Sunday, September 30, 2007

LIVESTRONG

Eric rode in the Livestrong bike ride today in honor of my mom, a breast cancer survivor, and in memory of his brother, Mark, and our son, Joe. It was a VERY rainy day so he was one wet rider after 40 miles. I am so proud of him!

Last night we went to the Livestrong dinner. I thought it would be the normal "thank you" dinner but it was AWESOME! It was very quaint, had GREAT food and amazing speakers including various cancer survivors, marathon legend Alberto Salazar and of course, Lance Armstrong.

Lance is a different Lance than the one portrayed in his book. He is very funny in a dry, witty way. Charming. I like him whereas after reading his book I respected him and was inspired by his fight with cancer, but his personality seemed rough (okay, yes, he seemed like an ass). It made me remember that learning about a person through the written word is often different than meeting them in person. I have a new respect for the guy.

Next year, our ENTIRE family is going to participate in the Livestrong bike ride. It will be QUITE the event!

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Some of the kids waiting for Daddy to cross the finish line.

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Here he comes!

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Five wet kids and one very wet dad.

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The outfit we purchased for Vu--to remember his big brother and to wear in the Livestrong next year.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Endless Uses Of Febreeze

The party was a blast! Entertaining teenage boys is so easy -- throw out a bunch of food, pop and video games and it's a success! As I was doing some extra cleaning before the party Lizzy looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Do you really think 17 yo boys are going to CARE???" As I was hunched over vacuuming the vent I thought, "She's got a point!" Therein ended the cleaning session!

I'm not sure how many boys were here but I know 12 boys spent the night. I do not say they slept over because there was no sleeping. They had three TVs all hooked up to the new Halo and they were up all night.

There was talk of taking our 15 passenger van out to do some streaking but I told them there would be no streaking in The Beast. First of all, the idea of 12 naked butts on my seats is like, yuck!!! They had to keep things legal and at least wear a jock-strap--and sit on towels! I then informed them that if indeed they did want to do even partial streaking, they probably wanted to go in a vehicle that wasn't quite so noticeable as our gigantic church van! I mean, police tracking a 15 passenger van on a Saturday at midnight is probably a little easier than finding a couple of pick-ups!

After my wealth of advice I promptly went to bed, put in my earplugs and fell into a restless sleep featuring dreams of cops coming to my door asking if that heap of metal in my driveway belonged to me. ("Well, yes officer it does, but someone stole it in the night and it now smells horrible!") And no, I did not ask this morning if any streaking occurred. I do not want to know.

And the next time any of you ride in my van, don't ask why I have a huge bottle of Febreeze in my van. You just never know. You never know.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What Does "A FEW" Mean?

Earlier in the week I told Will it would be fun to have some of his football friends over after the game tonight. I just asked him how many were coming and he said, "Oh, about 20."

Tell me people, is 20 a few???? How much pizza will 20 hungry football players eat? (Secretly, I think this will be fun but it is a lot of work.) I am now off to the store for more snacks, pop and pizza!

I have a new mathematical discovery:

Kids = work + money + time

Un-huh. Slow learner. S-L-O-W.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Studies Have Shown Adoptive Parents Improve Math Skills!

Today puts us at 2.467 months since MOJ approval. Well actually, it hasn't been quite that long, we are at 2.46666666666666666666666666666666666666666666`(repeating.) The average wait time is 2.1 months.

Who would have ever thought I would think so much about math while waiting? Squeezing the budget, yes, writing checks, yes; figuring decimals, no.

It's sick folks, it's sick!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

DOJ Approval!

No, not really, just practicing for when it comes!

Ah, the way I pass the time :-) Like I don't have a million other things I should be doing!

On the agenda this week--going over all the instructions for getting our visas once we get our TA (travel approval--which will come after our DOJ approval) AND going over all the documents we need to bring to Vietnam to get Vu's visa. I was just looking at the list--why didn't anyone tell me we basically have to put together another dossier-like packet? Does it never end??? One would think I've never done this before!

