Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kindergarten Graduation

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I seem to have a lot of graduations this year! A preschool graduation. Two kindergarten graduations. A grade nine graduation. And a high school graduation.

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Yesterday, was the little girls turn. They have had an amazing year in kindergarten. With a really amazing teacher, who loved them dearly. I don't know if other's find this with their adopted children, but it seems that because teachers hear my children's stories and know their backgrounds, that they do have a special heart for them... I have found there is great compassion and understanding of some of their behaviours.

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The kindergarten grad was very simple and laid back. They sang us some songs and we had a picnic outside. Our school just opened this year and because it was the first year and the first kindergarten grad, each little one was given a t-shirt with all of their signatures. Each child in the school this year also painted a tile and these tiles were made into a huge mural in the entrance of the school. Each child was also given a poster of this mural to take home.



This school is amazing and the principal is wonderful. It is a pilot project, where they have eliminated a lot of the standardized tests and exams and instead focus on working together in groups on projects. They teach that community and giving back is a number one priority. They teach that every child is unique and wonderful and has special purpose and talents... and that through each child differences and abilities, our community and world can be a better place.

"All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten"

by Robert Fulghum

Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Speech and Comprehension

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Silas' speech is coming along very very slowly. It is getting to be very frustrating, and I struggle with just giving it more time or pushing him a little bit harder. With him going into Kindergarten in the Fall, I know there will be some issues if he doesn't get this resolved.

A lot of the time, I do not know what he is saying. Or I do know what he is TRYING to say, even though no one else would ever understand it. He also will stutter a bit as he tries to get the words out.

He is talking like a two year old. Only in two or three word sentences. He will say the main words and leave out all the little words that are typically thrown into a sentence. So, instead of saying "Can I have some milk please?" He will say " Me milk, please?"

Silas also seems to not always to comprehend what we are saying... I am not sure if this is always just a comprehension thing or if he is just not listening and paying attention, which it could be. He is also quite defiant right now and when asked specifically to do something, he will often go do what he wants, instead of obeying. I do see a lot of the same personality traits in him as Lilah... except that instead of the screaming and shutting down, he is very quiet about it.

Silas was getting ready to go to a birthday party the other day. It was a cold and rainy day and the kids were going to be outside. He had been wearing shorts everyday, but on this particular day, I asked him to go put on a pair of pants and a t-shirt. He was upstairs for a very long time and I knew that he had disobeyed and didn't want to come down. So I called him. Sure enough, he was wearing shorts. I asked him why... he said he wanted to wear shorts. I asked him "What did mommy ask you to put on?" He said, "Panties." I was trying not to laugh, and I was once again very frustrated as well. "No, mommy did not tell you to put panties on. Girls wear panties. What did I ask you to put on?" He said, "Pants." I then had to explain to him that I asked him to wear pants because it was cold out and he was going to be outside and I didn't want him to not have fun. He, like Lilah, tries to be self-sufficent. Which shows me that he doesn't fully trust us.

We had a three hour battle the other day over what he should wear. He had picked an outfit that didn't match and so I asked him to change his shorts. He changed his complete outfit five times and every time he came down stairs, I would ask him what I said and he would tell me. So he knew. Three hours later, he finally decided to obey.

My littles love to play restaurant. They will grab a little pad of paper and a pen and start taking food orders from family members. Silas came to me and asked what I would like for supper. I told him I wanted steak. He ran away, very excited, "Snake! Mom wants snake! Snake coming right up!" Maybe this is normal in his head... there was a lot of snake offered in the buffets in China!

He (and Lilah) don't want to rely on Tim and I as parents. They do not ask for help when they need it. They won't ask for something, unless someone else asks first and they often will team together and help each other, instead of their parents. Sometimes, they even will whisper to each other, "You ask, you ask..."

It has taken a lot of work to get Silas to use manners and be polite. He will often slam a cup down on the counter and run to sit down, waiting for a drink to magically appear. He is learning that these techniques won't work in our house... but it is taking a very long time. When I am preparing dinner -- even if it will take an hour -- he will run to the kitchen, grab a fork and wait to be served. This is getting better as well, with time. But these are the moments I wish desperately that I knew how he was raised and treated his first four years. I would guess that he didn't need to use words and that everything was just done and given to him. I do try to ask questions about his past every now and then, to see if he remembers anything... but he seems to have blocked it all.

