Saturday, March 2, 2013

Things that were funny on that day....

Here is an updated picture of our WHOLE clan of kids on the couch....

These are the things I would have (kind of did) laugh at after the accident....

The cop, (while helpful I’m sure), was asking too many questions:
“How do you spell that name?” 


“What about the middle name?”


    “How do you spell that?” 

“What is his birthday?” 

               “Male or female?”  (Apparently, not a single one of our kids has a name that is easily distinguishable as male or female….)  J

And so on…..for every kid……

I was getting antsy.  I knew our kids had been brought to (and shut in) one ambulance while they waited for the other two.   I pictured them in there, alone, no adults to comfort them (the adults were all focused on Keith at the time).  No windows to see out of.  I wanted to tell them it was okay….to help them to calm down after having been knocked around in the van.

And so I said…

“Um, can I answer these questions in the ambulance?  My kids are probably freaking out with no adults in there to help them know what is happening.” 

The cop hesitantly agreed. 

I walked over to the ambulance door and yanked it open quickly, ready to calm our crying kids….

The first I saw, though, was Zeke, with a neck brace on…

And he was smiling. 

A huge smile. 


“Mom, look at this funny thing they put on all of us….”

And when the ambulance guys gently explained that Zeke would need to be strapped to the medical board, I think they were surprised by Zeke’s enthusiasm. 

Crazy kid.
----------------------------------------- -----------

When we had been at the hospital for awhile and all the kids had been checked out, I started to get dizzy.  I laid down on one of the hospital beds. 

Soren walked over; his face was level with mine. 

He looked at me for awhile, and then, with as much seriousness as you would expect in this situation,  he whispered, “Mom?  Did Spongebob crash into us?”  (And I'm surprised to say I didn’t laugh....
My head just hurt too much)  Instead, I said, “Why do you think that, Buddy?”

And he said, “Mom!  Spongebob is a really bad driver!”  (Duh….)  And I haven't told him that he is wrong, because, I mean, as a kid, what cooler person to run into you than Spongebob!?  Ya know?


Also?  Our kids are a counseling cliche':  

They say, in counseling, that your kids work out "big things" through play....that they keep playing it over and over again until they can sort it out in their heads (or something).  

So our kids have been playing "We're Going On a Trip (and You Have to Buckle Up)" for hours. 

And when I came home from work the other day, Sep told me they had all played "Doctor"....

Not THAT kind of doctor.....

...the kind where you get in a bad accident, and you take turns having to bandage each other up.  

We need more bandaids.

I need bandaids in bulk, I guess.  

Monday, February 25, 2013


**** First of all, no one that reads this is allowed to show my mom.  I made it so she (and  my dad) can't see it on Facebook.  She's in Florida, and it was work for my dad to get her to go.  She's always worried that bad things will happen while she is gone, and she won't be around to help.  She doesn't need to read this while she's there, okay?  She knows we were in an accident, but she doesn't need details or pictures.  If you promise, imagine signing your name on the  line and read on. :)


I don’t usually write this kind of thing on Facebook (or a blog).  In some ways, this feels like writing about a death in the family or about some big ol’argument Keith and I were in.  Like Facebook isn’t the place to share, and yet…

You've read about Soren’s "non-itchy butt" and Zeke’s latest costume, because those things are what make me laugh.  Those things are what make me smile when life is stupid.

Those are some of the things that make me be glad to be alive.

But this day; today’s moments, made me happy to be alive too. 

Not because it was so funny or fun, but because it was one more time when I walked away glad that I (and my family) were alive today.

I pray a prayer with Soren every night (yes, it’s a different prayer than the one I do with Eyann, because Soren likes to have “his own” prayer), and it says, at the end, “Thank you for today, and we thank you for the day we’ll get to live tomorrow”. 

