July 11, 2014

{4th of July}

Another first for Caiden….celebrating the Independence of our great country.

We love China, and we will return one day, but I’m so, so glad that Caiden is a US citizen & able to experience all the freedoms America offers.

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The night before Caiden experienced his first parade. Sadly, parades are not the same as they used to be…now they are more just walking political advertisements :( But he had fun watching & waving his American flag. Then we walked down & watched the free concert.

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The next day we celebrated at my mom’s house for a bit (some swimming, yummy dinner & just relaxing), then headed back home to watch the fireworks.

June 20, 2014

{Branson Fun}

Every year the Shanghai Acrobats of China in Branson hosts a reunion for all Chinese adopted children & their families. A way to connect with others & celebrate their Chinese heritage.

We don’t go every year, but try to get down there every couple. We signed up to attend back in February, knowing it all depended on how Caiden was doing as to whether we’d all be able to attend or not.

He did great! He’s such a go-with-the-flow kid. He enjoyed the diabolos the most. (I have no pictures but here are some videos).

I tried to get him to play a game, but he wasn’t too sure about that. Too many people & it involved him standing in line while holding onto the person in front of him & moving. He did it for a couple minutes, with a look of fear the whole time, so I eventually told him he didn’t have to stay.

Then we headed over for a dinner (which wasn’t NEAR as good as it usually is…we were all disappointed) and the show (which was GREAT as always!). Caiden slept the whole time, but Kalia really enjoyed it.

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After the show they always get all the children together for a picture, and also have all the performers line up in the lobby for pictures & autographs. Of course, Emilee had to get in with the cute guys :)

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We checked into our hotel & chillaxed until time to head out for dinner. Then it was off to bed.

The next morning we enjoyed a decent breakfast, did a little shopping while waiting for the water boats to open up. This was the girls first time (I think) and everyone had fun (except Kalia, who was mad because Caiden was sitting with me & she had to ride with Amanda – who she normally adores). After the boats Amanda & Emilee rode this spinning ride thing, which made me sick just to look at it. Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to spend b/c Amanda had to get back home for a friend’s wedding that night. Hoping we can get back to this fun town very, very soon.

June 09, 2014

{Update on Kalia}

Today I’m linking up with Kelly’s Korner to blog about special needs.

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Kalia has hypoplasia of the corpus callosum. It’s a very co mplex disorder but basically she’s missing (or in her case, it’s there but just mis-formed) the corpus callosum, which is a band of fibers that connects the two hemispheres of the brain & allows them to work together. Symptoms vary GREATLY from having no issues to loss of speech, hyptotonia, cognitive disabilities, developmental delays, etc.

Kalia’s main issues are her lack of speech & language. She is 6 years old & cannot talk at all. She does make some sounds, and attempts to sign, but because of fine motor delays signing is hard for her as well. (She also has global developmental delays, poor motor coordination, hypotonia, etc., but the lack of speech & language is the biggest obstacle for her).

She does continue to grow & learn and for this we are thankful. She had a great year at school and there are very noticeable changes between the first & last days. Her teachers are pleased with her progress. In some ways she’s right on track with her peers in learning and in others she’s WAY behind. She attends regular school and is in both the mainstream & special ed classes.

She is very rigid with schedules (don’t deviate from them without LOTS of prior warning) but has gotten much better throughout the year. She participates in all activities, most without any issues. She has learned to use a computer & mouse with amazing results (she can log onto her favorite internet sites & navigate them with no outside help). Her physical/gross motor skills are improving tremendously. She can kick a ball, balance on one leg, jump, catch & throw (still has issues with these, but they’re improving).  Check out this this post where she’s participating in & LOVING Field Day!

I’m so proud of her & how hard she works. It’s hard to watch  her work so much harder than typically developing children for things that should come natural. And of course the mommy guilt…am I doing all I can? I don’t think that will ever go away.

May 29, 2014

{May Fun}

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Playing in mud puddles

 

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Final band concert of the year

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My beautiful girl getting ready to head out somewhere fun

 

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A little backyard get-together with friends

 

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Fun with water guns & bugs

May 26, 2014

{Memorial Day Air Show}

It’s been a few years (4 to be exact) since we attended the Air Show. Not sure why…as we really enjoy it.

