Monday, January 14, 2013

In Which We Celebrate A Birthday

Ellen had a great birthday yesterday!

She slept in late yesterday morning, something I was probably way more excited about than she was.  This kid is a serious morning person-- as in the kind of ridiculously upbeat, cheery person in the mornings that I used to be before I had kids and could never sleep in again.  But she and Connor both slept in late, so I got to get back in bed after giving Connor his medication and lounge around until nearly eight o' clock.  Bliss!

Anyway, so after everyone got up and moving, we sang the happy birthday song and opened presents.  The child was relatively blas√© about our gifts, which included a hat, pair of jeans and shirts in her required color scheme (black, white and black).  The clothes that her aunt and grandmother sent proved to be a much bigger hit, as they were not only black and white but also had skulls on them.  Basically what I have is a teenager who wants to look like she's in a death metal band, but has not figured out yet that it's uncool to hold her Mom's hand in public.  I do not have a problem with this.

Then we left Connor with the nurse and took off for Thai lessons.  It turned out the place was nearly deserted because of the Seahawks game, so we left after about half an hour as there was only one student there and no teachers.  Oh well!  We drove from there to the mall; Ellen had received a gift card to JC Penny's from her great grandparents and she wanted to see what she could find with it.

I think Ellen still finds department stores a bit overwhelming; there are a lot more choices than she's probably used to having in terms of clothing and accessories.  I'm pretty sure the kid's not used to having choices period, so we've come a long way in the past few weeks.  She found a pair of flipflops to wear at her swimming class that were shockingly not in black (probably because they didn't have any black) and then we went to look at jackets.  She hasn't quite adjusted to the 35 or so degree temperature difference between here and Thailand yet, so she's wearing her coat pretty much at all times.  I think she wanted another option besides her competition jacket from Thailand and the black hoodie we bought her before we came home. 

And she found one, after carefully perusing the store a couple of times.  It's a, to quote the tag, "black faux fur bomber jacket."  Basically it looks like they took a knit jacket, skinned several stuffed animal pumas and affixed them to the front and back of it in a sort of furry hooded vest, um, thing.  And as she happily tried it on my brain was having a little argument with itself.  Half of it was going "She's making choices!  This is a good thing!  And she's expressing a personal style!" and the other half was saying "Wait-- she's going to wear that in public?"

I guess this is probably the same thing just about any mom of a teenager goes through.  But it wasn't suggestive, offensive, or inappropriate for a kid her age-- it was just something that I would never, under any circumstances, be caught dead wearing.  Any hey, it was her gift card, and as long as what she wants to buy fits under the not offensive, inappropriate or suggestive rule, it's her money and she can spend it how she wants.  So she bought the jacket, and she happily wore it to school today.  And I say good for her-- she's dressing how she wants to dress and figuring out who she wants to be, and that's a pretty fantastic thing.

Anyway, so then we went out and found her strawberry cake.  Normally I would make one, but she'd absolutely fallen in love with a very pretty cake at the Asian grocery store the other day and I was doubtful that I would be able to recreate it at home.  So we bought a cake this year.  Next year I hope she'll know enough people to have a party and there will be more people to share it with, but in the meantime, more cake for me.

We came home, lounged around for a while as Connor had his quiet time and she showed me several more Youtube videos of herself on national television in Thailand.  I'm still rather stunned by the sheer number of times Ellen has been on TV.  She's been in a soap opera, done a fashion show, and a bunch of interviews with various celebrities who were raising money for her orphanage.  Seriously if I hadn't seen the proof with my own eyes I'd be tempted to think she was making up stories, but this kid has, for example, met the entire Liverpool soccer team (and been given an autographed ball by them) and hung out with more Thai pop stars than I can count.

We had no idea about any of this when we started the process to adopt her, but it helps explain why she's such an interesting mix of mature and naive, and also why she's so open to new experiences.  This is a kid who walked a runway in the Thai equivalent of American Idol when she was seven years old, but who had never seen a microwave before she started exploring our kitchen.

At any rate, whatever the reason behind why she is who she is, she's a pretty awesome kid.    

We went to dinner at her favorite Thai restaurant, where they served her some homemade coconut ice cream for her birthday.  And then we went home, lit the candles on her cake, sang happy birthday again and all ate a piece of what actually turned out to be raspberry and not strawberry cake but was still delicious.  Really, it's hard to go wrong with cake.  She declared it to be a "Good good birthday, Mom!  Yaaaay!" in that bubbly, enthusiastic way she throws herself at life in general, so I think she had a pretty great day.

That's my girl!



A said...

"she's a pretty awesome kid"

No kidding. And when does she get to see you on skates in one of your more outrageous outfits? No doubt she'll be in the bleachers wearing her stuffed puma thing over some skull prints.

Jennifer Jayhawk said...

Love your posts! Happy Birthday Ellen.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh HURRAY and Happy Birthday, Ellen :D

And I love the way you handled the coat. Good strategy/parameters. Well done, Mom :D


Pamela (Duncanville) said...

I'm so glad Ellen is settling into her life in the USA.

Yes, she does sound like a typical teenage girl. When my daughter was a teenager, it was fire and some skulls. She had and proudly wore a pair of combat boots decorated with flames (that were not cheap!), a flame hoodie and pretty much anything else with flames she could find.

As for Ellen always being cold; you may already have these but UnderArmor makes an array of lightweight shirts and jackets that keep you pretty warm.

In the wee hours this morning, we got another dusting of snow with a little ice mixed in, just to keep it interesting.

I know there will be bumps in the road; everyone with a teenager has those, but I hope you mostly have a smooth ride with your little girl.

EmmaVerdona124 said...

that's awesome (btw happy belated bday Ellen) ;)

Anonymous said...

There is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.

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Anonymous said...

One cannot eat one¡¯s cake and have it.

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Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

Haven't been on your blog in a while. So happy things are going smoothly with Ellen and that she had a great birthday. Sounds like you are all finding your groove as a family of four.

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