Make This Place His Home

A Very Busy First Few Weeks at Home

Hello again…

The summer is going by so quickly already. Ryan has now been home officially for a little more than 1 month and it’s hard to believe. He has quickly settled into his new life and family routine and he has experienced many, many new things in the last few weeks as Dad and the rest of the crew have been doing several day activities and trips.

Earlier in June, Aunt Avery, Uncle Mark and cousin Luke (from MI) all came to visit us for a few days so they went cave exploring and gem mining at Crystal Caves.   And they showed Luke the ropes at a local skate park that the kids go to. Uncle Mark even taught Ryan how to put up his arms, pump his muscles and say “I am very strong!” This weekend, Uncle Mark and cousin Logan are coming in for an LAX tournament, so the kids will get to be Logan’s posse again as they shout at him from the sidelines. Who else has 4 (very loud) cheerleaders dedicated to themselves?!

After riding Ashley’s scooter for several days, Ryan was given his own scooter and quickly learned to ride it (while likely seeing only a few feet in front of him!) down the local bike hill and path without too many scrapes and scratches. He has tremendous courage and was so proud that he’s been able to improve so much on the scooter.  He also tried a bike, but that didn’t work out too well so now he rides behind Dad in the bike carrier. He is quite the daredevil and will not hesitate to say “I do it by MYSELF!”

Kyle, Dylan and Ashley are not in full-time camp this summer for the first time in a long time, so Dad has been extra creative in attempting to keep 4 children busy each day. They have done several day trips to the local Mack Truck museum, to the Sturgis Pretzel Factory and to the DaVinci science museum. We all visited Longwood Gardens.  We hit Dutch Wonderland a few weekends ago, and Ryan loved the rides including the roller coasters, log flume and going down the huge big slide all by himself! Mom didn’t realize that he and Kyle decided to each run their lanes solo, until they were halfway down the slide! I guess they thought that I needed a mini-heart attack or something. Ryan’s courage kept Ashley on her toes at times, as normally she will not try many of the rides, but she gritted her teeth and got on a few of the bigger ones.

We went to the beach last weekend in Cape May for a pre-4th of July visit. The waves were over 5 feet high with a bad rip tide, so Ryan and Ashley spent most of the time riding the boogie board (together) along the surf line; Dad and Kyle rode the high 5 foot waves and Dylan was content building lots of interesting things in the sand. Last weekend, we went to the local pool for the first time. Despite the frigid waters, and it taking Ryan about 2 hours to get comfortable sans life jacket in about 2 feet of water, he said that he liked it. He will take swimming lessons in the Fall, once his eye surgeries are fully done.

Ryan also had the chance to see and meet Uncle Sean, cousins Alyx and Sean Andrew and Aunt Meg during a few visits in the past month, so he is quickly meeting and greeting his extended family members.

Yesterday was his first cataract surgery on the right eye, which we had all been waiting for since we met Ryan. This is the first step in allowing him to “see the world” vs. looking through a cloudy, opaque set of eyes. He was in surgery for almost two hours to perform the actual extraction, insert the new plastic lens and then take multiple, detailed measurements of the eyes. He did super well and when he came home last night, he proclaimed “Mom, I am very hungry” after not having had any food for almost 24 hrs. He wore two eye patches to bed last night and then today both were removed and now he is proudly donning Dylan’s safety glasses to protect his eye and will get eye drops for the next week. Then, if all goes, well, the left eye will be done in the same exact manner on July 20th with a fitting for glasses scheduled for shortly after that. Then we’ll hope to have the strabismus fixed in the Fall during another round of surgeries. We also have managed to get rid of the nasty parasite bug that he had gotten so he is ready to roll.  The effects of the cataract surgeries will improve as Ryan’s brain get better at processing the clear images he’s getting now, after only having fuzzy images to work with.  When asked today if he could see much better in his eye, he loudly proclaimed “Yes!”

Now, he will really also be able to clearly see all of the crazy TV programs that we have been watching this summer – Finding Big Foot (who knew that Big Foot lives right in our backyards J), American Ninja Warrior (of which Kyle and Dylan still aspire to one day), River Monsters and now, of course, the commencement of SHARK WEEK on the Discovery Channel. Most recently, he just peers out of the corners of his eyes and says “what’s that?!”

