Cut the Rope Fun

Both girls love to use our ipad; particularly Cut the Rope.  They play the game, watch the youtube stories, read the comic, wear the shirts.  The star attraction of all aspects of this game being On Nom.  Glenn thought that Elspeth might have some fun if we got her an On Nom for her birthday.  Well, fun has been had by both girls.

Each meal finds this little critter sitting beside the table in his “multi-purpose” seat (yes, we have had discussions about what poop composed entirely of candy would look like).  He will also watch tv from this seat and of course it doubles as a potty.

Being the candy eater that he is, our Om Nom asked the girls if he could accompany them on a brief Halloween outing.  Well, he would need a costume of course because being a green creature was not creative enough.  Turned out pretty cute.

Bye-bye Early Intervention

This morning our Elspeth was officially discontinued from Early Intervention.  Apparently she has moved from mildly delayed to on target for all areas with the exception of fine motor where she is above average.  So excited.  Loved our Early Interventionists but have to admit that I am glad we are done. Yippee!!!

Getting caught up

1. Concussion:  Well, Katrine is better…mostly.  She is back at school full time and skated again for the first time last night, just some stroking but something.  She was mortified because doctor’s orders were for her to wear her helmet this week to make sure that she didn’t rehurt herself.  If that was not bad enough, she had to borrow her sister’s helmet AND as I was putting it on, Patrick Chan (her hero) walked by.  Poor thing.

Thank goodness that she is able to get up and get moving again.  It is really hard trying to get that girl to sit still without TV or computer to distract her.  The first thing she told her teacher upon going back to school was that I had spent the week saying “Stop jumping.”, “Don’t run around.”, “Put that book down.”  Sigh.  The photos below show how I tried to make the time less trying for all of us.  The best was the mani pedi.  Two hours of having to sit still.  Well worth the money.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the last few things resolve themselves and she can be ready for her first skating competition in four weeks (she will be crushed if she isn’t).

2. Elspeth skating:  Okay, that girl loves her skating.  She is doing really well but the smile on her face when she puts her skates on and her reluctance to get off the ice makes me happy.

3. Halloween:  We decided to get out this past Sunday for some pre-Halloween fun at the zoo.  We took our black  cat and our E.B. sheep as well as a friend and his kids along with us.  The kids had a blast trick or treating (not for candy!!!) through the tundra section but the highlight was definetely watching Hudson swim in the water.  They were able to get right up to the glass with him diving and paddling infront of them.

I hurt my back lifting Elspeth up to see the gorrillas at play but it seems to be getting better gradually.  Katrine enjoyed going in to the Critter Cave to look at all of the bugs; particularly the giant snails.  Elspeth on the other hand absolutely refused to set foot inside – not a big fan of bugs. 😎

We ended up doing a costume parade where each of the kids got a giant panda flag which was the highlight of the event for Elspeth.  Overall great family fun.

Elspeth is three

Yesterday was a lot of fun for the birthday girl.  I don’t think that a smile ever left her face.  We started the day with gifts.  Her absolute favourite was her Om Nom stuffy.  She has “fed” it candy all day today and it slept with her last night.

As you can see, she also still wore her birthday hat all day.  After nap some of Elspeth’s China family joined us for a small party in honour of her birthday.  It is always great to see the kids together and get caught up.  Sometimes when you watch them together you can see similarities in temperment.  The kids painted, hunted for “birthday treasure” (really just plastic Easter eggs), chased balloons and had an inpromptu musical concert with some of Elspeth’s new insturments.

I think that is met all of Elspeth’s expectations because she woke up today asking if it was her birthday again.  One goof up though was the cake.  I made a point of checking that her name was spellt correctly when I picked it up at the bakery.  Thrilled it was right.  I did not however pay attention to the rest because I figured that it was pretty straight forward.  It wasn’t until we opened the box to put in the candles that Glenn noticed the spelling mistake.  Sigh, good thing that she can’t read yet.

And for her sister’s birthday, she got….

…a concussion.  Yep, our Katrine got a concussion on Thrusday afternoon just in time for her sister’s birthday.  Here is the irony.  We always thought if she got a concussion it would be the result of something happening while skating.  I mean, that is where she spends waaaaaay to much time.  Nope!  Katrine was injured at school.  Nope, not in gym or while at the park.  She was standing in line and tripped over another’s feet before preceeding to smash her head into the ground.

She is off training for seven days of which the only up side is that I do not need to drag Elspeth over to the school in time for the bell.  Instead, she can nap for an extra half hour before we meet the bus.  I know that Katrine will be bored by Monday.

How is she doing?  Well, if you didn’t really know her you would just see an obnoxious child.  She is still dizzy and doesn’t have much appetitie.  Which translates into many snacks and a child who looks fine until you see that she is functioning by sheer will power.  Not sure how school will go as we are taking it one day at a time.  What I do know, is that it should help make the party more entertaining.

