Friday, March 26, 2010

Welcome to the Blue School

There is big news this week, which we are proud to share with you all:

Congratulations to Cadence on being accepted into the Blue School!

This is wonderful news, and we are so proud of our little lady. She was chosen from a pool of (I believe) 300+ applicants this year, all competing for somewhere between 20 - 40 spots. This is big, since it means that Cadie's school career will begin this coming fall, as she joins the 3s class, and she will have the option of continuing on with the same group of peers through at least the fifth grade, possibly even the eighth...

I can't stress enough what an amazing break this is, for all of us. I have ranted about it before, but the climate surrounding admission to kindergarten here in NYC is absolutely ridiculous (a friend of mine is about to release a film he made on the process, inspired by his own experience of trying to find the right place for his son, entitled The Kindergarten Shuffle...check it out! ) Basically getting into kindergarten in this city is on par with getting into an ivy league college...and kids need to have about as many credentials. There is, then, runoff into preschool competition and even pre-preschool expectations...some of the places I looked at require resumes, school reports with grades and multiple teacher recommendations FOR TWO YEAR OLDS!! I was utterly astounded. It is recommended that families who have never been a part of this rat race before apply to between 8 -10 different schools (if you have an older sibling already in attendance, families need only apply to between 6-8). Public schools are mostly done by lottery, private schools each have their own admissions process and criteria...and sadly, there is not enough supply to meet the demand, so many families are still unable to secure anything and are left to homeschool, or just wait to be tossed into first grade - the first level required by law. There are a lot of political and social implications to this that I won't get into here, suffice it to say that the ripple effect from this 'kindergarten culture' can be felt through elementary, middle, even high school, and almost perversely becomes a defining moment in the ultimate outcomes of many kids' educational careers.

Anyway, the year we spent in Kentucky, where the climate is much less fierce, left us 'behind' upon our return to NYC. Long story involving lots of exhaustive research short, we made the bold decision that the only place that fit our family well enough to be worth the stress and effort of applying this year was the Blue School. We figured that getting into a place that really fit us to a T was worth trying for, and if we didn't get in, we would spend the year trying to make up for lost time and building our credentials so that, come next season's application process, we'd be in a much more competitive position.

Honestly, I'd been very worried about going through - and dragging Cadence through - everything that being involved in the process would entail - especially given how ERB testing and various other rigors have become commonplace, even necessary, in securing a place in any kindergarten...and with our acceptance letter, it all, magically, disappeared. Once you're in at the Blue School, at any level, you're in for as long as you want to be...and she's in! She won't need to be subjected to tests, to countless interviews and maybes and dealing with the here and there and stressed out parents trying to make it all happen...and this could even save Baby Yu #2 from that race, as siblings are given priority, and though they don't guarantee admission, it's more likely than not that they would not leave out a family member, when so much of their philosophy centers on family involvement.

It's expensive, but I think it's truly worth it. This school is amazing and wonderful and I encourage all of you to check it out, even if you don't have kids...their approach to the idea of education is at the forefront, and having a new generation growing up under its influence can only be a benefit to society as a whole.

So...GO CADENCE!! You are certainly an exceptional little lady. :-) We can't wait to start this new adventure with you!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

For Julie & Eric: A Mostly Charlie Post

Who's that peaking over Cadie's cute little bum?

Why, it's Charlie of course!

Charlie is the big-hearted pup that Cadence and I (and occasionally James, too!) get to spend time with each (week)day. He's an overgrown Yorkie, which makes him just the right size to romp around with Cadence in a fairly even match. They love to play and bounce together, play tug of war, and occasionally they even let me play, too.

(I love how viscous he looks in that photo-but it's all camera magic, I assure you. Aside from showing a very surprised School of Visual Arts student what he thought of her work by peeing on her sculpture during our walk the other day, he's just a big (for a Yorkie) sweetheart.)


Cadence took the above picture. Not bad, huh? Charlie had been standing on my shoulder, but stepped off just as she hit the button.

Who do YOU think is winning?


