Friday, July 22, 2016

Crater Lake

We hadn't been there in ten years.  So much has happened during that time. The last time we were at Crater Lake I couldn't have imagined we would lose a son the next year.  I also wouldn't have dreamed that we would gain three more beautiful souls--Vu, Lan Lan, and Mei Mei.  Life can hold the best, and the worst, all in the same decade--the heights of glory to the depths of despair.  Only the rhythm of the seasons remains steady.

It is a joyful thing to take children to see wonders of the world.  Lan Lan was especially mesmerized, and Hubby pulled over for her at almost every viewpoint.  The brilliant color of the water can't really be captured in photos--it is clear and innocent.  It is heavenly.  It is LOVE.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The New Bike

When we were visiting our son and his family we wanted to buy something special for the new baby. We went to a large store to look at strollers.  So many choices!  Finally, we found one that will be great for the new baby and Sweetpea will also have a place to ride.

In the process of deciding, Sweetpea and I walked around the store and came upon the bikes.  Oh me, oh my!  Sweetpea has been wanting a new bike.  And it just so happens it is almost her birthday!  I think you know where this ended up, yes?  She LOVED this bike because it had a basket AND a place for her teddy to ride in the back PLUS handlebar ribbons.

She also convinced us that she needed a new Minnie Mouse helmet.  She would hardly take it off to pay and immediately had the packaging taken off once purchased.  It was a challenge getting out of the store because she wasn't at all convinced that her bike was really in that small box!

Bike construction began immediately upon returning home.  Lots of supervision by Sweetpea.  I think she was still a little worried about the outcome!

In the end she was a very, very happy little girl!  

Happy Birthday Sweetpea!  It's a joy being your grandparents and spoiling you!  We love you!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Summer! And Large Family Travel--It Works For Us!

Oh my goodness!  I don't know where I got the idea that this summer would be full of relaxing and NOTHING else.  Ha!  I should know myself better!  But it's all been good.  Lots of family and friends.  It doesn't get better than that!

Lan Lan, Vu, Hubby, and I just returned from a trip to visit our son and his family.  This might seem strange, but one of our keys to raising a large family is taking one or two kids at a time on special trips--usually those that involve airline travel.  For us, it works.  I'm not sure why it works so well, because it would seem like there would be jealousy or sadness, but that's rare.  Somehow it just works.  Maybe because each child knows they will get their turn and we try to specialize the trip to something that particular child would really enjoy.

Traveling with just a couple kids makes travel affordable and it gives each child one-on-one time with mom and dad--and each other.  It was fun to see Lan Lan's and Vu's interactions become closer as the days went on--by the end of the trip they were playing wild midnight games of Uno together!

On this trip, we met up with Lan Lan's foster sister from China, and Vu's "baby" from Vietnam.  What a special reunion!  Too much to put into this post--more later.

We went to the Grand Ole Opry, which Vu especially loved!  Actually, the girls went to the giant mall across the street while we did the tour!  Afterwards, we hit downtown Nashville and Jack's BBQ--YUM!  And of course there was cookie baking and just hanging out, we went bowling and ate at yummy places like The Cracker Barrel.

Previously, over the 4th of July, we spent a few days at my parents' cabin.  Always lots of fishing and fun!  Lan Lan had a special friend come along and Mei Mei really connected with a cousin from the East Coast, plus we had a mini family reunion.

And today we had my niece here.  We really know how to show people a good time.  We took her shopping at the Salvation Army!  And then to the bird sanctuary.  Oh, and to Dairy Queen!

Love this time with family and friends!

Sunday, June 26, 2016


This was hanging in our doctor's office:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Week One

We're having all kinds of summer fun over here.

Patrick is now the proud owner of a new set of braces!

Mei Mei has her second set of braces (unfortunately, orthodontics and clefts go hand-in-hand).

Vu is still wearing his braces:

I look into my crystal ball and see many visits to the orthodontist in my future!

