Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day

Keenan could hardly contain himself this Christmas. He was anxious to open all his presents at once to make sure Santa had brought the motorized Thomas track that he has been coveting for months. Santa came through and Nana's, Aunts and Uncles ensured that he also had several new train for that track. We surprised Sophia with a doll house she hadn't asked Santa for.

Both of the kids had been doing chores around the house for a month to earn enough money to buy each other presents. They loved exchanging gifts with one another and had also made us some wonderful presents at school. But the best gift of all was that Colin was home for Christmas.

Countdown to Santa

On Christmas Eve, the kids baked some fresh cookies for Santa, put out some carrots for the reindeer and then jumped on the computer to check Norad's Santa Tracker. They also got to talk to a volunteer at Norad who let them know that it was time to head to bed because Santa was on his way. They were sooo incredibly excited but went to bed with little delay.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Time

Sophia's smile says it all, she is one happy girl to have her Daddy home.

New Hats

The kids had outgrown the snowman hats that Grandma made them when they were younger. Fortunately, Grandma knitted some new ones and they are back in the Christmas spirit. Despite weather flirting with 70 degrees, the kids were more than happy to don their new hats.

With Great Anticipation....

You might think that the kids are incredibly excited about an impending visit from a man all dressed in red, and you would be right. However, in these photos, Sophia's smile is entirely about the arrival of someone else all together, Daddy! I'm happy to report that he arrived home yesterday after a 20 day absence. Sophia got dressed up to the nines and Keenan worked diligently on a welcome home card.

Zoo Lights

Every year, The Phoenix Zoo opens at night for 'Zoo Lights'. Last night, we took the kids for the first time. The lights were beautiful, the kids had a great time but it was quite literally, a zoo. The amount of people attending was mind boggling. We lasted for almost two hours but then it was time to exit the Zoo and head home to our calm and quiet house.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mrs. Malaprop

I had never really heard of Mrs. Malaprop or malapropisms until some time in my teens. My cousin and his wife were visiting and we were taking a walk in our front yard. I spotted a 'covey of quail' and pointed them out, only my pronounciation was way off and my cousins burst out laughing. I had no idea that I had said anything funny. In a very kind manner, they introduced me to the often humorous land of malapropisms and I have never forgotten that lesson.

With a four and five year old roaming in our house, malapropisms abound. Two of the funniest to be heard in our clan took place tonight, in less than the span of five minutes.

We have satellite radio in our Prius. It was the last thing I thought we would want, but the car came with a trial period, and when the three months expired, I found I just couldn't stop. I love the wide variety of musical selections and there is nearly always something to suit my mood or wide ranging tastes.

This evening, I took the kids cruising to see Christmas lights at our local outlet mall. I know that sounds more than a little wrong. But please allow me to explain.....our outlet mall purports to have THE largest live Christmas tree in the U.S. (bigger than Rockefeller Center, bigger than the White House, or at least, so says the mall), the tree is decorated to the hilt with gorgeous lights and the trees throughout the parking lot are absolutely beautiful, tree trunks wrapped in simple white light trunks with red lighted tree tops.

But I digress.... So here we were, listening to music and cruising our little town. When songs come on, sometimes I like to play 'name the artist' with the kids. I'm trying to help them develop their musical ear, partly due my parent's musical influence, and no doubt, partly due to this strange but completely useless talent I possess of being able to hear just a few notes of just about any song and name both the tune and the artist. If I never have heard the song before, but its by an artist I'm familiar with, I can usually figure it out in a bar or two.

OK, so a Frank Sinatra song pops up, and I ask the kids, "who's singing?" I can see Sophia smiling in the rear view mirror as she somewhat shyly offers up "Frank Sir Nostrils." All I can say, is that I was laughing so hard, I very nearly peed my pants, OK, maybe there was just a wee bit of leakage associated with this laugh, but at least it wasn't enough to ruin the upholstery.

