Monday, January 21, 2013

Hank the Horse Outing

Sam’s preschool class has a mascot named Hank, who is a little stuffed horse. Throughout the school year, each child gets to take Hank home for a week to have all sorts of adventures. At some point Hank is photographed with the child and a brief story of Hanks visit is written. This story and picture become a page in a class book about Hank.

Since Sam had a rocky start to preschool, his teacher decided that maybe a visit from Hank would make his adjustment go more smoothly.


Hank accompanied us to a variety of locations throughout the week. Here is the story that we wrote for Hank’s book:

  • Hank had a lot of exciting adventures while visiting Sam this week. He took numerous trips around the house in Sam’s Tonka trucks, played at the park, and attended a Little Gym class with Sam. Hank and Sam’s favorite activity together was a trip to Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. They shared a cake batter frozen yogurt topped with M&Ms and little cheese cake bites. Yummy!

And here are some of the photos that we took while at Menchie’s with Hank.

Sam and Hank eating yogurt. Hank got the green spoon and Sam got the brown spoon (which, by the way, is his favorite color).IMG_0016

Sam and Hank pose for a picture.IMG_0018

Hank being a crazy horse!IMG_0020

Here is a couple of Hank’s friends who tagged along on this outing.IMG_0022

Sam and Hank enjoy some deep conversation.IMG_0026

Hank is a bit sloppy so required a bib.IMG_0028

Hank got full so Sam finished the rest of the yogurt all by himself.IMG_0029

The hope was that Sam would be excited about returning to school on Monday so that he could share his story and picture with the class. I’d love to say that the plan worked but, ummm…not so much.

Oh well, Sam thoroughly enjoyed his week with Hank and got an unexpected bowl of frozen yogurt out of it, so it’s not all bad!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Molly’s Best Buddy Mia Turns 7

Molly loves her buddy Mia. LOVES her. Even though the girls are now separated by a hundred or so miles, they still get super excited at the prospect of spending time together. It doesn’t take more than a minute for the time and distance to melt away before they are sharing secrets and giggles.

And what makes it even better is that Mia’s mom is my best buddy. It doesn’t take us long before we are sharing secrets and giggles, too. Oh alright, at our age its more like sharing gossip than giggles, but you get the point.

Mia turned seven last Saturday. As fortune would have it, we just happened to be in town and got to celebrate her birthday with her. Mia invited Molly out to lunch and the girls picked their favorite place: Noodles.

While waiting for the food to arrive, Mia and Molly work on a craft.IMG_0002

The girls show off their BFF purses.IMG_0005

Obligatory friendship pose before lunch.IMG_9993

Big bowls of mac-n-cheese and chocolate milk. This is gourmet dining at its best when you are 7.IMG_9994

Mia takes a break from eating to open her present.IMG_9995

So glad that we were able to enjoy the afternoon with some our good friends and even more glad that we got to celebrate a special day for a very special little girl!

Happy Birthday Mia!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Toothless Grin

I wish someone would have warned me before we had kids just how traumatizing every childhood milestone would be. It’s not traumatizing to the kids so much. It’s traumatizing to me.

Take teeth, for instance. I sulked when Molly’s two bottom teeth came out. Her baby teeth. Ouch. She’s not a baby anymore. Sniff sniff.

I finally get over that, and what happens? She loses her top teeth. Even more traumatizing.

For me, I mean.

Molly was thrilled. See:IMG_9974On January 11, 2013 my little girl bounced off the bus and happily announcing that she lost her front left tooth at school. She even had a nifty little necklace to hold it.

Reality set in.

Losing the two bottom teeth seems so easy now. You really didn’t see them and the teeth that grew in to replace the baby teeth were kind of small anyway.

But this? This is a different story.IMG_9975No hiding this.

Or this:IMG_9976

While I sulked in the recliner, lamenting the loss of my daughter's childhood, she got busy writing a note to the Tooth Fairy:IMG_9980

Seems that she wants me to keep her teeth as a memento. IMG_9987

Duh! Like I am going to throw them away? I have no clue what I will do with a jar full of baby teeth, but I have no intention of getting rid of them. Weird as that seems.IMG_9990

Now that top tooth #1 was gone and there was no turning back, I was ready for #2 to go, as well. Tooth #2 was really loose and flapped all over the place whenever Molly talked.