I guess we assume we’ll get to live tomorrow, and usually we do, but some day, that tomorrow will get cut short.  Today’s events helped me to be thankful that today wasn’t the day that got cut short.
This is going to be kind of long, because I want you to be able to see, if you can, what it felt like, and I guess I need a lot of words to do that... 

We were on the expressway, going about 70 mph, when Keith put on his brakes. 

The right lane, the one we were in, was backed-up and going about 35 mph.   We slowed and got in line with the rest of the right-lane traffic.    

I remember Keith being surprised by the sudden slow-down while I, a habit after quick stops, looked in the rearview mirror to see a black SUV speeding towards us. 

Then we were in the Gravitron…

that carnival ride that pins you against the wall with its fast spinning motion.

and I remember wishing it would stop so I could see what was happening. 

It did stop, eventually, and I quickly looked over at Keith. 

And Keith wasn’t looking back.  Actually, he wasn’t responding at all.  He was sitting in his seat, eyes open, but not moving or talking.  Not blinking or answering when I called his name.  I didn’t want to scream it, because I didn’t want to upset the kids.

I wondered how I would tell the kids, (later, of course) that their dad had died.

I crawled back to check on the kids.  They were quiet, their heads probably still spinning; telling me about this leg that hurt or this part of their back was sore. 

I checked on Keith again, getting in his face and calling his name a little more loudly. 


As I sat there, trying to think of what to do next, Soren started crying…

“Mom, I can’t move my legs!” 

Expecting the worst, I looked back to see his and Eyann’s legs had been pinned between the seats, which had all been shoved forward on impact. 

I couldn’t get them out. 

I checked on Keith again, calling his name, my face in his….then finally….

“What??!!” (like I had rudely interrupted his sleep). 

I had time, now, to notice the pieces of glass and chunks of van that were shattered all over the floor and seats.  Papers, books, water bottles, all of the contents of my purse, and the kids’ DVDs were strewn all over the place.  Basil was frantically collecting the Harry Potter book that his Papa reads to them every night. 

A women came to the door, to ask how she could help.  (I love her, and I wish I knew who she was so I could thank her).  She helped me pull my seat upright again, (it had been shoved flat back upon impact), and we loosened the little kids’ feet.  I shoved Soren out of the only door that was not smashed shut, and this lady held him while I tried to talk to Keith. 

Keith was still in and out of consciousness. 

When he was awake, he’d ask the same two questions: “What happened?” and “Was it my fault?”  (He said later he felt bad that he wasn’t asking about the kids, but at the time, he didn’t know he had any kids!  He didn’t know that it was his wife that kept insisting he answer her questions.) 

And so it was, for the next however-long (accident time must be screwed up, because what felt like five minutes was around an hour), Keith asked, over and over again, “What happened?” and “Was it my fault?”

In between answering his questions, (and wondering how I was going to take care of him for the rest of his life, plus all five kids), I held onto Eyann and Soren (who had asked to be put back in the van with his family), and waited for the ambulance to come. 

Three ambulances. 

Four kids (not Soren) and Keith all strapped to boards and raced to the hospital. 

And this is where the story gets shorter, because while we got whacked from behind full-force by an SUV and then thrown into traffic and whacked again on Keith’s side, I walked into the hospital on my own, and my kids were all released less than an hour after we arrived.  Not a single scratch or bruise to be found.  On anyone.

Keith asked, for another five hours or so, if he had kids and what their names were, if he had a wife, what happened and was it his fault, where was he and who the hell were all of these people staring at him :) , what happened (another 50 times), and what month and year it was.  (That last question apparently, was one that a nurse had asked him in her evaluation, and he tried “cheating” by asking me.)  :)

Keith’s CT-scans finally came back normal, he eventually figured out who his family was, and he even greeted Eyann in Chinese.  I was glad I wasn’t going to have to change his diapers in the very-near future. 

All of us, minus our mangled van, were declared healthy enough to go home. 

