Saturday, March 31, 2007

Blue light special

Doesn't someone NEED these bed linens kukunest so I can get at least a contact high from shoppy shoppy? These sheets hit all my weaknesses: bold graphics in bright colors. Can I have this on my bed? what? too Suzy Zoo for a middle-aged lawyer? naw, I could so totally pull this off and it wouldn't be sad or strange at all, really, really, not in the least. Good thing it only comes in twin or there woulda been a big ol' lantern festival ahappenin' in my room as fast as UPS could put it on a truck.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

But she hears good for free

So now we know that Nora can see fine and that she hears like a bat. And the hearing test was free thanks to the kind intake clerk at the state health department who winked at me as she waived the fee because Nora is a pre-schooler, wink, wink. I just love folks like that who can bend a rule once in awhile especially if the benefit of the bend falls my way.
So now we also know that Nora's struggles to learn and behave in school are not related to lack of hearing or poor eye sight, so we've got that going for us. Last fall when I enrolled Nora in kindergarten because she met the age cut-off even though I could see that she was still very emotionally immature, I went ahead anyway with what I now see as a very cavalier attitude that "oh well, I can always hold her back." I'm such a cock-eyed optimist and I really really believed that my obviously bright little girl would catch up, just like YuYu who entered kindergarten at the same age and after leaving China for exactly the same length of time. But Nora is not YuYu, for damn sure, they broke the mold after they made my sweet YuYu. Nora has not caught up and she struggles with both her behavior and the academic challenges presented by the kindergarten curriculum. Like hash marks. Oh lord, looking into her eyes is still like looking into an empty handbag when I try to help her learn four sticks and a stripe mean five.
Well, now the time has come to make the decision to "retain" her in kindergarten for one more year and I'm not feeling so damn cavalier. She needs to stay back, that is clear, but it is hurting her. Nora is FIERCELY competitive, what I would call a one-upper. The kind of person, who during the course of any conversation, has done, felt, accomplished, or lived through something just a little more extreme, harder, intense or funnier than the experience you are trying to relate, and we all know how annoying that is. So my little one-upper will need to repeat kindergarten while Mimi advances to first grade and it is really troubling her now and we're just in the discussion phase. When it is real and Mimi (who is now an inch shorter than Nora although 10 months older) trots off to first grade next fall and Nora stays behind, I anticipate big, sobbing angry grief. I try so hard to present the idea to her in the form that "hey bud, some kids just need more time to learn and you will be the leader in class next year while you have more time to learn." But she is too bright for that and knows that she can't read and can't count past 10 and that the other kids are capable of doing so many things that she can't figure out yet, and it hurts her and she gets frustrated and describes herself so negatively but so matter of factly, that it hurts me.
It is the best decision, and everyone seems to agree that if a child needs to be held back, repeating kindergarten is the least socially destructive year to do it, but, of course, I still have guilt. I'm beating myself up for not anticipating that it was more likely than not, considering her lack of progress leading up to kindergarten, that she would not do well this year. I'm second guessing my decision not to keep her in pre-school another year, but I really really believed that Nora would rise to the occasion and meet the challenge exactly because she is so bright and competitive. But instead, kindergarten whipped her ass this year and because of my Pollyanna tendencies, she is the one who will have her tender feelers hurt. Poor little PITA chip.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A vote of no confidence

Kind and guileless YuYu lost her first tooth yesterday, finally, since she will be seven years old in a little over two months. She was very pleased with herself and I was very pleased with myself because I had two crispy dollar bills saved for the occasion although it’s not like I didn’t have plenty of notice. That little pearl has been hanging on by a thread of flesh for days and days. No WAY would she even entertain the notion of helping it out of the socket a little faster with a little string and door knob action. Come one, don’t tell me that I’m the only one whose older brother convinced her to let him tie one end of a length of string to her tooth and the other end to a door knob and then, slam, tooth out? But when you don’t lose your first tooth until FOURTH GRADE, what the HELL was the matter with my mouth? I tend to think you might be justified to give into extreme measures. Well, thank god my kids are less gullible than I was in my deciduous years, she wouldn't go for the hardware assist.
So, to go along with my excellent preparation with the crispy ones and related smugness, I even remembered to do the deed before I went to bed. I slipped the crispies under YuYu’s pillow before my own head hit my pillow, because, that’s when I usually remember it, right when I’m on the verge of falling asleep and I have to sqeeze every extra ounce of shame on myself to roust my tired butt out of bed to finish my parental tooth duties. But not this time.
But, if anyone remembers this post, there is someone in our household who, through harsh experience, isn’t as sure of our household tooth fairy’s ability to honor her commitments and who, apparently, didn’t want our YuYu to also be disappointed by the slack-ass fairy who has been assigned to us on her collecting route. I really did actually LOL when I walked into my bedroom last night and saw this propped against my pillows:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dave and Amy are in China!!!

