slide show

Monday, February 28, 2011

5 reasons why not

Guess who has gone ahead and shocked her mama silly!
Kiddos are like that.
Just when you think you know what to expect and how it's all gonna unfold they go ahead and surprise you!
Guess who is potty trained, and it took all of 1 1/2 days!
At almost 3 1/2 year old, I was worried Tess was getting too old.
Anyone remember this series of posts with the boy child?  It took a little over a week, and he picks things up quickly.
I was hoping folks wouldn't judge me that we waited so long till potty training her (and thankfully nobody has!)
But there were 5 stumbling blocks that kept me from trying sooner.

1-She was adamant about wearing diapers.  Every time  I would ask my darling little control-freak if she'd like to put (on or even look) at her big-girl underwear she'd holler at me, NO!  DIAPER!  MY DIAPER!  So that was that for a long while.  I didn't want to push it.   At least we know who's running the show.

2-Her speech is still quite delayed, and her vocabulary is quite limited for her age.  I wondered if she had it in her to tell me when she needed to go.

3-My own fear of failure.  I'm fragile like that.

4-That whole realignment of the astrological signs!  That's seems to have messed just about everything up!

5-I don't really have a fifth reason, but 5 sounded more legitimate than 4 reasons so I lied used my literary license and said 5 when there were actually only 3.
But she's nearing 3 1/2 and my pride was getting the better of me. So stumbling blocks and all we decided to give it a go!
I pulled her from preschool for 2 days giving me a 5 day window.
Turned out I only needed 1 1/2!
This sweet child who has always taken a little (or a lot) extra effort and training?
One of my easiest kiddos to potty train?  (Second only to Sunny who took all of 10 minutes to potty train and jaded me for the next 15 years.  Anyone wanna guess who took the longest at almost a year?  I haven't been the same since.)
I mean I had been dreading doing this for over a year!
I assumed it was going to be another battle of the wills!
But no.
1 1/2 days, 1 accident, 1 bag on m&m's later, and poof... it was done!
I'm still shocked!
I waited for many days, turn a couple of weeks, for the other shoe to drop.
It hasn't.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rest and Sunday Dinner

Sunday is a day we set aside.
A day to rest and be with family.
Rest?  Well with 6 kiddos and a busy home... let's use the term "rest" loosely.  No business calls, church, games, lots of family activities and such.
Since about the time Sunny was born, almost 18 years ago... {yikes!} my in-laws have had us over for dinner on Sundays.  Not every Sunday but a lot of them.  To be more accurate, it's more like supper since it is usually a mid-day meal around 1 in the afternoon.
Papa's parents and both his siblings live right here in the same city, probably all within a 20 minute drive of each other.  And we're a prolific bunch and my sister-in-laws had babies too!  And as more and more babies were born, Sunday dinners have gotten bigger and bigger!  With more food.  And more little girl squeals.  More laughter.  More toddlers toddling.  And more noise of course!  
Complete with "boy-table" since we've now outgrown the dining table.
This was Papa's sister's idea from many years ago.  They are simple rocks with each person's name written on them, (I think with one of those paint pens.) First off they are really pretty place holders!  But it's also really easy to add extras over the years!  And not breakable for those pesky toddlers!  I've always loved these rocks!
Here are all the grandbabies from Papa's side of the family, 12 in all from 3 siblings- teens, tweens, rough-and-tumble boys,  toddlers and babies.  Ages 17-5 months.
"The men" have an opportunity to talk things over amidst wrangling a baby or two.
Sunday dinner this week was just after a storm left the desert.
I know some of you think the desert is all prickly and dry and all.  But isn't it gorgeous?  (The golf course and view don't hurt none!)
And when there's extended family in town, this time it was beloved cousins Catie and Hani from southern CA who drove over just for the weekend, (lucky us!) it's even more special!  
(I'm sure they are truly appreciating peaceful quiet since Sunday dinner.)
Really, my mother-in-law is a angel and a saint of a woman!  I am a very very lucky gal! 
(And yes, their kitchen and home is just gorgeous!)
Papa and I have always wanted to try out living somewhere other than our beloved Arizona.  I just don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.  Lucky us!
Do you "rest" on Sunday?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fostercare training 101-thoughts of the week

