Saturday, February 28, 2015

I'm Holding Mary. She's crying and saying, "I'm tired."

I bet she is.

Her little 5 year old brain works so hard -- 
Learning about rules, and numbers, and words, and family.

Yesterday at school she spilled syrup on her uniform dress.
The teacher's assistant and teacher got her another dress, got her cleaned up, and got her sticky clothes in a plastic bag. 

I'm indebted to people who are so kind to me.
To my family.

The list is long.

Why am I crying?

I "feel" for Mary.
Sometimes I think I'm the ONLY person who could ever truly comprehend how incredibly difficult and challenging their lives are the first year or two they are here in America.

I'm sure I'm the only person.
I'm their mother.
I'm with them ALL the time.

Nanny Carol grasps it all pretty well, too.
So does Marlene.

I'm just a witness to it all 24/7.

--The constant barrage of a foreign language - literally wracking their brains 
-- Food that is so different - and foods they'll not have as staples
-- Unfamiliar smells - colognes, soaps, toothpastes, offices, home
-- Strangers galore - who want to know them personally
-- Important people - gone from their lives
-- Daily life - nothing like their norm

I remember crying over Emily - years ago.
How brave she was.
How my heart went out to her.
She left China grieving mightily.
Arrived home.
But then...her life took off - grins ever since.
I always said she was like a butterfly set free.
Em won the top honor of her 'graduating' class last year.
The Principal said Emily had triumphed over every obstacle in language and culture to be recognized as the school's model of excellence.
We were humbled by it all.
Truly it's the Lord's work and wonderful in our eyes.

Same with Molly.
She could have landed anywhere on this planet with almost anybody.
Bad or good.
She came smiling and willing to please...
And then grieved from her innermost soul over the life she chose to walk away from.
One day. The grief was over.
She's never looked back.
The Lord sent her to us.
She's a deep well of wisdom and love.
She can discern justice and forgiveness - and communicate both.
Oh how fortunate we are to have her in our family.
I'm amazed at how God joined us and wove our lives together.

And now - Mary.
She says she's tired.
She's correct.
The past 16 weeks of her existence have sent her into newness of life at warp speed.
Sometimes she cries.
Sometimes I cry with her -
Or for her -
And for so many other little children
Like her 
And like Molly
And like Emily

They've had to be brave
from early on.

I believe that the Lord will use their bravery
And their courage
For His Glory.

From the backseat of the car Mary yelled, 
"Mama - X".

Walking through the store she saw this on a pajama tee shirt, "Mama - S".

I'm happy for her that she sees this well - from a distance.
I'm also thrilled she knows her A, B, C's.

Her Shoulders Went Up in Excitement the Second This $1.00 Walmart Ride Started Up

Her sweet sisters went along for the ride!

This made me think of her time -- our time -- at a little park in Kunming when she rode in a kiddie car -- a token ride sorta like this.

She's come a looong way!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

At Bday Celebration for Sweet Friend - at a Mexican Restaurant

That's the Bday girl in purple.

Tray of homemade tortilla dough in the background

Molly Homeschooling on a Day When I Was Home Due to School Closings (weather)

Molly said LuLu likes sitting on her laptop
"Because it's warm...."

Dumpling is on the suitcase.

Chase is leaning in.

Peanut missed this photo op.

Skipper Dee is in the kennel for a little while - all cozy.

Boogie Woogie - the bird - is in the laundry room.

And all is well in the household.

Her Princess Outfit - and Royal Throne in the Background

See the rabbit house shoes?
The pink ears pop up when she walks.
Consignment store goodies from Melissa and her crew of 7 children.

Mercy me.
She's loving her princess paraphernalia.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hmmmm. Who - pray tell - Put Stickers with Googly Eyes on This Antique Piano?

Me thinks this be the culprit! Aaarrrrgghh.
(Captain Jack Sparrow)

"Just as I thought, Mr. Watson." (Sherlock Holmes)


If you prefer the 1970's version of private investigator-lingo...

