Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cultural Events

Sweetpea was here during the Mid-Autumn Festival, so we took her to the Chinese Gardens.  She loved it!  As did several other members of the family.  Sweetpea especially loved the lion and fan dancing.  She also enjoyed watching a man write her name in calligraphy.  Even baby KJ seemed mesmerized by the music and sights.

In the days that followed, I was surprised how often Sweetpea brought up the outing.  She would play with her stuffed animals and pretend to take them to the Chinese Gardens.  We had conversations about China and language, we ate moon cakes and looked at a map.  It was a great reminder of the importance cultural events play in our children's lives.  It broadens their world, enriches their lives, and gives them a thirst for knowledge, understanding, and adventure.

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Had My Babies Together

When Will was home I got all the kids together.

We got one quick photo at the bowling alley.  Not the best place for a photo . . . and we couldn't quite pull the whole crew together at one time . . .

but  this makes a mama very happy.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Phillip Still Waits -- The Hug

"Phillip" the little boy we spent time with in China, still waits. This absolutely breaks my heart!  He is such a love!  If prospective adoptive families could meet Phillip they would all be racing to bring him home!

Holt recently received an update which says he is "doing great at school--he likes to answer questions and his classmates like him.  He gets along with adults and other kids and he is a happy, good-tempered kid.  No challenging behaviors have been found.  He is mild, good-tempered kid with a warm heart.  He loves to help other children, loves to be part of something and to participate in group activities."  You can see his Waiting Child listing with Holt HERE.  "Phillip" is listed in the section China "Urgent 10+."  

Phillip has vision challenges due to what appear as crossed-eyes.  Our pediatric eye surgeon believes surgery and glasses will very likely correct his vision.   

Lan Lan recently found some photos of Phillip on her phone.  There was one incredibly precious photo that I didn't even know existed and I will always treasure. It's been almost a year, but his smile, hug, and words, never leave my heart.  

This is the hug that I blogged about.  I will repost below.  Please, someone bring this little boy HOME!!!  

Original Post -- December, 3, 2015 --  I Didn't Say I Love You

After breakfast we went to the "goodbye party."  I knew this day would be hard.  The kids delighted in the goodies and party atmosphere and then there were many long speeches from officials. 

Near the end, most of the nannies slipped out with the kids.  My guess was that it is too hard to say goodbye.  But when we went to lunch, the kids were there and we were able to officially tell some of them goodbye.  Some of the children (and adults) cried.  There are no words for the depth of my sorrow. 

I didn't cry.  I was holding it in and going into what I call my "newscaster mode," where I distance myself from my feelings.  I'm remarkably good at this.  It's a gift and a curse.  I can still be loving and empathetic, without becoming emotional.
We couldn't find "Phillip."  At the end of lunch Lan Lan discovered that Phillip was eating in the next room over, which was odd because that room hadn't been used before.  Lan Lan and Mei Mei went and talked to him, and then they convinced me to go and say goodbye too.  I wasn't at all sure about the appropriateness of this--after all, they were in a private room.  I was even more unsure when I was coaxed into the room and realized it was mostly adults, with only a couple kids including Phillip.  Surely they had a reason to be alone?

Lan Lan pushed me along and as I walked toward the table Phillip and the adults all gave me a big smile.  I bent down to Phillip and told him he was a good boy and I would never forget him.  He didn't understand my words, but I know he understood my feelings.  He then reached over, gave me a big hug, and then he said, "Wo ai ni Mama."  I love you, Mama.  Sob.  And then he placed the most precious kiss on my check. 

I still remember the feel of that sweet hug and kiss.  He had on a puffy jacket and his hug was gentle, soft and warm. He giggled and smiled at me.  When I heard him say he loved me I hesitated.  For some reason, the thought came to me that I shouldn't repeat those words back to him.  He had called me "mama," and I didn't want him to be confused.  I wanted him to hear "I love you" from the woman that would eventually be his real mama.  Someday.  I hoped.   

Instead, I squeezed him again, put my hand to his cheek, told him he is amazing and that I would never forget him, and then I did a hasty exit.  Newscaster Mode was dissipating fast. 

I walked out the door and I cried.  I cried for Phillip and all the orphans who just want love.  They want families and they want to belong. 

The girls and I headed back to our hotel room and I fought tears the whole way.  We were headed out soon for a free afternoon which was to include shopping, which suddenly didn't seem the least bit fun.  My mind whirled with emotions. 
After a bit we headed back down to the hotel lobby and the last of the kids were boarding the bus to go back to the orphanage.  I looked forlornly at that bus.  The snow was turning to slush and the grey skies fit the mood.  I couldn't see faces because of the tinted glass, but what I wanted to do was run out to that bus.  I wanted to run down the sidewalk, race up the stairs, and find Phillip.  I wanted to hug him tight, and kiss his cheek, and tell him, "Wo ai ni, Phillip.  Wo ai ni." 
Because I do.  And I hope he knows that. 
I won't give up finding him his forever mama.  I won't give up trying to find mamas for all the kids.

