Two China Dolls and a Prince!

This blog chronicles the story of 2 of our adoptions, both older children when they came home. It begins in 2008 and will continue in the hopes we can be of encouragement and information to anyone thinking of older child adoption.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Soccer Pictures!

Isn't he such a handsome kid?  I am so biased!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One month....almost

Wednesday marks our first month home with NingNing.  Such a short time in the "big picture", but it already feels like China was so long ago.  Except for the language barrier, it feels as if NingNing's always been here.  He has filled his "space" in our family nicely.

Bonding.....the member of our family he is most bonded to and shows the most affection to is our youngest, Judi, 7 years old.  She has the demeanor of an older kid, but is small enough to trigger protectiveness.  While teasing each other as brother and sister will do, NingNing has appointed himself her protector.  If she gets hurt, he's right there and she wants him.  I thought I had been replaced, but she still wants her mama, she just wants NingNing to bring her to me!  He and Jazmin are warming up to each other, and of course James and he have their own "brother" stuff going on.  Physically, the only thing we kind of still dance around is hugs and kisses which is understandable. He accepts affectionate gestures just fine and will sit or stand shoulder to shoulder with no qualms. coming along.  Today was actually the first day ever when he responded almost entirely in English!  Just small words, but progress is progress.  Judi asked him something, and he said "no".  Then James bought him a Sprite during Jessica's softball game.  When NingNing went to take it, James asked "what do you say", and N immediately responded "Thank you!".  Later, we ran by Grandma and Grandpa's house, and he said "Hi!" first thing.   He copies Judi quite frequently and since she talks like a mini-adult, it works out well!

First Sleepover........with Seth, one of his friends from Independence; Seth stayed at our house for 2 nights.  We went up to watch Seth and Zane's soccer game, then Saturday, Seth was here to watch NingNing's game.  When we took Seth home, he showed NingNing their house, piano, and the bedroom where they disappeared to yet again do the "net".  It still amazes me how much all these kids rely on the internet to pass their time; they came out of Chengdu with little to no English, but they can manipulate a computer like a pro; go figure.  We have NingNing go with us most places and got him in soccer for some exercise and fun; otherwise, he is content to read books, play Farmville, QQ, and watch Chinese movies or cartoons on the net.  I don't know if it upsets him to stop what he's doing when we go somewhere, but he never gives us any trouble over it and does what we ask right away.  He also likes to be near us (and people) and has his spot on the couch where he'll be doing his thing, but still pretty tuned-in to what's going on around him.

School........first week of full days.  He's tired when he gets home, and understandably.  He gets 3 hours a day of intense ELL instruction, and then is mainstreamed another 3 hours for PE, Choir, Math, and Social Studies (alternate days).  An ELL specialist told us that with that much one-on-one intense learning and the effort of being in an all-English environment all day, he needed to "decompress" when he gets home.  In other words, let him do QQ, watch his movies/cartoons, and basically chill out.  We also got him on a recreational soccer team to give him an opportunity to have some good ol' fashioned fun; at least it is two days a week I know he's getting some fresh air; he definitely is not used to regular exercise and activity!  His first game went well, he's working on figuring out where the coach wants him on the field.  He is understanding  a good bit, I think now, of spoken English. coming along nicely. The "like" list is surpassing the "don't like" list!  Things he likes: chicken nuggets (a fave), potstickers (WalMart-LOVES them), Spicy Honey Kraft BBQ sauce, pigs in blankets, chocolate chip pancakes, corn, McChicken at McDonalds (appears to be a Chengdu kid favorite),Sunny D, the chocolate drink YooHoo (found a way to get vitamins and calcium into him), Little Debbie Nutty Bars, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, any rice or noodles of course, pork, chicken, granola bars, fruit snacks, grape/cranberry juice, potatoes, Hawaiian punch. marshmallows, and Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
Dislikes............anything to do with milk which is why I'm glad he will drink YooHoo, regular ice cream (likes Rainbow Sherbert), burnt hot dogs (discovered this weekend), cheese,  eggs of any kind (won't eat fried rice with them in it), Cheezits (sacrilege!),and root beer just to name  a few. 

Will post some pics later in the week.......stay tuned!

Monday, September 10, 2012


NingNing begins full school days this week!  Last week, on Thursday, our school called; they had a plan for NingNing!  Our school has alternate days of classes, 4 "blocks" a day.  For the 1st and 4th blocks he is mainstreamed, and receives ELL instruction during 2nd and 3rd blocks, or 3 hours.  The school worked hard to get this in place quickly as I have to return to work soon, so that is a huge relief for us.

NingNing continues to make strides.  With his program beginning at school, the other kids getting into the "meat" of school, and after-school activities starting, things are revving up.  I also go back to work fulltime at the end of September, so JR will be taking over the morning duties.  We are having some problems getting the boys up for school, so last week, we moved bedtime for them back to 9pm.  Neither boy was very happy about that, but it's a done deal until they begin to get up on time.
NingNing tends to wait until James gets up (and James is NOT a morning person) and I realized today that perhaps he has no sense of WHEN he needs to be up!  So tonight I am going to set their alarm clock up and let NingNing know that when it goes off, it's time to be UP!  With 5 kids to get ready for school, we can't have two lying in bed until 15" before the bus comes.