"Book him, Dan-O!"
(Hawaii Five O)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This Delicate Little Framed Piece Was in My Grandmother's Home

It's in my bedroom with other family keepsakes -- decor.
I love being surrounded by meaningful treasures associated with family.

Yes. That's a Pink Balloon Amongst Her Bed Toys and Books

She's on the bottom bunk.
See the sturdy slats above her head...screwed into the frame?

** I plan to paint the slats or cover that area with fabric -- get some cool greenery and white string make it whimsical. ***

Thanks Josh and Trista for helping me get the bed reinforced. This couple is sooo darling and helpful. They're fixers, doers, cookie bakers, tree choppers, wood haulers, and both are super brilliant.

I'm not kidding.

He tells the funniest stories about growing up with challenges in school - letters, reading, making sense of print on pages.
He tackled life head on - his brain is like a problem solving machine.
He compensated.
And became so adept at other learning techniques.
I can laugh and cry at the same stories when he tells them.

He IS THE LEGO AFICIONADO if there ever was one.
His parents were killed in a car wreck several years ago.
He continued to overcome.
Loves little children - has a degree in education or something along those lines.
Worked with kids at church.
Excellent with folks who have special needs.

And then along comes Trista.
Sharp as a tack.
A wealth of "how to".
An excellent help mate for Josh.

There are times I think she knows something about everything.

Witty. Witty.
She says at their house, they speak Sarcasm as a 2nd Language.

Cracks me up.

She just volunteers for them to come over and "fix things".
After their long days at work?
And they do not live right around the corner.

Trista is a great glue that holds their family unit together.

I've wanted to give them a shout out for a long time now. They're such encouragers and have helped me so much along the way of Mary's adoption.

I reckon they're sorta behind the scenes angels.
Thanks ya'll for EVERYthing!!!!
Come back over for a visit real soon.
Hugs always.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year -- Year of the Sheep

Cupcakes a mom made for our Cultural School gathering
HOW cute are these?
Tootsie Rolls for the faces.
Candy eyes.


Emily wrote some
Mary tried her hand at Chinese calligraphy, too --
Or tried her fist....look how she's holding the brush? Cute.

Mary got her face painted.

Dumplings were rolled out and cooked

We made a new friend - another Emily - only home about 1 1/2 months.
She treasured having Molly to chat with in Mandarin!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

We were cleaning up last weekend, and Emily kept coming to me bringing these dried up markers.

I lined them up and realized I couldn't just throw them away in one fell swoop.
Crayola markers just reek of fun, childhood experiences.
My girls made memories with these cheerful little art tools.

I don't know.
I had to keep some remembrance of them.

I took a photograph.

I'm not sure if it's the teacher in me
The sappy sentimental mom
My 'inner hoarder' was raising its head.

I compromised.
I chunked the markers but kept the colorful lids.

Now they're being used as counters for Mary to practice her counting and subtraction skills.

Works for me.

Gotta love the egg carton, huh?
The individual compartments help Mary grasp the 'separate-ness' of each number.
Helps her stay organized in her thinking.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Little Bear - See Him Snuggled Between the Doll and Mary

This precious little bear was mailed to China last October. 
He was headed to Long Yuan Ping - our sweet and spirited Mary Grace Yuan.
He arrived safely.

Amazing, huh?

I absolutely am in love with this soft, floppy, cuddly bear with its compelling eyes and furrowed brow.

I've had this bear for several years.
A friend of mine had a mother in law that moved to heaven.
That MIL had a huge Beanie Baby collection.
Mint condition.
Each in its own plastic viewing container. 
But not worth much on any re-sale market --considering what they originally cost.

Well, sweet friend -- Cookie -- and I chatted.
We came up with idea to sell these Beanie Babies at my school to raise money for a no kill animal shelter.

I think they were sold for $5.00 - &10.00 each - depending on the Beanie Baby.
A small percentage went back to Cookie.
She's a huge animal lover, too, but I insisted that she have some compensation for her generous donation.

