Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Report Card

We went to parent/teacher conferences last night and got Lin's first report card.

drumroll please...

All A's and one B!!!!

Didn't I tell you she was smart?

Yup, all her teachers say Lin is doing just great in school. She works very hard, is attentive in class, and is overall a model student. (Of course, we knew all this already...) I'm actually more impressed with the one B on her report card than all the A's. The B is in science, where she's not getting extra ESL help every day. So that B, she really is earning on her own!

The one thing we've got to try and figure out is, she's occasionally getting to her classes late. It's not a huge problem, nor is it a daily occurance, but it's happening enough that it's been mentioned to us. Now, when we ask her about it directly, she says she's not late. When I ask her if she's forgetting things in her locker, she says no. So I'm afraid that she's just not understanding the concept of punctuality. We'll keep working on that one.

And speaking of school, I surely cannot neglect to mention Ruby! She's going on her first-ever school field trip today! They're going to a pumpkin patch and Ruby was funny last night while we were talking about it. The kids are going to the same place we go every year to get our pumpkins, a local landmark pumpkin farm owned by a man named Gene. We were just there two weeks ago. (See the "Happy Fall!" post below for pics...) So last night Ruby kept saying "Are we going to our pumpkin patch? Are we going to see our Gene?" Very sweet...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tennis Lessons and Tough Conversations

Lin had her first tennis lesson Tuesday. She is taking lessons with two girls she met over the summer. Anna and Sophie are sisters -- Anna is 14 and in 8th grade, Sophie is 12 and in 6th grade. Unfortunately they do not go to the same middle school, so they are taking tennis together every week so that they keep in touch. Anna and Sophie are both such sweet girls and want very much to be Lin's friends. Of course, I was coerced into participating in the lessons as well, which Lin found to be quite amusing! I've always wanted to learn how to play tennis, so I'm looking forward to Lin and I learning together. Lin was really good, so much so that the coach didn't believe she had never played before. She's quite the athlete!

We've had some more light shed on what's going on at school with this other Chinese girl in Lin's class. Now she's gone so far as to tell other girls not to be friends with Lin, telling the other students that Lin is stupid. Apparently a group of girls invited Lin to eat lunch with them (yay!) and this other girl got mad (boo). Ah, middle school girls... Lin insists that she's fine, it doesn't bother her that this girl is being mean. When we talked about the "stupid" comment, Lin said it was okay because she knows she's smart. You sure are, my smart beautiful daughter!

Dave had an interesting conversation with Lin the other night, about money. It started with Lin asking about adoption, and whether Chinese families ever come to America to adopt American children. Then she started asking about the money involved in adoption. Dave quickly got the impression that Lin was essentially asking how much she "cost." Of course, Dave assured her that we did not pay for her. Yes, we bought plane tickets, yes we paid for our hotel stay. And yes, we gave the orphanage money. But Dave told her the money to the orphanage was for all the care they had given Lin for the last 10 years, and for all the children still there. Then Lin started talking about things we have bought for her since we've been home, like her iP*d and the tennis lessons. She began apologizing, saying that we've spent so much money on her but then sometimes she does something that makes us mad. Poor girl has so much on her mind!

Well, I called our social worker yesterday, just to talk about both the school situation and the money conversation, and how we should be handling them. She pointed out two things that caught her attention -- Lin's comment about how she knows she's smart and so it doesn't matter to her if kids are mean, and Lin worrying about us spending too much money on her. She said that these are exceptionally mature thoughts for Lin to have, and that it indicates that Lin had to be very self-sufficient, self-reliant, in the orphanage. She served as her own parent, telling everyone else "Don't worry about me, I'm doing just fine on my own."

And how many times have I said "She's doing great! She's so happy and well-adjusted! It's amazing!" And not to say that she's not any of these things, because she certainly is a very happy, wonderful girl! But maybe, just maybe, she is hurting and worrying. Maybe she's putting on a brave face -- "everything's fine, don't worry about me" -- to protect herself. How do we teach her that she doesn't need to take care of herself anymore?

Lots to think about...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Fall!

Lin has been busy experiencing her first Midwestern Autumn! To say this is my favorite time of year would be the understatement of the century. I practically foam at the mouth when the weather turns cooler and everything starts to turn orange. I think Lin thought we were pretty crazy when we took her to the local pumpkin patch to pick out our pumpkins but she got through it with a smile on her face. She kept asking if we were going to eat them and when I told her no, they're for decorating our house, she looked at me like I'd lost my mind!
The girls were not terribly cooperative when I asked them to smile for me, the little smarty-pants! This picture and the following one are the best I could get.

