Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Queen of peoples' hearts

Wasn't it Princess Diana who said she preferred to be queen over peoples' hearts rather than queen of England? Anyway, Our Veeka continues to win over the multitudes. This week she put in an appearance at the Natelli household in Potomac where she was followed about (see photo) by adoring young people who saw her as kind of like a big doll. Veeka really liked the personal attention from Nicolette who showed her how to go up and down stairs. The many boys were very gallant as well.
We've been spending the past few days with family in town for Uncle Ed's funeral, which was yesterday. Fortunately the weather has cooperated, the cherry trees are springing to life, the magnolias are already out and so the weather yesterday was quite warm. Monday it was in the 80s. Very unusual for March but we're enjoying it.
Monday, Opa did lots of work fixing furniture in Veeka's bedroom. Now the chest of drawers actually works! Last night, Kristi, Faith and Alice plus my parents showed up for dinner and slides of Kazakhstan. Today Opa, Oma and us wandered about Meadowlark Park in Vienna before this evening's reception where Uncle Ed and Aunt Dot's apartment is in Fairfax. Tonight we'll be sharing all sorts of remembrances.
A happy birthday today to Gail Dall who turns.....?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Veeka debuts on YouTube

Yes, it had to happen. Our little darling has become a film star. See her in all her toddler glory first with Amy Doolittle (the Politico reporter-turned-videographer), then playing in the front yard, then eating a cookie with moi (in the orange sweater).
The link is: You have to cut and paste it into your browser (up top).
Folks are starting to fly in for Uncle Ed's funeral (11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Paul's Lutheran on Idylwood Road in Falls Church) so Veeka is boning up on her charm skills to provide light and laughter and comic relief to our austere gathering.
The accompanying photo was shot by Tessa Franz whose parents, Becky and Leo, are also in Washington this weekend. Seems as though half the world is heading toward Washington this month although with the balmy temps and all the daffodils and crocuses bursting out, can't say I blame them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Uncle Ed, RIP

I didn't want to write this entry but I knew it was coming: My uncle Ed died this morning. He had just turned 89, just as like his brother Jerry had when he died in 2000.
The last time I saw Uncle Ed was on March 13, his birthday, when I brought roses to his hospital room and Veeka ran around and made everyone laugh. Even then I suspected he'd not see his 90th birthday.
He was such a gentle person and judging from his last conversation last night with Nancy, his daughter, he was not interested in departing this earth any time soon! But to his surprise, I am sure, he was called home some time this morning.
I do regret he won't be able to use his Russian with Veeka nor read his beloved New Ulm papers or pet his sweet cat Abby nor talk with his wife or daughters again on this earth. What does make me happy is that today he sees his two sons Jackie and Michael - both of whom died in the month of March in 1948 and 1983, respectively - for the first time in decades.
I just learned of his passing a few minutes ago, so am still at a loss for words. Here's a photo of him with Veeka. At least they got to meet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring has sprung


I will try to post more blogs but I am bogged down in getting out 200 adoption announcements (am at the 'H's now) so things are moving slowly. My purple crocuses burst into bloom today, no doubt very happy that the coldness of the past few days has now lifted.
Life continues apace for the Little One who every day breaks new barriers. Here in the photographs, we see her clutching her pink poodle and modeling her new dance outfit, courtesy of Mary Lyman Jackson, who brought to us last week when I was feeling sick with some bug. Mary also went and bought a bunch of groceries for me (I really was under the weather) which was much appreciated. Veeka liked the chicken soup too. Last night she had some of my homemade tomato soup for the first time. Yum, YUM. She snarfed that up.
We're trying out daycare part time this week as yours truly tries to get the better half of her book done despite many interruptions. One pleasant thing are the gifts that keep on coming; the newest being a contraption sent by Laura Paul called "Little Touch Leap Pad." My goodness, how toys have improved over 50 years. None of this shooting marbles business. "Leap Pad" for those of you not in the know, is this amazing book that reads to you if you just touch the page. Like, if you touch the picture of the pig, the page oinks at you. Touch the singing cow trio and you get a melody. I cannot figure out how this is done, but it's amazing - and something that might amuse the little princess when I am cooking dinner and she wants my attention.
Her choice activity is climbing up and down stairs these days. Even when I take her to the playground, she gets bored with the slide and the swing but clambers up and down those steps. She wanted to do the monkey bars too. Once those little arms get stronger, she'll be clambering everywhere. Just tonight I was trying to iron and she was climbing UP the legs of the ironing board. My yelling at her did not convince her of the hazards of a 10-pound iron crashing down on her head, so finally I tossed her on the couch.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Admirers pay their respects

