Monday, March 30, 2009

Heredity VS Environment??

Sarah and Anna love to sing. There is never a moment that they are not breaking out into a song. Some favorites are-
Rain, Rain Go Away
Baa, Baa Black Sheep
If your Happy and You Know it
Five Little Monkeys
Happy Birthday to You
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Itsy, Bitsy Spider
And the list goes on and on and on!

They used to fight over which one got to sing. Recently, they have come to a truce and they sing together. Anna will often say- "Stop, Stop- one more time, all together now" She must have gotten that from school!

When Sarah first came to us she could sing many songs in Chinese. Now the only ones she can sing are from the Dance and Learn with Mei Mei video. Sarah had a pretty voice, she could carry a lovely tune UNTIL she became part of our family. What is it about us and singing! We must be cursed. Is it because I have a terrible voice- and when I sing along she copies me. I am so sorry sweetheart- You are truly part of the family, now!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


One year ago when we were in Florida I did a post of Anna and Momma in our sunglasses. I talked about how excited we were to get our sweet Sarah home and then she could have a pic in her sunglasses, too.

It is so incredible to have her here with us. She is so much our daughter- she has personality characteristics like her brothers and her mother! We are still trying to figure out which one is the alpha- I think I've got the spot so far! She is really understanding why we make some of the decision that we make- it is for the best of everyone in the family. (they are very minor decisions- like shower now or shower later, have lunch before we go and after we get back) She will happily disagree but then go along with us. Her defenses are down and she seems so comfortable. Pouting is at an all time low! Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Brother/ Sister Bonding!

It is so nice to have big brother Johnny with us on vacation! He is always so busy with school, basketball, soccer and friends. The girls- Sarah and Anna, love him and look up to him! He is so good with them and teaches them so much. They love it when he teases them! It is so funny to listen to their conversations!

Monday, March 23, 2009


Peek a boo! I see you, under the table!!

If they can't see us then I guess we can't see them? right? Hmmmm

The girls continue to be doing well. We do have "our days" but most of them are good!! Soccer is done with for now. She will start on a recreational outside league with other 2nd graders in May. We are excited to have her see the same group of girls 2 times a week for 3 months. I think she will be able to develop some friendships. She is easy to get along with and a very fun girl! We take swimming on a month to month basis and we aren't sure about April. During our March lessons it became very obvious that a female swimming teacher works best- maybe we will wait untill summer for swimming?? Sarah loves gymnastics - they have recommended she stay in beginners. Which we agree with that recommendation and will probably have her do another session. our only goal is to help her be lighter on her feet! When our sweet girl is running around upstairs you'd think there was a herd of wild elephants up there! boom, boom boom!

Anna will soon be 3 yrs old. Sarah is pretty disgusted that she has not made any progress with the potty training. I have already warned Sarah that it won't be happening soon. 

Sarah seems to be a bit accident prone. There have been no major injuries but many, many itty bitty ones! Sometimes she follows so close behind us that if we stop she runs right into us- oops! She is also elbow height for me- and I've gotten her a couple times with that- ouch. She does look at me like "mom, how could you do that?" I apologize and try to explain it was an accident and she may want to give me a little more space... if possible! 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Outside Play!

We have had some warm weather the last couple days. Well... warm for Minnesota. It was 67 degrees, 60 degrees and 50 degrees. Which gave us 3 outside play days! It was wonderful to get out in the fresh air! Of course I used part of that time to pick up massive amounts of doggy do do- YUCK! 

We have a neighbor girl that is Sarah's age. She went over and called for her on Monday! The little girl is home because of spring break. So the first time Mark was outside with her and she rode over and played with her outside! After a few errands with Mom (me), she wanted to go over again but she has never actually called for someone- so we went together and rang the doorbell- only once, but boy, did we want to ring it more! The little girl was playing a game inside and would come out when she was done. I could tell that sweet Sarah didn't quite understand that and soooo wanted to go in her house. As her Momma- I wanted her to have that invitation, too. Kind of silly but, you remember that feeling from when you where a kid and it all came back to me- mature? I know! The invitation wasn't meant to be but she came out within 10 minutes to play! The girls rode up and down our street and played. Sarah did so well talking and interacting with her!! Thank you Jesus! They got together the next day, too. This time a third friend joined them and again the little play date went well!

I have to say that I am quite excited about the new layout on the blog here!! I am lovin the flowers down the side- very springy!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is this legal?

We had our FCC playgroup over on Friday. We always have so much fun with them! The Mom's chat away and the kids play downstairs and around us! Sarah told me before they came that all the children are little and that she is bigger. I told her she was right but that it is still fun to play. She made the most of it, age did not seem to be a factor. Infact I think the other kids are attracted to her because she is older and now she is actually interacting with them. It is so good to see her play with other kids!! She is such a nice girl and has a kind heart so she does well with almost anyone! We also have more ground breaking news!! Anna actually left my side and played with the children! I was able to carry on conversations while having the party at my house with our girls there! This is a first and it felt very good!!

