slide show

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I'm just over it! (or another embarrassing complainy mess of a post)


Sorry for my lack of contact.
I've been busy tubing with the kids on the lazy river and drinking complementary Mai Tai's. I've gotten a couple pedicures and gone out to eat every night. Someone has been making my bed everyday and emptying the trash when I'm not looking. It's a vacation after all, right?  Well... kinda.
So 3-4 weeks later, this is where things stand with the #BlackMoldVacay2016.
Half a wall gone between my dining room and the great outdoors. Slowly processed insurance claims and constructions works who like to get paid. The small AC unit on the far side of the house finally called uncle. So did the refrigerator for working overtime in the very-hot-house.
The hotel was a great idea, and we had a blast for the first week. The second week we kept smiles on our faces, fsome of us are better at this than others) and reminded ourselves that this is a first world problem. And now at the conclusion of week #3, I'm embarrassed to say that we're tired of living in a hotel. Ad Jude just said, Mom, I'm all Chipoltled out! All in all, we're just over it.
I'm tired of being upbeat and optimistic about it.
I'm tired of being treated like a guest. I know that's crazy but I am.
I'm tired of shuttling kids from the hotel to 2 different school and back again adding way too much time onto my commute.
I'm tired of eating out.
I'm tired of room service and have my hotel room magically cleaned by fairies by the time I return for the day. Oh wait... maybe I'm not tired of that part yet.
I'm tired of feeding the family out of the hotel's mini fridge.
I'm tired of trying to get the littles to do homework everyday with 1 desk between the 3 of them.
And believe it or not, I'm even tired of the lazy river! Although my best girlfriend and I did have a really nice long afternoon there one day sans kiddos where one to many Mai Tais may or may not have been consumed, delivered by a pool boy named Sven. But that's probably beside the point.
And because of this, 3 weeks later, we checked out of the hotel and moved back into our very hot house, compete with no ac yet and continued construction.
Way too many days later, (27 days later, but who's counting?) as of right now, the air conditioning is still not repaired in our home.
I feel like the biggest complainer that ever existed. But I'm tired of being treated like a guest, and we all just wanted to be home at this point. So we are. If we're picky we'd prefer to be in an air conditioned home. But that's yet to be determined.
ps-I'm counting. That's who's counting.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Much better than I asked for


You know when you all you want is a smiley pic of your kids all together?
It should be so hard, right?
Look at me and smile! Pretty easy, right?
No it never is, because this is what I got from my 3 little crazies...
Maybe they heard me wrong. Maybe they thought I said, Look at bored as you can! on that one. 
But there's hope, right? 
Let's try this again.
No, no. I said LOOK AT ME AD SMILE! NOT LOOK BORED!
And I got this...
That's pretty much when I realized that this whole thing wasn't going to end well, certainly not with a smiley pic of my kids all together.

No, I did not say, Open your mouth wide and look crazy! But I might as well have,
because lastly I got this...
And I think it might be one of my favorite pictures of them ever!
I'm thinking it should be big on canvas!
24x36" at least!

Monday, August 29, 2016

When life gives you black mold, make Mai Tais!


Registration for my Lightroom 101 class is still going on. 
Class starts soon on Monday, September 5th. 
There are approximately 10 seats left so get it while you can. 
More details and registration is HERE

  .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .  

The whole black mold saga is still ongoing. It's been 2+ weeks now. I haven't seen it in a while, but Papa tells me that there's still a gaping hole in the dining room that leads to the great outdoors. Honestly, living in the house while they were working on it wasn't that bad. I ran a lot of errands and cooped up in my bedroom when I was home. But cooking anything in the house was miserable! And strangely, the family thinks eating 3 meals a day is the norm! Who knew, right? Well growing kids gotta eat, I guess! Sweat was dripping off me and of course that makes the mama bear in me a wee bit irritable. The insurance company gave us the go ahead to get out of the hot house,  and I explained that there are 8 of us and a traditional hotel room doesn't fit us. And the insurance company instructed us to find a casita or something we can comfortable exist in... so we did! I packed up the crew, and we headed to the JW Marriott!

