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Monday, July 24, 2017

A good stick or our 19th annual family summer tradition

In 2008, when I had been blogging only about a year, I first wrote about our annual summer junior golf tournaments. When none of the littlest ones were home yet. Mimi and Ru weren't even a twinkle in our eye yet, and U.S. government was threatening that Tess and Jude would never come home. And amazingly by 2008 we had already been participating in the junior golf tourney for 4 years. That means that this year is the 19th year in a row that our family has been doing this very same junior golf clinic! Good golly that also means I'm almost as old as dirt at this point. 
In honor of that first golf blog post I'll just give the quick Reader's Digest condensed of this years golf clinic/tourney like I first did 9 years ago, youngest to oldest.
Mimi age 7 scored a 7 - girl's 1-hole, and she took 2nd place!
Ru age 7 scored a 16 - boy's 1-hole and not bad at all for his first year!
Tess age 9 scored a 56 - girl's 6-hole, and she was right in the middle of the pack.
Jude age 7 scored a 44 - boy's 6-hole, and he was only 1 stoke away from 3rd place.
And just to round out the oldest 4 kiddos too...

Boo age 14 - Well he's here with us at the Little Cabin in the Woods but golf just doesn't tickle his fancy any more. And he's still not feeling well this summer so we're okay with that.

The Man Child (Patch) age 18 - He hasn't made it to Little Cabin in the Woods this summer. I think he's reveling in his quiet time down in Big House in the City. He's almost 19 years old now so it's his choice. I miss him. A lot.

Livy age 20 - She spends her summers working and often makes it up to the cabin for long weekends. She doesn't play golf any more though, not since she discovered fly fishing!

Sunny age 23 - Is still living in New Mexico, jumping on top of dying people, cracking their ribs as she does CPR to save their lives and making us crazy proud of her. We have high hopes that she'll be moving closer to us very very soon! Golf... not so much for her. But I've heard that she's really getting into the rock climbing gym these days!
Happy summer to y'all!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Family Faves {Chicken Curry Salad}

I wish I had a photo for this one.
I don't.
Because they ate it so fast there was no time to take one!

There are a few recipes that I only make in the summer. Fried chicken tenders made the ol' fashioned way with buttermilk and a deep frier. My grandmother, Mimi's seafood pasta salad. And this one. I'm not sure why I only make them in the summer, except for the fact that they are quintessential summer foods. But it has become a tradition that we all really look forward to. A food that symbolizes all the wonderfulness that summer is for us.

Food is one of my love language for sure. It's one of the ways I tell my family how much I love them. Tooting my own horn, I really am a good cook, and I like to prepare foods that my family enjoys eating and brings us together. This yummy summer salad definitely does that.

But like I said, there isn't a single photo of this one because by the time I sat down most of it was consumed. Even Ru, who has been pretty picky so far with new foods and who can blame him for that, had a 2nd serving! So instead here's a picture of the little ones eating dinner on the front porch of the cabin, green AstroTurf and all, and let's just pretend it's chicken curried salad, 'kay?

Ingredients for Chicken Curry Salad:

4 c (or about 4 breasts) of chicken - cooked and diced
1 20 oz can of pineapple chunks - WELL drained
1 c. celery diced
1 11oz can of Mandarin oranges - WELL drained
1 4 oz bag of almonds - slivered
1 8 oz can of water chestnuts - WELL drained
1/2 c green peppers - diced
2 T grated onion
1 1/2 c red grapes - cut in halves
1 3-ish oz can black olives - sliced and WELL drained

1 c mayonnaise
1 T mustard
1 T curry powder
4 T chutney

1 bag of dried chow men noodles

Mix all dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Drain canned ingredients WELL and mix all in a large bowl. Pour dressing over top, mix together and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.  Serve over a handful of dried chow mien noodles. 

Friday, July 14, 2017


#1 - I call this one Handsome Boy China Squat with Apple Core... for obvious reasons.
How do I look, Ma? So HANDSOME?
#2 - Please ignore Ru's (fairly successful) attempt at "cut cut" his own hair. Right there at the top, front and center, just in case you are blind missed it. They said when you adopt a 7 year old to prepare for toddler-like behaviors, so I guess I should have seen this coming.
***Note to self - must hide all scissors soon.

 #3 Seriously, who squats for this long for a photo session?  Chinese boys, that's who!
No really, Ma! Please finish taking the picture already! 
#4 Unfortunately, they found something in Ru's MRI that shouldn't be there. It's not what we were expecting, because there is no evidence that there is something wrong with our sweet boy... aside from a lifetime of crazy scars on his arm and abdomen which indicate a past with lots of somethings going wrong. But this wasn't a surprise either 'cause when you adopt a special needs child you prepare for the worst. The worst, we think, could be another mass (non-cancerous) and surgery. We're not sure what they found or how serious it is, but we are not worried. We have a lot of resources, an appointment in 3 weeks with a specialist (finally! Yay!) to get more information including treatment options, and faith that Ru is right where he was always meant to be. 
In the mean time, we'll be seeking 2nd and 3rd opinions. 
How many pictures you gonna take, Ma? 

