Saturday, December 15, 2007
I was thinking today about how much time flies when you have children. It doesn’t seem like very long ago that Leah was a baby, laying on her back in our living room using her legs to scoot across the floor – riding on her shoulders and the back of her head. She did this enough that it actually gave her a bald spot on the back of her head. I remember she didn’t like me much at first and wouldn’t really ever let me hold her for long, but I remember the night it changed. We were in her blue bedroom and I was lying on the black leather reclining chair with the ottoman and I had put on a lullaby CD that someone from our church had given us. Leah was lying on me & went to sleep as I was holding her and the song “Little Traveler” was playing. I was so happy I was crying. I remember the old Cadillac commercial that had the music of the Led Zeppelin song “Rock’n’Roll” – if Leah was watching she would get up and start dancing. She was between 1 and 2-years-old then. I remember after her second eye surgery when she was one – how afterwards her personality completely changed from a somewhat fussy, slightly confused & bewildered baby to a happy, laughing, and loving child. I remember when our home addition was being built I would video the progress with our camera, and Leah would follow me around saying “me see Leah – me see Leah”. Then I would turn the screen around to where she could see herself and she would get so excited and start laughing and jumping up and down. She was between 2 & 3-years-old then. I remember also around this time that Leah would sing the C.S.I television show theme “Who are you – who who – who who”, and also Queen’s “We will - we will rock you” along with me doing the rhythm “boom boom crash – boom boom crash”. Leah was (and still is) such a cutie girl. She will always be special to us because she is the one who first made us parents.
I remember when I was in Korea to receive Alex how the first night I received him and he left his foster mother & father he just cried and cried so hard for 4 – 5 hours straight. I was in room 401 in Holt’s new guesthouse in Seoul, South Korea on February 6, 2004. I tried to console him, but finally I just let him cry on the bed as I sat and tried to watch Korean television. The next day we were at the Seoul-Incheon airport on our way home, and Alex saw a young lady listening to a walkman. He walked up to her looking at him with his puppy-dog eyes and the lady took her headphones off and put them on Alex’s head & ears. Soon Alex started dancing like a pogo stick – it was hilarious – the lady, Alex’s foster mom, and I were all laughing. Later in Japan as we were waiting for our next flight Alex spied another young Japanese lady eating an orange. Alex walks up to her looking at her with those same puppy-dog eyes and she gives him a slice. Then she gives me a whole orange to feed him. I remember as Alex and I were walking through the airports we were becoming buddies, and Alex would be carrying his stuffed pikachu that his foster mother gave him. At O’Hare airport in Chicago they thought pikachu looked suspicious so they put it through bomb detector machine. Alex has the smiling eyes – his eyes look like little smiles. No woman can resist him. Alex punched our church pastor the first time he met him, and he punched just about everyone else including us, but he thought it was fun. Alex always loved to ride on my shoulders and he still does to this day – but he’s getting so big that it’s becoming more difficult for old dad. He always loved for me to throw him up in the air and catch him as well. I have done this many times and have never dropped him.
Our Benjamin the strong boy - the one who they though might have cerebral palsy, but really has a wrestler’s physique and a lot of energy. He has a belly laugh that is so funny that you can’t help but laugh with him. Ben has a serious set of pipes on him and he knows how to use them in his attempts to impose his will. He lived with his foster family in Seoul which consisted of the mother, father, a 27-year-old sister (who spoke English) and a 25-year-old brother. We got to visit their home and to see Ben in his home environment and it was pretty clear they all adored him, and they were so sad when they had to say goodbye. Ben was sad for about 15 minutes, then he was playing with us and exploring Holt’s old guesthouse where we were staying. Ben loved to take baths and blow bubbles, and he has always loved to play with cars, trucks, and trains. Alex was our hitter / puncher, and Ben was our biter. He could bite and bite hard to defend himself, or if Alex or Leah took a toy from him. Our boys hitting and biting had to be unlearned, and they were for the most part – the frequency of each has been greatly reduced. I remember one of the first English words he learned was “moon”. Ben was fascinated by the moon and was always pointing it out to us whenever he saw it. Ben later loved to point out to us each train, bus, tractor, heavy equipment vehicle, etc. just to make sure we wouldn’t miss them. Ben is always so curious and he asks us so many questions. He told us just today that he was going to be a doctor when he’s bigger. A weird word that Ben would sometimes say (that nobody knows what it meant) was “godygodygodygody”. Leah would say “ahqwee” – nope, don’t know what it means. Alex would say “pikachu” a lot. He continued to carry around and sleep with his pikachu for a few years until it finally got worn out, but he has others that he still sometimes hangs out with. Alex believes we threw his original pikachu away (because that’s what we told him), but pikachu #1 is actually cleaned and stored away in a plastic bag. He even takes his newer pikachu’s to kindergarten for show & tell.
Our little pixie-girl Jenna (Xiao, Wen Xin) has been with our family now for a little over 4 months, so I don’t have to remember back too far yet. The first time we saw her at the Changsha Civil Affairs Office in China’s Hunan Province she walked up to me and I picked her up and held her in my arms. She is so beautiful – she has the prettiest eyes and smile. She attached to Cheryl very quickly but for me it took a month or so longer. Jenna lived her life in an orphanage and probably had little (if any) exposure to men. Once Jenna lived a couple days on the outside of the orphanage with us – receiving lots of attention, food, her every need met by us, she had no interest or desire to return to the orphanage. We did visit her orphanage and her finding place (the park where she was abandoned when she was 1 ½ months old) and she seemed mostly withdrawn (not happy) to return. I will never forget that day. Jenna is such a happy, funny, and yes spicy girl, and it’s obvious to us that she loves being in our family. Jenna had chronic ear infections for who knows how long, but we would never know it based on her sunny disposition. She must be pretty tough because you just know it has to hurt. She has been examined by several doctors. They feel that as a result of these infections her hearing has been distorted which has affected her speech. Jenna has since had tubes put in her ears and is now receiving speech therapy. The fact that Jenna has a repaired cleft palate has also affected her speech. A follow-up exam on Jenna’s ears showed definite improvement. Poor Jenna even had to have 3 cavities removed at the dentist by the drill & fill of some of her molars. She is a little trooper for sure. One day I had all four kids with me and I was taking them to a Pizza Ranch for lunch. I opened our driver-side van door to get Jenna out of her car seat. Once she was free of the car seat she ran up to the driver’s door (teasing me by running away). Leah was there to receive her as she was leaving that door, but just as Jenna was jumping into Leah’s arms Leah got distracted (Ben punched her or something). Leah didn’t catch her and Jenna’s face hit the pavement. Her nose was badly scraped and her mouth was bleeding a lot. I thought I was going to have to take her to emergency, but I was eventually able to stop the bleeding. So we went in and ate lunch, but Jenna looked pretty rough thereafter for a week or two. What an absolute joy this little tough but pretty China girl has been for our family. She is easy to care for and easy to please. She is almost always in a happy mood, and tries to be helpful in anyway that she can. I can’t wait until she starts talking a lot because I bet she has a lot to say that people will want to hear.
Posted by Brett at 10:52 AM