Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First reader in Mandarin

Kate brought home a couple of books to read tonight. One of them was in Mandarin characters and limited pinyin.
Reading in Chinese from Lisa on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Little monkeys

Most days after school we stop at one of the playgrounds in our 'hood to enjoy the few remaining days of warm weather. Kate is determined to master the monkey bars, even giving herself a blister last week in her dogged pursuit of her sister. Problem is, Kate thinks too much and psychs herself out about 1/2 way across.
Kate monkey bars from Lisa on Vimeo.

Next up was the sliding monkey bars.
Kate parallel bars from Lisa on Vimeo.

Then Lucy took her turn:
Lucy parallel bars from Lisa on Vimeo.

There actually aren't many kids that can keep up with Lucy on the monkey bars. She has so much strength in her arms/hands. This is her newest conquest:
Lucy monkey from Lisa on Vimeo.

And because she feels the need for speed and height, pushing sister on the swings has become another opportunity to become airborne:
Lucy swings from Lisa on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Family Day #4

Four years ago today, Len and I were waiting to meet our second daughter in a hot, stuffy building in the middle of China. Nana and Kate were also waiting, in a hot, stuffy hotel.

Four years ago, our family was completed with the addition of Lucy (or Doodcy, as Kate called her). Now she is known as Lucy-Juice, Luce, Lú xī, sis, sissy, sister, or LOOO-SEEEE! Whatever she happens to be called at any given moment, she is forever a daughter, a sister, a grand-daughter, a niece and a cousin. And she has made our family happier, louder, funnier, and sillier.

Here we all were 4 years ago in Zhengzhou, China.

Kate and Lucy, Day 1
Home 6 months (March 2012)
Home one year (September 2012)
Home two years (September 2013)
Home three years (September 2014)
Home four years (September 2015)
We've all come a long way from that first meeting.
Happy Family Day Lucy-Juice and Katie-Bug!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Show and Tell

Friday is show-and-tell day at school. Kate really wanted to take her flute to school to play for her friends, especially since one of the new songs she learned is also a Chinese song. Here she is playing and you can hear her teacher singing the words in Chinese as she plays.
Flute at school from Lisa on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Love Letter, Month 68

Dear Kate,

You are 68 months old today, my little sunflower.
This has been an exciting month--your last month of Summer 2015.  We've had lots of adventures starting with the Chicago Air and Water show. You enjoyed the planes, the food, and later, digging in the sand.
This year you decided that you really wanted to run the Spartan race with your sister (actually, you really wanted the medal so you agreed to run the race in order to get one) so we set off early one hot and sticky August day for the far southwest suburbs. You were a bit nervous about it initially but once it got underway you thoroughly enjoyed yourself, finishing strong.

We had a few lower-key activities as well including:

a book reading (The Day the Crayons Came Home) at the local bookstore
two art projects at the Children's Museum. The first one, a watercolor,

and the second, a bowl made out of clay

We went to Brookfield Zoo twice this month and during one of those visits, you were picked to help throw food into the air for one of the falcons to catch in their Festival of Flight show.
You are very into animals of all kinds right now, mostly because your favorite tv show is "Wild Kratts". In that show, two brothers travel the globe in search of various creatures, educating kids about science, zoology, habitats, etc. along the way.

You are enthralled and every day you will tell me some "creature fact" that you have learned and on zoo days, I was amazed to hear you rattling off details about cheetahs, condors, and bats as we went through those exhibits. Closer to home, you and Bella continue your love affair, although when you become a little overzealous she has found a very gentle, yet effective way to keep you from invading her space.
This new interest in animals took the form of a multi-week project in which you hung all of your stuffed animals over your head every night.

For the last official weekend of summer we enjoyed a day at the beach with your friend Lucy D and her family. You braved the 59 degree water temps and spent a good portion of your time swimming as I lost feeling in my feet standing out there with you.

The biggest event this month as been the start of kindergarten! You have really missed school and especially listening to and speaking in Chinese on a regular basis. You frequently ask me when we can visit with my Chinese teacher, Ms. Vicky, or go to Chinatown so you can listen to people. When we were at the Botanic Garden you noticed a Chinese family playing nearby. You asked if you could go over to speak with them (and would I please come with you...) so off we went and after introductions were made, you held court all by yourself with the Nainai and the Mama while Lucy played Baby Lion with the little boys.
They were impressed with your accent and said that you sounded like you were a native of Northern China which pleased you more than most anything had that day.

