Saturday, December 28, 2013

Travis Update Ending 2013

Just the other day, the boys had a friend come over to play.  Before the friend arrived, his mom sent me a text saying that her son was bringing his Batman costume.  I told Travis, "Your friend will be wearing his Batman costume when he comes over."  Travis' face lit up, eyes lifted, and mouth opened wide.  Before I could finish signing, "Why not you go upstairs to get your Iron Man costume?" he was signing, "Yes, yes!" and making his way up the stairs.  Moments later, he came back to tell me he couldn't find his suit.  I directed him to look in my bathroom in the hamper.  He did and it wasn't there either.  Finally, I told him to hold on while I sent a message asking his dad if he knew the costume's whereabouts.  He did and Travis put on his alter ego.

I couldn't help but make a mental note of how that conversation was such a big deal.  We were discussing something happening in the future: friend will arrive soon.  Telling Travis about the costume didn't explicitly mean he had to get his costume on, but he got the implication and ran with it.  Travis predicted what I was going to suggest.  All of these are big deals regarding language skills, so it was one of those moments I mark up as a major success.

We are still waiting for Travis' expressive language to emerge beyond the basics.  Most of what he expresses to us are simply the facts: I want milk. Tian pushed me.  My finger hurts.  Or questions: Can you get me a bandaid? Can I go outside?  Can I watch TV?  Where is my blanket?  He will answer just about any yes/no question. He will answer basic questions: How old are you? What is your name? He now  often spells it instead of just signing his name sign.

He's not yet answering many wh questions except "where?"  He seems lost when we ask, "What did you do at school today?" or "Why are you crying?" or even "What's wrong?"  When we look at old pictures from China, he doesn't ask one single question.  He just looks with much thought, points, and names various things.  He will always ask who people are.

He spoke about Christmas and Santa only in facts and regurgitation of what we told him.  Tian, on the other hand, wanted to know, “Where does Santa live?  What is he doing right now?”  In contrast, Travis just takes in information, processes it, and will answer questions only if we’ve already discussed it.  He doesn’t express thoughts of his own beyond liking and not liking something.

When I read stories to the boys, Travis will lose interest after about one or two books; sometimes not even that long.  He will not ask questions or expand on the stories.  He will point and name many things or happenings he sees on the page, but doesn't ask what things are or why or how (as opposed to his brother, who I can't get to be quiet most of the time.)   What he will do is "reread" a story we have read often. When he rereads the story, he changes some details and embellishes with objects he sees on the page.

I believe some of this is Travis' personality. He's more contemplative.  He's thoughtful.  He's precise. He likes order.  He will be silly, but can only take so much silliness before it either makes him angry or he takes it overboard.  He's not very talkative in general.  I think these parts of his personality combine with his language delay and make progress in his expressive language crawl at times.

Despite the slow process of his expressive language, Travis is still making very noticeable strides in all other areas of language development. Like our conversation last night, I often find myself thinking, “Well, that’s a first!”   We notice new skills weekly if not daily.  He's reading sight words.  He loves loves loves math and numbers.  (Makes sense.)  He enjoys writing and certainly has an artistic talent.

Some days I can hardly wait for him to show us more of what's going on in his mind.  I want to know what he's thinking and feeling.  Ken and I have no doubt Travis will hit that day when he just lets out all that’s been stirring in his mind.  I love this boy so much it makes my heart hurt sometimes. I'm so thankful that I'm able to be his momma.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Deep Thoughts, by Tian

Tonight, we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a book we've read many times.  When the caterpillar became a butterfly, Tian said, "Like me. I will become pilot."  (Keep in mind, he signs and talks at the same time when he communicates with me. His language ability astounds me.)

I asked Travis what he wanted to become when he grows up.  Tian answered for him, "He wants to become a pilot like me."  When I asked Travis for his opinion, he agreed and refused some other options I offered him, insisting that he, too, wanted to become a pilot.

Tian asked if, when he's a pilot, "Will you see me?"  I explained that, yes, I will see him.  We will always be together.  We will be family forever, even when he's old.

He asked, "What about when I'm gone?" I told him he didn't have to worry about being "gone."  (I wasn't totally sure what he meant by "gone" and I didn't push it.)

I said, "See, Nana and Pappy are still my mom and dad. Even though they are verrrrry old (sorry, guys) and I'm a mommy, they are still my mom and dad."

Tian said, "But where are Pappy's little kids?"  I said, "I AM Pappy's little kid. And so is Aunt Laura."
Tian was silent, processing all of this information.  I added, "I'm Pappy and Nana's kid AND I'm your mom."  Tian looked totally blown away and said, "But that's different."

Joe, my dad, Dad's mom
So we pulled out some old photos from facebook. We looked at pictures of Pappy when he was a little boy.  Travis joined us for this and pointed, saying, "That's TJ!"  I said, "No. That's Pappy!"  He looked at me like he didn't quite believe me.  I said, "I'm serious! He was a little boy like you, then he grew up and is now a man."  Travis cracked up!  He then wanted to know about the other people in the photos. Those were tough to explain since my dad's brother and mom have both passed away.  Tian was already nervous about us not being together forever.  I did explain as matter-of-factly as I could that they had died and we missed them. (I used that specific word and sign for "die." No euphemisms or talk of "sleep" or "going to a better place." That would be baaad!)  Tian didn't ask what "die" meant. Whew.

