Friday, September 28, 2012

Jacob Wants A Family

I have an acquaintance who is advocating for this sweet boy, featured in Holt's Hi Families, Spring 2012 issue.  Her daughter was Jacob's foster sister and keeps asking if he has a forever family. 
The article states, "Jacob is outgoing and happy and his social workers state that he is 'loved by parents, teachers and classmates alike.'  In the four years since he entered foster care, Jacob has seen three of his foster siblings join adoptive families.  He still keeps in contact with one of his foster sisters - who joined a family in the US - via Skype.  This former foster sister describes Jacob as a funny boy who enjoys telling jokes and watching the Power Rangers on TV . . . He would definitely love to join a family with siblings."

Jacob has repaired cleft lip and is ten-years-old.  (Let me tell you, ten-year-old boys are SO MUCH FUN!  They are still so sweet at that age, curious, fun, energetic, and entertaining!)  Without help, Jacob struggles a bit in school, but is also described as industrious and respectful of his teachers.  He speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, and is learning English.  His foster sister shares that is a healthy, happy and outgoing boy.  He has a good imagination, he loves playing with other children.  He eagerly participates in group activites and his foster sister has many happy memories of playing together with Jacob.

From personal experience I can tell you that the orphanage where Jacob is from seems to have a positive outlook on the importance of transitioning a child into their adoptive family.  Jacob is currently on the shared list. 

Jacob wants a family!  Could that family be yours?  Look at that sweet face!  Is this your son?

Please pray that Jacob will find his forever family soon!  It's Jacob's turn!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fish And Friends

Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.

We are blessed to have a friend who is also a professional fishing guide. (Do we know how to choose our friends, or what?)  On multiple occasions he has invited us to fill an open spot on his boat.

Yesterday, we hit the jackpot when he invited us to fill the entire boat. 

It was a first for Kim,


and Lan Lan.

And the professionals had an awesome time too!

Vu and Mei Mei stayed home with me (one can only impose on a commercial fisherman with a certain number of lines to be tangled!).  We had Vietnamese food for lunch and then our own fishing adventure, the 3D movie, Finding Nemo. 

I heart Dory!  We share the same memory challenges!  Twins separated at birth!  I'm telling you, she and I could be the best of friends--if only we could remember each other's phone number! 

My children were reminded, "Fish are friends, not food!"  But it didn't stop them from eating a whole lot of salmon for dinner! 

Papa's Best Salmon Recipe
Place salmon fillet in foil, cover with butter.
Add salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice.
Wrap foil over top and place in baking dish.
Bake at 400, just until flaky (about 25 mins).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Poop List And The Paperwork Pile

I am learning a lot from my organizational consultant.  One is to keep an "Anti-Procrastination List," aka, "The Poop List." 

The Poop List is a place to write down any item that has been on the "to-do" list too long.  Mine currently has a variety, everything from "seal kitchen counters," to "make adoption announcements for Mei Mei," to "fix Paul's window screen" (which needs fixed because a couple years ago Paul and his friend had this great idea of trying to shoot a bird out the window--with an airsoft gun--and the screen was in the way so they decided to just CUT A HOLE!!!  What a great idea?  Yes?  Please tell me that not all twelve year old boys have brains that think this way!  And please tell me they really were trying to shoot a bird, which would be bad enough, and not a brother!). 

I've also listed "catch up blog posts," so this week I plan on adding quite a few.

You like this anti-procrastination idea.  Yes?

Every Saturday I have to choose at least one item to work on for at least one hour. 

It's amazing what can be completed in one hour.

One item I have crossed off my list is create medical folder.

(I just love how I can even cross it off on my blog!)

Adding two kids while simultaneously switching to high deductible insurance resulted in a pile of medical paperwork that was threatening to give me a stroke!  Seriously!  It was one of my biggest stressors!  And having 40,000 kids resulted in a bit more memory capacity than I had!  I couldn't remember who needed what appointments--when!

Note:  If you are a naturally organized human being, read no further.  You will laugh that it has taken me this long to create a basic medical organizational system.  If you are not naturally organized, let me tell you that having a system is like a HUGE breath of albuterol!

I created a 3-ring binder for medical/dental/ortho/speech.  It holds a section for each child where I can list the date they had an appt, the provider, medication/instructions given, follow-up needed.    I keep a 3-hole punch to add lab results, immunization records, etc.