My students advertised, manned the booth, educated others about spaying and neutering, and sold the BB's.

They made hundreds of dollars to donate. It was a great learning experience.

BUT out of the many, many BB's....adorable ones, funny ones...this one captured my eye and my heart.

He had to come home with me.

I never dreamed in later years he would embark on a mission of love - to be cuddled and cherished by a little girl on the other side of the world.

He would be sent to Kunming, China
To comfort Long Yuan Ping 
During her transition from foster care
Back to the orphanage 
And then 
On her long and confusing journey home.

It was surreal seeing Little Bear in a dingy Civil Affairs office - full of people, foreign languages, and crying children - the morning of November 10th, 2014...

There he was
Sitting in the lap of a little girl who was now to be called my daughter.

I love Little Bear for all he's meant to me and for what he's done for my family - 
The many miles he traveled
To the heart of Long Yuan Ping.

He's sleeping tonight 
Back in his home - our home -
In the bed across the hall.

I think I'll go kiss him goodnight - and sweet Mary - who's nestled up to him - and thank him once again for being my brave Little Bear!
Below is one of my favorite children's story about stuffed animals. Two of them are talking. A wise old Skin Horse who has been loved for decades and a new Velveteen Rabbit -- 

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.' 

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?' 

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” 
― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dot-A-Dot Paint Markers for the "a, a, apple" Sound

I borrowed a set of these Dot-A-Dot "markers" from a 1st grade teacher to see how'd they'd do.

I like them.

Mary enjoyed using the colors to code the different vowel sounds.
Also - it's a good fine motor skill activity.

We only marked 3 of the 5 short vowel sounds.
Each has a different color dot.

I may need to get me some of these things!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Saw an idea similar to this - not exactly like - on a site that tells about activities that focus on fine motor skills.

I way to do math.

The marbles are sitting on golf tees.
Perfect fit! Mary places them on top of the tees and removes them based on the subtraction problem.
The marbles belong to my brothers - played with them decades ago.
I'm just The Keeper of Sentimental Family Treasures from Childhood (a.k.a. junk nobody else wants).

That's one of those Thinking Triangle games where you try to jump tees and have 0,1, or 2 left at the end of your jumping session.

You know.
Cracker Barrell 101.

Very concrete learning activity.
Last night we used dice (die = singular....I put plural which is opposite of what I wanted to say and had to go back and edit this.)
  ** I also stayed up last night to bake gluten free banana bread for the girls to have for breakfast this morning.
Left out the baking soda.
Kinda flat and too moist-y/mushy.
I was trying soooo hard....sniff.
I also wore my pajamas inside out - tag showing bigger-n'-Dallas.
But we used lots of them - individually (die) and collectively (dice).
Dice just sounds better.
However, I'm going to change to 100% correct and start saying die" more often.
Has Mary mastered subtraction?
Heavens no.
She's still learning numbers in sequence -- trying to grasp counting 7 objects and actually picking up 7 objects. That kinda thing - brain/hand connection...what it all means.
But...we do what we can with her kindergarten homework assignments.

We're always up to some sort of learning.

As my teacher friend "Crump" says, "EVERYTHING is a learning center!"

You got dat right!

Mary's been in the U.S. for 11 weeks.
Since she started school in December, I reckon we missed addition.
Oh well. It's all gravy (as folks like to say).

She's just practicing and progressing.

I'm sure her brain is on overload at times.
She's PLAYING right now.
Being a child.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Emily Fixed Mary with a Dippity Do Hairstyle - for Fun Only

Molly and Emily Made This Pillow for Me - with KK's Help

They actually gave it to me last year.
I took photos of a few of their hand stitched hearts.
How amazing is this gift?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Marlene Made These Wooden Alphabet Pieces for Mary

We're using the chair railing around the wall to practice our A, B, C's..recognizing them, and putting them in order.
Once I wiped the dust off the railing, Mary was good to go!!

The Scrabble game is from my childhood.

Getting started from A

Moving along through L, M, N, O, P -
NOT "Elemental P"

All the way to Z