Wednesday, April 30, 2008

RTW--Give Them Life

Of course, all my thoughts today revolve around yesterday's post.

One image that haunts my memory is the look in the eyes of the other children who we left behind the day we picked up Vu. They had been smiling and laughing with the bubbles and candy we brought but when it was time for us to leave, their faces became distant and empty.

The best word I can think of to describe their look is one of longing. Each child wished that THEY were the one walking out the gate with a Mommy and a Daddy.

Most of these children have not been released for adoption. They might be living at the orphanage temporarily, while their birth family tries to get back on their feet and eventually become reunited as a family--Holt's first goal is family reunification.

But they also might be living there for years on end because they have a family member who has not relinquished them for adoption, even tho they never visit and have no plans to reunite with them.

I especially pray for these children. I pray their families will either have a change of heart and reunify with them or they will realize the life that awaits these kids if they are given a chance and allowed to walk out that front gate with a new mommy, a new daddy, a new life.

Please join me in prayer for these precious little ones.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Crying For The Orphans

Sad. Beyond sad, I am filled with grief for the orphans of Vietnam, the good people who work so tirelessly to find them homes and the parents who have dreamed of becoming mommies and daddies--but won't.

It came out yesterday. If you are involved in the adoption world I am sure you already know but for others, there will be a shutdown of adoptions in Vietnam due to the greed and unethical practices of certain agencies including allegations of baby selling. (For the record, Holt is considered the gold standard in ethical adoptions and we know for certain Vu's adoption was free of any corruption or unethical practices.)

The saddest part is that the children will pay the ultimate price.

Here is the first article I saw yesterday and there is a good summary of happenings at VVAI

Although I could see the writing on the wall when we were in VN it still comes as a shock. The good news is that parents who have already been matched with a child will still be allowed to bring them home and agencies can continue to match children until Sept. 1--with a July 1 dossier deadline.

How I hope and pray many children will be matched before then. Children who will only know the life of being an orphan living in an orphanage or living on the streets if they are not.

As I was tucking in Vu tonight I tearfully thanked God for him. Then, I just sat and watched him sleep for the longest time. I thought about how his life has changed since coming home . . . and how much our own lives have changed. I wish I could describe the joy he exudes. He is so full of laughter and teasing and love. He is so happy to have a family.

Sometimes, when we are doing something really fun he will stop and get very quiet. Then, he will come close to me, look up with those big, black eyes and quietly ask, "Me never go back to Vietnam?" He always needs reassurance that this is the real deal, that we really are his family FOREVER.

Things could have been so different for him. Things WILL be so different for so many, many children left behind. I cry for them.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Do The Next Thing

When I'm feeling overwhelmed like I was yesterday it's often because we've been on the go a lot--home enough to make messes but not home long enough to clean everything up.

Baseball season is in right now which means we're out a lot. And when my house gets messy, I get messy. I can handle anything as long as I am getting a reasonable amount of sleep and my house is staying reasonably clean and caught up.

But once I get behind it's often hard to know where to begin catching up. What I really want to do is go back to bed and curl up with a good book, watch the movie Little Women and eat M&M's for the entire day. But, I know that would only make matters worse. As hard as it is to get motivated, I have to do what I KNOW will help me feel better at the end of the day--tackling the problem.

Years ago I read the poem below and it often becomes my mantra when I'm not sure WHERE to start or WHAT to do next. I know I just need to keep going and DO THE NEXT THING.


A poem quoted by Elisabeth Elliot

Do The Next Thing


"At an old English parsonage down by the sea, there came in the twilight a message to me. Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven. And all through the hours the quiet words ring,like a low inspiration, 'Do the next thing.'


Many a questioning, many a fear, many a doubt hath its quieting here. Moment by moment, let down from heaven, time, opportunity, guidance are given. Fear not tomorrow, child of the King, trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.


Do it immediately, do it with prayer, do it reliantly, casting all care. Do it with reverence, tracing His hand, who placed it before thee with earnest command. Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing, leave all resultings, do the next thing.


Looking to Jesus, ever serener, working or suffering be thy demeanor, in His dear presence, the rest of His calm, the light of His countenance, be thy psalm. Do the next thing."