We went to see the van the next day, and it was worse than I remembered (and worse than these pictures can visually describe).  Keith’s seat was ripped out of its frame.  Soren and Eyann’s (middle) seat was bent.  The trunk was gone, pushed clear up to the rear seat.  The rear seat was lop-sided and bent; shoved flat up to the seat in front of it.  I kept mentally measuring how many inches were in between the sharp pieces of the very-crushed van and our kids’ fragile heads.  I took note of the three broken back windows and the fact that not a single kid had even shed a drop of blood.  I noticed the metal that was peeled back around the tires and the dent along most of the left side.

And that feeling I get when Soren tells me he likes my “wrinkly tummy”?
                             Or when my boys pretend they are Super Ninjas while "stealthing" around the house?      
          Or when Eyann and Sep try to make cookies together and make a giant mess?
Or when Keith sits on the couch, every single night, with our kids to read them Harry Potter?

Well, I kinda got that same crazy feeling while looking at that van.   Like, “Hey God?  I’m glad you gave me these people.  And thanks for today.  And thanks if we get to live tomorrow.”  

How the heck did all of those windows (under the blue) shatter everywhere inside the van but not at all cut our kids?? 

That's our trunk, pushed all the way up to the rear seats.  

  These seats were pushed all the way to the next row of seats, leaving no room for legs at all.  Good thing my kids are skinny??

An SUV (and all of that sharp stuff) was inches away from our kids' heads

Keith's seat was broken right off the base

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Amen, Ligatoot!

I haven’t written for awhile.  Part of that is that I am back home to laundry and cooking my own meals and work and cleaning and homeschooling.  But the other part of it is that Eyann’s place in our family doesn’t seem that mentionable anymore.   I mean that in a good way….in a “She doesn’t stick out so much; she blends” sort of way. 
Some day, though, I will want to remember what she was doing two months after she joined our family, and so I’ll write today.

Let’s start from 8 am.  At exactly 8 ‘o’ clock, the girl comes blasting (never quietly) into our room and yells, “Goodah Moorahningah!”  Then, she usually jumps on us and laughs.  Loudly.  She has been known to put her lips over my ear as she greets us in the (very early, for me) morning. 
The girl then runs to the kitchen to request a banana.  (The requests for bananas persist every hour, almost all day long.)  She says, religiously, to September, “Time for school?” when she is done eating, and the two of them head downstairs.  This girl recognizes at least 10 letters, she’s learning to write her name, she can count to 15, and she knows her shapes (most of the time).  I can’t take credit for any of that.  S has been annoyed that the “little kids” don’t do school as much as she does, and she has taken responsibility for getting all of Eyann’s school hours in. 
People have asked about her language.  We have stayed in contact with one of Eyann’s friends who was adopted on the same day to a family in Iowa.  Her parents have told us that their daughter refuses to speak Mandarin; even with a Chinese exchange student that had come to visit.  Keith and I laughed, saying that Eyann is wondering why it is taking SO long for us to learn her language.  She’s probably thinking, “Man, how do they only know a handful of Chinese words!?  It’s been a couple of months!”  This girl still spouts out whole paragraphs in Mandarin and then stomps her foot and scowls when we tell her we have no idea what she’s saying.  The kids, on the other hand, have resorted to speaking Chinese to her.  Soren has taken advantage of all of Eyann’s “bug words”: He will go into her room, grab one of her “prize possessions”, and then wave it around in front of her, saying, “Soren dah” (which, as far as we can tell,  means, “This is mine.”)  He has also picked up what we like to call Eyann’s “Chinese swear words”.  When she is mad, she has a handful of comments that she uses, and while we know they are not kind, we’re not sure what they mean.  When Soren and Eyann are fighting, he will mutter under his breath, “Liggatoot!” or “Toyette Eyann!”  When Eyann is mad at him, he will run into our room and cry, “Mom, Eyann just said Liggaseppy!”  And I have to remind him that we don’t know what it means, and maybe it is nice, and he is too smart to believe that, because she always says it with a stamp of her foot and a shake of her little big-haired head.