 

Let the third birthday celebrations begin

On Thanksgiving weekend my family came over to celebrate.  While they were here we celebrated both my sister in laws and Elspeth’s birthdays.  It was fun because Elspeth got it.  Cupcakes – a hit, presents – hit.  Loved it.

This morning they celebrated her birthday at nursery school.  They made sugar cookies and Elspeth was thrilled that she got to chose the colour – pink.  We sent some simple halloween craft supplies and they all created sticker pumpkins at the craft table.  Then she got a birthday hat and a nursery version of happy birthday.  That was one happy girl (as you can see) when I picked her up.

We topped the day off with a birthday visit from Grammy.  Elspeth thought that the pink, sparkly cat card was adorable.  And then she saw the super, fuzzy polar fleece blanket with the family of penguins on it.  What followed was a lot of happy laughing and a few blanket rides (Katrine has her sit on the blanket and then she pulls Elspeth around.)

Quiet day tomorrow and then it will be her actual birthday as well as her party.  Getting excited.

Some thoughts on the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution & Adoption

In August a favourite professor, and friend, passed away. His memorial service was held on my old university campus. The service was wonderful and a great testament to his impact as both a educator and as a friend. It also brought back many memories of my time at university studying East Asian Studies. Little did I realize back then how connected my studies of Asian history, culture and language would be to my life as a parent.

 

The service made me think about my studies and got me pulling old history books off of the book shelf to re-read. My favourites were then, and remain, personal narratives because they bring that human aspect to historical fact. What was it like to live at that time? How did it feel? What did it do to interpersonal relationships and families? Due to the nature of this form of text, most of the texts which I own of this style deal with early Chinese Canadian families on the west coast during the time of exclusion or mainland Chinese nationals during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.

 

Re-reading these texts as a parent to two girls born in China has given me pause. The stories have taken on a much more personal feel. Now my questions and reflections are no longer about random strangers; the authors of the books who have graciously shared their personal histories. Instead, they are about this group of people whose faces I see reflected in my own children.

 

My daughter’s birth parents birth likely coincided with the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976). That means that their parents grew up during the Great Leap Forward and resulting famines (1958 – 1961). I am basing these assumptions on the fact that my own parents were born after World War II and Glenn and I in the 1970s. I could be off by a few years but should be reasonably close for the sake of comparison.

 

Reading about the shortage of food resulting from top down decisions imposed on the general population, such as workers being diverted from the fields to collect and melt steel to fuel economic growth or being told what to plant and when by officials who knew nothing of farming, hurt. Guangxi, Katrine’s birth province, has a mainly agricultural economic base. The famines in her province were widespread and well documented. Think of the vast numbers of deaths which occurred while her birth grandparents were growing up. How many of them watched family members starve? How many of them knew hunger pains themselves? Or were faced with tough choices or inhuman circumstances? How did this shape their characters and choices?

 

The Cultural Revolution may not have meant mass starvation across the countryside, but it did affect life in both urban and rural centres. Chairman Mao’s little red book became the soul acceptable school text during this period. Cultural relics were destroyed as being anti-revolutionary. The struggle sessions, beatings, fear, persecutions, murders. They help to explain how such things could come to pass – ideological beliefs, self-preservation, human nature. They explain the importance of class background to social standing and security, while also helping to show how transient this too could be. For instance, a Party member would be considered to have a Red background and be a true revolutionary interested in supporting growth for China. However, if said member’s father was a store owner or landowner they would no longer have a spotless background. Instead they could be considered Grey or Black. One’s safety depended on the actions of their immediate and extended family members actions as well as their own.

 

Had I been born in China, I would have been born two years before the end of the Cultural Revolution. I would likely have been from a Red family given that I come from a blue collar background. My parents would likely have been involved in struggle sessions where co-workers, neighbours or friends were forced to confess their bourgeois tendencies and counter revolutionary ideas and practices. What would it have done to them to witness how the tides change? To see how the net could widen to encompass them should they fail to be active enough in such sessions. No one got to sit out the Cultural Revolution, it simply happened and if you were not careful it could engulf you and those you cared about.

 

One day my daughters will likely read these books, or similar ones. What will they think? Will they question as I do, the role that this era in history played in shaping the choices of their birth families? Will they see the injustices and suffering as a uniquely Chinese phenomenon or will they be able to reflect on the injustices and suffering in Canadian history and draw some parallels? Me? Right now, I am going to continue to read and question. Perhaps I will turn to some of my old history texts to acquire a perspective of any important social and economic advances during this time. On the other hand, I may simply continue to wonder how these phases of history contributed to the arrival of my daughters in our arms.