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

RTW--Over Everything

My random thought for today is that being a mom is just plain hard sometimes.

Today I feel overtired, overworked, overcaffeinated, overappointmented, overmessed and just plain overwhelmed.

How's that for some wonderful inspiration?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

EARTH DAY

Dear Global Warming,

Where are you? I'm missing you. A lot. I am getting tired of freezing my buns off at baseball games. I'm tired of rain. I'm tired of sleet. I'm tired of hail and snow.

Have you looked at the calendar? It is almost MAY.

I'm so mad at you I feel like getting in my 15-passenger van and spewing out fossil fuel everywhere and driving somewhere warm and far away, like Mexico. And if you keep it up I'm going to get out my Lear jet and drive to Hawaii. Or maybe even Africa! And I'm going to serve martinis in Styrofoam cups!

What do you think of that??? Huh?

I'm hyperventilating which means I am ADDING extra carbon dioxide into your atmosphere.

Are you listening? Or, are you just a scientific farce? If you are, I'm going to get ALL my sons to fart on you. That's a LOT of greenhouse effect mister!

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Insincerely yours,

Frozen Solid in the PNW

Monday, April 21, 2008

Siblings--Part 1

Okay, so I've been promising a post on siblings having good relationships. I pause to write this.
Why?

Because I am sure at some point someone will see my kids in a big fight and look at me with haughty disgust and sarcastically remind me that I've written about how wonderfully my children get along.

So, here's my disclaimer. I am not saying my children never fight. I am not saying I am the worlds' most clever, creative parent who has discovered the key to sibling relations. I am not saying I am going to write a book entitled Siblings Without Rivalry. It's already been written and is a dated, but decent read.

I'm just saying I've learned a thing or two about how to encourage siblings to relate well. Okay? Okay.

Another reason I haven't written this post is, it really DOES need to be a book. It's impossible to tell you all I have learned over the course of the last 25 years and eight children. I could have a blog just on this topic! SO, I will break it down and post over time.

My first post is on brainwashing. Sometimes, we must brainwash our kids to love each other.

When Vu came home the first week was bliss. The next week Patrick was getting a bit perturbed about things and by the third week he was annoyed with the fact that Vu's Christmas stocking was hanging next to his. While they didn't really fight, they also didn't interact like I wanted. Vu adored Patrick but the feelings weren't mutual.

Since my boys are the same age I want them to be good friends. Kim and Paul are inseparable but often leave Patrick the odd man out. I wanted Patrick to have his own good bud--but I knew it was going to take some convincing.

I am happy to report they are now two peas in a pod. Best friends. How did I do it?

I took this picture one night. Do not tell Patrick, but I posed this picture:
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I then printed it out and put it on the fridge, gave each boy their own print and put one on their bedroom wall. I told them I just knew, by looking at the picture, they were going to be the best of friends. They would be just like Jonathan and David in the Bible. They would grow up to be best friends just like I am with my sisters.

Every day, I would encourage every positive interaction and say I just KNEW this was how it would be, that they would be the best of friends! I also made sure they overheard me telling friends and family how they were very good friends and what good brothers they were to each other, giving examples after which they would look at me and proudly beam.

Every night when we would say our prayers I would say the same thing. And once their relationship improved I thanked God for my two boys who had become just like Jonathan and David. It was an honest thanks to God but also one I wanted my boys to overhear--to reiterate their positive relationship.

And now the two really are best friends. The dynamic duo. Yes, they fight, but they also play together for hours on end.

He's not heavy, he's my brother:
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Here's a picture taken yesterday. Patrick was being Mr. Incredible and he was saving Vu from a fire. He told him, "Get on my back! It's gonna get hot!" and ran across the floor right through the flames, saving his brother from doom!

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Two pretty incredible little boys.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

RTW--Tying Shoelaces

When teaching kids how to tie their shoes, first teach them using a long cloth belt or rope. A belt from a robe is perfect.

Teach them this way (bunny ears) which is easy enough for a 3yo.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What If?