Miss Veeka continues to attract a steady stream of visitors to the Duin household, all of them bearing gifts, which she likes very much! Today's bounty included a *bright* pink poodle carted in by Laurie which Olivia Veronika clutched to her chest for most of the evening until she was ordered off to bed. She was very sleepy as today she tried out her new daycare for 4 hours and did quite well although she refused to take a nap. Hopefully that will change.
Yesterday, Kim (top photo) arrived with a spring coat (!) and kiddie running shoes which Veeka proceded to get covered with mud while enjoyng her first swing - ever. Whizzing through the air was very new to her and there were some sniffles of fright but generally she liked the experience. Today, Laurie and I introduced her to the slide, a lovely invention by which one can whiz into Mommy's arms at breakneck speed. The only mishap was a fall on the steps leading to the slide and a scrape on the chin leading to the First Bandaid.
Saturday, Miss Veeka bade a sad good-bye to Tessa (middle photo) who returned to college. Sunday, she made her debut at the Truro Church nursery where she charmed all the volunteers there. We posed (bottom photo) outside in the sun afterwards.
To accommodate all the whims of our princess, a new Olivia page is being constructed on this site with more photos, a map of Kazakhstan and of course a list of gift ideas for the charmer's second birthday on April 16.
To answer the obvious question: What does Veeka like, she'd first point out she's not interested in TV, videos or chocolate. At least not at this point.
Likes include anything of interesting colors and shapes that she can pop into her mouth. That's why tomatoes (bright red color), grapes (cool round green shape) and peas (also round and green) appeal at present. Yogurt, crackers of any variety, oatmeal (her standard breakfast fare), Polly-O cheese sticks and noodles. Adores noodles. She scored a big hit at the local "pho" Vietnamese restaurant where she gobbled down a mound of noodles that are long and thin and look great when you throw them on the floor. Of course every restaurant she goes to, she throws food on the floor. Tastes better that way.
Other loves: Music, music, music. And cats and dogs, both of which she chases after when possible. Note: If anyone wants to send her a kitty, best to send it to Opa first, because he hasn't had a kitty in many years. Better idea: Send him two kitties to keep each other company. Opa and Oma are getting new carpet soon so who cares if the old one gets messed up?
Veeka already has a Potato Head (brought by Amy) so one's enough there. She has enough board books to stock a small library but unfortunately she's not into sitting still while someone tries to read to her. Maybe in a few months? In fact, she doesn't sit still for anything, really, unless forced to by the car seat. And even then she plays with her pet dragon and a crucifix Mommy got in the mail from a Catholic charity. Got to spark that interest in spiritual things early!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Veeka tackles the harp

My brilliant idea when I first brought Veeka home was to lull her to sleep with harp music. Yes, live on my 36-string Signature celtic harp. This worked for a few days until the Little One realized what the first few plunks on the strings meant: bedtime. So as I warmed up with "All Through the Night" and "Cairn Water," she began throwing all her toys and her bottle onto the floor in a fit of pique. Soooo, for the past 2 days, I've put her to bed, then walked off.
However, she does like to strum on it herself; hence the photos here of Veeka's first go at playing the harp. She wouldn't get serious lessons for another 6 years or so but why not learn some technique now? Thus, the photo, which shows her with her left hand on the strings and her right arm partially wrapped around the sound box, is a good start toward correct body placement.
This week I've been back at work trying to re-start my book manuscript, which I had to lay aside for several weeks in all the craziness of flying back here. Tessa Franz, the college-age daughter of two Portland friends, Becky and Leo Franz, came up from North Carolina to spend her spring break helping me out and touring Washington on the side. Today she's at the Holocaust museum. Not her first choice for vacation but for an art major, one could do worse than Washington's many art galleries. It's been great having some help and to have someone adult to talk with! Last night and tonight we'll be watching "Lord of the Rings" extended segments 1 and 3 with our cups of cocoa in hand. Last night Tessa whipped together a confection of real snow (we got 3-4 inches), condensed sweet milk and a flavoring (usually it's vanilla but we tried lemon. It worked) and was that yummy.
Yesterday Veeka's doctor called to say all her blood tests re any nasty diseases she could have brought back from Kazakhstan tested negative and it appears she's had lots of vaccinations to date. Tremendous relief!
Peoples' gifts are starting to arrive even tho the announcements won't go out for another week yet and all are appreciated. Am planning on starting a 529 college account for Veeka if anyone feels led to send a gift that keeps on giving. (Because she doesn't have a social security number yet, the checks will have to be made out to me - but I am honest!) Most creative gift: Michael and Christina Duin's maroon and yellow striped USC socks and kiddie T-shirt. The things people will do to create another Trojans fan. My response: Any time you want to borrow Veeka for a weekend USC football down there, let me know.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Veeka does the newsroom and the mosh pit

Yesterday we paid a visit to the Washington Times newsroom so we could ship out lots of copies of that India series to our overseas friends *and* make sure folks at work get to see my little princess. I didn't want anyone to think I was making her up! I am glad to say she acted beautifully the six hours she was there. She threw nary a tantrum; instead, she charmed 3 people into giving her either their stuffed animals or a rattle from their desks. About a dozen people either walked her about or played with her while Mommy frantically ripped up some 90 newspaper sections trying to piece together packets to send to India and France (note: it was a French journalist who gave me the idea for the series). My photos show national desk editor Ken Hanner with Veeka as she is seated at Victor's desk and photographer Joe Eddins amusing the Little One.
Today, Olivia Veronika was dancing with the Banjo Man at Jammin Java, a coffeehouse in the nearby suburb of Vienna that has a kiddie hour every morming. So today, about 60 little people bounced about as a trio of musicians jammed away. Veeka was right in front of the stage so I'm guessing that 15 years from now, she'll be moshing along with the best of them. It's a little weird for her mother to be sitting at a kiddie event like this on a Friday morning rather than being at work. I'm not used to hanging out with the stroller-and-van crowd.
We are still working on Veeka's cultural education. So far, I've shut off the TV and turned on the classical music so Miss Veeka can listen to Brahm's Requiem, Stravinsky, Wagner and Rachmaninov. Got to start 'em early. She's also been plucking away at the harp - a good sign.
She just woke up from her nap and is shrieking for me. She also woke me up at 3 a.m. this morning cuz she was bored and wanted to sleep with me and the kitties. She's doing fine but after we have dinner with Amy this evening, we're all rolling into bed early. Zzzzzzzz.