Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home 8 Weeks

(As I get ready to post, it's now been a week since I started writing this entry. It's amazing how much language Lily is using now, in just one week. I'm not going to change the post, since it took so long to write.......but I can't keep up with all she says now. She's now putting 3-4 word sentences together. We're just really enjoying hearing her talk!)

Has it really only been 8 weeks since we came home from China?? It seems like such a long time ago, but 8 weeks is really not that long. Lily is doing great! Her adjustment really has been relatively "easy", and I don't use the word "easy" lightly. She has been through a very traumatic experience. She was pulled away from her country, her language, her food, and most importantly, the people who loved her. She was given to complete strangers and told that we were her family. She didn't even understand what a real family was. But, after all of that, she is one of the happiest children I have ever met. She is constantly smiling and giggling. She has a very good disposition and is very playful. She's easy going and very easily adjusts to our ever changing schedule. She's had her moments, and there's been times she's woken up in the middle of the night crying but overall, she really is doing great.

The big news is, Lily has finally started talking!! For the first 6 weeks home, she was very silent, saying only a few Chinese words. Days would go by where we wouldn't hear anything. I used to tickle her to make her laugh, just so I could hear her make a sound. Although we could tell that she understood a lot of what was said, she was not interested in talking. She would point to items and wait for me to name them, and then just nod. If she wanted my attention, she would say "uh, uh". Then, at that 6 week mark she said "pumpkin" and "school bus", followed quickly by "baby" and "puppy". Of course she only said these words on her terms and would not say them if asked. But, over the last 2 weeks, things have really started to change. When we are out and about, she points to items and names them......"Hello Kitty", "Dora", Princess", Scooby", "Sponge-ja Bob". When I ask her if she wants to go to Publix, she will say "cookie". (love those free cookies!) Some of the other words she says spontaneously (without copying one of us) are, "flower, fireman, tunnel, minnie mouse, pretzel, water, elephant, horse, monkey, apple, banana, Santa, snowman, choo-choo train, Thomas (the train), Curious Georgie, dinosaur, yogurt, and concrete mixer (that one's for you Uncle Bill). Some phrases she's learned from her brothers are, "now me", "here you go" "what dat or what dese", "where day go?". She also put her first 2 word sentence together, "Michael funny". Actually, saying our names has been the big news of this week. When I started writing this post on Sunday, she had not yet said any of our names. She would just point, or say "uh uh". On Wednesday, I was in the car running errands with Lily and Michael, when Lily started to say her brother's names, and then she said "Mommy"!!! (good thing I was stopped at a light!) I kept having her repeat them over and over........I couldn't believe she was finally saying them! By the end of the day, she was using her brother's names to call them, although she didn't use Mommy to actually get my attention until the next day. The only sad thing was, she wouldn't say "daddy". Finally, 2 days later, I got her to say daddy!!! She hasn't said it often, and still won't say it in front of Ruben, but I'm hopeful for this weekend! I think she really just needed to feel comfortable with us before she said our names. I hope she's now starting to realize how much we love her and that we're her family....forever.

Another thing I've heard her do is mouth the words to the alphabet song, and have heard her sing parts of it while in the car. She does a lot of talking, babbling, and chanting while in the car. I've also seen her mouth one of the prayers we sing at dinner. She can now count to 5 and show you on her fingers. I've also seen her count items. She's working on counting to 10 now. She's learning her letters, her favorite one being "O". She gets very excited when we're out and she sees one in a sign. She knows that L is for Lily and M is for Michael. She's also learning her colors. She definitely knows what pink is! It's really amazing how she is just soaking everything up.

She is really starting to warm up to Daddy. Every night Ruben reads her a book, and I leave the room. She is now getting more animated with him and pointing to the animals in the book, and sometimes talking. She's still very shy with him when he gets home from work, and at dinner, but we've definitely seen huge improvements in that area.

Things we have learned about Lily..................

She loves to be silly. She started showing this side about the same time she started talking. One day we had been to the Pumpkin Patch and Lily had a little round pumpkin sticker on her shirt. I was in the kitchen when I heard her say, "hmmm-hmmmm-hmmm". That was unusual as she usually calls me with an "uh-uh". I turned to look at her, and saw she had put the sticker on her mouth and she had the most mischievous look in her eyes. She now loves to do silly things to make us laugh.

She likes to have her picture taken and thinks it's fun to make silly faces. (as you can see below)

She loves to go to Target and Publix. She will squeal and clap when we pull into the parking lot.

She hates to have a blanket on at night. She will wake up mad and kicking if we put a blanket on her, and it can take some time to calm her. We will definitely be layering rather than using a blanket this winter! (I did read somewhere that because of the lack of heat in most orphanages in China, some orphanages actually put a strap around the child and the bed at night to hold the blankets on. I do not know if this is what Lily experienced, but it would certainly explain why she doesn't like blankets.)