  • Papa and I are half way through our foster classes, 5 out of 10 classes done {3-hours each}  We're again gathering masses of paperwork, which isn't that hard seeing as how we're old pro's at compiling an adoption dossier and much of the paperwork is the same.  2 of the 5 required interviews are complete.
  • Our case worker said she's never had a foster family report that a child placement is actually better or easier than they thought it would be.  Hmmmm.  Never?
  • Families are dropping out of our training class a little at a time, but ever so consistently.  I think this is good.  I'd rather have them make the decision not to foster now than after a child is already placed in their home.  
  • Not only is the process of becoming a licensed foster care family free, but if you do end up adopting a child, the state will reimburse you any expenses you encountered along the way, (legal fees for the actual adoption & fingerprinting fees for example) but will also continue to provide ACCESS health care, even after the adoption is finalized.
  • Funds available for a foster child also include, monies for things like sports uniforms and fees, tickets to amusements park, {like Disneyland} and food reimbursement for your foster child during family vacations, and summer camp.
  • No one gets rich off being a foster parent.  In the initial months, most foster families won't even break even, spending extra out-of-pocket expenses.  
  • The foster system has evidently changed in the last several years, making much needed changes to reduce the number of times a foster child changes families and shrinking the total amount of time a child remains in foster care.
  • After this weekend's occurrences, I'm wondering how my heart will handle saying goodbye to a child... again and again and again.
  • After birth families, foster families are always given first choice to adopt a child that is currently in their care.  This is provided that all options to return a child to their birth parents and any bio family have been exhausted.  
  • In the state of Arizona, you can not simultaneously pursue foster care and fostering to adopt.  Foster families must choose a single path.  
  • Even Superman had foster parents.  Yes, I know he's a fictional character.  still.  
  • A young child is more likely to die of child abuse or neglect in the Phoenix metro area than any other area in the nation.  
  • Not all families should adopt.
  • Not all families should foster. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Troast on The Most

My Ipod is MIA.  My Itunes isn't working.   And for this crazy girl that grew up with music constantly playing in the background, it's a little lonely, like a part of me is missing.  So I'm finding music in new places.  YouTube?

I have fallen, hook line & sinker, in love with this song!
(This video is pretty corny.  Maybe close your eyes and listen.  Better yet, dance with your sweetie.)
I've asked Papa to please play it at my funeral. 
Just kidding... kinda.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


This weekend started out tough.
Parenting gets harder.
When they were little the choices were easy.
Eat your vegetables.  
Share with your sister.
Finish your homework.
Don’t grab.
Help those that need it.
There is nothing new in the dark that isn’t there in the light.

And the explanations were easy.
Because broccoli is good for you.
Because putting things is an electrical socket will hurt you. 
Because giving is better than receiving. 
Because I’m the mom, and that’s why!

But they grow and the questions and answers get increasing difficult.  Suddenly things I can’t really explain to myself, I am asked to explain to my children and have it all make sense in a difficult confusing world. 
So how do you explain it to your children when bad things, really bad things happen to really good people.
Things that are unfair.
Things that are hard... really hard.
Things that happen to children... children who have no support system.
Things that shouldn't happen to adults or anyone, much less a child.
Things that can ruin a life.
Things that can destroy a spirit.
Things that are happening right now and right next to them.

One of my sweet things has a friend like this.  And as their friendship has grown, we’ve learned more and more about the challenges and burdens this friend carries, challenges that are so unlike the insignificant challenges my children face. 
You forgot your lunch box at home?
You did really bad on that math test? 
Your sister broke your glasses?
You got in a fight with your mom?
You got the flu?
Your brother ruined your favorite sweater?
Someone scattered potato flakes all over your living room?
These things are nothing compared to the challenges other children face as a matter of course.  
Compared to the challenges other children face alone.  

And how do I go about explaining to children, to my children, God’s role in the bad things that happen to really good people?  That people who are really good, with kind hearts, and people and children who try to do things for others with really good motives, people who are really just like you and me, still have bad things happen to them. 

So here’s the best I could do at the time with what I was given-
God never says it will be easy.  And He never says it will be fair. But what God does say is that He will provide absolutely everything that we need at that very moment to do the very thing that He had called us to do.  He WILL provide it ALL.  To do what HE wants us to do.  And for us it provides an opportunity to show His love and be a blessing to others… even if that feels grossly inadequate. 

This child that I’m referring to is really a wonderfully kind and beautiful-hearted kid.  A child a parent would be proud to call their own.  One I would take in my home in a hot second.  And I don’t have a clue why God has called this child to have it difficult in his life.  Why things are hard and beyond what a child should have to encounter.  But one thing that keeps clicking back in my brain is that the future is going to be amazing for this person!  A person that has come from a place with such challenges and overcome so much, I believe they will be called to do great things with their life!  Very great things that a community and the people surrounding him will be indebted to and empowered by just to be around.  For that I am very grateful to him and to God.