Well, no, I haven't, at least not through Vietnam. For lazy people who do not like compiling paperwork I have a little tidbit of advice for you. Adopt through Korea--it's easier!

Then again, if I really wanted my life to be easy I wouldn't have eight children! There have been people in my life who have tried to explain this to me (I will not disclose names so as to protect the not-so-innocent). . . but I think I'm finally getting it!

Kids = Work

Slow learner. S-L-O-W.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Nightmares Of An Adopting Parent

Last night I had this terrible nightmare. I called Holt to ask them if they had heard anything on the DOJ approval and was put on hold. When the lady finally came back on the line she was crying and told me there had been a terrible error in the paperwork. I kept asking her what had happened but she wouldn't answer! Then we lost our connection! I was absolutely sure some terrible mistake had been made and Vu had gone to the wrong family.

Somehow, we finally reconnected and I was told that Vu would still come home to us, but we wouldn't be able to go to Vietnam until January!

Can you tell where my mind has been this week??? It doesn't take a dream expert!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Waiting For Departure

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Here is Vu, sitting on a bench just waiting for us to come and get him!

We received our update on Vu. We only receive these every three months so it is a very exciting day! We are told he likes to have a snack of cookies, candy and yogurt. (A boy after my own heart FOR SURE!) He is learning to say some English words including "mom" and "dad." That made me smile :-) He is doing well in school and gets along well with his peers. And here is the best part:

Under the "Permanency Plan" of the report it says he has been matched to our family and THEN it says words that made me cry: HE IS WAITING FOR DEPARTURE.

Any day, we are expecting our DOJ approval (Vietnamese Department of Justice). After that, we will hopefully travel in about seven weeks.

Come on paperwork! We have a son who is WAITING FOR DEPARTURE. And so are we.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

School Organization

I will be the first to admit I was NOT born organized. In fact, the whole idea was foreign to me until I had (several) kids BUT the more kids we've had, the more I've had to LEARN to be organized. Here are some of the ideas that work well for us to help with school organization:

1.) Get up early. This is the hardest one for me, but it is VERY important.
2.) Have a master calendar. I also have a daily planner. Check every night before bed and every morning upon waking. Oh, and multiple times in between :-) I also have a large bulletin board in the laundry room with master school and sports schedules.
3.) Have a master box of extra school supplies. I buy extra supplies in the summer when things are on sale. Poster board is a very important supply. I learned this the hard way--finding a store open at 11 pm for a procrastinating high-schooler. If my kids need a supply not in the box they are to write me a note and put it on the fridge.
4.) Keep a small school supply box full of supplies for homework and readily accessible where homework is done. If there is more than one area, have more than one box.
5.) Have a daily homework time for elementary school kids. My older kids fit it in on their own time.
6.) Have a desk folder for school info. You know, all those things you get at back-to-school night with teacher's e-mail addresses, class schedules and such. Some moms have a separate folder for each kid--I'm not that organized.
7.) Have a breakfast menu or at least plan what will be for breakfast the night before. We were a cold cereal family for many years when we had a new baby in the house--no guilt from me. It can help just to get out the boxes and bowls.
8.) Along the same line, it can be helpful to make lunches the night before. I usually pack the things that won't get soggy and make the sandwiches the morning of.
9.) Sign and return papers immediately. If my child hands me a slip to sign for a field trip, I immediately sign it, get money for the event out of my purse, and have my child put it back into their backpack.


10.) Lastly, my MOST SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL ORGANIZATION TIP! Have a check-off list to use in the evening. Direct the children to the list so you are not forever asking the same questions over and over i.e. "Did you brush your teeth, did you . . ." All you need to say is, "Have you finished your check-off list?"

