75 posts categorized "Gwen and Maddy"

July 23, 2008

Yee Haw, Cowgirl!

Pony_pics

The Pony Picture People came to Gwen and Maddy's preschool last week and spent the day dressing up and hauling little kids up and down and all around this pony.  Then they came back a few days later with photos for sale.  There was a three picture minimum per kid ($50) but you take one look at your smiling child (in chaps!) sitting on this adorable pony and it's impossible to keep your checkbook closed.   I just hope they feed this horse premium pony chow because he sure earned it!

July 21, 2008

You saved my life, Mom!

Gwen_maddy_fight_sm_2

I should probably add that Maddy is also a silly, sweet, funny girl!  She tries extra hard to always do what is expected of her and gets frustrated when she fails and we have to correct her.   She has a very big heart and immediately felt really bad that she kicked her sister.  It was a crime of passion and not something she would have done if she'd taken even 1 extra second to think about it.    She didn't have to sit in time-out for very long.   

July 11, 2008

Movies are fun!

movie days

We played hooky from pre-school yesterday morning and headed to our local mall to watch the new Kit Kittridge movie.  We've had good experiences with movies lately and I thought the girls were finally ready to try something that wasn't animated.  This one came highly recommended (thanks, Catherine!) but even though they tried to sit still and enjoy the popcorn and the movie, they just couldn't really get into it.    During a mid-movie potty break, we noticed that Wall-e was playing and (even though we just saw it last week), everyone was more than happy to switch theaters and watch it again.    I'll have to Tivo Kit Kittridge to find out how it ends.  I liked the movie but it was just a bit too mature for my 47 and 48 month kids. 

Wall-e, on the other hand, was even more fun the 2nd time around!  It's a brilliant movie with spectacular graphics, an adorable main character, a heart warming story line and laugh-out-loud comedy.  It might have just bumped Monster's Inc out of the top spot on my list of kid's favorites.

You can't help but fall in love with Wall-e and his robot gal pal, Eva.   I'm a softee and cry during Charmin TP commercials but my girls have never gotten emotionally involved with any of their movies.  Until now.  Maddy nudged me and said "Mommy, it's sad" and when I looked at Gwen, I saw that she had tears streaming down her cheeks!   Never fear, moments later, the sad part turned happy again and all was well.

Before any of this, we saw Kung Fu Panda.   I love Jack Black and the animation was excellent but the story line was lame and there was too much fighting.  Of course, I knew there would be fighting but I guess I didn't think about how much Gwen and Maddy would act out the scenes at home.    Later, I'll post some pics of their crazy karate poses.  For now, I'm just working hard to teach them that they can't actually hit or kick when they play Karate.  

I wanted to blog about all of this but I didn't have my camera with me at the theater.  So how did I create that top photo of the girls at the movies with the popcorn?

When we got home, we played "movie" by setting up a pretend movie theater in our house.  We dragged two small chairs into a dark room (Gwen's room).  We picked the dark room because I knew I would be adding a dark movie theater background and wanted the lighting to match.  Then mommy brought some pretend popcorn and candy and we all sat and "watched" a pretend movie on white the closet door "screen".      The kids loved this game and I was able to capture some great pictures but none of them really looked like they were in a movie theater.  So, while the kids were napping, I worked some photo magic...

 

movie days pg 2a Here's how I transformed this photo (left).

First, I traced around the edge of the girls to extract their image and separate it from the background.  I use Paint Shop Pro to do this and it's really easy as tracing.

Next, I had to add the popcorn cup.  I found one I liked on Google Images.  I darkened it slightly and extracted it from the other two cups.  Then I extracted Gwen's hands and layered everything to get the effect I  wanted. Really, It was easier than it sounds.
movie days pg 2b Lastly, I needed a background.  My favorite source for just about any photo is www.flickr.com so I went searching and found several.  But I liked this one best because it's most like the actual seats in our local theater.

I played around with different search terms and found some fun alternatives.  Here are a few of my favorites.