So I’m nearing the end of this post, running out of things to say, and it all feels so inadequate, just like this discussion with my child.  Keeping it real, I’m not sure if I did a good enough job explaining it to my child.  I'm not sure that I did near enough to help all the way around.  Explaining something that I still grapple with myself.  As most things are in parenting, explaining hard things is really part of a long process more than a one time talk, so I’m sure that we will revisit this subject often for a while.
I hope that it will help us both.
PS-Thank you, S, for sharing so much of yourself with us.  I will dearly miss you.  Be good. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

this weekend finds me...

working on potty training... for my 6th little one.

seriously wanting to live here for a couple of years.

wondering how many more miles my car can take before it vaporizes.

truly appreciating a connected family that loves one another despite our shortcoming and failures.

cleaning up the aftermath of an absconded box of potato flakes.

is sure that the house is getting away from me and thinks a therapy episode of Hoarders might be necessary.  

really wanting to buy this for T&J but totally can not justify the cost.

thinking that a LOT of sewing may be called for this summer!

wanting to go fabric shopping NOW.

wondering how that laundry detergent got in the sink... again.

not sure how the upcoming vacation to the beach is going to happen.

pretty sure that 11:32am is too late to be wearing jammies.

is going to take a break from blogging and go get dressed now.

laughing at this, and thinking this family looks SO young.

missing snow days and snow angles and snowmen and snowball fights.

envious of all of you buried in all that snow for weeks on end.

enjoying watching the storm roll in although it promises no snow for those who live in the desert.

again, finding our house phone being cooked in the microwave.

thinking that a preacher's wife can be a bit naughty, and that's good thing.

wanting to go out to dinner with these incredible parents without appearing to be a stalker.

saying goodbye to someone i really liked this morning.

contemplating foster care and wondering if I really could "let go" of a child again... and again... and again.

getting very sad angry sad angry sad angry sad angry sad when adults hurt children.

pretty sure that I married the most wonderful man in the wide world.

watching Little House on the Prairie with my kiddos.

re-reading this post and this one and realizing these days are just around the corner.

wondering if cucumber slices really reduces swollen eyes from crying.

surprised that I am really enjoying parenting teenagers.

a little scared that we will have 3 teenagers under our roof shortly.

making green chili chicken casserole for dinner.

hoping that I have a chance to go to the Vietnamese market this weekend.

working on a macro-photo project for water drops this weekend.

thinking it's ok to steal ideas for blog posts.
sure that God has abundantly blessed me, and I am the luckiest mama in the world!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Lets talk about the finest piece of broadcasting on television, the best and most extraordinary programming in our time and should not be missed...


Have you seen it?

If you haven't, don't miss it.  Reality TV at its finest!  It's the most powerful television of its kind.

For example, let's say I get up early one day, dark:30 o'clock in the morning, and stub my toe on the Papa's size 13 boot, thus hurling my body into an entire village of Little People.  After I recover, I make my way into the kitchen and see that Livy didn't get to her chore last nigh.  The sink is full of more dishes than I thought existed.  Actually, there's clutter on every surface... everywhere I look!

Days like this have a way of snowballing... right into the baseball-stadium-sized pile of laundry, piles of papers and mail that are about to fall over, and closest and drawers that overflow with toys and lost socks, stuffed animals, empty shoe boxes, and all those little tags that toddlers pick up on the floor of department stores.  Worst case scenario, I stumble upon a hidden lunch box in the back of a closet, complete with grapes that have oozed into the pretzels, and a turkey mayo sandwich that's well over 2 weeks old.  Mama despair.

In times like these I resort the the best therapy I know of for such overwhelming clutter.  I fill the sink with warm sudsy water and turn on the aforementioned broadcasting... Hoarders.

So moments before I thought my home was dirty.  Just moments before I turned on Hoarders I thought the clutter in our home was getting away from me.  Moments before I thought my floors were surely the most filthy in the world.  Then Hoarders tells me that not only is my house not the worst... it's not even close.  Heck, my home looks clean and sparkley in comparison!

And then I usually plea with the broadcasting gods... Let there be cats!!!!  I know it's wrong, but makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

I actually have a couple members of my family with hoarding tendencies.  OK I'll admit that Papa says they actually are bonafide hoarders, but when you love someone it's just easier to call them eccentric.  So I don't mean to demean the seriousness of this actual mental disorder.  Hoarding is a serious mental illness, I know, but I didn't have a lot of personal experience with it...  and then we adopted.

