Saturday, May 31, 2008

PLEASE HELP!

Vu asks me a question almost every day that I cannot answer. "Mommy, why did you take so long to come and get me?"

It's a heartbreaking question and one he should not have to ask.

Vu was caught up in the last shutdown which is why he had to wait YEARS AND YEARS to finally have a family. PLEASE, PLEASE read the following and take the actions suggested.
Every e-mail and phone calls counts! Please, homeless children are waiting.

STOP CORRUPTION in Vietnam while STILL ALLOWING REPUTABLE AGENCIES (like Holt) to bring children home to their forever families!

This comes from Joint Council. Read all about it at that link. They have drafted up A Child's Right Campaign.

May 21, 2008
Joint Council is pleased to announce A Child's Right Campaign for Vietnam. Please join us on June 2nd by contacting Members of Congress and urging them to join the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chairs and sign their letter to Secretary Condoleezza Rice in support of the recommendations found in A Child's Right Campaign for Vietnam.
A Pending Crisis
The U.S. Department of State has expressed concerns related to corruptive practices associated with intercountry adoption between the U.S. and Vietnam. In response to their concerns, the Department of State will allow the functional closure of adoptions on September 1, 2008 and thereby end one of the most basic of human rights: the right to a safe, permanent and loving family.
Not only will those orphans eligible for adoption continue to suffer the detriments of orphanage life, so will thousands of other orphans and vulnerable children. This is because the service providers engaged in finding U.S. families for Vietnamese orphans also provide a myriad of services to the most vulnerable of children.
As a result, the end of intercountry adoption with Vietnam also brings the end of social services such as family preservation and counseling. It also marks the end of humanitarian services such as educational sponsorships, clean water programs and many health related initiatives.
End Corruption, Not a Child’s Right to a Family
While Joint Council shares in many of the Department of State’s concerns, we believe the solution is not the termination of adoption and elimination of a child’s right to a family. Joint Council, its Member Organizations, NGO’s including Ethica—a leading voice for ethical adoption, the Vietnamese government and Members of the United States Congress firmly believe that the solution is a rational child-centered approach designed to strengthen services, regulate providers and prosecute violators.
A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam
In response to the looming crisis facing the children of Vietnam, Joint Council today--May 21, 2008—initiates A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam.A Child's Right Campaign for Vietnam proposes a series of rational recommendations that address the issues of abuse, protect the integrity of Vietnamese families and ensure the right of every child to a permanent, safe and loving family. The overriding goal of this campaign is very simple: to end corruption, but not a child’s right to a family.
As part of this campaign Joint Council delivered a letter to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA) Co-Chairs: Senator Mary Landrieu; Senator Norm Coleman; Congressman James Oberstar and Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite requesting their immediate assistance. We have asked the CCA and all Members of Congress to support the recommendations found within A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam and to work with the Governments of the United States and Vietnam to ensure that an MOA is in place on September 1, 2008.
The Department of State has expressed intent to negotiate and implement a new MOA with the Government of Vietnam. Joint Council applauds the long-term goals of the Department of State, yet finds the short-term path unacceptable. It is clear that the intent is also to allow the current MOA to expire while seeking a new agreement sometime in the future. By all estimates, the Department of State’s current path would result in the functional elimination of services, including adoption, for two years or more!
Finding such a scenario intolerable, we ask for your immediate support of this Campaign. The following page details how you can help us avoid this pending crisis. Only with your active participation will the children of Vietnam have a right to join a permanent, safe and loving family through ethical, professional and legal adoption.
On behalf of the orphaned and vulnerable children of Vietnam, those of us who work to serve their needs and the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, we extend our sincere appreciation for your coming efforts.
How You Can Help

1.Today, please read A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam at http://www.jcics.org/
2. Send an email in support of A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam to advocate@jcics.org.

Send your email no later than May 30th.
Your email will be included in a petition to Congress.
3. On June 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, please contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators and ask them to support A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA) Co-chairs will draft a letter to Secretary Condoleeza Rice based on these recommendations. Please ask your Members of Congress to sign this letter. a. Call both of your U.S. Senators and your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
· You can find your Senators’ phone numbers and email address at http://www.senate.gov/
· You can find your Representatives’ phone numbers and email address at http://www.house.gov/ b. Include the following in your calls and emails.
· “I/we urge the Senator/Congressperson to join the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chairs and sign their letter to Secretary Condoleezza Rice in support of the recommendations found in Joint Council’s A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam.”
· If they have not heard about the Campaign, ask them to contact the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute at 202-544-8500 or Joint Council on International Children’s Services at 703-535-8045.
Send an email to everyone you called.
· The e-mail is important, but the phone call should be placed first.

