Saturday, March 29, 2008


I'm still here. It's been a rough couple of days.

I have a bad cold and Kim had ear surgery. It was a minor ear surgery related to her cleft but it was still traumatic for her, coming out of anesthesia and all the anxiety and memories of past surgeries.

For me the memories were also painful. Not so much the memories of Kim's hospitalizations, tho those are no fun. It's the memories of Joe's hospitalizations. All the sights and sounds brought back vision after vision of times spent visiting Joe. And times saying good bye. Watching him suffer silently and watching him waste away. Watching him die.

I saw a young man about Joe's age sitting in a wheelchair. He had a grim look and no hair. Chemo is hell and although Joe almost never complained he HATED being bald. He joked about it but he hated it.

After coming home from the hospital and heading to bed with my head cold and to snuggle with Kim, the tears came and stayed for a couple of days.

God keeps all our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). I hope he has some really big bottles. I miss my son.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dear Playground Bully

Dear Playground Bully,

I hope you learned your lesson. The next time you decide to pick on a little guy, you'll think twice.

I can see you now, looking at my sweet little son, quietly playing all alone. You thought he would be a great victim. He's small. He's a bit uncoordinated. He appears to have a speech impediment but that is actually a VNese accent. And you probably thought I wasn't watching even tho I had just told you to quit badgering him.

But He surprised you, didn't he?

You see, your most recent victim spent the last six years living in an orphanage. He KNOWS how to protect himself with a well deserved karate kick! I was not aware of this fact until I saw his reaction to your attack--WOW! While I am not an advocate of violence, I believe in self protection.

You got what you deserved buddy.

My son has now been given bragging rights for his bravery. I was concerned he was overexcited about it until his 18 yo brother reminded me that David probably bragged for quite some time after taking down Goliath.

Sincerely hoping you don't forget the taste of barkchips for a long time to come,

Kung Fu's Mother

RTW--saving money

Clever me will now proclaim Random Thought/Tip Wednesday as RTW. I'm a freakin' genius I tell ya, a GENIUS!!!

I have a great tip on saving money on the ol' grocery bill. The first part is, for the most part, common sense. The second part may be something you've never considered.

Part one: When preparing a meal or snack do not go to the pantry first, go to the fridge. See what perishable foods and left overs you have on hand. Yes, think inside the box and prepare your meal/snack around that. Leftover spaghetti actually makes a great breakfast. My kids taught me this one. They prefer it to traditional foods.

Part two: When we let food go to waste we pay double the next time.

For instance, let's say I pay $3. for a bunch of asparagus--Paul's favorite! I place it in what I affectionately call "The Rotter." You know, those fridge drawers that say they are the Crisper? If I forget about it and have to throw it out, I will, in effect, pay $6. for my next bunch of asparagus ($3 for the new bunch + $3 for the bunch that went bye-bye).

How's that for some amazing inspiration?

I'm a genius I tell ya, a genius.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Brunch

My Mom's birthday always falls near Easter and as a gift to herself, she takes the family out for Easter Brunch. I'm not sure how that works since it is HER birthday but with my parents, when it comes to trying to pay in a restaurant, we may as well give up before we walk in the door.

Easter Brunch is one of our favorite traditions. Here's some pics:

The little kids always enjoy spending time with James and his girlfriend. While we waited for seating they enjoyed each other:

The older kids are great entertainers:

Vu was delighted with all the MEAT! Sausage, bacon, crab, salmon and shrimp! My carnivore!

A no-no in the manners department but a cute pic:

James showing the kids pictures of his new kitty:

Paul got chocolate all down the front of him. He said, "Hey Mom! Did you bring your 'Tide To Go' pen?" Uhhh . . . think it's going to need more than that!

Happy Easter!

He is risen! A day most meaningful to us, especially now.

As we were sitting in church today Patrick whispered in my ear, "Mom, can people die in Heaven?" I answered, "No, you are alive FOREVER in Heaven."

He looked at me in amazement and said, "SWEEEEET!"

We spent the weekend with my parents. How would you like to wake up to this everyday?


On our way Kim pipes up from the backseat, "Uh, Mom? Did you pack me a bag?"

My reply, "Uh, no. . . Did you?"

