Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Krispy Kreme Donuts Can Help Your Reputation

Well, I guess the new daycare family is a brave one because they did show up :-) We had a great day together and my kids were perfect angels when the father came for pick-up.
Today I feel even better because the mother told me she was talking to the school secretaries letting them know about the change in daycare arrangements. She said both secretaries told her she was soooo lucky to get me for a babysitter and also said lots of other nice things about our family. Maybe they're just impressed because we bring them Krispy Kreme doughnuts now and then. LOL.
It does help me feel like the new family will know that was NOT an ordinary day at our house :-)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

It WASN'T a Kodak moment

We've had a great weekend with lots of Kodak moments. Eric and Lizzy flew down to Phoenix for a part business/part pleasure father-daughter trip. Will (17) successfully took out ALL the seats and dashboard of his '71 Nova (I sure hope he knows what he's doing!) And as I write, my three youngest are out selling lemonade. They think it's summer because there is SUN but they keep running in for more blankets and coats. I've been their best customer. And I even spent yesterday scrapbooking all those Kodak moments from two years ago (will I ever get caught up???)
Well, earlier this week I experienced a moment that was NOT a Kodak moment. In fact, I think it was one of the most embarrassing, bad mother moments of my life. I hate those moments. Oh, how I wish I could just hit rewind and redo the entire event!
I have provided daycare in my home off and on since I've had kids. I decided to start doing a little again to give Patrick some playmates and to help bring in some income for our adoption. I had made all the arrangements to watch two children but hadn't yet met their father. (Start the eerie music that tells you something bad is going to happen now.)
The mother drops off the two kids just to play for an hour to get used to staying here. It's late and my kids are so excited they are getting really overstimulated. Overstimulated and overtired. Not a good combination. But still, everything has gone smoothly and they all have a great time. So, the mom comes back with the dad. (More eerie music--chaos ensues!)
In the next five minutes pretty much anything that COULD go wrong, went wrong! I had Kim pounding on the piano and then falling off, Patrick accidently hit Paul with a doll while swinging around in circles. Then Paul pushed Patrick down when he tried to apologize with a hug. All this while I tried to show the parents what WONDERFUL parenting skills I had and that I was COMPLETELY capable of caring for their kids.
I think the father would have liked to come in and actually meet me but I quickly told Lizzy to grab the kids coats and practically pushed them out the door, just as my youngest threw a football into the livingroom knocking over a lamp. (No, we do not allow our kids to play football in the livingroom.) But hold on folks, it gets better!
I was so mad and so embarrassed that I grabbed the one closest to me to take into the family room. He SCREAMED with a blood-curdling scream, "Owwwwww!!! You're hurting me!!!!!" By the sound of his scream you would think I had cut off his arm!! I'm sure the potential daycare family heard it as they were heading to their car. Now I felt even MORE embarrassed!! Once the family was out of earshot (at least I THINK they were...) I sat my three on the couch and I YELLED at them about THEIR behavior (yes, a little irony there). I'm not a screamer and I rarely yell, so when I do my kids get very upset. Now I had three HOWLING, BAWLING children! I sent them to bed just as my dh came in from a late dinner meeting. "How was your night honey?"
Then came the mother guilt. I hate mother guilt. I was even up in the middle of the night that night with mother guilt wondering how everything went so wrong so fast and how I could have changed things.
But you know, mother guilt is good too. I am reminded that it gives me a chance to apologize, which I did, and it gives me a chance to make things better the next time. When I'm mad, I am reminded not to grab hold of my child because it will most likely be too tight. When I'm mad, it is better for me to calm down a little before talking to my kids.
I haven't heard a word from my prospective daycare family. They are supposed to show-up here tomorrow morning, but I wouldn't blame them a bit if they decide I must be a raving lunatic with the world's wildest children. No, it WASN'T a Kodak moment.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Daughter? Or A Son?