In deciding whether to pursue the adoption of Vu we played a lot of "what if?" The fact that he would be nearly six when we brought him home, the fact he had been raised in an orphanage, and had been very premature and was often sick, the fact that he had some possible delays, the fact he was the same age and possibly the same personality as our Patrick . . . the list of concerns that could easily lead to fears seemed to go on forever.

And yet . . . and yet. We knew God was Calling us to adopt Vu. I covered it all here but what I didn't cover was how we came up with plan of how we would deal with the "what ifs."

It was up to us to prepare for and know how we would handle the worst case scenarios. Some of our concerns were:

  • How would we help him catch up and achieve his best?

  • What if he had major emotional issues from being raised in an orphanage?

  • What if he and Patrick fought every waking moment?

  • What if his needs were so consuming they began to tear our family apart?

It was a very long list. I still have that list. On one side I listed all the possible problems we might be faced with. On the other side I listed all the ways we would deal with them. My solution list covered the gamut; from educating myself by reading everything I could get my hands on regarding adoption to, if it came down to it, hiring a live-in nanny/housekeeper.

As you know, our fears were for naught. But it felt good to have a plan. It felt good to know we were ready to handle anything.

Now, our "what ifs" are the opposite. What if we didn't have this precious child in our lives? What if we didn't have the color orange in our lives? What if we didn't have our little jokester here to make us laugh everyday?

I could go on but Steppin' Heavenward covers my exact feelings here

I'll end with a thought provoking quote:
"My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened."
Michel de Montaigne

Monday, April 14, 2008

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

THE GOOD:
My dad and stepmom stopped by for a visit unexpectedly. It was wonderful to see them. We went out to lunch--I was thinking a quaint little sandwich shop but King Vu wanted McDonald's so guess where we ate? It didn't matter because the company was great. Thanks Dad and Chary for stopping by!

Yesterday, Lizzy and her friend were babysitting the friend's siblings and took them to a kid-friendly family event for the entire day. When Lizzy got home she said, "Oh my gosh those kids were so hard to watch! I am SO exhausted! Now I know why you are so tired at the end of the day! That was the best form of abstinence ever!"

I am going to make sure she babysits those kids as often as possible.

Friday, Will had a baseball game and it was the FIRST game we have not had to wear WINTER coats! We've had so much rain and even snow and hail. It was a gorgeous day AND, in the bottom of the last inning with two outs Will hit a GRAND SLAM HOMERUN!

THE BAD:
Unfortunately, they still lost so even tho he hit his first grand slam in high school, he was totally bummed. He has a very competitive spirit so he takes winning and losing seriously. I remember when he didn't care if they won or lost, just what they got for a snack after.

Perhaps I should start bringing juice boxes and Twinkies again. Or maybe Rockstars and Taco Bell? Since they are mostly seniors and into college prep how about pretzels, peanuts and beer?

Ha! C'mon, go with my bad sense of humor since this IS the BAD section!

But speaking of bad, can you believe that Michael Johns got voted off American Idol? I rarely watch TV but Idol has become a family event. I couldn't believe it! I loved him. The only good part was the "Give Back" portion on Africa. I don't know how anyone could watch it and not be moved to do something about Africa's AIDS and orphan crisis.


THE UGLY:
My computer locked up and DIED! Luckily, the taxes were submitted before said tragic event. Whew! That was close!

The little Celica which is our only car that gets good gas mileage is . . . dead. When we first bought it for Joe to use it was old but in good condition and called "Da Bomb" because it looked so cool. Now, several car accidents later with missing parts and nearing the 200K mark, it is called "Da Bomb" because it's like driving one.

It gave out when I was at class and I had to have Will's former girlfriend who is still a girl friend, come to my rescue. Thanks C!! AGAIN! C is the one that we called in the middle of the night when Joe was back in the hospital and we needed emergency childcare since our high schoolers were going with us to be with Joe. C--you didn't know what you were getting into when you got mixed up with our family did you? Thanks tho! You're awesome!

And speaking of my class, I discovered I was going to the wrong class. Well, right class, wrong professor, wrong night. I'm such a dork. Luckily, I was able to drop the right one and keep the wrong one because I really like the teacher. It is a special ed class and she grew up needing special ed services since has a limb difference and is blind. She knows her subject matter and the class is very interesting.

