Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Halloween was happy here!

Pumpkin carving was fun!
At least it was for some (including my mom who came up for a visit) . . .

See who didn't want to carve a pumpkin, because he was too busy playing with cars?  Yes, the same child who used to not know HOW to play!  He did, in the end, draw a face and Daddy carved it. 

Kids were going every which-way so I didn't get a picture all together.  We had a princess, ninja, devil, Wendy (with friend Peter Pan) and Paul (who snuck out before the photo shoot) who was a baseball player:

And the loot baby!  The loot!  That's what it's all about!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Three Years Ago Today . . .

We welcomed HAPPINESS into our lives.  Vu is synonymous with the word happiness.  He is such a joyful little guy and he brought light to our world when it was very dark.  He continues to add joy to our lives; I am so thankful to God for His precious gift.

If you've never watched the video of Vu's first year home, it's on the sidebar.  It details our trip to Vietnam, our first moments with Vu, the thoughts of leaving so many others behind, and then the way Vu blossomed his first year home.  I love to see the way he learns to really laugh and play and enjoy family!

     Lizzy wrote this poem for Vu and me.  Precious!                          

                                       Holding On To My World

Warm little soul, safe in the arms of me.

Bright smile flashes in growing happiness.

Your young soul, growing for the world to see.

My arms tight... Your growing means loneliness

To lose you would mean losing my own world.

And while I cannot stop the hands of time,

I can cherish the moments of you curled

Against my chest, with your warm hand in mine.

Yet, when our hold loosens, and my tears flow

Your small hands brush away the falling drops.

“I’ll always be here- how could you not know?”

Those simple uttered words make my tears stop.

Despite my growing fear of losing you…

You remind me you’ll be my bug-a-boo.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Will!

Happy 21st to my sweet boy Will!  You'll always be Mommy's Lil' Pumpkin! 

Wish I could have hugged you in person instead of over the phone! 

We love you!  We're proud of you!  We miss you! 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Row, Row, Row Your Sports

This morning, I was explaining the days events to Patrick.

First, we would go to his football game.

Before his game was over, one parent would take Kim to her soccer game.

And before her game was over, Paul would start his soccer game.

Patrick thought about it for a minute, then looked at me and exclaimed, "I get it!  It's like a musical round--but for sports!  One person starts, then the next one starts before the first one is over, and then the next one starts!"

His music teacher will be so proud. 

This kid makes me laugh!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Whoop It Up!

We are finally DTC (Dossier To China) today!  Four months feels like forever! 

Now, it's several more months of waiting, but at least I'm done with paperwork (for now). 

This calls for a celebration!  How about more cupcakes from Hello Cupcake!

Bowling pins for the idea of getting a strike!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life In A Large Family--This Makes Me Laugh

Notes like this are fairly common around here:

Lizzy made cookies for a school event and wanted to make sure they were still there the next morning.   I'm looking a this picture tho and it appears that one cookie is missing.  It wasn't me!  Really!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Implementing Education in Daily Life

When the school year started, I made a homework supply basket.  I wanted to clear out a cupboard for storing it when not in use, but in the meantime I put it on the kitchen table.

It soon became apparent that keeping the supply basket on the table, all the time, was great way to encourage educational pursuits.  My kids would often eat dinner, then decide to draw or write letters. 

I soon added a tablet of Mad Libs  and the cribbage board.  Recently, I substituted in the game of Phase Ten.   As the year wears on, I will continue to swap out different educational games and activities.  It's a great way to add a little more education into my kids' daily lives.

Speaking of which, I also love educational placemats.  We have everything from sign language, to the presidents, to the periodic table.  Again, an easy, fun way to implement education and often a subject of conversation during dinner.

Here, Kim and Paul are getting an impromptu lesson on the 50 States. 

I love finding ways to get my kids brain cells working.  I'd love to hear your family favs.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How I Brainwash Myself Into Thinking I've Got Everything Under Control

I've got everything under control!  I've got everything under control!

That is the message I'm convincing myself of.

In case you haven't noticed, posts are fewer and further between--meaning?  Yes, I'm back in school, now working on my MSW.  It's been a bit crazy getting everyone and everything organized.  In fact, it hasn't quite happened yet.  The sock basket was piling up and the "oh-no-it's-5-o'clock-what's-for-dinner-rush" was becoming routine. 

But!  Never fear!  I can brainwash myself into anything!

In fact . . . shhhhhhh!  My brain is now in a very happy place of contentment, feeling that EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL.

I spent the weekend focusing on certain areas of the house, and now my mind thinks I'm organized.  (Even if the dust-bunnies are still reproducing under the couch.)

My secret, discovered after many years of trying to get organized?  Focus on these areas:
  • Keep the entryway and front porch clean and free of clutter
  • Keep the laundry done
  • Keep the dishes done
  • Keep the bathrooms clean
  • Know what's for dinner 24-hours in advance (weekly menu a bonus)
If I focus on those five areas, I feel organized.  I walk in my front door and feel a sense of control, because the entryway is clean.  Laundry and dishes are keys to keeping people running smoothly (and I'm definitely into people having clean underwear--even if Vu still prefers to go freestyle.)  Dinner is sanity and, by law, I do have to feed my children!  Bathrooms are the clencher!  Even if the rest of the house is falling apart, if my toilets are clean, I can convince myself I must still be a good mom with everything under control! 

Today I even got some bonus points.  I decorated the entryway with Halloween decorations. 

I even put Halloween lights up around the outside door! 

Now even my neighbors think I'm organized!  How cool is that?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Urgent Referral for WONDERFUL 13-year-old boy!