When I spoke with Holt the other day we revisited the question of daughter or son. I have had a hard time getting that conversation out of my head.
For YEARS we discussed adopting again and in fact, right before Patrick came to be, we had actually talked to Holt about a couple of little girls who were waiting for a family. It just always seemed to be assumed that if we were going to adopt again, we would adopt a little girl. Part of that came from the fact that we assumed we would adopt from China where 98% of the children waiting for forever families are girls. The other part of it is the fact that we now have FIVE boys and only two girls.
A girl just seems to make sense. Our last two children were boys so it would be fun to have a little girl again. Our girls desperately want another sister. A girl will share a bedroom with Kim whereas a boy would put three boys in one bedroom, while each of the girls have their own bedroom. We even have an Americanized name picked out for a girl--Anna Rose. (Of course, we will keep her Vietnamese name for her middle name and use that name as long as she wants us to.)
When we began our adoption process we said we wanted a girl--of course. It only made sense. But, that was before we knew about the plight of boys. The reality of it is, the need to find families who want a boy is much greater than the need to find families for girls. In fact, the waiting time for a girl is often 2-3 times as long. Although an equal number of boys and girls come into care in Vietnam's orphanages, girls are much more likely to be adopted domestically within Vietnam. On top of that, at least 80% of families adopting internationally request a girl. Boys over the age of two with minor to moderate special needs often wait for months and even years to find a family. We want an older child and are open to special needs.
Which brings us to our delimma. In our minds, we have already incorporated a daughter into our family. When we imagine our child, we think of HER--Anna. I can't wait to buy dolls and frilly dresses again.
But, I wonder how God feels about us choosing a girl over a boy? I mean, we love our boys just as much as our girls. I think parenting boys is DIFFERENT than girls, but no more difficult and certainly just as much fun and rewarding. And, it's not as if we have never had a little girl. We've had TWO! I love the energy of boys and I still get a certain excitement learning about things I didn't learn growing up with all sisters. Things like bats, and bugs and the difference between an excavator and a front loader.
So, we did tell Robin we are open to a boy or a girl, but she also knows that we think a girl would fit better for our family. And we know that in the end, God knows the very best child for our family--which might be a boy! We better start to think of boys names, just in case! :-) It could take awhile since all our boys have two middle names.

Friday, January 26, 2007

An Update on Our Process

Lots of exciting things happened yesterday in regard to information on our adoption.
First, I talked to Robin at Holt regarding some questions I had. She is just the nicest woman. She has a gentle southern accent and just acts like she has all the time in the world to answer my questions, even tho I know she is an extremely busy woman.
Anyway, of course, my most important question was to ask her if she had any updated information regarding the timing of our match. It sounds like it will happen in the next couple of months--which isn't very "exact" but I know that over and over we have been told that the match part is the most unpredicatable part of Vietnamese adoptions. There is no rhyme or reason as to when Vietnam will release children to Holt nor how many they will release at one time.
After I got off the phone with Robin, I checked my e-mail and got a quarterly update from the Vietnam program. I was very excited to read it! It confirmed that indeed, we could possibly be matched with our child in a couple of months--and maybe sooner!!! Our match will come quicker than most because we want an older child and are open to special needs. Our daughter, Kim, had cleft lip and palate and our son, Paul, had a heart defect.
When we went to our Care Group (Bible study group) I shared our update and during prayer time one of our members prayed the most beautiful prayer. She prayed that when Robin at Holt receives pictures and files of children from Vietnam, that she will look at the child that GOD HAS ALREADY CHOSEN FOR US and just KNOW that that is our child; that Robin will think, "I just KNOW this child is meant to be in the Henderson family!" I got chills all over when I heard that prayer!
Until that day I must remember Ecclesiastes 3:1 -- "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Life Lessons From McDonald's

I worked at McDonald's in high school. Ugh! It was the worst job I ever had. Maybe it was just because I had started out working at A&W as a carhop which was a FUN job. (No rollerskates folks, sorry.) So, anyway, even though I didn't like working at McDonald's I have to say I did learn a thing or two. Like, that I wanted to make sure I went to college :-)
Seriously tho, because McDonald's is such a big corporation, they had lots of ideas on how to do things better and faster and how to make the best impression with the customer. We were to keep the parking lot clean before cleaning the entryway windows. We were to keep the bathrooms clean over mopping the restaurant floor. The list went on and on.
Okay, so what does this have to do with my life now? Well, I have this little list of four things that I try to keep done in order to help me feel that everything is under control in my house.
Here they are: Keep the entryway clean, keep the bathrooms clean, keep the dishes done, keep the laundry up. If I can just keep those four things done, the rest of my house and life can be chaos but somehow I feel a strange sense of being in control. Especially if I know I don't have to make dinner because we're going to McDonald's!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Oceans Apart Until We Are Together Forever

We spent the weekend at my favorite place in the whole wide world. The coast. I love the beach and it doesn't matter to me if the weather is nice or not, there is just something that is so timeless about watching the waves come crashing in, over and over again. I love watching my kids play in the sand and find beach treasures and jump in the waves. This visit was even more special because my parents were there with us--or I should say, we were there with them as they had rented a condo and were sharing it with us :-)
This year, as I watched, mesmerized by the wild waves as the riptides came in, I looked to the horizon and thought of our child, clear across the ocean. It was such an indescribable feeling knowing that clear over that vast body of water OUR child waits. Our child.
And then, I felt sad that we do not yet know who our child is. How old is she? (Or, is it a he???) What is her name? Is she safe and warm and loved and well fed? Does she have someone special to tuck her in at night? I send prayers to her as instinctively as I breathe.
And then a strange thought hit me. I KNOW she exists. I KNOW she is my child, even if I don't yet know her. She is part of my soul and part of our family. But, she DOESN'T know that we exist. She doesn't know that she already has a forever mother and father and sisters and brothers and wonderful grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends waiting to swaddle her in love.
If she is living in an orphanage, she has seen so many children leave with their forever families. If she is living with a foster family they probably tell her often that someday she will have a permanent family. She must wonder if her forever family will ever come for her.
So I realized that I shouldn't really feel sad for myself that we don't yet know who our little girl is. Instead, I feel all that sadness for her. But the good thing about all that sadness is knowing that so much happiness lies ahead. The day we are matched I will not be thinking just about our child from my own point of view, I will be thinking about it from hers. She will finally know that she does indeed have a forever family.
I can't wait for that day.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I Love Snowdays!

