Saturday, August 30, 2008

First day of Pre-K

The boy was not traumatized.

Mama was not traumatized, overly.

The boy did not traumatize the other young scholars (that we know of).

But it was only his first day. And it was a half day at that.

Give it time, people, give it time...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Meet Jim

Jason "the Softie" Hendrickson fell in love at first purr.

Sucker that I am, I agreed to drive an hour with Jesse for a meet and greet.

So, if you can picture it in your head, the three Hendricksons are in this little private cubicle of a room at the Stratham SPCA with this skinny, long-tailed striped thing that's a tad on the freaked out side.

One look at Jason and it was obvious he was smitten and trying very hard not to look like it. He has no poker face.

Jesse was all smiles and giggles, completely enraptured.

I, however, was the lone holdout.

In the half hour I had sat in that three-foot triangle of a room, the cat hadn't even deigned to sniff me over and dismiss me in the supercilious manner of cats everywhere. With as much space as I fill, I hadn't even registered existence.

And, as much as I miss my old cats (terribly), I really wasn't sure we were ready to introduce another being into our mix.

Finally, when the overzealous crazy cat lady masquerading as an SPCA volunteer left the room, I looked at Jason.

"I really am not sure we're ready for this."

How is it that they always know?

Because no sooner had the words left my mouth than Jim jumped up in my lap, stretched his paws onto my shoulder and nuzzled into my neck, plunging his wet nose along my cheek and tangling into my hair. Purring.

Then he fell asleep all warm kitty and happy-like.

For 40 minutes. Straight.

Who with a beating heart can say no to that?

He came with the moniker "Jiminy." But since we have a tradition of naming all our four-footed friends something Asian (per our previously mentioned affinity for the Martial Arts), the cat has been officially dubbed "Yojimbo" (allusion to the Kurosawa film) and shortened to Jim.

Everyone please give a warm welcome to Jim.

Welcome home, Jim the cat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer wind-down

It has been almost two months since I've updated the blog. The natives are getting restless, threatening to throw pointy objects my way to check to see if we're still alive and kicking.

I assure you we are doing fantastically well here on the homefront! Jesse is the best thing that's happened to either of us since we met each other. We truly stand amazed at what God has done in our lives through him, and how much Jesse has blossomed since we first laid eyes on him.

He is such an unbelievably awesome kid. He is very well-behaved, he is smart and intuitive, he is picking up on English very well. He strings lots of words together, but not everybody (incl. us sometimes) fully understands it even though it is now all in English.

He accumulated a ton of words in the first 6 weeks, then kind of took a break to use them all. Now he's started back up again, pointing to objects to find out what they're called. We read a lot and use different kinds of flash cards. He loves it! He knows basic words for the body, the things relating to food and eating, sleeping and such. Now he's onto colors and numbers.

He understands most everything we say to him (and we have to be careful because he's starting to understand what we say to other people sometimes, too). Language learning comes at an incredible rate at age 4. It was the perfect time for him to join our family.

He listens well and understands instructions. We've had him attend a VBS as well as the weekly Library Story Times to help him get used to listening and obeying other people. Plus it's been good for him to watch other kids doing things and follow their examples. He's done remarkably well (these kids are resilient!), which is great for us and comforting as we anticipate unloading him on his pre-K teacher next week! He'll be going Tues & Thurs all day.

I returned to work (sporadically) in late July, helping to fill in for people on vacation. This month I have transitioned back a little more. Jesse has been staying with his grandparents and he loves it. I get a little bummed he likes it so much, because he claps his hands and squeals with delight as soon as he sees their driveway ("The Mammy!!!!") and then practically pushes me out the door with his version of Goodbye, see you later. Have a good day! ("Bye Bye, Mama. Later good day!"). He often comes down to visit me at work and help me get the mail at the Post Office. Too cute. He is quite happy to give me a hug and go back with my mom or dad. So I'd say he has adjusted better than expected!

We've done all sorts of fun things together this summer. Here's a few:

  • Strawberry picking
  • Blueberry picking
  • Kite Flying
  • Lots of trips to area parks
  • Visit to the zoo
  • Visit to the pool a couple times
  • Visit to the lake twice
  • Visit to other grandparents in Peterborough
  • Visit to cousins in Saco
  • Learning to ride a Big Wheel, tricycle, gokart, and bicycle with training wheels

Things he's learned to do that you'd never think about:

  • How to run. He never had a reason or opportunity to run before. It was something totally new. He watched his cousins a lot. The first time he ran around the house, I was so excited! He was grinning ear-to-ear. I was grinning ear-to-ear.

  • How to get a hug and how to give one. I just got my first kiss on the cheek the other night. It was a sloppy one, like getting kissed by an 18-month-old. I didn't care.

  • How to eat an ice cream cone. Hilarious.

