wants to USE those chompers. She enjoys some television shows, like "Wonder Pets" and "Imagination Movers." She still loves the jumperoo, but she's also on the verge of walking--I took her for a stroll around the house this afternoon, with her just holding on to me by one hand. She isn't saying any discernable words yet, but she babbles all the time, so she might be close to speaking as well. And--fingers crossed--we think we've found a child care arrangement that we'll all be comfortable with. I'm not going to jinx it by going into detail, but things are looking good.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Life is Good

I’m sure anyone with a baby has a tale to tell about sleep issues. Ours, so far, has been quite interesting. While were in Nanchang, Stanzi slept pretty well. She woke once in the night for a bottle and tended to be an early riser, but basically her sleep pattern was consistent. The trouble first started after we arrived in Guangzhou. Different crib, different hotel, different climate all added up to a rough first night. In fact, most families in our group had difficulty that first night in Guangzhou. Stanzi, however, developed a habit on that first night that she hasn’t yet kicked – fighting sleep. She’s become an expert at it, too, by the way. I, on the other hand, have become an expert at fighting Stanzi fighting sleep. Naptime is never an issue but nighttime is a total drama. There are countless theories as to why our adopted children have trouble sleeping: fear of the dark, fear of silence, fear of waking up alone as they have on so many mornings. Frequently, as she’s trying not to fall asleep, Stanzi will gaze into my face; sometimes she’ll reach out and gently touch my cheek or lips. There’s such depth in the dark pools of her eyes. It’s as if she’s afraid it may be the last time she ever sees me.

Stress and exhaustion make you do crazy things and the craziest thing I’ve done in quite some time is to go to battle with my one-year-old daughter over bedtime. Do I want my kid to sleep from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. and nap everyday? Hell, yes! Who wouldn’t? Do I have that kid? I don’t think so. Does that child even exist? I wonder.

Yesterday I discussed the situation with our pediatrician, Dr. Kempf. Essentially she said there are no “right” ways to get your child to sleep. In the interest of both Stanzi and me getting enough rest “do what works” she said. So last night I called a bedtime truce. Eight o’clock rolled around and Stanzi showed no indication she was ready to sleep. By 8:45, however, all the signs were there. We went upstairs and snuggled in bed and she was asleep in my arms by 9:30. She was awake for two hours in the middle of the night which was kind of annoying, but we’ll work on that. All in all I figure I got about 7 ½ hours of sleep and six of them were consecutive. Not bad, and a lot better than the three to four I was getting during the “Great Bedtime War”.

So for the first time in a long time I had the energy to eat breakfast, shower, put on “real” clothes, apply a small amount of make-up and do a couple of loads of laundry. I even shaved my legs. Life is good.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Daddy-Daughter Time

Monica decided to make a solo trip to Wal-Mart, so Stanzi and I had our first extended (as in an hour and a half) Daddy-daughter time. Everything went fine; I was afraid she'd start demanding her Mommy, but she seemed content to hang out with me. I fed her some supper, and shot this video of her and Ruby. Then I changed a poopy diaper (I've finally gotten the hang of it), we played with the dogs a bit, and practiced her standing skills. She's started trying to stand on one leg; true, she's holding onto my hands as she does it, but she had a certain grace, almost like a tiny ballerina. Maybe dance classes are in her future?

Regarding the dogs: I don't know how many people, during the lead-up to the adoption, told us, essentially, that our dogs were in for a "rude awakening" when the baby arrived. Now granted, it's only been a few days, but I don't see how things have changed all that much for them. They're still sleeping on our bed, they're still playing with their toys, they're still getting attention from us. Yes, Stanzi's needs take priority, but if anything they're getting more attention, because Stanzi is fascinated with them (and vice versa). If anything, their lives may have gotten better, as they're now getting the generous bounty of dropped food from Stanzi's booster seat, and we're at home with them a lot more than we were before. Maybe I'm missing something, but I sure don't see any "rude awakening" for them--at least, not yet.

Tomorrow I have to get up early and drive two hours to Van Wert, Ohio, which is due west of here, close to the Indiana border. For the past few years I've been going there twice a year to do all-day seminars for high school teachers. Last October I spoke on the Cold War, going from 1945 up through the Cuban Missile Crisis; tomorrow I take the story up through the collapse of communism. Anyway, Wednesday I have to leave again, this time for Idaho, where I'm doing a workshop for high school teachers that'll run through the weekend. The good news is that the subject is World War II, so it'll be fun, it's sponsored by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute, which is a great organization to get involved with, I'm being paid rather well for it, and I've always wanted to visit Idaho, which is supposed to be beautiful (although I'm not sure how nice it's supposed to be in early March). The bad news, of course, is it takes me away from Monica and Stanzi so soon after our return from China. Fortunately Monica's cousin is coming to town later this week, and her parents (and perhaps her grandmother) will be coming on Saturday, so she'll be getting a little help--and some non-baby company.

New Photos

Bowing to popular demand, I just uploaded a bunch of Stanzi photos from our time in China. Right now I'm buried under a ton of grading, but I hope to do some more substantial blogging later this week. Maybe Monica will, too!
The photos (including the one on the left, with her in her adorable polar bear hat) may be found here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Life Post-China

We've now been home from China for just over three days, but it's been hard to get back into the swing of blogging. Our routine in China usually gave me an hour or two of down time in the morning to write, but now jetlag is working in the opposite direction. Speaking of jetlag, dealing with a jetlagged one-year-old is no fun. In China Stanzi was pretty good about sleeping; in fact, she slept straight through the night a few times. But here it's been a struggle, for understandable reasons. Last night, however, things were much better. We made a point yesterday of limiting her sleeping during the day, so by 8:30 she was in her crib, completely crashed. She woke up at 2:30 or so, and was awake for a couple of hours, but that's still a huge improvement over the last couple of nights.

Aside from the sleep thing, Stanzi has adjusted remarkably well to everything here. She's enjoying her many toys (especially the Rainforest Jumperoo shown in the video), and her introduction to the dogs went very smoothly. There was some initial screaming when Lotte tried to lick her face, but she quickly bounced back from that, and soon was reaching out to pet them (well, more like grab them, but Lotte and Ruby don't seem to mind). For the dogs' part, it only took them until her first feeding to know that when Stanzi eats food will miraculously drop to the floor, so all they need do is wait next to her booster seat in order to get a tasty treat. In fact, Stanzi seems to be taking great delight in sharing her meals with Lotte and Ruby.

I'm not sure how much blogging we'll be doing in the next few days. I'm swamped with university-related work (it's amazing how much of a backlog of grading builds up over two weeks), and later this week I'm off to do a couple of seminars for high school teachers. Monica may have some things to add, but she's pretty busy with the normal baby routine. But for now, things are going very well, and where they aren't, at least they're headed in the right direction.