I love snowdays!! They rarely happen where we live but I think I am almost as excited as my kids when we get them. Why? I love being home. And I love snow. I grew up with snow and now live where it rains---and rains and rains. All winter. Sometimes it will rain every single day of the month. That's rain people! Anyhoo, snow is fun to play in (whereas rain is not)!
The other reason I like snowdays is because we get to STAY HOME! This is a rare experience when one has seven children. I am a homebody at heart and the things I love to do most are from the home. I love to read, watch movies, sew, quilt, scrapbook, journal and just spend time with my kids. I also like to bake (which differs from COOK). Yesterday I made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies and we all had hot chocolate and ate cookies and watched a movie (The Twelve Dogs of Christmas) and I read a book (Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray which I would highly recommend). I also had a nice phone conversation with our 23 yo son, James. Oh, and of course, we played in the snow! A perfect day!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kim needs glasses???

I just found out my daughter Kim needs glasses. She looks adorable in them and she is THRILLED to get glasses. When we picked out her frames she didn't want the "normal" little girl glasses, she wanted big girl glasses with some "bling-bling"! The lady helping us asked her if she had an older sister or if she was just very into the latest styles? Her new glasses are blue frames with fake diamonds on the sides. The girl has some style alright!
On the drive home from the eye doctor I was sitting there perplexed as to why Kim needs glasses. I mean, I don't wear glasses, neither does my husband. For that matter, neither do any of Kim's siblings. I was just thinking that it is strange because glasses seem to be genetic. After pondering it a little more it came to me. Duh! Kim is adopted! What can I say??? I forget!!
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Monday, January 15, 2007

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My Tech support, also known as my daughter Lizzy.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Someone Is Missing

It seems like forever I've had this feeling that someone is missing from our family. When Paul was about two I started to wonder if we would adopt again. Once we adopted Kim and Paul, the plight of homeless children seemed to weigh on my mind heavily. We love children. We love our adopted children in that same, eternal, no-way-to-find-words-to-express-it way. We've been in "child mode" and will be for some time. By that I mean our lives revolve around our children and our family. So often, I couldn't help but think that it would be so easy to incorporate another child into our busy, but happy lives. I would think of the world's homeless children on a daily basis. I would pray for them many, many times every day. What could I do for them? But it was so much more than that, it was this feeling that someone was actually missing from our family. Especially on really happy occasions, I always felt a longing sadness because I just kept feeling like someone was missing.
Fastforward through the birth of Patrick almost five years ago and years of daily prayer with a longing in my heart for our missing child. Even though we had Patrick, I still felt like someone was missing. I once had this very vivid dream about a little girl with curly black hair standing outside, just waiting for me to come and get her. I could never get her out of my mind.
So why didn't we just go ahead and adopt again? Lots of reasons but mostly, because my husband, Eric, didn't feel like someone was missing. He is a wonderful father and we have a great relationship and he just felt like our family was complete. I prayed silent prayers, every single day, often several times a day, that God would change Eric's heart OR that God would take this haunting feeling of missing away from me. I prayed for YEARS. There were so many times where I felt God was silent and far away. He just didn't seem to be changing either of our hearts. He didn't seem to be listening. Sometimes I was mad at God. Often, I didn't understand His silence.
And then last summer, about the same time I had finally accepted that this was just something that was never going to happen, God placed it in Eric's heart to adopt. When Eric and I first spoke about it I couldn't believe it. I actually told Eric that HE would have to be the one to call Holt about it if he was really serious about adopting again. I even gave him the legal three days to back out :-)
And, so we now wait, for that little person who has been missing for so long. I know it could possibly be a boy, but for some reason, I feel sure it will be a little girl. I wonder if she will have black curly hair.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Mommy Goes Back to College

