Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year & Reindeer?

2012 is the Year of the Dragon. Preston was born in the last Year of the Dragon (2000). Shaling was born in the Year of the Snake. Due to the fact that Chinese Years don't start & end on January 1 & December 31, Brock & I were both born in the Year the Dog (Feb 6, 1970 – Jan 26, 1971).

We were supposed to attend a local Chinese New Year celebration this past Saturday, but it was cancelled. Brock & the kids joined several other families with Chinese children for dinner at a Chinese buffet though. I skipped out because I coached at an all day Scholastic Bowl tournament that day, then participated in a trivia night fundraiser for a woman in need of a new liver.

After dinner, Shaling went home with XinLi, who was adopted by Curt & Susan in August. She spent the night with her and went to church with the family the next morning. Curt & Susan live a bit out in the country and on our way home from picking Shaling up, we saw some deer sprinting across a field. I excitedly pointed them out to the kids. Shaling kept asking if they were flying and I told her no, that they just run really fast. Then it dawned on me...she was thinking of reindeer. As I mentioned that thought to Brock, she confirmed it by saying, " Santa". I told her that they weren't reindeer; they were just deer. Then she muttered, "I want to see reindeer."

Here are some pictures taken by Andrea Dillon last February. They are Shaling in a traditional Chinese outfit. We should have taken some updated ones this year, but neglected to do so, therefore year-old ones will have to do for now.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Celebrating One Year As An American Citizen

Exactly one year ago today, in an immigration office at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Shaling became a U.S. Citizen. Though she had no idea what was happening (due to the language barrier & lack of a translator), she signed two documents & gave her fingerprints, and voila, just like magic, she was an American.

Because she lived in a very tropical area of China (even further south than the southern tip of Florida), she'd never seen snow. However, there was plenty waiting for her on the ground here in Springfield that night. She reached out and touched, reacting with a "Brrrrr". Because we had sent her a picture of the house, she recognized it before we ever pulled in the driveway.

We were simultaneously exhausted/jetlagged/sleep deprived & beside ourselves with excitement about our new beginnings as a family of 4. I can't believe it's been a whole year, and yet when I look at how far she's come learning a new culture, language, etc., it amazes me. What a roller coaster of a year it has been.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Break

Wow...I've been so busy enjoying Christmas & New Years that I have been completely remiss in keeping up with my blog. Shaling's first Christmas in America was spread out over several days & several houses. On Christmas Eve, we spent the day at Grandma & Grandpa Barkley's house and the evening at Great Grandma Coonrod's house. Christmas morning, we opened packages together at home and then went to Grandma & Grandpa Coonrod's house, followed by a trip to Aunt Ann & Uncle Frank's house. Then, on Thursday the 29th, we went back to Grandma & Grandpa Coonrod's house because Uncle Scott & Aunt Barbara couldn't make it for Christmas.

I had to accept the cold, hard fact that I will not be receiving the 2011 Mother of the Year award. Shaling was visibly disappointed on Christmas Day when Santa didn't come. I signed all of the packages from Mom & Dad. I honestly hadn't given it a thought, because she figured out the tooth fairy the very first night she lost a tooth at home (and that was back when the language barrier was HUGE). I didn't realize Santa was still real. Yes, I am properly shamed for screwing that up.

The kids spent the nights of the 25th & 26th with Grandma & Grandpa Coonrod. They were supposed to spend the 29th with Grandma & Grandpa Barkley, but I screwed that up too, by scheduling a playdate on the 30th. It was going to be a major challenge to get them home from Carlinville on time for that playdate. So, we currently have it planned for them to stay there on the 15th of January.

We spent New Years Eve at a fantastically fun house party, where the adults sat around playing board games and the kids watched movies, played video games, and lit sparklers when the ball dropped in New York. Through it all, Shaling has had some basketball practices, Dad has watched a lot of football, Preston has been building some complicated Lego sets, and I've done some trivia and movie nights.

Life has started getting back into a routine today, but will progress that way even more so tomorrow, when the kids return to school. As I posted about in an earlier blog entry, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of "Gotcha Day" on the 27th of December. On January 7th, we'll celebrate one year of Shaling being home in the United States.

Here are some random pictures of our 2011 Christmas.

Grandma & Grandpa Barkley's house

Great Grandma Coonrod's house


Grandma & Grandpa Coonrod's house

P.S. Exactly one year ago today, we went on a dinner cruise down the Pearl River. You can read about it (and see a picture of Shaling eating chicken feet) here.