Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Isabella & her new digs

My first born's birthday was Monday of last week, nearly 10 days ago. Isabella got a beautiful, shiny tricycle from A-ma & A-gong for her birthday. She had asked for this for her birthday. A-ma and A-gong asked her whether she wanted one with two wheels or one with three wheels. Her choice? A tricycle. Welp, we finally got around to putting the tricycle together, today. By 'we,' I mean A-gong.

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Isabella couldn't wait to get on her shiny new tricycle. Victoria wanted to ride it, as well; honey, I understand you want a turn on it, too, but Isabella gets the first ride since we're talking about this is Isabella's birthday gift. Look at the excitement on her face!

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A-ma and A-gong drove over 600 miles on Wednesday of last week and over 700 miles on Thursday of last week to come to my rescue. Since they're arrival here, they've been working arduously, non-stop: transporting the girls to school, cooking, giving the girls their meals, looking after me. Really, they're my heroes.

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Look at this joyous girl. I'd say she's pretty proud of her new digs.

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We rode down to friends', neighbors' home down the street. Here's the newest addition to their family. The little guy is nearly 7 weeks old.

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Here's the other little guy in their family, whose birthday is only two days earlier than Victoria's.

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Speaking of birthdays, today is my niece's, Juliet's, birthday. Her birthday is a mere 9 days after Isabella's. And no, my sister and I did not plan the births of our firstborns that way. Happy birthday, dear Juliet!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My baby, my first born, turned five

This past Monday, Isabella turned five. Five years old. The sound of that is still ringing in my years, nearly a week later.

Since I am pregnant with her siblings, I am more inclined to reminisce upon the old. My pregnancy with Isabella was my first. I was so much more innocent, naive, new, green to pregnancy and all the stuff that goes with being pregnant back then. On my due date, Manda and I went to Cold Stone and enjoyed deliciously sweet ice cream. Besides that, I complained about various pregnancy symptoms - bad acid reflux, super itchy skin all over my body, inability to get lengthy quality sleep, being uncomfortable - and believed I was miserable. At 40 weeks and 5 days, with no signs of my body readying for delivery (no dilation, no cervical ripening or softening), my ob convinced me to get induced.

Turned out to be one of my greatest regrets.

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Took these photographs 4 days after she was born.

A day and a half into failed induction, neither Isabella nor I faired well. I had an emergency C-section; and she spent a week in the NICU, fighting for her life. Imagine being told you could neither hold nor touch your baby for many days. Imagine your child being partially sedated so she could have a fighting chance. Imagine your child being put on two ventilators.

But, Isabella was and is a fighter. She's a survivor. At the end of that tear-jerking drama, the docs told us she'd suffer no long-term damage from her rough start to life.

***

Now she's five years old. When asked about siblings, she proudly reports that she has two younger sisters and a younger brother.

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She's bilingual, speaking and singing in English as well as Mandarin. In August, she started attending a charter language-immersion school that will allow her to advance her bilingual abilities much further than I could ever endeavor to encourage and help her.

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Isabella mothers and tends to Victoria. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's not so good.

I love you, my darling, beloved Isabella. Happy 5th birthday.

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By the way, I asked her what kind or flavor cupcakes she wanted for her birthday. She wanted ice cream. Strawberry ice cream. Ice cream, it was, then.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated by various Asian countries, persons of Asian descent, and persons attending Mandarin language immersion schools. The daughter that is in the Mandarin kindergarten language immersion school celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival this past Thursday, in school. The students celebrated with some moon cakes in their classrooms and performed for fellow classmates, teachers, and parents.

Walking down these corridors reminds me of my pupil days. I'm not sure why. Vivid sensations return.

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Do you see Isabella? On a side note, I'm still getting constant reminders from her that I am not to call her "Isabella." I should call her by her Chinese name. Her sister wants a Chinese name, too; I told her I'd ask A-ma and A-gong to give her a Chinese name.

Isabella's in the back middle of this photograph, between the two tables in the back of the picture. Still have trouble spotting her?

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How about now?