After the song ends, I decide to change the station, and I land on a U2 song. U2 just happens to be Colin's favorite band and the kids know that. I ask "who do you think is singing this song?" there is a bit of a pause, so I decide to help out "it's Daddy's favorite band," Sophia immediately pipes up "You Toot." I've heard her use this malapropism from time to time, so the upholstery wasn't in much danger this time....that is, until both kids start cracking up, because they know what Sophia said is funny. Anyway, the conversation detiorerated from there, and Keenan's teacher, Miss Pattee would not have been happy with all the potty talk going on in our car. It got so bad, I finally had to tell the kids to 'put a lid on it', which merely resulted in a whole new gale of giggles.

Yes, suffice to say, Mrs. Malaprop is alive and well in our little family.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

95% of the time, Sophia is a sunny, compliant and loving child. Her teachers are fortunate to get this Sophia nearly 100% of the time and they find it difficult to believe that she is ever anything but sweet and happy.

It appears the other 5% is reserved almost exclusively for me. Her moods can change faster than the speed of light and much of the time, I have no idea what triggers the change. I do know that three things can bring some dramatic changes to her disposition; sleep, hunger and sadness. Unfortunately, she rarely gives me any signals that trouble is brewing in any one of those departments.  She eats nearly every hour (and I do mean every hour) so it's never like she has gone very long without nourishment. She doesn't yawn when she is tired, the only clue I have that fatigue is setting in is when she begins to laugh maniacally. Her sadness about missing Colin comes in intense waves and is usually worse at the beginning and the end of his working days.  None of this is surprising, but at times, her mood swing is so spectacular, her sadness so profound, her words to me so sharp, it literally leaves me with my mouth hanging open.

The good news is that her difficult moods often revert back just as quickly. Of course, that sudden flip flop can be equally disconcerting.

I firmly believe that not having her emotional needs met for the first 10 months of her life has shaped some of our little girl's personality. I know the orphanage staff did the absolute best they could with few resources. I just wish that Sophia and the other girls never had to go through those formative months without the hugs and comfort they so very much deserved. And I sincerely wish I could give her enough comfort and security to make up for all that she missed. I recognize that some holes can't be easily filled but, one thing is for certain, I will never stop trying.

The Kids Are Reading

Well, sort of.....

Sophia has steadily been making progress in the reading department.  She has been able to get through small books on her own for several weeks now.  She still makes mistakes and takes a bit of time sounding her words out, but she has memorized numerous sight words and she quickly recognizes them when she comes across them.

Keenan's pre-school teacher taught Kindergarten up until this year.  So she has been working with the kids on phonics since Day 1 of school and Keenan frequently practices the letter sounds.  

The other day, I was working with Sophia with word flash cards.  She was struggling with a word when Keenan stunned me by supplying her with it.  I ran 30 flash cards by him and he read nearly every word.  I asked him how long he has been able to read words and he just shrugged and replied "a while."  The long and the short of it is that he reads when he feels like it and I'm just going with the flow, making sure I don't pressure him in this department.  

As for Sophia?  The fact that her 'little' brother is now reading was a great motivator for her. I can hear her over the monitor before she goes to sleep, practicing reading aloud. It's pretty funny what can inspire a kid to learn. 

In the meantime, Sophia is now enrolled for next year's partial immersion Mandarin 1st grade class.  She has already gotten a great start with Mandarin in Kindergarten, but starting next year, all of her math and science is taught only in Mandarin. The administrators are hoping (and so are we) that the program will continue to grow with the kids and they will have Mandarin immersion through high school. We are hoping that Keenan will also be in the program.  As a sibling, he has some priority, but our kids are also open enrollees, so time will tell. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pajama Day at Pre-school

Keenan's teacher, Ms. Pattee had a Pajama Day for the kids. Mrs. Claus showed up to read Polar Express while the kids drank hot chocolate. Keenan is sooooo excited about Christmas. Well, for that matter, so is Sophia. They spend the day singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and the Twelve Days of Christmas. It's really pretty funny and very sweet.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cookie Baking Time

Cuddles with Opah and Nana

My folks came out to visit and the kids got some great cuddles.