Friday, May 30, 2008

HAIR

Has anyone noticed a couple of my kids looking a bit different these days? Particularly Will?

He finally gave in for the big haircut! I didn't give the little boys any choices. They weren't too happy about it either.

Here's Patrick and Paul on the way to the barber:
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And here they are on the way home--don't they look so happy about their new haircuts?!
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Now, here's Will. I can cut curly hair and thought I was quite the proficient barber myself until we had Kim and Paul and I discovered how difficult it is to cut straight hair. Curly hair hides all the mistakes.

Will contemplating whether or not he really wants to do this:
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Here he is sporting the unisex/artist look:
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How about a mullet? He actually put this picture on his My Space and gave all the girls a scare!
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The final result--he doesn't look too happy about it. I am actually surprised too that I miss all that hair!
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What to do with all the hair:

Hair Extensions?:
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Who's next?
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day Trip

Wow! Has it really been a week since I posted? It's a busy time of year, wrapping up things, preparing for Will's graduation and we went away for the weekend. It was actually just the four little kids and myself. We headed for the mountains to visit my dad's cabin--Dad as in D Dad, Bio Dad, First Dad, or just Dad :-). I explained once before that I call both my dad and my step-dad, "Dad" so it gets very confusing to everyone except me. But then, that pretty much sums up my life--confusing to all but the CEO herself :-)

We stopped at my MIL's on the way and enjoyed time with cousins having a water balloon fight. I wish I had taken some pictures! The kids had so much fun cooling off and seeing their cousins, aunts, uncles and Grams.

We also spent one night at my mom and (other) dad's house. They took us out to eat at a Mongolian Grill type restaurant. I wish everyone could have seen how much food Vu ate. He LOVES seafood and there was plenty of shrimp and crab.

It added to our great weekend, and having plenty of stops broke up the drive. It was a long drive, especially with four little ones but our kids travel amazingly well. If I was traveling alone I could make the trip in under seven hours but with little ones it often takes nine or even ten.

It's interesting to me that people in the West travel long distances without a thought and those on the East Coast think a three-hour trip is long. It must have something to do with the wide open spaces in the West. I mean, when I was growing up we often had to travel for three hours or more just to play our competitor in sports. Our conference covered a large area of the state. When we lived in DC we would often go up to visit friends in NYC for the weekend and they all thought we were nuts. Again, it must be mindset.

Anyhoo, here's some pics from a fun weekend:

First of all, to avoid confusion, it was THIS dad pictured here with his wife C on a recent visit to our house. The lightsaber Vu is holding is a permanent appendage--he's a Star Wars FREAK:
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Here he is patiently giving all the grandkids ride after ride after ride . . .
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There was still snow in the mountains! Paul and Kim had fun using it for baseballs:
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Cards, chips and pop. Does it get any better?
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There's always a sing-a-long with the neighbors Saturday night:
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Here's a bunch of the cousins enjoying:
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Here's what Vu thinks of Grandpa's cabin:
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I wish I had some pictures of all Eric accomplished being home with just the two older kids. He finished the deck, rebuilt screens, did several repairs, cleaned cars etc. etc. Maybe I should go away more often!

RTW--travel

We just got back from a very long trip. My tip of the trip:

Have kids wear easy on/off flip-flops or Crocs for the many stops.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

RTW--Random Pictures

Every now and then I will find random pictures on my camera.

If Will took them it is usually food. He is a budding chef who likes to cook in the middle of the night.

The ultimate burger:
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The ultimate breakfast at 2 AM which includes SIX eggs:
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Another burger Will was apparently particularly proud of and YES teenage boys add significantly to the grocery bill.
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But Will isn't the only one putting random pictures on my camera. Lizzy is the Queen.
Favorite shoes:
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Fun with gel--it was SO FUN to get out! NOT!

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More self portraits than I can tell you:

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Then there are some pictures that nobody will claim. I WAS NOT in the car but I know it was SOMEBODY--just not sure WHO!
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The first picture probably occured naturally. He might have had some encouragment for the next one. Then again, he probably didn't.

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The final picture is one with quite a story. It was taken a few years back when Patrick was still potty training. He didn't always make it to the potty in time. One of my older kids was babysitting (I will protect their identity) but the babysitter wanted to make sure he was justly paid for babysitting duty so he took a picture of what he had to clean up so he would have evidence and I would make sure to pay him extra.


You ready? Don't look if you have a weak stomach.





