Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Big Surprise of 2010

Can you guess what the big surprise of 2010 was? 

Look carefully at this picture for a clue.



That's right, on Christmas Eve Will popped the question to his long time girlfriend!

Even more surprising, since Will won't have leave for a year, they have decided to get married now!

Now.  As in, the next few days, now.  Crazy, but crazy is normal for us, right? 

It's all coming together and I know it will be a very special day. 

C is a wonderful girl who loves our crazy family, and we are excited to see them begin a new adventure in their lives.

CONGRATS!  We love you both and we wish you a lifetime of happiness!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Family Needs Urgent Prayers for Urgent Referral

Remember the posts (here and then here) regarding this wonderful boy who will age out in Feb?


Another blogger also posted his information and now there is a family who wants to adopt him!

Please join us all in prayer for a Christmas miracle!


That family needs: agency approvals, homestudy updates, USCIS and other travel approvals, and $$$ to make it happen--all before Feb 9, the day this boy turns 14. 

Some say it is impossible.

I say God is in the business of making the impossible--POSSIBLE!!! 

PLEASE PRAY FOR A MIRACLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Christmas 2010
Filled with excitement and surprises
Lots to share
Coming soon to a blog near you

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas 2.0

A light-hearted look at what it would be like if Jesus had been born in 2010. 

It was passed on to me by a friend of James' and I hope it brings a Christmas smile to all of you.

Have a blessed Christmas!  See you on the other side!



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finding The Spirit of Christmas

Last week had me in a bit of a huge Christmas funk.  Too much to do, too little time!  I felt I would never catch up.  The Grinch had taken residence in my heart.

SO RIGHT HERE AND NOW I make a public vow that NEXT year I will be more organized!

I will!  Seriously.  I really will.  I'm going to start my Christmas shopping in January.  Really.

Did I say the same thing last year?  And the year before? 

Yeah, but this time I really mean it.  Cause this year I was feeling all the Christmas joy sucked right out of me.

HOWEVER, there has been much rejoicing and laughter in our house the past few days.  I've also been able to get a fair amount of shopping and wrapping done.

My joy is back.

Will came home on leave and my sister arrived with her family.  What a happy day!





Hubby did the traditional cookie baking.



Will brought home an MRE (military food ration kit thingee) and I had the privilege of drinking the coffee.  Kim mixed it in the bag then I poked a hole in the bottom--Will said that's how it's done.  It felt like something one might do at a college frat party--not that I would know of course.




It is so good to have family back home.  I love watching the cousins together and the boys playing video games on the couch. 



We also watched movies and I'm finally having a chance to read the stack of books that have been calling my name (NON-college books!).

Let the true season begin.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Will Made It!

Just heard from our soldier.  He made it through selection.  We are very proud of him.

I refused to watch the Two Weeks In Hell video until he had completed the course. 



I watched it tonight and I'm so glad I waited until he finished.  Will says he is sore and tired, but also feeling he has achieved the greatest accomplishment of his life.  Watching the video makes me even more appreciative of all our US soldiers.

The last couple of nights I would wake up worried and just start praying for Will and all the guys.  Maybe tonight I can sleep.  I know that's what Will is doing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Older Child Adoption

Are you thinking of adopting an older child?  Here's some inspiration.

 read the amazing story here

See some older kids who are waiting on Holt's waiting child website--some will age out soon, including the wonderful boy I posted about previously:


Praying God will move some hearts from fear to free-falling belief.  Time is running out.

My Favorite Teacher

Homework is my nemesis! 

I don't mind the bigger projects, which are kind of fun, such as Vu's recent Veteran's day poster:



and Patrick's Thanksgiving immigrant doll:


I just don't like nightly homework.  I understand why older kids have it, but kids younger than ten?  They spend most of their day in school only to come home to more work at night.  I am not talking about just reading, which I support, I am talking about reading PLUS additional worksheets, flash cards, AND math--every night.  Ugh!  And often, younger kids need adult support.  Which means it isn't just their homework, it's mine too. 