When I announced to the girls that we were going to move to our current house back in the summer of 2005, Ellie's first reaction was, "but what about Jean?" Jean was our next door neighbor for seven years and she was such a good listener, and she let Mimi eat strawberries from her patch and she was a font of good gardening advice. Jean was one of the hardest things to leave behind when we left our old house (that and the MUCH lower mortgage payment, WHAT was I thinking?). Well, Jean's son Dave married a smart, talented, dynamo named Amy who was already blessed with Sarah, who Dave later legally adopted, and then they brought the wondrous Genevieve into the world to make Jean a happy grandma of two beauties. But feeling that their family was not yet complete, Dave and Amy started the adoption process and found a beautiful waiting older child who they will name Eleanor Zi Tao and they are only DAYS away from meeting their new daughter. You can follow their progress at Amy' Blog. Except for a regrettable moment of TA-waiting-induced-self-indulgence when she posted statistical analyses that burned my eyes on her blog, Amy writes beautifully and thoughtfully about their adoption experience and I can't wait to read her thoughts and observations in the next few weeks. I wish them all the best for an easy transition and evolution into a family of five.

And if we hadn't already moved away from Jean, I'd probably be pretty upset with Dave and Amy because they thought it was somehow acceptable to help Jean find a much better job in Colorado and then entice her to leave Utah with stuff like a higher salary and instant access to her grandchildren and junk like that.

Monday, March 12, 2007

$45 later

Nora came home from school with a report that she had flunked the mandatory vision screening and wouldn’t I please follow up with either (a) a professional eye exam, or (b) the DIY chart that came with the too-bad-your-kid-can’t-see report. I scheduled the eye exam, but put her through the DIY test just because it sounded fun. She didn’t miss a beat, her little hand moved up, down, left, right, with amazing speed, and even though I only play a doctor on TV, I concluded that she could see just fine.

But I took her to the optometrist anyway (who knew Costco had optometrists? Five pounds of frozen peas, a pint of roasted garlic hummus the consistency of mousse, so yummy, and vision testing, score). I took her to the eye technician because (a) I know she can see, and (b) I know Ellie’s ophthalmologist is booked 9 months out (and I always love that they test Ellie without her pop-bottles on and send her home with a flunked the vision test report every year too, d’ya think?). If the technician found a problem, the pediatric ophthalmologist would be the second stop on the vision train.

Nora is a quintessential class clown, and with her three sisters in the exam room for a captive audience (teacher ladder day? What the hell is teacher ladder day?), she was in her element and had them all snickering pretty good. I’d try to explain what was so funny, but a lot is lost in the effort to translate 5-year-old humor (a line drawing of a jeep was loosely interpreted as “a snake or stumfing”and got big yuks). When the lights were flipped on and the laughing subsided, the very patient and kind optometrist declared her vision to be sound, a smidge nearsighted, but certainly not anywhere near bad enough to need glasses to navigate her world each day. Hell, my younger brother Clark is navigating the interstates and driving his family (not my family, ever, forget that, blind boy) around town with myopic eyes and should wear glasses, thick glasses, but is proof that you can be very near-sighted and stupid and still get your car in and out of the garage every day.

So, after trying to keep Nora on task and stem her crazy nervous giggling long enough to finish the exam, the optometrist said, with laser-like perspicacity, “I think she probably didn’t co-operate with the eye testers at school.” D’ya think? And that’ll be $45, please pay at the desk.

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's good to have goals

Here is the text of a letter I'm sending off to YuYu's foster family in Nanning. It just occured to me that if I don't say this out loud, create an expectation, have some accountability, I'll never get it done and the opportunity will pass and I'll kick myself in the butt for years.

Dear Family;

Thank you for letting me know that you appreciated the vitamins and cashew nuts. My friend Xiao Hong (who is translating this message) gave me good advice about sending the vitamins and YuYu chose the cashew nuts because she loves them too.

If there is EVER anything that you need or that could make your life easier, please do not hesitate to ask and I will do my best to get it to you. You are YuYu’s parents just as much as I am. I think of you as part of our family. YuYu is a very special child and I know it must still give you pain that she had to leave your home. Her absence must be something you feel sharply because she is so loving and beautiful and unique. It is my hope that knowing that she is happy and thriving here with me and her sisters gives you some comfort.

I would like to plan a trip back to China within the next few years. I was wondering when Huang Wei will graduate from university? Would it be possible for us to attend the ceremonies in Guangzhou and to share his accomplishment with your family?

I know YuYu would be thrilled to share that special event with her brother.

With all our love and respect,

Marji and YuYu

I figure that should put us back in China in the spring of 2009. Don't you think I could get organized by then?