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!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

6 months already?!

Can you believe that this past Wednesday, November 7, was the six-month anniversary of the day we met TongJie?  In some ways, it seems that these past six months have flown by, but on the other hand, it seems like we've known TongJie for a lot longer than just six months.  Just for fun, I dressed TongJie in his little yellow jacket the other day from his orphanage that he was wearing when we first met him.  It fits him perfectly now.  Since the jacket is so special, I don't like to have him wear it very often, but we were going out to do some errands that didn't involve eating or anything messy, and it looked bright and cheery for a rainy day, so he happily wore it on our little outing.  Here he is in his jacket now, compared to a couple of pictures of him wearing it in China.  He's grown a lot in the past six months!

On the subject of growing into clothes, we've had a pair of striped overalls that are hand-me-downs from my sister's kiddos.  I remember her telling me on the phone a few months ago that those particular overalls were worn a lot by her older son, but with her younger son they missed the opportunity of him wearing the overalls much because they seemed so big on him and then all of a sudden he had already outgrown them.  And they really do look big when you just hold them up, but after I told my mom a few weeks ago that the overalls are still too big for TongJie, I decided to try them on him again, and lo and behold - they fit!  They fit good enough for me, anyway.  

TongJie has been taking a lot more interest in books lately.  He loves the big ones with the cardboard pages, and he oftentimes goes and gets one and finds a place to sit and look at it.

We had TongJie's post-op appointment at Seattle Children's Hospital on Monday, and Dr. Hopper looked in his mouth and said everything looks fine and he doesn't have any more restrictions as far as what foods he can eat or what he can do.  That's great news!  On the same day, we also stopped by the Wacap office to say hi to Linda, our social worker who was with us for the process of submitting our dossier to China, waiting to be matched, getting matched with TongJie, and waiting to travel to China.  She's great, and she hadn't got to meet TongJie yet, so since we were in the area we stopped by to see her.  A few other Wacap staff members also enjoyed meeting TongJie.  They said they love it when families come by to see them after they're home with their children.  At the same time, we also met with Zia, our social worker for our homestudy (back toward the beginning of our adoption process) and also for our post-placement reports.  We had our post-placement meeting #2 with Zia there at the Wacap office, and it was an all-around good meeting.  We really like Zia too, as I've mentioned before.  So, as you may have gathered, Monday was a long day for TongJie!  We were worried that it might be a rough day for him, especially with having to go back to Children's, but he did fine.  For our post-placement meeting with Zia, we needed some photographs of TongJie.  Since it's rare that we get a photo of all three of us together, my parents took some photos when they were over at our house helping us rake leaves last weekend.  We used the first one below, as well as various other pictures of TongJie alone or with one of us, that we've taken during the past few months.

We had fun raking leaves!  Actually, my parents did pretty much all of the work, since Jeff was gone for part of the time, and I was getting TongJie up from his nap for part of the time.  However, if you looked at our yard now, you wouldn't be able to tell that all the leaves had been raked recently, because it's covered with leaves again.  I guess it's time for more raking!  Here's a picture of our yard yesterday:

The weather is getting colder, but TongJie still likes to go outside, so we've still been out walking a lot.

TongJie with our cat, Caspian, in one of Caspian's friendlier moods last week before church:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Getting back to normal

The past couple of days have gone much smoother, and it seems like TongJie is getting back to his old self a little more each day.  It's nice to have our silly little boy back!  Like we were hoping, not having the arm restraints anymore seems to have helped a ton - now TongJie is able to sleep a lot better, and me and Jeff are too!  And the better sleep seems to be helping everything.  TongJie has played by himself several times in the past two days without being upset that I'm not holding him.  

Since today was November 1, I tried to take another picture of TongJie standing at his growth chart like I've been trying to do the last couple of months.  Getting him to stand still in a certain place is a lot more difficult than it sounds, and he always has a hard time standing right up against the wall, so of course the pictures didn't turn out very good.  You get the idea, though.  He's definitely growing.

He even got a book and read by himself today, something that he hasn't done since before his surgery.

The weather was beautiful today, and after Jeff got home we all went for a walk.  We ended up walking to Coffee Cabin and sat outside.  We couldn't go inside anyway since we had Albert with us, but it was nice to sit outside in the nice weather, and TongJie likes to play on the toy helicopter and in the little house.  Jeff squeezed into the passenger seat on the helicopter and TongJie did the steering while Jeff spun the propeller.

After we got back, TongJie "helped" me make some biscuits for dinner.  I gave him his own little piece of dough to pat and roll out, but it got eaten long before I took the picture!

TongJie has been saying a couple of words now, and his favorite is "no."  He can also say "hi," "eye," and "no" for nose.  Anyway, we were trying to teach him to say "no" to Albert when Albert gets in his face and licks him, and it was hilarious.  TongJie shook his little finger (something he learned from watching a video of 5 Little Monkeys when he was recovering from surgery) at Albert and said "no no no no no no!"  Jeff recorded it on his Flip Cam, and then TongJie wanted to watch the video of himself over and over again.  So I took a video of him watching the video of himself.  There are a lot of "no's," some from TongJie and some from TongJie in the video that he's watching.  Poor Albert!  You can see him in the background, slinking over to wait at the back door.

One of the highlights of the past couple of days was that yesterday was Halloween.  TongJie, of course, didn't know what was going on, but Jeff and I had fun with all three of us wearing our matching costumes for the Awana "fear not" party at the church last night!  TongJie had fun, too, because there were fun games, some of which involved balls, and he got to carry around a little bag and pick out prizes to put in it.  I don't think he had a clue that many of the things that he put in his bag were pieces of candy, but there were also other things like a whistle, a magnifying glass, and bouncy balls.  The candy had mysteriously disappeared by this morning when he got out his bag to play with the toys . . . hmm, I wonder where it could have gone?

Earlier in the day, TongJie wore his costume to the Wednesday morning play group that we attend.  There were only two other kids there, and they were both dressed in costumes as well - an astronaut and a butterfly.  TongJie always enjoys playing in the kitchen area with the pretend food, and yesterday he also spent time vacuuming, driving cars, and giving me change from the cash register.

After the play group, we went to visit Jeff at school for lunch.  His district is having parent-teacher conferences this week and they don't have school Wednesday through Friday.  Jeff has been enjoying having some extra time to work in his classroom, as well as some conferences with parents.  TongJie enjoyed playing the bells in Daddy's classroom.

We're so glad that TongJie is feeling better!