As time goes by, it's apparent that NingNing and our youngest, Judi, have bonded amazingly well.  While still teasing her like a brother will, he is very concerned when there is something wrong or she is upset.  She gets nasal congestion everytime the weather changes and he told us on Google Translate that she was sick, so we had to explain that she has medicine for that and will be ok.  Then last night, she was upset about a friend at school and he sat on her bed consoling her.  They are usually never far apart.

With the rest of us, the touchy-feely stuff is about where I'd expect it to be.  We kiss our kids goodnight, but so far it's a no-go with NingNing.  We make it a point for everyone to say goodnight to each other and I'll say "I love my boys!" as we turn off their light.  NingNing'll sit next to us on the couch and has no qualms about being squashed together there or in the car or the occasional shoulder hug or casual touch.  The rest will come in time and we are thrilled with the progress he's made.

The one area I'd like to improve on is NingNing's desire to do physical things.  We know they weren't used to a lot in Chengdu, so we try to get the kids outside when we can.  Saturday, I had the girls and NingNing take a walk with me, just to get out of the house for a bit.  Then Sunday, after church, Jr, James, and NingNing went out on our deck and he was introduced to target shooting.  I think he really enjoyed himself and looked very interesting with goggles and earmuffs on!  Then we went off to Grandpa's where we have discovered he can ride a bike!  He did that for quite awhile and just hung out with the kids watching "ICarly".  He really seemed to open up Sunday and smiled and laughed more than I've ever seen him do up to now.

Everybody likes their electronics!


NingNing started it and this is how it ended!

Setting up the "targets"

Dad and NingNing

Hangin' out
Tonight we are going to the library to try out the "ESL cafe" they offer for free, to see if it would be a good supplement to school.  NingNing also indicated he wants to take piano lessons, so we're working on finding a teacher with an opening. 

Backing up a bit.....

On August 22, we returned home.  The blog above belongs to Seth's family, the first of the 3 Amigos and NingNing's best friend.  There are pictures of the boys' reunion at the airport and as official Americans.
Both of NingNing's friends were there and their families, as well as our family and my dad and stepmom. It was a wonderful homecoming!  Later at dinner, it was fun to watch the boys talk a mile a minute catching up. Two of the pictures show them in China and then here; just look at the difference in the boys' faces!

We set up a surprise visit on Memorial Day with NingNing's friends and plan to get the boys together as often as we can.  NingNing even talked on the phone with Seth just yesterday (because we were trying to figure out what "palm the ball" was in reference to a sport!).

Will blog again tomorrow regarding more current happenings!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

First week of school behind us

Well, NingNing survived his first week of school.  He gets on the bus with his siblings and I have been picking him up at 11:10, before lunch.  The idea was that next week he would begin fulltime with support from an ESL teacher.  However, we heard today the ESL teacher might not be able to do it after all because it is only part-time.  So still trying to work that out.  My biggest concern is him going to school and having to sit through Reading, English, History/Social Studies with nothing to do and no way to understand.  I created some basic English worksheets for him, word searches, and math sheets, since we know now he does know the English alphabet and can say it and of course, you don't need English for math mostly.
I could keep him home another week, but here he watches Chinese movies and QQ a lot, so we want to limit that somewhat so he's not using it as a crutch, so in the long run, I think he'll be better off in school as the more he's surrounded by English with kids his own age, the quicker he'll absorb it.

He seemed very comfortable by today about zipping off to his locker (got his combination down now) and getting his things; he was smiling again today when I picked him up; always a good sign.  Don't think he cares for getting up so early, but what teenager does, seriously?

We've started introducing him to chores and helping out.  He holds the door for me now, carries groceries in, learned how to empty the dishwasher, and set the table.  I know this may not last, but I am so enjoying having ONE teenager who does what we ask immediately with no fussing :).  All our other kids have been great with NingNing and treat him just like any other sibling.  We are starting to see a spunky, mischievious personality emerging, especially when he's around our youngest, who has always acted like a teen herself.  She gets right in there, tickling him, taking his computer, snuggling with him, and even taking one of his earphones so she can watch his Chinese movies with him!  Being adopted only 3 1/2 years ago herself, I wondered if she would bond to him the quickest.

The one thing I've been glad to see is that the younger girls don't exclude their older brother, James, from their attentions, in favor of the "new" and "fascinating" brother.  I was a bit afraid that might happen, but our house is small enough, we all HAVE to interact with each other!  Even if NingNing's watching his shows or doing QQ, he's still out in the living room with us; he seems to like being around our frenetic activity levels!  Tonight, at dinner, James was doing one of his funny impressions (he is quite the comedian sometimes), and NingNing was trying not to laugh so hard he choked.  It was fun.

Last but not least, he had an eye exam today.  He has great eyes and doesn't need glasses; the doc said if he doesn't by now, he may never need any.  He went through all the machines like a champ, after we explained what he needed to do on Google Translate.  Funny how he seems like a little boy when he sees something new and is so curious about how it works, and then I see the man in him when he greets people with a handshake.  I wish so much we had found him when he was younger, but I'm so glad we have him now.