So, as I alluded to before, much like Cadence, Charlie loves to bounce. He jumps and leaps and flips and does all sorts of strange acrobatic feats when we play...he loves it, but I fear for the state of his poor hips and knees a few years down the line! See for yourself:

Yes, that is Charlie ABOVE the couch. Aia.

But Charlie is just one member of this amazing household. Although we almost never see them, his 'parents' Julie and Eric are also remarkably generous and thoughtful people. We met them through Eric's cousin Brittany, who I've talked about here before, she's one of our best friends from Kentucky, and her daughter Kate is one of Cadence's closest friends.

They have been very good to us, trusting us with their beloved dog, and being patient with our sudden absenteeism when all the badness happened last year with my grandfather passing and my hospitalization and subsequent retreat to KY all in rapid succession. Though they did have to find someone else after the drama dragged on for too long, the fact that they then took us back on once things had settled down a few months later really meant a lot.

And then, the other day, Cadence and I arrived for our daily walk to find a lovely note from Julie alerting us to the presence of some, well, presents for us! In a totally unnecessary but unbelievably sweet gesture, they had put together a gender-nuetral care package for Mama, Baba, and the new baby full of all sorts of wonderful things from wipes to a sweater to temperature-reading ducks and so much more.

And, of course, (and as if that wasn't enough!) there was a separate gift there for a certain Big Girl...a Congratulations on becoming a Big Sister gift, which was perfect. Julie indicated in her note that she had hoped to find a puppy that looked like Charlie, but I think what they found was just right:

Cadence named the puppy Domnayno, and has been carrying her around and taking her to bed with her every night. She wouldn't even put her down while she and Charlie played that afternoon:

So we owe many many thanks to Julie, Eric, and Charlie for all of their love and support over these past few months - we are unspeakably grateful.

See you tomorrow, Charlie!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dear Cadence, Month 32

Dear Cadence,

This has been such a happy month, which is wonderful to be able to say, if only just for the contrast to so many sad or depressing updates I had to provide in the latter half of last year. We've all been having such a blast! I know you miss having friends your age around, and I honestly really do, too...but even with that, we've been keeping so busy - and been busy seeing other people, even if they are grown ups - that even that hasn't been too big a sore spot.

Let's see, where to start? As usual, so much has happened and you've grown so much that it's hard to know where to begin!

Early this month, we had a really big day: it was a TRIPLE holiday! February 14th this year marked not only Valentine's day and Baba's birthday, but it was also Chinese new year! We welcomed the year of the tiger (have I mentioned how I'm kind of excited that the new baby is going to be born in the year of the Tiger? You love tigers so much and they have become such an integral part of our familial lexicon/symbology that it just feels so right to welcome your new sibling in the year of the tiger.) with a remarkably fun filled day.

We don't usually do much in the way of recognizing Valentine's so that didn't play a huge part in our personal festivities, but boy did you like seeing all the people out and about with pink balloons, hearts, flowers, and smiles! We focused mostly on Baba's birthday, as we usually do, and it was a big one.

It was his 25th, the quarter century mark, and he'd never had a really big party you and I worked together with some very generous help from friends and family, to throw him a big surprise party! I was a little reluctant to give you too much detail, for fear that you'd be so excited you'd tell Baba...but you did seem to more or less get what was happening - you even agreed to let me tell baba that you wanted to go ice skating with him for his birthday, despite the fact that you "only wanted to a little bit" and "kind of" thought it would be fun. But it ended up working perfectly, and it was a great party, with lots of fun all around.

We brought him to Chelsea Piers under the auspices of going ice skating, and while we were there we 'just happened' to run into our friend Derrick and his girlfriend Mariand. After ice skating for a while, they invited us to go bowling...and when we arrived at the chelsea piers bowling alley/club, about 20 of Baba's friends were waiting with pizza, hot wings, balloons, and lots of love.

You were an awesome helper, and seemed very proud of your Baba. You bowled along with everyone else, choosing different helpers and giving it your all - you even got a strike!! We were all very proud of both you and Baba, and Baba was very surprised and seemed very, very happy. He even let you keep all the balloons, tied to the shiny black bowling pin we all (you, too!) signed in fancy silver marker.