The boys saw a newborn picture of me.  I was in the incubator at the hospital with the clip on the umbilical cord. He asked that that was. I explained.  Then we came to a photo taken moments after TJ was born.  He asked, "What about a picture of me when I'm born?"  I said, "I don't have a picture of you when you were first born.  I wasn't there when you were born.  Sometimes, I feel sad, because I wish I could have been there.  But I'm happy that I met you when you were two.  I'm happy God put us together.  But some of it is sad, too.  I'm sorry I don't have a newborn picture for you."

Dad's dad, my dad, Mom's dad, Travis
We moved on to a picture of my parents' wedding day. My dad was standing between his dad and my mom's dad.  I explained that these guys were Nana and Pappy's dads and that one of them was named, "T-R-A-V-I-S, same as you!"  Travis' eyebrows raised and he laughed, very pleased that they had the same name.

We looked at more family photos, then it was WAY past time for the boys to be in bed, so I scooted them along to their beds.

Tian thoughtfully came up to me and said, "I'm worried.  I don't want to grow up.  I'll become old, then lie down and be gone."  *gulp*

I hugged him and told him he didn't need to worry about that for a long, long time; that he'd always be with us, even when he's old, because we'll be with Jesus forever.  I do wonder where some of his thoughts came from.  He knows he doesn't see or know his China mom.  He asked why we didn't live in Nana and Pappy's house.  Why we don't see his other grandparents often.  To him, not living together meant "gone."  I told him that, if he wanted, he could live with us forever and ever. (Mackenzie used to wish the same thing and I made her the same offer.)  As they get older, they're able to better understand extended and immediate family, but for tonight, Tian just wanted everyone to live in the same house forever and always.

Finally, he astounded me even more by asking why his good friends don't always live with their dad and why they have a "new dad."  Yikes.  I didn't realize how much he paid attention to what was being said around him.  But we talk openly about it when he asks where his friends are.  The dad will come over and when Tian asks, our friend states the fact that the kids are at their mom's house.

Not ready to delve into the topic of divorce with Tian tonight, I just said, "They do still live with their dad and their mom, just in different houses."

Whew! Interesting conversations stemmed from a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

All I can do is pray for wisdom to answer truthfully and judiciously in a way that will be gentle to my boys.  I can't imagine the fears of abandonment that are deep in their souls.  I can only pray that God will give them peace that passes all understanding.  And I'll reassure them with every inch of my being that I will *always* be their mommy.  Forever and forever.

Travis thought it was funny that this was me and my sister. He said, "You are both happy!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tian Update Ending 2013

My two girls are off visiting their Nana and Pappy, so since they are away and the little boys are still in school, I made some plans to spend one-on-one time with my oldest boy.

Then we got the call from TSD:  "Tian has a 102 fever and needs to be picked up."  So, TJ and I took a one-on-one drive to the school to get a very sleepy and very hot Tian.

Having Tian home prompted me to post a quick update about this little comedian. He reminds me of TJ at the same age.  Tian is a natural ham who loves to be the center of attention.  He is not shy in the least!  He'll approach people, ask questions, and mostly assumes everyone in the universe knows sign language.

For example, at the Christmas parade downtown, a parade photographer walked by and asked if she could take our picture. After taking a shot of the two little boys and me, Tian tapped her on the arm and asked, "Take another picture of me. I'm Spiderman."  He then proceeded to pose in a number of "Spidey" poses while the photographer clicked away.

For some reason, the videos aren't playing. I'll work on fixing it later.

Tian's ghost story. Scrub through to the very end. That's my hammy boy.

Tian is super curious. His favorite question is, "Why?"  A simple answer won't satisfy this boy.  He'll keep asking and asking until he shows his approval with an, "Oh-I-see."  See in the video below how Tian plays with Santa's hair and hat while Travis shares his list.

Raw video of the Santa visit.
From December 2013

Tian loves to talk about China.  He enjoys looking at this lifebook and has begun to tell us more and more about the photos.  We have no idea how much of the information is accurate, but it's fun regardless.  A month ago, we were looking though his photos when he said, "That's when I was a baby. I was *this* little, then I grew in your belly."  I said, "You were that small and you did grow in your birth-mom's belly, but not mine.  Remember, I didn't meet you until here (pointing to a photo of Gotcha Day.)  I wondered if he would be sad, or quiet, or thoughtful.  Nope.  He instantly said, "Yuh, huh. Yes, I did. You wrong."  I told him matter-of-factly that his China mom gave birth to him, then we met him later.  He looked over the photos again, then gave me the accepting "Oh-I-see."

Tian, talking to his class.
Tian is truly growing up bilingual.  He's the first of all our children who has grown both languages at equal speed.  Both his English and ASL are progressing at amazing rates.  He visits with us about anything and everything at this point.

Tian likes to make things and draw pictures for other people.  The other day, he brought paper to me and asked me to help him "make it become a present" for his sisters for their birthdays. 

Tian would rather drink milk than eat, but he does love bacon, various meats, all kinds of fruits and very few vegetables or grains other than crackers.  When he's sick or having sinus problems (which are frequent with him), he says, "I can't drink milk now. It will make me sick."  Knowing how much he loves milk, I'm thinking milk might actually make him feel sick or more stuffy.  He's a bright kid to recognize that.

Currently, Tian's favorite games are Just Dance, Plants vs. Zombies, and Flight Control.  His favorite TV shows are Animal Mechanicals and My Little Pony, but he doesn't mind watching Avengers and Power Rangers with his brother.

Tian is a pro at whining when he doesn't get his way and overreacting when one of his siblings "hurts" him.  What else would you expect from the baby of the family?

Tian is a total joy to be around.  He makes people smile everywhere we go. It's a privilege to be his mommy!