We're making lemonade out of lemons. Very hot lemons. 

Amidst the 5 pools there's a lazy river and the littles are pretty sure they dies and went to heaven because we're pros at being lazy! Lots of entertainment for the kids too. Many games of corn hole have been played. I have scheduled a pedicure, and Liv and I are visiting the complimentary spa. The nights are late, and the kids are sleeping in! Unlimited balls on the driving range and that makes both Jude and Papa quite happy! Not only is there a Starbucks on the property, but there are no less than 12 PokeyStops and 1 PokeyGym at this resort too, and I think the resort has started calling us the crazy Pokeyman Go family. I won't tell you how excited I got yesterday when I caught my 1st Tentacool! But I did. And it was fabulous! I will also admit that several Mai Tais have been consumed.

So real life has come to a grinding halt for the time being. But the alternate reality we're in is very wonderful! 'Cause as a friend reminded me, when life gives you black mold, make Mai Tais! And that's just what we doing! An unplanned staycation.

We hear the house might be inhabitable on Wednesday, and by inhabitable I mean be rid of the mild and have a working air conditioning again. We're so sad to hear that.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

REGISTRATION OPEN for Lightroom 101 class!


***Registration is OPEN NOW! Class starts on September 5, 2016***
Click HERE to for all the details and to register
Class size will be limited and is available first come first serve!


Lightroom 101: An Editing class for Beginners, will demonstrate how I edit and teach you how to edit your photos efficiently via Lightroom. I'll keep it simple, use easy-to-understand language, and give you step-by-step instructions and video demonstrations too. No secrets. If I know it, I'm willing to share it!

What does Lightroom 101 include?
---
14 lessons to print and keep forever and over 20 video tutorials!
---7 weeks of instruction. That's TWICE as long as most online photography classes!
---24/7 access to a private forum just for our class
---Examples of how I download and organize my own photos
---Step-by-step instructions for completing a quick, clean edit
---Selectively editing areas of your image, including brightening eyes, 
smoothing skin, whitening 
    teeth, removing blemishes...
---Converting photos to black & white
---Correcting white balance
---Noise reduction
---An introduction to the magic of Lightroom presets and how to install, use and 

    create your own
---How to use Lightroom & Photoshop together

---Creating and using watermarks

Do I need to buy Lightroom to participate? 
Adobe offers a free 30-day trial of Lightroom Creative Cloud that you can download to coincide with the class.  (Click HERE to go to Adobe's free trial offer.)  You can try Lightroom out during the class and decide for yourself if it's worth purchasing.

This course gives 2-3 lessons per week, and I'm not going to leave you hangin' because this class is totally interactive!  We're in this together via a private forum just for our class where you can share your photos online {or not}, ask questions, and get feedback.  You will be able to see what the other students in the class are doing and asking too. There are no set times that you need to be "in class" because you choose when to check in online, view course material, and there's no pressure because you work at your own pace. Feel free to come to class in your jammies! You better believe that I will!  I will be available the whole time for questions and to offer clarifications and information.  After 5 weeks of lessons, you will have an additional 2 weeks to let it all sink in, practice and ask more questions.  


What do I need to take the class?  
---Lightroom downloaded and installed on your computer, (Please check Adobe for 
    system requirements.
---Images taken with your DSLR and downloaded on to your computer to practice on
---A Facebook account
---Access to high-speed internet to view video tutorials


How much does it cost? 
Registration cost is $229, and class size will be limited. 

What do past students think of your class? 
This was a great class and took the "scary" out of learning to use a photo editing program. I had tried in the to figure it out alone and ended up convinced I wasn't smart enough to figure it out. Nancy's class gave me the tools and confidence to use Lightroom!!
                                                                                  ~Chantal

Nancy's Lightroom class was the push I needed to get my photography to the next level! What started as a hobby is now earning me real money! This may have happened eventually, but I believe the valuable information I learned from Nancy's class is what got me there sooner! 
                                                                                  ~Stacey of Aasved and Aasved Photography


***Registration is OPEN, and class starts SOON on September 5, 2016***
Click HERE to for all the details and link to register
Class size will be limited and is available first come first serve!

