Thursday, December 20, 2007
Getting Ready For Christmas
Things are going great with Ruthie. She is adapting so well to life in our family as well as in the United States. Because she was raised in an orphanage, she learned at a early age to be independent and take care of many of her needs herself. We are affectionate with her and she enjoys that and she gives us hugs in return.
Earlier this week, she had her first appointment with our pediatrician. It went very well and she is right on target in regards to weight & height. Unfortunately, she did have to have 3 vaccinations, but she did very well. While she was getting her vaccinations, I held her and for the first time, she held on to me very tightly as she cried a little. It was the first time that she held me seeking comfort, so even though it was no fun getting shots, it was a nice bonding moment.
Last Friday, we went to our local elementary school and met with the principal to talk about Ruthie's placement and integrating her into the school. Our meeting went very well. Since Ruthie was in 2nd grade in China, which is equivalent to 3rd grade here, the decision was made to put her in a 3rd grade class even though she is the age of a 4th grader. Since she is small, she looks like a 3rd grader, which helps. The principal introduced us and Ruthie to a little girl that will be in Ruthie's class who is Chinese and came to America 2 years ago - she spoke no English at the time and now can speak English so well. Unfortunately, the little girl does not speak Mandarin (Ruthie's language), but speaks Cantonese. We also met her new teacher who was very nice and visited the classroom. The classroom is made up of 60% native English speaking kids and 40% who are learning English. Another welcome surprise was that there is a kindergarten teacher at the school who is Malaysian and speaks fluent Mandarin, who will be able to help with translation, etc. She spoke to Ruthie and offered to help her with anything, homework, etc.
Ruthie seems excited to start school. She will begin once winter break is over. She gets a little bored when her siblings are in school, but she and I do something special together each day. Yesterday, she helped me to wrap Christmas presents. Then we went Christmas shopping so that she could pick out gifts to give to her siblings and her dad. She had so much fun picking out things. It was amazing how quickly she has come to know each of us and what we like. She was very good at selecting things that each person would like. She needed very little guidance from me.
Each evening, she helps her big sister with the dishes. Ruthie is now eating more American food, but always sprinkles tons of crushed red pepper flakes on top or adds spicy Hunan sauce. She doesn't like cheese or butter. Chinese children are not raised on milk, so oftentimes, they do not like dairy products. We are gradually introducing milk into her diet since it is so important. Our food is so bland for her compared to the really spicy food she was raised on. Todd loves spicy food too, but he is no match for Ruthie - while she can eat a whole meal of really spicy food without taking a drink, he needs to take a drink after 2 - 3 bites of food to cool off his mouth.
This week, Ruthie has wanted to help me cook dinner. She loves to be helpful. She is a good cook too. The other day, I told her we were going to her Grandma's house and would be seeing her cousin and aunts & uncles and she got so excited. She clapped her hands and jumped up and down and couldn't wait until it was time to go. She is so happy to belong to a family.
She is learning English just by being with us. She still speaks mostly Chinese and we communicate with her using both Chinese & English. Todd and I are so thankful that we took time to learn basic Chinese. It has helped so much.
Last Saturday, Santa Claus came to our house to visit the kids. Ruthie knew about Santa Claus from China. She laughed when he came through the door. She did try to pull down his beard, but we stopped her :) The kids and I are putting together a gingerbread house tomorrow and making Christmas decorations. I'm not sure what Ruthie thinks about all of the things we do in preparation for Christmas, but she happily joins in. The only Christmas song that she knows is "Jingle Bells", but she does not know the whole song, so she sings "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle, Jingle, Jingle". Too cute!
Well, that is about it for now. I will update you after Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you all!
Posted by Noelle Johnson at 8:32 AM