It really grossed me out.

Luckily we didn’t have to wait long because tonight Molly twisted, and pulled, and tugged and that loose tooth finally came out.

Now we have the toothless grin and I must admit, as much as I hate this milestone….IMG_9991she does look pretty darn cute!

Monday, January 7, 2013

1st Day of Preschool *Gulp*

Somebody tell me how this is possible.

My little boy just turned three years old two days ago and now he is going to school. That just seems wrong. You wouldn’t send a two-year-old to school, so why on Earth would you send a little boy who was two years old just two days ago to school?

Still shaking my head in disbelief over this one. But off to school he goes.IMG_9965

Sam was eligible to early intervention through the county until age three. Miss Bev dutifully showed up at our doorstep every other week and we played.  And learned, but it was learning through play.

Then Sam celebrated his birthday and Miss Bev stopped coming. I still get teary about it. *sigh*

Now Sam’s intervention services are turned over to the school district, and he is off to preschool. Without me. Outside of the safe, nurturing walls of his home and his family. And truthfully, I had more than a few hesitations about it.

Of course we have other options for speech intervention. We could have a speech therapist over to the house, we could bring him to the school just for speech time, we could use intervention funding to hire a private speech therapist.

But in all honesty, we feel that this is the best option.

Sam is a social boy. He loves being around kids. Kids are great motivators and role models for speech. He will also get much more time with the speech therapist being enrolled in preschool. Time that we couldn’t duplicate in a home setting.

Really, it is a big win for everyone. Except for my mommy heart which still sees him as a baby.

We’ve only had Sam for a year. It feels like he is being stolen from me. And I am not taking it very well.IMG_9966

When I took Sam for a tour of his new school, he was very excited. He sees sister going to school each day, and the fact that he was now standing inside a school seemed pretty cool to him. When I signed to him that this was “Sam’s school,” he looked at me in disbelief.

He questioned me by repeatedly signing back, “Sam’s school?”  I answered him in the affirmative each time. Then he signed, “Molly’s school?” wondering if I somehow made a mistake in my communication skills. I assured him that this was not Molly’s school, but his school.

He raised both arms above his head and shouted, “HURRAY!”

For the past two weeks he has been asking about Sam’s school and we have been counting down until the first day. Today was it.

This morning both Sam and Molly donned coats and backpacks and we headed out the door. Upon arriving at Molly’s bus stop, Sam was greeted by the bus stop moms with excitement and good luck wishes.

It was a t this point that I lost it.


It really caught me off guard. I though I had come to terms with the whole baby-going-to-school thing. Apparently not.

But Sam had to go to school and having a blubbering idiot for a mom was not going make the process easier for him. Therefore, I dried my tears, pulled on my big girl pants and loaded my school boy into the van. He was thrilled.

Sam was all about going to school….well, except for the whole mom-is-going-to-leave-me-here-by-myself thing. When it came time for saying goodbye, Sam put the Vulcan death grip on me and I knew we were in for a challenge.

When a child typically has this reaction on the first day of school, you might just say, “Leave, let him cry it out. He’ll be fine.” And that’s exactly what Sam’s teacher told me.

Except I just couldn’t do it with Sam. It was only a year ago that someone arrived at Sam’s foster home where they took him from the loving arms of his foster parents and thrust him into a tall American stranger’s arms. His whole life was turned upside down and he has never seen that life in China again. How could he trust that this wasn’t going to happen to him again.IMG_9968

So now we have started what I am sure is going to be a process--attending preschool without Mom. I know I need to be out of the classroom. I know he needs to be there alone. I can’t go to preschool with him. But I am not going to leave him there when he is terrified and feeling abandoned.

My plan is to stay as long as he needs, but spend every minute pushing him towards independence.

When Sam finally let up on his grip around my neck, I had him sit in my lap. When he would sit in my lap, I had him move to the floor. When he’d sit on the floor, I scooted back. A constant dance of being there for him yet encouraging his independence.IMG_9969

Day one wasn’t bad. Sam actively engaged in some activities, left my side on many occasions, and I was eventually able to sit in the hall for the last 20 minutes of class!

How long will it take until I can drop him off, kiss him goodbye and go? Don’t know. But I was oh, so proud of my schoolboy today! He took some very big steps.