If you have any questions, please give me a holler!

Monday, August 22, 2016

The non-plan


I know an update is in order.

I know this left you hanging.

I'm sorry.

But you see, I had to process. We had to process a lot of big stuff about what's best for us, and just where we were going or not going as a family. Back in the early part of this year we thought we knew, but then my last China trip left me... well... in a tough place. It took lots more processing. Prayer. And discussion between my hunk of burnin' love and me. And we thought we knew what what the plan was. You know that saying about telling God your plans, right? Yeah, well that happened. So after we were reminded that we're not necessarily in charge of the whole world and everything in it and what happens no matter how hard we work, how much we want it or what we do the plan we reaccessed and discussed some more. Long story short, the plan is still evolving. Much of it doesn't have anything to do with us, except that we're faithful that it will all play out the way it's suppose to in the end as long as we're brave enough to listen.
On my April China trip with Gladney. Apparently selfies are universal! I couldn't get enough of these boys!
If you followed me on Instagram I know you saw lots of little visitors that joined our family over the last several months. That was part of the first plan. Some of them were big and some little. But none of them stayed long. And we gladly did that.. And we plan on doing lots more of that in the future, short-term foster care. That's the good news! We hope more little visitors will be joining crazy us over the next while! Our foster care included lots of cuties that needed a family to love on them short term because we were in the middle of all that aforementioned processing. We kinda thought God would keep us right there in the foster community, and we could be a long-term family for some kiddos that needed it. What you didn't see were a couple cuties in China that really grabbed my heart. Like stole my heart hook, line and sinker. After lots of prayer and consideration I was beside myself with grief that neither of those sweet boys were our son. That's part of the bad news. That was (is) one of the hard parts of the trip... the kiddos that were left behind. The guilt. And thus the reason to do more. But we know guilt is not a good reason to adopt a child.

Which again left us in the midst of... God, where do you want us? If our family done growing?
Yeah, lots more processing and no easy answers. But over the months, we think we've finally settled on the plan now, or really it's more like a non-plan. The plan is to prepare ourselves for what (or who) may come down the chute... like maybe a China adoption. Maybe.
And maybe not.
We're not really sure.
You see we have a little guy in our head, and I'm not sure if he really exists or not. Maybe he's a figment of my creative imagination, and maybe he's not. But he's a very specific little guy. And I can see him and his smile in my mind's eye. Except for that smile, he's kinda a blur. When folks ask us if we're done adding to our family, we've often said there may be one more out there for us, but we weren't sure. And we still aren't. On the chance that he's not fiction, on the chance that he's a real boy in need of a forever family, and we find him, we're going to bring him home. How could we not?! I've been very upfront with the two agencies that we work with. If they happen to see a little guy like the one that's in our head, then we'd very much like to adopt him. But on the other hand we're totally at peace if he does turn out to be a dream. To be very clear, if we're never matched with a child it's okay. We always said that our 4 girls and 3 boys felt a little off balance. We felt like maybe, just maybe, that there is a little boy missing from the crazy us. In China the number 8 is a crazy lucky number and maybe that's just the number of kiddos we were meant to have. But then again Chinese superstitions are no reason to adopt a child. And 7 is pretty stinkin' awesome already!

Our China home study is done and is valid for the next 18 months. And if something, or rather someone comes along, then holy cow we're going to turn this crazy crew into Ordinary Miracles & The Crazy 10! But if not, then we're going to sit back and relish in the blessings that have already been bestowed on us. Either is totally okay with us. So long story short, the plan is to let God be in charge of the plan. We're going to try real hard to sit back and enjoy the ride. And not throw up.

During that time we will continue to do short-term and emergency fostering only. We are unable to do any long-term fostering because we'd then need a costly updates on our home study. Despite the huge shortage of foster homes in AZ, (more guilt) we still feel this is the right decision for us.

