Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Not sure what is going on....

When I woke up this morning I came out to the kitchen and promptly made 2 kids mad at me.  One was mad because I told him he couldn't use the computer to start his schoolwork immediately, and one was mad because she had already cleaned up the kitchen and I was getting things out for my breakfast.  "I already cleaned it up 3 times!" she admonished me.

Then I found a sweet notecard that Miles had written to Colsen, telling him he was sorry to tell him that Daddy had to leave for work before Cole got up, and that he was also very sorry for sleeping in Colsen's bed last night but that he would "make it up to" him today.

Had the earth tilted on its axis overnight??

The weirdness continued all day...

At one point in the afternoon:

  • Jinna was not only making a really good drawing with colored pencils, but she also voluntarily cleaned up all 57 of the pencils!
  • Rayna was doing an exercise video without being told to
  • Miles was doing his schoolwork on the computer -- after he, again, begged to
  • Colsen was.... well, doing what he's always doing... yo-yoing.

I also experienced: 2 kids helping another one with her schoolwork, a boy telling me how much he loved me for no reason at all, another one telling me I'm a great mom, kids wanting to play games with each other, a little girl wanting to hold my hand when normally she doesn't....

And 3 of the kids have been DYING to do ALL of their schoolwork all day.  (Thank you, Monarch curriculum.)

Then Strider came home from his beach trip, and even though he was up until almost 4 am last night, he has been pleasant all evening!

WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND HERE?  I think I woke up in some kind of alternate universe.
I'm scared to go back to sleep tonight...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

6 months a Frank

A couple days ago I found Jinna Rai looking at this poster, which she had found stashed behind my dresser, kept with a few other signs that various family members made for the night they met us at the airport 6 months ago.

She could pick out the letters and realized her name was on the sign.  I told her what it said and she wanted to know who made it.  When she heard it was her cousins, she said, "Niiiice!"  and "Sweet!"  She wanted to look at it and play with it off and on all day.

Then the next day I found her with the quilt Mom made with all of the friends' and family members' names on it.  I pointed out to her the squares with names that she would recognize and told her, "All these people -- ALL these people- - have loved you, Jinna Rai!"   I think she understood... mind-boggling as it must be.

She is starting to understand more about what it means to be loved. I know it will be a lifelong lesson for her -- as it is for us all -- but I love that she is starting to get it!

At this point her English is quite good. She understands pretty much everything and can communicate in good sentences.  Some of her enunciation is still a little rough, but we generally get what she says.

A couple days ago she was telling me she wanted something, but I was in the other room so couldn't quite understand.  "You want ICE?" I asked, knowing that she doesn't even like ice.

"No," she said.  She paused for a second, and then described it to me by saying, "E for eggs.  I want EGGS."  Pretty clever girl!

She is on the verge of reading basic words, having mastered the letter sounds for the most part.  This week she's been a little confused about why "China" starts with "C," so I've been introducing the "CH" blend out of necessity.

Speaking of China, she is looking forward to going back someday.  She says she wants to go back to see the guide that she met the same day she met us, Flora.  I'm not sure why Flora holds such a special place in her heart, but she does.

A couple nights ago as I was tucking her into bed, she started telling me that in a hundred days, when she turns 17 and is very big, she is going to back to China without Pete and me.  ("No Mommy, no Daddy, by myself.")

"Will you come back?" I asked.

"Yes, in a hundred days," she said.

She definitely has a strong will in her, but that is nothing strange in this house.  She likes to do things that are against the rules... writing on furniture, taking my stuff, refusing to clean up, etc, but can be quick to repent -- if it's her idea.  Sometimes we have conversations like this,

Me:  WHO wrote on this wall??
Jinna, sometimes sheepish, sometimes brazen:  Me!
Me:  Jinna!  You are not supposed to do that!
Jinna:  I'm sorry!!

And then she's so cute that her "punishment" is rather weak.

But other times we have conversations like this:

Me:  Jinna, you need to apologize for ruining my envelope.  Say you're sorry.
Jinna:  ----
Me:  Jinna??  Tell me you're sorry.
Jinna:  -----

She just stares at me with a stoic face. The discipline cycle goes on a little longer on those days.

 She loves her siblings, and her siblings love her.  Strider loves to amuse her, Rayna loves to take care of her, Colsen loves to protect her, and Miles loves to partner with her in all kinds of crazy antics.  And she delights in it all.

There are a few hard moments here and there... like when we tell her to do something and her immediate response is, "WHY?"  We put up with that for a couple weeks, and then told her she had to stop asking why.  Now whenever one of us uses that word in legitimate contexts, we hear her pipe up, "Don't say WHY!"

Her other classic response to anything we say to her right now is, "REALLY?"  Yes, really, Jinna Rai.

