Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two Years...

Thursday (the 27th) marked the second anniversary of our "Gotcha Day" -- the day we met Shaling for the first time. We celebrated by going out to eat at the only Chinese restaurant (Su's Garden) on Marco Island. We had just arrived in Florida the day before, in order to visit Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds for a week. The kids have been enjoying the swimming pool.

We've come a long way from:
Here she is teasing Grandpa by letting someone else (her doll) use his chair & special neck pillow:
Ending this very abruptly as Grandma & Grandpa are ready to head to church. Have a blessed day, everyone!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reynolds Family (3 Generations) Christmas 2012

Each year, the Reynolds family celebrates Christmas together on Thanksgiving. We previously went to Effingham each year for a 4-generation affair, but now we've split up into the 3 family branches. Brock's brother Scott & his wife Michelle, who live in Mokena, play hosts.

Preston & Shaling, along with their cousins Cooper & Chase, thoroughly enjoyed opening their packages from Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds, as well as Uncle Scott & Aunt Michelle and Uncle Brock & Aunt Amy, respectively.

As part of Christmas for Grandma Reynolds, we all trooped over to Portrait Innovations in Orland Park and posed for professional photos of the 3 generations. I think the pictures turned out great! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Busy Kids Videos, Part 2 of 2

Shaling performed well at the Sangamon County Literary contest, earning two 1st place ratings for her efforts. Three short videos of her performances are below:

Shaling, Baylee, Jessica, Isabelle, & Paige perform Ken Bradbury's "Going Up" at the Sangamon County Literary contest. The girls received a first place rating for their efforts.
Going Up from Amy Reynolds on Vimeo.

Shaling is part of a large group that performed a Chorale Reading for the Sangamon County Literary Contest. This is their finale, "Ourchestra", by Shel Silverstein.
Ourchestra from Amy Reynolds on Vimeo.

Shaling is part of a large group that performed a Chorale Reading for the Sangamon County Literary Contest. This is their version of Goldilocks.
Goldilocks from Amy Reynolds on Vimeo.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Busy Kids Videos, Part 1 of 2

Last Thursday, Preston performed as part of the Rochester Junior High band at their annual Fall concert. On Saturday, he bowled as part of his weekly bowling league. On Saturday, Shaling performed with a small group and a large group at the Sangamon County Literary contest (basically a combination of Speech & Drama). Saturday night, Shaling & I joined some friends to go to Peoria to cheer on the high school football team at their playoff game. Sunday, we all had church in the morning. Sunday afternoon, we participated in our monthly Dinners for 8 group. Sunday evening, Shaling had a basketball game.

Anyway, here are 4 short videos from Preston's concert. My next blog entry will be 3 videos from Shaling's Literary performances.

Preston plays tympani on "March Opus 108" during the Rochester Junior High Fall band concert on November 8, 2012.
RJHS Fall Concert 2012 - March Opus 108 from Amy Reynolds on Vimeo.

Preston plays tympani on "The Tell-Tale Heart" during the Rochester Junior High Fall band concert on November 8, 2012.
RJHS Fall Concert 2012 - The Tell-Tale Heart from Amy Reynolds on Vimeo.

Preston plays tympani on "Normandy Beach" during the Rochester Junior High Fall band concert on November 8, 2012.
RJHS Fall Concert 2012 - Normandy Beach from Preston Reynolds on Vimeo.

Preston plays cymbals on "Superheroes R Us" during the Rochester Junior High Fall band concert on November 8, 2012.
RJHS Fall Concert 2012 - Superheroes R Us from Preston Reynolds on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

English Progress

Occasionally, one of our friends asks us if Shaling is proficient in English yet. Sometimes they are surprised when I say no. Her communication skills have come so far in 21 months that it is sometimes easy to forget that the reading and writing develop at an entirely different pace. The Chinese language has NO plurals (one cat, two cat, or fifty cat, not cats), only ONE verb tense (I run a race today, but I also run a race last week, I run a race tomorrow, etc.), no alphabet (each character is a word ), no phonics (there are no symbols for sounds ), and no lingual gender differentiation (there is only IT, no HE or SHE, no HIS or HERS, etc.)

Knowing all that, I never cease to be amazed at how far she's come. Yes, it is probably easier for a 9-year-old (now 11-year-old) than an adult, but probably not quite as easy as it would have been if she'd arrived here at a much younger age. Because she is not quite English-proficient (I am guessing her to be at a late 2nd grade reading level), she is still Pass/Fail at school. However, having seen her percentage scores, I know her lowest grade would have been a C, which isn't too shabby for someone still requiring language assistance.

On a side note, Preston's report card was pretty danged good too -- mostly A's, with two B's. One B was a 93% (the highest B possible) and the other was in Pre-Algebra and this is his first year in advanced math. He struggled to settle in to a new routine at the beginning of the year (his first year of junior high -- 7th grade), so I'm thrilled with those grades.