And that is the official non-plan!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Finding the light

I just happened to have my camera in hand in the early morn and caught Mimi checking out her reflection right as the light found her... when camera and light and subject all come together completely unprompted...
I love it when that happens!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Good news. Bad news.


Good news... The kiddos all started school, and there wasn't a single hitch in the giddy-up!

Bad news... Bad mom of the year award goes to me for not taking a single photo during their first (or second or third) day of school. Not even a cell phone pic.

Bad news... Shortly after school started, on Saturday evening, our air conditioner went out. It's summer in the desert y'all and we don't have air conditioning!

Good news... We paid the extra for a service call for the AC guys to come out on a Sunday to fix it.

Bad news... They didn't have the part they needed.

Good news... They could get the part in one day and come back and fix it on Tuesday!

Bad news... When finally came back to fix the AC on Tuesday, (I say finally because it was a steady 90 degrees in the house by then, day and night.) they found there was a long-term leak underneath the AC unit, and now we need to deal with removing black mold before the AC could be fixed. All work on the air conditioner came to a grinding halt.

Bad news... It was 108 degrees on Tuesday.

Bad news... It was 109 degrees on Wednesday!

Bad news... We live in the desert.

Bad news... It's summer time... in the desert.

Bad news... I've been sweating in lots of unmentionable places that I haven't sweat in for a long while.

Bad news... It's now Thursday, and the AC is still not fixed.

Bad news... Teenage boys start to get a little pesky after living more than 3 days in 90 degrees homes,

Bad news... and so do mamas.

Good news... It's only 103 degrees here today, and those 5 degrees make a big difference.

Bad new... The AC is still not fixed.

Good news... We have a smaller AC unit on the other end of the house so my bedroom and bathroom are cool-ish. So the whole family is clustering in my room these days.

Bad news... When I say cool-ish I mean 80-85 degrees because if I use that AC too much, it will try and cool the whole house, and it will freeze over, or break. So 85 degrees it is in my bedroom currently!

Good news... A broken AC is a first world problem.

Bad news... Unbeknownst to me, it's "uncool" for teenage boys to sleep in their mom's bedroom, even when literally it is cooler than sleeping in their own bedroom.

Good news... The insurance adjuster is coming out this afternoon, and we think we can get some compensation for the mold removal,

Bad news... but not the AC repair.

Bad news... He's not coming till this afternoon which means mold cant be removed till tomorrow at the earliest, which means AC can't be repaired to Monday at the earliest.

Good news... Monday's forecast is only 99 degrees! And it's a "dry heat."

Bad news... Really folks, 99 degrees is still 99 degrees no matter how dry it is, and that's still pretty hot when you don't have AC.

Bad news... The freezer went out working overtime in the non-air-conditioned house.

Good news... We had the freezer fixed relatively quickly and easily. Again, first world problems are really a blessing in disguise.

Bad news... Papa left town on Sunday, the day after the AC went out.

Good news... He'll be back tonight!

Bad news... I decided to stop doing laundry and cooking anything yesterday.

Good news... Laundry waits and take out is a blessing.

Bad news... My acne is flaring up because of the aforementioned sweating. I'm really too old for acne. I'm searching for a support group for women with perimenopause and acne, and not surprisingly can't find one.

Good news... I get to be their mama every single day,
Good news... and their's too,
Good news... and this crazy's guys wife, even when he's being extra uncooperative when I'm taking passport pictures shortly before the air conditioner went out!
Good news... and I'm pretty sure, air conditioning or not, summer desert heat or not, that that makes me the luckiest person on the face of this planet! 

Bad news... The insurance adjuster never showed up. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Birthday Interview: Jude at 9

Jude is the first in our crazy birthday blitzkrieg season. I thought we'd have an interview with all the birthday kiddos as their birthdays come.
What did you pick for your birthday dinner this year? I actually picked birthday lunch this year, and I picked a restaurant... the baseball stadium, and I had a corn dog. And cotton candy. And root beer. And another corn dog. And coke. Then when I came home I got ice cream cupcakes that mommy made for me! 