There have been many years I have threatened to unite with other homework exhausted parents creating a homework boycott.

But I'm too tired.  You know, from helping with all that homework.

And I don't want the teachers to hate me.

Or to think I'm a bad mother.

Because I do have a lot of kids so some teachers probably already think I'm a bad mother.

Anyhoo, getting to the point . . . (thanks for listening to me nag) I was delighted to see the weekly homework sheet for Patrick.  His teacher has just become my favorite teacher. 

"In an effort to clear some time and alleviate some of the rush, we are keeping homework this week to a minimum.  If you can, fill the time with some one-on-one time with your child - baking, reading, playing a game, shopping, decorating, and making gifts."

Here's Patrick making muffins this afternoon.



Guess who is my favorite teacher?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Best Christmas Present

I don't need anything else for Christmas.  Santa delivered our . . .

LOA



Here's a picture Rose made. 

She now knows she is being adopted by our family. 

I wonder what she thinks.

We hope to travel in about three months . . .

With all three little boys and hopefully our oldest son too.

(The girls went to Vietnam, so now it's the boys' turn).

LOA makes it so real, ya know?

EXCITING!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Every Child's Wish List . . .

Big and small, all want a Pillow Pet!

They are so cute and cuddly, I want one too!



We bought this ladybug for Rose.  I smile every time I look at it because I think of the day she finally cuddles up with it--home at last.   

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Toy and Gift Ideas

I don't need to blog anymore.  I can just link you to my old blog posts.  It will save us both time.



Seriously, I wrote these in 2008 but not much would change on my list of the best toys (both classic and with wow-factor) and last minute gift ideas. 

Best Toys--The Classics

Best Toys--The Wow Factor

Last minute gift ideas

And my friend Lisa has more great ideas over at A Bushel and a Peck

Happy Shopping!  And more posts coming since I just finished my final term paper.  Woot!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Counting The Days With Prayers

10 . . . 11 . . . 44 . . . 18

These are the numbers circulating around our house today. 

Tomorrow they will be 9, 10, 45, 17. 

Make sense?

18--number of days before Christmas of course!

10--number of days of Selection that Will still has to survive.  Selection is the final phase of Will achieving his dream of being part of the Army Special Forces. 

For any that have watched the Discovery Channel special Two Weeks in Hell that is what my baby is going through right now.  Only now it's been lengthened to three weeks.  I refuse to watch the show until my baby is through being tortured.

11--number of days until Will comes home on leave!  Woo-Hoo!  Kim made a chain to count down the days.


44--number of days we've been waiting for LOA--our next step in the China process to bring Rose home.  LOA can take anywhere from 30-150 days.  After that it will be 3-4 months until travel. 

An adoptive family we know is traveling to China to pick up their son from the same orphanage and they offered to take Rose a gift.  We made sure it was light and flat but still filled with the goodness of love--stickers, Polly Pocket, Christmas socks, candy, notepad, paperdolls, hair clips, stick-on earrings, and a teeny tiny little stuffed pink poodle.



Lots of counting and lots of prayers.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Filthy Animal Now Needs Camera Advice

Thank you to all who gave me vacuum advice.  I am now the proud owner of a Dyson, bought on Black Friday for half off!  Score!  Dyson has a new style out which is much lighter, but for two-hundred bucks, I will beef up my biceps. 



Err . . . I mean, the biceps of my children.

The worst part about the vacuum is that it is bagless.  While I originally thought this was a marvelous invention, I now realize it is an in-your-face way of showing what a filthy pig house we own.  I can't believe the amount of dog hair this thing consumes!  Wow! 

Anyhoo, the next big purchase in our family is a new camera.  I want something small for our trip to China.  I want to keep it under $300.  The main thing I am looking for is zoom and picture quality.  ADVICE?

Thanks everyone!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Faith of a Mustard Seed

I don't need to write any more.  I can just post videos.  Ha!  I am currently finishing up term papers but wanted to celebrate with an 8 yo who had the faith of a mustard seed, and raised over $3,600 for wells in Ethiopia. 