After everyone left Anna took the chips, sat down in her booster seat at the counter and really enjoyed herself. Halfway through she thought she'd use the napkin in the basket to wipe her nose and hands. Which means she dumped the rest of the chips on her and on the floor. I am trying really hard to go along with this montessori method. It is very different than my previous method. Here, honey I'll do it (then it gets done faster and the way I like it!) ! So I got out the vacuum and gave it to little miss "Anna help"! She had a wonderful time vacuuming the kitchen with just a little bit of guidance from Mom! When it was over I was wondering if this was legal- is this against child labor laws? She did a great job! Thank you Anna!

Tonight Sarah is sleeping on a bed next to ours! So far so good! Keep her(us) in your prayers!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Adopting older? What works and what doesn't work!

When we were in the process to adopt an older child our biggest fear was the language barrier. I had heard wonderful stories about how quickly the children catch on to the language but I had a hard time believing it would be that easy. Over and over I read that they speak english by 4 months and by 6 months they have lost their accent and people cannot even tell they only came home 6 months ago. I thought if that is going to actually happen I better do my research to facilitate it. So I did- I asked Yahoo groups, I searched amazon and the internet, called our school district- anything and everything I could think of...  Here is my evaluation of the advise I received, the products I bought, the products I checked out and the services I checked into.

 I often didn't listen to the advise from others because I wanted so much to BUY something that guarrenteed everything would work out fine. So I bought... and boy did I buy unnecessarily. Our evaluation is for an adoptive girl 8.5 yrs old, who has always lived in the orphanage. She went to 2 years of school outside of the orphanage. She did an okay job speaking mandarin but was below average in writing and reading mandarin.

Sesame Street ESL videos- Way overpriced. You can get them at you library. There are 13 videos in the set. At first hey overwhelmed her when we used them in the mandarin/ english form. After being home 7-8 weeks we used them in the English immersion form. She really liked them for a little while.  There are 2 segments on each video, but the are only 20 minutes each- seems too short. I would use them again BUT get them from the library.

Rosetta Stone English/ Homeschool version- Others have used it and it has worked out great for them but it wasn't a fit for our daughter. She had trouble coordinating - when to speak and when to use the mouse. It was hard for her to sit through the lessons. She was not a good reader in China so I think it is too advanced for her. We will continue to try it periodically in the future and she if she catches on. I think it could be good as she gets older- we would use it to perfect her english language skills. 

Learn English with Ace and Christi  -  I ordered this without previewing it.  was so excited to get my hands on an actual ELL program. Not a good choice. I wanted activities we could do together, worksheets with cutting and glueing, hands on- just the 2 of us. It is 2 -3 ring notebooks of  copied sheets that tell you how to talk to an ELL child and what to teach them. We were way beyond it by the time I ordered it. It was blah, colorless and just a a lot of words for me to read.

ELL classes offered through our local school district - They have been fabulous for us. We are homeschooling but this gives our daughter the opportunity of another teacher (experienced in ELL/ESL). She is with another little girl her age. Our teacher was kind enough to place Sarah in a situation where she would be successful and flourish (sp?)! If this school didn't work we had the option of trying another school. She works with me and has even given us an ELL curriculum- which I am looking over now.

Homeschooling - I was concerned that our daughter would not learn english at the same pace because she would be with me and not with other children. That has not been the case. We are together a lot and this has expedited the attachment process. She is having many other experiences that are enhancing her english skills- ELL, gymnastics, swimming lessons and soccer.   I would seriously recommend it for any older child adoption! If it fits into your life. You can still adopt an older child and not homeschool them. The school districts have many resources to help you and your child.

Speech Services- we were able to obtain speech services through our medical insurance. Sarah definitely qualifies. She was just tested this last week and would qualify in her letter sounds alone. The speech pathologist is also working with her on concepts such as under, over, inside, outside, sentence construction, use of pronouns, etc. It is a huge help. If your insurance covers it- go for it, if not I would still try the school district! It is one more person on your team, helping your child!!

I am sure there are more products that I mistakenly purchased and/or checked in too, but I will have to add them later- for now I can't think of anymore. 