That's one way to get a new Easter dress! LOL! Actually, we had the dress and made due with everything else--thank heaven's for washing machines! Makes me realize I overpack on all trips.
Time to dye Easter eggs:

Kim's proud of her artistic ability:

Already the pro--Vu points something out to Patrick:

The final result:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Random Wed.--Car Supplies

Okay, so it's not Wed. Hey, it's been a busy week! But I do have a Random Wed. Tip for you. On the first day of each new season resupply your car.

While it doesn't FEEL like spring here the calendar says today it's official so for me, that means supplying our car for baseball season. I fill a large Rubbermaid Tote with:

  • Large blanket
  • Extra jackets
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks--especially red licorice and sunflower seeds!
  • Sunblock--we can always hope we might need it sometime soon!
  • First Aid kit
  • Baby wipes and hand sanitizer--is there anything as bad as portable toilets?

Add folding chairs to the back of the van and I'm good to go!

When my kids were younger I would put in extra diapers, wipes, change of clothing AND--

HERE'S THE BEST TIP EVER--a potty chair!

Why? To avoid those nasty port-a-potties! Toddler and preschoolers can easily use a potty chair in the back of a van--just put a little garbage bag inside the pull-out plastic potty catching part and then, once they are done, take out the garbage bag, pee and all, and throw away in a garbage.

You can also just leave the pee in the potty and do you know it will not spill on your way home? Tried and true and passed on to me by a smart woman named Catherine B.! Thank you for saving most of my children from gross baseball field port-a-potties!!

The first day of summer I resupply my car with summer stuff and the first day of fall with soccer/football stuff. It's good having a reminder day like the change of seasons.

Now for a picture of my baseball guy who is PITCHING!!! Can you believe it? He loves pitching just like his older brother Joe did. Will's a lefty too and can throw some HEAT but he injured his elbow three years ago and underwent "Tommy John" surgery. For those who are not baseball fanatics, that is where doctors take a tendon out of one arm to replace the damage in the elbow.

After a year off Will was hoping to come back last year but it never happened. It appeared the surgery had not been successful. But this year? It appears our Angel In The Outfield asked God for a favor for his little bro. Thanks God!

Here's Will pitching yesterday for a WIN! It was a great day! We know Joe is smiling too.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Sisters

So, you know what? I kicked some booty and while I was at it, I took some names! I am SO glad I listened to my kids!

I said I wanted to introduce my sisters properly and give links to those with blogs. I always tell my kids that the greatest gift they have is their siblings. Their siblings need to be their best friends because they will always be there for them through good times and bad and even in Heaven!

Speaking of siblings, I am planning a big blog on siblings WITHOUT rivalry very soon--stay tuned. Others often comment on how well our kids get along and on the chance we are doing something right, I thought I should blog about it :-)

I feel so blessed by my three sisters. We are as different as the four seasons yet together keep all the planets in alignment. We love time spent together laughing and talking and laughing and talking. We can laugh so hard we pee our pants. All except Nicole. She thinks we are Weird! She's the normal one!

Dog Lover is the oldest. Guess what? She loves dogs! Her life is as full of dogs as mine is kids. My own dog lover, Kim, thinks Dog Lover's house is the greatest place on earth because she has animals everywhere! Dogs, cats, horses, chickens. She breeds dogs, trains dogs and grooms dogs. Oh, and on top of that, she runs a dog kennel business. Did I say she likes dogs?

She also homeschools her kids, is the needlepoint queen, loves castles and vacations and being a grandma! She has four kids, two are married. She and I fought (yes, like cats and dogs) growing up but now we are good friends. Amazing what maturity can do! She does not have a blog and rarely even e-mails so you will just have to learn about her from the three who blog.

Texas, also known as Ellis, is my baby sister who of course, lives in Texas. She is hysterically funny, a great storyteller, and a clone of Martha Stewart. She loves excitement, entertaining and vacations. She has three kids and when they get together with mine, we don't see them for days. She is never home so it's a good thing she blogs so I can keep up with her. Read her blog here

Nicole is my baby, baby sister. I am twelve years older so she was my first real baby! Now we are all grown up (her more than me). She has a four year old son who is a kick in the pants and she is in the process of adoption through Holt's Ethiopia and China programs. They are due to be matched ANY DAY!!!! Every time she calls I wonder if she has BIG NEWS! She is the queen of last minute entertaining and will think nothing of inviting her whole neighborhood over with just an hour's notice. She also likes tennis, fine dining and vacations! Read her blog here

We are all very different but we love each other, we love our crazy lives, and we love being moms. We also LOVE our parents and thank them for the greatest gift--each other!

