Friday, August 31, 2007

Are We Really Ready For More Boy Energy?

In the midst of sad days our kids keep us laughing. Lizzy was babysitting and made this clip of Patrick. I've watched it several times and I'm always laughing--especially at the ending.

Let's just hope Patrick's kindergarten teaacher doesn't see it. She may be too scared to show up for the first day of school. Can you spell BOY ENERGY?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Whew! The nesting has passed. I did get ALL the kids drawers and closets cleaned out tho; sorting out what was too small, too old, too "I never really liked that shirt anyway," followed by, "What! I paid good money for that!" "Mom, it was three bucks on the clearance rack." "But it had been twenty so I potentially paid a lot of money for that shirt. Someone, somewhere out there did! It's a good shirt!"

Now I have piles all over one bedroom of clothing going to various families/places. There is even a pile of like-new summer clothing to take to the orphanage.

Ah, the orphanage. That was the word that stuck in my head all day yesterday. I've been thinking of my little guy a lot. It seems like forever since we have been waiting to bring him home. Why does paperwork have to take so long? Why does an innocent boy have to wait months and months for simple paperwork? Don't we live in a technological age where paperwork should be processed at lightening fast speed? Especially when a little boy is waiting? Not just waiting, our little guy has been WAITING for almost SIX YEARS for a family! SIX YEARS! And he has lived all six years of his life in an orphanage.

I often wonder what his last thoughts are as he goes to sleep at night. I imagine he wonders if we are ever really going to come for him. I know that if the past months have seemed long to me, they must feel like years to him.

We really are coming Vu. We will be there just as soon as we can. Have sweet dreams of a family that will love you forever and always. We are coming. Really.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I have this insane desire to clean my entire house. Not just clean, which I seem to do constantly, but CLEAN! I am even contemplating getting some toothbrushes out to clean the cracks near the baseboards.

I think I must be nesting. Hopefully this will pass quickly or you may not hear from me for a while.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Words To Joe

When Joe had a recurrence of cancer it was soon all I could blog about; but I didn't want my blog to just be about Joe's cancer and I soon said so. Well, now I feel the same way about Joe's death. I don't want my blog to just be about death, sadness, memories of a lost son. I want my blog to be about life. So, while I will still occasionally blog about our life with (and without) Joe, I also want to write about all the life we still have encircling us.

Having said that, I did want to share what I wrote to read at Joe's Celebration of Life. I feel it will give everyone a better idea of who Joe was and what a wonderful son/brother/friend the world lost. I was not able to read it because I was too emotional but my sister read it for me.


A team in baseball is much like the structure of a family: every position plays an important part in covering the field and winning games. With nine family members, we seemed to have the perfect baseball team. Everyone had a particular position and there was a cohesiveness we all enjoyed. The addition of our new little rookie from Vietnam was going to give us a relief pitcher—or perhaps a chance for me, Mom, to just be the pinch-hitter. I mean, I can hit the ball like mad! The outfielders will even back up when I grab the Whiffle bat and step up to the plate. BUT, I do have a few faults. For one, I throw like a girl and for two, I'm afraid of the ball. On so many occasions Joe would try to tell me that if I would just keep my eyes open I would probably have a better chance of catching the ball!

On the day Joe died, there was a big, huge hole in our family—in our team. A part of our family was missing, not just on the field, but everywhere. It's hard to win when you're down a player. Joe played many positions in our family: comedian, sports nut, Nintendo geek, animal lover and awesome brother.

Joe's sense of humor had always kept us laughing—he was even telling jokes right up until the end. He loved to be crazy and often had quite the costumes for various school and family events. Sometimes, his costume was minuscule indeed! Think “The Emperor's New Clothes.”

Joe often said that once his cancer was gone he was going to college—perhaps to become a high school teacher and coach. He would have been very good in the role. He also thought about becoming a doctor--with his intelligence, he could have become anything he desired. I remember him learning to read, at the age of four, by looking at baseball cards. He was doing percentages in first grade as he figured out baseball stats—something he enjoyed doing his whole life. He created fantasy teams on paper long before they were computerized and once those became popular, he had fun with those. He LOVED video games too--the harder they were to play, the better! Nintendo's Zelda was his girlfriend for years!

Joe had a passion for soccer and was called “Miracle Man” as a forward who would often score within minutes of the whistle. In typical Joe fashion, he said that having cancer wasn't all bad, it had given him the chance to see every second of every game in the World Cup. That was Joe. Always seeing the positive. He didn't like being on the “disabled list” but he never complained during his cancer, and he was always saying, “Don't worry about me mom, I'm fine.”

Joe loved animals, especially dogs. I remember tenderly tucking him in one night—which meant also tucking in his giant Golden Retriever, Shadow. Joe was about ten and he said, “I love you soooooo much mom! So, so much! (long pause) I love you almost as much as Shadow!”

Joe was a great big brother. In almost every family picture, Joe is holding one of his younger siblings. Once he could drive, when I would ask him to run an errand for me he would usually take a carseat out of the van, put it in his little Celica and off he would go with a smiling toddler.

Joe had a strong will. There were many times he humbled us as parents, but he was such a charmer, with that amazing smile, I could never stay mad at him for long--and he knew it. That strong will helped him during his long and courageous fight with cancer and I can guarantee you, his doctors have never had a patient with a stronger will to live. I actually think God planned to take him to heaven when he was on life support the first time but when God saw that strong will to live he said, “Okay, buddy, you win, I guess I'll give you a little more time!” Those last few weeks with him were precious.

But even with that strong will, the time came where his body just couldn't keep up with his will even though he valiantly fought to the very end. When the end came, I was devastated and empty. I felt like there was a huge hole in our family and always would be. But then, I realized we were not down a player after all. We have an angel in the outfield—just like the movie with the same name that our boys enjoyed so much when they were young. And just like in the movie, when you have an angel on your team, you win, even in difficult situations.