Which brings us to the next point.  The girl, for an Asian, has big hair.  Maybe this is one of my uneducated and wrongly held assumptions, but I always thought Chinese people had beautiful, straight, shiny, black hair.  This kid?  She’s got big hair.  And it’s not straight.  It’s coarse and pretty unmanageable.  We’re still working on what it looks like to make it look cute.  Maybe by the time she cares, like when she’s a teenager, I’ll have figured out all the tricks for her.  A friend of mine laughed at me when I had a haircut scheduled before I had thought about a pediatric visit.  But hey!  A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do, right?  S is growing out her hair now, so the two of them can have matching hairdos.  Eyann always makes sure to tell S that she looks “prelly!”  She’s nice like that.   She is constantly telling her siblings that they are her buddies and that they are cute and that she loves them.

She’s really, really sensitive to our family and their feelings.  Keith, who says that sharing who he is in public, as a pastor, gets him unusually emotional, sometimes cries while he is speaking at church.  Two times now, Eyann has been upstairs to see this, and both times, tears start welling up in her eyes.  Soren gets hurt more than any kid I know.  Constantly.  Without ceasing.  (If I prayed as much as he got hurt, I’d be a freaking saint.)  So, he also cries.  A lot.  Eyann doesn’t understand why I don’t often run to his aid.  But really?  I’d be running to the kid every five minutes.  I tend to ignore him unless his cries sound different than the “I am annoyed that I ran into the wall again” cries I usually hear.  Eyann doesn’t think this is acceptable.  She often drags me to her brother, hugging him and saying, loudly, “YOU OKAY?” over and over again, hoping I learn from her example and, through time, figure out what it looks like to be a “good mom”. :) Apparently, September was crying in her sleep about some dog that died or something, and she didn’t wake up because she was crying, she woke up because Eyann was repeating, over and over, “YOU OKAY, SEPPY?  YOU OKAY?” with her cute little not-quiet voice. 
We like this girl.  She is good for our family.  We hope we are good for her.  Every night, she makes Keith and I pray for her, and this is the prayer she models for us to say: “Jesus, thank you for Eyann.  We love her so much….” and every night, when she reminds us to pray, I really mean that prayer.  A lot. 
Jesus, thank you for Eyann.   We love her so much.  Thanks that she gets to be in our family and that we get to be a part of hers.  We pray we are as much of a gift to her as she is to us.  In Jesus’ name, (and then yelling as loud as you can) AMEN!  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Observations of the Other Side of the World

A friend asked me what my favorite part of China was, and while of course it was getting our girl, I would say that I really loved getting to know (as much as one can in two weeks) the Chinese culture. 
Here is what I observed, but that’s just it….
These are simply my observations.  These are not facts, they are just guesses from what we saw in a short two weeks.  If you are Chinese and reading this and I am completely wrong, feel free to correct me! J
Observation #1: Older people, I would guess, are less depressed.  They are active. 

                                      Always at the parks in the morning, hanging out with each other. 


I wrote an entire post about this, so go read that if you want more details, but I thought it was worth repeating here.  

Observation #2: Chinese people do not like to see kids upset. 

Our girl?  If she was crying, we’d have five Chinese women come over to see what was wrong and to try to fix it for us.  One would rub her face, one would repeat over and over, “Don’t cry….” (Eyann would respond by crying longer and louder.)  One would zip her coat up a little higher. (Eyann would quickly pull it back down.) One would knock on our hotel door to see if she could help.  (She couldn’t.)  One would tell Eyann, when she was crying for her (foster) mama (not me), that I was her mama now and that I loved her very much.  (That just pissed the girl off.) One would give us warm milk.  (Eyann pushed it away.)

All of those things? 

