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.
English.......is 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.
Food.......is 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!