  • How to play with toys. He had NO IDEA what to do with toys and trucks. He would touch them for a little bit, roll them on the floor and then either put them back where they were or hand them back to us. He also had no concept (at first) that these things were his. No sense of ownership (to be expected)

  • How to play with others. He is OK with sharing (a lot of the time, especially with encouragement) but sometimes he really just wants to play by himself or just be by himself. Sometimes it's not an issue of sharing - he'll readily hand the object over. He just doesn't want to participate.

Things I've learned from Jesse:

  • It's always good to put things away, in an orderly fashion, when you're through with them. Everything has a place; it came from somewhere and it should go back there. I've tried to encourage his natural tendency toward orderliness, and it has rubbed off on me. I find that my house is the better for it. It reminds me to appreciate the things I have.

  • Don't waste things. Food should be appreciated. Eat every crumb. And make lots of happy noises while doing so. Not everybody in the world has enough of it. Some don't have any of it. Be thankful if you have it, even if it's basic and simple. Be content with what you have and be joyful if you are lucky enough not to be eating it alone.

  • If you love someone, tell them. Many times. Over and over. Who doesn't need to hear it ... in any language you know (body language included).

  • Pay attention when people talk to you. Even if you aren't sure exactly what they're trying to say. Sometimes it can be hard to express yourself. Be patient. Watch. Listen with compassion. Make an effort yourself to understand even if they're not doing a great job on their end. You don't know how heavy someone else's burden is on any given day.

And one last story:

The other night we pulled out the photo album the orphanage had given us. It contains only a dozen or so pictures of him from when they first got him through his stay there. He isn't smiling in a single one, but it is precious to us, and he lights up every time he see it.

He had gotten really rough with it one night (about 6 weeks ago) and I put it away so he wouldn't damage it. I kind of forgot about it. I came across it the other night and Jason and I sat with him as he looked through it.

This time he opened the first page, looked at the picture, smiled and pointed to himself, saying "Jesse!" (last time it was "Dang Yong").

Then he cocked his head to the side and said, "Jesse's sad. Jesse's crying."

Jason and I just stared at each other.

Jesse turned each page over carefully, pointing to the bleak expression on his face, repeating the same phrases. "Jesse's sad. Jesse's crying."

We pulled out an album of him since he's been with us. He pointed to the various pictures:
"Jesse's sunglasses! Jesse's tractor! Jesse's shoes! Mama, Baba, Jesse!" Big grins all around.

One little boy is awful happy to have found his family.




VBS "Power Lab!"

Jesse went to Abby's church's VBS in July. It was a Power Lab theme, and Jesse had a ... come on, you know it's coming ... BLAST!

It was a great opportunity for him to socialize with other kids in a semi-school setting, because summer is rapidly drawing to a close, and he's heading for pre-K next week!!!

Go Directly To Jail

Jason's heading to the clinker after Labor Day.

But it's not that he's finally reaped his just rewards. He's starting a new job as a correctional officer.

Now, most people when they hear that cast a look askance, trying desperately not to raise a dubious eyebrow in question/concern/are-you-completely-crazy?

They think he must be really hard up to do hard time. But it comes with benefits. I mean that literally - retirement, health, vacation, the whole works. And many of you might not realize that Jason and I have been studying jujitsu on and off since we met each other. He was the first person to teach me how to kick butt properly so I could take care of myself and feel safer in my surroundings.

So we study arm/wrist/ankle-locks, joint manipulations, take-downs, chokes & escapes, a dash of grappling and a few punches or kicks thrown in (bad pun). It all sounds so terribly violent, I know, and for those of you who knew the timid shrinking violet that I was in high school and college wouldn't recognize me on the mat.

But without getting into a whole dissertation on what jujitsu is and isn't, I'll just say it's not violent unless you need it to be. It's one of the most defensive arts around. It's like the hippie vegan ballad-writing cousin in the Martial Arts family. If you have to resort to violence you've already lost (which is why we also study and teach women risk assessment, alertness, awareness and good decision making).

Now, I suppose tossing each other around a mat is not nearly as romantic a hobby as, say, stargazing on the beach. And it's definitely not as elegant as ballroom dancing (especially with Jason as your partner - the last time we went swing dancing he clotheslined me... I know, I know, you wouldn't think dancing and jujitsu would bear such similarities they could be mistaken for each other. Ahem. They don't.)

But we leave a swath of destruction in our wake the likes of which few other pasttimes could come close to. And that's something, right?

Anyway, what job could be better suited for Jason?

So I held a surprise Go To Jail, Go Directly To Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200 party on Sunday afternoon to celebrate that Jason will finally be where we all agree he rightly belongs.

Here's a few pics:
Thanks to Rachel and Pete for decorating while we were still at church. And to Rachel for the awesome cake.
Also, somehow in the excitement, I forgot to take pictures of everyone who came over. We did have people at the party.