After the party was all done, your Nainai and Yeye came and picked up Baba, Audrey, Andrew, you and I, and we drove out to Baba's Er Yi's house for a big dinner in celebration of the new year. And what a blast you had! You spent your time literally going from lap to lap all the way around the table, visiting great aunts and uncles and cousins along the way. You danced and sang and chatted and ate lots of good food, and seemed to really love getting to know your extended family. You berated us on the lack of lanterns, and even got to stomp in the deep Queens snow. It was an extravagant night, and lots of fun was had by all.

Your sense of imagination is growing, which is very exciting and sometimes baffling to follow. There was more than one occasion this month where you informed us: "I died in the sun, but just a little bit." And your games of pretend have become epically elaborate, and major elements (like what role we are supposed to be playing) can sometimes change quickly and seamlessly without interrupting the flow of your play in the's the closest thing I have found to the changing realities in dreams. It's exciting and fascinating to accompany you on these journeys!

Here's an example of one of your more cohesive games: The three of us were eating dinner the other night when you struck up a game of pretend; in which you were the mama, and both baba and I were your big girls. At one point, both of us (as your children) wanted you to pick us up and carry us to wherever it was we were going, and neither of us (as parents) could have predicted how you would handle the situation. You told Baba that since he had asked first, you would carry him (her? this is confusing to write out), and then you told me that you'd gone to the store and bought me a pair of brand new shoes to wear, since I had to walk. You presented them to me as a privilege more than a compensation, but it was quite creative. Then I asked what would happen if I got tired of walking, and you revealed that in fact you had gotten another pair of shoes for Baba big girl, too, and when Mama big girl got too tired to walk, she would give Baba big girl her special brand new shoes and pick Mama big girl up, so we'd switch, both with the same incentives the other had received. And then you threw in there that you'd gotten us toys, too, and began bestowing them upon us. It was great fun.

It's also pretty amazing to watch you navigate life with your ever-growing understanding of social rules. You have discovered the grey area between right and wrong...or at least, the way that you can feel that something might be wrong but you want to get away with it anyhow. Now, when you want to get away with something, you'll turn to me or Baba and say "don't say anything!" I'm sure you'll eventually figure out that this alerts us to whatever it is you're doing that you don't want us to stop you from, but for now it is an incredibly endearing quirk that shows off your developing conscience.

You love being able to influence your surroundings these days, delighting in turning things on and off, flipping switches, closing and opening doors (a new skill!! You can actually reach well enough to truly turn the doorknob now, not just doors with convenient handles), and insisting that we "keep the light on" which involves always having the caps lock on the keyboard at all times.

One of the biggest changes we've experienced this month has been the Demise of Naptime. The jury is still out on whether this is a good thing or not. We went from last month, when you finally figured out falling asleep on your own, to this month suddenly not sleeping during the day at all. Even if you lay down, you'll lay there quietly playing for an hour and a half or so, and finally ask to just get up and go to bed early. There has been some mildly increased fussiness in the evenings, but for the most part it hasn't seemed to mess with you too seem to prefer going to bed earlier and waking up at your usual time, which means you're getting the same amount of sleep, so really, it's had a bigger effect on Baba and I, and our routines, than it has on you and yours. Suddenly we have no daytime hours at all to work without interruptions or nap ourselves, and it's somewhat jarring...we were not at all prepared for naps to suddenly disappear just yet. There is some residual hope that it will come back - because what am I going to do with a newborn who doesn't sleep during the night and a toddler who doesn't sleep during the day!? I love you and want to continue to follow your lead in terms of allowing for your development, but this one has come as a bit of a surprise. We'll see how things end up playing out, I guess...maybe the new baby will change your routine, too, and we'll all start sleeping when the baby sleeps...or maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.

Speaking of the new baby, we're still in search of a name, but you have relented in your endless insistence that the only acceptable name for the baby is Colin, mostly due to a conversation we had the other day, which was cute for many reasons. It went like this:

Me: "Should we name this baby Colin or are you going to use the name Colin when you grow up and have your own baby?"

You: "When I grow up, my baby's name is going to be Kate" Me: "like me and your friend Kate?"

You: "uh-huh."

