Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

TongJie has now experienced his first Christmas, and we've had a good time with extended family and also with just our own little family of three (well, four counting Albert).  Here's a photo we took at home with Jeff's photo booth app on his iPad:

And here's a photo from church in front of the big Christmas tree:

TongJie likes to play the drums at church just like Daddy, so after the service is over and people have cleared out, we usually let him go up and play the electric kit for a few minutes (with the power turned off).  TongJie has spent a lot of time around the music aspects of the church services because he and I usually accompany Jeff to his Thursday evening music rehearsals at the church.  During the rehearsals, TongJie sometimes plays with his cars and other small toys, but often just sits and watches the musicians in rapt attention.  He knows that he's not allowed to walk up onto the stage when they're practicing, but that after the rehearsal is over he can go up to see Daddy.  

Before the Christmas Eve service, we went to Abby's pizza with my parents.  TongJie doesn't care much for pizza, which is too bad because it's my favorite food, but he had a great time using a spoon to drink water out of my cup.

At the end of the Christmas Eve service, everyone lit candles and sang Silent Night, which has always been one of my favorite parts of that service.

On Christmas morning, we opened our stockings and spent a leisurely morning at home.  We also got to Skype with my sister and her family for a bit, which was a lot of fun.  TongJie got some cars and a wind-up toy in his stocking, but he seemed to enjoy my "new" Goodwill spatula from Jeff the most!

Albert got a new chew toy:

After TongJie's Christmas nap, we spent the evening at Jeff's parents' house and TongJie got to play with his cousins and with Grandma and Grandpa's two chihuahuas.  The next day, we spent the day at my parents' house and had our traditional Christmas stir-fry for dinner.  TongJie may not be fond of pizza, but he loves Asian food, especially rice, so he was a happy camper with rice on his plate!  

This morning, TongJie had a rough time, probably trying to recover from all the excitement of the past couple of days, but after his nap he was much more himself again.  We had our own little Christmas celebration at home this evening, and TongJie opened his gift from me and Jeff along with a couple other gifts from neighbors and friends from church.  Jeff and I gave him a doctor's kit, complete with a lab coat that I sewed.  Since TongJie has to go to Seattle Children's Hospital so much because of his cleft palate, we're hoping that having his own doctor's kit to pretend with at home will make it less intimidating when he has to get examined for real.  I think he likes the stethoscope the best so far!

Apparently Dr. TongJie also makes house calls!

Our thoughtful friends the Stromings gave TongJie a fun little train set that plays music.  He has his own ideas about how it should be played with, and doesn't like to have the other cars connected to the engine.  Also, he doesn't like to just sit and watch it go around the track so he helps it along.  I took a short video of him playing with it this evening.  He signs "train" and "music," but if you don't know the signs for them it might be a little hard to catch.  Train is signed by moving the first two fingers back and forth on top of the first two fingers on the other hand, but TongJie does it with one finger.  Music is waving one hand in front of your body as if directing a choir.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow, word approximation, and wooden beads

I figured it was time for another blog post, since me and TongJie are both stuck inside this morning feeling a little bit "under the weather."  Jeff still has school until tomorrow before he's on Christmas break, so we're hoping we're feeling better by then and really hoping that Jeff doesn't get sick right at the beginning of vacation.  We got to see Jeff's school band and choir concert on Tuesday evening, and it was a great concert.  All the kids did really well, and TongJie enjoyed listening to the music and clapping after each song.  He was even tapping his little foot during some of the songs the bands played.  I wish I would have brought my camera to get some pictures of the concert, but of course I didn't.

We got some snow here at our house over the past few days, so that has been pretty exciting!  On Sunday, when it first began snowing, we went for a little evening walk in the dark.  TongJie had fun holding the flashlight.

The next day, we got to spend more time in the snow.  We made a snowman and TongJie had fun feeding Grandma's chickens.  I don't think Albert had quite as much fun in the snow!  

TongJie learned how to say "snow" in sign language, and just about every time he looks out a window now (which is a lot!), he signs snow and says "nooooooo" (for snow).

TongJie is vocally approximating words a lot now, which is great, and one step closer to speaking.  He still uses his signs all the time (he's up to about 118 words in his signing vocabulary), but now the signs are accompanied by his little voice trying to say the word.  Some of his words are really close, but some of them are hard to tell.  He can make all of the vowel sounds, but the only consonant sounds he can make are H, L, M, N, W, and Y.  A back of the throat, gurgly "h" sound gets substituted for many of the consonants.  Lately, he's been pointing to himself and proudly exclaiming "hhyou!" when he sees a picture of himself.  We always point to him and say "that's you!," so it makes sense that he points to himself and thinks that he's "you."

This morning, we've been playing with large wooden beads.  TongJie is keeping himself occupied by moving the beads from the jar to the canister, then from the canister to the jar, over and over and over.  It's nice that he usually has a fairly long attention span for things like that.