So let's get serious for a minute, and talk about hoarding and how it can relate to adoption

Hoarding and post-institutionalized kiddos can go hand and hand.  Sometimes these kiddos can become hoarders.  Not necessarily like the kind with cats and all.  But post-institutionalized child that have gone without food, never knowing when or if food will come, might hide food (even in their mouths) even though an abundance of it is always at their disposal now when they are united with their forever family.  Or they can hoard their own goodies.  Or take things that don't belong to them, some with no value, just to gain a little control in their world.
For our child that went without, our Tess, hoarding takes the form of accumulating things.  Mostly meaningless things.  2 1/2 years later and somewhere deep in the back of that sweet little noggin of hers, I guess she figures she needs to gather all the stuff" and keep it, assuring she'll have it again when she wants it.
Tess almost always has something in her hands, something to carry around.  I think it makes her feel safe and loved to be carting her stuff around with her.  She is usually on "look-out" mode for her little treasures, collecting them all day long.  She has countless bags and purses to put them in.  But she mostly prefers a gallon zip-lock bag, I think to be able to see her little treasures and confirm they are still there.
Scraps of ribbon.  A barrette.  Matchbox cars.  Sunglasses.  A passport.  A plastic spoon.  Often Boo's glasses.  A dollie shoe.  Business cards.  A tea bag.  A button.  Necklaces.  Erasers.  A whisk.  A roll of duct tape.
Today's bootie includes a mini-skateboard, carabiner, die, Ernie, Papa's pass to the recent Phx Open, (which she's wearing in many pictures) a small stuffed monkey, a Xmas ornament, a glove from a Mickey Mouse costume, a Matchbox car, a pair of fingernail clippers, a piece of ribbon, and a Zip-lock bag to securily store it all in.  She takes them to bed and hides them under her pillow.  She stoles them away in her backpack and occasionally takes them to school.
I think collecting these items also gives Tess a feeling of control.  I've mentioned many times, that Tess has control issues, even from the very beginning, not wanting to be looked at or touched.  Having and sometimes hiding her treasures, helps her have a feeling of power, something the world won't be able to take away.  Especially when she hides things ... like Boo's passport, that was missing for almost 2 weeks.  I finally stumbled across it at the bottom of a basket of her socks.  {Insert sigh of relief here.}
Within the last 6 months, she now allows us to hold her items, or will put them down momentarily, while she brushes her teeth, climbs up steps... only because we always give it back!  I think this is a sign of her continuing growth and attachment to our family.  Her heart continues to let us in and connect at the deepest levels with us.  She trusts us, momentarily, to give back her goodies.  To let her be who she is at that moment.
For now, unless it's something dangerous, we let her keep and carry her treasures and even accommodate and encourage her with purses and baggies.   We assure her that these are her things, and we won't take them away.  She can store them wherever she likes.  Simply, it helps her feel safe and loved and treasured.  And in the end, that's all we all want!

Except that passport... I secretly took that when she wasn't looking.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

{2 things} that led to now

{The 1st thing that happened}
Circa 2004
Before Tess.
Before Jude.
Before these last 25lbs adhered themselves to my bum.
When Boo was a baby just learning to toddle around.

A very good friend of mine had a friend who had a friend who had a sister (you get the idea) who needed a home for a child.  The child had been through a lot, certainly more than any child or even any adult should be subjected to.  There was no extended family available for this child either.  So this child needed a home, temporarily... maybe.  A foster home.  A home for 2 weeks or 2 months or 2 years or forever.

I met the child through happenstance and heard the story.  I had always wanted many many children, Papa and I talked, and we offered our home to this child...  for 2 weeks or 2 months or 2 years or forever... how ever long this child needed a home we offered ours.

We talked with the child's family and were comfortable proceeding.  Then we contacted the child's CPS caseworker.   We had no experience with CPS or the foster care system.  What we encountered was less than friendly or helpful or even nice.  The roadblocks placed before us were insurmountable.  And we had to walk away.  This child was put into the vast foster care system, and I never learned what happened to her.

We purposefully decided that was not a system that we wanted to be involved in.  But this experience did open our hearts to providing homes to the hundreds of thousands of children who needed one.
Papa and I talked about it.
We prayed.
And ultimately we embarked upon the path of international adoption.
Eventually, Tess & Jude came home to us.