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It was really nice this year, weather wise. They were calling for rain Sunday afternoon, but it never happened. We did get a few clouds & some nice, cool breezes late afternoon so that helped with the heat. It was hot, but not as bad as past years.

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I really enjoy the air show…and the honoring of our fallen heroes.

Oh…that reminds me…the amount of people that don’t understand the difference between Memorial Day & Veterans Day is astounding.

Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) is a federal holiday for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country's armed forces. (That part about dying while serving in the armed forces is important.)

Veterans Day is an official United States holiday that honors people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, also known as veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11.
Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.

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Anywho…we all had a great time. Caiden loved checking out the planes…especially the mechanics of them.

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They both did great…minimal whining about it being hot (I bought yummy shaved ice which helped with the heat)…and enjoyed the planes flying overhead. The Canadian SnowBirds Team did a phenomenal job!

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Hopefully it won’t be another 4 years before we see another one.

May 18, 2014

{2 Months}

2 MONTHS

Another fantastic month!

Little Man is learning & growing so fast! He’s really becoming part of a family. He’s feeling more comfortable and fitting in so well. I really am impressed with how well he’s doing.

The good:
* Caiden is still a great sleeper, but we’re having more issues with him falling asleep now. I think he hears everyone else still up & he doesn’t want to lay down & sleep…keeps coming out. Once we get him to lay still, he’s out. Goes to bed around 8:30 or 9 (for the summer) and sleeps until around 6:30.
* He is still a very picky eater, which I’m not used to at all! He loves meat (except hamburger), but now doesn’t care for noodles (with sauce, like spaghetti or mac & cheese) or potatoes (which he used to LOVE). He doesn’t care for sauces or condiments. Still loves bread, milk, bananas, yogurt and pretty much anything sweet.
* He is happy, active & loves to be outside. He now understands that we leave in the mornings, but we come back. He helps me get my things ready to go in the morning, tells me bye & love you, reminds everyone that I’m going to work but baba is staying home (mama work, baba home). He comes & gives me hugs & a big smile every evening.
* He talks all the time! Beginning to put 2 words together (mama work, Kalia school, sit down, love you, good boy, etc.) He has started speech therapy, though I think he’s doing great (better to get him help now than try to later if an issue arose). He still gets Emilee & Amanda mixed up when calling them. If I say “where’s Amanda” he’ll point to the correct one. But if he’s calling for one of them to come here or talking about them he sometimes mixes them up.
* Attachment is SO MUCH BETTER! He has pretty good eye contact (still working on it), and does not run & asked to be picked up by total strangers. He doesn’t yet have normal boundaries, but it’s better.

Areas of concern:
* Listening is a big issue right now. Most of this is age related I believe, but he pretends to not hear you most of the time. Not good when you’re trying to keep him from getting hurt or something.
* Tantrums/frustrations are becoming more frequent. Again, more of an age thing and we’re working through it. Most of the time it’s food-related which is connected to his time in the orphanage.

New this month:
* Family bbq for Mother’s Day with my side of the family. He had so much fun playing with all his cousins, and most of my family was able to meet him for the first time.
* Celebrated his first holiday – Easter. Wasn’t sure what to think of the silly egg hunting tradition, but did enjoy the candy he found inside.
* His first play in a mud puddle, first bonfire (with s’mores!), first school activities (band concert, Kindergarten graduation), etc…. So many firsts!

All-in-all he’s continuing to do so well. He amazes me with his smarts & his personality. He is the most loving little boy, but he is ALL BOY! This boy wakes up running & doesn’t stop until he goes to bed. Always playing, running, giggling, etc. He definitely wears me out but oh how I love this boy!

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May 16, 2014

{Field Day}

Today was Field Day for Kalia.

This girl has struggled the past couple weeks. Not sure what the deal is….too tired…ready for less work & more fun…I’m sure some of it is still adjusting to Caiden being home.

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But everything was great today. She was able to be outside the whole time (her favorite place) and everything was structured, but didn’t require her to sit still & stare at the chalkboard/papers/iPad. She could be free.

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And just look at her smile! She participated in everything…without nary a whimper or whine. That smile was plastered on her face the entire morning!

This is the happy girl I fell in love with in China! Even our guide called her “Happy Girl” because she seriously smiled & giggled from about the 2nd day we had her. Things changed a bit once we got home (anxiety, frustration with not being able to talk, not sure….) but she’s definitely not always happy now. So when we get days like today, we celebrate!