Tuesday, September 23, 2008

See You on the Other Side (and Win a Contest, Too!)

As I mentioned before, Rebecca has worked tirelessly to create a new blog for our family. She patiently withstood my persnickitiness and turned out a final product that is truly gorgeous. Thanks, Rebecca!

In a shameless attempt to drag as many of our readers over to the new site as possible, I'm giving away the following items: a hardcover copy of Chinese Children's Favorite Stories and a softbound edition of A Mother for Choco. Even better, a $50.00 donation will be given on the winner's behalf to the Morning Light Home, a home in Taiwan for children in need. Hop on over to our new blog, Anatomy of a Family, check out the new site, and enter the contest.

And now, dear readers, we come to an end. This is PHL to TPE's final post before I shut down the blog. Please do join us at our new site. You'll still get all the adoption-related stuff and more pictures of William than you shake a stick at. But you'll also get a peek into the lives of the rest of our family.

It's life's unpredictable twists and turns, the beautiful moments mixed in with the pratfalls. Come along on a new journey as Craig, Judy, Andrew, and William take on the world.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who, Moi?

I've won an award! Sara/Sofa, Milana's mom, has graciously bestowed upon me the following purple thing:

Hold up! Before the orchestra interrupts my 10.5 seconds of fame, I want to first and foremost thank my Savior, Jesus Christ, my husband, who is the epitome of the nice boy next door, my two beautiful sons, Andrew and William, the Mars Company for all the M&Ms, and... doh!

I think there was a mistake. If you read the qualifications for the award, you'll see the problem. Surely Sara/Sofa meant some other Judy. The one I know is unfailingly puffy-eyed, tired, and ever locked in a heightened state of PMS, pre- and post.

In case you're wondering, here are the Smile Award rules:
1. The recipient must link back the the award's creator
2. You must post these rules if you receive the award.
3. You must choose 5 people to receive the award after receiving it yourself.
4. You must fit the characteristics of the recipient of the award.
5. You must post the characteristics of a recipient.
6. You must create a post sharing your win with others.
7. You must thank your giver.

Characteristics for the Smile Award:
1. Must display a cheerful attitude (not necessarily at all times--we are all human).
2. Must love one another.
3. Must make mistakes.
4. Must learn from others.
5. Must be a positive contributor to blog world.
6. Must love life.
7. Must love kids.

On the contrary, here are 5 people who actually do deserve to win the award:

A. over at Occupation: Mommy. Yeah, I have a teaching degree, too, but do I actually put it to use with my children like she does with hers? It would never occur to me do routine Montessori lessons with my child under 2. No wonder her three girls are brilliant. Besides being a top-notch educator/parent, A. always impresses me with her gentle spirit and easy going nature. (Please Sir, may I have some of that?) Oh, and the girl can sang...

D. at The Years Are Short. What I appreciate most about D. is her transparency. Not many people have the honesty to admit publicly that they get frustrated when their 4 year-old has difficulty recognizing letters of the alphabet (admit it, we've all been there in one way or another - but how many of us would say so?) Still, D. has the ability to make tending to lots of children, whether hers or others, look easy. Oh, and did I also mention that she is one fierce cook? I think I'll pretend to be gravely ill just so she can bring us by some more of her Thai Chicken Salad.

Tiffanie at Blessed with Sweet Peas. Tiffanie should win the award for Miss Congeniality among Taiwanese adoptive bloggers. The girl has sweetness oozing out of her. She always finds a way to see the proverbial glass as half-full. I've appreciated the honesty with which she has shared her recent experience meeting her new daughter, Gracyn. Her continual reliance upon Christ both inspires and challenges, and it definitely shines through in her recounting.

Heather at The Journey to Olivia. The most organized lady I know is also one of the friendliest people I've met in a long time. Even a stuck-in-the-rut introvert like me finds my tongue suddenly loosened when chatting with her. Also, most people wouldn't freely give up their weekends to take in a young girl so her widowed father could have a break. However, she does this every month. Hmm... does she love children? What do you think? Olivia, whoever you are (please make yourself known soon!), you will be very well-loved. You already are.

KB at Standing on God's Promises. What a shame that she moved out of my vicinity before I even had a chance to meet her in person! KB strikes me as a down-to-earth woman, someone who is open about her joys and frustrations, open to new experiences, and most impressively, open to letting Christ have his way in her life, though the path has not always been easy. She is a woman with a big, selfless heart. For all those things, she has my deepest admiration.

So, you 5, consider yourself hereby simultaneously awarded and spammed. Congratulations!

Friday, September 19, 2008

14 Months Old

Happy 14 month-old birthday, Wonderchild.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chinese or Bust

If what I've been told is correct, children as young as William can learn a new word only after hearing it spoken 2-4 times. Children who are Andrew's age (4-6-ish) will need approximately 5-7 repetitions. Adults require a staggering 20-40 repetitions. If true, these figures present a compelling case to teach children a second language as early as possible.

For those who are interested in raising Mandarin-speaking children - or at the very least, kids who can pull off a decent Chinglish, here are some sites and resources to check out:

Language Immersion Camps:
The more I research these, the more I'm starting to rub my hands with glee at the thought of sending our boys to overnight camp when they're of age. They'll see see their Mandarin skills grow by leaps and bounds, make new friends, and... um, Mom and Dad finally get time to themselves for the first time in who knows how long.

