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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

October

October began with An attending her friend Mollie's 3rd birthday party. An was invited to a birthday party shortly after coming home, but I don't think she really understood what was going on. For Mollie's birthday, however, it all came together and started what has become a near daily ritual. "Momma (or Bo), when An's Happy Birthday to You?" It's in May honey, we tell her. For a while, May was good enough. Then I think she learned the months in school and realized just how far away May was. Now she tells everyone who will listen that An's birthday is May 7th and she will be FIVE. She even tells you whose birthdays are happening before her birthday and is excited that the list is getting shorter.

Mollie's party was at a gymnastics place and An had a great time swinging on the ropes and jumping (or being thrown) into the foam pit. Seeing her swing on the rope brought back memories of one of the pictures we received while waiting for her...one of those that cemented in our minds that this was a tough, make your own fun kind of girl:
Hanging out in Vietnam

Hanging out in the US

Also in early October, we had to figure out how to explain Halloween to An. Hmm, you get dressed up, knock on people's doors and get candy! Thankfully at four, she really wasn't interested in the why - the promise of candy was good enough for her. However, choosing a costume was a chore. So many options: Spiderman, a Jedi Knight, Yoda, a tiger, a ride-on horse. Notice that there is not one "girly" option in there. My efforts to get her into a princess costume or anything remotely feminine were met with a resounding no! It was at this time that she started doing Yoda impersonations. She has his walk down and it is hysterical to watch.

Mid month, we went to a pumpkin farm and corn maze. She did a great job of picking out pumpkins, but her moment in the sun came when she got to ride the pony:


This girl loves horses...actually, she loves the concept of riding on things. Every time a new animal (or ficticious animal) is introduced, the first thing she says is "An going to ride ___ (insert dragon, reindeer, etc.)"

I wish I could upload a video (my program for compressing video's does not like Windows 7 so Blogger won't let me) because one evening, An treated us to what I must believe to be a Vietnamese children's song. After getting ready for bed, she came out of the bathroom and started singing loudly and dancing. She started by patting her head, then her shoulders, then her arms and on down. Words cannot describe how funny it was. The part where she sticks her bottom out and smacks it will be a source of great embarrassment in the future. I am so glad we captured it on video - both for the embarrassment factor and because it is close to the last Vietnamese she has spoken.

Towards the end of the month, I arranged a meeting with some local Vietnamese college students - they had been in the country for about the same amount of time as An and were excited to talk with her. It was very obvious that she understood everything they said to her - they would ask her a question in Vietnamese and she would respond appropriately in English. But there was no way we could get her to speak Vietnamese. We tried bribing her with candy, the promise of playing with a cell phone, but she just wouldn't do it. I am still saddened by this...it's one more loss that she has endured.

Finally...Halloween. I suppose you are wondering what she finally choose? We started with a tiger costume, but it wasn't big enough. Then we found an elephant, but that wouldn't do. Sooo...after searching long and hard (and not being able to find a Spiderman costume - but perhaps I didn't try too hard on that one) An settled on the ride on horse costume. Dad went as a doctor and me...well, I'll take any opportunity to wear leggings, a big, belted shirt, electric blue eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara! After all, I spent formative years in eastern Idaho and if you've seen the girls in Napolean Dynamite - their big hair was nothing compared to ours!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

September

Let's start with the last two weeks of August because it sets the stage for September. After returning from Yellowstone, An and I spent a good deal of time "practicing" how she would go to school. First we scheduled a visit and got to spend some one-on-one time with a few of the teachers and explore her classroom. Then, many mornings, after getting ready for the day,we would walk to her school and go out on the playground or just spend a few minutes in the empty classroom looking around. Some days we spent 15 minutes there, other days an hour. On the last day before the official start of school, An was tempted by her teacher to go outside and have an ice cream sandwich with the other kids. I boldly told her that I was going to go to the store and I'd be back in 10 minutes. I walked out of her sight and watched her walk hand in hand down the hall with her teacher. I waited the 10 minutes and went out to the playground to find that she had finished her ice cream and was playing with a dump truck in the sand. She was happy to see me and after playing for a few more minutes we headed home. Her teacher said there were no tears or signs of distress.

Then, on September 1, our beautiful An started school! I dropped her off at 8am - her teacher meeting us in the hall to reassure her. She showed us where to place An's lunch, her placemat and napkin and then led An to the art room to play for about 20 minutes before class started. At 12:30 my mother-in-law and I met at the school door and went in together. In addition to practicing going to school, we had practiced taking a nap and playing at BaBa and Ba Noi's for a few afternoons. We greeted An (or, I should say she greeted us with a smile) and we went to BaBa and Ba Noi's house where I told her that I needed to "di lam" (go back to work) and it was time for her to "go nap".