We aren't down a player, we're up an angel.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

World's Most Expensive Adoption?

With all that has happened, we have this new, crazy idea. Well, I should say that I have this new crazy idea and dh is going along with it tho he says he thinks I am just trying to go for a new world's record on expensive adoptions.

We are thinking of taking ALL FOUR OF OUR YOUNGER CHILDREN TO VIETNAM! (We are also updating our 17 yo passport but I don't think he will be able to go because of football.) Is this just the craziest idea ever???

How will we pay for it? Ah, the million-dollar question . . . for what might be a million dollar trip! The well thought out answer . . . I don't know!

What I do know is this; due to life's circumstances we have recently had a lot of Chinese take-out. All three times my fortune cookie said something to the effect of, "Fame and fortune lie ahead." Since we have eaten at three different Chinese places, I can't help but wonder if it will come true! I don't need the "fame" part, just the "fortune" part.

Maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket???

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Was The Funeral Sad?

I recently spoke with two people who lost a sibling when they were growing up. They both had similar stories and they both had a similar message. The words of one were this, "It was really hard to lose my sister . . . but it was even harder to lose my mom." He wasn't talking about losing his mom to death, but to the depression that followed the death of his sister.

That statement gave me a lot to think about; not that I am feeling depressed, just that I need to make sure my kids' lives stay as normal, happy and loving as possible. Sometimes it might mean I need to fake a smile for them--at the same time, I realize that it's okay to cry in front of them. I actually NEED to do this so THEY feel safe and secure in grieving themselves, especially my older children. At the same time, I can't cry so much it makes them feel even more sad, uneasy, scared, unloved.

The kids seem to be doing okay with everything. I think they are all still processing it in their own way. I spend time helping them talk through feelings, fears and emotions.

Here is a synopsis of how some children handle death:

9 yo Paul received a phone call from a friend yesterday. He put the phone on speaker as he was busy making a sandwich. This is the part of the conversation I overheard:

Friend: So, was the funeral really sad?
Paul: Ya.
Friend: Was everyone crying?
Paul: Ya.
Friend: Were you crying?
Paul: ya.
Friend: Can I spend the night tonight?
Paul: Sure!

That conversation gave me a belly laugh! It really does show the span of emotions.

Our kids go back to school soon so we will spend the next two weeks with lots of family time, cuddling and talking--and having friends spend the night.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Loss Of One Son, Not Two

The Memorial Service is over. The phone is no longer ringing constantly. Not a single soul has knocked on the door today. Our out-of-town guests have all been taxied to the airport. Today is very quiet.

We had an AMAZING amount of support from friends and family these past two weeks (has it really only been weeks and not months?). I will forever feel a sense of awe and inspiration that so many people cared enough to send a card, call, come by, watch our children, clean our house, feed us, help us with really hard things--like buying clothing for the service. I remember walking around the department store, looking at skirts and trying to keep anguished tears at bay. I was buying something to wear to my SON'S funeral! Mothers aren't supposed to do that! It seemed so surreal--in a nightmarish kind of way. My mother and sister gently guided me.

This morning I said to dh that in some ways, it will be nice to get life back to . . . (I stumbled there) to get life back to what? Normal? That is what I wanted to say. But I know things will never be normal again! At least, not the normal that we once knew. So, I said I will be glad for things to get back into a routine.

It's going to take some time to find a new "normal." We do know our new normal is going to include traveling to Vietnam in a few weeks. Yes, for those who wondered, we are still going to bring Vu home from Vietnam. Was there ever any doubt??? He's our son and to leave him in Vietnam would be to lose not one, but two sons.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Home Runs From Heaven

I feel more at peace today. I know Joe's in heaven and I know that if he was given the choice to come back he wouldn't want to--heaven's too wonderful. Eric and I again discussed the "coincidence" of the woman he met on the plane that shared the book 90 Minutes In Heaven and know God put that angel of His there for a reason. I blogged about it in April.

I can only describe the feelings of sadness as deeper than I have ever known. I can compare it to this: before I had children, I thought I knew what love was, but once we had our first child I realized a depth of love I had never experienced before. And now, I thought I knew what sadness was, but having lost our son, I have discovered a depth deeper than I thought possible. And yet, and yet . . . that sadness is just for me. For us. For those left behind. My heart is filled with happiness for Joe to be with Jesus and I know that the next time we meet, it will be for ETERNITY. Joe is free!

Today I am home alone with Paul and was looking forward to some down time. Paul had different plans however ;-) When he woke up this morning, he said the first thing we have to do is listen to his Poke'mon CD while we eat breakfast. Next on the agenda was playing the Wii. Santa brought a Wii at Christmas but I have yet to touch the thing. Nintendo just isn't my deal. But, not exactly having anything else planned, I played Paul a game of baseball. The family has made all the members of the playing teams to resemble various members of our family and friends. "Joe" was on my team. I can tell you I absolutely STUNK at the baseball game BUT when "Joe" got up to bat he hit a home run!!!

Joe is smiling up in heaven right now :-) And we are beginning to smile down here too. Our lives are overflowing with blessings including being surrounded by so many people who love us, a very happy 9 yo boy who has finally talked his mom into playing the Wii . . . and Joe hitting home runs from heaven.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Memorial--From Lizzy

In memory of you big brother.

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You said you wanted to be a teacher.

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You were mine buddy.

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You're my hero.

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And will be forever.

Love, your sister.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Joe's in Heaven

Our son Joe took a turn for the worst on Monday and was hospitalized and put on life support. His cancer had taken over his lungs. He went home to heaven yesterday, August 3, at 10:34 am. Our hearts are filled with so much sadness it is hard to describe.