Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Miracle of Kim

At the end of every school year I write a note of thanks to my children's teachers. For Kim's teachers I also include the following story (I've added some details here):

The Love Of Five Thousand People

Kim was only six weeks old when she was matched to us through Holt's Korea program. Eric was the one who received the exciting phone call. He called me and in disbelief relayed all the details of our precious new daughter. When we viewed her picture that night, it was love at first sight.

Seeing our daughter's picture and was a lot like having an ultrasound done with our bio kids. We suddenly knew we had a daughter and we had a picture to copy a thousand times to send to the world.

The long wait for paperwork to be completed began. Two governments can take an incredibly long time to process paperwork. We were told it would be about three months until we travelled but the months wore on and on and inexplicably, our wait continued. We began to get discouraged as other families came home with their babies, matched at the same time as Kim.

One Sunday morning I was especially discouraged and didn't even want to go to church to face the friends who would inevitably ask me why it was taking so long. For some inspiration I randomly opened my Bible to the book of John, Chapter 6, "The Feeding of The Five Thousand". Truthfully, I didn't find it particularly uplifting but I continued on to church.

Imagine my surprise when our priest began his sermon on the exact same verse! He had a different twist though, his message was this: When we are in a difficult circumstance and things seem impossible, God will surround us with five thousand people who love us and will help us and miracles will happen.

The very next day we had a disturbing phone call from our social worker. Kim might have craniosynestosis--premature closing of the skull bones, requiring neurosurgery. We had our pediatrician review the information faxed from Korea and she concurred the probability.

To complicate matters, Kim's development seemed to have stopped. Suddenly, we had to evaluate the fact that our baby might much more going on that just cleft lip and palate. She might have some big challenges. BIG! She might have a disorder in which she would be developmentally delayed requiring on-going care her entire life.

We were asked a most horrible question. Did we still want to adopt her?

I felt like I was being asked to have an abortion! How could we not go and get our precious baby whom we had loved from afar for months! If I was giving birth to her I knew I would never terminate for any reason, we would just love her and deal with her exceptionality. And yet, could we choose to bring home a child with such severe problems given the fact that we already had four other children?

We were in a difficult position. While we could request more medical tests to get more information, that would take time. If she needed neurosurgery, time was something we did not have. Since she had suddenly been noted to have a crossed eye we could only assume there was pressure building in her skull.

After two days of sleepless nights and nightmarish days we finally asked our kids their opinions. They would be very affected by a sister with severe special needs. Was it fair to them? We told our kids Kim might be disabled to the point she would never walk.

I'll never forget my son Joe's response, eleven years old at the time. He solemnly looked at us and said, "I'll push her wheelchair."

The other kids eagerly agreed. Still, we knew they couldn't completely understand the ramifications involved. But God understood. God kept being a still soft voice that reminded us over and over again, "Remember John 6:1-15."

We came to the answer we knew all along. She was already our daughter. We were prepared for the worst, but hoped for the best. Five days later we were on a plane to Seoul.

It wasn't the exciting trip we had dreamed about. We were filled with fear and trepidation, but hung on to Father M's message. Kim would be surrounded by five thousand people who would love and care for her. We were not in this alone.

The next day we went to see her, sure we would be faced with a child showing severe medical issues. Instead we were met with a bouncing, smiling sweetheart! Though she did appear to have some possible delays, she was doing better than we ever dreamed!

Three days later we flew home and she was awake and content the entire 20 hour trip. Instead of being relieved I was certain this proved she had brain damage. No baby could possibly be that happy!

We took her to our doctor the very next morning expecting to be told she needed surgery ASAP. Instead, we were told our daughter was perfect! Apparently, she just had premature closing of the soft spot. The head measurements had been marred in the fax and were different than we thought, the crossed eye was now normal and her development was only slightly delayed. Suddenly, her cleft seemed minor!

We went home and sobbed with both gratefulness in having her healthy and home but also with guilt and grief that she nearly didn't come home at all. I'm so glad I went to church that day!

Although Kim did not have craniosynestosis or a medical disorder, her clefts and speech issues have been more involved than we expected. She has undergone more surgeries and speech therapy sessions than I ever thought possible! She only communicated with sign language her first three years but as you know, Kim can now T-A-L-K (sometimes too much)!

Through it all, God has kept his promise. Kim has been surrounded by five thousand people who have loved and cared for her. She has had a multitude of relatives, friends, doctors, specialists and teachers who have helped her through everything and miracles have occured.

THANKS FOR BEING ONE OF THE FIVE THOUSAND!