If you feel adoption tugging at your heart, call Holt International at 541-687-2202.  To specifically ask about Phillip speak to Jessica. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Carpool Tutorial

It's our last year of having a child in elementary school.  Wow!  Twenty-nine (yes 29!) years of pick-up, drop-off, school conferences, back-to-school nights, PTA meetings, and Oregon Trail projects!

And it's our 20th year of having a child in high school (the very same high school, I might add--I try to convince the teachers it's job security, not some sick version of the movie Ground Hogs Day, but I'm not sure they're convinced.)

This year the kids are in grades 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12.

You can see the kids had various feelings about ending summer and starting school.

And yes, it makes me sad to see our numbers going down year after year.  And I hate to see summer end.  Sob.  BUT that is not what this post is about.

You are about to be enlightened on a topic near and dear to my heart--or should I say near and dear to my sanity?  A carefully constructed tutorial on  how to drive the carpool lane.

Trust me.  I've got experience (see above).

And trust me.  This will save you (and all the people behind you) a lifetime of carpool rage.

It's not difficult.

But what seems to happen every year, ALL YEAR, is that there are MANY parents who want to drop little Johnny off right at the front door.  They want to park right at the front door so sweet little Johnny doesn't have to walk too far.

The problem with this scenario is that IT HOLDS UP AN ENTIRE LINE OF CARS!!!  See that driver clear in the back.  That is me (apparently my kids are in the trunk)!  And if you stop right in front of the school then only one or two other cars can drop off their kids--assuming they are okay with their little Susie walking five feet.

BTW--Don't people know we have an obesity epidemic going on???  Little Johnny and Susie NEED to walk the extra five feet to the front door!

And now for the most amazing tip of your lifetime!  Pull forward in the carpool lane!  HIT THE GAS!  Then multiple cars can unload all at once.  IT'S A GENIUS IDEA!!!!

See how just pulling forward a bit can help EVERYONE dump-and-run faster!!!  Eureka!!!

Now I know that some of you cringed when I said "dump and run."  You are probably the parent who not only parks right in front of the door, but you also get out of your car, help your sweetheart put on her backpack, kiss her goodbye, and tuck a little note in her pocket ALL THE WHILE HOLDING UP THE CARPOOL LANE!

Let me tell you something mister.  You are not fooling ANYONE behind you.  We all know you yelled your guts out this morning when your kid couldn't find her reading log.  You are not fooling us at all!  It's all an "I'm a perfect parent" show!  So get back in your helicopter and


At the very least, twice as many cars can unload--maybe more!  Here is your math fact of the day:
x divided by 2  >  x divided by 6
x = number of cars
BUT Less is MORE.  More cars at once means more time with kids in school.  Less = More = Better. Got it? I think I just did the new math.
To simplify the answer: A faster carpool lane = happier parents = happier mornings = happier kids.


Got it?

Are you paying attention???

Good!  I'm glad someone is.

Simple Pleasures

Sometimes the best memories are the simplest.

We have a nearby pond where we love to feed the ducks.  Sometimes we go there just for fun. Sometimes we go there from a therapeutic standpoint, to have our own version of Tashlich, where we cast off worries and anxieties.

Whatever the occasion, it is always one of the best memories of the summer.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


While flying home from my son's, I sat next to a businessman reading, The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity, by Kogon, Merrill and Rinne.

In true introvert-style, I didn't pick up a conversation, instead I read over his shoulder.  You can imagine how much he loved me.  I read enough to know it was a book I wanted to get as soon as I got home!  So far, it's inspirational.  The five choices are 1.) Act on the important, don't react to the urgent 2.) Go for extraordinary 3.) Schedule the big rocks  4.) Rule your technology, don't let it rule you 5.) Fuel your fire, don't burn out.

The book focuses on what seemingly urgent matters are pushing out the truly important.  I'm refocusing where I really want to spend my time and energy: family, friends, work, household, health, outreach.

Relationships are the most important.  I never want those to get the short-stick--but sometimes they do.  When Will and Cookie came home it was easy to focus on that sweet time together.  It was especially sobering because someone dear recently lost her battle with cancer.  I feel lucky and grateful to have these special memories together.

"Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant."  Stephen Covey

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Baby Heaven

Hello?  Is anyone home?

Yes, I am FINALLY home!  It was a busy, crazy summer but GREAT!  I feel like I will never get caught up and I need a Cliff Notes version.  But that would mean at least downloading photos and who has time for that?

I do have to catch you up on the most exciting part of the summer and that was the birth of our newest grandson!  Oh my goodness!  He is perfect and beautiful!  So laidback and peaceful, just like his big sister was.  In case you can't tell, Sweetpea is over-the-moon excited!

I was blessed to see him two days after his birth and then Will and family came out this way for several more days.  Let's just say we have been in grandchild heaven!

For today, photos of my trip and those first precious days.  The first--my taxi pick-up.

I didn't take many pics, but Sweetpea enjoyed using my phone--she's on her way to being a teenager and getting the selfies down!

These two are so lucky to have amazing parents and they are so very LOVED!  What a gift to be there in those first days.