Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year - Kayla's Fan Dance

Kayla's class welcomed Chinese New Year with a dragon and fan dance. There are probably only 3-4 non Chinese kids in the classroom of 26 kids, but does Kayla count as Chinese if she was the only girl in the class that didn't have a traditional chinese outfit to wear? The only red clothing she had in her closet was the red turtleneck from her Christmas concert this year and the red christmas tights she got last year for xmas...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Update on Lauren's World

Lauren is approaching 2.5 years and in the last 6 months, she has started to come out of her shell. While she still is shy, quiet and clingy, which I think is just her overall personality, she is definitely more alert, observant and more aware of her environment. While she can still have moments and periods of time where Lauren is in her own little world, she’s come a long way outward, and we hope the progress in this area continues. First off, Lauren is interacting with Kayla so much more now. The two are constantly smiling, laughing and giggling at each other over dinner time, while Kayla makes funny faces to provoke her sister and Lauren reaches out her dirty hands to grab at Kayla's face. Nobody else seems to be able to get Lauren's attention and reaction as much as Kayla and we are super happy she is developing a relationship with her sister. They understand each other perfectly and Kayla knows how to make Lauren smile and of course how to push her buttons! Lauren also likes to give kisses now. They are wet, sloppy, open mouth kisses, but we are absolutely glad to have them!!

Lauren is walking alot faster and steadier these days and sometimes when she's excited you can see her starting to take some really quick steps…we know one day she’ll be bursting into full running strides! Lauren recently got fitted for SMOs (supra-malleolar orthosis) as her physio therapist noted she is flat footed and walks with ankles pronated inward. The SMOs are like orthotic inserted into the shoe but provide support at the ankles and in the foot archway. The SMOs will help Lauren with balance and walking and because they are custom molded, she’ll need new ones as her feet grow…thankfully she’s tiny like her sister and can wear the same shoe size for a good 6-8 months. We continue to work with Lauren on kicking, throwing and bouncing. She recently has learned how to bounce and it brings a smile to our face when we see her bouncing to music (which she had never done before)!

Lauren continues to be busy with school and therapies. Her teachers at her nursery school have commented that she is doing well and is becoming more independent and taking more initiative. At school they are working with her on choice making (i.e. selecting an item when presented with two options). Seems easy enough right? But for Lauren it has been something she's had to learn. I remember in the summer when I offered her the choice between a raisin box and a cracker (I had one in each hand) and she simply wouldn't choose one. I knew she was hungry and that she favoured the cracker over the raisins, but she simply just stood there, stared at my hands and then turned away frustrated. When offered just the cracker on it own, she immediately took it. After months of practice and asking her to make choices with snacks, meals and activities, she is becoming more proficient at it. We are now moving to making choices via photos in the hopes that eventually we'll be able to construct a book of little pictures so she could indicate what she wants. Its a great tool to aid in communication since she isn't talking yet, and I'm hopeful she'll continue to grasp the concept. Her occupational therapists continue to work with her on activities to develop hand strength (she has weak hands and low tone in the upper parts of her body).

Last week we started music therapy with Lauren. Her past traditional speech sessions were play based, but since she doesn't have a strong interest in playing with toys, it was hard to get her to vocalize to indicate she wanted to continue to play. So I thought we'd try out music therapy with speech goals incorporated. The first session was pretty good, considering it was the first session. The therapist is awesome, she plays piano, sings, plays guitar, and had lots of different instruments for Lauren to try. And most importantly, she seemed to understand where Lauren is at and what she needed to do to get Lauren to focus. Lauren was shy at first but then quick warmed up and was able to vocalize a few "more" (or sounds like more “m” sound) for the music to continue! This Saturday, we also return back to Kindermusik, for music group classes which I think she is really going to enjoy. Steve and I will alternate taking her and I think it will be really nice to be able to spend some 1:1 time with her.

So Lauren is still Lauren. I know in reading this, you’ll think the next time you see her, she’s a completely different person. But I guess I’m describing Lauren in Lauren’s world, not the outside world. In the outside world you’ll probably only notice that her hair has grown a little longer, or she seems a little taller, or that’s she’s still not talking and not always responding to you. But in Lauren’s world, she’s made a lot of progress in achieving her inchstones, supported by her loving family and friends. It’s definitely still hard to see other kids, same age or younger than her, mastering skills that would take her months (or maybe years?) to acquire and learn, but for the most part, I’m past this and have learned to accept that its just going to take Lauren a bit longer to do things and that she’s on her own timeline. Her own time and in her own way, she’ll get there…wherever there is.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Choo's on Skate

Steve's pet project over the christmas holidays was building an ice rink in our backyard. After countless nights of hosing down the tarp and praying for some severely cold weather, the water finally froze over and we enjoyed our first skate as a family this past weekend.