Here's our sweet Kim with her Papa, one of the members of her 'Fan Club 5,000'. Kim is such an awesome kid! I can't imagine our lives without her. Thank you God for this precious gift!
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

RTW--Buffalo Buns

Leftover hamburger buns? Spread with butter and put under the broiler for a delightful treat! Add a little garlic if you like. My kids LOVE these!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Love Of A Sister

First, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who took the time to write Congressional members in regards to A Child's Right Campaign. You have been a voice for children who have none. Thank you, thank you!

After that campaign, I wrote a letter to the Ministry Of Justice in Vietnam, asking them to continue to allow reputable, ethical agencies to place children after the Sept. 1 deadline for families who already have their approved dossier in Vietnam. As it stands right now, Sept. 1 is the cut-off date after which children will no longer be matched with families. Thankfully, children who are already matched will be allowed to come home.

When Lizzy found out I was writing a letter she wanted to send one too. Her letter moved me to tears and I pray VNese officials see the joy Vu brings us and allow others this indescribable honor and joy. Here's a copy:


Lizzy's letter to the Ministry Of Justice in Vietnam:


To whom it may concern,

This past November, we brought home a little boy from Vietnam who is now the reason my world is full of joy. He is such an amazing little boy, and I can't thank anyone enough for this sweetheart now being my little brother. The sweet little boy with big almond eyes that are constantly sparkling to match his wonderful, smiling personality.

He has honestly changed my life in a way I didn't know was possible. I can't help but smile when he climbs into my lap with a giggle or yells out my name and throws himself around my waist when I come home from school. Without this little boy in my world, my family would not be complete.

So I would like to say thank you for allowing this little boy to come home into welcoming arms. I can't express how much I hope that you will give this chance to other children. The chance to be adopted into a family who is waiting with open arms.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth--15 years old
Big Sister to Luke Minh Vu--6 years old

Here's the picture she attached:
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

RTW--Teaching Kids To Be Organized

I need to do a better job helping my teenagers learn organization. Even Will, who as a preschooler kept his room cleaner than Howard Hughes has let his organization skills go. It's one thing to be like me--born unorganized and constantly trying to rectify it. It's another to know it and lose it. Yes, put that one on my I Feel Guilty About ______list.

So, I've come up with another of my fabulous summer plans. My children hate my fabulous summer plans--especially my teenagers. Too bad. So sad. In my quest to become ever more organized I will forever be coming up with fabulous plans!

I decided I need to start my kids with planners when they are young so they will still use them when they are old. My own planner and my perpetual lists are my rock in life. I couldn't live without them, they are most definitely my brain and only form of STM and LTM--both of which were lost several children ago.

Anyhoo . . . I bought each of my kids a planner. Actually, I didn't buy Will one because I figure he is too far gone. But everyone else has one (NO not Eric either--sheesh, do you think he would like my fabulous summer plan any better than the kids???). I'm trying to get to my point here . . . so everyone has a planner and I write down their chores and anything else they need to do that day before they can go out and play. I also have a place for them to keep track of summer reading or math or paino practice or for Lizzy, French practice. The language NOT the kiss--wow you really are a bunch of sick pervs! Come to think of it, I had better clarify this with Lizzy too!

Some of my kids opt for paid chores too, so the planners help keep track of how much and when to pay. The kids don't get paid for regular chores but they can always make money with extras. This part will be a great help since I always think I already paid them and they insist I haven't--perhaps another memory loss problem--or perhaps just some very smart kids!

Here's two of the new recruits:
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If you are sitting there feeling guilty because you have not instituted a fabulous summer plan, no worries! I always have big ideas and good intentions and they rarely make it through the summer.

But this time . . . oh, this time . . . I'm determined.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Guess What I Did For Fun Today?

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Being over 40 is SO much FUN!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

To all the great fathers in my life . . . Happy Father's Day!!! I feel very blessed and loved by two dads and one great husband and father to my kids.

Happy Father's Day to this dad--I love you Dad! (picture includes Dad, his wife, C, some of mine and all of Texas' kids).
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Here's my other two favorite guys. I love you Dad!!! I love you Eric!!! (Since Lizzy's in the picture I have to tell her I love her too so, "I love you too Lizzy!")

I know, this looks like an ad for Under Armour. It IS pretty cool stuff and our whole family loves it, but we esp. love the family members who give us Under Armour (love you Nicole and Lee)and keep our kids from being total clearance rack nerds!!!
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Eric wasn't actually home today--he got a chance to go to the U.S. Open and pick up some golf tips from Tiger. For those who love golf you know there is a play-off but Eric has to be in Arizona on business tomorrow so he has to work. Hey, someone has to fill the ATM and my job doesn't pay so well!