REALLY nice that these women wanted to be helpful…

And I’m glad that they all tried, because Keith and I were feeling pretty helpless in comforting our girl.  Everyone else’s attempts didn’t help Eyann, but they sure helped us to realize that nothing and no one was going to help her feel better about having her world turned upside down (literally) and we were just going to have to be patient and wait it out with her. 

Observation #3: We’d lose weight in China. We did lose weight in China.  My weight hasn’t changed, at all, in about 9 years (except during and after my pregnancies), and I lost five pounds while I was there. 
People walk there.  And ride bikes.  It is really expensive to drive a car.  You have to pay the government more.  And you are banned from driving on certain days, depending on your license plate number. 

People eat better there.  We didn’t eat french fries and cookies all day and four scoops of ice cream every night.   (E’hem…not that I do that at home...)  

We ate lots of rice and vegetables and fresh fruit. 

There were foods served on the street, but it wasn’t elephant ears and french fries covered in mayonnaise or giant hotdogs with chili meat and cheese on top. 

The foods I saw people buying were meats and veggies and boiled eggs.   Sometimes, you’d see  some “fast food” cups of rice….

I realized just how much healthier Chinese people were when I was surprised to be able to point out an overweight Asian girl. 

                Essentially the only overweight person I’d seen in the two weeks that we’d been there…. 
Yep, people on that side of the globe are smaller….. (and not just in their foot size).

Observation #4: You can’t find Benadryl in the Chinese Walmart, but you can find whole streets of vendors selling dried seahorses and starfish and ocean plants for medicinal purposes.  Apparently, you crush it and mix it with water and apply it to your wounds?  Or drink it in tea? 

I loved walking the streets full of vendors.  There were whole streets that resembled a pet aisle.  And whole streets that looked like your local shoe shop.  And another street that was focused on tea products and food. 

Observation #5: Prices are marked, but not necessarily set in China
Before we left, we heard (and read) the locals expect you to haggle with them on prices, but I have Keith for my husband and he’d be completely embarrassed if I even asked for a lower price, and so… was not had in the haggling department….
Except when I went to a department store in a quest for clothes for Eyann. 
I was told the shirt I was to buy was $500 Chinese dollars.  Our guide stepped in and talked to the women for awhile, pointing at me and at the shirt and at Eyann for quite some time while I stood by looking awkward.  It was settled then, that I would pay $67 Chinese dollars.  I did. 
When I returned to the hotel, I laughed when I saw the tag said $167.  I asked the guide about this, and she said many department stores will raise their prices when they see Americans buying their products.  And so….the prices are not set.  Imagine going into Younkers and haggling with the sales person.  Or imagine the sales person jacks up the prices because you look like you have more money.  Imagine going to buy a dog at PetSmart and haggling a few hundred down before agreeing to buy your poodle.  Should I try it next time I’m at the mall?

Observation $6: Chinese people are accommodating to people who don’t speak their language.
So many times, Keith and I would be somewhere or need something, and we’d be trying to communicate with the people there, and have no idea how to tell them in their language.  We’d use lots of hand motions and talk very slow English (like talking slower to someone who doesn’t know English is going to help them to suddenly get it).  And all of the time, they were so patient, and they would really try to figure out what we needed or they would find someone who could.  I appreciated that.  Being in a country with a new little girl who is upset and crying and having no way to communicate what you need to the people who can help was hard.  But I really felt like most of the people there tried to make it as easy as possible on us.  And I was thankful for that.    

We were glad to get home, mostly to see our kids, but we are really glad we were given the chance to see some of Eyann’s home country.  It is good to have observed the culture that raised our girl, and it will be fun to tell her our story of having been a part of it for the very short two weeks that we were there.  Hopefully, some day, we can go back together and learn more….
In the meantime, we’ve at least got bits and pieces we can offer her until she can make observations of her own.  

My next post?  It's going to have to be on the naughty, buggery, funny things that Eyann says and does....because some day, she's going to want to read about them and laugh.