We also took Lin to the greatest Haunted House in the Midwest, owned and operated by our great friends, Stu and Lori. We took Lin through the house in the afternoon, with the lights on, so that she would understand what it was all about. She agreed that she would go through, but only if I went along, too. (Even though Stu and Lori are two of the greatest people in the universe, I have sworn year after year that I will never go through their haunted house again, only to be dragged through yet again the next time. This year it was Lin's turn to insist that I go along...)

Stu and Lori gave Lin an award for having travelled the farthest to go through The Haunting! (And no, Lori does not actually look like that all the time... only during October!)

Lin with Creepy Devil Dude (he really is that tall!)
And one more sweet picture of Lin and Ruby. Lin is very patient with Ruby and even agrees to let Ruby share her iP*d, on occasion. As time goes on, Lin is really developing into a wonderful big sister, or, as they say in China, hao jie jie!

Lin HATES this picture, but I think it's too cute! If she sees that I've posted it, I'm dead meat!
I hope you're all having a wonderful Fall!

Friday, October 8, 2010


You read the title of this post correctly... Lin came home from school yesterday with a detention slip!! Now before you get all freaked out, it's really not that bad. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here's the story:

Lin's school is somewhat in the shape of a "T". Her 2nd hour is on one side of the top of the T, her third hour is on the other side. And her locker is at the base of the T. 3rd hour is band and unfortunately for Lin, she forgot to take her flute to her 2nd hour class yesterday, so she had to go all the way back to her locker. There are only 4 minutes for the kids to switch classes, and no running in the halls. So guess what? She was late to 3rd hour. And unfortunately for Lin, yesterday was the day the school did what they call a Hall Sweep at the start of 3rd hour. Every kid who was still in the hall when the bell rang got detention. Bummer!

Dave was upset with the school for giving out detentions for something so minor, and rightfully so, especially when Lin has been a model student so far. But being the hard-nosed, rules-are-rules Mama I am, my thought is, yes it stinks, but I bet she doesn't ever forget to bring her flute to 2nd hour again...

So on Monday she will have to eat her lunch at the "detention table." Which is really no big deal for Lin because she eats lunch alone anyway.

Now, some of you may be wondering why Lin eats lunch alone, since I have mentioned that there is another Chinese girl in all of Lin's classes, and that I thought the two girls were friends. Well, that brings me to the second part of my post...

While explaining to Lin what detention means, she asked me if the teacher would hit her and/or refuse to let her eat. I thought she was referring to school punishments in China, and I immediately reassured her over and over that in America a teacher will never hit her or not allow her to eat. Then she tells me that this other little Chinese girl had had detention a couple weeks ago, and that she had told Lin this is what happened to her. I said no, no, no, and again told her that this doesn't happen in America... and then you better believe I got on the phone with the school!

I had quite a pleasant conversation with Lin's ESL teacher, and it turns out this other Chinese student is a bit of a trouble-maker. She fabricates stories, is disruptive in class, doesn't do her work or else intentionally does it incorrectly, and flat-out refuses to speak English to her teachers. In fact, Lin's teacher was glad I called because she wanted me to ask Lin whether or not this other student is bothering Lin.

So Lin and I had a nice long chat, via online translator, and it sounds to me like I've got a pretty bright daughter! Lin said, in English, "Yeah, she's a little bit crazy" when I asked her about this other girl. She knows that this girl is not a good student and it sounds like Lin has distanced herself from her. Pretty smart, that one! Yeah, it's rotten that the only other kid Lin can speak to in her own language turns out to be a little stinker, but Lin really does seem fine. She's exceptionally mature, in that regard.

I typed into the translator, "Dad and I are very proud of you. Do you know that?" and she said "Sometimes" and then laughed and said "I know, I know." All in all, it was a good conversation.

But yes, she will serve detention...

Do me a favor, those of you reading this who actually know us and see us in person, please don't mention anything to Lin about her detention. It's probably not the kind of thing she wants other people to know about. Yes, I feel hypocritical for blogging about it, but I can trust you... right?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy 13th Birthday, Lin!!!

Today my girl is 13 years old!!
Happy, happy birthday, Lin!!!
Lin and Ruby, on top of Dad's car

Lin's glorious birthday cake... Sinfully delicious! (The leftovers are MINE!)

One of Lin's birthday presents: getting her ears pierced!
Showing off her new earrings and her new iP*d
Enjoying a birthday bike ride

Getting ready to open a plethora of presents

Isn't her smile sweeter than any cake?

Where's my birthday dinner?!

Enjoying noodles at the best asian bistro in the Midwest

Baba and mei mei having a good time

Chopsticks... the multi-use wondertool