Sunday, July 19, 2009


Miranda now sees the world through lenses. Her right eye has been wandering inward since just before we left for China, and the pediatric ophthalmologist tells us she is farsighted. So, for an hour or two in the morning she wears a patch on the stronger eye, and on Friday we picked up her glasses. Yesterday was a struggle to keep them on, and there was one scare at the Boston Aquarium when we thought they were lost, but in all we probably got two or three hours out of her. And today she's started to leave them on longer and act like they belong there. She looks so adorable with them on, but dramatically older to my mama eyes. Will I ever get over this tension as I watch the girls grow up-- being so proud of their progress and at the same time feeling terribly sad about letting go of their little selves?

I took the girls to the park at the end of our street this week and instead of our usual play on the swings and slides let them wander around the basketball court with a few balls. Our neighbors with kids often show up where we are, so we had Miranda, two other two-year olds, and little Phoebe. I'll tell you, Phoebe is amazing. There she was, keeping up with the big kids--trotting all over the court, chasing the balls and keeping herself entertained while her mama caught up with friends. She keeps up with the two-year olds now.

Early Intervention came this week to assess Miranda, who at her two-year old check-up still couldn't run, jump, or climb up on the couch herself. It was great fun to watch her ace all their brainiac tasks, and then when they tried to get her to jump she walked over to the bookshelf and pulled out a book. While her qualitative assessment of gross motor function puts her at 25 months-- right where she should be-- they agree that she's less confident and more wobbly than most kids her age. We are going to have a pediatric physical therapist stop by for a session or two to help us work on a plan. Honestly, I think we need to get more athletic equipment and encourage physical play more, and read books less. And she needs to play more with the 26 month old boy across the street who shoots baskets from 5 feet away (and makes 50%!) and hits a ball in the air with a baseball bat.

One of the members on Miranda's assessment team did Phoebe's assessment four weeks ago. Let me just say, she was shocked. She eyeballed the assessment paperwork and put Phoebe's gross motor function at a 15 month level-- that's up from SEVEN month level a month ago, and is just a month shy of her actual age. Phoebe is using signs like mad now-- baby, eat, drink, milk, hat, cat, dog, flower. Her comprehension is really getting better, too, and I love to watch her use the right signs in response to my verbal cues. Today I said, "Are you ready to eat some lunch?" and she signed "eat" while saying "mmmm". That's my girl!

With so much fun to report, I almost forgot to mention, here, that's I'm back to work. This half-time schedule could really grow on me. I go in to the clinic in the morning, with last patient scheduled for a noon appointment, then get home when the work is done-- sometimes when the kids are still napping, sometimes when they are just up. We have the whole summer afternoon together to play at the beach, go to the pool, play on the Common, and have play dates, before heading home to cook dinner before Mark comes home. My second morning was the hardest leave-taking, with each girl clinging to one of my legs, and Miranda sobbing, "No work, Mama, no work!" while Phoebe screamed. But they get over my parting quickly and really seem to love their new nanny. That's just how it should be.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Attachment, 7 weeks in

Last weekend when my parents passed through town, I told my mother that she still couldn't hold Phoebe. She just wasn't ready. I was having a little attachment panic, since Phoebe was acting happy but not REALLY happy when I would come home from short absences, and she wasn't interested in cuddling. Some of the families we traveled with are doing "attachment parenting" techniques with much more gusto than we are-- 6 hours of holding the baby in the Ergo daily, feeding every morsel of food to the baby by hand instead letting her feed herself, etc. I was starting to panic, worry that I had brought Phoebe out into public too early and too often. I was envision my poorly attached child years down the road with major issues because I didn't do enough in those early weeks together.

And then something amazing happened this week. The nanny started (Keri, now an important person in our lives!) and I feel so much better about how things are going with Phoebe. I did lots of little trips out of the house this week for an hour or so. Phoebe cried when I left-- and sometimes clung like a monkey to me-- and then perked up in a minute or two after I left like any other toddler would. She played nicely with Keri while I was gone, but gave me big hugs and smiles when I returned. When Keri and I were both in the house, she has a clear preference for me. She gives lots of hugs now, and has settled nicely into cuddling in the rocking chair even after her bottle is done. She's become quite relaxed and smiley in a crowd, but doesn't go to strangers and hangs closely to mom. Her new favorite game is to walk out the door way of the living room while she waves and says "bye" and then laugh when she returns to me. I'm feeling much, much better! This weekend my parents were again in town and I told Mom she could hold Phoebe now. Phoebe tolerated it for, oh, about 5 seconds and then put her arms up for Mama. And while I wish my mother could cuddle her grandchild, I'm really glad that Phoebe is clear about who her mama is. I start work this week, and I'm feeling very comfortable about that.