In addition to Shaling's report card, each quarter we receive a Progress Report from Mrs. Bivens (her E.L.L. - English Language Learner - teacher). She receives a rating from 1 through 9 in various categories. 1-3 indicates a Beginning Level; 4-6 indicates a Progressing Level; 7-9 indicates a Proficient Level. Her ratings this quarter were as follows:

9 - Repeats Words
9 - Makes One Word Responses
9 - Knows Alphabet Names & Sounds

7 - Uses English With Classmates
7 - Can Write A Simple Sentence

6 - Starts A Conversation
6 - Asks Permission Appropriately
6 - Uses Context For Reading Unfamiliar Words
6 - Pursues The Meaning Of Unfamiliar Words
6 - Tells Main Idea Of What Was Read
6 - Acquires Concepts In English (Think about that -- she is understanding new concepts in her new language -- pretty sure that 21 months into learning Chinese that would be virtually impossible to me.)

5 - Is A Good Listener
5 - Speaks In Expanding Sentences
5 - Participates In Speaking Activities
5 - Follows Simple Directions
5 - Follows Multi-Step Directions (She may have surpassed her dad on this one.)
5 - Retells A Simple Story
5 - Asks Questions When Not Understanding
5 - Uses Past Tense
5 - Uses Future Tense
5 - Makes Negative Responses Correctly
5 - Recognizes & Use New Words In Context
5 - Decodes Unfamiliar Words
5 - Has Other Strategies For Reading
5 - Read For Answers To Questions

4 - Responds In Complete Sentences
4 - Shares Own Experiences, Ideas, & Feelings
4 - Uses A Dictionary
4 - Writes Independently
4 - Can Recognize Written Errors
4 - Can Write A Paragraph
4 - Can Write A Story

2 - Makes Inferences From Written Text

I know from some emails I received from Mrs. Bivens that Shaling is currently learning some label for community helpers (nurse, teacher, pilot, photographer, police officer, etc.). Additionally, she is using Mad Libs to learn parts of speech. If you aren't familiar, a Mad Lib is a fun puzzle that many kids used to use to pass the time on long car rides. One player asks the other to provide a list of words (as listed below, a type of liquid, something icky, a piece of furniture, an article of clothing, a color, a part of the body, a plural noun, an adjective, an adjective, a plural noun, an animal, a silly word, an adjective, and an adverb). However, the second player has no idea how those words will be used (they haven't seen the story with blanks). After the first player has filled in all of the blanks, a nonsensical story is created. Below is a Mad Lib that Shaling enjoyed so much that she asked Mrs. Bivens to email it to me.

When you go to the beach, you must take along a big blanket, a thermos bottle full of water
, lots of suntan pee
, and a couple of folding chairs
. Then you put on your swimsuit
so you can get a beautiful green
to last you all summer. You also should have a big hat to keep the sun off your waist
. If you want exercise, you can find some beaches
to play volleyball with. Volleyball is America’s favorite nice
game. You can also bring a/an hot
lunch, such as hard-boiled shalings
, a few dog
sandwiches with mustard, and some bottles of laugh
cola. If you remember all of the above and get a place near a/an yummy
lifeguard, you can sunbathe hungry
all day.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Slumber Party Wrap-Up

Despite some dreaded "girl drama", Shaling's slumber party went very well. The girls never cease to entertain me. Brock has an entertaining story for all of you...he shared it on his Facebook wall and I am going to simply copy & paste it here:
 Several months ago Shaling had a slumber party. All of the girls had their sleeping bags laid out on the living room floor. When it was time for them to go to sleep they continued talking and giggling like 10 year old girls typically do. I gave them several warnings to be quiet and go to sleep. Finally, I told them if they weren't quiet, I would sleep on the couch in the living room. When they kept talking, I kept my word and slept on the couch. Shaling and her friends were horrified! So tonight she's having a slumber party for her birthday. She told all of her friends to bring an American Girl doll. When I got home from work, the couch was lined with all of the dolls. Shaling told them all to bring their dolls so the dolls can sleep on the couch. She told me, "Dad, dolls on the couch. No room for you to sleep on the couch. You have to sleep upstairs."

The fabulous cake arrives and she is giddy. She jumped up & down as Julie took it out of the car.

The party table.

One more picture of the cake.

Supper was at her favorite restaurant.

Our table wasn't exactly subtle.

I asked for a thumbs up, but you can see these 3 weren't so sure.

Pretty smiles while their food is being cooked.

Thanks for smiling, Jessie!

Beautiful girls.

Hannah SOOO wanted to be able to use chopsticks.

Shaling is happy.

Lots of chatting & eating.

Her fortune cookie was eerily accurate.