In the front I have a section for bills pending and bills paid, plus a tab for authorizations.  I keep a special section for insurance/billing issues that require ranting calls of frustration sweet conversations to the insurance company--complete with contact names and dates.   I also have a place to track our health savings account.

I keep the binder right in my hall closet, so when the mail comes in I can immediately stuff anything medical into the "to file" pocket. 

The only thing that is lacking is a prescription to take before diving into the bill paying. 

It's probably no surprise that medical/dental is one of our biggest expenses.  Sigh.  And we are blessed to have very good insurance. 

Whose idea was it to have all these kids again???

But oh, how I love them!  They are worth every penny and all the paperwork nightmares!  Enjoying ice cream last weekend after a final summer trip to the cabin.  Yum! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Miracle Of Beautiful Girl

One reason I blog is to advocate for orphans.  I pray God will use me to find families for waiting children.  It has been joyous to see many of these children find homes, including "Julie" who was recently adopted (at least, that is what I've been told--I would love to know more).

But there was one little girl I advocated for who held a very special place in my heart--she was the shy, smiling photo right next to Lan Lan's on the waiting child listing.  Beautiful Girl. 

Beautiful Girl was a child that stayed on that photo listing long after other children's faced heralded the banner "I have a family!"

It broke my heart that hers didn't.

In fact, nearly two years after we first saw her photo, with newly adopted Lan Lan adding exuberant light to our own family, I still saw Beautiful Girl's incredibly lovely face on our agency's waiting child page. 

We talked about whether or not Beautiful Girl might be meant for our family.  We felt God leading us to adopt two children all along.  We even talked to our agency about the possibility, but in the end we all agreed Lan Lan would do best with a younger sister.

And yet . . . I could not get Beautiful Girl out of my mind.

One day I received updated photos from someone who was advocating for Beautiful Girl.  With her face lighting up my laptop, newly adopted Lan Lan caught a glimpse. 

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Lan Lan knew Beautiful Girl!

Lan Lan immediately said her name and recalled times together at orphanage sponsored events.  Lan Lan laughed when recalling some of Beautiful Girl's humorous antics.  She said she was a sharing girl and wanted her to come and play at our house!  She even pieced together her limited English with gestures to convey that they could have a sleepover, with Beautiful Girl sleeping on the top bunk.

I was ready to fly to China that very day and make sleepovers permanent. 

The conversations about possibly adopting Beautiful Girl began once again--in earnest.  And yet, somewhere deep down inside, we didn't feel God saying yes.  We really believed Lan Lan would struggle with an usurp in birth order.  It was a confusing time.  Our hearts ached for Beautiful Girl. 

I e-mailed every family I knew who I thought might be a match.  I posted her info on an adoptive forum.  Hubby asked a couple of families he knows.  And of course, I advocated for her on my blog.

There was silence.

Until one glorious day. 

My phone rang and I saw a close friend's caller ID come up.  Smiling I picked up, expecting to have a conversation about scheduling a playdate for Lan Lan and their daughter S. (Lan Lan and S. are the best of friends).  Instead, I was surprised when asked if a particular name meant anything to me.  It was Beautiful Girl's Chinese name.  They were asking for her file! 

I was stunned!  I thought this family was "done" adding kids (some people actually do reach that point you know!).   I hadn't even considered asking them about Beautiful Girl.  It was through that blog post they first saw their daughter's face, but finding it again proved challenging.  It was discovered that Beautiful Girl had been removed from China's shared list (China's database of waiting children). 

It seemed Beautiful Girl had vanished into thin air!  There was no way to find which agency (if any) she had been released to.  Perhaps her file had been pulled for good!  It was a distressing time! 

But a few days later, God wowed us again when He unexpectedly led me to her picture on another agency's photolisting.  I was awed that God would use little me to help bring one of His precious children home, and I was even more overwhelmed that He would bring her to friends who live just blocks away! 

Yes, Beautiful Girl is now the daughter of our dear family friends! Yes, Beautiful Girl is now the sister of Lan Lan's close friend S.!   Yes, Beautiful Girl is now reunited with Lan Lan, her friend from China! 

Our friends began their adoption process not knowing how they would finance it, not knowing how they could ever possibly complete the daunting dossier, not knowing how it would feel to attach to a teenager. 

It was only through faith. 

And God answered big time.

