Question of my life right now, but I understand because everyone does want to know how she is doing. So here is an update in random thought form to fill all of you in.
She slept with us while we were in China which we were supportive of and really hoped she's be open to because it helps promote attachment. The first night with us she crawled up in the middle of the bed, parked herself there and stayed there for the next two weeks. But, she's a bed hog and in a king size bed she took up over half of it. Before our trip I had planned to have her sleep with us at home as well and then transition her to a bed in our room before moving her to her shared room with Emily. After two weeks with Miss Bed Hog I began to rethink that idea. The first two nights at home she slept on an elevated twin mattress next to our bed and then the third night she wanted to sleep in her room with Emily so we moved the mattress in there. She slept on the mattress next to Emily's bed (the bottom bunk) for 4 nights and then last night she wanted to sleep on the top bunk. She slept there all night without any issues so I think we'll put the air mattress away today. I was a bit worried about bedtime at home because in China she got upset if we weren't both in bed with her to fall asleep. But, having the other kids with a set bedtime routine has helped and we haven't had any problems.
She eats all.the.time. I'm trying to figure out if she is truly hungry or just likes to snack all the time. I know they eat smaller meals more frequently in China so I'm trying to keep that in mind. I'm also trying to feed her snacks that are more protein instead of carbs so I know she's getting food that should hold her for a longer period of time.
She's an adventurous eater; much more so than I would be, or was in China. She will try anything we give her but if she doesn't like it she'll wave her hands in front of her plate and say "all done." She tried goulash and didn't like it but then last night ate an entire plate of mini ravioli and sauce which is basically the same thing. We have frozen fried rice and dumplings in the freezer as a back-up but we haven't had to use them all that much. I will still make her some egg fried rice at breakfast because that is her favorite.
Our school is year round so after every quarter they have a 3 week break. 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off and then a 6 week summer. The next cycle breaks starts in 2 weeks so it is silly for us to enroll her in school only to have a break right after starting. If there wasn't the cycle break coming up so soon I would rethink my 5-8 weeks of home time before enrolling in school. This would be very dependent on each child but for Claire I think school would be a very good thing. She is wearing me out with her eagerness to learn. It is wonderful and I'm really not complaining but she wants to do the home school stuff all day and I want to take it a bit slower so she actually processes what I'm teaching and doesn't get overwhelmed. I think the challenge of school and changing of activities will be good for her. If she sits too long she starts to get a grumpy attitude so I've found occasional trips to Target to be therapeutic, for me and her but probably more for me.
So far she's learned:
number recognition up to 25 (thank you dot-to-dot!) I'm also working on the word recognition of the numbers up to ten so she knows that 'one' is the number 1, etc.
counting up to 30
primary and secondary colors
ABC's- she can almost sing the whole song and we're working on letter recognition right now. She can recognize some of the letters but I want her to be able to recognize the letters before moving into phonics.
shapes- we started shapes today. She remembered a few them right away but it is something we'll continue to work on for immediate recognition. I'm working on the word for the shapes at the same time so she'll recognize 'circle' as the shape of a circle.
addition- She can add every thing in the 1's family (1+2, 1+3, etc.) and I even started on mixed numbers up to 10 (2+3. 5+2, etc.). She has to think about it but she usually gets them right.
names for the basic body parts
I'm not sure if she really comprehends the words she's using but she is using more and more English every day. She is like a parrot and repeats most of what we say. Once she's heard or said the word for an object a few times she remembers it and will usually call it by its English name after that. She understand a lot of what we say and what she doesn't we will show her or motion with our hands. She still talks in mandarin to us (but not as much as in China) and it's really not too difficult to figure out what she's talking about. We can pick out mandarin words from what she's saying and can piece it together with her hand motions. She'll answer questions with yes or no now but in conversation will still say "boo sure" which is no. The Memory game has been great for language because I say, and she repeats, the name of all the cards when we flip them over. She's come up to me several times today with a memory card and told me what it is in English.
A couple of days ago she was being funny so I said "You're a silly girl" and she said "no, Mommy's a silly girl." She thinks that is funny because we laugh so she now interchanges the name for whoever she's talking to. She later said "Daddy's a silly girl" so we then had a lesson on boy and girl. We used the mandarin for boy and girl (nahn-wren and new-wren) and then the English- boy and girl. She understood very quickly and now calls everyone by the correct gender in English.
She loves Skype and asks to call people. Yesterday and today she looked at me and said "Nana, telephone?" so we had to call Nana. J's mom graciously agreed to stay with us a couple days after we got home and Claire took right to her. She's asked for Meme several times since she left.
She has come a long way from that first night home and introduction to Toby. She doesn't like to be startled by him and she's not real cool with him being right next to her but she's a lot better and doesn't want him in his crate all day. He's been so good with her too. It's like he knows she's scared and he treats her differently than every one else. He's never jumped up on her or gotten close to her without one of us right there. He won't go up or down the steps if she's on them (one thing she really doesn't like) and has never been hyper around her. She has pet him a few times while I hold him and she loves to throw his toys for him to fetch. I think she'll eventually grow to love him as much as the other kids but it is just going to take some time.
The other kids-
Just like bringing home a newborn, this is an adjustment. They have handled it with great love and patience (for the most part) and accepted her beautifully. They love to teach her words in English. I think they might be experiencing a little bit of attention overwhelmness (is that a word? spellcheck says no) like I have. You go from doing your own thing for the most part to someone needing/wanting your attention all the time and it's a bit of an adjustment.
Really, it is very much like bringing a newborn into the house. I know she's 7 and has different needs than a newborn but it is a very constant need for caring and attention. It is an adjustment for all; not necessarily in a bad way but just an adjustment. We'll get into a groove soon and just like with a newborn, we can't imagine our life without her now that she's here.