Saturday, February 27, 2010

Food = Security : Time = Weight Gain

Finally, Vu is really taking off in his growth.  Compare these two pictures:

Soon after coming home:

Two years later--it's now difficult for Patrick to pick Vu up:

Vu quickly gained a few pounds when we first adopted him.  We gave him unlimited access to healthy food to help him feel secure.  Vu has never hoarded food and I believe giving him such unlimited access helped.  When he first came home we had a special place in the refrigerator for food that he wanted to save, and we also kept a supply of non-perishable food in his backpack. 

For a child from an orphanage- Food = Security.

My surprise in all this was that, after initially gaining several pounds, Vu quit gaining weight.  For nearly a year, Vu didn't gain a pound.  He wasn't sick a single day and had plenty of energy, and he was also eating us out of house and home.  He didn't have tummy aches or loose stools or any other signs of intestinal parasites.  I was finally to the point I was going to have all his parasite tests rerun but procrastinated with memories of Cool Whip containers!  LOL! 

Procrastination paid off as Vu finally began gaining weight again during his second year home.  He has been home two years and has gone from 35 pounds to 46 pounds. 

Honestly, I think he was spending so much energy that first year, just settling in, that he wasn't gaining weight.   

Now, he's more settled and his body is using that energy for gaining weight!  He's still eating lots, I can tell you that!  And, he still loves eating with chopsticks every day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Special Needs, Special Love

My kids love it when we list off all the people who love them.  Often, this conversation begins after one child asks what would happen if both Eric and I died.  While it's not a topic I like to think about, it ends up being a conversation I enjoy.  I like to remind my kids of all the people who love them and how all those people would all work together, to fill in, to surround them with love, should a terrible tragedy strike. 

One of those people who is always on this love list is this dear friend.  April gave my adopted babies a priceless gift--donated breast milk.  She recounts the story well in the link above.  It began with Kim, who was born with cleft lip and palate and adopted before any repairs had been completed. 

Here she is just days after arriving home:

After surgery on a family hike:

For Kim, having breast milk was especially important because of her open palate.  And when she had surgery, she only had to go without breastmilk for four hours vs. a twelve hour fast if she had been formula fed.  (I am reminded that I need to post about adopting a child with cleft lip and palate.  It's a very manageable "special need" and I put that in quotes because it doesn't feel like a special need.) 

Kim was happy to post the pictures above in hopes that another family might be open to the idea of adopting a child with a cleft.

Paul also received the benefits of breastmilk, thanks to April timing her third son's birth so well!  Paul also had two other milk angels, but April was the Queen!

I will forever be grateful to April and marvel knowing that part of her lives in Kim and Paul.

We love you April!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wonderful, Terrible, Hour of Power

Saturday means Hour of Power at our house.  I think it's wonderful!  My kids think it's terrible.  My kids also think brushing their teeth is terrible.  Too bad, so sad.

Hour of Power means everyone in the family works together to clean the house for 1 hour--including 15 minutes of bedroom cleaning.  It's hard to get everyone motivated and nearly every weekend there is one complainer or another BUT it feels so good to have a clean house!

I took pictures of the kids doing their favorite chores.  Lizzy is off to her favorite--grocery shopping.

I don't feel guilty making my kids work--studies have actually shown that the happiest adults are those who had to do chores as kids. 

Just doing my part to make the world a happier place!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Is there anything more embarrassing than being pulled over for a ticket?


Getting pulled over right in front of my kid's school.  Right out front.  Just as ALL the parents are dropping their kids off at school. 

Is there anything more embarrassing?


All of the above, PLUS wet hair because I woke up late, PLUS no make-up for the same reason. 

I don't go anywhere without my make-up.  I remember for one of my c-sections they told me I couldn't wear make-up.  I guess they needed to be able to see my white-blonde eyelashes to tell if I was dying.  I wore make-up anyway.  They still delivered my baby.  I guess they wanted my $10,000 more than they wanted to see my white-blond eyelashes to know if I was dying. 

Anyhoo, it was MAJORLY embarrassing to be pulled over right where everyone could drive by and wave to me as they dropped off their kids.  The town spectacle!  Patrick was crying in the backseat and Vu was asking if I was going to be arrested!  Paul was just saying, "How fast were you going?  How fast were you going?"

Oh!  AND I didn't have my license. 

I was just driving to drop off my kids!  Sheesh!  Shoot me!

Could it get any worse??? Yes! 

I was wearing a see-through nightgown! 

Can you believe it?  A mother of 8 driving her kids to school in a 15-passenger van in sexy lingerie?

Not really.  Just seeing if you were still paying attention.  I was fully clothed.

I asked the nice policeman if he would please turn off his lights since it was so embarrassing.  He wouldn't.  I sent the three little ones in to school while I tried to think up ways to keep from getting a ticket.  I had some Girl Scout cookies in the car.  Could he be seduced with those?

Let's just say I don't think that nice policeman had the same sense of humor as me. 

BUT, I didn't get a ticket, so maybe he did.  Maybe he just felt sorry for the poor lady with the wet hair and no make-up and no license in the big van with the broken tail-light with the crying kids and her only offering being Girl Scout cookies.

Whatever it takes!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Being Thrifty is Cool!

Because we have kids spanning two generations we've seen many changes--in parenting, politics, education and more.  We were teens ourselves when we became parents so we know our generational ideals too. 

One thing I've noticed in my older boys is a desire for a more simplistic lifestyle, including embracing the idea of thrift.  It looks like Lizzy is embracing the idea too.

