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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Lord in His infinite wisdom...

Summer allows time for extravagant pleasures... and vanity.  I've had a bee in my bonnet to start sewing again.  After my knot dress attempt, I was feeling pretty good about myself!  And really, how fun is sewing ruffles and bows for my sweet baby girl!

So I sewed this dress and these pants and again was feeling pretty savvy!
I went to take some pics of my Tess sporting her newest custom creation...

but this happened....
and this...
and even this!
I mean how are y'all gonna compliment me on my vast sewing skills, boosting my fragile self-esteem, with all these distractions!
Cuteness prevails over vanity every time!

These two, that usually are running is opposite directions, insisted on holding hands for nearly 20 minutes.  Sometimes Tess pulling Jujube along and others Jujube pulling Tess along.
 They took breaks to splash in puddles and almost pulled each other over a couple times, but insisting the whole time on holding one another's hands, fingers, wrist...
Born 28 days apart, our two sweeties are not twins.  But we've strongly felt since the beginning, that God placed them together for a reason.  They were born in the same hospital and transferred to the same orphanage together on the same day.  Then they were crib mates on many occasions.  Their needs are different, almost exactly the opposite.  But, {and this is the amazing part} through their journey, they have helped each other along, each pulling and helping the other along the path, literally and figuratively, to compensate for the other's needs.  Tess tries to copy Jude's words despite her speech delays.  She watches him smile and copies the way he interacts.  Jude has to hustle and push himself physically to keep up with Tess, who is naturally so nimble and strong.  Isn't that amazing?  Simply amazing how that works out?
God is so very great in his ability to provide for His children.  We couldn't have planned this even if we tried.  
PS-Sunny's prosciutto bruchetta is coming soon... really.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My kiddo's favorite recipes

So far this Crazy 8 blog has only Vietmamese recipes on it, in the section called If Martha Made Vietnamese.  And that's good because a full 1/4 of us are full-blooded, cute-as-the-dickens Vietnamese.  And the other 3/4 of us are pasty Caucasians who just LOVE Vietnamese food.

But I've decided to use blog2print again (like we did last time for our blog turned family album) and turn all the recipes listed here into a recipe book with lots of photos, one for each kiddo, and save it for when their grown.  I know it'll take several years to document all the recipes they want included in the book.  But someday... when I'm probably in the home and have that rogue chin hair nobody will tell me about, how awesome will it be when Sunny moves into her first home, and I have the perfect house warming gift!  Or maybe a bridal shower gift for Tess?  Or a wedding gift for Boo's wife?  Complete with pictures of them making their favorite foods when they were young?

I am SO tickled with this idea!  I would just love to have pictures of my mom and me making my favorite recipes compiled into a cookbook.  I mean how many times have you said, Oh I remember when my mom/grandma made the BEST apple crumble pie.  I wonder what the recipe was?  Well someday they'll be able to turn to their very own cookbook and find out and see pics of themselves too!   So in the future you will see our favorite recipes on this blog.  They will all be the kiddo's favorites.   Papa comes from a long line of Swedes (thus the 4 pasty-skinned Caucasians we made) and makes Swedish pancakes almost every weekend, so this recipe will be coming.   And I come from a long line of crazy people, so my great grandmother's corn bread recipe will be coming too.  I've accumulated a LARGE repertoire of throw-it-all-in-the-crock-pot-and-ignore-it-till-dinner-time recipes.  And of course there's desert!  All the recipes will be my family's favorites.  And the kiddos are tickled that they get to contribute which recipes to include in their own cookbook!

Not sure what clever name I'll be calling this section of the blog/recipe book.  Suggestions????

If I can get my bum off this couch and get some work done, I'm gonna post the first recipe tomorrow.  Which is a barbecue bruschetta that Sunny concocted a couple years back and was an instant hit.  It's now a summer favorite, and she made it for Papa on Father's Day.

