Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What we've been up to...

I have about 5 unfinished blog posts sitting here- and by the time I get back to them, time has passed and they are outdated. So I will try to type quickly here and not be too perfectionistic about it so that I can get this posted TODAY!

We are doing well! I am happy to be into a good fall schedule now and I think the girls are too.
We had a busy summer since I last posted: we went on a couple camping trips, Erik's parents came to visit, we went up to visit my parents in Glenwood Springs, we had some doctors appointments to catch Lia up on everything and she had a minor surgery which went very smoothly.

Nora learned to ride a two wheeler, to go across the monkey bars by herself and she learned to really swim this summer which she is very proud about. She can now dive down for toys on the bottom of the pool- a huge step for a girl who wouldn't put her face in at the beginning of the summer. She turned 5 this past Saturday, much to my amazement! How did five years already pass since she was born?!? It really does FLY by...

Both girls are in preschools this fall. Nora was so close to the cutoff for kindergarten that we decided to hold her back this year and I think that was a good decision. Two days a week she goes to a small neighborhood school that has a emphasis on community, free play and art. They serve vegan lunches with lots of veggies fresh from their own little garden. The lunches smell so good that I always wish I could have lunch when I come to pick her up. I'm not sure Nora is as thrilled about the food as I would be, but she eats well, as always.  She has already made some friends there and comes home very happy. She also goes to a local farm program once a week where they do a lot of outdoor exploration- ride horses, feed the goats, pick apples, etc. Now that she is five she can't wait to take a rock climbing class with Erik- something that I think she will be very good at. She continues to love gymnastics.

Lia goes two mornings a week to an integrated preschool that has special needs kids and 'regular' kids in each classroom. She has two teachers for six students which is wonderful for her right now, and some other internationally adopted kids in her class. "ShaSha like-a her tee-cher" she tells me every time I pick her up. We're trying to make a full transition to her being called Lia at school and that seems to be going OK, although she still refers to herself in the third person much of the time. We talked about names one day and when I said her original Chinese name to her, "HongSha",  she told me she did NOT want to be called HongSha. I asked her if it was OK if other people called her Lia and if her family called her ShaSha and she said it was. She is always ShaSha at home and I don't see that changing :)

She has done so well and she is adjusting beautifully. I do want to state here however that we have had our share of behavior challenges and that we have put a LOT of work and prayer into attachment and behavior issues these last few months, and now I feel we are just starting to see good fruit from that. I read a lot of adoption blogs and there are a lot of rainbows and sunshine posts out there- which are great sometimes- but I do not want anyone to think that adoption is super easy or that our transition has been seamless. It has however been worth every minute of hard work. When Lia snuggles into me, and says (as she suddenly has been doing this past week) "I need-a my Mama" or "ShaSha want to be Mama's baby" then I know we've made great progress. She is an incredible kid and I am so grateful to get to be her Mama. The hard work and hurdles we've overcome only makes the connection now between us sweeter.

She has made incredible strides with her ability to speak English. She speaks in full sentences, has a wide vocabulary, and uses past and future tense much of the time. It is rare that we don't understand what she wants or needs. She asks "why?" all the time, just as any normal three year old, and she regularly tells pee-pee and poop jokes as she enjoys making her sister laugh. I took her for a developmental screening with the school district and she even tried her best pee-pee joke with the man testing her. Not sure he got the joke :) We don't hear a single word of Chinese anymore besides a few words that have now become family words to all of us. She still sings the Chinese "Mama" song, and mixes a few Chinese words into her other songs but that is all I hear. The few times she has been around people who have spoken Chinese to her the past couple months, she stiffens and will not look at them or respond to them. I'm not sure that it's fear, as much as an "I have no idea what to do with that" sort of reaction.

Sleep has gotten much easier- which is a huge praise! I NEED sleep and I am a terrible Mama without it. She occasionally wakes up crying out, strangely at almost exactly the same time every night in the early part of the night, but settles quickly back to sleep with a hug and kiss and then sleeps thru until morning. She does now cosleep full time and I credit that with solving many of our sleep issues and helping overcome many of her fears. Both girls take a long time to get to sleep but we've been working on that and I've think we've made some good progress. It helps with the days getting shorter and the evenings being darker.

The girls have become great friends which is another answer to prayer. They fight like sisters do, but they also have hours of playing happily together and many times they bring tears to my eyes when they show great kindness to one another.  They truly love each other and take care of each other. Lia cried last Friday when we dropped Nora off at her school. If Nora is gone somewhere, Lia asks over and over, "where Nora go?"

Here are some pictures of our last few months. I stopped using my big camera this summer, and now I feel a bit sad about that. I love my iphone but it just isn't the same. I need to commit to taking more pictures, more often...and I need about 4 extra hours a day to edit and sort them :)

She's SO hard to photograph since she moves so fast- I love this one!

Camping- looking out of our new tent

I love this one- might have to order it on a canvas

Nora pretending to be the Little Mermaid

Grandpa helping Lia fish- we didn't catch anything

It is not possible to describe just how much she LOVES ice cream

Running through the sprinklers

She has figured out quickly that going to Target is a good thing- Mama can't resist spoiling my girls with little treats.

At the dentist- she did really well and we were told she has beautiful teeth.

Goofy looks from both of them...

Celebrating her birthday at preschool by walking around the "sun" five times to represent her five years on the earth. Yeah, not exactly how we celebrate at home, and we're not believers in the  "Mother" Earth that they sing about at school,  but rather the loving God that made us, but we'll talk about it all at home and see if that can help her process all the different beliefs that people have :)      

My five year old!

I'll try to blog a little bit more often this fall as I have a little time with the girls in preschool. We are so thankful to everyone who has checked in on us and prayed for us over this summer- we appreciate that so much.