Sunday, February 18, 2018

Highlights and Lowlights

So, remember how I told you Vu had wanted highlights for a long time?  And I finally pulled out the credit card?

They looked great!  Here they are on the day we got our newest kitten, Zeus.  Yes, I am becoming a crazy cat lady now!  Cats are so fun and so easy!

Anyhoo, Luke went out for a sport we have never experienced in our family--wrestling!  Wow!  What an intense sport!  It is thrilling to watch, albeit painful and sometimes disgusting to see all the ways they torture each other.  But, Vu loved it and he was super good, wrestling in the weight class of 113 and usually pinning his opponent.

Unfortunately, Vu suffered a horrible concussion during a routine practice, hitting his head on the mat.  He was completely fine for 24-hours, and then within a two hour period was having difficulty walking, talking, and remembering even the simplest things, like his name!

To say I was terrified is an understatement!  He had a round of emergency room and doctor visits.  He talked with a stutter for three weeks (missing school the whole time) and then made a miraculous recovery after starting to float in a therapeutic pool for 30 minutes a day.

I am happy to report he is back to his healthy self.

Oh, but what I wanted to tell you about was a different trauma related event--this happened before Vu's concussion when he was away on an overnight wrestling tournament.  Yes, parents do sign permission slips, but they apparently don't cover every possibility.

I got an early morning text from Vu.  It said, "Hey mom Mr T cut my hair"

"it looks bad."

What an understatement!

I replied back, "Tell the coach he better not go into the barber business any time soon.  He will go broke."

Flashback to the movie Dumb and Dumber.  

His hair was getting in his eyes and so the coach asked him if it was okay to cut his hair.  He gave the thumbs up.  As soon as the coach cut his bangs he said, "Oh crap!  I really messed that up!"

No kidding.

It required a desperate trip to Great Clips to salvage what they could--both in terms of highlights and pride.

Good times people.  Good times.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Patty's Killer Noodle Salad

The Asian noodle salad we had for Thanksgiving is soooooo good!

Years ago, I found this recipe in The Oregonian newspaper.  

12 to 15 ounces chuka soba noodles -- you can also use spaghetti noodles or chow mein noodles.
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
Juice and grated peel of 1 fresh lime
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce or red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 cup grated carrots (about 2 medium)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted or roasted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cook noodles. Drain and rinse.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine oil, vinegar, lime juice and peel, soy sauce, red pepper flakes or chili paste, sugar and garlic. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Toss in carrots, peanuts and cilantro. Toss noodles into bowl with other ingredients and chill for at least an hour to let flavors combine.  Serve cold.  Yum! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Holidays Are Never Boring

So, I hope you are living in a really rainy, or snowy, or really cold place, and having nothing better to do than read blogs about other people's Thanksgiving.  Yes, Thanksgiving.

I promise you, it will be one to remember.

There was the food.  Ahhh.  The food!

And at the urging of our older adoptees, we have added new dishes to the traditional--including a fantastic noodle salad that Mei Mei made!  And as you can see, I made my delicious homemade coconut cream pie!

Vu knows how to clean up a turkey leg!  This is definitely a skill he brought home from Vietnam.  Good heavens that boy can EAT!

Oh, and BTW, pay particular attention to Vu's hair.  Do you notice those beautiful highlights?  He has been wanting those for a long time and I finally opened the wallet.

But really soak those highlights in people, because there's a story coming up.  Stay tuned.

Oh, and the highlight of Thanksgiving?

My dear friend Dahlia is the queen of creative crafts!  I gift her with photos of dahlias that I take on my phone.  She gifts me with her incredible creations such as knitted hats, homemade cards, and candles.  When she visited in the summer she brought me an Indian corn candle, and I knew just what to do with it--make a center piece for our Thanksgiving table.

I was a little stumped on finding a candle holder, because the corn had a wide base.

But you all know how cleaver I am, and I was thrilled when I realized it fit perfectly in a decorative ball I already had!

And I kid you not, it wasn't until I paired it up and placed it in the middle of the table that, well, ummm, that I recognized its, um, phallic quality.

Uh-huh.  Yep.  But I was hoping that nobody else would have the dirty mind that I have and assumed my angelic children wouldn't notice.

Ha!  You can only imagine some of the comments and conversation around the Thanksgiving table.  And on the shared photos of Facebook. Instagram.  And Snapchat. 

I can't make this stuff up people.  You just never know what's gonna happen next at the CrazyForKids house!

Thursday, February 15, 2018


I didn't take any photos of Valentine's Day.  Probably because for the first time in like 30 years I did not have to help any kids with those blasted little Valentine's cards.  The ones from the cheap section that don't tear apart.  And then time spent attaching candy, because about ten years ago it became absolutely imperative to not only give cards, but also candy.  In another ten years kids will probably have to give a card, candy, a stuffed animal, and a five dollar bill.  Whew!  I don't miss it. 

And yet I do. 


But as long as we are on the subject of love, I'll post Patrick's photo from the Homecoming dance. 

He has someone special in his life!  My baby!

And Vu went with a group of friends, but not before his brother forced him to take a picture. 


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Blogging For Lent

I woke up this morning with one word on my mind.  Blog. 

A dear co-worker is not expected to live after a tragic medical emergency.  It's a new reminder that we never know how much time we have left.  And you would think I would know that really well by now. 