I've sewed one more article of clothing for TongJie recently - a pair of pants that I've been wanting to try for awhile.  I used a yard-sale shirt that I purchased because of the cool pockets that I thought would make good back pockets on a pair of pants.  It's so nice to be able to use existing details like pockets, hems, buttons, etc. - I would never be able to get the pockets to look like that if I had to cut and sew them from scratch.  So the the pants turned out pretty good, but since they're are a tight woven fabric with no stretch, we found out that they don't fit very well over a cloth diaper.  He'll just have to wear them when he's wearing a disposable diaper and that's fine.  TongJie was not very willing to pose for pictures in his new pants, but I was able to sneak in a couple anyway.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mid-December already

Hi everybody!  It's been awhile since I've posted anything on the blog, mostly because I haven't been taking many pictures lately.  But, it's well into the month of December already, and me and Jeff are kind of excited for TongJie's first Christmas with us.  TongJie has no clue what's going on with all the lights and trees and decorations that we see everywhere now.  It's hard to tell what he thinks of it all.

We're getting TongJie a doctor kit for Christmas so he can pretend to be a doctor.  He has to go to Children's Hospital a lot because of his cleft palate, and he's not very fond of the stethoscope or (especially!) the blood pressure cuff.  Actually he just doesn't like to be there in general.  We are hoping that having his own doctor's kit to pretend with will make it less scary when we go there for real.  To go along with the doctor's instruments, I made him a lab coat so he can look legit.  Actually, it's not quite done - I still need to sew on the lower pockets and buttons.  I used a toddler pajama pattern that I picked up at the craft store on one of their $1 pattern sales and lengthened it and added a couple extra pockets.  With the white fabric, it looks like a pretty convincing lab coat.

The more I sew, the more I want to venture out and try new things, so I really wanted to try making a jacket using the same pajama pattern, but altering it so it would have a real lining.  With the fabric store having a 60% off sale on their flannel, I couldn't resist buying some flannel with a cute city pattern (with cars - TongJie's favorite!) for the lining, and then I used some denim that I've had leftover from another project from a few years ago.  I love that you don't need much fabric for sewing clothing for somebody TongJie's size!  I finished up the jacket this morning and I'm pretty happy with it.  Of course, now I have new ideas and I'm already planning how I could do the next project.  TongJie seems to like his new jacket, even though it's kind of big still.  He was there when we got the fabric, and he watched me working on it, so when he sees the finished jacket he signs "mama," I guess to show that he knows that I'm the one who made it.  By the way, the buttons are different colors because I didn't want to buy buttons, so I just used the non-matching ones that we had on hand.  Someday I might replace them with four matching ones, but as a kids' coat I think it looks cute with the buttons that way.

Here are some photos of TongJie modeling his new jacket:

Speaking of sewing projects, I also finished up a baby quilt that I've been slowly working on since July!  It's for our dear friends Abbey and Ernie who are expecting a little boy soon.  I laid it out on the table to take some pictures, and TongJie immediately got all excited and brought some of his cars over to drive on the quilt.

I haven't made a quilt for TongJie yet, but I want to when he gets a little older and can help me pick out some aspects of it like the design, fabric, or color scheme.

What else have we been up to lately?  Well, we went back to Children's - again! - for a check-up for TongJie's ear tubes and everything looked pretty good, except for the excessive amounts of wax that the doctor had to clean out.  TongJie did NOT like that!  We got a prescription for some ear drops that are supposed to help, but I think the earwax is going to be an ongoing problem for him.  We've learned that it's fairly common for Asians to have lots of earwax.

Here are a couple of pictures from the past few weeks:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A lot to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  Here are some of the things we've been up to lately:

Thursday morning, I participated in the "Turkey on the Run" 5k at a local park.  The weather was beautiful and it was lots of fun!  I didn't take TongJie in the stroller this time, so he got to hang out with Daddy as they waited for me to finish.

We went to Jeff's parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner.  TongJie had a fun time with Grandma and Grandpa and their two chihuahuas.

Grandma and Grandpa's Mr. Potato Head was a big hit, and TongJie especially liked wearing Mr. Potato Head's glasses:

He looked at his hand as if it looked different with the glasses on:

One of the dogs even tried on some glasses:

TongJie also enjoyed playing with the rocking duck at Grandma and Grandpa's

On Friday, we spent time with my family, including my parents, my grandma, and aunts and uncles.  I forgot to bring my camera though.

After TongJie was in bed on Friday evening, Jeff and I set up our Christmas tree and some decorations.  It was fun for TongJie to see the Christmas tree yesterday morning when he got up.  There are several ornaments down low on the tree that are for him to play with, so he's been carrying around a little teddy bear ornament that my grandparents gave to me when I was three years old.