Now a picture of course!

Here we are in Las Vegas celebrating my BIL's 40th. We were to dress Las Vegas-y.

Me, Nicole, Mom, Texas and Dog Lover


Kick Booty!

You know, teenagers can be challenging. They make me question any and all parenting strategies I possess. But teenagers can also be a ton of fun and the two we have right now are in easy phases--like having good friends around. They make me feel like I am actually doing something right!

Yesterday, I was lamenting the fact that I was, most likely, going to end up with a B in my college class. It is a required class and, like most required classes, dry. It is an online course which means double the reading and no interaction but only having to physically go onto campus for tests. It has been nice with Vu.

For reasons that now drive me insane, getting an A is important. It's my perfectionism combined with my competitiveness. It drives me nuts because I'm sure I could get a job just as readily with a 3.0. So why put in the extra work an A requires? I don't have a good answer. Personal pride I guess.

What I do know is that I was certain I was going to end up with a B. As I told my teenagers, I had added up my points and I was at 90%. I would need an A on the final which I knew was next to impossible since I had received a B on both mid-terms despite the fact I had studied.

Listening to my teenagers was like hearing my own voice echoing back.

Lizzy chastised me with, "But Mom! Don't take that attitude! Be positive! You never know, the final might be really easy! You can't just give up!"

And Will's response?: "Mom, NO! You need to do what I do. I go in to take that final knowing I'm gonna OWN it. I say to myself,


So that's what I'm going to do. A Momma with an attitude! Wish me luck!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pruning In Order To Bear Fruit

I spent a quiet weekend spending time away from the computer, and praying about God's will for our lives. We have time to do all that God has Called us to do, it's just a matter of pruning away those things that aren't as important to make way. John 15:1-16 keeps popping up and I found a particularly meaningful synopsis-- read here

As the article states, pruning can be painful and it is difficult in this busy life of ours to decide what's important and what isn't. There are so many things that SEEM important. There are so many opportunities for us and our children. And yet, prune we must in order to have time for more eternal things.

I desire to bear more fruit and so, I must prune.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Party Pics

I wonder what she wished for?
The party theme was Princess. Lizzy made the cake.

The Beast full of party goers. Lizzy isn't allowed to have a boyfriend until she's 16 but when she brought this guy home, well . . . Let's see. He's an excellent student, very polite, athletic, and even passed the Older Brother Test. And hey, with that kind of good looks? He got the thumbs up from me! Eric's still pretending his little girl isn't interested in boys so won't allow them to become official boyfriend/girlfriend.


The famous birthday game asking questions to see how well they know the birthday child. They knew the answer to the question: "What was Lizzy's favorite article of clothing when she was young?" Answer: Dresses! She wore one EVERY SINGLE DAY OF KINDERGARTEN!
The next question tho: "What was Lizzy's least favorite article of clothing when she was young?" Answer: Underwear! When she was three and four I learned to keep extra pairs in the van. I cannot tell you how many times we got out in public with her in a dress and I would realize she had no underwear on! She was embarrassed by that question. Guess it wasn't such a winner idea with her boyfriend, I mean, friend who is a boy, there.


Sweet Sixteen next year! Wow!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lizzy's 15!

Time to catch up on birthdays before the next one hits!

Lizzy is now 15 so if you live anywhere in Washington, Oregon or Idaho, I would recommend you drive very carefully, especially if you see a gigantic van driven by a beautiful girl with a terrified mother in the passenger seat! Yup! We will have another driver in the family. Somehow, we survive!

Lizzy had a low-key birthday with several friends, both male (yikes!) and female. They played a lot of Guitar Hero and went en mass to a local basketball game, then back home for pizza and games.

Lizzy is an awesome daughter! She and I have so much in common, we are like best friends. As a little girl she was spoiled rotten but somehow she turned out okay. She used to have the unique ability to irritate any and all her siblings, mostly by trying to be their bossy second mother, but she has since grown out of that.

Ahhh . . . there are good things about growing up.

Lizzy, I love you always and forever up to the moon and back! Happy Birthday!!!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Random Wednesday

I decided to do a random tip/thought idea for Wednesdays rather than the popular "Wordless Wed." I like to talk to much for wordless.

