Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Updates

Easter Breakfast

Touching a dinosaur footprint in Canon City, CO

Snowshoeing Bunny

Daddy's BD Cake

Daddy and Ruby wood working on the house together!

A gal that knows how to handle a power tool.

I can't believe how long it's been since the last post! Time can sure fly by!

We have seen so much happen in the past few months. We are gearing up for summer, Ruby is starting to read at a lower second grade reading level, the princess items in her room have been pushed aside and Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana collages have popped up on her doors. Her conversational English is super and even though we come across words she still doesn't know, Ruby is able to develop the understanding of many new words on how they are used in a sentence. It is hard to see her maturing because it seems to be happening so fast. We are very lucky that she still trusts us and that she is still very open about what happens at school. We are now struggling with the pre-teen attitude. Even though we are just seeing the beginning stages it is hard for Mike and I to accept that she is becoming of this age.

I won't be posting on the blog so much anymore. Maybe quarterly....If you are on facebook, request to be our friend and we'll see you there.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A bragging Mother

This post is more or less a bragging post, but we are so proud of our daughter that I need to share :) Ruby was on the honor roll again this quarter and was also nominated for one of the local Optimist Club's youth awards. The award was nominated through the school, but also considers the strength of the child to overcome challenges and to be an inspiration and role model for others. Way cool!

All is well in other news - haven't posted for awhile. I'm back to work full time. I'll miss the part time days for sure, but it was worth every dollar not coming in. There is no way possible that my bond with Ruby would be as strong as it is working full time. All you mothers out there that work full time jobs and have children - I give you so much credit! My mother - even more amazing...four kids, full time job and going to college! I'm still learning to balance everything and of course my personal time is put on the back burner. I hope to learn to make time for myself soon :) Yet, I love my new job as the Assistant Operations Director/Family PLUS Coordinator. Mike's log furniture store is still doing well, despite the economy. Hopefully, it will continue to last. Luckily, there are still homes being built in our community and lots of retired people looking to update their homes.

Christmas was a blast and Ruby did well. I think the first week was an adjustment, but by the last week she was a pro at long term care travel in the Midwest. Ruby has the overall picture and connection of the family. This has really been a positive experience and I think it is comforting for her to know there are so many people that love her.

FYI (especially for other adoptive families).
Some differences we have seen in Ruby....

her self-esteem has improved. Not that she had low self-esteem before, but there were many things she was unsure of in the past and also just trying to fit in. She accepts compliments more now and says thank you when people give them to her. This is something we worked on over the holidays. On the other hand, Ruby is questioning her skin tone. Some kids at school mentioned that she is a brown or black person. She has expressed this has made her sad, but she also said that she thinks her skin is special. I pointed out that everyone has different colors of skin...even birth families. We looked at various photos of family and other random people on the computer and in books. It was very comforting for her to realize that America has so many different people of color.....unlike rural China (Ruby has mentioned that only Chinese people were seen in her community). As we were talking, Ruby even brought up the President and I was able to show a photo of his mother and father....she was surprised of the differences in them! It was a learning moment and hope she feels more confident in her own skin :) We are trying to let her know that being yourself is very cool!

Ruby is also starting to play a little more by herself. This was a big issue until after Christmas. She went through this phase of not wanting to do things by herself - homework, playing or even taking a shower. I think she played more by herself during the first month home...but then she bonded with us and hated to even be in a different room. Ruby is doing a lot better now and takes showers without me in the room ....last week she even played for two hours alone...the longest so far!!! I think this is improving because ...a) she knows we aren't leaving her b) we will help her if needed c) Mom and Dad need to work around the house sometimes and have lives too d) she realizes if she doesn't play by herself, she'll get bored e) she is becoming more comfortable with herself

all for today - not sure how often I'll be posting for awhile...just very busy! sorry to all my blogger friends...I'll catch up on your blogs this upcoming month :)

