Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy To Be Home!

Mei Mei continues to do very well.  It has been great to see comments from readers who have been down this road and had encouraging stories to share.  Mei Mei's recovery is so much easier than when Kim had her bone graft.  Kim's hip was horribly painful after the procedure.

In the playroom just hours after surgery.  Her face is much more swollen today. 
For those who do not live in the "cleft world" there is a nice explanation here

She had two oral surgeries and braces, in preparation for the surgery, so she's ready to be done with this rodeo. 

Mei Mei is now home, lounging on the couch watching Sesame Street, and asking me every five minutes when she can have hard food.

When Kim had this surgery her surgeon allowed soft foods after just a few days.  Mei Mei's surgeon is much more cautious and only allows liquids and soft foods blended up.  For four weeks.

Four weeks peoples!  The blender and I will become very good friends.  Ugh.  This does not sound like fun.  Especially for Mei Mei.  But I've already been googling recipes!  Thanks again for all the prayers.  We now pray that the bone graft will take so she will be DONE with surgery!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Doing Great!

I am so very happy to report that Mei Mei's surgery went GREAT! 

Grover rocks, but Vu was Anna's best "comfort object" of the day.

The surgeon wasn't entirely sure she would even be able to complete the surgery, due to problems with impacted teeth near the cleft.  We were thrilled that the surgery went very well.

She is in the hospital tonight, but has already managed to limp down to the playroom (her #1 priority post surgery).  She wants to come home, and be with her family, and had some tears about the prospect of staying overnight.

Thank you for all your prayers!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Please Pray For Sweet Mei Mei

Mei Mei's having surgery on her cleft tomorrow (Tuesday).

This is not a fun surgery, with bone being taken from her hip and put into her gum line to fill space left by her cleft. 

She is very afraid!  Tonight she was crying as bedtime approached.  Vu had so much empathy for her and went into her bedroom and sang to her.  Then Lan Lan let her borrow her favorite pillow pet.  It was so very sweet!

Thank you so much for your prayers! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Long Road to A Dream


A day filled with emotion.
When I walked into the ceremony I was all smiles. 

Until I looked up into the stands and saw my family.  And then I cried.  I cried because of all the sacrifices we had ALL made to make this day happen. 

I remembered the movie that set it all in motion—The Pursuit of Happyness—circa January 2007.  I was inspired to reach for my dream of finishing my bachelor’s, getting my MSW, and working in the field of child welfare and adoption. 

I signed up for classes at a local community college the very next week.  Public Speaking 220.  I still remember the main idea: tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you just told them.  Never admit to being nervous and remember, people want to hear what you have to say!
It was an exciting time.  Just a few months before, our son Joe had been given a clean bill of health following his cancer treatment.  And after a long period of waiting, we were very close to being matched in our adoption process with Vu.

Then boom!  Joe had a recurrence of cancer.  Lots of questions about how, and whether, to proceed with both college and our adoption, but Joe encouraged us, and after a twisty road with God driving the boat, we excitedly added a new photo to the fridge: our new son Vu, waiting in Vietnam.
I finished Public Speaking with a final, emotional speech about international adoption, then signed up for biology, sure that Joe would beat cancer this time, just as easily as the last.  

I dropped out near the end of the term, wanting to spend precious time with Joe. 
And that summer, Joe died. 

The whole world stopped.  I knew I would never go back to college, never get my degree, never work in adoption.  None of that mattered.  My life would never go on.  I could never recover.  I only wanted to be with my family.  I only wanted to get our sweet Vu home and never do anything ever again!
And then Vu came home and retaught me about joy, hope, and resilience!  LIFE!  Even amidst the grief and loss.  LIFE!  My sweet boy, who had lost everything and everyone, yet woke up everyday with a smile on his face and JOY pulsing through his body! 

With the encouragement of family, friends, and fellow social workers, I applied to the University, transferred college credits from four previous colleges (some 25 years old!), and signed up for Sociology 337.  That was January, 2008, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I completed my Bachelor of Science, in Child & Family Studies, in 2010.

And now, my Master of Social Work, in 2013.  It's been a long seven years.

So many papers.  So many books.  So many group projects, and community service projects, and practicums, and internships, and speeches, and tests, and ever more papers and papers and papers. 
And when I walked into the graduation ceremony, I looked up and saw my kids and I remembered all their encouragement, and everything they had given to make this day happen—the times I couldn't be there to tuck them in, and the times I missed their games, and the times the older kids got the younger ones off to school in the morning.

And I looked at my husband and remembered all his encouragement, and the times he ran himself into the night, getting all the kids everywhere they needed to go, helping them with homework, making dinner.  And never complaining (and did I mention writing big checks to a certain university?).

And I looked at my mom and remembered all the years she encouraged me to complete my education, from the time I was just a little girl, when I watched her do the same.  How she drove 1 1/2 hours quite often to help me with childcare, especially when we had a newly adopted child.

And I was so, so sad my dad wasn't there, even tho he was with me in spirit. Just memories of his wisdom about how an education and hard work are keys to opportunity.  

It's never too late to reach for your dreams.

The hooding ceremony with my favorite professor

It's been a long road.  One full of sacrifice, grief, loss, joy and surprises. One that could only occur because of our awesome God, my family and friends--sisters, relatives, and BFFs who sometimes thought I had fallen off the face of the earth--yet continued to cheer me on.  


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Father's Day

Father's Day.  Spent with two of the men I love the most.  A little KFC on the patio of the care facility.

Every day with my dad is an unexpected gift, filled with eternal memories. 

Just last summer dad was healthy and strong, teaching Patrick how to chop wood.