She loves school - and has not shed one tear about it. Some mornings, she will grab my legs or my hand as I am leaving and say "no, no momma!" but when I turn her face up to mine she has an enormous smile on it and I know she is playing me. She bursts into laughter and waits for one of the teachers to lead her to an activity. Most days, though, she wants to hide behind me as we enter the classroom so that she can surprise her teachers. It's a cute game that everyone plays with her. It may not be for every family but we are sold on Montessori school. The gentleness and respect that everyone shows for each other (teachers for children, children for other children and children for teachers) creates an environment that An is just thriving in.

In mid-September, we had the opportunity to join the Idaho Families with Children from Asia group for Tet Trung Thu. An and our neighbor Mollie, also adopted from Vietnam, spent the morning making their lanterns for the parade. In addition to wonderful food and people, there was also a Tai Chi lesson that An really enjoyed.



Can't say the same about the climbing wall. But this is an anomly because An spent most of the summer climbing to the the top of the climbing wall in our neighborhood park so she could sit with one leg hanging on each side...


We finished off the month with a few trips to the cabin and a visit with our wonderful friends from North-Central Idaho. Alec and An had a great time together and didn't really want to part when it was time to head home.

One final picture since it is one of my all time favorites. And in case you were wondering, its a rare moment when the girl isn't smiling.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Honesty

Today, Brian related that on the ride home from school, An told him that "momma going to be mad at An". She said "momma told An to eat all her lunchmeat before eating cookies and An ate her cookies but not all her lunchmeat." Are four year olds typically this honest? To prepare for her homecoming, I first read about the developmental stages of a two year old. Then I read about the developmental stages of a three year old. Finally, I got to stop after reading about four year olds because it turned out that we were actually going to meet our girl before she became a teenager. But its now all jumbled up in my mind - I can honestly say I didn't expect that much honesty from her!

I did tell her during dinner that I heard that she didn't eat all her lunchmeat before eating her cookies (with a smile on my face because I knew that she ate 2/3 of her lunchmeat, a bag of cherries, a load of green beans, a graham cracker and drank her chocolate milk before she ate the 3 Nilla Wafers). She replied quickly "I'm sorry momma, tomorrow I eat all my lunchmeat!". We just laughed and I told her that I was proud of her for telling the truth.

On another note, I have, honestly, been terrible about keeping up on the blog. My friend Shelby is the latest to remind me of it. Since I need to capture a "report" for each month since An has been home for her "baby" book, I am going to post for September, October, November and December in the next few days. Honestly...I'm going to!

I do have to say, in my defense, that it has been far more fun to play with An every day than post about her...

As a teaser for the December post, here's a preview of what we've been up to.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

July & August with An

So it's been a little more than a week but I finally got the pictures downloaded from our trip. To make this easy on me, I'm adding them as a slideshow - just click on the photo below. An had a wonderful vacation - her only complaint was that we couldn't produce a live moose for her. For the 3 days before coming home...and just about daily since we got home, she gets out her animal identification card and says "mom - MOOSE". I had to tell her that it was very unlikely that we'd see a moose in Boise. Brian wanted to show her an elk and tell her it was a moose but I said absolutely not!

An's July & August 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Falling in Love

*I meant to post this before our vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP last week but it just didn't happen. So now the blogosphere may actually get two posts in the span of a week - please, no heart attacks.*

I had two years to fall in love with An - from the time we got her referral until the day we met her. And it was easy to do - the pictures, reports and videos we received while waiting were filled with her personality. Happy, confident, full of life. Those were the characteristics we anticipated. It is a rare moment when An doesn't have a huge smile on her face. And her giggle is quite contagious. Her ability to jump right in with inquisitiveness and a can-do attitude has amazed us. She is beautiful inside and out.

On the other hand, An had a foster mom that she loved very much. She made it very clear during the first two weeks together in Vietnam that she was not in love with me. Despite her best efforts though, I think it may be happening.

How do I know that she is falling in love with me?

The way she melts into my body when I carry her downstairs in the morning. The first month and a half, I carried her exactly the same way but she was cautious to keep a little space between us.

She now comes looking for me when she discovers something new and leads me by the hand to whatever it is (this happens even if Brian is around).

She occassionaly wants to sit on my lap while she's eating and asks me to feed her.

She has become an incredible snuggle bug in the evenings before going to sleep. The first month & a half she would just happily lay down in her toddler bed, tolerate a kiss from us and go to sleep. Now she'll ask to lay between us and snuggle for a few minutes before going back to her toddler bed.

And finally, there have been a few improptu kisses!

This is only the beginning of the journey...we continue to take it one step at a time. However, we've come a long way - from the days of a raised fist if I even looked at her to the start of this new love, I can definitely say that it was worth the wait.