The fun thing about doing this is you can recreate memories of places you've been even if you forgot to bring your camera!
 

July 02, 2008

Visiting the Doctor(s)

0806_june_dr_appts_gwenGwen has ear wax. Incredible (Super Hero strength) ear wax...  Ear wax that rivals the hardness of diamonds and sapphires and is probably under patent by the makers of "mighty putty".   

I can look in her ears and see it.  And, like most moms who want nothing more than to lick a napkin and clean her kid's face, I really want to cram my finger in there and start digging around to get it out.  But then I remember the old admonition that we "shouldn't put anything in our ear other than our elbow" (Hardy Har Har!), so I took Gwen to our Pediatrician who tried the Mineral oil/Ice pick trick before giving up and referring us to Stanford Hospital's Children's ENT Clinic. 

Three nurses, one Doctor, one re-purposed dental chair, four scary pointed silver instruments and one pair of lighted binoculars later, we were still waxing unsuccessful.   Defeated, we took our crusty old brown sticky ear-goo and just went home.

Her hearing is fine but I can't really imagine how that's possible when you consider what's visible in her ears.  If we remove it, I'm sure she'll have bionic hearing and nothing we whisper in this house will ever go unnoticed or unrepeated again.

(Edited to add:  Gwen has a follow-up appointment at the ENT clinic in September.  She'll have a hearing test and meet with the Dr again and, hopefully, she'll be more cooperative when they poke around in her ears.)

0806_june_dr_appts_maddyA week after Gwen's Dr appointment, it was Maddy's turn. 

Maddy's ears are fine -- perfect, actually -- but her problem is her very minor cleft palate that we hoped and prayed wasn't severe enough to require surgery.   

Even though Maddy was fluent and very conversational in Cantonese when we adopted her at age 25 months, she didn't really start speaking in complete sentences in English for more than a year.  It's really only been the last 4 or 5 months that she's been consistently speaking enough for us to conclude that she's totally unable to create certain sounds.  For example, she can make the "sh" sound but not the "s" sound and D is usually switched for G and other difficult consonants are left off completely.  It's common for kids to drop syllables or soften or de-emphasize them so it's only been just the last few months that we really started to worry more and more about Maddy's pronunciation.  As is turns out, she'll need surgery to fix the problem and probably should have had it already.

I recognize the importance of fixing this but I'm so uncomfortable with having her undergo potentially life threatening surgery to correct something that clearly isn't life threatening.  Even so, we're going to do it because it will affect her quality of life if we don't do it and other kids will almost certainly tease her.    I wish I didn't have to weigh the risks/benefits of teasing vs surgery but we can't avoid it because this is the world Maddy lives in and this is the world that will judge her (fairly or unfairly) so we have to give her the most level playing field possible.

Surgery is scheduled for the end of the first week in September.   I was so numb that I didn't even write down the date (Andrew says it's the 10th).  I'm dreading this but also looking forward to getting it over with and hearing my sweet baby sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with perfect enunciation for the first time in her precious young life.

We didn't really think Maddy's speech problems were very significant or even directly related to her minor cleft palate because Gwen seems to have many of the very same speech issues and she doesn't have a cleft palate.  But it turns out that Maddy's problems are completely related to her cleft and even though Gwen is growing out of her speech problems, Maddy never will.   

We're very protective of our children and wouldn't normally post such a personal thing on our blog but I wish we'd known more about minor cleft palate issues.  I guess we always (incorrectly) believed that a level 1 cleft palate probably wouldn't need surgical correction.  There's really not much information out there about Level 1 Clefts (not even on the big Yahoo AdoptCleft site).  Our experienced Pediatrician wasn't even concerned that Maddy might need surgery ever -- much less soon.   But she does.

I hope our story helps send the message that even minor clefts should be seriously evaluated.  I've already heard from a few families about the surgery experience and I hope that we'll continue to hear from more -- especially if their child was over age 3 or 4 when the surgery was performed.  We want to help Maddy cope with the post-surgical recovery as best as possible. 

June 30, 2008

More Birthday Pictures

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