Wednesday, 13 June 2012

To a child, housework is fun! ~ Sara

Cinderella, I mean Li Lin loves to do housework. Yay!  It is really interesting but she seems to enjoy it.  Hudson had the vacuum out as part of his weekly chore to keep the floor by the hamster cage shavings free.  It takes him about twenty seconds to vacuum but he does it without complaint and for that I am thankful.  Putting the big bulky hose away is tough for him so he usually leaves that for me.  I hadn't gotten around to putting it away yet when I saw Li Lin putting the hose back in the suction receptacle and start vacuuming up specks of dirt on the floor of our dining room, stairs, and kitchen.  The hose did not have any attachment on it at the time so it was nice and light and apparently very fun!  Tonight after dinner she also tried to start washing the dinner dishes.  She pushed a chair up to the kitchen sink and started trying to clean the dishes.  Along with loving to wring out wet cloths, and folding tissues neatly we seem to have ourselves a very housework-loving child.

So yeah, things are going very well...LOL!  Actually, she is doing fabulously.  She is an absolute joy to have around the home.  Today I took her to the zoo again.  She has gone there three times already and totally adores the animals.  Her favourite animals are the white lions.  Tonight when I was putting her to bed she asked me if the lions were going to sleep now too.  Unfortunately it took me a minute to understand what she was saying because I was assuming she was speaking to me in Mandarin but she threw in the word "lion".  This sounded to me like she was saying the word for "came" in Chinese.  It's so cute to hear her using a few English words.  It is also priceless to see how thrilled she is when I say her bedtime prayers in Mandarin and pray for her nai nai, ye ye, and di di.  She just loves that we pray for them.  We also pray for  "zhong guo parents" (Chinese parents).  She has no  idea what we are referring to her birth parents yet, but someday she will.

This brings me to another thought.  As I was lying with Li Lin in her bed, waiting for her to fall asleep I thought, wow, somewhere half-way around the world some dear woman carried her for nine months, gave birth to her, and then had to make the heart-wrenching decision to give her up. I wonder how often this dear mama thinks of her daughter, cries herself to sleep thinking about her lost child, and wonders if her dear daughter is loved.  I wish there was some way to reach out to this woman and let her know her child has been adopted and is very much loved by her adoptive family.  Although she is a Canadian now, we will never take away her wonderful Chinese heritage.  Just today I was reminded how much China is so a part of her.  I walked into a Chinese grocery store with Li Lin and we were immediately inundated with the smells of crates of dried seafood, dehydrated mushrooms, dehydrated tofu, etc. She took a deep breath, sniffed the room and said, "Aaahhh."  It was something akin to what I might do if I walked into a cookie bakery.  I asked her if it smelled like China, and she just smiled and nodded.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

These people must be dense! ~ Steph

We often wonder what Li Lin must think about our family.  As she listens to us try and talk to her with our limited half-Mandarin-half-English garble, she must think that she’s fallen into a Chinese speaking family that is full of people that either:
  1. Have horrible pronunciation
  2. Half the time do not know the meaning of basic words
  3. Have an incredibly limited vocabulary
  4. All of the above in a healthy dose!
I have mentioned before and will mention again – I think that Sara having learned Mandarin before us adopting Li Lin was a very helpful thing.  I would strongly encourage anyone considering international adoption (particularly those adopting toddlers or older children) to spend some time learning their child’s native language.  It helps the child feel more comfortable more quickly.  It helps to decrease the frustration that the child feels if they are not understood.  It increases the chance that the child will be able to maintain some level of fluency in their first language, which is good on a variety of levels.

Sara’s Mandarin is pretty good.  In fact, I think it is absolutely awesome!  She can communicate at the level of a preschooler with relative ease!  Of course, with a language like Mandarin, there is a large gap between useless (pretty close to where I am) and awesome.  Sara would fall somewhere within those boundaries.  The problem with Mandarin in our family is not Sara’s awesome though somewhat limited vocabulary, it’s the rest of us who are the problem.  I had a few lessons as well.  I learned how to fluently count, give dates and times, order food, ride a taxi, introduce myself and tell people how many kids I have, what their ages are and what their names are.  Li Lin is not particularly interested in any of that information.