And shortly after Beautiful Girl was matched, we found our Mei Mei.  God's perfect plan.

Beautiful Girl just came home.  HOME!  She has an amazing FOREVER family.  And the first time Lan Lan met her at the park, and they began to shyly reconnect, all I could do was stare, and hold back tears, and marvel at God's perfect plan.

A miracle.  Truly, a miracle. 

S., Beautiful Girl, Lan Lan, and Mei Mei 
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Might Be Perverted But At Least I'll Be Organized

I know, I know.  I promised a post about the adoption miracle.  It's half written.  It makes me cry just thinking about it--my heart is so full of joy for this girl!

I'll finish writing it.  Soon.  Maybe.

The post is actually a good example of my life right now.  Everything feels half done.  I haven't quite gotten in the groove of school. 

Remember all those school supplies?

I did finish sorting them, but for some strange reason the leftovers have taken residence on my bedroom floor.

Why?  Storage issues?  Weak muscles?  Or, maybe you think I have a perverted sense of humor and ENJOY hearing my husband stub his toe in the middle of the night every . single . night?

Really?  Sweet, loving ME??? 

Well, mostly it's because I just can't seem to get anything finished!  I seem to be going every which way without accomplishing anything!

I know I could be putting all that stuff away right now, instead of sitting here talking to all of you, but then I wouldn't be able to experience one more middle-of-the-night thump, followed by a string of swear words.  Yes?

I know, it makes you wonder how I was approved to adopt, doesn't it?

I did finally make my first day of school cookie.  On the twelfth day.  After being reminded forty-two-thousand times. 

It actually looks like a pencil!  At least, I think? 

Okay, well, maybe it does look more like a rocket.  But it's a huge improvement over my first attempt at making a pencil shaped cookie years ago.

That one put me in business for bachelorette parties! 

Now that I've shown you just how immature and perverted I am, you will be happy to know I am getting help!

Since I can't seem to get caught up, despite my best efforts, and since I start my own school and internship next week (gulp!), and since my laundry is threatening to bury me alive, I have decided to hire an organizational specialist--a consultant who is going to come into my home and show me how to streamline my life, organize, prioritize, simplify and just plain breathe!!!! 

Stay tuned for the results!

And now, I am going to go put all those school supplies away.  Promise. 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Beginnings

The night before school started, Patrick was getting more and more nervous about 5th grade.  Would it be too hard?  Would he have too much homework?  Would he get success recess? 

As I was tucking him into bed he lamented that he didn't even think any of his friends would be in his class!  Patrick thought about it for a bit, and then solemnly said, "Well, there is this one kid I know . . . but he is a hyperactive psychopath!  With a bad haircut!!!" 

I guess I get an A+ for teaching my kid tolerance.  Not.

I am happy to report Patrick had a wonderful first day!  Several of his friends are in his class and he has a teacher we have known and loved for many years! 

All the little kids are happy to be back in school and have exceptionally gifted teachers. 

Mei Mei was the most excited!  We have decided to age her down and place her in second grade (half time).  I stayed with her the first day, but she kept telling me to go home!  Day two was solo and all smiles.  She tells us over, and over, that she didn't get to go to school in China, and that it wasn't fair!  (Have I mentioned that her English is phenomenal?)  She LOVES school!  Her only complaint is that she wants to go full time, but for now, spending mornings homeschooling to catch her up academically is a better fit. 

Paul and Kim even seem happy to be back with their friends and have structure to their days.

Lizzy is gearing up for a challenging sophomore year in college.  She will be a wonderful nurse!

You might think that with all the kids back in school, I would have plenty of time to do things like clean my house. 

Or blog.


I've been a little bit busy loving on this precious angel.

Being a grammy is such a sweet reward, and I just can't drink her in enough.

She has been called "the peaceful diva" by her Uncle Patrick,

which fits her perfectly.

She smiles frequently,

and is relaxed and calm.

Sweetpea is very, very loved.

And yes, all of these photos were really necessary.  And let me tell you--there's more where those came from!  Oh how we love our new granddaughter!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Preacher Advice

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post.  I am truly touched and humbled.  I wish I could sit down and have coffee with each and every one of you!  After today, we might need to make that an Irish coffee!

I know I said post 1,001 would be about an incredible adoption miracle, but I have no brain cells left to compose anything.  Probably because I spent the day inhaling glue sticks. 