I'm back . . . again! I think I will end up becoming the world's oldest college student. I just hope that eventually I really do have an actual degree! And actually, believe it or not, I am NOT the oldest person in my class! I am trying to get my B.S. in Child and Family Studies and eventually go on to get my Masters in Social Work to work in international adoption. I would love to someday work for Holt, the agency we have used to adopt our children. Holt is considered the gold standard in adoption agencies and they truly have the highest standards in ethical adoption. They are also an agency who cares so much for the children who never get adopted. They are so much more than an adoption agency--but that is another, future post.
I did get quite a scare when I called the college to get information on returning. About half of my college credits are from my years at Oregon State when I was a freshman and sophomore in the early 80's. The other half were painstakingly achieved over the course of the next 15 years. I haven't gone at all in the last six years. So, let's just say that I am old and my credits are old. Anyway, the lady I spoke with on the phone informed me that she didn't think ANY of my credits would be any good any more since they are older than five years. I almost died! I couldn't believe all that time and money were for naught. The thing I really couldn't get over were those classes I had taken while trying to raise children. I remember so vividly a class I took while living in Germany. My son Joe was just a few months old. I would feed him and put him to sleep just before I left and then I would rush home, sometimes before the class was even over, to nurse him again. Sometimes I would make it before he woke up, sometimes he would already be crying. It was stressful! And each class has similar tales. And to think that all of that was for nothing?!!!
Well, luckily, I was able to talk to someone else at the college (after stressing for four hours) who assured me that my credits were certainly still good and he even told me they can be up to 50 years old! So, I guess I have another 25 years to graduate:-)
Why am I going back now? Right before we adopt again? Lots of reasons, but more than anything, to keep busy during this crazy adoption process. I also want to be a good role model for my children. I want them to get college degrees and to value a good education. If I haven't done that myself, they are probably less likely to do it.
Well, time to go read those 4 chapters and to prepare that speech (I'm taking a speech class). I'm keeping busy!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Scissor Obsession

My son Patrick has always had an obsession with scissors. He's been obsessed with tools, even as a baby, and since scissors are a type of tool, he loves them. LOVES them. He cuts on a daily basis, giving our floor a paper confetti look quite often. Luckily, he only cuts paper. Until today. Today, he came downstairs to show me his new haircut. I would have cried, but it looked so hysterical, all I could do was laugh! Imagine bangs going down almost into his eyes suddenly hanging 1/4" off his head, two inches back--see picture below. I had no choice but to give him a complete buzz--see the results. He was quite unhappy with the look until he saw Joe, his 21 yo brother, who came up for a visit. Patrick says they look like twins. For those who don't know, Joe finished six months of chemo in Sept. He went on to have 6 weeks of radiation. He had cancer--Hodgkin's Lymphoma. We hope and pray he is now cured. He will have another scan in March. I do have to say, my boys look remarkably similar!
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Friday, January 5, 2007

You have how many kids???

I wish I could tell you how many times I've been asked this question by people who look shocked out of their minds. Their eyes are bugging out of their heads as they look at me with disbelief. Even after years of this reaction, I am still surprised that they think it is so shocking! I mean, there are lots and lots of families who have lots and lots of kids. Lots. I don't personally know any of them but I know they do exist--somewhere. Some people will go on to grill me with question as if to figure out WHY any woman would want to have so many kids. Are they all from the same marriage? (yes) Are you Mormon? (no) Catholic? (no) Some other religion that maybe they have not heard of where one might find large families? (no) Then, after a long pause, having ruled out all the possibilites of "normal" people having a large family, some will go on to declare, "Then you must be crazy!"
From the time I was a baby, I always wanted to have a big family. As a little girl I would take the Sears catalog and cut out pictures of children, glue them on paper and give "my" children names. I would draw pictures of my house making sure I had a bed for each and every child. I would cut out furniture and clothing and . . . well, you get the picture. I always knew I wanted to be a mom and I knew I wanted to be a mom to many.
By the time I married, at the ripe ol' age of 18, I had matured in my thinking and had decided that four children would be the perfect number. Nobody laughed at me when I said I wanted four children. And when I had my first son at age 20, I didn't know how I would ever be able to handle even two children! Well, I guess I figured it out.
What can I say? Am I crazy? If loving being a mom to seven of the most wonderful, caring, stubborn, funny, sweet, smart, hyper, argumentive, adorable kids in the whole wide world commits me as crazy, then I guess I am. If wanting to add another one to the bunch makes me even more crazy then all I can say is to read my bumper sticker which says, "I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it".

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I have just accomplished my first New Years Resolution--to start a Blog! We are a family of nine, seven kids and two parents, in the process of adopting number 8 from Vietnam. We officially applied to Holt in August and, as of yet, we do not know exactly who our child is. We can't wait to meet her (or him)! Another girl would round out our family of two girls, ages 9 and 13; and five boys, ages 23, 21, 17, 8 and 4. However, maybe God has a little boy planned for us. We have all ages and stages and all I can say is I feel so very blessed!