Really, Jinna, we are so glad you are a part of our family!  It's hard to believe it's only been half a year;  you've belonged here forever.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Resurrection Day

Jinna's first Easter!
Most years I am all about creating or re-creating various traditions that we have for the holidays, and this year I was not the only one interested in that!  On Thursday, the day before Good Friday, Miles announced he was going to make me a special surprise,  An hour later, he brought me this!

 We had much to celebrate this year!  And so we did.

(One side note, speaking of traditions:  As I found myself facing down this bin of recycled eggs, as I do every year...

...I found myself thinking how thankful I am for the guy who finally though to start including this little extra bit of plastic to keep the egg halves together.  That guy is my hero!)

Anyway, after church on Sunday, the 9 of us motored our way to my parents' house for the afternoon.  As always, it was a splendid display of food, flowers, and festivities.  Bonus:  Uncle Pete, Aunt Lisa, and the Wigs were there, too!

Dad broke out the water balloons!

It didn't take Jinna long to figure out what to do
with the "weird" balloons with water in them!

Grandpa and Gee-Gee visit

We had another fun visit with Bud and Jane this weekend!  Jinna, in particular, was so excited they were coming.  I wasn't sure if she remembered them, since she only saw them for a day or two when she first arrived in America, jet-lagged and probably very confused.  But she ran right to them, and especially latched onto Grandpa, just like she did the first night in the airport 6 months ago!

Rayna, meanwhile, became Gee-Gee's shadow for the weekend.  When she wore a necklace, Rayna wanted a necklace.  When Gee-Gee wore her slippers, Rayna ran to dig hers out.

 We had fun times playing games and dyeing Easter eggs....

Some of us went up to the park for an Easter Egg Hunt (Jinna's first ever!):

.... while some of us stayed home and worked on our new gardens!

It was a great weekend!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Friends across the years and miles

This week some of our friends from college, Brett and Meredith, and their daughters came to visit because they were in town doing some college visits with their oldest daughter.  How have we gotten this old that it's our children who are the potential college students???

Years ago Alex was one of Strider's first friends....

.... and now they're talking about colleges.

We had a fun evening catching up with their family... and wrapped it up, not with the Bowl Game as in years gone by, but with a similar group game -- that did involve a bowl and pieces of paper.  Close enough.  :)

Memory Masters

For the second year in a row Colsen and Miles worked hard to earn the Memory Master award with our Classical Conversations group!  They memorized 24 history sentences, 24 science facts, 24 English grammar definitions or lists, 13 math facts or laws, all of the multiplication tables up through 15x15, and the squares and cubes, 5 sets of Latin noun endings for the first conjugation, the American Presidents in order, and 160 historical events in order.

After reciting all of the information to both Pete and to me (it takes about an hour to get through it all each time!), they then had to go say it all in front of 2 teachers and the director of our CC group. Only about 10 or 12 kids in the whole group memorized it all!

At the Closing Ceremonies dinner they were recognized... but we didn't get very good pictures.  We're very proud of their hard work!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Another AFD

This year Pete wisely planned to be out of town for April Fool's Day.  And since it was a Saturday, this meant that I was the sole adult around to bear the brunt of the silly exploits of 3 boys, which felt slightly like tiptoeing through a minefield.

As soon as Miles got wind of the fact that the next day would be AFD, he decided to play some early pranks on Strider while he was at work.  He booby-trapped his room, using a birthday card that plays loud music upon being opened so that it would start playing as soon as Strider opened his bedroom door.

Then, while Strider was still sleeping the next morning, the "official" start of AFD, the boys took turns going in and putting shaving cream on his face.  (This had the nice benefit of causing more laundry for Mom -- bonus prank.)

Much of the day involved shaving cream in multiple rooms of the house and toilet paper strung around in various places.  Strider tried to catch up on the pranking by balancing a cup of milk on the top of the refrigerator door, putting saran wrap on the toilet seats, putting oil in the shampoo bottle, etc.  It was really, really, really fun.  And Pete was so sad to miss it all.

I was not completely blameless.... During the night before I pulled my classic "take all of the kids' clothes and hide them" prank.  One boy always wakes up grouchy with low blood sugar, so he was not amused, and the other didn't bother even trying to get dressed for a few hours, so it was a bit of a flop.

BUT my one big win was programming Strider's phone with shortcuts, so every time he texted the word, "Ok," it was transposed into "Aye, aye, O Captain, my captain," and every time he wrote "to," it became "Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious."  I did this kind of thing for about 8 common words... which frustrated him greatly!!!  He finally gave up on texting anyone because he couldn't figure out how to undo the shortcuts so his messages all sounded ridiculous.  Yay!!!!!!

I think I, with a narrow margin, won AFD this year.