How quickly life can change.  His legacy will be passed on through his children and grandchildren, and his life lessons will continue forever.  Kindness.  Hard work. Positive attitude.  Education.

And no matter what is happening in life, we'll always remember, "It's still a great day!" and that any challenge is really, "No problem!"

Dad couldn't make it to my graduation this year, but he's a large part of the reason I made it though.  Thanks Dad for all your love, support and encouragement!  I am who I am, because of YOU!

Bachelor's Degree 2010
Master's Degree 2013
Dad couldn't make it to my graduation so I brought it to him

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Lan Lan

Love this girl soooo much!  She is so full of life and fun!  On her actual birthday she chose Oreo Cookie dessert.  We didn't have any candles but Lizzy came to the rescue with candles on her phone! 
For Lan Lan's birthday party we took a vanload of girls to the beach and had an amazing day! 
Lan Lan loves ballet, basketball, softball, and all things British--including the group One Direction.  She even had a British flag cake.
Love you so much Lan Lan!  Have a wonderful year! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Complete (And Genius Lunchbox Tip)

School year complete!  Check!  Check! And check!

Paul had his 8th grade completion ceremony.  My handsome boy/man.

Lan Lan had her end of grade school festivities.  First a luau,

Then the "clap-out" which is the perfect end for 6th grade--no over-the-top-graduation-ceremony, just 5th graders lining the halls while the 6th graders run through the school, then outside to their clapping families.  

Oh my goodness, this girl is such a fashion queen!  Like me!  NOT!!!!  Love her style!
Here's a picture of Mei Mei's end of the year class play.  

Today, her teacher had them all sit in a circle and called each one out individually, then told them everything she loved about them.  And then other children in the class were able to add what they appreciated about that classmate.  Mrs. V. is an amazing teacher who has been teaching for 40 years! She has been such a blessing for Mei Mei (and truly, I have an update about Mei Mei coming soon--pinky swear!).  

When the kids got home they unpacked backpacks.  I am sorry to say how many trees were killed because of my children (and even sorrier to say that I have to sort through all those papers).  I was very impressed with Patrick's use of pencils!  Ben Franklin would be so proud!  

And Vu unpacked this wig that I made for his Frannie K. Stein costume (basically a giant yarn tassel sewn onto the top of a winter hat).  He then told me he forgot to wear the wig!  After all my labor! So, I will force you all to oooooo  and awwwww over it.  Ready?

Ooooooooo!  Awwwwwww!

We are down two lunchboxes--not bad since the kids take them almost every day.  And here is a great tip I learned from a teacher.  Lunchboxes can go in the washer!  

Turn them inside-out, place them with a couple towels to help them move around, put in some baking soda and vinegar, then wash on warm.  Air dry.  Good as new and ready for next year!  Let the summer begin!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Limping To The Finish Line

It's our last week of school and OH MY GOODNESS, I am more excited than my kids! 

It has been killer helping so many kids with so many end-of-the-year projects and speeches (Can someone please remind me WHY I have so many kids???)

On a positive note, I do know more about the American Robin, Ginger Rogers, the history of chess, and the great state of Texas, than any mother in the history of woman-kind!

On a negative note, I did NOT enjoy all the parental help it entailed to help said children (did I ever mention it is a whole lot more work to help English-Language-Learners do research, homework, projects, and speeches?  No.  K.  Consider it done.  And you will hear it again and again and again--for sure.) 

I peed my pants and can SO RELATE to Jen Hatmaker's post on The-Worst-End-Of-School-Year-Mom-Ever!  Hysterical!  Must read!  Just put your Depends on first. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Promise Not To Tell How You Got That Man Wound!

Happy Birthday to my favorite husband!

You are loved!  Thank you for all your support and hard work and love!  Thank you for your passion for life and never-ending commitment. You amaze me!


And I want to let you know that I'm sorry for all the times I've laughed inappropriately. Seriously. Like, let's take that owie you have on the side of your head right now.

Yea.  I know.  It wasn't funny.  Except that it was.  I'm sorry I laughed in your moment of glory agony.  I won't share the story.  I promise.

Except maybe I should because it really was funny.  Not the bleeding-like-a-stuck-pig-part.  Just the part about you walking the dog and him pooping a very wet poop in the neighbor's yard and you picking it up (yuuuck!) and the bag breaking wet poop all over the neighbor's sidewalk and you coming back home, mad as a hornet, and flinging up the garage door (because the garage door opener broke on your birthday!) and while you were simultaneously holding the dog's leash and what was left of the wet-poop in the bag, the broken garage door ricocheted right back down onto your head! Your bald head!  Ouch! 

And then it got even worse when you went back down to the neighbor's with a bucket of hot water to clean their stinky-poop-sidewalk and you got STUNG BY A BEE!!!  Or maybe it was a hornet.

I shouldn't have laughed.  It wasn't funny.  Not really.

But FYI.  Poop on your hands, and a gash on your head, and a hornet stinger in your toe is not a good way to start your birthday. Just in case you were wondering.

And it wasn't funny.  Except that it was.  Kinda.  Tee-hee!  Ha-ha!  Not really.  No.  It wasn't.  You're right.

Ha!  Okay, yes, it was!

But seriously, I promise not to tell anyone how you got that man wound.  Or the swollen foot.  And I won't smell the neighbor's sidewalk.  Seriously.  Promise.

And next year I promise to walk the dog on your birthday.  Seriously.  Promise.

Happy Birthday!!!  I love you!  And you might want to wear that hat when you walk the dog. Actually, a hard hat might be even better!