Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Few Pictures

I forget to take pictures now that we are home, but here are a couple taken at our Jiangxi reunion in Mississippi at the beginning of the month, and one from MinMin's first Thanksgiving Dinner.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Me and My Shadow

Had this post all written the other night and it disappeared. With three kids at home again, there just hasn't been time to re-write it until now. They all just ran up to the hardware store with Richard, so I have 10 minutes. I just mopped the floor, and now I have one minute left to write.

I had read ahead of time how older kids tend to follow mom around the house when first home. They just don't have any idea how to entertain themselves, so attach themselves to someone to stay busy. I just didn't have any idea of how that would feel. I'm used to Taylor and LiAnne keeping each other busy, happily playing for an hour, and sometimes two, without needing mom for something. Or, if I really need to get something done, I can put a video on, which is a rare treat, and they will watch that. For the past week or more I have had a constant shadow. There are days that MinMin doesn't get 15 inches away from me. At first I thought, great, she is getting used to me and finding out that I am not so bad after all. But, after a few days it gets hard to take. The day before yesterday, as I was preparing pies, salads, etc. for Thanksgiving dinner, she didn't leave my side. I mean, if I carried something from the kitchen counter to the kitchen trash, no more than 5 steps, she took those 5 steps with me. Part of the time it is fine: she is learning to chop veggies without cutting her fingers, and is great at washing dishes. But after all day it gets nerve racking.

If I sit down on the couch with the laptop to check mail or look up a recipe, she sits with me. If I go to the bathroom, she follows, until I close the door. lol
I'm not really complaining, but please pray for patience for me. Like I said, a couple of hours is ok, but 10 hours a day gets nerve racking.

We had a nice day yesterday, with 10 friends over for dinner. We had bought a couple of turkeys in Texas to bring down with us, as turkeys here start at about $30and we didn't want to pay that. Just before our company arrived everyone changed clothes to something a bit nicer than around the house clothes. I laid out clothes for MinMin, new jeans and a blouse my sister bought her, and she said, no thanks. I said, fine, but if you want to eat dinner with us, you need to put these one. She changed right away. Now, I'm not being mean, but I only ask her to wear certain clothes about once a week, and she needs to learn to dress for the occasion, and to obey.

MinMin seemed to enjoy the dinner and company. This girl continues to eat more than Richard, and we wonder where she puts it all. I do remember that Taylor ate like a horse for about 6 months, so I imagine that MinMin will too. We'll see. (So far we are not winning the war on the slurping and burping. She has learned to say, "Excuse me," after a burp, but the slurping of all food is pretty annoying.)

After dinner the young people got out Hungry Hippos, and played for about 3 hours. I'm not kidding. Do you know how much noise that game makes? They started out in the living room, but it wasn't long until we sent them to Taylor's bedroom. MinMin enjoys the game, and it was good for her to be with kids her age.

A couple of days ago Richard got on MinMin for tormenting the dogs. Now, our dogs are Chihuahua's, pretty small, and don't take much tormenting. We don't treat the dogs like people, but they do deserve some respect, which they don't get much these days. MinMin isn't mean to them, just annoys them to death. I have told her many times to leave them alone. I have explained it on Babelfish, so I know she understands. She just doesn't do it. Richard spoke sharply to her about it the other night, and she sat down on the stairs and started crying. We left her for awhile, but then tried to comfort her. The wailing started, kind of like the first couple of days. Caleb called on the computer phone, right next to where she was sitting, and she just got louder. An hour or so later, she finally went to bed. Next morning everything was fine again. We have found that even when she gets angry or doesn't like something, she gets over it quickly.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Trip to the Dentist--First Day of School

As we sat down to lunch today, MinMin took one bite, and a tooth fell out. It was a rather large looking tooth, pretty bad looking, and I thought that she has broken a permanent tooth. I called the dentist, and made an appointment for the afternoon--which is a rare thing to be able to do.

The dentist is 45 minutes away, so we set off. After a typically long wait it was our turn. I had explained to MinMin on babelfish where we were going and what was going to happen, but she just wasn't prepared. I explained to the dentist more or less MinMin's dental history---which is pretty much nothing---and her first impression when she looked into MinMin's mouth was, "Que barbaro,", or loosly translated, "Yikes!" She decided to clean the teeth first to be better able to see what needs to be done. Poor MinMin just didn't like having this lady sticking things in her mouth. I had to hold her hands and pat her leg to keep her from jumping up off of the seat. After a cleaning, the dentist was a bit happier with what she saw, said that so much plaque was rare at this age, and that it wasn't as bad as first thought. There are a couple of major cavities, but in baby teeth, and some smaller ones in permanent teeth. As we already knew, she needs braces soon, as her upper teeth are way out of line and need to move.

As we were leaving and making another appointment the secretary said something about "my son", so I let her know that MinMin is a girl. Her reply was, "Oh, she doesn't have any earrings." Girls here have their ears pierced when they are a day for two old, so to see a girl her age with no earrings is quite rare. So, it wasn't the short haircut this time (which is definately beginning to look a little bit longer) but the lack of earrings.

