Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Is There A Skillet Of Sausage On My Stove?

One.  Just one.

I would love to say that yesterday was as blissful as the day before.

But that would be a lie.

A big lie.

Yesterday was a stressful day, with misbehaving kids and an even bigger misbehaving mom. 

I am usually a very patient mom.  Yesterday?  Not so much.  One child even went to bed crying.  Which makes me feel like the worst mother in the whole wide world.

What is all the stress about?

Sadly, except for Lan Lan, we are leaving all the kids behind.

I know they will be well cared for.  They have lots of fun plans with lots of fun people.

But still . . . . I don't like to be away from my babies!

While last year was full of excitement for everyone, this year has sadness mixed in.  I keep thinking of the shepherd who had to leave behind his 99 sheep to go find the lost one.

Big deep breath. 

Still lots of loose ends to tie up.

Oh, and why is there a big skillet of sausage on my stove?  I cooked it up for the kids' breakfast. 

Then forgot to feed it to them.

That's where my brain is today.

Luckily, they did eat noodles.

One day.

Actually, LESS than one day until we leave!   Buckle up!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Travelling With Kids? Quick Travel Tip

Two days!  TWO!  Still trying to tie up a bunch of loose ends.

Last night we had lots of family time/cuddle time with the kids.  It was so nice.

We're still packing (and will be right up until we leave), and yesterday I packed one of the most important items.

Cup of Noodles!!!

This is one of the KEY ingredients to successful travel with kids.  Airplane food isn't the greatest, and there's nothing as comforting to a kid as mom pulling out that Styrofoam (sorry planet) cup!

Just ask the stewardess to fill it with hot water--instant happy child!

My sister Trisha also have a great rule for airplane travel.  The only drink allowed is WATER!  Too many spills way up high (believe me, those trays get bumped easily, especially with kids).  Another thought is sippy cups and water bottles with lids. 

Two days!  TWO!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Three days!  Just three!

At this point I can't make a complete sentence, let alone blog post. 

I go between feeling incredibly excited to meet Mei Mei, to the bittersweet sadness of leaving my other kids. 

Today the dog went to stay with my mom and dad.  They came in for a basketball game, and left with a dog!  I am quite sure he is going to have the time of his life--it is more like a dog-spa than a dog-sitter--but even that was sad!

My mind is going every which way.  I still have some major projects (taxes, presentation, term paper to complete) and some serious packing . . . but my hope is that I can use the next three days wisely and leave my kids with a sense of peace. 

That we can have special time together in the next three days, because I can already feel the tension rising--and their radar for our coming absence is going off louder every hour. 

Three days.  Three days.

And because I have no picture for this post, I will show you Vu at the Wax Museum. 

I LOVE our school's Wax Museum of historical people.  Clever, creative, and educational!


Three days!  THREE!

Happy Birthday Patrick!

In a few minutes we will be down to four days! 


And because we need to fit anything and everything in before we leave, we celebrated Patrick's birthday!

He chose a lasertag/money-sucking-arcade party. 

And had a fabulous time.

Here are the kids just before going into the lasertag arena. 

Lizzy baked the cake--a topsy-turvy (which is apparently all the rage) covered in fondant.  Very, very cool!

At the very end of the party, when I absolutely insisted I was not giving another blasted quarter to another single child, Patrick found a token on the floor.

He put it in the machine:

And hit the JACKPOT!!!!

I have no doubt this will forever make my child into an even bigger arcade addict--who will go on to become a lifelong slot-machine addict.

But oh!  What joy!

Patrick, you have taught me so much about patience and you help me see the world in new ways.  You will always be my MORE boy--more of everything!  I love your passion for life, amazing insight, quotable quotes, inquisitive nature, and your INCREDIBLE hugs.  What a precious gift you are!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Awesome Ways To Communicate

Six days!  SIX DAYS! 

I am so VERY excited to meet our Mei Mei!

Mei Mei speaks a different dialect than Lan Lan, and she also has repaired cleft lip and palate, so communicating might be more difficult.  Mei Mei also does not read Chinese.

I was THRILLED to receive this link for vocabulary cards from my friend E.--who also received Travel Approval today Praise the Lord!!!