#5 No matter what, he really is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A couple things I learned about myself yesterday

photo credit goes to LivyTheUnstoppable
Ru had a sedated MRI yesterday. 8 kids and 4 special needs adoptions, and I was surprised how much I learned about myself and being a parent during an simple MRI. I think the thing that I learned the most was that I'm little more attached to this sweet boy than I thought I was. There's a blog post coming later, eventually, when I can find the right words that talk about Ru's attachment to us and my attachment to him. But right now I'm still processing and haven't found those words to articulate it all. But let's just say for now, for today, my mama bear filled my soul, and I was surprised by that, pleasantly, and relieved. 

With permission from the anesthesiologist and remembering the most important thing of all,  Ru's attachment journey, we got permission before the MRI to be with Ru both when he was put under and came out of anesthesia. Ru showed no anxiety at all until we got into the actual room they do the MRIs in. Then he refused to get on the table and sat stoically in a corner chair. I carried him onto the table, and he reluctantly laid there. But when it came time to put the mask on, he got quite upset trying to wrestle it off. I made the choice to restrain his hands myself, gently, lovingly, rather than have the nurse do it. I wonder in hind sight if that was the right decision. Although a little combative he had a smile on his face the whole time, and it made me rethink about our very first moments together, and how he uses this same smile as a coping mechanism, an how things are often so different than they appear. Fear camouflaged as happiness, an amazing coping mechanism. In the end he was asleep about a minute later. 

The 75 min procedure was suddenly 2 1/2 hours, and with every passing moment I got more and more upset that I was not being allowed in recovery (see the above mama bear comment.) as was agreed to. Unbeknownst to me, there were complications when Ru was coming out of anesthesia, and he needed to be re-sedated. Eventually they let me be with him, before he woke, and all was right with the world in those moments... being by my son. I was the first thing he saw when he woke. 

So here's something else I've learned the long and hard way... 

When you adopt a child that has a rare special need, you don't necessarily have any records or imaging. What you may have is a child with a lots of scary scars and a poorly translated Chinese document that says he had something that kinda sounds like a particular condition, and your pediatrician doesn't likely have a clue what that condition is all about (and started to google it in from of me! 😳) And then you find out that you can't get in to see the specialist you need to see, the one that actually knows about this rarer special need because you don't have any records or imaging for your child. And you can't get the imaging done if you don't have a specialist to order them. It's one of many catch 22s that adoptive parents often find themselves in! In the end I AM THE ONE that has to tell my pediatrician what type of images to order and what parts of the body to get it scanned, (thank you very much www, but really I am completely unqualified to make these decisions!) All the while the insurance company is certain that none of these tests are on the up and up because after all a pediatrician should NOT be the one ordering these tests, so they chose to deny the MRIs less than 12 hours before they are to be performed. 

Thank goodness for the doctor, (who is not our doctor, because like I said we don't have any imaging so we can't see a specialist much less talk her) who went to bat for us and not only confirmed the tests that the pediatrician ordered, but the personally called our insurance company and had a little pow-wow in the 11th hour to explained the situation and why the tests were needed and appropriate. And again we aren't even one of her patients! 

Today, even as they were laying Ru on the MRI table, even after everything was said and done, we don't know if the appropriate insurance verification had come through to get the tests he needed, and until we see the results, we won't know for sure. But I do know that if you look hard enough and get creative in finding them, there are people out there who are willing to go the extra mile and think out-of-the-box for what it best for a child, and for that I am so so grateful!

Yesterday was a big day for me in the parenting department. It's not easy, and it requires commitment, humility, patience, forgiveness... 

...and a little bit of mama bear at just the right time. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Our 4th of July

Our little summer neighborhood is a pretty special place. Because the desert is so hot in
the summer, this neighborhood in the high mountains has been an escape for the desert dwellers since the 1950's. Every 4th of July there is a carnival for the kids and a parade with more people riding on golf carts than there are spectators. It's a place that we re-connect with good friends that we only see on June and July, both for our children and ourselves.
Tess checking out her options at the cake walk
Boo working on his photography skills. He's currently taking one of my photography classes. 
What's the 4th without a corn hole competition! 
"Hello. I'd like 3 snow cones, 2 cotton candies... and a margarita please. 
Tess and her Granna. Who's loving who more? It's surely a coin flip! 

When you're the last one at the cotton candy booth... SCORE!
The little 4th of July parade in our neighborhood has grown quite large! 
'Cause there are never enough pics of me makes that really awkward face
At the neighborhood potluck
When 4 cousins insist on sharing the same rock in a whole forest of rocks
Waiting for the fireworks to start and having fun with with flashlights! I think the kids were each writing the first letter of their name, but Ru may or may not have been writing his in Chinese characters... not sure about that one! 
 u... and Papa on his cell phone
I love our summer neighborhood!

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