We have often borrowed dresses but for Winter Formal I planned to buy Lizzy a new dress.  Lizzy is my shopper girl--she LOVES to shop!  But apparently, she has also taken up with the simplistic mindset of her older brothers and instead of shopping she and her friend decided to swap dresses (Lizzy wore the white dress to her last dance).

Even better--their dates swapped ties to match the dresses--so nobody had to spend money!

We have a smart generation of kids coming up!  And with the present economy, that's a very good thing!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Vietnamese Cooking Channel--Part 2

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!  Happy New Year!  It is time for Tet and the Year of the TIGER!

At our house we are celebrating with more Vietnamese cooking and this time with the recipe!  Vu says this is the best pho he has ever eaten--true compliments!

Pho is generally beef noodle soup.  This version is chicken and GOOD!  This is a version of Quick Pho in Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table.  (Tip of the day--pho is pronounced "fuh" with a quick cut off at the end--it is often compared to a very, very bad word with the end cut off and does have the exact same intonation.)

Not So Quick (but Yummy) Pho

6 whole star anise, lightly toasted in a dry pan for 2 minutes
6 whole cloves, lightly toasted in a dry pan for 2 minutes
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 quarts store-bought chicken broth (I used chicken bouillon in water)
2 cups water
1 3-inch piece ginger, cut in half lengthwise, lightly bruised (cut) with the flat side of a knife and charred by holding over a hot flame
1 small yellow onion, charred
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 large chicken breasts cooked and cut into small cubes

1.)  Place star anise, cloves and peppercorns in a spice bag
2.)  Place chicken broth, water, charred ginger and onion, sugar and spice bag in a large pot and bring to boil.  Simmer 20 minutes. 

Add chicken and continue to heat.

While broth is simmering prepare pho toppings:
slice 1/3 yellow onion paper thin
cut 2 scallions into thin rings
chop 3 Tablespoons cilantro
rinse 1/2 pound bean sprouts
chop 10 sprigs Asian basil (or regular)
slice and seed 1 jalapeno pepper
cut 1 lime into wedges

In separate pot heat water for noodles.  Place 1 pound 1/16" wide rice sticks into boiling water.  These cook quickly (rice sticks can be found in Asian section of grocery store).  Drain.

Remove spice bag and ginger piece from pho broth.

Place hot noodles in bowl.  Cover with pho broth.  Garnish with toppings and fish sauce, if desired.

Eat and Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Speaking of Farts . . .

Have you read the hysterical book, Walter the Farting Dog?  There's a series of books on Walter but the original is my favorite. 

If you are prim and proper you will not approve of this book.  BUT, if you have a 5 yo sense of humor (like me) you will be entertained--and so will you kids.
Note:  I do not receive any royalties, commission or other monetary gain by promoting this book; however, if you would like to send me money I will take it. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Harry Potter Nerds

I'm not the biggest fan of the choice in lyrics but given the fact that Lizzy is almost college age, I guess I should be glad she uses the five letter "s" word--not the four letter one.

Lizzy is an HPL.  I am certain that Lizzy will name her first son Harry, her first daughter Hermione--she is that much of a Harry Potter Lover. 

I love my nerd and her nerd friend too. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

Recently, my daughters and I and a couple of their friends (girls) were driving to the store.  Suddenly, we noticed the worst smell!  It wasn't a skunk!  It wasn't a barnyard!  It wasn't the water treatment plant--but it did smell similar.

A couple of the girls started pointing fingers at each other followed by embarrassment and "she who smelt it, dealt it" comments.  I looked in the rearview mirror and Kim's friend looked like she might cry.

Suddenly, I was inspired by a new family and friends rule.  I threw it out to the girls and we all agreed it was an awesome rule:

When a gas-like odor emits, instead of pointing the finger at someone else, we will ALL say in unison, "IT WAS ME!"

We all agreed it was the ultimate in kindness.  We all thought it was a great new rule, laughed and practiced saying, "It was me!"

A couple of days later we were in the car again.  This time it was my daughters and my two youngest sons.  Sure enough, that familiar gas-like odor appeared.  Vu said, "Yuck!  Who FARTED?!!"  The girls and I proudly announced in unison, "It was me!"  We laughed. 

Then, Patrick said irritably, "No, it was ME."

The girls and I laughed again and put out a trio of, "It was me!"  We tried to explain that it was going to be our new family rule, so nobody would feel embarrassed or unjustly accused.

"But it WAS me!!"  Patrick boldly declared, "I FARTED and I want everyone to KNOW it was MY FART!"

I began to say something when Vu interupted with, "Mom, it WAS Patrick's fart and you should let him have his own fart."


Therein lies the difference between boys and girls. 


Patrick at the age of 3.  He's always been our "more boy"
--more of everything--including humor.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

My first day at work was surreal.  I am now officially beginning a new chapter in my life. 

I am up-close-for-real into child welfare.

It's demanding.  It's heartbreaking.  It's rewarding. 

The one comment I hear people say is that they could never work in the trenches.

My thought is that anything I might have to suffer is absolutely, completely, ZILTCH, compared to what the kids and families suffer.  I only have to know.  They have to KNOW.  They need people who will be a voice for them.

And really, do we only want people to work in child welfare who CAN handle it?  People who are so hardened they CAN do the work without suffering? 

So many parallels can be drawn to adoption, parenting, parenting kids with special needs, fostering, etc.
It's not about being able to "handle it," it's about being willing to handle it--by reaching out to grasp the hands of Jesus. 


These two little ones are part of the reason I will work in child welfare for the rest of my life.  They were both Vu's "babies," his cribmates in the orphanage.  This picture is forever imprinted in my mind.  The little boy is still waiting for a family.