We did have a fun day, even without Eric. We went on a road trip to visit my parent's and had a nice, relaxing day.

I especially want to wish all the men who are hoping to be fathers by this time next year Happy Father's Day!!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Graduation

A few weeks ago 6yo Patrick saw a postcard on the counter and looked at it in horror. The card portrayed a guy wearing a cap and gown.

"What's this!?" he suspiciously demanded. I nonchalantly answered,"It's a card telling us to pick up Will's graduation announcements. Why?"

"Will's graduating!???" Patrick shouted, with a panicked look on his face. "Graduation means going to college and moving away and hardly ever getting to see them anymore!!!"

He proceeded to SOB for thirty minutes. He knows the deal. This is his third brother to graduate. I feel the same way only I could sob for a lot longer than thirty minutes. As much as I want my kids to learn to be independent, this is the part of parenting I dislike the most--letting go. Truthfully, I like the idea of the olden days when moving out meant moving to the farmhouse down the lane.

I know it's a good thing. It's just a hard thing. Will has always seemed part angel with a sweet, sensitive, innocent side. He's funny, creative and a great person to ponder life decisions with. He's part designer, part construction-guy and part sibling-entertainment-committee. He's even my grocery shopper! I will have to start shopping again! NOOOOO!!!!

More than missing my personal shopper, I will just miss HIM on a daily basis. Graduation is happy but graduation is also sad.

Here's some pictures summing up his senior year:
Football--lost the last game and a chance to go to state but had a great season:
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Will played basketball through 8th grade. He could already dunk but wanted to focus on football and baseball so he became the basketball spirit freak:

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His true love--baseball. Went to the state playoffs and hit a homerun his last highschool at-bat. Can you tell he likes to be #11?:

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A summary of the cold, wet baseball season. It wasn't pretty folks:

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The girl he loves the most:

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Always ready to wrestle:

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Winter Formal:

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LOTS of sleepovers and all-nighters. If you look carefully you will see three heads. There were also boys sleeping in almost every other room of the house. They would sleep on the couch, beds, couch cushions, pillows, sleeping bags and even a crib mattress! For blankets, they would raid the linen closet and one time I discovered they had even used my nice, linen tablecloths for blankets!!!

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Prom:

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With siblings and cousins at his graduation party:

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Graduation day--with grandparents

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A singing graduation duck from his Aunt K:

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I love you Will and I'm proud of you! You'll always be my Lil' Pumpkin! May the Lord bless you and keep you--always and forever.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

RTW--Babies

I love babies, as in LOVE babies--WAY more than the normal person. As a child I was obsessed with them and had a whole crib full of dolls that were my real, real babies. It's no wonder I have so many!

You can imagine how thrilled I was when, at the age of 12, my mom announced she was going to have another baby! My poor sister Nicole became my baby then--I held her so much I'm amazed she learned to walk!

I have to say, my childhood reaction wasn't quite the reaction I got from my own 18 yo son when I called him at college to tell him that I was pregnant with #7. There was a stunned silence on the other end during which time I was absolutely certain I had scarred him for life. Come to think of it, I probably did. I could just hear his thoughts!

"OMG! My parents had SEX!!! At THEIR ADVANCED age!!! They're 38!!!"

The next week was "Safe Sex/Pregnancy Prevention Week" at college and he sent us some material that was being handed out at school. Somehow, he has recovered and James is a now a nice, normal 25 yo.

Anyhoo, earlier this week I was happy to babysit my neighbor's baby, a darling little sweetpea of a boy, just learning to crawl. Patrick (the product of the aforementioned pregnancy) and Vu were home and Vu wanted to hold the baby and was enjoying playing with him. He LOVES babies and often tells me stories of caring for the babies in the orphanage.

Patrick seemed to have no interest but I wanted to include him so I asked him if he would like to hold the baby. He looked at me like I must be crazy, lowered his eyebrows and said, "NO WAY!"

His reaction surprised me so I asked him why not? In a teenager tone but through 6yo lips he sighed and patiently explained, "Mom, babies just aren't my deal."

Can this really be my child? Maybe in the hospital, right after he was born, my real baby got switched!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Happy Birthday to my sweetie! Now you are as old and wise as me :-)

Guess what I'm getting for his present--this?
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No, that is just Lizzy's dream car and it was parked next to mine so I had to take a pic. I actually don't know what I'm buying! Eric's hard to buy for. I plan to go shopping today with my personal shopper--Will. If he suggests an X-Box 360 or car parts for his Nova he might get fired as my personal shopper but he usually does an excellent job. I love taking Will Christmas shopping for the same reason--he has a gift for finding the perfect gift for anyone! Yes, I will hire him out.