This author was part of the inspiration.  Great book for someone on your Christmas list. 

Watch the video.  Absolutely worth 2 minutes of your day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

For The Least Of These . . .

A video worth watching, particularly during the frenzy of the holiday season.  If your child was suddenly on the other side of the world, all alone, hungry, at-risk, what would you be willing to do to save him? 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Does God Read His Horoscope?

A few days ago, Patrick bought a new pack of silly bands. 

If you don't know what silly bands are, I am sorry to inform you that you're living under a rock. 

Silly Bands are all the craze in kid trading these days--little rubber band bracelets that come in various shapes and colors.

Patrick chose a pack featuring zodiac symbols and this grew into a discussion. 

Patrick:  "Hey Mom!  What's my astrological sign?"

Me:  "Hmmm.  I don't know."

Patrick:  "Do you know yours?"

Me:  "Me?  I'm a Capricorn"

Patrick thinks about that for a minute, then he shouts out:  "Cool!  That means Joe was a Capricorn too, because he had the same birthday as you!"

Me (wave of sadness):  "That's true."

Patrick thinks again for a bit, then makes another, even more exciting connection:  "Hey Mom!  That means JESUS is a Capricorn!!!!!"

Me:  "Oh . . . Well . . . YES, I guess that would mean that Jesus is a Capricorn!  I never thought about that!"

Patrick thinks just a bit longer and comes to his most important conclusion of all: 

"Then that means that GOD IS A CAPRICORN!  Because if Jesus is a Capricorn, then God has to be a Capricorn!  Isn't that cool!  Wow!"

Wow indeed. 



This is one kid who knows how to make connections!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Praise Him With Thanksgiving

Praise Him from whom all blessings flow.



Praise Him for a warm home, good food, and a loving family



Praise Him for snow and sleds




And delightful boys eating icicles



And a wonderful mother and daughter who cook delicious treats (including turkey cupcakes from Hello Cupcake! and I promise I do not get any royalties from mentioning the book--again)





And another beautiful daughter with her beloved big hairy beast--and naps

Praise Him for the love and laughter of siblings


For the patience of an older brother


For gingerbread houses that come with the base all assembled (this sooooo beats trying to make the pieces by hand and then spend the next three days trying to cement them together)


For a husband who loves his wife and his children with all his heart--and for games of cribbage



Praise God for the children who were not able to join us at the table but are always in our hearts--Will, Rose, and Joe.  Praise Him for all our family and friends.  And for teachers, doctors, neighbors, and all who love our kids with open arms.  Praise God for all the blessings in this life.

Praise Him with a grateful heart.  Praise Him with Thanksgiving.



Friday, November 19, 2010

The Hole in Our Gospel

"Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."        ~ Bob Pierce, World Vision's founder


I read The Hole in Our Gospel in response to my friend R's fundraising request.  (Feel free to blog hop over and help build a well in Ethiopia simply by leaving a comment about the book.)

As I read the book, I found myself constantly marking pages.

But now that it is time for me to write my comments, I find myself nearly speechless.

New thoughts. Old thoughts. Inspiration.  Painful and refreshing words, verses, and insight. New understandings.  Compassion. Uplifting convictions and beliefs.  Disbelief.  Invitations.  A call for change.

It's a book that shows how change is possible--how each of us can make small changes leading to big hope for our broken world. 

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love."                     ~ Mother Teresa

Yes.  It's a life changing book.  It has challenged me in ways I didn't necessarily want to be challenged.

And yet I do want to be challenged.

And I am challenged.

And I will forever be changed.

"The kingdom of God is within you." ~ Jesus Christ  (Luke 17:21)

Deliciousness

Fall brings about cravings for caramel apples.  Yum! 
Patrick was more than happy to break up the candy toppings--his father put an end to the hammer on the hardwood floor and headed him toward the garage (his father is less tolerant to destroying the house smarter than me!)



Then the kids all commenced with dipping and rolling.