Me: "What if the baby is a boy? Kate's probably not the best name for a boy. "

You: "Well, my baby is gonna be a boy, but when he comes, I'm going to name him James, just like my Pop."

Me: "Your Pop? You mean Baba?"

You: "Yup. My Pop."

The weather has been rapidly warming up lately, which has lead to another awesome little quirk. It's been getting hot in our apartment, which has lead to a decent number of discussions about being overheated. You seem to totally get what this means, except that you have your own unique - and, we think, quite fitting - way of describing the condition. You will often explain why you've removed your clothes or inquire after our comfort by starting discussions on the state of being "onheated." We totally love it.

The one thing that has really come to light this month that I'm not particularly happy about has actually been a long time coming - a gradual change that has been lurking for a while now, but it hasn't been until now that I could really pinpoint what it is that has been happening. In keeping with your prematurely teenage disposition, you have of late become extremely negative towards any kind of compliment or positive reinforcement we may offer. Getting compliments or being told that you are correct almost invariably results in you becoming extremely embarrassed, the vulnerability in which makes you burst into tears or lash out angrily, often leading to you storming off in a weepy rage asking "somebody just leave me alone."

This means that we have mostly stopped being so enthusiastic about your much as I would like to squeal and congratulate you on each new achievement, you would prefer it if we just let it slide like, yeah, whatever, she can do that, totally. You thought she couldn't? pfft, it's kid's stuff. Not even worth mentioning.

And I can respect that, I guess, except that it means that our parenting has become far more about the negative these days. There is a time when I remember realizing that I had been employing a philosophy of "not" with you as an older infant - I would never say "no" flat out, but would rather try to offer an alternative to whatever I was denying, or at least an explanation as to 'why not'...and I have continued to try to do this, but without the ability to give you positive reinforcement, all I'm left with is the negative...and "not" or not, it's still just that- negative...I feel like all we ever do these days is to tell you don't do this or that's not okay, or not here, not now, not makes me feel really mean that now, especially as you're getting older and understand more and test and push boundaries so much more, we speak sternly and send you limiting messages and disciplinary measures so much more often, and yet we have none of the positive reinforcement and uplifting messages to go with it, balance it out. Believe me, the desire to praise you up and down is most certainly there, but even offers of high fives send you into disappointed rages, so we try to sneak in subtle praises where we can but respect your desire not to be called out. I hope this phase passes quickly, because I miss celebrating with you, and really don't like feeling like such an antagonist.

But, like I said, despite this frustration on my end, this has been an exciting, happy, and enjoyable month. On of the biggest highlights came just yesterday, when we all got to meet Eavan, Kir and Patrick's daughter, for the first time! She's about a month old...for the last couple weeks you'd been asking to watch the videos Patrick posted on his Vimeo account, all featuring Eavan, over and over and loved seeing the baby!

It was exciting to see you interacting with a new baby, especially since we're so close to the arrival of our own little one. You were totally enamored, and were perfectly gentle and sweet and loving towards her. They even let you hold her, with supervision of course, and I think it just further confirmed and inspired your idea of what it was going to be like to be a big sister. There will still be some rude surprises, I imagine, since there is no off switch or time limit on a new baby, and with our own we won't be visiting and then returning her to her parents, as was the case with little Eavan...a totally wonderful little lady in her own right, such a sweet and very cute little kid!! You didn't want to say goodbye. It was so nice to get to meet her, and to see our friends...and getting to see you interacting with a little baby was just a nice bonus.

Our days, now that we're done with the desk job, are spent walking Charlie and cleaning the house, playing endless games of pretend, drawing, identifying letters and numbers (most of the ones used to label trains are old hat, now we're moving on to remembering what sounds each letter makes), playing with the kitties and reading books books and more books...Yup, it's pretty wonderful.

Thanks for being my awesome little lady, sweetiebug. I love you SO SO SO much.

Love Always,


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Moments in Parenting

Cadence just dropped five roles of electrical tape into her glass of chocolate soymilk, realized her error, declared "oh no!" and dumped the contents out in an attempt to fix the mistake.

Somehow it's all canceled out by her then looking up at me very earnestly and saying: "Oh, I'm so sorry, mom!"