Holiday Photos

Happy New Years!!! 2009!!!
The gang for New Years

Grandma and Grandpa Johnson and Ruby

Ruby, Counsins Jaque and Elisabeth

Counsin Kyle, Ruby and Counsins Jessica and Cassidy

Ruby made around 100 cookies almost by her self - pretty amazing
I just love countertop space!
Grandma and Grandpa Skubella and Ruby

Counsin Elisabeth, Uncle Luke and Ruby

Me and Mike

Great Grandma, Ruby and Me

Saturday, December 20, 2008

6 Months and Book List

First, I would like to say thank you for all the nice comments on the past post :) They are appreciated! Today is our 6th month Family Day anniversary. This Christmas has a much more different and positive feeling than last. This time last year we were looking at a second adoption in hopes to be matched with a second child while we were waiting for our Chinese adoption to go through (knowing it would be at least another 1 - 2 years). In the end, we found Ruby and doors were opened where we didn't think would be possible. As I reflect back on the past 6 months, I realize how much faster time passes by when you have a child. Ruby has grown a couple of inches, her English is up to conversation and she is thriving in school. Of course we have our struggles, but our little girl (as Daddy calls her), is progressing fast. We are very fortunate that she is expressive and will communicate her feelings to us. For example, she let us know in the car that today she is struggling being nice to us (which we already knew!). How awesome that she feels so comfortable to express her feelings with us. We are in Chicago visiting family for the holidays and this is the first time Ruby is away from home. I must say that she did AMAZING in the two day car ride from Colorado to Chicago. Very impressed!

Here is the list of books I mentioned in the last post. There are many more out there and we have read some others, but these are books Ruby has connected with and have brought up great conversation. Hope this helps with adoptive families or those wanting to buy books for loved ones.

Family are Forever by Greg Shemin
Mama's Wish/Daughter's Wish by Debbie Blackington - Ruby did a book report on this book (English and Chinese) This is one of Ruby's favorites!
How I was Adopted by Joanna Cole
When You Were Born in China by Sara Dorow
At Home In This World by Jean MacLeod
Motherbridge of Love by Xinran

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sweet and OMG Moments

Our house is very quiet this evening. The snow is falling, the TV is off, Ruby is sleeping, the Christmas lights inside and out are glowing and our wood burning stove is so hot that it's not making much noise but a slight hissing sound. I love evenings like this.

Ruby's reading choice tonight was the book "Forever Family", which is about a little girl, named Rain, who was adopted from China. Again, Ruby had questions about adoption. Her key question of the night was ..... what was a forever family? This took me off guard because Ruby and I have read and processed (or at least I thought) this book at least twice before AND Mike and I have told her several times (beginning in China) that we are her Forever Parents and that we will never leave. Yet, until tonight she still thought that she would go back to her Chinese orphanage at some point in her life and get another new set of parents. Oh my gosh! My heart nearly broke when she told me this. I really thought she knew we were together forever. Yet, I can understand where she is coming from .....her birth mother left her, then she went to the orphanage for a few weeks, then she was placed with her foster family for 9 years (knowing all along that around age of 10 she would be placed back at the orphanage - how awful to NOT to want to turn 9 or 10!), then moved back to the orphanage at almost age 10 and lastly receiving new parents and moving to a different country on the other side of the world.

My dear daughter - I feel awful that we didn't make it clear to you that we are a FOREVER family and that you will never every have any other parents again.

After explaining to Ruby what forever really means, she had a big grin on her face and kept saying "you are kidding" and "really?". I'm not even sure if it has sunk into her head yet, but at least she now knows that nobody will take her away and she won't have to change parents ever again. One thing is for sure......we will be talking about forever families much more often!

On my next post, I'll list the adoption books we have read together and single out the ones that have sparked good conversation about adoption.

To other adoptive families: Please use our story to make triple sure your children (especially older children that have had a foster family) understand what a forever family really is. It saddens me that we assumed Ruby understood this. 5 months is 5 months too long for such an assumption.