The kiddos learned from the teachers that Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated during a full moon, and in the Asian tradition, unlike in American culture, a full moon is good. Good things happen. Also significant is that this is a time where families get together and celebrate. For families that aren't able to unite, due to geographic distance, it's important to connect - whether by phone or internet - and tell each other how much we love them and miss them.


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And food is a necessary part of the celebration. In this case, moon cakes and fruit were consumed.

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And, the children/students showed off a little song and dance, one of several songs they've learned in less than the month they've been ibn school.

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Here's Isabella's teacher. I feel bad for her, considering she has 30 students. Though she has an assistant, that's still a lot of students to manage. For a school that relies heavily upon government funding, the number (of students) game is important, in terms of how much funding is provided.

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After the in-class party, Isabella's class joined other Mandarin classes in the auditorium for performances. This is Isabella's class performing. Took me a bit to find her, because she wasn't in the first row and she was hiding behind some other classmates. She's on the far right, third from the right. Can you spot her?

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Now can you see her?

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Anyways, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival. Give your family plenty of love and hugs today. Tell them how important they are to you. Blessings to you this day.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Victoria's first day of preschool

My three year old was excited to wear a backpack and head to preschool today. Can you tell?

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My somewhat spirited, silly, fun-loving daughter.

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Who somehow hasn't completely forgotten about her breastfeeding days, which wasn't all that long ago. I weaned her when she was 33 months old (2 yrs and 9 mos).

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I'm glad she didn't mind going to preschool at the English-speaking school her sister attended last year, even though Victoria badly wanted to be in the Chinese, language-immersion school with her sister.

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And I packed too much into the three hours Victoria was in preschool: shopping at Target (I want to get the girls' room organized ASAP, especially since 4 children's clothing will be stored in one room); picking up a free breakfast at Chick-fil-A, and meeting with a doula. I was so caught up in my meeting with my doula, that the time was half an hour after I was supposed to pick up Victoria when I got a call from the preschool wondering where I was.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Coming home from Kindergarten a happy camper

My kindergartner came home from school happily singing loudly and proudly to me, as she approached me. After singing the song a few times, I grinned from ear to ear and told her how wonderfully she sang. Quietly, I was thankful she had sung the song multiple times, because it was the first time I had heard the song and I wasn't familiar with a few of the Chinese words.

May I take some pictures of you, Bella? You sang so beautifully and you look beautiful.

Yes, Ma ma. Then she broke into song again.

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I can tell she really enjoyed school not only because she came home smiling and singing, but also, she wanted to keep her uniform on. In fact, when I asked her to take her uniform off, she graciously declined and didn't take it off until I told her I needed her to take her khaki skort off; I was doing some lighter colored laundry.

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When daughter's content and joyful, Mommy is, too.

***

On a side note, I am so thankful singing, songs, and music are such a big part of the girls' everyday lives.

Victoria's preschool orientation

Victoria had her preschool orientation this morning. Parents came and stayed for the orientation. I wasn't sure how she'd do, because for awhile now, she has been saying that she wants to go to the Chinese school (language immersion school) with her sister. Victoria's too young to go there, and she's going to preschool where Isabella went last year.

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But, Victoria has a different teacher from Isabella's teacher from last year.

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Thankfully, all went well. In fact, orientation and school were shorter than usual, and she wasn't ready to leave when we were dismissed.

Don't worry, honey. You'll be back in a couple of days.

Victoria's in preschool three days a week, three hours at a time. I'm already planning to get loads done, while I don't have children hanging on my arms. But, the twins inside of me may have other plans. Only time will tell.

Monday, September 05, 2011

On Labor Day

Before I go into our Labor Day festivities, I must take a moment to wish my sister, my wonder sibling and darling friend, a happy, happy birthday. I love you.

***

We split our Labor Day plans into two, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon/early evening. I had to rest plenty before, in between, and afterwards; part and parcel of a pregnant woman with twins towards the end of the third trimester. My confession is that I had to rest in bed a bit extra in the morning and get some coffee to get us kick started in the morning. We made it to the playground and visited with whatever friends happened to be there. Amongst the crew was little two year old Mackenzie. Thankfully, my three year old found it amusing to have Mack sit on her lap.