My tip for today comes from our trip to buy swimming goggles for kids.

Want non-leaking goggles??

Get Speedo brand, with TWO straps, WITHOUT an adjustable nose piece.

We have been buying this style for years and they do not leak.

Tip complements of my sister Texas, who of course lives in Texas, so swims every day!

I have two sisters with blogs, including Texas, and will soon introduce them properly. My other sister (Dog Lover) does not blog or even e-mail but we love her anyway! We all have VERY different personalities and lives but we are also very alike in that we all love kids, we love being moms and we love each other!

See why this isn't called a wordless blog? At this point, I'm not even sure it's just a random tip blog. Oh well!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week In Review

It's been a busy week but a great week.

There are times in my life when all the planets seem to be in alignment and all the kids seem to be doing well; nobody's in crisis, needy, or stressed; everyone is just enjoying life and I can fall into a blissful motherhood sleep at night.

Eric's back is finally recovering and all my sick kids are now well. Life is good.

Paul at basketball. Isn't he cute?


Playing in the rice bucket--messy but fun on a rainy day:


Samuel de Champlain--Kim preparing for a big speech.

The patient--holding the con and looking fit and trim by sucking in his cheeks.

Five kids eating popsicles, acting silly, trying to pretend it's a warm day:


Patrick and Vu start swimming lessons. Vu is like a fish in water. Patrick was scared and Vu was excited!

Paul starts piano lessons. After three years of violin he wants to have a try at piano. He's a musical kid.

Will showing some school spirit by picking out the fro! Yes, that hair is real! No, I do not know where he gets it!

Spending some time with James, my oldest, at a basketball game.

Lizzy turns 15! More on the party later!

Baseball season is here! We are a baseball loving family. It doesn't get any better than this!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Our Miracle Baby

I am in the midst of (finally) making Vu's adoption announcement. That means I am hiring someone to help do it since I still don't have it done. In making it, I was reminded how tiny he was when he was born.

Vu was two and a half months premature, weighing just over three pounds. Three pounds!!! He was only 14" long. He was born in a small VNese hospital with, no doubt, minimal medical supplies to care for a premature baby. The fact that he is now a forty pound six-year-old running around our house pretending he is a ninja is nothing short of a miracle. God has a very, VERY special plan for Vu.

Since I have so little of Vu's past, I thought it would be neat to find a copy of baby footprints from a three pound preemie. They wouldn't be his, but they would be a keepsake of how small his feet probably were.

I got online but had no luck. Anyone know where such a thing might be found? I did find the following preemie pictures and wanted to share.

This one made me sad that I was not there to stroke him, talk to him, hold him and encourage him. My hope is that there was a special someone at the the hospital who mothered him. I know once he got to the orphanage at two months and four pounds, he had many who loved and cared for him.


This baby is TINY! One of the youngest surviving babies, born at just 21 weeks. She is now a happy, healthy little girl! Isn't it amazing?


Vu's announcement turned out just how I wanted. I will be mailing them sometime in the next year (at the rate I am going). The only part I struggled with was how to sign the names of our kids. Our past announcements have always listed all the siblings individually and I just can't bare to leave out Joe's name. So I finally just decided to sign: Eric, Ann and Family.

The announcements have his referral photo on the front with his name, birth statistics and place of birth. At the bottom it has the words-- "He came rushing into this world . . ."

Then the card opens to a picture of him running with the words-- "And on October 30th 2007, he came running into our loving arms."

He came so willingly with us, so bravely. He was well prepared but also so open to a new life. He literally came rushing into the world and running into our lives and hearts.

We are blessed.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above." James 1:17.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Random Tips

Sometimes I think of some random parenting/life tip that I learned from those smarter than me. Like today. I was driving back to the pharmacy. Okay, that's a lie. I was driving to Starbuck's but the martyrdom sounded so much better.

Anyhoo, Vu fell asleep in the carseat and I wanted to keep him asleep once we got home. Here's my great random tip:

When moving a sleeping toddler/preschooler from the carseat to the house do not lay them down. Sit them up semi-upright like on couch pillows, trying to emulate the same position they were in the carseat. They are much more likely to stay asleep.

I learned this four kids ago. It works.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Best Friend

One of my all-time favorite fridge magnets. I consider myself an adreneline junkie so me on coffee is a scary thing but I love my coffee!