Lan Lan got contacts.  This was actually round two.  We tried once before and no-can-do.  This time, with a very patient contact specialist, success!

And Patrick went to another orthopedic specialist to get a second opinion on his knee.  It's still causing him pain but the good news is the doctor concurs that it's "just" a bone bruise.  Apparently the effects can last up to two years!  Who knew?

And that tradition of getting a little fastfood after an appointment?  It's getting rather expensive!

She how much fun we're having?  And guess what?  I spent all my money now so there won't be any more summer fun!


We did make it to the drive-in.  I forgot that it doesn't get dark until TEN!  Just had to spend more money at the snack bar feeding the restless troops before watching Dory.  She's my twin who also suffers from memory loss.  At least, I think that's who she is.  If I remember correctly.

And OUR GRANDDAUGHTER has been here!  So, we've been soaking her in and loving some fun! Also seeing Cookie and meeting our newest grandson with ETA in September.   More photos to come, but for now some memories with Sweetpea and Papa Cookie.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


If you've read my blog for any length of time you know how I love SUMMER!  It's summer peoples!  S.U.M.M.E.R!!!

For me it means no homeschool, no homework, no speeches, no science projects, no IEP meetings, no THINKING!  And no driving to FOUR different schools!  (IF I really want to call out the pity card it was actually FIVE counting Kim's community college--she had car problems so often needed a ride).

Now, we can relax.  We can just stay up late, and sleep in, and lounge around, and let our brains rot out!

At least for a couple weeks.  Then I will pull my, "I'm not going to just let you stay up late, and sleep in, and lounge around, and let your brains rot out all summer long!"

But for now it's nice.  And much needed.  This year seemed especially challenging.

Now of course, I do have this thing called WORK.  But I'll let you in on a little secret.

Work + Nothing = Happiness.  Whereas, Work + Too Much To Do Too Little Time = Unhappiness

I'm probably a genius to figure that out.  I should write a one-page book.

Anyhoo, before I can totally check into summer I wanted to post some of the school year happenings.

Vu ended the year with a sprained ankle and then a concussion (basketball).  He missed most of the last month of school, but he's finally recovering.  He switched to a charter school this year and it has been a wonderful, perfect fit for him.  Lots of hands-on "expeditionary" learning, field trips, and he's made many new friends.

Mei Mei received a school award for self-control.  As you can see, she demonstrated it at the assembly as she RAN to receive it, nearly knocking over classmates!

All laughing aside, it really is amazing to see how far she has come since those first months home, when just sitting in a chair at school was a challenge.

She did two great speeches!  One on the Chinese Explorer Zheng He--super interesting and we found an awesome book!  And another speech about what it would be like to work at Disneyland (the pay isn't great but you get to work at the happiest place on earth!).

And she had a wonderful time at the Father-Daughter dance.

Our little girl is growing up!

Patrick had another band concert and a field trip to a college and art museum.  You might notice that he has grown an attachment.

Our kids aren't technically allowed to date until they're 15.  But I'm getting old and tired of enforcing rules.  She's a very sweet girl, so I guess . . . .

Lan Lan had a rough end-of-the-year in terms of final exams and finishing homeschool and public school classes.  Hubby is her social studies teacher and I'm her language arts teacher.  She's also taking online Mandarin.  For public school she had science, math, PE, and art.  So proud of how far she has come!  She also had a really beautiful ballet performance of Alice In Wonderland.

Paul finished his junior year playing golf and more golf.  I really hope he spent a little bit of time on those final exams.  He's still working at the golf course and loves it.  He also has a special someone in his life--photos to come.

Hubby had some big changes.  His workplace offered retirement packages so he surprised everyone by taking it!  He met the cut-off by two weeks.  He's hoping to spend the summer playing lots of golf, fishing, and spending time with the kids.  He likes to say he's retired, but he's already looking at new employment opportunities.  

We are definitely ready for some fun and relaxation!  HELLO SUMMER!!!