Sunday, January 30, 2011

Language Development

I've been meaning to blog about Cara's English language development for awhile. I've read other people's blogs and often wondered about the language development of other children from China. Cara has been home for 100 days today, so it seems like a good time to talk about her language development. Let me give a little bit of background information first. I have half my doctorate completed in language acquisition/ELL, so Cara has been exposed to sheltered English strategies since the first day we've had her. Her paperwork also stated that her language skills are excellent, which is true. I think if a child has an aptitude for language, a second language comes more easily. We started off with nursery rhymes, songs, and finger plays (in China) for two purposes: bonding and language acquisition. We have done tons of acting out situations, getting up and showing things to her, and talking her through situations. We read simple picture books with a lot of pointing out things in illustrations and asking "why" questions about what we are reading. We have never used flash cards.

Right now Cara uses 6 to 7 word sentences and is able to explain herself pretty clearly. She understands just about 100% of what we tell her, but we do use a lot of gesturing and picture clues if we need to. She still gets frustrated sometimes and starts to have a meltdown, but we say, "Use your words, show us what you mean." And she can usually pull herself out of it and use words or gestures to show us what she means. She is starting to sing songs she hears on the radio, which is quite funny. Katy Perry and Rhiannna seem to be her favorites! ;)

Other news: A and her BF had their yearbook dance Saturday night. The theme was 70's and 80's, so they wore Muppets shirts.
Tonight is WSU vs. UW in basketball aka Apple Cup on the hardwood. Cara is wearing her WSU pj's in honor of the game. Here she is just after taking her bath. Go Cougs!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A little of this and a little of that

We've had lots of things going on since Christmas. One of the most exciting things is that A got her driver's license! Passed her test on the first time too, good girl ;)! Now she is able to pick Cara up from daycare at 3:00 p.m., which is an hour and a half sooner than I am able to pick her up. Since Cara is getting more "quality time" at home, this is what she spends some of her afternoon doing: watching Dora while lying on the back of the couch.

We went to Spokane last weekend to do Christmas up there with J's family. This was Cara's second time away from home where she spent the night in a hotel room. She did better this time than she did when we went to Pullman. She crawled into bed next to Daddy and went to sleep when she was tired. Here she is snuggling her brother at Aunt P's house.

Aunt P and Dan got her a tricycle and a helmet. Cara was pretty excited about that. The trike also has a trunk, which is an excellent place to store your chocolate Santa! Love this pic with the bow hanging down under the helmet. Such a stylish chick!

Aunt P and Dan have all sorts of cool toys. They have a splitter so all 3 kids can listen to the Zune at the same time using their own headphones without fighting. Correction: they HAD a splitter! ;)
My mom had a Gymbuck from buying Christmas presents. It was $25 off of a $50 Gymboree purchase. Since mom is in Hawaii during Gymbuck redemption, she kindly gave me her Gymbuck to spend on Cara. This shirt is one of the things that came in the mail today. I. Love. It! Cara looks great in this coral color. Thanks, Grandma!

Cara has been growing like a weed in height, but not in weight. She eats like nobody's business, but she pretty much wears it all off. She has grown 5 centimeters since her final measurements sent to us from Shanghai right before we left to get her in October. Every time I turn around she's taller. I have been buying size 4T or 4 for her summer clothes, but she has such a skinny little butt that 3's won't even stay up on her waist. The white capris she's wearing in the above pic are size 3's pulled as tight as I can get the adjustable waist to go and they look baggy on her. Regular size 3 jeans fit her just right in the length. If she grows any taller they will be high-waters. Good thing shorts and capri weather is coming up in order to give me some time to figure out this pants situation.
Cara has also made it to the dentist, finally. Her paperwork from Shanghai said she had 6 cavities, so we were pretty nervous to see what the dentist would find. We acted out going to the dentist in the recliner, found pictures of little girls going to the dentist on the internet, and C, the babysitter, talked about the dentist. We thought Cara was prepared for her first visit. On the way to the dentist she said, "I no go dentist." She watched her brother, sister, and me all get our teeth checked. She still didn't want to have anything to do with the dentist. Finally, I held her in my lap facing me, dipped her head back into the dentist's lap and he checked her teeth while she screamed. It actually worked out pretty well. She opened her mouth nice and wide! ;) Guess what?! No cavities! How crazy is that? I'm just glad to have that ordeal over with and she doesn't go back for 6 months.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cara's Spring Fashion Show

We went shopping today at the North Bend Outlet Stores and Bellevue Square for some spring things for Cara. We left this morning at 8:10 a.m. and got home at 7:30 p.m. We spent the day doing some hard core shopping and when we got home, Cara put on a fashion show. Here she is in one of her new dresses from Gymboree Outlet.