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Going through pictures on my camera is sometimes an adventure!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Permanent Press

My grandmother would be mortified to have been at my house yesterday. Come to think of it, my mother WILL be. Maybe my mom won't read this post.

I had another presentation for my class yesterday so I pulled out the ironing board to touch up a blouse.

Pulling out the ironing board brought back memories from my childhood. My mother had ironing days where she would take all the ironing, sprinkle each piece with water, roll it up and place in a large plastic garment bag. She would then pack up her bag of ironing and her little girls and we would drive out to my grandparent's ranch.

For all you non-rednecks, a ranch is a place where livestock is raised, in this case, cattle. A ranch is not the same thing as a farm. And "cattle" means "cows" which includes bulls, steers, cows, calves, weaners, feeders, yearlings and heifers. And yes, there is a difference between each of those but I will save that lesson for another time. (My grandad would be so proud!) And yes, (vegetarians close your eyes!) cattle are raised for beef as in, beef to eat.

Anyhoo, back to the ranch! After arriving, my mother would spend hours ironing everything we owned. There was no such thing as "Permanent Press" so it DID include EVERYTHING. We're talking sheets, tablecloths and napkins not to mention all the 100% cotton pants, shirts and LOTS of dresses. Back in the day, we were not allowed to wear pants to school until the winter of '72 when it snowed so much we were finally allowed to wear pants--as long as we had a dress over the top! And yes, I realize I am dating myself.

Ironing Day was great fun for us kids. We would go out and run around the ranch, torment the pigs, chase the chickens, feed the orphan lambs from big, glass pop bottles and help my grandad milk the cows (the family milk cows not the beef cows--you don't milk those :-). Some of my fondest childhood memories are being at the ranch.

We also spent time helping with the ironing. I felt so grown up to be allowed, at the age of six, to iron all the handkerchiefs and pillowcases. I actually became quite a proficient ironer.

Which brings me back to my original story of pulling out my own ironing board. I don't iron much these days. In fact, when I brought out the dusty thing Vu came running over excited and quite interested. One question quickly followed a procession of others.

"What's that Mommy? Where did you get that? What are you going to do with that?"

Before I could answer, he excitedly asked me, "Is that a bed Mommy? Are you going to take a nap?"

I laughed so hard I cried.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

IT'S A GIRL!!!!

My sister Nicole was matched with her new baby girl today!

They started on a China adoption three years ago and then the wait got longer and longer and LONGER and when Holt started up their Ethiopia program Nicole and Lee were happy to take a world detour.

Their sweet baby girl is only two months old. Her name is Etame and she is an absolute BEAUTY! They hope to bring her home in a few months. Go over to The Coy Pond and congratulate them!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

RTW--One Hundred Years From Now

One Hundred Years from now
(excerpt from "Within My Power" by Forest Witcraft)

One Hundred Years from now
It will not matter
What kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much money was in my bank account
Nor what my clothes looked like.
But the world may be a better place
Because I was important in the life of a child.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lessons From My Mother

Recently, I was shopping with my mother. We were in a crowded store with multiple children (mine and others) buying a long list of necessities.

I don't like to shop which means by the time I go I often need a lot but the good thing is I probably spend less money and I sometimes decide I don't even need that such-and-such after all.

Anyhoo, my mother and I were chatting away with my trail of kids and I suddenly realized I was blocking the aisle. The elderly lady who was trapped looked very perturbed. I cheerfully apologized assuring her I didn't think I owned the aisle, I was just acting like it!

I completely expected her to smile or at least nod but instead the frown claiming her face remained as if permanently cemented there. Once she passed by I leaned over and whispered to my mom, "Wow! She looks like she hasn't smiled for at least a decade!" Ha-ha, funny me.

My mom seriously replied, "Well Honey, she may have had a stroke and can't smile."

Ouch! I felt immediately embarrassed that I had made fun of a woman who had just had a stroke! Chastised (however gently) by my mother at the age of 45!

Then it occurred to me that if that were true she would still have been able to smile with HALF her face. When I brought up this intelligent thought to my mother she said, "Well, you just never know what people are going through. For all we know her husband just died."

A old lesson reinforced once again. DON'T JUDGE OTHERS. It's a lesson my grandmother taught my mother who then passed it on to me and hopefully I will teach it to my own children (if I can stop making fun of people at the grocery store).

Fast forward to a week later. For my mom's 70th birthday my dad coordinated all four daughters to join them for a weekend at the beach. It was a wonderful weekend of laughter, friendship and love.

During that time a subject of great interest came up. How is it we are all able to be such good friends?