See you tomorrow {optimistically} for Sunny's Prosciutto Barbecue Bruschetta!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In the meadow with Liv

This young lady keeps asking me to take her picture.  And I keep accommodating her because irrationally if I deny her this, her self-confidence might vanish with all things that disappear as you transition from childhood to youth to adult.    Personally I remember 13 being all buck-teeth, knock-kneed, awkward, and not so Oh mama, would you please take my picture 'cause I look so good today.  Surely that confidence comes from her father's side of the family.

When Liv was a wee babe, she was scared of everything.  She was the child that was literally behind my skirts.  Candles, dogs, ceiling fans and more all seemed to scare her very soul.  We tried to start preschool when she was 4 years old thinking she needed... thinking she needed... something.  It was a huge failure.  Same wonderful preschool and same wonderful teachers her older sister had.  It was 2 weeks of her banishing herself to the corner of the classroom, crying silent tears.  We thought maybe she was just one of those kiddos that needed more time to adjust.  When she started waking with nightmares, we knew it was time to pull her.  She slept in our bed that night, in that state of twilight, not quite asleep but not awake either.  She had those little spasms that follow a good heavy cry.  Papa and I looked at each other.  Despite surrendering the first and last month's tuition, NO preschool was the obvious choice.  Liv, we're not going to go to preschool tomorrow.  Or the next day.  Maybe we'll try school again when your 5 years old.
She looked directly in my eyes... Maybe when I'm 6.  She closed her eyes and slept deeply for the first time in weeks.

We consciencly held this child closer for many years.  Hugged her more firmly.  Ran to her falls more quickly.  Cracked the door wider at night.  Pushed her less.  A brighter bulb in her nightlight.  Looked into her eyes a bit longer.
In hopes that this extra security would provide her with deep roots to grow broad strong wings.

Then I blinked.
And this happened.
She's nearly 14.

A lover of roller coasters.  Will try any food.  The first to jump into any adventure and brave the unknown.  Likes to strike out on her own business ventures.  Tells it like she sees it.  She was our natural choice to take to VeitNam as a work horse, when we adopted T&J .  She likes to point out my flaws.  She likes to right the injustices of the world.  Picked a highschool her friends are not going to.  She wants to travel to third world countries and volunteer in orphanages.   She is the moral police of the Crazy 8.  She's confident not being the center of attention.  When I slip into my Irish Catholic profanity, (which HARDLY ever happens!) she is the first to look me square in the eye and express her disapproval.  (OK it sometimes rarely happens. And ps-I'm not Irish Catholic.)  I am simply in awe of this child.  I am in awe that I may have a small tiny part in the result before me, regardless of the obvious parenting blunders.

Another Ordinary Miracle.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I'm at a loss for words.
I remember Chris asked me to post about something, {I think about Vietnamese culture or something} and I can't really remember what.  
So... Now's the time on Sprockets when we dance!
Dance Sprockets!
Or maybe just a bit of Q&A.  (But you can dance too!)
Y'all know I'm full of it, right?   Meal planning. Family. Carseats. Traditions. Photography. Adoption. Cameras. Parenting in a multi-cultural family.  Potty training.  Teenagers.  The bliss of natural childbirth and a 10lb-ginourmus-headed baby.  (That's a F.U.N. one!  Think bunnies and kittens!)  Books.  Nicknames.  Sunblock.  The transcendentalist movement in the early 19th century Americas.  OK, maybe not everything.  But generally, I'm full of it!  Just ask Papa.  He'll tell you!  But then again, he's full of it too. 
And besides it gives me a chance to see who is really reading this self-acknowledged, ego-centric, soccer-mom blather.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adoption, club feet, & the current status

I've gotten a couple questions re Jujube and his progress.

I'll start by saying when you adopt a child, and especially through international adoption, you go in with the mind set that anything's possible, both good and bad.  And with that mindset, {hopefully} comes a surrender that you love your child unconditionally regardless of the unforeseen challenges.  There's a prevelant saying in international adoption, that you plan for the worst and pray for the best.  And this is especially true when you adopt special need's children.  All that being said, Jujube's special need, bilateral foot deformities as it was first called on his referral, (or as we later confirmed when we got home, club feet) was a complete best case scenario.  We got what we prayed for.  Thanks God!