It is soooooo easy to make the vocabulary cards.  I printed several sheets in about 30 minutes.  You can easily change the pictures and headings.  For example, on the food page I substituted several Chinese foods--but of course kept McDonald's too! 

Six days peoples!  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Kim!

Since I woke up at 4 am (what was I saying about peace?), I may as well get birthday updates going.  I never posted Kim's, and we are sqeezing in Lizzy's and Patrick's birthday this weekend. 

So little time.  So many birthdays.

I can't believe my sweet baby girl is 15!!! 

It truly seems like only yesterday we brought her home.

As a baby and preschooler she was extremely shy, sensitive, and insecure.

Now, she is one of the most confident, outgoing people I know!

Her birthday included ice skating,

the mall,

and new recipe for ice cream cake,

and a sleepover with friends.  Lots of things can happen at a sleepover (including dressing up the dog for the event)!

Kim, you are a shining light to all who know you.  Your zest for life adds joy to all around.  I am so proud of who you are, and the woman you are becoming.  Truly, to know you is to love you!

I love you Kim!  Happy 15th Birthday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Do The Next Thing


A fun word to say.

Not so much fun to feel.

My mind has been going here and there and everywhere, trying to figure out everything that needs to get done--and then doing it--before we go.

But I've been praying for peace, and suddenly found it today. 

I think of the poem by Elisabeth Elliott,

Do The Next Thing

At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, 'Do the next thing.'

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Do the next thing.

And now, I'm off to do the next thing. 

It'll all get done.  Or it won't.  And in 8 days we will be on a plane to China! 

Vu made this cute, happy, playdough turtle

Monday, February 20, 2012

Let the Little Children Come To Me

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."       ~       Matthew 19:14

On Sunday, Vu was baptized.  It was a truly blessed event.  He has been asking to be baptized for some time, and I kept putting it off, waiting for a time when one of his godparents could be present (our kids each have two sets of godparents-one from family, one friends).  Vu's godparents all live far away.

But then, two Sundays ago in church, they announced they would be doing baptisms and Vu said rather loudly to me, "Mom!  Why won't you ever let me get baptized!?" 

Bad Mommy moment.  Bad.  Guilty as charged!  And the verse above jumped into my mind.

I realized I WAS hindering my son--baptism isn't about waiting for the perfect timing! 

Vu chose to wear his Vietnamese ao dai.  He looked quite splendid!

He gave his own testimony in church.  It was so sweet.  He said, "In Vietnam I didn't know God.  But then, my Mom and Dad taught me about God.  And I read books.  And I said prayers a lot.  And now I know God." 

When asked if he wanted to be baptized he said, "Yes!  Very much!" 

As it turned out, his godmother, Aunt L.,  flew out for 24 hours.  How special is that?

“Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
~ Luke 3:21-22

Friday, February 17, 2012

What's Better Than TA?

Yesterday at this time I was bummed.  I saw all the TAs rolling in for other families, but not for us.  I was happy for the other families, but sad for myself.  Sad for Mei Mei who is waiting.  Frustrated that even our "worst case scenario" travel dates were going out the window.  Knowing that April would be terrible for travel, due to work and family commitments/celebrations.  Worrying that our child care arrangements wouldn't work out. 

I knew that if we didn't get TA we would be waiting until at least next week--and travel would be pushed out a few more weeks--maybe longer.

But then, late in the afternoon, we got


Excitement all around.  And even more excitement today, when our CA arrived (travel dates).

In this adoption we proved that every . single . step . can take twice as long.  So it's a little shocking that
we leave for China in less than two weeks! 

We pick up Mei Mei March 4!

Buckle up baby--it's gonna get crazy!

(And for those still waiting for TA--my heart is with you!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Anna Rose--Or The Post Where Rose Becomes Lan Lan (Part 2)

Still no adoption news, but that leaves time to complete the story of our Anna Rose.

So, we left off with Hubby coming back to me with the same question I had asked him months prior. 

Was "Rose" our Anna Rose?

Surprisingly enough, I wasn't sure. 