We get along very well (tho we did sometimes fight as children :-), we don't talk behind each others' back, there isn't petty jealousy or arguments. From the outside, one would see we have a lot to disagree over. We all live very different lifestyles with different religious beliefs, political standings and parenting styles.

After discussing it we realized it all comes down to our mom's lessons on acceptance--not judging others OR each other. It comes down to realizing that we ARE all different. It comes down to being there for each other through thick and thin even if we might not understand or even if we could easily say, "I told you so!"

We often offer all kinds of advice to one another when one of us is in the decision part of life--whether or not to move, have another baby, get another dog, buy new furniture, co-sleep with our toddler. We are all very opinionated. But once the decision is made, we stand behind each other and become cheerleaders and strong sister support. We ACCEPT each others' choices.

Along with this, we do not spend time on the phone speaking negatively about another sister. Our mother would just never allow that. She doesn't do it. Neither do we. And while she wouldn't KNOW if we were doing it, her words would silently run through our minds and stop us mid-sentence. Well Honey, you just never know what people are going through. They need our acceptance, not our judgement.

Thank you Mom for a wonderful life lesson! I LOVE YOU MOM! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Here's the birthday girl!
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The four sisters on a five mile hike down the beach:
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Cousin Bonds--Nicole's son James and Vu were the only kids who came. Husbands also stayed home so it was a first of having lots of just Sister/Mom and Dad time. James and Vu had lots of fun with sand, sticks and Star Wars play.
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Texas brought everyone matching p.j.s and beach bags. My mom looks the same age as the rest of us. She is very healthy and takes good care of herself. We are all doing a model pose that is supposed to make us look skinny.
L to R is: Me, Dog Lover, Mom, Nicole, Texas
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We made a 100 Good Wishes quilt for my mom. It included a piece of fabric from each family member and her many, many friends. Nicole made the amazing quilt, Texas made a beautiful scrapbook with the cards and key to which fabric came from who, Dog Lover did all the mailing. I sat back and watched all of them work. I was the cheerleader :-)
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Good times! My mom and dad love the beach! It was a great, memorable weekend.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all mothers and to all women hoping to someday be mothers!

I was hoping to put out a Mother's Day blog I've had rumbling around in my brain but it's now 9 PM, I'm unpacking from a weekend trip, I still have kids to put to bed and a big presentation for my class tomorrow so I will just leave you with one of my all time favorite Mother's Day poems.

This was written for me by my oldest son James when he was eleven.


Mother
Cares for You
Beautiful Lady
Ruler

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

RTW--Picking Locks

I just learned something new. Now, if you are a robber or a peeping Tom I am sure you already know this so you are in for a very boring blog. If not, read on.

I can't tell you how many times I've had a toddler or preschooler lock themselves in a bathroom or bedroom and they are either too young or too distressed to figure out how to unlock it themselves.

We keep a lock key for doors in a kitchen drawer for just such emergencies. But of course, like most other things in this family including flashlights and hammers, the nifty little things apparently grow legs in the night and run for freedom.

I'm embarrassed to tell you how many times I've had to go the screwdriver route (assuming I can find one the right size!) and completely dismantle the lock to save the hysterically crying toddler inside.

Yesterday was just such an occasion. And of course, the key was MIA but Will saved the day. He immediately took his student ID card, slid it down the bathroom door crack, pushing back the lock mechanism freeing the DOG who apparently is very smart and now locks the door upon using the toilet bowl as his water dish.

Will's a genius! He reminded me that the doorknob is the only thing that is locked, the little door catch do-hicky thing isn't, so if someone can push that back, the door opens. Apparently a credit card will also do the trick too although a student ID is thicker and therefore better.

After I got over the fact that indeed my son is a genius it occurred to me that my son knows the tricks of a robber/peeping Tom. How exactly did he learn such a thing? As he walked out the door on his way back to school I queried him and all he gave me was a great big smile with the explanation, "That's the oldest trick in the book Mom!"

Hmmm . . . I don't want to know folks. I just don't want to know.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Spring Break Pictures

After a bummer of a week given the state of affairs in Vietnam, I thought I would add some cheer to the blog with pictures from a recent weekend at the Coast.

A little bit of this:
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And this:
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A picture to show you how warm it was:
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Coastal beauty:
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God was smiling down here:
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Some added highlights of the trip--preparing for the future:
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Eating out is always a fun treat:
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A visit to Holt Headquarters for some show and tell by Vu. It was great to meet the Holt Vietnam staff--they are wonderful, caring people. Vu loves hearing the story of how we waited to get our paperwork done and finally M. from Holt called and told us it was time to go get him! Now he knows who M is :-)
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It's always fun to go somewhere together.