Kayla is continuing her skating lessons this January and is loving it. She just needs to learn how to stop but has mastered speed and steadiness. Lauren's love of pushing plastic chairs around the house came in handy on the rink as she had no problems doing the same over ice on dual blades. She really seemed to enjoy the skate and we all had a lot of fun especially when a nice cup of hot chocolate greeted us inside.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas Family Video

So I'm so pissed. The christmas video I was working on my macbook got messed up this past weekend. It was nearing completion but when i started to re-edit it, I noticed some funny quirks were going on with the video. Long story short, I shut my mac down, and when I went to power it on, the video was gone!! I was able to retrieve the file from the trash, but parts of the video are screwed up and I was unable to get the raw data file back to edit. In a frantic, I went to the Genius Bar to see if they could help me, but nope, I was told I would have to redo the video all over again, and that I was lucky that at least I had a trashed copy I could reference. Well, as Kayla's birthday is fast approaching in Feb, I've got lots of birthday planning to do and unfortunately don't have time to redo the video.

So here it is, there are quite a few moments of flawed scenes. This sucks. Oh well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Magical Moments

The holidays, while filled with hustle and bustle are full of magical moments...i'm glad i always have my camera around to capture the moments that bring a smile to my face.

Here is Lauren petting the reindeer statue. She actually ended up going right up to it and giving it a kiss! 

The best reward for helping me make rice krispy squares 

Kayla and Lauren - table for 2 - dining together over rice, beef and carrots

Slumber party with friends in matching PJs

Playing mommy and house the old skool way

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Concert 2011

Kayla's Christmas concert at her Montessori school.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Choo Family Newsletter

The Choo Family Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

“How was your weekend?” asks a friend
“Busy” we reply
“What did you do?” asks a friend
“We can’t remember, but it was definitely busy” we reply

Each day, week, and weekend has flew by us this year like a whirlwind.

Lauren started nursery school this September and has transitioned well. She continues with her therapies both at school and privately and has made slow and steady progress. Most notably, she took her first steps this year and started walking completely independently just before her 2nd year birthday! We are so proud of her and hope to see her chasing (and catching) her sister soon. Kayla loves to make Lauren laugh at dinnertime with silly songs, faces and noises and we enjoy seeing the girls interact with each other. Lauren continues to enjoy books and music and her newest found interest is the xylophone. She loves to eat and more often than not, will eat more than her sister. She loves to feed herself (though still very messy most of the time) and her favourite foods are berries, cheese strings, baby mum mums, rice cakes, yoghurt and of course, cheerios. She had her very first freezie this summer.

Kayla is 4.5 years old and is active as ever. She is currently enjoying skating and swimming and is also now learning to speak Mandarin. With still a strong liking for Dora and Diego she is now starting to favour Bearinstein Bears and Curious George books and Imagination Movers and Little Einsteins on the television. Kayla continues to like to do arts and crafts, to draw and colour, to bake and to do puzzles. More recently she is starting to build with lego and loves to play pretend chef in her kitchen or play pirates in the backyard. In her letter to Santa this year, she asks for running shoes with two velcros, a photo album and a doll house. She asked Santa to bring her sister a music box, a train set and some hair clips. Kayla continues to be a picky and slow eater and more often than not, she is refusing to eat and requires to be spoon fed. At 30lbs, she will likely be sitting in the car seat until she is in high school.

This year was filled with trips – We started off the new year with a one week Southern Caribbean cruise (no kids!). The food was exceptional on the boat and Steve permanently gained 10lbs from the trip. Kayla took her annual March break trip to Vancouver with Steve’s mom and then in June, the four of us went to Vancouver, along with Steve’s parents and brother and sister, to celebrate their Grandfather’s 90th birthday. We shared a 3 bedroom house in downtown Vancouver and had a great time eating home cooked food, shopping, sightseeing and just being with family. More recently, Steve and I took a 2.5 week holiday to China, Thailand and Hong Kong. Another kid-less vacation, we enjoyed drinking, eating, shopping and sun tanning by ourselves in a peaceful and quiet environment.

Our house got a new coat of paint this year, both inside and out. Kayla is liking her new re-arranged bedroom and the kids play room at the front of the house is creeping slowly into our dining area signaling that we really need to consider finishing the basement. This summer, Kayla learned to ride her big girl bike, played for the Tim Horton’s Timbits soccer team, and went to day camp for the very first time while Lauren discovered sand, and grew to love ice cream and the swimming pool. Both girls enjoyed the beach and splash pads this summer and we grew were able to harvest tomatoes from our backyard for the very first time. This year we also welcomed a new family member: Blue Valentine – Kayla’s fish. A gift for her 4th birthday, Kayla named the fighting fish after its colour.

We want to thank all our family and friends for their continued thoughts and prayers from the churches of Italy to the holy place of Mecca to your bedtime prayers. You have helped us to find inner strength and peace and your encouragement has supported us through the cloudy days.

Sharing my favourite quote for 2011: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain


We wish you happiness and peace this holiday season.

Cheers and Love,

Stephen, Kate, Kayla & Lauren
The Choo Family√
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