Ours is posted on the side of the fridge. It is only intended for the elementary age kids. Here is what it says:

CHECK OFF LIST
1. 6:45 Start bath/shower (for the record, my kids do not bathe everynight. Nobody has died from lack thereof.)
2. Lay out clothing (they lay out what they will wear the next day including outfit, socks, shoes, hairbows.)
3. Put backpack by front door (make sure homework is signed.)
4. Do a housesweep (this is where they look all around the house and pick up things that are theirs or things they had out. They also need to spend a few minutes picking up their bedroom--some children are better at this than others :-)
5. Have a snack if you have time (They need to be done with all the above by 7:45 to have a snack--it's a very good incentive!)
6. Brush teeth
7. Read. Eric usually reads a bedtime story to the kids-their favorites continue to be any of Bill Peet's books. I think we own all but two. A good incentive for a child who needs to read but does not like to read is to let them choose to go to bed or stay up 20 minutes later reading on their own. It works!

After that we do an individual tuck-in with each child. I pray with each child. I lay down with each child, reading my book and talking to them about their day.

Finally, it is time to collapse myself and start all over the next day
:-)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Anxiously Awaiting

On a happier note, we are anxiously awaiting our next Child Update which will include new pictures of Vu and an update covering his last three months. We are hoping this will arrive by the end of the week.

We are also awaiting our DOJ approval, which could also come this week. After that, we will be waiting for our (TA) Travel Approval. Yeah!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Love Song

I found the following quote in a book entitled When the Bough Breaks: Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter by Judith R. Bernstein.


A Love Song

"The mention of my child's name may bring tears to my eyes--but it never fails to bring music to my ears.

If you really are my friend, please don't keep me from hearing the beautiful music. It soothes my broken heart and fills my soul with Love."

Nancy Williams


Yes, Joe's name will forever be a love song to my ears. I still cry every day and wonder when the day will come that I just feel sad and do not cry. I still dream about him every night but my dreams have turned from nightmares to beautiful memories.

I miss my son.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

First Day of School with Pictures

Patrick started kindergarten today. This is the first time I have not had a baby and/or toddler and/or preschooler home for 24 YEARS!

Right now I'm not sure how I feel. If Vu wasn't coming home in a few weeks I would feel very sad. But since Vu is coming home, I feel anxious to get lots and lots of things done before he arrives. I have already begun list after list of projects and to-do lists.

And yet, I miss my kids when they are gone. I wish I could choose a part-time school option. I've done homeschooling and public schooling both, I feel there are as many positives to negatives for each, and I just wish there were some happy medium.

Melancholy is probably the best word to describe how I feel today.

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Here's Patrick--ready for his first day of school. Yeah, right.

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William and Patrick started school today.

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Lizzy, Kim and Paul started school yesterday. Today Paul asked me when it would be Winter Break.

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Patrick and Eric on the first day. Patrick came home and told me, "I didn't even get sent to the Principal's office!" Let's just hope he can say that for a long time! Patrick made a new best friend named Anthony. He told me Anthony didn't really say much and that makes sense since Anthony only speaks Spanish!

Monday, September 3, 2007

End Of Summer

We spent Labor Day Weekend at my parent's lakeside cabin. I am both happy and sad to see summer end. We will always have sad memories of this summer but there will be happy memories interspersed.

I am sending copies of these pictures to Vu in Vietnam and telling him that next summer he will be with us going for rides in the boat, fishing, playing games and making s'mores. Happy last day of summer!


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Eric and Paul enjoying a ride in the boat.


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Patrick trying for that ellusive first catch.

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Patrick finally caught his first fish--a whopper!

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Card games are essential. Here Paul plays "Speed" with my nephew.

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Best Friends. Kim dries off her dog, Wooly Bear

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William with his sweet girlfriend under a beautiful sunset.

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Lizzy with my niece.

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Proof that I really AM a treehugger--yes, Conservative and treehugger DO go together.

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Okay, so James had to work and did not come to the cabin but I wanted to include a picture of him too. Here he is with his wonderful girlfriend.