A lot had changed that year.  I was working part-time in a very stressful child welfare position.  I was going to school full time to finish my bachelor's degree--and had just been admitted to the MSW program.  Life was at a new level of craaayyy-zzy!  Too crazy!

I did a lot of soul-searching during that time.  What did God want me to do with my life?  Were we meant to adopt again?  Was Rose meant to be ours? 

God seemed silent. 

Or maybe, I was just too busy to hear Him.

I decided that Rose wasn't meant to be ours.  I was going to call Holt the next day to give them our decision.

And then I had a dream.  A dream about Rose.  She was right here in our house, with us, our daughter!  I don't remember anything else about that dream, except that I was so happy and I was calling her by the name of "Quinn."  It was a name I had never considered before--I didn't even know it was a girl's name! 

Suddenly, she wasn't just a waiting child.  She was MY child.  She was my Quinn.

Long story short, PRAISE GOD we were matched and eventually decided to keep her Chinese name, with Quinn for her middle name.  (We are now re-adopting her in the US and changing her middle name because she DETESTS the name Quinn--I guess I don't have much of a future as a prophet!) 

But I kept her blog name as Rose.

Enter new daughter.  New daughter with a Chinese name that is very difficult to pronounce.  New daughter that we decide is finally, finally, our Anna Rose (this time keeping her Chinese name for her middle name). 

At long last, our Anna Rose.  A name that seems to fit her perfectly.   

She will be called Mei Mei on my blog--the Chinese word for "little sister."

And Rose will be called Lan Lan--her real-life nickname.

Confused?  Come on--keep up!

Mei Mei is still Mei Mei.

Rose is now Lan Lan. 

And because I just can't help it, a sneak peak of our Mei Mei.

Our Anna Rose--named after her mama, her grandma, and her Auntie Rose.

Delicate, sweet, beautiful.

Anna Rose--I can't wait to finally put my arms around you!  We love you from afar!  We think about you all day long, and pray for that phone call telling us to come--to come and bring you HOME to your FOREVER FAMILY!  Soon Mei Mei!  Soon!  

Monday, February 13, 2012


Today, I am honored to be a guest over at We Are Grafted In

I love the potpourri of insight I've gleaned from their featured bloggers--a sense of connection and understanding. 

If you haven't checked them out--do so!  You will find yourself in good adoptive-family company. 

You won't be disappointed.  Especially today

Aren't I funny?  And I don't even have a dress with a gun on it, blue hair, a Red Ridinghood dress, or any other crazy Grammy Award outfit!  Just jeans and a hippie shirt!  Sorry to disappoint!

Part 2 of Anna Rose coming soon.  First I have to go check my e-mail to make sure we haven't received any adoption news.  Twiddle.  Twiddle.  Refresh.  Twiddle.  Sigh. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Anna Rose--Or the Post Where Rose Becomes Lan Lan (Part 1)

Using pseudo names on a blog can have its advantages.  And its disadvantages. 

The biggest advantage is giving my children anonymity.

The biggest disadvantage is confusion for those who know us--and causing even more names to be mixed up when calling kids to the dinner table.  Yes, that has happened.

But I have now come to a whole new level of quandary.

Having two children with the same name.

When I was pregnant with Patrick, we had a very difficult time finding a name that both Hubby and I loved AND that all our opinionated children approved of.  (Just FYI, the more kids you have, the harder it is to agree on anything.)

Actually, it was only the boy name that stumped us.  The name for a girl was set in garden stone--Anna Rose.  Anna is a name shared by my mother and me.  Rose is the name of a lifelong friend and soul mate, and there is nothing more beautiful than a rose.

When Patrick was born, we didn't think he would appreciate the name Anna Rose, so we went for something more masculine.

Fast forward four years.  In 2006, we began our adoption process for Anna Rose.  By this time we had five sons and only two daughters, so of course it made sense to adopt a girl.   We painted the bedroom bright pink and bought Hello Kitty toys.  What we didn't know at the time was that 85% of adoptive parents only want girls--and that boys, even healthy boys, wait and wait and WAIT.  As the months of waiting for a girl wore on, we became convicted that we would be open to adopting a boy.  I shared the story here and when we were matched here.  Our Anna Rose became our amazing Vu!