Life?  Life is up and down and all around.  It's good.  It's hard.  It's a gift.  Since I fell off the blog-wagon I passed my official test to be a licensed social worker.  Yeah!  And instead of just being happy with that, I decided to move forward with my LCSW and become a child and family therapist, specializing in adoptive families.  Why not start a new career at 55, yes?  It's added another hat to wear as I work both my current job and a new position working therapeutically.  And of course, life is never boring with a big family.  So much to catch up on.

And so this morning?  As I thought of my co-worker and the fragility of life, and pondered what we really leave behind, I decided to pair blogging with Lent.  Now THAT will surely keep me on task!  I might not post every day, but I will at least work on a post every day. 

Life can be short.  Life can be full.  I've got this!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Kite

Ten years ago a beautiful soul entered our lives.  He had been buried treasure in an orphanage 8,000 miles away.  He was salve to our broken hearts and has filled our world with his light and life.

We don't celebrate "Gotcha Day" in our family, because for our older kids it was a day filled with too many emotions.  Hope.  Happiness.  But also fear and grief.  And certainly for those at Vu's orphanage, the day was one of somber sadness.  His laugh would no longer echo in the halls, his beautiful voice would no longer cheer those around him, and his nurturing heart would no longer be there for his "babies."  Adoption is filled with both light and darkness.

But there's a story that I don't want to lose, and now is the perfect time to share.


In the days following Vu's adoption he would often repeat the same word again and again.  It was obvious he was asking for something, and sometimes we thought we understood, but our offerings would always end in tears.  We asked our guide and he couldn't understand, but finally the sweet woman in charge of hotel management understood what he was asking for.  A kite!

How to find a kite in a foreign country? Hubby and Lizzy had already gone back to the states, we were in Vietnam for a long THREE weeks.  Kim, Vu, and I headed to the local vendor market with a Vietnamese word on crumpled paper in hand.

I am quite sure we paid 20x the normal price for a kite, but we were desperate.  It wasn't easy to find, but find it we did!  Vu immediately wanted to open it and fly it right then and there in the midst of the crowded market, and of course when I tried to pantomime that we had to wait it reduced him to a tantrum.  There was a park across the street, but I was paranoid about flying the kite there.  That was right after the book The Kite Runner, and I worried it might not even be legal to fly a kite.  I was in a communist country after all, alone with two small children.  I most definitely didn't want to break any laws.

Vu continued to pull and cry and I wracked my brain to come up with a solution.  We frantically returned to the hotel and tried to explain that we wanted to fly the kite.  They seemed confused, but hailed us a taxi and before we knew it we were on a long road outside the city limits.  I was getting nervous as I saw the buildings growing smaller.  Where were we going?  I had no phone, and no way of contacting anyone.  An outsider with two young children at the mercy of the driver with a long pinky nail and questioning eyes.  I asked him more than once where we were going, and he pointed ahead.

Finally, the driver stopped and dropped us off at a deserted sports complex.  Other than the two guards we were outside a bowl of barren cement, completely alone.  But hey, what could go wrong, right?  The Vietnamese are a gentle, loving people.  Vietnam is a safe country.  I crushed my growing sense of fear and assured myself that all was fine.  We were safe.  There were even guards.

And for a little while it did feel carefree and fun.  Vu finally realized his wish, which had materialized in his mind years before after watching a cartoon on TV.  He had a kite.  And he was going to fly it.

Try it he did, in the warmth of Hanoi, with just enough breeze to give a smidge of hope.

While Vu was squealing with rambunctious joy, and Kim was helping him learn kite-flying-basics, I kept my eyes on the guards.  They were pointing and laughing.  Or were they leering?  They definitely seemed to be sharing a private joke.  And there wasn't another soul around.  My brain started reeling with worry.  I looked around at the deserted surroundings and tried to formulate a plan.  I didn't even know where I was.  And it was so remote, I didn't know how I would get another taxi to get back to the hotel.  

It suddenly occurred to me how vulnerable I was.  Realizing that the guards were my only hope, I walked to their station, put on a face of confidence, and asked for a taxi.  They laughed.  I said it again.  They talked together for a bit and had a conversation, laughing.  I went back to help with the kite, then returned, smiled, offered two Vietnamese bills, and finally, one got on his walkie-talkie.  After what felt like forever a beautiful yellow taxi in shining armor arrived at the curb.  My heart sighed with relief as my legs began to tremble.  

It was a long ride back to the hotel and I realized how wrong it could have all turned out.  In retrospect, I don't really believe we were in danger, but I certainly could have been robbed, and it probably wasn't the smartest plan in the world!  

Fast forward ten years, and on the rare occasion we happen to be flying a kite, usually at the coast, I think of Vietnam, and I think of my precious, beautiful, brave, loving, joy-filled son.  What a blessing he is.

We hope to return to Vietnam in the coming year to allow Vu to bring his light once again to those who loved him so fiercely his first six years.   And maybe, just maybe, we will bring a kite.  

Monday, October 23, 2017

Making Memories

As long as we are on the topic of grandkids, I should share more pics of early summer.

I know.  You feel like Grandma just got out her big wallet of photos.  Yes? 

Thank you for indulging me.  So many good times. 

But without exception, whenever I am with my grandchildren, I am reminded of how much our older adoptees missed.  It's a brutal truth they didn't get to be doted on, rocked to sleep, or taken outside to the zoo.  They never fed the ducks, read books on cuddly laps, or rode in strollers to throw sticks off the wooden bridge.  It's raw truth.  And the pain never leaves my heart. 

At the same time, I relish watching those same kids re-live a bit of their missed childhood by sharing life and love with their niece and nephews.  It's never too late to discover the joy of simple, or perhaps not-so-simple, pleasures.