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Here is Mackenzie's mommy and daddy, Brittany and Jeremy. I hope my friends, Brittany and Jeremy, aren't offended; but to my girls, though they know my friends' names, they're associated and referred to as Mackenzie's mommy and daddy.

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Here I am at 34 weeks and 4 days.

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After spending two and a half hours at the playground amongst friends, I told the girls it was time to go home. Gave them a five minute warning, then a one minute warning. Since the girls were eating off and on throughout our stay at the playground, I told them we were going home to get ready for nap time.

I told them "resting" was insufficient for going to Melissa & Paul's later; they had to actually sleep. My thoughts were twofold: I don't want to deal with grumpy sleepy children and I wanted to lay down myself after eating. They eventually fell asleep, I believe.

***

We arrived at our second destination not long after the requested time of 5 pm. We went to the home of Melissa and Paul and little Camille. I had found out ahead of time that the plan was for a cookout. I was hoping and praying for cool weather, like yesterday.

This is Melissa.

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And Paul.

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Though temps were nowhere near the blistering heat of last month or even the first few days of this month, I was getting hotter the longer we were outside. Perhaps the two beings inside my belly had something to do with my increasing discomfort, but I was starting to get uncomfortably hot outside, even though I was sitting in the shade.

Another couple that goes to our church: Phil and Ana, darling, generous in spirit, and loving to the core. In addition to Melissa's friendship, I am so thankful for their presence in my life.

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After we ate, Victoria found it very entertaining - my grossed out response - to her attempting to feed me dirt, grass, and hair.

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Giggle, giggle, giggle.

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So incredibly, uninhibitedly, giggly funny.

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And this daughter insisted on me taking a picture of her holding this toy, whatever it is, over her head. Warrior princess, perhaps?

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Difficult to tell who is more sociable of the two girls. Sometimes it's the older one, Isabella. But, this evening, it was clearly the younger of the two, Victoria.

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What did YOU do for/on Labor Day?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

On a crisp autumn day

This week was supposed to be cooler than last week. I kept waiting for the fruition of that prediction. Though I am aware that other parts of the country were roasting, mid to upper 90's were hardly consoling for a woman in her third trimester, pregnant with twins. I was sorely disappointed until today. Since late spring, we've been keeping our windows open at night, and since some time in the summer, we've had them open all day (heard that having windows open can help the swamp cooler or evaporative cooler work more efficiently). This morning, woke up feeling rather chilly. Good thing the girls slept in their long sleeve, long pants pajamas.

Decided to go to the playground, once I could get me and my pregnant body going, late morning. Everyone wanted to be in long sleeves and pants for our outing. Isabella wanted to wear two layers on top, a long sleeve top atop a short sleep top. Oh, and everyone chose their own attire.

Felt unbelievable to be outside with temperatures in the 60's.

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I'm still baffled by the fact that I get asked, at least once a week, whether these two siblings are twins.

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Not offended. Just surprised. From my perspective, these two girls have very different personalities, not to mention different sizes and varying developmental stages.

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But, they are sisters, close in age. They love on each other and they fight.

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In fact, I believe they're prepared to have more siblings. Or perhaps they are getting ready.

Enter Halleli, so sweet and so little. Hallelli's mommy, Cassy, was so kind to let the kids take turns "holding" Halleli. Halleli humored everyone's desire to hold her.

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This is dear Ahna, Halleli's sister.

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This is my friend and mom of Halleli, Ahna, and Gami - Cassy. Enjoyed a lovely lunch with Cassy, her husband, and her children. I feel so guilty that my energy is nearly non-existent and that I spend much of my time dysfunctionally tired. Thankfully Cassy and Brandon were equipped with ample patience and tenderness.

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Isabella, my firstborn, my eldest, has plenty of love and affection to share. I hope this is some small indication that I'm doing something right as a mommy.