Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween and Ready!

Happy Halloween!
I couldn't let the evening pass without posting some pictures.  I LOVE seeing my kids enjoy this fun holiday.  I especially love seeing the joy for my kids who didn't get to celebrate when they were little.
I should be packing (almost done!).
I should have practiced eating with chopsticks.
I should have brushed up on my Chinese.  By brushing up I mean I should have learned more than the five words I currently know.
I should go to bed.
We leave in 7 hours. 
Prayers appreciated!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Birthday Kalkidan!

We are celebrating Kalkidan with my dear bloggy friend Lisa.  Today should be her daughter's 14th birthday, but her daughter passed away last year after a tragic car accident.  Lisa has asked that we remember Kalkidan by posting a photo wearing orange, Kalkidan's favorite color.
I had planned to take a quick photo and post it to facebook.  I have so much to do today to get ready for China.  Soooo many work deadlines it seems impossible, and so many last minute things to tie up.  I had planned to work like a fool.
And then my two boys woke up sick.  That is not allowed when I have too much to do.  And when I'm leaving for China in three days.  And they weren't horribly, incredibly sick.  Just sick enough that I was questioning how sick they really were.  Really?  Are you really so sick you can't go to school?  Can't you just man-up and go to school today?  Because I really have a lot of work today!
I don't have time for sick kids. 
Soooo I planned to work from home and finish that looming to-do list.  I told my boys to watch TV and let me finish my homestudy and don't bother me "unless your hair is on fire or you're throwing up!" (That wonderful, favorite quote, comes from a special 2nd grade teacher.)
And then, as I was putting on my orange shirt for Kalkidan, I was caught up short. 
I need to have time for my kids everyday and especially when they are sick.  I need to pause and take in their sweetness and love.  Even if I'm not really thinking they are all that sick.  Even if I have a to-do list a mile long.  Because we never know how much time we have with our kids.  I should know that better than most. 
And so today the to-do list waits on the counter while we watch a movie together, I make chicken noodle soup (straight out of the can!), and we get in some extra hugs.
Happy Birthday Kalkidan!  You are not forgotten!  You are still making a difference in the world!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

5AM Thoughts On Our Upcoming Trip To China

This is a busy week as we prepare for our trip to China.
Random thoughts at 5am.
  • I am excited
  • My girls are excited
  • We have been lifting many prayers and appreciate yours
  • It's going to be cold
  • I love China
  • Yes, I'm worried I will become emotionally attached to the kids and fall in love
  • It would be tragic if that didn't happen because I want to live my life fully--it is better to have loved and lost--in the end my prayer is to find families for kids
  • No, I don't plan for that family to be ours.  But sometimes God laughs at our plans so I never say never.  Yes that statement strikes fear in my husband's heart and he might hide my passport if he reads this
  • I need to pack
  • I am bummed that we won't have individual TV screens on our plane to China.  12 hours is a long time
  • But that will give me a reason to haul along my Social Work ASWB Masters Exam Guide (which guarantees study success for those taking the exam for licensure)
  • Yes, I was told to take the exam right after graduation so I wouldn't forget everything
  • No, I didn't.  Life has been just a wee bit busy.  Hopefully my brain still works
  • I have a lot of work to finish this week both at work and home
  • I will miss my other kids
  • Our visas have arrived (it's always such a scary feeling mailing off passports)
  • I am praying that we can make the week really special for the kids--that they will feel love and safety and hope--that we can find families for them when we return (the children do not know our mission and hope of adoption--from their perspective this is a chance to "go to camp," have fun, and soak up attention)
  • We will have 2 children we will be primarily loving on--an 8-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl
  • Prayers appreciated so very much

Monday, October 26, 2015

Great Weekend

In the midst of preparing for our trip we had a great weekend with friends.  Patrick and Kim joined us and we went to a college football game.  First lots of great food and fun, then watching the game! 
Go Beavs!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We're Going To China!

The last two times I had that title I was going to China to bring home my child.  What excitement!
This time, I won't be bringing home my own child, but hopefully I will be bringing back the opportunity for a child to become someone else's child.  Maybe yours?  The trip is filled with the excitement of hope for a child--and their future family.
Lan Lan, Mei Mei, and I are heading to China on an ambassador trip with our adoption agency.  We will have the opportunity to work with children in an orphanage, get to know them, advocate for adoption in general with orphanage staff, and then come home and advocate for the children we have met.  What an honor and privilege to have this opportunity. 
We've had a lot of excitement around here lately.  We attended our adoption agency's auction, raising funds for the Special Needs Adoption Fund. 
Hubby flew in at the last minute after a week-long trip to Korea.  Somehow I didn't get a picture of James and my mom, who also attended.
It was Mei Mei's birthday, so she was first on the family list to attend.  And her day was extra special when our friend Debbie arranged for all the dinner guests to sing her Happy Birthday.  Pure delight!  How I love Mei Mei's joy for life! 
And Lan Lan helped make an inspirational video for the auction and then she was a guest speaker.  Six years ago my friend April called and told us about a new Chinese program placing older children.  April was adopting and wondered if we might be thinking of adoption too?  We didn't think so, but God had other plans!  This is one of the first photos we saw of Lan Lan.  Be still my heart. 
Eighteen months later, she was our daughter. 