Eric and I did go out on a dinner date and here is my first attempt at a self-picture-portrait. Not too bad for a first try huh? BTW, those aren't wrinkles, we've been having problems with our camera.
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Speaking of birthdays, the big season is finally coming to a close. Here's some updates:
Patrick had his "friends" party at a local fun spot inviting his entire kindergarten class:
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Paul had his friends party with a football theme including a game of flag football:
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Here's a picture of the referees:
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Happy Birthday everyone and Good Riddance to birthday season!!!! (Not that I don't love birthdays but I'm party pooped out!)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Dangers Of Cage Fighting

Beware! This could happen at your house someday!

I am not a fan of fighting. I'm not saying there is never a time or place for it, it's important to have a strong military and I'm proud that Eric served 22 years. I know that sometimes violence can save more lives than it costs and there's the need of the strong to stand up for the weak.

I'm just not a fan when there's just no point like all those crazy fights on TV with the big boxers and now the UFC, which is a martial arts type fight as described on Wikipedia . There are even women fighters!

This isn't to say I never let my kids have anything to do with violence. They smoosh ants. They play football. They have Nerf guns and even BB guns they are allowed to use up at the cabin--as long as they are only shooting at pop cans, have goggles on and wear total body armour including padded underwear.

We've done the paintball thing and our older boys have used real, real guns out hunting. (Vegetarians no fears, they have never actually shot an animal. They are very bad shots--perhaps they need more training on the BB guns.)

I'm just saying I don't like the violence of a fight on TV just for the sake of showing who is the better fighter; who is the tougher guy. I don't even like cartoons with fighting; I worry it will make my kids insensitive to violence. I want to keep their innocence as long as possible.

But there are dangers of Ultimate Fighting I never even considered. There are dangers that can cause great gnashing of teeth and pooping of pants by the big Daddy-O. There are dangers of our kids watching a fight late at night, after all the old farts are in bed, and then deciding it would be cool to look like one of the famous fighters.

BEWARE! There ARE dangers of watching fighters on TV. Your child might end up looking like this . . . !

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

RTW--Tricking Toddlers

I used to be a FREAK about sugar. I should say, I used to be a freak about my kids NOT consuming it. My older boys didn't know what a peanut butter and jelly (or honey) sandwich was--they only had the peanut butter. They put applesauce (no syrup) on their pancakes-- homemade of course.

When James saw candy bars at the check-out line he honestly didn't know what they were! But, by the time Joe was a toddler, he already knew and it was all downhill from there. Santa brought the first box of sugared cereal into the house and now we have it whenever Will does the grocery shopping.

Years of teenagers has finally moved me to the point of throwing up my hands in resignation. My little kids now have too much sugar!

Here's one tip that has helped me give my little ones less sugar. Maybe all of you already know this but it usually takes me a few kids to figure these things out. I sometimes say I'm not the smartest mom on the block but then, after reading this article today, maybe that means I am going to live a lot longer than the smart moms on the block :-)

Anyhoo, when eating out, younger kids can be tricked into less sugar. For years, when we would go to Starbucks I would get my school-age kids a vanilla steamer but the little ones just plain water in an identical white cup--lid and all. They had no clue until around age three. The key is to start when they are little (and don't know what the real stuff is), and don't let them hear you ordering.

To this day, when we go to Costco and I get Patrick and Vu pizza and pop (yes pop!!! I told you it was downhill and bad!) I fill their cup with half pop and half water. They never know the difference. When Patrick was younger I could fill it with mostly ice and water and just enough pop to color it. (For the record, "pop" means "softdrink" in the PNW :-)

Hopefully, this will work for you too assuming your kids are like mine, not the smartest on the block. Oh wait, I forgot, that's me. But hey, at least I'm going to be alive for a long time--long enough to keep learning new tricks!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Vu's Babies

Please remember to call your Senators and Representatives. It literally only takes a couple of minutes. The orphans in Vietnam have no voice--they are depending on us.


If you haven't yet, please read: A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam at http://www.jcics.org/

As a reminder:

June 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, please contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators and ask them to support A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam.

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/

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.

Here's a picture of Vu writing a letter to our State Senator:
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He told me to write, "I love all MY babies. I love all the little babies too. Babies like bottles. I play peek-a-boo with the babies."

He calls his four cribmates HIS babies. They were all around age 2 and lived in the same room with him. After he wrote the Senator he said, "Mommy can we have MY babies come and live here?"

What's four more, huh? Yikes!