Poor girl was quite brave, and smiled when it was all over. She was taught the proper way to brush, which I retold her on babelfish when we got home. I also explained to her that we are going back in three weeks, and showed her pictures of braces on the internet and told her she would need those in a couple of months. So, we are thankful to have the dental stuff started, and will be getting a complete set of x-rays done in the next couple of weeks to see where to start.

I need to get our Shriner's application off in the mail this week. There is a Shriner's hospital in Mexico City, so I am hoping that they will see her there, check out her leg, and just reassure us that all is well, or tell us if something needs to be done for her.

We started school this morning. MinMin enjoyed the English video, and surprises me now and then with English words that she uses. Obviously she did learn some in the Enlgish class she took back at the orphanage. She knows the ABC's pretty well, just missing a couple of letters in the middle. She thought it was pretty funny to be learning the sounds of the letters with Taylor (LiAnne is really not very interested yet.) She did some more math work for me, and gave me more of an idea of what we need to work on.

One of these days soon I'll find an extra few minutes to try to figure out why I couldn't get the pictures to download onto my computer and put some more up.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One Month, three days with MinMin

I've been waiting to update here, hoping to put more pictures on, but I had to save all my pics to a CD and haven't gotten them on the new computer yet. Today I tried to download the newest ones off of the camera, but something wasn't right, and they didn't transfer. Sooooooo, thought I'd write a little update in the meantime.

We have been home in Mexico for four days now....and they have been busy ones. We had a long drive from Mississippi, but all went well. For those from the reunion, Mrs. Sippi arrived no worse for wear. (She is a cute little black and white kitten we brought back with us. She will have her work cut out for her, as we trapped three mice the second night home. That was weird, as we usually have only one mouse at a time---or maybe we just think that we do!) We have had non-stop visitors since we got home. Everyone wants to meet the newest addition to the family. We are slowly getting settled in again.....LiAnne and MinMin in their new room, and Taylor in his. The kids get along well, though the two little ones tend to play together most of the time, as they always have done. They do like their big sister, though, and had a great game of hide-and-seek around the house tonight. We miss having Amanda here to play that with them!

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that MinMin worked while in her foster home last year. I can't know for sure until she learns English and can tell me, and even then she may have a rosier view of her year with the family in China. Since we have been home (and even before) she is always jumping up to help with whatever I am doing. She will clear the table and wash dishes, sweep the floor, mop, fold laundry, just always seems to be looking for work. So....I am trying to find the balance between having her help me and knowing that she isn't in our family as a maid, but as a daughter. I am also trying to teach her how to do things....washing dishes entails more than rubbing off the food under the running water---you need to use the sponge and soap all the time, even if it doesn't look dirty! She does a great job mopping the floor, though. I am trying to get her interested in doing other things so she isn't bored with nothing to do. Right now she is reading a book that we picked up in Guilin for her. Not sure yet what else she might like to do---we have the keyboard out to see if she might be interested in music, maybe drawing, sewing, we'll have to see.

There are so many things to teach MinMin. I know that many people say that you should just concentrate on the big things, and skip the little things like eating manners, but I disagree here. We are trying to work on eating manners. The slurping and burping have to go. I know that it is quite normal in China to slurp your noodles and hot food, but here it just doesn't go over well. I want her to learn to eat quietly so that she won't be stared at when we are out eating with others. On the eating front---she eats, and eats, and eats! She seems to like about everything, including tortillas and tacos, which is a good thing. She eats at least as much as Richard, or more. I do remember that Taylor ate like that for about five or six months--until he realized that there was always more food to come, so I imagine that MinMin will slow down once she realized this, too.

We have only had one run in over clothes. I ask her to try on the new jeans I bought her yesterday, and she said no. She didn't want to buy jeans while we were in China, and said that she had never had any. I bought her some in Missouri, but she hadn't tried them on yet. I just wanted to see if they fit, and for her to at least try them. So.....I told her no computer until she obeyed, and tried them on. She likes to use Starfall.com, a great website for learning letters and sounds, and we let her and the kids do that for a bit each day. A few hours later she asked if she could use the computer, and I said no. She went and changed clothes, so then I let her use it for a bit. This morning I laid out her pants, new shoes and three sweaters for her to choose from for church, and we had no trouble over wearing something other than sweats.

School starts tomorrow. I have given MinMin a math diagnostic test and have an idea of where she is. We are going to review multiplication, which she seems to know pretty well, as well as addition and subtraction to make sure that she has those down well. She doesn't know any division, so once we have reviewed multiplication, we will start that. I have also printed off some work sheets on telling time and greater than/less than. We will also start Enlgish with material that I have used over the years to teach English to Spanish speaking kids. MinMin is using quite a few English words that she knew from before, and seems to be quick about picking up new words. She greets people who visit with Hola already!

Hopefully I can get the pics up tomorrow.