The big 11

Ready to open gifts..

Ruby's BD had a peacock theme...this was my poor attempt at a peacock cake

At least Ruby loved it :)

Ruby felt like a new woman with her ears pierced!
Dressed up for a Christmas Party

Ruby said hello to age 11 on December 5th. It was her first birthday party and she had a blast. All the kids were wonderful and so well behaved. Mike and I were impressed! This was a day Ruby has been counting down to since she first arrived home because birthdays aren't really celebrated in China. Ruby mentioned that her foster family celebrated her 9th birthday the last winter she was with them. They celebrated with a special dinner (no friends, party or gifts).

Now that Ruby is 11 it is amazing to see how fast she has grown. She has grown over an inch in the past 5 months. Her 6x and 7 size clothing don't fit her anymore. She can just barely wear 8's and fits best into 10's now. Ruby is becoming more socially mature and has phased out of several of her small child habits. She loves to talk on the phone with Mom and Dad and sometimes with relatives. This is a good sign that she is more confident about her English skills. We attended a Christmas party last night and Ruby had no problem starting conversations with people and introducing herself. She is using more and more complete sentences every day and is doing really well at sounding out words when reading. I'm so happy she loves books because this has really helped her interest in English. Another cool thing...Ruby really enjoys her adoption related books and is starting to ask more questions concerning her experience. I'm really glad we have many of these books because she chooses to read them at night with us and enjoys hearing other children's stories. It has made adoption seem much more common. It has also opened communication on other topics how babies are born, ideas on why birth mothers can't keep their babies, why are so many girls adopted from China, why people choose to adopt from China and why some countries don't have international adoption. I just love when she has so many questions about adoption. She is such a smart little girl!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

Mom decorating the tree.

Ruby chillin w/Grandpa

Mike getting ready to cut down the Christmas tree.

Thanks for finding the perfect tree Katie!!

Thanksgiving Dinner (Grandpa, Me, Katie and brother Larry)

Mimi likes the Christmas Village too.

She found a spot w/o knocking down anything! Amazing cat-

It was so nice to be with family during the Thanksgiving weekend. We stuffed ourselves, cut down the Christmas tree, played football and watched some holiday movies. Mike also took my Dad, brother and Katie to shoot off some rounds. It was a good time! It was Ruby's first Thanksgiving and first time having to share Mom and Dad with several other people. That part was a little difficult for her. We noticed a change in her personality and respect towards Mike and I. We talked about it after everyone left and luckily she was very open about her feelings and what was hard for her while we had company. Another step forward :)

Ruby keeping warm in her new pink scarf!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gobble Gobble

I sure hope my Turkey turns out this nice!

Our house is really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. Not only is this Ruby's first Thanksgiving, but my Dad, brother and his girlfriend are leaving their homes today to celebrate with us. Ruby has met Grandpa the first day she came home, but it will be her first time to meet Uncle Larry and Auntie Katie.

Our family connection is finding its niche. We are to the point where we click more often, know each others reaction before it will happen and just feel closer overall. A few nights ago Mike mentioned that it seems like we've been a family for much longer than we really have...I will agree. It feels so good to be at this point after almost 5 months. Considering Ruby is an older child, this is a huge accomplishment. Today Ruby said "I love you bigger than mother earth." My heart just melted!

Last night we played Monopoly for the first time. Ruby caught on fast and LOVES the game. I personally thinks she likes the power of the money :) She always has very good fu (luck) while playing games. Last night was not an exception. Her first time around the board she landed on Boardwalk (bought it of course!) and her second time around the board she landed on Park Place (another important purchase as well!). Mike and I couldn't believe it. Besides card games, her two favorite games are now Rumikube and Monoploy. To the family in IL and Michigan: watch out because Ruby will dominate over the Christmas holidays!

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!