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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.

Monday, August 8, 2016

In her home...

Visiting Sunny in her home had my heart doing somersaults. Her home. Where in the world was that bird-haired baby of mine who was just yesterday toddling down the hallway in footie pajamas? Grown up is where she was and now in a home of her own! That's where she was. Married. A husband to take care of and who wonderfully takes care of her. And my somersaults just kept coming as I let it sink in.
My mom and I had planned to take every out for a celebratory dinner after her graduation, but Sunny preferred to stay in, so we made dinner for her. Her choice of menu. She chose gourmet hamburgers and fruit salad. And wine. Again, being with my daughter as she has a glass of wine still catches me off guard. 'Cause she's 13 after all and shouldn't be sneaking wine... or not.
Livy and her friend Neiko drove over and met us in NM at Sunny and The Airman's home. Camping along the way. Turning it into a 9 day, 2,000 mile, road trip. With their dogs. Just like big people do. She didn't need me one little bit. Again, kids grow up way too fast.
At one point I looked out the window and saw Sunny and her Airman at the barbecue together, grilling hamburgers, together like married people do. And it just jolted through me, that this is what it's all about, this raising children. Don't get e wrong, she may be married and living a plane ride away, but we're far from done parenting her. We still take every opportunity via email, text, phone call and when we're real lucky in person, to parent our oldest daughter. But this is goal in the end. To raise healthy, productive members of our community that do right and try hard and serve with a heart for God. And that's just what I saw through those blinds.
I suppose with time, (lots of time!) I'll get used to it, her being married and having a home of her own. But for right now, on this trip, I did have to duck into the hall way every once in a while and wipe away my tears. It was a celebration after all.

A wonderful celebration!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dear Sunny (on getting pinned)

I got home on Sunday. Papa held down the crazy fort while I traveled with my mom to New Mexico. Livy and her friend (the more adventurous long-road trip, camping type) met us there. I was giddy with excitement and pride, and I cried like a baby in the hallway when nobody was looking shed a couple tears too. It was a wonderful few days and marked yet another transition in parenting.

Sunny, our oldest child, graduated from nursing school. She officially got pinned! (A nurse pinning ceremony is a tradition to signify that completion of a nursing program. Like a graduation.)
Currently she's studying for her boards which she'll take in a couple months, which we know she'll pass with flying colors. I'm not sure if y'all know how hard nursing school is. If you've gone through it or know someone who has you know what I'm talking about. It's 2 years of stress, sleeplessness and general all-around awfulness, often while getting thrown up and pooped on by sick and grouchy people that don't like you in the first place. All while wearing white scrubs... and whoever thought that color choice was a good one needs to be talked to! There's little room for error, ('cause we're talking about people's lives after all) and instructors firmly and constantly remind their students of this as they push them to do better. Sunny's class started with about 35 students, and only 11 graduated, and I'm pretty sure Sunny's a super hero if you ask me!
Over the last 2 years, Sunny has called me in tears because of demanding instructors, ornery patients and tough-to-impossible tests. But she's also called me so excited the first time she did compressions on a real live patient or watched a baby be born! We've talked after each clinical rotation, and I've listened to the inflection in her voice as she considered if ER, LDR, mental health, ICU, surgical... would be a good field for her in the years to come. Parenting long distance is hard, and I've learned to text quickly! But it is necessary of course as children leave the nest, and it's a huge a privilege to do to for this amazing young woman that coincidentally happens to be my daughter.
Papa and I often remark how we are simultaneously parenting so many different seasons of childhood in our crazy family. It's one of the things that makes us so crazy after all. Grade school, middle school, high school, college and now a grown daughter with a husband and home of her own. I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine yesterday. As I get older, it's no surprise that my energy level has gone down. No longer do I jump out of bed in the middle of the night for a tooth fairy visit, and awful sounds come from my body when I have to get up off the floor. In many ways parenting little ones now is a tougher job, certainly physically harder than when I was in my 20's or early 30's, when I could easily do with less than 8 hours sleep and my joints didn't creek like they do now. I just don't have the energy that I once had a couple decades ago. But I also remember all the energy that I used to spend on stupid stuff when I was a young parent. Finding just the right party invitation. Who to invite and what to serve at play group. The stress from an off-handed remark from a "friend." The hours spent on finding the best schools. I spent a lot of time and energy on things that didn't really matter back then. I fretted over stuff that really was inconsequential in the long run and didn't amount to a hill of beans. When Sunny was born, I actually declared that there would be no plastic toys for any of my children and didn't let her have any refined sugar until her 2nd birthday. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I'll blame if on being in my 20's. Now I'm in my late 40's (ouch) and still making the same decisions. But now one of the wonderful advantage of being a veteran parent, is that I know where to focus my efforts. I know what matters and what doesn't, or at least I hope I do. I don't sweat the small stuff and what folks think about me in the process really doesn't affect me as much any more. So yeah, there's less energy to give parenting as I grow older, but now I know that there's really just a few things that matter to my family and my children, and that's where my energy and effort should be spent. Loving on my children and spending time with them. Helping them through their own decision making. Being the net when they fall and their biggest cheer leader when they succeed. And there's more than enough energy for what really matters in the end. (And still enough left over to spend on some frivolous things like photography, bubble baths, and going to the movies with my favorite friends every once in a while.)

So anyway, yeah, I'm getting older, and I'm still parenting young children, (and old children too) but it all works out. I like the confidence that over 20 years of parenting has brought, confidence to know that even when I'm trying my best, usually I'm doing great. Even so I will mess up, plenty, but I can admit it, learn from my mistakes and try to be a better mom because of it. And that will be enough. That's all I ask of my children after all.

So, Sunny, let me assure you, that you WILL pass your boards, (hopefully even on the first try, but if you don't that's okay too.) and you will be a wonderful nurse. You have it in you already. You always did! You will mess up. You will forget. You will be late, get hollered at, thrown up on and get someone else's poop on your hands. But you will grow and learn from your mistakes and your experiences. You will find a better and more efficient way. You will be someone's hope as they hold your hand searching for comfort. You will have the skills to ease pain and share compassion without pity. You will have the greatest privilege to see new life come into the world and see other lives leave. You'll learn what really matters and what doesn't. You will eventually lead others, and learn when it is more important to follow. And trying your hardest, even when you fall short, will be enough, more than enough actually.

And you will always be one of my greatest sources of pride.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Photo Gallery (Sunny on Graduation)

Lookie who I ran in to!
Well not quite. I flew over to see her as we celebrate her pretty amazing accomplishment! And while I was here, of course I had to take a few photos.
So I can remember what she looks like when I have to leave her...
and cry...
3 years later and it's still hard to leave her.

More to come later. Right now I'm just soaking her in!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Simon says stretch your legs!

You that time when you're on a long(ish) road trip and you just gotta get out and play Simon says to stretch your legs a little...
and you can't help but let the littlest one (who happens to stick out her tongue all the time now) win...
Ya, that happened.

Please forgive me for the lack of posts recently. I've been soaking up both my family and summer for a while.
I'm coming back.

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