The report from China said she likes toys that make noises. We're finding that to be true. She loves the cash register and any of the Leap Frog toys that make noises. She also loves playing with her kitchen.

She loves to have books read to her, and will keep bringing them over as long as you're willing to read.

She can be possessive with toys she feels are "hers". If one of her brothers takes a toy she's playing with, or one that's near her, she will cry like her heart is breaking. It hasn't happened very often, but it's sad to hear.

She likes to tattle on her brothers!

If one of her brothers (especially Michael), is doing something with me, she tries to get in on the action. If I'm snuggling with Michael on the couch, she will climb up on my lap. If I'm reading one of the boys a book, she will again crawl onto my lap. She will take turns though. If I'm tossing Michael around, she runs over for a turn, but once she's done, she will stand back and point to Michael for his turn.

I know there's probably a lot more to say, but it's already been a week, so I'd better get this posted!

Here's some pictures.

With cousin Amy

Both very excited about their pockets


The kids were very excited about Halloween. The talk of candy and costumes started early in October. Tyler wanted to be Batman, so then Alex decided he wanted to be Batman. Fortunately I found a Fireman costume and since Tyler wants to be a Fireman when he grows up, he easily made the change, and Alex got to be Batman. Michael, our ball boy, was a football player, or as he says "a football guy", and Lily was an adorable Minnie Mouse.

We carved 2 pumpkins. The boys were a little braver this year with the pumpkin goo. Tyler had fun sticking his hands in the pumpkin and pulling out all the goo. Alex wouldn't have anything to do with it. After getting his hand a little to close to the insides, he moved away from the table so nothing would touch him! Michael helped a little, and Lily was game to try anything.

That afternoon we went to a neighbor's who has a yearly Halloween get-together. The kids played with their friends and we all ate spooky treats. Then it was off to trick-or-treat. It took Lily no time at all to get the hand of trick-or-treating. I walked her to the first house, and she held out her bag to get the candy. After that she started running to all the houses with her brothers. She thought this was the best thing. Playing dress-up and getting candy......what could be better than that?!! Tyler and Michael wore out early and sat in the wagon. Not Lily. She easily kept up with her oldest brother. After only one street, Michael said he had enough candy, and just sat in the wagon the rest of the night. (what kids says that??). Tyler made it to a few more houses and then joined Michael in the wagon. Alex and Lily kept going, and going, and going! Wore me out since after a while, Lily wanted to be carried in between houses and there's lots of hills in our neighborhood. Fortunately, after a while, they were happy to go back home and hand out candy. Alex had a lot of fun picking out which piece of candy to give each trick-or-treater.

Doesn't Alex look excited?!
Tyler loved digging out the pumpkin
Michael wasn't too sure about cleaning out the pumpkin
Our yearly pumpkin picture

Our motley crew!
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

A couple of weeks before Halloween, we visited one of our local pumpkin patches. The kids are really enjoying our weekly Saturday adventures, and were up early, ready to go. It was a beautiful day..........almost a little too warm for October. (Ruben would disagree as he would be happy living in the tropices ! :) The kids had fun checking out the farm animals, taking a hay ride, and running through the pumpkin patch. Nothing better than running through fields and climbing on pumpkins. We weren't there to buy a pumpkin, as I refuse to pay $20 for one pumpkin, but the kids did each pick out one of the mini-pumpkins. I'm sure Lily was wondering what was going on with all the pumpkins, but she went with the flow and enjoyed running around with her brothers. A homemade icecream treat capped off the morning.

As a surprise, on the way home, we stopped at a park we hadn't been to before to have a picnic and play. The park had a big kid area and a seperate area for smaller kids. I barely saw Alex and Michael the whole time as they were off playing chase with other kids at the big kid area. Although Lily is still a little nervous on our play set at home, she was really excited about the little kid playground. On one side, there was a ramp instead of stairs. She held my hand tightly and went up that ramp over, and over again. Even though she was a little nervous about the height, she was all grins and giggles. Big brother Tyler came over to play and the two of them had fun following each other around. Tyler loved being the big brother, helping and leading his little sister. By the time we got ready to leave, Lily was actually climbing the stairs by herself!!! She still wanted me with her once she got to the top, but that's ok. Baby steps.

Playing on the tractor at the Pumpkin Patch
Tyler "talking turkey" with the Turkey
1st attempt at a good picture of the 4 kids together
2nd (and last!) attempt at a good picture of the kids!

Forget the mini-pumpkins, we like the really strange looking gourds!
Michael........again with the funny expressions!
Checking out the pumpkins.........she really wasn't sure what to do
The boys were looking for the biggest pumpkin
Always willing to pose with a beautiful smile
Another one with a beautiful smile!
Hamming it up while trying to lift a large pumpkin
My 4 boys!
Yummy treat!
Really starting to enjoy the slide
Tyler and Lily were so cute playing together at the playground
Lily went up the ladder all by herself for the first time! She was so proud of herself!

Not so sure about the swing. She held on tightly the whole time, but we did get a few smiles.