Still hoping to get some posts going on encouraging good sibling relations. Every time I start to post one I have to break up a fight so I get distracted.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

RTW--Procrastination

On my honor,
I will try,
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to obey the Girl Scout, errr, I mean, the Tax Code Law.

Ahhh. Taxes. For me, taxes=procrastination even on big refund years like this, compliments of our upcoming Adoption Tax Credit. (Oh, how I love that credit!)

Yes! It's dumb to procrastinate! Yes! I know I am giving Uncle Sam a free loan--just doing my part in reducing The Deficit I guess.

Every procrastinator has their excuses and mine is that our taxes are very complicated because I do home daycare so therefore I'm considered self-employed. I also use my home for my business which complicates things even more because there are any number of deductions I can take if I am willing to go over all my receipts and records for the entire year.

I'm talking down to the toilet paper level here peoples and let me tell you, I have a mound of receipts just there. (And yes, I just reread that sentence and realize it's unintentional 6yo humor but rather than change it I will let you enjoy what I put up with all day long with TWO 6yo in the house!)

Anyhoo, I procrastinated, started in Feb., and am just getting around to finalizing it all now. Yes, I know it is April 10. Ur, uh, I mean, April 9. This IS a Wed blog--just look at the post date. No, I did not procrastinate on my blog about procrastination.

ANYHOO, I HAVE A PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR. Which is what this post is about :-)

My dear sister Texas taught me a lot about the 10 minute plan way before Flylady ever started her baby steps. Texas is the original Flylady.

When Texas had two little girls, including a newborn, her yard looked beautiful. Her key? Spend just 5-10 minutes a day working in the yard. Anyone can spare five minutes! When something feels overwhelming it is easy to put it off forever--esp. for someone like me. But even I feel like I can set the timer for ten minutes and work hard on a big project. I am always amazed by how much I can get done and the best part is, I often opt for spending a little more time ending in even bigger results.

Some of the accomplishments I have under my belt from The Texas Plan are things like cleaning the garage or walk-in closet or sewing a baby quilt. I have also been able to accomplish much greater feats like adoption paperwork.

So, my plan this year is to spend just five minutes every Friday afternoon compiling tax info whether it be daycare receipts or tracking all the numerous charity donations. With six kids in public schools and in numerous sports and activities selling anything and everything, there are plenty of those, not to mention I never say no to any child who comes to my door selling something. I even have two Entertainment books this year because I felt so sorry for the high school kids trying in vain to sell them. Yes, I'm a pushover.

But again, I digress. By just spending a few minutes every week on my taxes, I will be hours ahead by the end of the year. I'm telling you, it will work!

And now it's officially in writing so I must keep my Girl Scout, I mean, Tax Code promise.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Time For Some Photos!

First, flowers my sister Nicole sent when I was having a rebound of grief. She said they were supposed to be all white but is it any coincidence that there was yellow mixed in since Joe was my yellow boy? Once again I will say it, the best gift a parent can give a child is a sibling--lots of them :-) Thanks Nicole! I love you!
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We've celebrated two more birthdays. Patrick turned six! We still need to have his party with friends but here are some pics from the family party:
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And James turned 25! I know, I know, that means I must be getting OLD! Seriously tho, I was only 12 when I had him so I am still very young.

Eric and I took James and his girlfriend out to an enjoyable dinner including steak, wine and dessert. It was wonderful and the best part was the company and conversation. James is a wonderful son. We are very proud of him.
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Just having some fun together:
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Guess who has glasses now? He looks so smart!
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My least favorite child. Did I just say that outloud? What I meant to say was: The child I blog about the least:

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The dynamic duo strikes again! What kind of mischief can they think up now?
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Vu loves using the camera and took this picture of my Hottie with me.
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Will demonstrating a discipline technique:
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JK! That is just Will having big brother fun. It usually includes lots of wrestling, chasing, yelling and laughing and sometimes upside down fun. It usually ends when someone gets hurt--and that someone is usually Will.