It has been miraculous to see Lan Lan unfold her wings and begin to soar.  She has overcome so much.  This girl has a passion for life, orphans, child welfare, special needs, and adoption--watch out world!
Stay tuned for details of our upcoming trip to China.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Mei Mei

Birthday parties are important around here.  Not only do I love a chance to celebrate with friends but I think it's especially important in big families to celebrate each child individually.
For Mei Mei's birthday we went to a new party location--the pumpkin patch!  Her birthday is right before Halloween so it makes perfect sense and the kids had so much fun!  They rode a boat out to the pumpkin patch, picked out a pumpkin, rode the train back, and then went into the corn maze. 
What fun!  And even more fun because my niece was visiting! 
Happy Birthday Mei Mei!  You are one of the happiest, most joy filled people I know!  You have overcome so much and shown us the importance of believing in the impossible!  You are a bright light, and you are so very, very loved! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Feeding A Crowd--Taco Tuesday!

A family favorite is Taco Tuesday (and yes, the Lego Movie made Taco Tuesday even better!)!
It's also one of our go-to meals when we have company.  Everyone loves some part of Taco Tuesday, even vegetarians and kids who prefer quesadillas. 
Guess who likes meatless tacos?  Patrick says, I'm 95% herbivore. 
Spicy rice is also important.  Love this brand--Near East Rice Pilaf Spanish Rice.  It's especially good with a can of black beans added the last five minutes of cooking. 
Love the kid holding the box even more!
The key for supreme tacos is to fry the tortillas in oil.  Heat up about 3/4 " olive oil in a flying pan over medium heat. Watch the tortilla carefully and flip with tongs when golden brown, placing folded on a paper towel when done.  You can get two pans going when serving a crowd. 
For taco meat I brown 2+ pounds hamburger and add the powdered taco seasoning sold at Costco.  And then of course you need all the toppings, especially if there is company, and this includes guacamole, sour cream, grated cheese, olives, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa.  Sides of corn chips, olives, and fruit complete the meal.  Yum! 
Serving it buffet style works well for a crowd.
Don't let that frown fool you.  Patrick loves Taco Tuesday.  He just doesn't like it when he is hungry and I want to get a photo for my blog! 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Gift Of Fear

I recently read a book that ties into my last post. It's a book that was recommended during a work training I attended on self-protection: The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence, by Gavin De Becker.  
It's a book that everyone should read, especially women. It teaches about the importance of listening to our instincts, especially in potentially violent situations. The author explains the mindset of the criminal while discussing domestic violence, stalkers, violence in the work place, signs for "stranger danger," and so much more. He shares what to do/say and what not to. I found it fascinating that the answer is not always what I would have expected. At the same time the author warns against unwarranted fear.  And it's not dry reading, which you might expect, although there are some traumatic case studies. 

Definitely worth the read!

As with all my book recommendations, I do not receive any benefit from the author, but if this book saves your life you can send me an abundant amount of chocolate and coffee. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tragedy, Hope and Community College

My heart is broken over the recent shootings at Umpqua Community College.  This hits close to home and anytime someone's child is killed, it brings back memories of my own lost child. 
Tear Soup--One of the best books on grief
It's also especially heartbreaking that it occurred at a community college in the first week of classes.  The wide range of ages and backgrounds of the victims is a snapshot of exactly what community college is about--a place of new beginnings, excitement for the future, a more affordable way to obtain education.  Community college is a place of hope.  Or at least, it's supposed to be. 
Kim is currently attending community college.  After some medical challenges it's a great place to start, while still having the stability of living at home.  She's focusing on early childhood education with the thought of working in Head Start.  Ironically, I attended that same college when Kim was a toddler.  She was very delayed in her speech and we weren't sure if she would ever talk.  I took two semesters of American Sign Language and I can still remember Kim's delight at finally being able to communicate!  At the age of three, Kim knew over 200 signs.  After years of speech therapy Kim did learn to talk and we sometimes tease her that maybe she learned to talk a little too well! 
Prior to that, I also attended community college when James was a baby.  I had previously attended Oregon State Univeristy (Go Beavs!), but Hubby joined the military, so while he was in Basic Training I moved in with my parents and continued my education at a nearby community college.  It was a challenging time in our marriage, especially economically, but I had so much hope for the future.
And once again, in 2006, I returned to community college.  After watching the movie The Pursuit of Happyness I decided to pursue my dream of finishing my bachelor degree.  Community college was a first step before transferring to a 4-year university, but I found the professors at community college to be just as knowledgeable, and actually often more in-tune with the real world, as they often still practiced in their fields.  I remember the excitement at the beginning of each new term, knowing I was that much closer to fulfilling a dream. 
College should be a place of new beginnings and renewed hope.  My heart and prayers go out to all those affected by the UCC tragedy.  There are no words to describe the overwhelming grief.  I pray we will never lose our hope for a more peaceful world. 


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Girl On The Go!

This girl is always up to something exciting! 
Lan Lan recently flew solo to visit family friends in Arizona.  I didn't think it would happen this summer, but Lan Lan offered to pay for half her ticket.  My good friend, April, adopted Gemma, a friend of Lan Lan's from China, and the two girls had a wonderful time reconnecting!  April is a professional photographer so we received some beautiful photos of the reunion (also including a friend of Gemma's)
Lan Lan said she felt so very grown up flying all alone!
And then she decided to cut 10 inches off her hair and donate it to women with breast cancer. 
She wrote an article on parenting adopted children and now she is working on a video with Holt to advocate for special needs adoption.   
Watch out world!  This girl is on the go!
Eating lunch with a special tutor and mentor