What's you favorite color? Blue. Actually all colors 'cause they are all beautiful! 

What's your favorite food? I don't have have a favorite food. I like all foods. Except hot sauce. Well I like most food. 

If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would you go? I'd go to Vietnam because that's where I'm from, and I'd see if I could find my Vietnam mom. 

What do you want to be when you grow up? I don't know yet, but I think I want to be a baseball player because I love baseball. It's fun like when I play catch and when I go to the batting cages to practice. My dad took me to 2 Diamondbacks games this year!

What do you think you'll be doing in 10 years? In 10 years I think I will be asking for a lot of stuff like my big brothers do. Like a computer and cell phone. I will be 19 years old so I'll be driving to work. I might worry about getting pulled over when I'm 19. Sometimes people get tickets and have to pay lots of money. Or if you are doing something really wrong then you have to go to jail. That makes me scared. Sometimes when you're 19 you move out, but I don't ever want to move out of my house because I want to be with my mom! 'Cause I love her very much! But maybe when your older then 19 I'll want to move away. 
Tell me about yourself, Jude: I am brown, a little brown and my eyes are almond shaped. And my eye color is brown and a little black. And I might have crazy teeth, like shark teeth because I can't pull them out, instead I just let them come out. I am little. Some people think I'm a 5 years old because I'm Asian and some Asian people are small like me. But I'm not. I'm 9 years old! I am funny because I make other people laugh. I make my sisters laugh a lot! I'm silly, and I'm a great brother. I try to be the best person I can be. 

What was the best thing that happened when you were 8 years old? Going to St Louis, somewhere I hadn't gone before, was the best thing that happened this year 'cause I was just with Mommy, and we had fun together. Spending my time with Mommy when we went and got ice cream, and went to the zoo. The penguins were stinky but cool! I got to ride in an airplane so many times! It was fun. They let me come up to the front of the plane and sit in the cock pit. I got to have gum, and I got to play on my tablet a lot! I was scared about the surgery, but I made it all the way through it and then it was done! I even made a friend at the St Louis hospital! And when I came home, I loved seeing everybody. The wheel chair was pretty cool. For Halloween my sissy made it into a boat, and I was a pirate! But I couldn't trick-or-treat very well like places with stairs. 

What was the worst thing about being 8 years old? Surgery was the worst thing about being 8 years old. It was really scary, and I couldn't walk. I don't remember why I was scared, except that surgery scared me. There was people talking to me and the doctor wrote on my foot where to cut me. A person talked to me about what was going to happen and stuff like that. It made me feel even more scared. I remember looking out the window, and we went to the gift shop, and I barely ate anything. I remember seeing my mom after the surgery talking to a nurse. 
Yeah, I was crying a wee bit by the time I was done typing his dictation. The Vietnam comment just got me. This kiddo is starting some serious dialogue about wanting to find his first family. And the pics show his crazy shark teeth on top. He's such an amazing boy, and I'm so crazy lucky to call him my son!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Anything for her



How could anyone say no to this face?
Ask me for anything, sweetheart, and I will say yes!
A pony? Why certainly! Yes, you can have one tomorrow!
Another cupcake? Of course! It's yours!

Some more ice cream to go with it?
Twirly dresses with ruffles and sparkly shoes! Yes! yes! yes!

A puppy?

A tree house in the back yard?

A bicycle with a banana seat, a bell and steamers? I'll find one for you!

A new car on you 16th birthday?
A pair of wings so you can fly to the moon?

A magic wand?

A pot of gold at the end of every rainbow?
A flying dragon with a purple tail?

To always believe in the tooth fairy?
A perfect score on the SATs?

To rid the world of evil?

Eternal happiness?

The world is yours, my darling. I promise I will strive my hardest to make it all happen for you!
How could I not?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Someone was a wee bit grumpy


I'm not naming any names or anything, but someone thought this whole picture idea was preposterous! Someone who shall remain nameless was not going to smile no matter what.
That's okay, I told her. I think you're beautiful no matter what! That's how we mamas are. We can't help but see the beauty even through the stink eye.
Click!
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