Time for eating!  Notice we didn't have sticks so we used plastic knives.  My children's creative juices get flowing when food is involved!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Don't Speak Chinese Very Well

I have been trying to learn to speak Chinese.  It is painful.  And slow.



Altho one side benefit is that it gives my children another thing to laugh about.  Vu, especially, can hear tones that I cannot and he hoots at my pronunciation.

I have an "In-flight Chinese" CD that I play in the car every day.  It promises to teach me to speak Mandarin "in flight."  I think I have listened the equivalent of flying around the world 40 times and I'm not much past "Ni-hao."

I do have to laugh at some of the phrases they teach.  One is, "Do you speak English?"  I am quite certain they will understand my question in English if they do.  I am also quite certain they will NOT understand my Chinese translation.

Another is, "I don't speak Chinese very well." 

Duh!  No doubt all the Chinese people I interact with will know this from the first utterance I make.

If this language learning is anything like when I learned Vietnamese I will learn lots of words and speak it well--but there won't be a single soul who will understand what I am trying to say.

Still, I am trying, and will continue to do so until we bring our sweet Rose home. 

Zaijian!  再见

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Scene Where The Policeman Says A Bad Word

Lizzy recently celebrated homecoming in full style! 

She had a beautiful LBD (I was also wearing my LBD for another function but I think mine is a BLBD (bigger little black dress!).



Lizzy also was sporting an amazing set of wheels for the event:



Yes, that is our 15-passenger van she is driving.  She decked it out in twinkle lights, window paint, decorations, and a vanload of teenagers!  It was quite a sight!

Apparently, a police officer thought so too.  If it was put in a movie-script it would read like this:

Scene at the bowling alley:  Several teenagers sitting in a monster van sporting twinkle lights.  The parking lot is nearly deserted, it is very dark, and it is just after midnight. 

A police officer sees the unusual vehicle and cruises slowly toward the vehicle, deciding to investigate.

Lizzy:  "Uh-oh!  Guys!  Here comes a policeman!  What do I do?  What do you think he wants?"

Dumb Kid in van:  "Just drive away."

Lizzy:  "No!  He'll think we're trying to hide something!"

All the kids look towards the police cruiser as it inches closer.

Lizzy:  "Don't look!  It makes us look guilty!"

Smart Kid in van:  "Crap!  I think he's going to bust us for curfew!"

Wild Kid in Van:  "Uh-oh!  That's the same guy who busted me for speeding!"

Lizzy starts to break out a sweat even tho her homecoming dress is lacking (according to her father) nearly enough coverage to cause her to sweat.

Officer pulls up to the van with his window facing Lizzy's.  Officer rolls down his window.  Lizzy nervously rolls down her window.  Lizzy is ready to pee her pants but puts on her cool, calm, collected look.

Officer (craning his neck to see into the van):  "So, what are you kids up to?"

Lizzy (in an overly friendly manner, putting on her best smile):  "Oh, Hi Officer!  We're just out for homecoming!  We just got a snack at the bowling alley and are heading home!"

Officer (looking down the length of the van):  "Oh!  So, WOW!  I knew kids rented limos these days, but I didn't know the new thing was to rent a VAN!"

Lizzy (a little surprised but as cool as a cucumber):  "Oh no Officer, I didn't rent this--THIS IS MINE!"

Officer (looking SUPER confused).  Long pause: "This is YOURS?"

Lizzy, preparing to clarify that it actually belongs to her parents, but before she can do so--

Officer,with a look of shock, looking down the length of the van again, and then loudly exclaiming: "NO SH*T!!!???"

Lizzy, not sure what one is supposed to say when a policeman swears.

Lizzy finally eeks out: "The van is my parents.  (long pause with officer laughing)  We have a lot of kids!"

Officer:  "Well I guess so!  Wow!  Just WOW!"

He starts laughing hysterically and finally recovers enough to shake his head and say, "Well, okay!  Ha-ha-ha!  You kids have a good time!" 