In a nutshell-
1. Don't buy a lot of things- spending the money doesn't guarantee success!
2. As soon as your child is ready read, read, read to them and visit the library.
3. Talk to them, converse with them. I was worried I would not do this enough, don't worry!
4. Utilize all the services that are offered through your school district and through your community!
5. Don't rush them, take it slow- I still have to remind myself of this!
6. Start out with simple things- PBS, Sprout TV, board books, simple toys, finger plays and catchy nursery rhymes.
7. Let them try things that are way younger than their stated age. They may have never gotten an opportunity to do this. Most likely they will quickly move on to something else.
8. Do set behavior limits and stick to them. You want to live a long happy life with this child so their behavior has to fit into your life, too.
9. Utilize the driving time! Play Wee Sing, Raffi, etc CD's. If you have a TV in your car use that time for educational DVD's. In the beginning that was the only time Sarah sat still so we would play Barney, Elmo's World DVD's at first and them moved up to Wee Sing and Leap Frog. She actually learned quite a bit from them!!
10. This is probably silly but it is my opinion- teach them how to write their name, their phone number, their address and have a list of phone numbers for them so they can call you or another family member whenever they feel they need too.
11. Pray with them, pray for them and ask them what they are thankful for- that is a day brightener! I am guessing they may say you and their family!!

Remember this is an evaluation from my point of view regarding our child. Your child may be different but I hope this helps you!
Another "Thank you Jesus" post!
(sorry about the typos!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pictures from the Past

Little miss Sarah has been sharing more and more of her past. There is nothing horrible and overly shocking but to a mom that loves her little girl and is so thankful she is finally home- it is heartbreaking. As she learns more and more english we will straighten out the half truths from the truths but for now we just listen and talk together. Bless her sweet heart.

Sarah still loves it when Mom dresses her. (whenever we are in front of someone else such as at gymnastics she will do it herself but at home she loves it!) She gets chilled when my cold Minnesota hands touch her as she is putting on her jammies. I asked if she would get cold in China too because I know they did not use much heat and instead would layer the children up in clothes. She said no because they didn't wear pajamas they would just wear their clothes to bed and then wear them the next day, too. She said she never brushed her teeth, they would just go to bed. Now- there were many children so I am not trying to criticize the orphanage but again as her Mom it literally makes my heart ache.

With so many children and no overly protective parents there were many accidents. She spoke of a boy that was run over by a car, another boy broke a window, a girl poked her eyes with pencils- these children did not come back to the orphanage. Many babies died because they had clefts or were to weak to eat.

Sarah's orphanage was a good orphanage. I know she was loved by a special ayi- We have many pictures of them together. They were very kind and invited us to lunch at the orphanage but Sarah felt she could not do it. She left her home of 8.5 years, she was with us for less than 24 hours and she wanted nothing to do with the orphanage. KIDS need PARENTS. She must have been so frightened- frightened of all the unknowns that were ahead of her and frightened that she may have to go back and not have a family. Sweet precious girl...

I think our dear daughter believes that all children in China don't have parents but that people go there to get a child. She talks about a woman that had her in her tummy and then she threw her away (this is probably because she doesn't have the correct english words to explain what she thinks happened). I tell her that that woman is her birth Mommy and she loved her very much but she could not raise her, maybe she didn't have enough money or they already had a child. I tell her she wrapped her up in a blanket and put her in a safe place so the police would find her. When they found her they brought her to the hospital and then the orphanage. I tell her I came to get her as soon as we could but I love her so much and wish I could have been there sooner.

On Gotcha day the director of the orphanage handed us a bunch of pics and 2 cameras. It was so nice of them. I just got the pics put on a CD and down loaded them onto my computer.  They are such treasures and windows into a past that I was not part of... I wish I could have been there sooner for her. Thank you Jesus for our sweet Sarah!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Just Too Stinkin Cute!

Although our precious daughter, Anna has always been adorable, lately she has been exceedingly adorable! She is talking constantly and of course has not mastered all the letters and sounds- which means that everything that comes out of her mouth is so precious! The other day we were singing in the car and all of the sudden Anna says "No, No, No, one more time. All together now!" She had to have gotten that through her 2 days at Montessori- but it was so cute hearing a 2.9 yr. old say it!

Since there is a good chance our little peanut will always be our youngest we are trying to enjoy every moment of this cuteness! She is exceeding our expectations! 

The girls are getting along so nicely- it is so much fun to watch them play together! They are giggling, crawling all over each other, singing songs and running around together! It is just so stinkin cute!!

Anna has developed quite the sense of humor and she is smiling more often! With her cleft lip- I noticed she wasn't smiling as much as our other kids did at this age. Sometimes her little smile is a bit cock-eyed but adorable at the same time! Now she has this cute little kitty cat smile and her beautiful eyes turn into quarter moons! Just so you know capturing that smile with a camera is close to impossible. It is spontaneous, it is quick and then it is gone. When it is gone is just about the time my camera flashes- darn again! I will continue to try to get adorable pics of our sweet little Anna! What a precious gift she is! Thank you Jesus!

She still has no interest in the potty but that will come in time... we hope! We will keep you updated  regarding that issue! She turns the big 3 on April 2nd!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Sarah!!