In other news, Phoebe saw her regular pediatrician this week. She's gained more than a pound in the last months!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Talking away

Last night Phoebe had a Helen Keller moment with her sign language book-- I'm not kidding, there was a sudden moment when it clicked, and then she couldn't get enough of the signs. She has mastered "Book" for this little baby sign book of 10 signs, and has said it 100 times this morning. She does all 10 signs in the book now, and does cat when she sees Kaibab go by.

On the verbal front, here's her current vocabulary: Hi (to every passerby, and especially people sitting in parked cars), Bye, Mama, ut-oh, Up, Wuff-wuff. Less consistent and still is progress is Kaibab, Quack, and Moo. She's on the brink of bursting with words, I think!

Here's Phoebe trying on her first walking shoes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Report Card

Here's what Early Intervention had to say on Phoebe's report today:

"Great accomplishments in a week's time. . .She is doing beautifully. . .In a week she has changed so much-- more smiles, more vocalizations, more eye contact, and seems to be very bonded to mom. . . She was easy to engage in different activities and enjoyed playing with the toys. . ."

That's an A+ in my book.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Growing Up

Yesterday at the big gathering of blankets and lawn chairs down by the Salem Wharf, I watched Miranda with her little two year old friends. She imitates them, follows them, gangs up on anyone opening food in a big toddler mass, shyly smiles at strangers until they surrender their little American flags, gets stickers from strangers, plays ball, and rolls in the grass. I was a little stunned to realize that she didn't need me at all. She didn't look back once to see if I was still there in the crowd. At one point I grabbed her into my arms and kissed her, and she told me, "No kissing, Mama." Oh my. How on earth did it happen so suddenly? Miranda was still a baby when we left for China, and in the last four weeks she has turned into such a big girl. It was only when I said to her, "Should we go home and see how Papa and Phoebe are doing?" that she suddenly realized how tired she was, and lapsed back into babyhood, with whines and cries for "Binky!" As we turned the corner to our block, from the stroller I heard, "Go home. Yeah!" I insisted on a quick bath, and then she was too tired to read Green Eggs and Ham even once.

And Phoebe's no better in the growing up fast category. Today she got her first walking shoes. As soon as we arrived back home she followed Miranda right into our neighbor's play house, washing seashells in the toy sink like the big kids. Yesterday Mark said, "Come quick!" to show me that Phoebe has now learned to climb the stairs-- all the way to the top, by herself. She now takes down all the dish towels from the oven handle, opens unlocked cabinets, and tosses every loose item in the bathroom into the tub (the potty, books, clothes, shoes, etc.). I got about four weeks of baby out of Phoebe, and now she's a full-fledged toddler.

Our new nanny starts tomorrow. . .

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


It started yesterday-- Phoebe now says "Mama." Like music to my ears! She learned "Hi!" too, and says it to every stranger she passes, complete with a little hand that waves opened and closed. I think she's saying "Kaibab," too, the name of our very neglected cat, but that might be a stretch. "Mama" is for sure-- as in, "Mama!" between every bite of ice cream that wasn't quick enough this evening.

Ribbons have arrived! Thank you to everyone who sent them. They are red-white-and-blue and little girl cute. My mother gave me lace from my great-grandmother, and my old knitting group sent a few extra strands of a fabulous yarn along with the hat they made for Phoebe. Lots of different types and colors and styles. Now, what I'm going to do with them, I haven't quite figured out. But it's a beautiful collection for Phoebe to keep in her memory box, along with the clothes she was wearing when she came to us, the silver bracelets from the director of the orphanage, and my written recollection of our first few days together in her province. The ribbons are a way to show her that her new family and friends were there, across the ocean, waiting to welcome her. Thank you! (And it's not too late-- you can still send them!)