Good times people!  Good times!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You Veterans

Thank you for your service and your courage.  I am especially proud of my Will today--for willing to endure, to be separated from those he loves, and to serve this great country of ours--to make that choice above all the many others he had.  He serves because he loves his family and he loves his Country--just as his father served, his grandfathers, and many more before them. 

I am also very proud of several nephews, currently serving this great Country of ours, leaving their families behind in order to protect us all. 

Here's two of my favorite military guys!


We truly are the home of the free because of the brave. 

Thank you!  Thank you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Orphanage Ghosts

In honor of Orphan Sunday I wanted to share a passage from Jeff Gammage's book China Ghosts.  Gammage speaks of the experience of visiting his daughter's orphanage and how nobody ever tells us that we will forever be changed. 

It's true. 

"They never tell you what it might be like to venture inside an orphanage . . . To confront the life that your child, the person you love most, would have been left to lead in China.  To see the life that children just like her--every bit as bright and beautiful, every bit as deserving--are living now.

They don't tell you that the children of the orphanage are all coming home with you.  That these kids with their wan smiles and growling stomachs are going to follow you across the ocean, move into your house, inhabit your dreams.  They don't tell you that from now on you'll never push back your chair from the dinner table without thinking of small children--just like your daughter--whose ribs are tight against the skin.  That now, when you saunter through Toys 'R' Us, your child happily choosing a prize from among rows of pink-boxed Barbie dolls, you'll recall that during a morning-long visit to the orphanage, you did not see a single toy. . .

They don't tell you that on Christmas morning, your girl's gifts piled halfway up the wall, the extended family delighting in her presence and her excitement, your thoughts will turn to the children who will never see so many toys or experience such an outpouring of love and affection . . ."

Gammage then goes on to say, "From now on, wherever you may go and whatever you may do, the faces of the children left behind will come to you, unbidden, glimpsed in the eyes of a child scampering across the street in front of a crossing guard and in the smile of a girl skipping rope on a playground."

The reality of what Gammage says is so true.  I know I will never forget those left behind.  I will spend my life advocating for these invisible children.

I can never forget those left behind.

And, as painful as it is, I wouldn't want to. 

For Orphan Sunday I invite everyone to find a way to reach out to orphans through a donation, sponsoring a child, promoting child welfare and even adoption.

These two used to be cribmates in an orphanage.  Invisible.  Now they are best friends in America, reaping the love of families of their own.



 One hundred forty-three MILLION orphans are still waiting. 

One by one, we CAN make a difference!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vacuum Advice Please

Our vacuum has just about taken its last breath suck.

It is actually the combination of two vacuums at this point, with a short in the powerhead, missing pieces, and now . . . a crack underneath (currently being somewhat remedied with a large piece of duct tape).



I have a houseful of kids.  I have a big hairy dog.  I live in a rainy, muddy, leafy, pine-needly environment.

I cannot live without a vacuum. 

A vacuum is the first thing I'm going to buy, once our 60 days of nothing is over (update coming soon).

ADVICE NEEDED--What vacuum to buy? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nightmares

Vu told me he had a nightmare last night that all his Halloween candy started to fly around the room and then it all turned into rocks! 

Maybe that's why he's gorging on his candy today!



While I can laugh about his dream last night, the fact is, Vu has nightmares frequently.  By the time the sun comes blaring through our bedroom window in the morning, we usually have a 50 pound weight snuggling in, half hanging off the edge of the mattress. 

Honestly, I know it's a good thing that he can get his past trauma out through dreams.  He rarely talks about the truths behind them during the day.  But my heart aches for him and the mama-bear inside me wishes I could protect him from his past.  Every child deserves love!  Every child deserves protection!  And the truth is, sometimes my son lacked both.

I thank God he now has a Mommy and Daddy to run to in the night.  I thank God I get to be  that Mommy.

And yet it breaks my heart that he needs to run to us in the night.  Sigh.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thinking Of Adopting An Older Child?

Follow my friends blog here and see what they say about adopting an older child. 

Sean's words are moving and profound! 

We are enjoying living our own adoption through their Chinese travel blog.