This top is Carter's. We got it at Fred Meyer earlier in the week for $7.99. The leggings are new from Gap Kids. They were a "must buy" because Cara peed her black leggings that she had on this morning.

This shirt we got last week at the Gymboree Red Balloon Sale for $3.99. She already had the matching bow.

Here's Cara posing with Aunt S. The shirt was from the Carter's outlet and the white capris are from the Gymboree Red Balloon sale. They were $6.99.

I wanted this Gap sweatshirt when I first saw it, but it sold out quickly online and we don't have a Gap Kids near us. We were lucky to find it today at the store. The inside of the hood is polka dot, too. I bought a size 5 because I want her to be able to wear it this coming fall and winter. It was originally $35.oo and we got it on sale for $20.00

Love this dress! Carter's outlet for $11.00.

This shirt was a last minute buy at Gymboree Outlet. It was $4.99. The straw cowboy hat was a splurge. There's a hot pink ribbon and flower on the band.

This pink shirt was one I really wanted to get her. It was at Gymboree Outlet.

This is B's favorite dress on Cara. Gymboree Outlet. I think Cara looks great in this green.

Rockin' out in her new swim suit and sunglasses. She has a white eyelet cover-up, too, but she was refusing to have her picture taken in it.

She shouldn't need much more for spring other than sandals. She had a great time shopping and really likes getting new clothes. She fits in REALLY well with the rest of the girls in the family!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Time in Pullman

Last Saturday we went to Pullman to watch the Cougars play basketball. Cara did pretty good with the long day, especially since she napped with her sister on the drive.

She spent most of the game sitting with Grandpa, but she also did a lot of wiggling around...she is 3, after all. By the end of the game she was standing and clapping while the band played the Cougar fight song. I have a video of it, but I'm still not able to figure out how to get videos off my flip camera and onto my blog. I hope to figure it out pretty soon because I've got some pretty good video clips that would be fun to share.

The Cougars won, beating the Oregon Ducks pretty handily. After the game, I was worried how Cara was going to handle spending the night in a hotel for the first time since she's been home; even though we would all be with her. We were a group of 7 all in one hotel room. Cara and I started out sleeping with A, my mom and dad were in the 2nd bed, and J and B were on the hide-a-bed. Cara kept moving from bed to bed, which I wasn't too happy about. Finally when she was back with A and me and she tried to dive out of bed again, I pulled her back down between us. She started sobbing, "I want Daddy!" So B hopped in bed with Grandpa, Grandma and A shared the hide-a-bed, and J stood and rocked Cara. For 5 minutes. Then she was out. He put her in bed between us and she slept through the night. She whimpered a couple of times and I stroked her cheek and told her she was OK and she quieted right down. We got up the next morning and drove home. No night terrors. I was amazed. So the verdict is she did OK for the first time away from home, but I don't want to take her overnight again for the next little while. She needs more time, I think.
Today is 3 month "gotcha"versary. I will post more later to tell about her progress.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I Don't Know How 2011 Could Be Any Better...

...than 2010. Yes, in this pic they are both on cell phones, and yes, they are talking to each other! ;)

On January 15, 2010 we spoke with the Waiting Child coordinator for our agency. She told us to expect a referral in the next 18-24 months. We did not think 2010 would be our year for adoption. We decided to take a nice family vacation for spring break and start saving for adoption expenses after that. We asked the kids where they wanted to go and they said, "Hawaii!" So Maui was the destination of choice for spring break.

We also ended up going to Disneyland because I had a work conference in Anaheim and J and the kids decided to tag along. Another fun-filled vacation for 2010.

We received an amazing surprise on June 22, 2010 when we received a referral for our daughter, Cara, and traveled to China to get her in October. Her special need was an unrepaired VSD. Cara's cardiologist at Seattle Children's Hospital believes her heart can still self-repair and wants to see her back in a year. More fantastic news for our family.

I received another surprise the end of October when I was offered the position of Principal at my school. It meant coming back earlier than I might have liked from my adoption leave, but it really is my dream job and I could not have been happier to accept the position. Cara has done wonderfully at daycare and loves going there.

A turned 16 in December and got her driver's license on the 29th. I now have another driver in the family! This will be a big help, I'm sure.

I have great kids, a handsome husband, and we are all healthy. I could not ask for more. I am eager to see what 2011 brings, but at the same time I am thankful for all of the blessings our family received in 2010. Happy New Year!