Here are two that are look-worthy:

Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy in White River Junction, Vermont. This program is open to 7th through 12th graders for a few weeks in the summer. English is only allowed during certain parts of the day, so it's pretty much sink or swim when it comes to learning Mandarin.

Concordia Language Villages in Moorhead, Minnesota. This program sponsors weekend and full-week immersion programs for the whole family, as well as sleep-over camps for older children. Daytime immersion programs for children as young as 2 1/2 years old and up are also available.

Media Resources:
The Chinese school that the boys will be starting in this Saturday lists some Mandarin media resources on its website. There are links to children's DVDs, Chinese pop music CDs, online radio, and links to even get Chinese children's satellite television broadcast in your home. If you explore the site futher, you'll also see some useful links for learning Chinese and even typing it.

Local Chinese Schools:
This national directory lists schools in each state that have Chinese language programs. It is by no means comprehensive. You may do better to just Google "Chinese school - XYZ city" and see what you come up with. It's definitely worth visiting the school to make sure the curriculum, teachers, facility, and student population will be good matches for your child.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The End Is Near

Warning: Rebecca, the genius behind PHL to TPE's current blog design, is at it again. I've commissioned Her Artistic Highness to create a new blog that will focus on our entire family. I'm thinking that it's time to move on. Yes, Sir William is truly a rock star in his own right, but there is more to the K. family than its newest member and over the last year and a half, the stories of its other three members have largely gone untold.

By the way, if you're in the market for a stylish blogover, do check out Rebecca's site, Uptown Design Studio. You can get the design you've always wanted and in the process, help bring home her beautiful toddler, Owen, who is currently in an orphanage in China.

Custom blog makeovers by Rebecca

In the meantime, prepare to be hit with so much bloggy fabulosity sometime over the next several days that you won't know what to do with yourselves.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Andrew to a fellow kindergartener: "Being a big brother is hard work."

Hey, no one said it would be easy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Learn to Speak Chinese, Volume II

As I mentioned in a previous post, we're trying our best to raise William to be as bilingual as my faltering Mandarin will allow. His comprehension, evidenced by his basic vocabulary and responses to our questions, shows that we're off to a good start. In the process, it has been really great to see how Andrew, who has been raised hearing English 95% of the time, has picked up pieces of the language.

However, I realize my limitations and know that a day will soon come when our conversations must move beyond, "Look, Mommy sees a big, white dog!" or "Who farted? Was it you?! It wasn't Mommy!" Since kids minds' are like sponges at this age, now is definitely the time to enroll the boys in Chinese school.

With William, there is an added incentive to learn. Unlike most adoptees from China, there is a very real possibility that he may be able to reconnect with his Taiwanese family one day. I have been following the blog of a young lady named Meiling, who herself was adopted from Taiwan by a Canadian family. She has made contact with her biological family and experiences a great deal of anguish over not being able to communicate effectively with them. While she is working hard to learn Mandarin, she has found the language difficult to pick up as a young twenty-something. I'm saddened for her and am reminded this may very well be William's reality one day.

Thus, I've been researching Chinese language schools in our area. Thankfully, we're blessed to have a few different options from which to choose. In fact, there is one that meets just a mile away on Sunday afternoons. As easy as it would be to get there, I've already nixed that choice. We're trying our best to keep Sunday as a day of rest and going to school is anything but relaxing.

Plus, looking through the website and having spoken to a representative of the school, it strikes me as a very traditional program, much like the one I attended for about 7 years of my younger life. The children are predominantly first generation Chinese-American. Many of them have the advantage of speaking and/or understanding spoken Mandarin. The families all "match." Browsing through the photos on their website, it's hard to spot adoptees or any Hapa children. I don't want my kids feeling like anomalies. As it is, there are already too many threats against our children's self-esteem in the world. I don't need to pay for another one.

Another school that has caught my eye is located about 25 minutes away. Its student population seems to have a broader representation of adoptees, mixed-race children, and non-Asian kids. Its language immersion classes encourage parent participation so that the children aren't the only ones learning. The school also offers classes to children as young as one year-old, so both William and Andrew could attend.

However, the classes and homework stress the use of a lot of Mandarin DVD watching. Since William is not yet a big fan of television, I don't know how well this will go over. I don't want to force him to watch t.v. just so he can do his "homework." The school also meets on Saturday mornings, thereby obviating any possibility of Andrew joining any Saturday morning sports teams. Sorry, Andrew. I guess that's what middle school sports teams are for.

I figure we'll try out the latter school when it starts up two weekends from now. If it's not a good fit, we may consider rounding up some local families with adoptees and/or Hapa kids and hiring a tutor to teach them. I might look into some of the nearby universities to see if there are any students there who speak both English and Mandarin fluently (growing up, I found those Chinese teachers who couldn't speak English well to be less credible). I want a candidate whose experience includes working with young children, someone who is energetic and creative. Learning the language must be fun.

Whatever we opt to do, I know that we need to strike while the iron is still hot. By the time our kids become tweens, they may very well start to complain about giving up their free time to learn Mandarin. Who wants more homework, anyway? They may just want to "fit in" with everyone else and not have to sacrifice their weekends for something that stresses their differences.

But for now, while their minds are young and pliable, they are under Mommy's dictatorial thumb, and Mommy says it's off to Chinese school with them.