My frustration can come out as anger. I get tired of the constant repetition of mistakes and disobedience. And then I see his fear come out... that he still doesn't belong, that he will be left behind, that he isn't treated the same or that he isn't loved, because he is being disciplined. This is the stuff that I know can take a VERY LONG TIME to heal. And then, it is hard to show affection, when I am frustrated. He is very unaffectionate. To Tim and I. Because we discipline. He will crawl on siblings or grandparents or teachers lap for cuddles, but not his parents. I had asked the Psychologist about this, and she said it is very normal. Of course, they will go to those that they know will treat them the way they want with no consequence.

Silas is very cute and very entertaining and definitely all boy. This adoption of a toddler comes with its challenges... but after figuring out the "Lilah stuff", I think we have a pretty good idea of how to deal with the issues that are arising once again.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Professional Graduation Photos

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We had some professional graduation photos done of Abigail by a local photographer who I love.

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Melissa Raimondi takes the most beautiful and romantic photos and is always so sweet to work with. A lot of her photography is boudoir, but she does all kinds of photography and it is always stunning.

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The day that Melissa took these photos, people would stop in the park and stare and tell Abby she was so beautiful. The most precious moment was when a little girl came up to Abby with her Grandma in awe.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

A new bedroom

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Our little girls have been sharing a room since Zoe came home. Zoe really needed this, coming from an orphanage where she was used to being in a room with many other children. She hated being in a room alone.

But every single night was a struggle.

Every single morning was a struggle.

The girls would not go to sleep. They would get out of bed, they would talk and laugh. They would get toys and books to play with. And they were never quiet about it. We tried everything. Nothing worked. We had to go up many many times each night and we were getting very frustrated. I like my children to go to bed happy and that was not happening.

Then they would wake up very early. Who ever was awake first would wake the other. And then the noise and stomping would start again and they would proceed to wake up every one else in the house. Usually, by six a.m. We could see that they weren't getting enough sleep. And we would have to deal with their exhaustion though out the day.

Their sleeping patterns do not match.

So finally, we decided we were done. It was time to do a major bedroom shuffle in our house. We lost our guest bedroom in the process. Eli moved to the basement, so now that is the teenage boy area. Micah and Silas share a room and were in the smallest bedroom in our house, so they were moved to Eli's old room. And Lilah was moved back into the small bedroom, which was her room when she first came home. It was a ridiculous amount of work, but works so much better! And Lilah was very excited to move and have her own room, in the colours that SHE loves.

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And I was excited to decorate it. I did a bird on a wire theme. I went to Bouclair and found everything I wanted in the exact right colours. Bouclair is a store that organizes all of their items by room and by style. You find what you want and they have everything in one spot. The matching drapes, throw pillows, blankets, art, accessories, lamps, etc. and the prices are very reasonable. I lucked out, knowing I wanted lime green and aqua. And it even came with the artwork with a bird on a wire. I painted some old furniture (from out guest room) white to match her bed and made an old chenille bedspread into a duvet cover for her.

They now go to sleep with no issues. They do not get out of their rooms in the morning until told, they read books quietly. And the rest of the house gets to sleep.

It was the best move ever.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lilah's Violin Recital

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Tonight, Lilah had her very first violin recital.

It was held at a local church and Lilah was third from last. It was slightly frustrating as everyone left as their kids finished their pieces, so there were very few people there by the time that Lilah played.

She did great and got some hoots and hollers from the crowd.



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dance Recital

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I love having little girls. This time is so precious. I love watching them dance. I love dressing them up, as much as they love to be dressed up.

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I only took photos of them in their ballet costumes. By the time we got home last night, it was 9 pm and time for bed!

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These photos of Lilah are her in her "new" bedroom. That will be another post!

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But these girls are so, so pretty. As you will see in the ballet video below... Lilah stole the hearts of the audience. She has overcome any fear she used to have when trying new things and now will give 110%.

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Zoe LOVES to dance. She dances in our house all the time. She is constantly asking for music to be put on... preferably Disney Princess music.

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The girls were given single roses during the finale, while some speeches were being made. I wish I had a photo of Zoe at the end with her rose. She broke it in two places and was standing there with it hanging upside down.

The quality of these videos isn't great... but enjoy!

Clip #3 from Paige Riegel on Vimeo.


Clip #4 from Paige Riegel on Vimeo.