URGENT: William Needs a Family

I look at this young boy's face and see my own son's--Paul is just a year younger than William.  My heart aches knowing that if my son were in William's place, his chances for finding a family would be slim.  There aren't many families open to adopting a 14-year-old boy!  And yet, I also know my own boys at EVERY age have all been such special treasures!!!

I am reminded of the mustard seed in Matthew 17:20.  I have faith! I believe a family can be found for this boy who sounds like such a wonderful kid--please pray that William finds his forever family--before it's too late! 

This information comes from the Holt blog:

DOB: 2/9/97

In February, when *William turns 14 years old, he will no longer be eligible for intercountry adoption. We can’t let this happen….William needs a family before it’s too late.

This brave young man enjoys drawing, reading and playing ping-pong. In care since February 2002, he currently lives in an institution and attends school. Described as an honest and well-behaved child who knows right from wrong, William likes his caregivers, teachers and friends and is said to be respectful and caring to people around him.

William needs a family experienced in parenting past his age and who can provide him with any medical care he may need. Because of the short timeframe we have to find William a family, families interested in adopting him must have a dossier in country.

Would you join us in praying for William and asking God for a family for this young man?

For more information about William, contact Holt International.

*Name changed

Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Baby!

My sister had a beautiful baby girl today!

 What a great birthday of 10/11/10!  She hasn't posted pics on her blog yet (I guess we should give her a chance to recover for a day or so :-), but please go over and say Congrats!

A funny--I was showing Patrick the picture of his new cousin and he asked, "What country is she from? . . . Oh yeah!  She was just born!"

It's not the norm in our family.  But some babies do come that way! 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Sweetness

In regards to our dossier, I have resigned myself to the fact that perhaps this wait is meant to be . . . .  Hopefully, we won't experience any more delays.

Today was a day full of sweetness with a chance to go to a children's theater with the little boys and my mother, then designer cupcakes with all the kids.

We've been wanting to try some of the ideas in What's New, Cupcake? and had a delightful day playing cake chef.

Lizzy created this:

which really looked like the picture (and in our house, that rarely happens!):

The little boys made their own creations

which made for a happy, relaxed, fun-filled, sticky, chocolate afternoon.  Yum!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's Crazy to Even Consider But . . .

Do you see this big smile on my face?  It is very, very big!

We are now the proud owners of an APPROVAL notice from USCIS.

Unfortunately, Monday is a holiday, so we will miss the Friday cut-off for DTC (dossier to China), so our dossier won't be sent until the next week. 

I am actually considering driving to San Fran (which is where we get our approval authenticated).  San Fran is a long ways.  It is quite ridiculous for me to even speculate at the possibility.  RIDICULOUS!  And yet . . . the possibility that our daughter might be able to come home even one week sooner . . .

Adoption can make a person do crazy things.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's the opposite of elation?

Today I'm suffering from irritation, aggravation, agitation, frustration, and constipation.

I'm in need of mediation, meditation, and medication.

(I'm not really dealing with constipation; it just rhymed so well I had to go with it!)

A little hold-up at USCIS.  They are most definitely NOT invited to my birthday party.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mending Holes With Fairytales

I had a meeting this week with Vu's teacher.  He is doing well, but still struggles, especially in reading. 

When I go to a meeting with a teacher, I always hesitate with how much to share.  I want to protect Vu's privacy, and I also want teachers to treat him the same as any other kid.  And yet, the truth is, he IS different.  His background of trauma, abuse, and neglect put holes in the fabric of his current life in a variety of ways.  We are continually trying to mend those holes, while also finding new rips to try and repair.

One hole was pointed out by his teacher.  Vu doesn't know his fairytales.  At first, I was surprised.  We did cover nursery rhymes the year I homeschooled him (although since he was an emerging language learner I'm not sure how much he retained), and my other kids always got their dose of fairytales when they were pre-schoolers.  But, Vu arrived when he was six.  We didn't spend a lot of time on simple books, because his language took off so quickly.  And really, let's face it, with the growing wealth of books, it is easy to surpass fairy tales too quickly with any child.   

I was thrilled his teacher pointed this fact out to me.  Yesterday we went down to the public library and brought home an armload of fairytales.  Not only is Vu enjoying them, but Patrick is also having fun with the review.

And the double bonus?  There is usually a great moral at the end.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Listening to God

On our trip there was a pier going out into the ocean with this sign posted everywhere:

And yet over and over, we saw kids stand on the signs and do this:

Jump into shallow water for the thrill--and to speed-dial to the big waves:

I found myself wondering how often God tells me not to do something, yet I simply disregard His heed in the busyness of my own pleasure.  I can't see the rocks, so I think they must not exist.  Or, I know they exist, but I think I'm smart enough to avoid them. 

Something to ponder on this beautiful Sunday evening.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Okay, so I will finally tell you the beautiful middle name for our daughter!  Her first name will be her Chinese name (which we still don't really know how to pronounce but hopefully will eventually learn :-).  Her blog name will still be Rose--because I love the name, love my friend named Rose, and always thought our next daughter would have "Rose" in her name.

The name revealed in my dream:


One meaning of Quinn is queen.  Our daughter is very quiet and timid; I believe the name will bring her a sense of dignity and self esteem.  I am also reminded of Queen Esther, a woman of great beauty and courage, a story near and dear to my heart because Esther was once an orphan, but ended up becoming queen and saving her people. 

God has big plans for our Quinn too.

The name guessing was won by Four Dogs.  She was one of only two guesses (can someone please tell me why I have hundreds of readers and no commenter's??  Shesh!  Send me some love!)  How did you guess Four Dogs?  Your prize is coffee together (my treat), a picture of last year's back-to-school cookie, and updated pictures of Quinn!