Fast forward to 2009 when we first saw Rose's picture. 

I asked Hubby if he thought this was our Anna Rose?  Several months later Hubby asked me the same question.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tag! You're It!

Lisa, over at Everything Murphy, tagged me with the "Tell Me About Yourself Award."  Lisa was a travel buddy in China; she is sweet, funny, faithful, encouraging, and understanding.  Thanks for the award--I feel so special!

The rules of the award are:  1) Thank the person who gave you this award (done!),  2) List 7 things people may not know about you (hmmmm),  3) Pass it along to a few other bloggers.


1. I'm a nymphomaniac.  It's true.  Just ask my husband.

1.  Restart. I dislike autocorrect.  The statement above was supposed to read, "I'm an insomniac.  It's true.  Just ask my husband."  When I'm not suffering from insomnia, I'm out cold--I've even been told that I snore!  Don't believe it!  I've never heard myself snore!

2.  If I had been born 30 years later, I probably would have been diagnosed with ADHD.  I just like to think of myself as a fidgety-scatter-brained-crazy-lady-who-suffers-from BUT FIRST DISEASE.  Seriously, I think ADHD is diagnosed WAY too often--and over-medicated.

3.  I don't like dogs.  Hopefully, I'll still have friends after making that statement public.  My dislike stems from my teenage days as a newspaper delivery girl.  On the plus side, I do love my own dog.  In fact, I'm one of those people who would spend thousands of dollars for dog appendectomy surgery.

4.  I don't watch TV.  I don't even know how to work the remote. I LOVE to read.  Love, Love.  I am usually reading at least five books all at the same time.  But I rarely read fiction and when I do, I can't stand the suspense, so I usually skip to the end of the book.  I know, that's lame. 

5. I recently gave up drinking.  That makes me sound like an alcoholic. Let me start over.  I recently gave up social drinking, which only happened a few times a year anyway.  I did it to give my kids a role model (Hubby drinks sparingly, so I also consider him a role model).  I'm surprised how socially awkward it can be (especially when living in wine country).  Just for the record, the last time I had more than two drinks was 25 years ago in Germany, at our going away party.  The last thing I remember was doing cartwheels on the table!  Oh to be young and crazy--apparently I wasn't as concerned with role-model status!

6.  I don't like small talk.  And I'm not very good at it.  When I make a phone call, I get right to the point of my call.  Then, sometimes, half-way through the conversation I realize my social blunder and say, "Oh! How are you?"  Did I mention I don't even like making phone calls?  Did I mention I'm all about time management--even socially?  I don't know how my friends put up with me!

7.  I think birds are sometimes angels in disguise, and when I see the sun come through the clouds in a certain way, I think my son is looking down from Heaven saying, "Hi Mom!  It's great being up here with Jesus!  I love you!"  I think about Joe more times than I can count every . single . day.  I miss him more than words can convey. 

There you have it.  I pass along the award to my sister, Trisha, at The Coy Pond, my sister, Amber, at As the World Turns, and Elizabeth, at Ordinary Time

Tag!  You're It!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Catching Up

Oh me, oh my!  Such a busy week, I forgot to mention we have our Article 5. 

What this means is that the Consulate in China has now given their approval to proceed with travel.  Now we wait for China to give the thumbs up.

It looks like we will be climbing the Great Wall in March.

We also received an update on Mei Mei!  She received our homemade DVD and LOVED it!  We are told she couldn't seem to get enough of the video and was smiling and shouting with joy as she watched.  When we introduced ourselves in the video, she waved back and said, "Hi!  Hi!" 

Be still my heart!  I know she will still be filled with fear on adoption day, but it eases my heart to know she is also excited.

I celebrated with the kids by taking three to the dentist, one to the eye doctor, and one for a physical.  Because I'm special like that! 

It's all part of the plan to get as much done as possible before we travel, whereupon things will get just a little bit whole lot crazier around here!

This weekend was also Kim's birthday!  I'll post about it soon--for now enjoy a picture of her new digs.

Seriously, ENJOY looking at that floor!  You might never see it that clean again!

I love this girl!

Happy Sunday!