Friday, April 4, 2008

My Favorite Child?

Which child do I love the most?

My children recently asked me this and I couldn't help but think of the childrens' book, I Love You The Purplest, by Barbara Joosse with wonderful watercolor illustrations by Mary Whyte.

I remember when I was pregnant with my second child; I was certain I would never be able to love another child as much as my first. It seemed impossible! No child could ever be as cute or adorable as James! I had nightmares of our house being on fire and having to choose which child to save first! It was horrible.

But of course, once Joe was born, I discovered a mother's love is not divided it simply multiplies. Joe was as different from James as yellow from blue and once Will arrived I discovered yet another beautiful color. As each new child came my world became more beautiful with colors I never knew existed.

Now, I'm not saying my kids have never gone through difficult stages--stages I didn't particularly like. When Patrick was a baby he had the most horrendous allergies. He had rashes and hives and cried constantly. He woke up ten times a night and was frequently sick. It was exhausting. I remember lamenting to a friend one day that it was a good thing I loved him so much because I sure didn't like him! My friend looked horrified until she saw me smile. Even then, he was my red boy and I loved him the reddest.

The mother in the book has her own "red boy" and I enjoy how she proclaims her love for him. She says, "Why Max, I love you the reddest! I love you the color of the sky before it blazes into night. I love you the color of a leopard's eyes when it prowls through the jungle, and the color of a campfire at the edge of the flame. A wide open hug. The swirl of a magic cape. The thunder of a shout."

Of her other son, this mother says, "Why Julian, I love you the bluest! I love you the color of a dragon fly at the tip of its wing. I love you the color of a cave in its deepest, hidden part where grizzly bears and bats curl up until night. The mist of a mountain. The splash of a waterfall. The hush of a whisper."

Paul would be my blue boy and James a peaceful Caribbean blue-green. Lizzy would be all the shades of pink and Kim a beautiful periwinkle lavender. For Will . . . hmmmmm . . . maybe brown, as odd as that seems. But I love the color brown and I love digging in the soil, planting flowers and gardens. He's solid, down to earth, gentle, loving.

As I explained this to my questioning children they argued that everyone has a favorite color and it's true. But just because I have a favorite color does not mean I want the whole world to be light blue. And some colors I never wear, such as yellow, but what would the world be without yellow daffodils, visions of my Grandma's cozy kitchen and the glorious blazing sun?

Joe was my yellow boy. He was a bright, brilliant yellow; loud and laughing. When he died the world was suddenly grey; without his yellow there was so little light. But slowly, the memories brought that brightness back and while my world will never be as bright and beautiful as it was when he was alive, we now have a new color in our lives.

Vu. He is my orange. He can be peach--calm and sweet. He can be vibrant orange, full of laughter and teasing. He adds a new color and boldness to my world that I didn't even realize was missing. I love him the orangest.

Choosing a favorite child would be like deflecting all but one of the rainbow of colors refracting from my inner crystal. Impossible.

I live in a blessed, colorful world.

"Behold, children are a blessing from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like the arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. " Psalm 127:3

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

RTW--Simplicity Quote



"Live Simply So Others May Simply Live."

Ghandi


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

National Enquirer Shocker!!!

Thanks everyone for your kind words and concern. It would be so much harder to go through this without all of you!

I'm feeling a lot better and have some good news!

Our agency called this morning and we are going to adopt two more kids! How cool is that?

Two brothers ages 5 and 7 from Vietnam. Can you believe it!!!!!

Before I send my mom to the hospital with a heart attack let me just say that I love today and . . .



Yes


Yes



Yes


Yes





APRIL FOOL'S!!!!

It's a joke but I have to say, I would actually like for it to be true :-) But just to clarify; no, we have not started the adoption process again. I have this thing called a husband who likes a sane life and a sane wife. Not that he has either but I guess he likes to pretend.

I pulled a good one on my kids today. I told them the test scores from our district were so low that the schools are starting mandatory Saturday school beginning THIS Sat. I did say the good news is it is only part of the day, from 8-12.

And yes, once they all peed their pants I reminded them today is April Fool's!

I'm so mean! Laughter is good medicine!