{The 2nd thing that happened}
One of Papa's closest friends, used to be involved in foster care.  It was a few years ago that this amazing family open their home to children whose parents could not provide a safe home for them, for as long or as little time as needed, accepting their special needs, and never knowing when they would leave.  As God would have it, 2 children were placed in their care.  I'm sure they don't know this, but I prayed for them during this time, and for the children that were in their care.  Prayed that they would be able to anticipate and meet the needs of these children, and that ultimately these little ones would find their forever families... wherever that would be.  As it turned out, both children ultimately left this wonderful family.  And again I prayed for their strength and courage and that God would provide more foster families like this.
Afterwards, this family felt a need to take a break from fostering.  I can only imagine how their hearts ached.

Papa found out recently that after a couple year hiatus, this family is again preparing to be foster parents and see where God takes them.  Knowing full well, that the path of a foster parent can be simultaneously so rewarding and painful, Papa suggested we reconsider our previous decision years before and follow in their footsteps.  Become foster parents.


Is this the same guy who agreed we should put the brakes on our China adoption?

Yes, but as he said, the licensing process is free, and you never know where God is going to take you.
We just might want to be prepared.

I couldn't argue with that.

So, yes, we are currently knee deep in doing all we need to do to become licensed foster care parents.  More paperwork, more hoops, more home inspections, more classes, more homework, more applications, more fingerprinting, more doctor visits, and more interviews.  I mean we've really been fingerprinted so many times in the last 3 years!  At least 9 times that I can think of off the top of my head.  I have found the process of becoming a foster parent,  so unlike the process of adoption.  It's just a very different mind set.  Maybe I'll delve into the similarities and differences later.

And honestly we're not really sure when or if we will ever take a placement of a child.  That's something we'll have to decide as this summer approaches.  Part of the process of becoming a licensed foster care provider, is to fully explore all the possibilities and really only making a decision after you've gathered all the tools necessary to make the decision.
I really like that part.

How 'bout you?  Have you ever considered becoming a foster parent?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dear Papa-

This is my photo-Valentine gift to you this year.  I thought it was quite appropriate seeing as how we live in the desert and all.

I was going to go into some lengthy diatribe about how yucky the last year has been and how this next year is spinning out-of-control with change.  And I'm all dizzy, and you're exhausted and just a tad pre-occupied these days!  It doesn't help much that Valentine's Day is on a Monday.  I can barely remember to wear underwear on Mondays!

Knowing all this, I know you didn't get me anything 'cause we don't really do Valentine's Day... and because of the Monday thing.

So here-this is a gift for both of us.

I love you, and I know you love me... prickly parts and all!

Crazy me

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sunny's 1st job

Meet the second leading bread winner in our family...
... and it's SO not me!

{Livy would be 3rd with her babysitting jobs, and Patch sells oranges when there in season at the curb making him the 4th bread winner.  Boo has been caught selling rocks door-to-door with the neighbor boy when he's up to no good, ranking him the 5th leading bread winner of our family... and that places me 6th... pathetic.}
Sunny, my oldest child, my baby, has her first job!
Well, it's not exactly her first job.  It's kinda more like her 3rd, but some unfortunate circumstances made it obvious that the first 2 really weren't a good fit, so let's just skip all the unfortunate details and consider this her first real job!
And let's also say that she is now a bonafied expert in frozen yogurt's shops!
She is especially loving this new freedom of hers.  She's learning to manage her time, balancing a job with homework and freetime.  She's learning to take direction from someone other than her parents and teachers, and of course there's other personalities to work with.  And then there's the freedom to make her own money and spend it as she likes.  Saving some, (which is required by us) buying gasoline for her car, and being extravagant at times.
{My disclaimer... all these pics were taken at night with a very high ISO.  And if that weren't bad enough add florescent lighting and lots of cherry red to tint everything an un-natural hue of pink!  Not easy.)
We are especially loving the time she blew a tire on her car, and we let her pay for a new one.  It's important to know the value of things, right?
I think she buys too many Starbucks.  But I'm a mom after all, so I can't approve of everything.
While my family was here visiting for Tết, we went to bug and embarrass visit her one night.
And we did exactly that!
That's one of the best part about having teenagers after all!
I have NO idea who this crazy lady is!  She just snuck in and demanded her photo be taken!  Crazy I know!
Boo is simply in heaven everytime we visit!  So so many choices of what to put on his yogurt... chocolate chips, vanilla chips, ghram crackers, syrup, brownies, cookies, gum drops, candy bars, sprinkles, gummy worms, marshmallows, candied pecan, fresh raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, mangoes, an assortment of nuts...
I know full well this is just one of many little steps my little girl is taking till she leaves my nest.  
Let's just pretend that part isn't coming.  
The bubble o'denial is bliss!

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