Sarah has been counting down the days until her birthday for over 3 weeks! Yesterday she told everyone- tomorrow is a big day, it's my birthday! It was so cute to see her so excited for this day! We wanted it to go well for her- in the past when kids have been overly excited sometimes the end up disappointed- we didn't want that to happen on her first birthday with her new family. Sarah has told us that she has NEVER celebrated her birthday and in fact had no idea when it was.  

 When she came to us she thought she was 9 years old because in China when you are born you are one. Once she was told, she readily accepted the fact that in America she was 8 yrs old. We were glad that it did not seem to be an issue for her. Even now as she turns 9 yrs old, she makes it very clear that her Momma says 9 is still little. We both find comfort in that thought!!

We had a few people praying along with us that today would be a good day- thank you for your prayers! They were appreciated and heard! When Sarah got up this morning we had a few Happy Birthday banners up and a big button that said Birthday Girl- she wore it all day! She had fresh yummy donuts from the bakery this morning - thank you Daddy. Anna went to preschool and Sarah and I went to the MN Zoo. She loved the one on one time- it was so much fun! After that she went to ELL class and brought cupcakes. Then we had our family celebration in the evening. She knew the party would not start until it was dark out and that is when she would get her presents. She understood and accepted it! The day went smooth and she patiently waited until the evening for the party!!
Jim brought home the party balloons and she was thrilled!!  Within 2 minutes of their arrival we heard pop, pop, pop- yep we lost 3 of them right away! Oh well- I think they came to close to the recessed lights- oops! I made treat bags for the 2 girls, they were thrilled and it seemed to satisfy Anna ( she didn't go after Sarah's presents). Auntie Barbie and the boys arrived shortly after that and the fun began! 

For her birthday dinner we had- steak, mushrooms, broccoli and baked potatoes. A very American meal! She loved it and asked for seconds!! Whenever we order Chinese food we seem to enjoy it more than her- so we went for the American cuisine ;-)

Sarah loved her gifts. Her favorite was her new pink bicycle! She rode it all over the house tonight- and was surprised to hear it is an outdoor toy. Tomorrow it will leave the warmth of the inside never to return again- yes, the bike is banished to the garage! Thank goodness it is supposed to be in the 40's tomorrow- I am guessing this family will be playing outside!

After dinner and gifts, it was time for cake and the traditional Happy Birthday song! She was thrilled with everything! It was so enjoyable celebrating her birthday- in fact it was refreshing! This dear girl and no expectations. She had nothing to compare it to- she was thrilled with everything we did and would have been plenty happy with a whole lot less.

Thank you Jesus!

Monday, March 2, 2009

History in the Making!

Since Jim did not travel to China, we need to adopt Sarah in our state- so her adoption is recognized and official. We are in the process of doing that now and it should be finished within the next month. I am so thankful that this precious little girl is ours- we love her so much! It amazes me how perfectly God's timing was - we got the green light to proceed and there she was! It wasn't our intent to adopt an 8 yr old but a sore back from carrying a little one (me), a few sleep issues by the little one, more info out there on older child adoption, and a precious little 7 yr old face looking at us- that was all it took and we switched directions!! Thank you Jesus! She is a perfect fit for our family- I am so grateful that she is our little girl! All the older kids adore her and even Johnny is enjoying his sister at home in the evenings! She really looks up to him and loves to laugh with him!

Thursday is a big day- it will be her 9th birthday! She is counting down everyday and can hardly wait for it to come! Sarah has been with us for a little over 3 months now. Her adjustment has been relatively smooth. She has a wonderful sense of humor and spending my days with her is a joy! I have a few hours on Wednesday to myself- my friend Karen comes over- she is with Anna in the a.m while Sarah and I do school and then Sarah joins them for play and lunch- while mom sneaks away! The few hours away always feels so good and refreshing but I am very excited to see the girls when I come home!

The girls went to the wedding but not the reception. We felt like it might be overwhelming for them and the day into the night would be too long. So Karen stayed with the girls while we were at the reception. When we were in the church we sat in the 4 row and then decide to move up a row- our little 8 yr old sweetie started climbing over the pews in her pretty little dress- we caught her before she got to far and encouraged her to walk around! She loved the wedding! Anna on the other hand saw the bride walk down the aisle and then Jim wisked her away- she is not the quiet kind a girl in a church. She never lasts long! In the picture here- you see her making a pledge ;-)

I just need to share this last bit of info with you- are you ready???? For the very first time EVER Sarah and Anna are downstairs playing- and I am on the main floor. "History in the making"- a break through moment! Hubby just came home and said "Why is it so quiet? Where are the girls?" Gotta go and enjoy this!! oops, here they are- already over ;-)