This is what my bed looked like this morning:

And you may be wondering why, on God's green earth, I would choose to use my BED as a TABLE?  It's so I wouldn't be able to procrastinate past bedtime in sorting all those school supplies.  Sorting, and sorting, and SORTING!  (Why did I want 40,000 children???)

It was H - E - Double - Toothpicks! 

I'm telling ya people, you know all those loud TV preachers who rant and rave about hell being fire and brimstones?  If they really want some gnashing and gnarling of teeth, they should just preach that hell will be like a never ending day of sorting school supplies! 

That would straighten some people out!  I know it would put the fear of you-know-who in me!

To add insult to injury, we spent ALL afternoon at the dentist office.  I really know how to throw an end-of-summer party, don't I? 

It all added up to a hellish day and hundreds of dollars.  I am in mourning!  I'm depressed, exhausted and bankrupt.

School starts tomorrow.  Summer is over.  Summer.  My love.  Gone. 

I'm hissing and clawing all the way!  Homework!  Lunches!  And the worst--EARLY MORNING ALARM CLOCKS!!!!

Please send coffee.  And chocolate.  And glue sticks. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Today marks 1,000.  I have been blogging for almost six years, and I'm shocked to discover that I've actually sat down to post 1,000 times.  Really?


1,000 times we laughed, or cried, or simply had coffee together. 

Thanks for listening.

Like a mother reminisces over her baby who has grown into a teen, I look back and marvel.  So much has happened. 

So much sadness.  Enough to fill 1,000 years.  1,000,000 times.

So much happiness.  Enough to fill 1,000 years.  1,000,000 times. Times 1,000.

I have witnessed incredible miracles--like the birth of our first grandchild.

What amazing joy to meet this perfect gift from God.

Can I just say she's the most beautiful baby in the world?  (I'm her Grammy, I can brag if I want to!)

I have often thought about why I blog--and if I should continue.  I always come back to the same conclusions: my blog is my catharsis, history, scrapbook and social/family network.  I love to share about the joys and challenges of adoption, large families, parenting, LIFE--the laughter, joy, and hope and that every day brings. 

And I love to share about things that nobody else wants to hear--like how I once shaved my legs in the car.  Good times people!

I DON'T love to share about death and dying and loss and torment and hell and destruction and living life with a son lost to cancer.  I sometimes do.  It's always raw.  And it feels bi-polar to follow up that post with any other topic.  The Day My Son Died And Took Half My Heart With Him . . . . I Peed My Pants While Texting a Picture Of A Port-A-Potty.  The depths of despair to the heights of glory--all in the same day--that is my life.

Sometimes, I have so many words I can't capture them fast enough; others, I flounder for days to find anything at all to say. 

Often, I have considered taking my blog private, mostly to protect my children's privacy.  And I would like to openly discuss certain topics--many APs naively (erroneously) believe their blogs are not followed at international bureaucratic levels.  They are.  Seriously.  Not that mine is.  At least, I hope not, because if it is they must be very confused about how I got approved for adoption when I post about things like my history as a stalker.  That poor man is, no doubt, still traumatized. 

And I would like to talk about things that I just can't talk about for reasons I can't talk about.  Maybe someday. 

And the reason I decide NOT to go password protected?

Because more than anything, I pray that Jesus will find a way to use me. I pray Jesus will work through my fingers to help HIM--in whatever humble way that might be.   And you just never know when that will be--or how. 

Which is why I can't wait to share post #1,001.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from you!  My blog followers!  I know you are out there--but you are often so silent!  Now is the time to come forth!  Speak!  I demand you to speak!!!

Sorry to sound so PMSish--I'll rephrase that--please comment, pretty please?

If you prefer, you can e-mail me: r8rgr8 @ frontier (dot) com  (remove spaces)  (And yes, I know, we need to change our e-mail address to reflect our growing number of children--does my delay say anything about past experiences in changing an e-mail address?  I'd rather get a PAP smear while simultaneously having my wart frozen off and my eyebrows waxed!)

I would love to know if there is a post that especially resonated with you?  One that made you laugh, or cry, or love me, or hate me.  Surely, in those 1,000, there is a reason you are still here with me.  Humor me. 

CHEERS!  To another 1,000!!! 

Up next--an incredible story of how God can use a blog to bring about love, faith, and the miracle of adoption!