Monday, January 31, 2011

Granny Turns 99

Today Lynda's Grandmother who lives in South Carolina turned 99.  Lynda was able to call back and talk to her for a few minutes as Lynda's mom and dad were out there visiting and celebrating her birthday with her.

Four years ago we were able to travel back to celebrate her 95th birthday, here is a picture we took that day of the 4- generations: The Mother (Granny), 1st Daughter (Lynda's Mom), 1st Grand-daughter (Lynda), and first Great grand-daughter (Amber - our first daughter).

Granny sitting; Lynda, Harriet (Lynda's Mom), and Amber standing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Family visit, Don Jose', & Cameron's New Suit!

Lately we have been just hanging out around the house getting healthy and all adjusting to our new life together.  We have really limited Lauren's exposure to external stimulus (people, restaurants, etc) to allow her time to attach & bond with us and get used to this new strange land, it's customs and language.

Today we had our California adopted family over to visit (the Prior's), they have been like brother & sister to us, uncle & aunt to our children, and cousins for the children. We enjoyed our time together and Hannah enjoyed playing dress-up and games with Annaliese (the two are only about a month apart in age).

Following our visit we went out to pick up Cameron's new suit and have a night our with dinner at one of our favorite local Mexican Restaurants - Don Jose'.

After getting home and putting the girls to bed Cameron tried on the suit and Kevin went over lessons on how to tie a Double Windsor (Kevin learned this skill in Catholic School).

Things are still progressing, communication is the biggest struggle and frustration for all of us - but Lauren is picking up more English comprehension each day, as we learn to understand each other things will continue to get better and better.

Hannah & Annaliese
Prior Family

Lauren w/stuffed dog toy.

Tying Lesson
New suit & new look for Cameron.

Kevin also taught Cameron the famous
"catching the football" modeling pose.

Don Jose' Mexican Restaurant.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Enjoying the Warm Weather

Just a few photos of the kids playing outside this afternoon as we enjoy another day of mid-70 degree weather here in Southern California.

First time Lauren fell asleep
on the couch for an afternoon nap.

Enjoying a ride in Hannah's Jeep on the paths mom
made in the front garden area.

Hannah is not the best driver , Cam just barely got
out of her way!
Cameron sneaks up on the girls.  (they both
love their big brother)

Cameron picking lemons (we have plenty if anyone wants some, he picked over 100
and there are still many ripe ones left).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lauren's Development & More Wedding Planning

Having already adopted an older child we were well aware of the development delays that are the product of institutionalization, so now that we have had Lauren at home more than 1-week and observed her trying to play or entertain herself with various toys we have a better understanding of her skill level.  Cognitively Lauren is about a 3-year old level so we are starting with some basic toddler toys and will be setting up her pre-school work accordingly. No doubt with her intelligence she will be at an age appropriate level in no time!

Working on the stacking & shape toys:

She is proud that she has now mastered them on her own!

One of her comfort mechanisms and
favorite pass-times, pulling and playing with
the hair on the back of her head.

Watching Dora - once she saw Dora put
the backpack on she ran and got her's
to put on and also kept pointing to the Dora
character on her jacket. (present from Eddie's mom)

Eddie, Amber, and Lynda went over to the the facility where we will having the reception following the wedding to test and select some of the food items.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Returning to daily routines.

Today started the first day back with some of our daily routines (much to the dismay of the children).  Since we homeschool we took a break from the full set of course work while we were away and last week. This meant the kids did some extra duty during what would have normally been the Christmas Break so they would not get behind due to our trip.

Lauren had her first experience with some of her pre-school lessons and practiced her ABC's and sign language with Hannah.

Harvesting basil seeds outside yesterday:

Just to show how small Lauren is, this is last night next to Hannah (they are only 11 1/2-months apart in age)

Back to school today for Hannah and Lauren's first day of pre-school work with us.

Practicing/learning sign language.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lauren meets some cousins & Amber's Bridal Shower.

Today some of Amber's friends held a Bridal Shower for her with Hannah & Lauren in attendance to meet some some family and friends for the first time.

Lynda's family that live in Southern California (mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, sister, and their children) stopped over the house to meet Lauren prior to the women (and girls) heading off to the shower.

Lauren continues to adjust to her new life and seems to be comprehending more each day. Hannah and Lauren have been playing more together (Hannah is so patient) and Lauren spent time around the dogs for the first time yesterday, up until now she has only looked at them through the french doors to the family room.

Building a puzzle together.
Finished product!

Lauren & Bear.

Amber opening her gifts.
Hannah & Lauren having fun w/balloons.

Hannah & Lynda in the toilet paper bridal dress competition.
(Hannah's team won!)

Lauren even got a "Welcome Home" present from Eddie's Family.
(Thank you Liz, Eddie Sr, & Erika)

This picture is for Tiffany, who faithfully followed our blog and Lynda had the chance to meet her in person today.

Lauren proud to have the tiara to wear.

California Cousin's (RJ, Jared, Lauren, Clara, Cameron, Amber, Hannah).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Adjusting & Wedding Planning

Lauren and the rest of us are still making progress with our adjustments: to the time zone, getting healthy, and learning to live a new life together.  Hannah and Lauren are making good strides as they both learn their boundaries with each other (especially with their toys and personal space) and communicating with each other.

Yesterday, Lynda took Cameron out to get him a new suit and shoes for Amber & Eddie's upcoming wedding (only about 7-weeks to go).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Weeks with Lauren

Today we mark two weeks since we brought Lauren into our family.  We have been hanging close to the house and have not seen any friends or family (except Amber & Eddie) since we are trying to get healthy and get a new routine established for Lauren.  We did venture out to Walmart and Costco yesterday, we needed to get some 2T's for Lauren since she is not wearing all the layers she had on in China to keep warm even the 3T pants were constantly falling down on her.  We also needed to get her some more shoes and some sandals to wear. Costco was to stock up on all our basic food needs since we tried to clear out the refrigerator and freezer before we left back on Dec 28th (seems so long ago).

Lauren is doing better, she still goes through moments when you know she is sad and confused, but she is back to smiling and laughing, learning boundaries and playing with her sister Hannah.

Oh - as you can see from the photos, as soon as you get her in the car seat and start moving, she falls asleep!

First trip out since we arrived home.

Typical once we start moving.

First Costco experience.
This afternoon, waving hi to dad.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Day - Another Stage of Grief

Today was a tough day for everyone.  Yesterday, after the long flight we had no problem sleeping in since we were so exhausted, however last night we all struggled with our bodies  trying to figure out if it was 2am or 6pm! Due to our colds we had the vaporizer going non-stop and have been doing our best to deal with not feeling 100%.

Lauren also woke up depressed and was not a very happy little girl today - what a difference from yesterday.  She did not want to eat, you could see the sadness in her eyes, and several times she just walked to the other side of the room and stared out at the dogs. We took her outside to enjoy some good warm weather, we almost got her to smile.  After dinner (we finally got her to eat a boiled egg) her older sister (Hannah) was the one to get her to finally smile and start communicating again (or at least trying to communicate).  The two of them played with Hannah's kitchen, Legos, and wood puzzles.

Although we have been through this before, it is still hard especially when there is nothing that can be done and you just need time to have her process through her grief and loss.  We will no doubt continue to have our good and bad days (maybe even good and bad hours within a single day). With time Lauren will feel more secure and reach the point of acceptance and hope!

Deciding - should I smile?

Nope - even with Hannah's present of
a flower, the smile still is not there.

The tears started and she did not want
anybody to console her.
She finally wanted daddy
to hold her.

2- hours Later: 

Look is that a smile?

Close enough - looks like a smile to us!