And so did I.

Update 1/21/13: Well, it’s been two weeks since Sam started preschool. I think that I can say that we are over the hump. Every day I spent less and less time in the classroom with Sam, until I could drop him off at the door and leave.

He still signs “No school!” to me as we drive to school, but once there  he joins in and has a good time. Today was the first day where I said goodbye and he waved to me and turned to join the class with a smile on his face.

Update 2/21/13: Sam is now excited about school. He asks if it is time to go to school and shouts, “Hurray!” if I tell him yes. He has no problems when I drop him off and participates in all the activities throughout the day.

He is always really excited when I come pick him up. He runs out in the hall and gives me a big hug and says/signs “mama!” over and over. Then hugs me some more.

It’s the best part of my day!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday Sam Qiao!

Today we celebrated Sam’s 3rd birthday, but it was more like a first birthday, at least for us.

Sam’s second birthday was spent in China. We celebrated with a small cake and a happy birthday song sang by our travel group. But it was the day before we left for the United States. Most of the day was spent packing, checking travel arrangements and saying our goodbyes. Not a proper birthday at all.

This birthday—the 3rd birthday that felt like a 1st birthday--would be different. There would be balloons, and decorations, presents, and family. The day would be all about Sam.

And I would be there with my camera to capture each and every moment.

Of course.

Waking up a three-year-old and getting some cuddle time with Daddy.IMG_9847

A special treat for the birthday boy: watching Thomas on TV from the comfort of Mom and Dad’s bed.IMG_9851

Sam enjoyed some time playing with his Christmas gifts. Having a birthday so close to Christmas, everything still seems new and fun. IMG_9853

Eating breakfast. Sam requested hot cereal with chocolate sprinkles, pineapple and scrambled eggs. And that’s exactly what he got.IMG_9855

Our dear friend Susanne and her son Max stopped by to give Sam his very first gift.IMG_9859

Sam and Max check out the Alphabet Duplo blocks. Which were very cool, by the way.IMG_9860

After a brief visit with Max and Susanne, we loaded up the car and made the drive to Aunt Karen’s.IMG_9863

Upon our arrival, these two little monkeys find the candy dish within minutes.IMG_9864

The day was spent fooling around with cousin Matt…IMG_9866

…getting cuddles from Grandmom…IMG_9869

….and playing Wii with cousin Allison.IMG_9871

Lots of fresh snow outside called for some serious winter gear. For some reason kids think going out in this is fun!IMG_9873

Tony was elected to accompany the crew outdoors while I took pictures from the back deck. And got snowballs launched at me.IMG_9874

After coming inside and warming up, the birthday boy was ready for dinner. We had all of his Chinese favorites. Although Sam has never met a food he didn’t like, Chinese is still what he prefers. Well, that and chocolate.IMG_9875

Digging in. Yum!IMG_9876

Sam’s cake.IMG_9882

Table decorated for the birthday celebration.IMG_9888

And just a few gifts for a very special boy.IMG_9894

Sam has attended enough parties to know what this part is all about. He is just overjoyed that this time HE gets to be the guest of honor.IMG_9898

Getting ready to blow out the candle.IMG_9902

Which he did with his nose. We are still working getting airflow through the lips. Next year he’ll have it for sure!IMG_9903

Getting his first take of his birthday cake.IMG_9908

Molly is excited to join in on this part.IMG_9911

Sam was eager to devour his entire piece of cake. This boy has a giant sweet tooth!IMG_9915

Family photo. Love this!IMG_9920

Having a ‘see food’ moment with Mom.IMG_9923

I’m guessing that Sam approves.IMG_9924

Getting his hands washed by Aunt Karen so he can move on to the next part of the party…IMG_9929

…opening presents!IMG_9931IMG_9934IMG_9942IMG_9944IMG_9947IMG_9952IMG_9953IMG_9957

Before leaving for home, the cousins give Molly and Sam a bubble bath. IMG_9958

Squeaky clean birthday boy.IMG_9960

Unfortunately, all good things must come to and end. But not before a goodbye squeeze from Uncle

Happy 3rd Birthday Sam!  You bring joy to everyone you meet, and brighten the world with your smile. We are forever grateful that you were chosen to be our son. We love you so very much and cannot wait to spend a lifetime of birthdays with you.