Wow... those tootsies look really dry.  Where did I put that lotion?

  • 5 months Jujube had his first set of leg casts in VietNam
  • 6 months he had his first surgery to correct foot deformities
  • 10-12 months orphanage did not care for his feet properly (by not having him wear his brace.  They believed the brace caused him a fever and illness) and his feet reverted back to their original clubfoot positions
  • 12 months Jujube came to our arms, forever ours.
  • 13 months he began a second set of casting here in US
  • 15 months a second surgery to release his Achilles tendon
  • 16 months casting finished and started physical therapy, wear DB bar 23 1/2 hours a day
  • 18 months walking, reduce DB bar to 12 hours a day
  • 26 months graduated physical therapy
  • 29 months started physical therapy again due to "wobbily balance"
  • 30 months therapist determined wobbily balance due to sensory issues.  Stops physical therapy and starts occupational therapy
  • 34 months currently

As kiddos with club feet age and start to walk, their bones and tendons stiffen, making it more difficult to correct the deformity.  This is why optimally babes with club feet start treatment very young at just a few months old.  When we got our sweet boy at 13 months, Jujube was starting to walk on his club feet, (it looked awkward and dangerous at best, even painful) and his tendons and bones had started to harden.  We saw his pediatric orthopedist within 2 days of coming home and he started treatment immediately.  Thankfully his feet were still "loose" and responded easily to casting.  His feet remain "loose" and pliable, and although he's "wobbily" and prone to head injury, (thus his many goose eggs) his special need has been easy for us.

Jude still wears his foot brace, otherwise known as a Dennis Brown/DB bar, 12 hours a day, while he sleeps at night.  He'll continue to wear it for at least another 2-3 years till he is at least 5 years old.  The biggest side affects of the brace are constant snagging and holes on blankets and furniture.  And Jujube just sits in his bed each morning loudly hollering "mama" until someone comes get him, since walking is near impossible with his brace on.  He may also require a 3rd surgery around age 4 to again release his Achilles tendon, (it can tighten over the years) which will likely be minor and outpatient.  

This best case scenario is not what we planned for.  It is what we hoped and prayed for.  In fact it's gone so well, that if we were to ever adopt again, this would be a special need we would gladly accept. 

Another significant update for y'all, both Tess and Jujube qualified for Early Intervention preschool starting this August.  To be honest, I'm not sure how Jujube qualified, but he did, and I wasn't going to ask any questions.  I'm not sure he needs these services, but it certainly is to his advantage to have them.  Plus I really don't want one of the babes going to preschool without the other.  They will attend the same school 4 days a week at the same time but in different classes.  Jujube will be just 3 and Tess will still be a couple weeks shy of her 3rd birthday when they start.  I've never had any of my children start school this young, but on their 3rd birthdays, all their services/therapies stop.  Speech, occupational, and behavioral therapies all cease.  So starting Early Intervention preschool is the only way to retain their services, ie occupational and speech therapy.    And if emotionally it weren't enough to part with my babes, Tess and Jujube will be riding the school bus!  The school bus, complete with car seats will pull up directly in front of our home and pick them up/drop them off.  Someone be ready to catch me!  I might just hit the earth!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Photo Gallery--kissed by the sun

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I have the BEST job in the world!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Talk to me baby girl: Speech delays and adopted kiddos

I thought a little update on Tess and Jujube would be in order.  Both are nearing their 3rd birthdays, and I guess we'll start with Tess on this post.

As of this post last October, speech was still a reason for frequent prayer.  And to be truthful, despite Tess being 2 1/2 years old, weekly therapy sessions for 18 months, and much "homework," her speech didn't really progress.  Ironically, Tess "sings" frequently.  She can pick up a melody and jibber-jabber away to music like none of my other children.  She excelled in "baby jargon," which is just a long string of nonsensical babbling complete with voice fluctuations.  It left many people and sometimes us thinking that if we just concentrated hard enough, we'd be able understand what she was saying.  Many folks seriously asked us if she was speaking Vietnamese.  Not so.  She just got stuck in the jargon phase of her speech for a very long time.