As for school, you and Lucy were ready and raring to go on the first day!
You both rushed to Qiongwei lao shi, hastily kissing and hugging me goodbye so you could set right to work exploring the classroom.
You came home with some hand-print fishies:
And now for the Kateisms of the month:

You tore this out of your diary earlier in the month and I found it in on your bed. I couldn't resist making a copy:
"I am sad because Lucy is not being nice to me."

Your handwriting improved dramatically this month, as evidenced by this penpal letter to YiaYia. You absolutely cracked me up with your last sentence in answer to her question about how many American dollars you would need to equal 50 Canadian dollars:
August 26, Dear Yiayia and Pappou, Thank you for writing back to me. I am still on vacation from school. Yes, I am having fun. I did like tennis camp. I love playing the flute. I learned a Chinese song on the flute. Yes, I have been swimming a lot. Lucy woke me up very early and I am very tired. I did not know I would have to do a math problem today.
August 30. Dad helped me with the math problem. The answer is $37.50 in American dollars. I love and miss you both. Kate

You also practiced writing your name in cursive at the bottom of the page.

On the ride home from school, you and Lucy were sharing a packet of sandwich crackers. You counted how many there were (6) and deduced that you should have 3 each. A few minutes later, Lucy had hoovered through hers and was trying to get yours to which you said: "Lucy, you are pushing the limit!"


Remember that one of the creature powers of parrots is that they repeat what they hear? Yeah, so, one of the things you should know before you have children is that what you are really raising are parrots. Speak and act with this knowledge in the forefront of your brain lest you fall into the same trap as your mama.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I think she likes it

The first thing Lucy does when she has a chance is to sit at her piano and doodle around on it. I took this video yesterday while I was fixing supper. She didn't know I was filming her so I started laughing when she said, as she was turning around, "Can you take a video...?"
Piano girl 2 from Lisa on Vimeo.

And this was the video I took that she requested. She's trying to play the theme from Jaws at the beginning of the video.
Piano girl from Lisa on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Officially kindergartners

Today was the day and everyone was excited! Both girls got up with smiles on their faces, ready for breakfast so they could get dressed and head to school. Boy do they look a LOT BIGGER to me.

Compare to last year--PreK 2, at 4 1/2 years old.
And the year before, Pre-K 1, at 3 1/2 years old.
Len and I walked them into class and chatted with Qiongwei lao shi before heading out.The girls cheerfully kissed us goodbye and skipped into the classroom.
We had Lucy's followup post-surgery visit with Dr. Vicari after school. She still has a mouth and nose full of stitches but she has been approved for gymnastics and monkey bars. He gave us some saline rinse to help keep her nose clear (it was pretty caked up with snot and blood...and stitches...not something I've felt I can mess around with to help clear it). After her bath tonight we used the rinse and glory be--she managed to get out an amazing amount of stuff. She felt so much better! He wants to see her again in 3 weeks.

On the way home, I put on an audio book, which, can I just say, is THE SINGLE MOST AMAZING THING for long car rides! They are completely hooked on the Lulu books by Hilary McKay, narrated by Jilly Bond. Her writing is quite funny, the stories are just perfect for this age (but are an easy listen for adults as well) and the narrator is perfect in tone, making it easy to follow who is speaking in the story.

However, this happened not long after leaving the doctor's office at 4:30.
School is, apparently, exhausting.

They rallied during supper and said they had both worked on the Hundreds board and writing in pinyin. Lucy said today that math is her favorite subject. Kate couldn't decide between math and reading. It's so lovely to hear how much they enjoy learning but it is certainly a taxing job going back to listening and speaking all day in Mandarin.  They both eagerly climbed into bed with lights out by 7pm.

Hunh! You just never know...

So Jennifer, an intrepid blog reader, just let me know that there are indeed such things as pink dolphins (see yesterday's post to get up to speed) and I have to say I am gobsmacked. I don't know if I'm more tickled that pink dolphins actually exist or that someone googled it and then took the time to let me know.

I plan to show Kate and Lucy this video after school today. Won't they be surprised! Thanks Jennifer!


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