And I finally got around to finishing our Christmas stockings the other day:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November activities, blowing, and sign language

We're having a good month of November so far.  We're thankful for our nice warm house as it's cold and rainy outside, but it's also fun to bundle up and go out for walks.  TongJie got to experience his first snow on Monday, when we got a little snow overnight and had about 1/2" or so in the morning.  It was hard to tell what he thought of it, but he didn't seem to mind being in it.  It didn't last long, as it warmed up later in the day and the snow quickly melted, but I'm sure we'll get more snow this winter so he'll get plenty more opportunities to check it out.

Also on Monday, we went to the Java Station, which is one of our favorite coffee places, because Jeff didn't have school in observance of Veterans' Day.  TongJie likes that they have fun toys and books there.

TongJie's speech therapist has been working with him on blowing.  He's learning to develop the muscles in his mouth to form his lips into an "o" shape, which will help him with forming certain sounds and with learning to suck.  She brought one of those party favor blowers for him this week, and after I demonstrated it for him and he tried it a few times, he was able to make it work.  He was SO proud of himself, and kept walking around the house blowing on it after she left.  It will be really neat when he's finally able to suck through a straw one of these days.  In the video, he demonstrates his blowing abilities as he sits on his changing table.

On the subject of TongJie's speech therapy and communication, his sign language vocabulary is now up to 85 words!  We keep track of the words on our computer, and we've been counting words that he uses on his own with no modeling directly before.  Part of the way into our list (middle of August), we became more consistent with keeping track of the dates that he learned each new word.  It's interesting how he sometimes goes for several days with no new words, and then one day he'll sign two or three new words all in the same day.  Me and Jeff have to keep learning new signs so we can keep teaching them to him.  It's been lots of fun.  Here are the 85 signs he knows so far:

1.       More (5/26/12)
2.       All done
3.       Bye / hi
4.       Shoes (6/20/12)
5.       Cat (6/24/12)
6.       Mama (6/26/12)
7.       Eat
8.       Dog
9.       Milk
10.   Daddy
11.   Please
12.   Diaper
13.   Fan
14.   Help
15.   Water
16.   Brush teeth
17.   Pain/hurt
18.   Cheese
19.   Down
20.   Hear
21.   Clean up
22.   Banana (8/14/12)
23.   On (light) (8/19/12)
24.   Cold (8/20/12)
25.   Car (8/21/12)
26.   Ball (8/21/12)
27.   Outside (8/21/12)
28.   Socks (8/24/12)
29.   Off (light) (8/25/12)
30.   Fish (8/26/12)
31.   Hat (8/27/12)
32.   Up (8/27/12)
33.   Ice (8/29/12)
34.   Gentle (8/30/12)
35.   Meat (8/30/12)
36.   Cracker (8/30/12)
37.   Fruit (8/31/12)
38.   Bird (9/6/12)
39.   Bag (9/9/12)
40.   Wheel (9/10/12)
41.   Swing (9/12/12)
42.   Wait (9/14/12)
43.   Where (9/16/12)
44.   Bug (9/18/12)
45.   Hot (9/19/12)
46.   Chicken (9/22/12)
47.   Change (9/23/12)
48.   Dirty (9/26/12)
49.   Exercise (9/27/12)
50.   Cookie (9/30/12)
51.   Nose (10/4/12)
52.   Poop (10/5/12)
53.   Horse (10/5/12)
54.   Book (10/6/12)
55.   Yogurt (10/6/12)
56.   Go (10/6/12)
57.   Stop (10/7/12)
58.   Eye (10/14/12)
59.   Leaf (10/21/12)
60.   Fall down (10/22/12)
61.   Potato (10/22/12)
62.   Cow (10/23/12)
63.   Drink (10/24/12)
64.   Blocks (10/25/12)
65.   Thank you (10/26/12)
66.   Drum (10/26/12)
67.   Orange (10/31/12)
68.   Blanket (11/1/12)
69.   Table (11/2/12)
70.   Off (take something off) (11/2/12)
71.   Music (11/3/12)
72.   Ear (11/4/12)
73.   Nut (11/4/12)
74.   Key (11/4/12)
75.   Open (11/6/12)
76.   Cereal / oatmeal / mush (11/7/12)
77.   Bike (11/7/12)
78.   Train (11/9/12)
79.   Yellow (11/10/12)
80.   Baby (11/10/12)
81.   Jump (11/11/12)
82.   Mouse (11/12/12)
83.   Bear (11/13/12)
84.   Shirt (11/14/12)
85.   Red (11/14/12)

Here is a picture of him signing "banana" while he happily eats his breakfast, and another one of him signing "bike" on his tricycle:

What else have we been up to lately?  Let's see . . . Albert got a haircut:

TongJie has been getting some use out of his fun dog and cat costumes from our friends Kevin and Katie.  Here he's wearing the cat costume:

Lots more reading:

And going for walks, of course:

And folding laundry one evening, I put a diaper cover over the top of TongJie's pants.  That got a lot of laughs!