I honestly don't think that Tess grasped the entire concept of communication, and this led to a lot of screaming and violet temper tantrums, (Yes, I used the word violent.  She often hurt herself by flailing around during a tantrum.) and emotions that shifted on a dime.  These were the ways that Tess communicated.  Her screams, screams that could have CPS running to our doorstep, were just her way to say, I want this or I don't want that...  Eventually we learned to calmly say to Tess as she shrieked, "Tess, use your words."  And eventually she learned to mutter one of the few words she had to express her desires.
Blankie which still calms her when she's upset
More which can mean SO many things
Up wanting to be picked up
Then the screaming stopped as quickly as it started.

In April, something in that gorgeous little head of hers finally clicked.  In April, she finally seemed to grasp the concept of communication.  And finally her speech started to grow.  I'd say in these 8 short weeks her vocabulary is probably nearing 50 words, and she's even putting 2 and very occasionally 3 words together.  Prior to April she had only about 5 words.  She still screams at ear splitting decibels.  But is gradually replacing this bad habit with the use of words.

Tess's speech is still greatly delayed, but it's coming, and like I said, she understands the concept now, and this is the best part.  This development also seems to be affecting her development in other areas too.  Her temper tantrums have lessened both in frequency and severity.  She's eating better because she's more in control of what and when she eats.  Her flash back reactions to the music box, which I originally talked about here, is still existent but definitely getting better.  Her knee jerk reaction to scream and flail when she wants something or especially when she is frustrated, is still there but slowly that seems to be changing too.  And she smiles and grins and giggles and laughs and in general is so much happier.

Completely self centeredly, one of the hardest parts about Tess's speech delays, was a complete lack of the word "mama."  Rationally, I know this was just a delay of speech, but my egocentric heart had a tough time accepting it.  Adoption isn't about me and my feelings, but it still hurt.  After about a year of trying to teach her mama, I gave up.  But then it started to click.  Yesterday, she was up early, and we cuddled on the couch as I tried to wake up.  She repeatedly patted my chest and looked into my eyes... Mama she muttered each time, making sure I was still there.  Just one word.  Just the best word in the world.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Photo Gallery--Dork

Friday, June 11, 2010


Do you ever have those moments when you turn around and wonder where the time went?  One minute your in your twenties, then you blink and all of a sudden you're in your 40's and wonder where 2 decades went?  At this rate I'm gonna be 97 next week.

I had one of those moments a couple days ago.

Wasn't it just yesterday, he was my 10 pound baby boy just placed in my arms.  Just born.  And no time for an epidural either, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Then I blinked, and this happened.
My baby went from toddler to little boy to this in a blink of an eye!

Who is he?  I hardly recognize him!  Except for that big head, which was surely 9.7 of the 10 lbs, which I clearly remember on delivery day.
Mama, the board is all blurry.  I can't read the words.
A trip to the eye doctor, the addition of glasses, and POOF, I blinked and my baby turned into a young man.

I'm sure someone out there knows how to stop these growth spurts.  Someone help me!  Surely there's a pill or salve or poultice or something that will stop my little ones from growing!
I mean they're all ganging up on me and...
growing up!

At this rate, next thing you know I'll be the mother of children that
make up their own minds
pick out their own clothes
make mac-n-cheese without me
pick their own friends
sleep in
have their own opinions
are high school students
are married and have children of there own.
make their own bed without being asked 624 times.  No just kidding!  That'll never happen.