Our children were all able to count to ten fluently.  They could say ‘hi’, ‘I’m fine’ and ‘I Love you’.  Shortly before heading out to China Sara taught us all a few more phrases.  Once we got Li Lin, Sara was the main communicator since she had her Mandarin.  The rest of us spent our time telling her ‘wo ai ni bao bao’ [I love you baby], or ‘wo ai ni mei mei’ [I love you little sister].  She must have been thinking we were a bunch of broken records!  Not being able to talk to someone is a big deal to those in our family... there is rarely much free air time!  So, instead of speaking English to Li Lin to help her learn this new language we are all fluent in, we started speaking to Li Lin in a cross of Mandarin, made up words that sound like Mandarin words, and Mandarin words that are completely mispronounced or misused!  The kids and I picked up our Mandarin from listening to Li Lin and Sara talk.

The few words we picked up quickly were ‘bu’ [no], along with ‘bu yao’ [don’t want].  Li Lin was quickly taught to say ‘duibuqi’ [sorry] and we also learned ‘shuo’ [say].  So Li Lin was inundated with ‘wo ai ni’s during her happy times.  When she got upset or angry and hit, she would get a ‘shuo duibuqi’ [say sorry]  I’m sure at some point she must have thought, “These people are so dense.  They look old enough to have more than a dozen word vocabulary!”

Yesterday I called Li Lin to come eat lunch so I asked her to come for ‘cha’ [tea] while doing the eating motion.  She looked at me quizzically but came.  As we were sitting at the table, she was full so I asked her if I could ‘he’ [drink] her eggs!  She looked at me and laughed.  Sara clarified and so I then asked if I could ‘chi’ [eat] her eggs, and she gladly agreed!

If we don't figure something out soon, we'll have a Li Lin who will be able to speak 3 languages... English, Mandarin and Parent.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do ~ Steph

Li Lin is an incredible mimic!  She has keen observation skills and quickly shows us what she's picked up from seeing the world around her.

Starting in Wuhan, we had an easy time getting Li Lin to brush her teeth as she saw all the other children do it and immediately wanted to join in.  This has also expanded to other things that she sees and observes.  She saw Sara putting on deodorant one day.  Now, one of her favourite activities is putting on underarm deodorant.  We went to the zoo the other day and she insisted on applying the deodorant in the parking lot and then carrying it in her hands as we pushed her around the stroller!  She has also noticed daddy shaving and has tried to imitate this using plastic toys.

Li Lin has obviously been in a hospital before (we know she's had a couple of surgeries).  When we got back from our first doctor's visit she showed us again her keen imitation skills.  She found her play doctor kit and brought out the plastic needle and found a ribbon lying around.  She tied the ribbon around Sara's arm (the tourniquet), gently rubbed her fingers across the bend in Sara's arm (looking for the blood vessel) and proceeded to 'poke' Sara with the needle.  She then looked smiling up into her mother's face and said "Ku, ku, mama" (meaning cry, cry, mommy).  She had just been poked a few times at the doctor's in an unsuccessful attempt at drawing blood.

When looking at a little mirror like Li Lin, it makes you more aware of the things you say and do, because it could quickly be repeated or imitated in any manner of places.  I had never noticed before, but at least one member of our family must say 'wow' relatively frequently.  Sara and I brought Li Lin to the zoo a few days ago.  As we got close to the animals, we would point them out and ask  Li Lin if she saw them.  Each time she spotted the animal, she would say 'wowie' with a twinkle in her eye!
Just last night, this wanting to imitate others worked to our advantage.  Since we got home, Li Lin has been co-sleeping with us.  She sleeps very well in our bed.  At least one of us does!  She is active during the day and active during the night!  She often ends up sleeping perpendicular to us, with one of us having her head on ours, while the other has her feet up our nose or wrapped around our necks!  Li Lin has been noticing that each of the other kids sleep in their own rooms, and has decided that she will as well.  Last night as we got her ready for bed, she grinned at us and ran to her room and lay on a mattress on the floor.  When we went to lay beside her to help settle her down, she shooed us away and pointed to our bedroom, telling us to go there.  Within a few minutes she was sound asleep in her own room, just like her jie jie and her ge ges.  Sara and I slept more soundly then we have in weeks!  Tonight she's once again in her room.  No complaints here!