His English has taken off dramatically and he is very easy to communicate with much of the time. He does not want to speak Chinese and every time we ask him something about China, he will tell us (smiling) that he doesn’t know or he’ll act like he never lived there. Dylan also did this and then years later, came back and started talking more in detail about things. And when we call him by his Chinese nickname (Sheng Xiong), he will respond loudly with “No, I am RYAN.”

His sentences are not long, but he definitely thinks about what he wants to say and says it clearly. Then he spends the rest of the day asking questions. When I see the Google ad that says children asks 144 questions a day, I told Kyle that we need to ramp that up to about 4x that with what they all ask us all the time. One of his favorite ways to interrogate us is to ask us a normal question (e.g. What’s in your hand, Dad?) – followed quickly with a very open-ended “For…?” – so he can understand the WHYs as well as WHATs.  He’s a very perceptive young man.

Ryan also likes to take constant inventory of where people are in the house, so if he doesn’t see one of us, he’ll quickly ask about the “missing” person. EVERY DAY since he’s been home, he’s waken up cheerfully, given Dad a big hug and a “Good Morning”, and then asked “Where’s Mom?”.  I think he feels like he needs to ask, even though he likely knows that she’s at work – which is what we tell him every day!  He loves being independent and being able to pick out his own clothes each day (he tries to pick out Dylan’s too!), picking up his plate after meals, helping to garden.  He takes immense pride in being able to contribute to the family.

Ash, Dylan and Kyle did get in one week of local summer camp at the high school, too, to give Dad a small break. Ashley took Art Camp and the boys took Spy Camp – both were really neat. Next up is Clay Camp in two weeks. I had to move several things off of our walls to make room for the newest art projects.

It’s been a tremendous few weeks for him – and for us.  We could not be happier, and Mom & Dad look forward to our Dinnertime conversations, when we hear what Ryan has to say about his days – and to trade smiles without anyone noticing, each knowing what the other’s thinking.  “How lucky are we to have him in our lives?”

We’re hoping that Surgery #2 goes as smoothly as #1, and that we’ll have more good news to share.

Thanks for following…


Pictures – each worth a thousand words…


Ryan’s First Visit with Uncle Sean and his family (Sean Andrew & Alyx – Aunt Laura is missing here!)




Longwood Gardens



Longwood Gardens



Out on a limb – at Longwood Gardens




What can I say…



Inside at Longwood Gardens




Ryan’s First Visit with Aunt Meg (Uncle Curt’s missing here…)




“I am STRONG, like BULL!”  (At the Skateboard Park)




Stole Brother Kyle’s Hat for this Bowling Pic




At the Sturgis Pretzel Factory (as if you didn’t know from this picture…)




MiniGolfing in Strasburg, PA – after the Pretzel Tour




Ryan with his new Best Friend – a Red Panda from Grandma and Poppa Wedder




Just after waking up (cheerfully!) from Eye Surgery #1




The next day – with his protective glasses…Seeing MUCH BETTER!




Bike Riding on the Chester Valley Trail – we did 13 MILES !!




At Crystal Cave with Uncle Mark, Aunt Avery and Luke



Panning for Gems at Crystal Cave




The whole Gang at the Cave



On the Human Powered Train – at Dutch Wonderland



At DW…




At the controls of the Diggers – at DW




On the Log Flume at DW…




“OOOOhhhh that was cool – Do Again!?!?”

On the Big Slide at DW…





On the Whip at DW…

He’s yet to meet a ride he didn’t like!  His knees and shins are healing nicely, thank you.




Ashley and Ryan loved riding the DW rides TOGETHER.




The NEW Scooter!!!




At Longwood Gardens – with Dad photobombing…




The REAL MEGATRON – form the Transformers Movie!  At the MACK Museum.



Bowling with Sissie…




“I may look nice, but you better stay out of my way!!!”




Ryan on the Go-Carts.

Yes, you’re right, we agree –  the hair nets are goofy




On the beach at Cape May




Can’t get enough of those WAVES.




At CM…




Hanging 30 – Waiting for the next Big One.




Ryan loves swimming.




I hope they do as well in Real School as they did in “Pretzel School”!



Child Labor…manning the Pretzel Ovens!




At the DaVinci Science Center



“You think THIS is good…Just wait until I can SEE!”  At the DSC…


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