Boo, you are right!  You look just fabulous in glasses! Old... and fabulous!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Birthday

 I thought I would take a moment to express to the world my appreciation for the woman that God put in my life as a wife.  The readers of this blog know her as a devoted mother, cook, addicted photographer and writer, she is all of those things and so much more.  We started dating in 1984 and we have been together ever since that time and I must say we are on one hell of a great ride. God made this beautiful women for me and he knew we would be together from the foundation of time.  She keeps me humble and is my perfect complement.  If you are reading this I assume you have read other parts of the blog and it does not take much reading to understand our lives over the past couple years have been full of trials, change, conflict and immense blessing.  You will also notice that the kiddos are full of smiles. Happy birthday my love and thank you for all of the smiles.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hon-Dah Pow Wow

I'm so lucky!  In the summer, we live on an international border!  Right there, across the street in the back yard, in a whole 'nother country!  Well kinda.  The Apache Indian reservation is literally a stone's throw away.  And with it come's a whole 'nother part of Arizona to explore.  Papa grew up here.  It's gorgeous land.  And with the Indian reservation so close, there is much to explore, including an annual pow wow held each summer.
I've gone to this pow wow for many years now.  I think the rest of the family goes for the snow cones and Indian fry bread.  But I'm perfectly content sitting in the stands and feeling it.  (OK, yes.  I also partake of snow cones and fry bread!)  But feeling the bang of the drums rattle my soul!  Hearing no less than 10,000 jingle bells shake on hundreds of costumes.  Seeing the colors and twirling.
Have you ever been to a pow wow?  If you can... go!  I hope that you would come away feeling a little different about our country and the Native American culture.
This pow wow was started with presentation of the flags, (USA, Arizona, Apache, and P.O.W flags) a call for a veterans to come forward and receive a handshake and a small token or appreciation, and an honoring dance for both current and veterans that have passes and current soldiers serving our country.  It brought tears to my eyes... as it should.  In my experiences, I've never met another culture that is as patriotic and devoted to our country as the Native American culture.
There is no way that I can explain the feeling of the drums, and the way they resonate in your soul.  The sounds, and the bright colors swirling all around, with babes who had just learned to walk to those who needed canes or someone's shoulder to dance.  The children and families and generations together, celebrating the past and the future.  It is a feast for the senses.
If you've never been to a pow wow, I hope these pics can share at least a part of the experience.

PS- it was so hard for my to select which pics to put on the blog.  I love so many of them like that one just above with the two boys.  The look like typical 11 year olds.  Or the little girl picking her nose.  Kiddos the same the world around.  The rest are here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A must read for adoptive parents

Almost 2 years since T&J came into our arms, and I find we're still on our learning curve.  Learning what scares them, how they react, how to soothe their souls and reassure them that we're not going anywhere.  Maybe this is the same for bio and adoptive kiddos.  After all, we're still on our learning curve with our teenage girls, learning how to set boundaries while contrastingly encouraging independence.  It is just MORE with our adoptive kiddos. More parenting.  More reinforcement.  More education.  Longer learning curves.  More patience and tears and sorrow and joy and relief.
I had a meeting with our adoption case worker a couple months ago.  She recommended a book to read.  I have read many books on adoption and raising children in general.  I shrugged her suggestion and relegated it to the corner of my brain for things that I'll get to when I have time.  (Rather than things I will make time for.)
But something persisted.  Perhaps it was the weight of May.  May was a tough month with little relief.  I saw it coming in April, and it proved to be just a stressful and busy as I had imagined.  Only the promise of June kept me sane... most of the time.
So I ordered the suggested book, in hope thats 1. I'd make it till June and find time to read it.  and 2. it would provide all the answers to raising children.   Well at least one of those 2 things happened.
What I did discovered on the cool porch of my cabin, was a wonderful book about raising internationally adopted children.  This is a book grounded in research and full of practical suggestions not just for when you come home, but for 2 years later, and 10 years later, and clear through the teen years.  Like I've said, I've read MANY books on parenting internationally adopted kiddos, and this is one I am so lovin'!  I read it with a pencil in my hand to take notes in the margin.  Maybe that's not your thing, and that's ok.  But I have a short term memory and need memory aids just like I need Spanx.  It is what it is.
About $9 used from Amazon
Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child

Pow Wow pics tomorrow.  I'm just finishing up the editing.
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