A Year of Firsts

Our family welcomed home a five year old boy from China in April. For him (and for us), it has been quite a ride. We are adjusting to the challenges that come with bringing home a child that did not know our language, our family, pets, or daily routine.  For him it is challenging to adjust to this life here in Madison, Wisconsin.

But he has welcomed so many “firsts” beautifully.

He came home Easter weekend so of course we started him out coloring eggs. I can’t even imagine what was going through his head. But he had fun with it.


As summer came along he visited our pool for the first time. A kid who had never set foot in a pool before, and by the end of the summer he knew (mostly) how to swim.


And then there was the first day of Kindergarten. He really, really loves school.


The JOY!  I  am continually amazed at how he has embraced this new life and our family with little hesitation and with an amazing amount of excitement. To be able to experience these firsts with him has been so very special.  He loves his new teacher and classmates. And as the fall progressed he became acclimated to life that comes with having four big brothers. Which means he gets dragged  brought to their various events.

He handles it pretty well with only the occasional complaint.


The pumpkin farm, “Ma who that?”


Nature walks through the fallen leaves, “Ma, why they fall down?”

One of many nature walks with friends

This one I had to include because – horses in our neighborhood. “Ma, this country crazy!”

With our neighbors

Halloween: seriously, how weird is this holiday?

Enough said

And then this November, two more firsts. His older brothers were part of Elf Jr. the Musical. We went to watch them perform and he was blown away. Because he didn’t know what a theater was, he didn’t know what a live performance was and while we told him that his older brothers were going to be on stage he wanted to know what a stage WAS exactly. And, because he is still learning about Christmas, he wanted to know,

“What that?”

“It’s a Christmas tree.”

“Who that?”

“It’s Santa”

And then when the brothers were on stage the wild excitement and waving began. A really fun night.


To top off the evening, when we stepped out of the theater, MAGIC! Because it was SNOWING! And while this boy has seen snow before, it was nothing like this. “Ma, why it cold? Why I not see grass? Where leaves on trees? When it go away?” There was SO much excitement over something our family has seen our entire lives. This excitement became contagious as all of the older brothers went outside that weekend to play in the snow with him. It took a while to convince him why he needed the coat, mittens, hat, snow pants and boots. But once he was out there, we have not been able to get him to come back inside for very long.



As we begin to prepare for  Christmas I have begun to view this season with new eyes. At times over the years, I have felt the weight of responsibility that comes with planning for the holidays. It is a LOT of work, time and money to prepare for the upcoming season. But look! Look at this excitement! The joy! The wonder! I am seeing it in a whole new way and I am going to soak in every moment.


Because if a boy from China can get into Thanksgiving turkey, then I can put in the effort to make sure he has the best first Christmas ever. And honestly, with this enthusiasm, I don’t think it will be all that hard.

Julie is a mom of five boys and one girl. She is a runner, biker, yoga instructor and socializer. That about sums it up. Believe it or not, she really does enjoy the soccer, cross country, swim team, track, dance classes, basketball, and theater her kids are involved in as long as she has another mom (or dad) to talk to during these events. Julie is starting a new adventure going back to school to get her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Edgewood College.


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