slide show

Monday, November 11, 2019

November is national adoption awareness month. (note that I did not say national Let's celebrate adoption month.) I'm know we are all likely aware of adoption, but I don't think we're all likely aware of the implications and complexities of adoption. Thus the awareness part of national adoption awareness month.

Is there something you've always wanted to ask about adoption but never did? Ask me.
Is there something that's stopping you from adopting? Tell me what it is.
Do you know someone who has or is adopting and you want to be a better support to them? Let's talk about that.
Does it scare you? Good. It should. We can go there.
Are you worried about picking the right words to say something or worse saying the wrong things and offending them? The lingo is fraught with hurdles and I can explain it.
Were you dying to ask that lady in the check-out line of the Target about her adoption since she had a little brown baby with her, but you didn't know if you should so you just smiled at her instead? I'd like to tell you if you should say anything at all.
What's this trauma all about and can't I avoid it by adopting a very young baby?
How much does it cost? 
Go ahead and ask me! I will tell you the honest truth as I see it. 
13 years since we started down the path of adoption, and 11 years since we adopted our not-so-little any more Tess & Jude, and then Mimi and Ru after that, and my opinions and and thoughts on the subject have evolved profoundly over those years. I wish I knew so much more back in the beginning than I did them. I wish I had done things differently, I wish I had someone to ask who had been there and done that, and did it again and then has several years to stew in it all and would share those thoughts with me. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Grocery Budget: $125 a week

I'm cheap.
A penny pincher.
Tight fisted.
Good or bad and regardless of what we call it, I'm pretty much that when it comes to our grocery budget! Because in my head it affords us to spend money in other ways, like all the expenses those wonderful 8 kids of ours require! Or perhaps a well-earned mom-dad only trip to Hawaii? Yeah, that kind of stuff.

I've always gotten lots of questions about how I feed our family so affordably, so I thought I'd use this as a discussion prompt and tell you how I do it and what works for our family. This is just us and what works for us. I'm sure there are as many other ways to budget food/groceries as there are families! Truth be told, I used to feed our family on $100 a week 'cause the budget was super tight, and we were paying college tuition for 3 kids, and we needed a new roof, and I needed a new car and... and... and...  and honestly the budget is still tight, (8 kids and all) but several years ago we decided to increase the budget to $125 per week, adding extra $100 a month that affords us a bit more convenience food and luxuries. Yes, this includes soaps and cleaners, paper products... 
If you want to feed and provide for your family on a budget, the first thing I'll tell you is that you need to budget both your time and your money, and you need to regularly meal plan. For me, not doing any of these things leads to extra expense. I meal plan every Sunday for the following week. For our family it works best if I plan 4 (dinner) meals per week. The other 3 nights are usually going out to eat, or going to Granna and Grandpa's house for dinner, or left-over night or late lunches followed by cold cereal nights. That kind of stuff. If I plan more than 4 meals per week it seems that we end up wasting food, and that's expensive. The 4 younger children make their school lunches each morning 5 days per week. Breakfast and lunch stuff is always kept in supply. Snack foods are mostly raw fruits and veggies, and convenience foods (like pre-prepared anything) are at a minimum. I cook dinner about 4-5 days per week, (usually around noon time. Our slow cooker is a workhorse!) I set aside time every Sunday to meal plan for the whole upcoming week, place my order and pick up groceries via curbside pick up each Monday morning. Never setting foot in the store helps me save money too and I'd rather spend my time cooking than shopping. I additionally shop for produce 1 per week usually on Wednesday or Thursday morning. And very little food goes to waste in our house, as I can usually figure out how to incorporate anything into a future snacks/meal/food.

This week's menu is
Tostadas with rice
Chicken curry with rice
Hoppin' Johns with a salad
Chicken legs with broccoli and corn on the cob
Pizza night on Friday

This week's grocery total is $98.76 to which I'll still need to add about $25 for additional produce. This week is pretty normal for us.

Things not included in this budget are
1) Several times per year, about every other month, we shop at a discount store and buy some food items like lunch meat, canned tomatoes, sausages... spending an additional $100 per trip. I'll freeze and use these items for future meal planning.
2) Friday is always pizza night. 3 pizzas from Domino's @ approx $25.
3) Several times per year, about every other month, we shop at the Asian grocery store and stock up on coconut milk, rice, rice noodles... About $50 per trip. 

Soooo... ask away! Tell me... what's your budget and how do you make it work for your family? Make a plan and save some money!

PS-I don't like Walmart, but they have free curbside pick-up and that works with my parsimonious budget. And they are ridiculously friendly and nice so, it is what it is.

Monday, May 20, 2019


1-Thank you. 
2-I didn't know something like that was survivable.
3-I didn't know I was a dog person. My kids say I am now.

4-Thank you! 
I've gained a deeper appreciation for the fact that I'm the kind of gal that processes things by talking about them. I talk about stuff that weighs on me. A lot. In depth. In detail. I'm the type of gal that not only shares openly, but seeks out and embraces the tribe for comfort. Thank you for those that read my IG and Facebook posts last week and saw the photos and commented on the story and reached out and said How is Monday doing? How are you doing? If you're one of the small handful that I spilled my guts to, thank you so much for having a strong stomach and a stronger shoulder for me to cry on. If you're one of the 2 people that I was texting the whole time it was happening, (you know who you are!) thank you.

Things stand like this now. 
Monday survived something we didn't know was survivable. nThe she survived the 2 1/2 hour surgery, and after that she survived the never-came but we were on the lookout for infection and sepsis. We have passed through the critical period and are thrilled to say that she's most certainly going to 1-live and 2-go back to being her blissfully ignorant, sweet, puppy self! And man oh man are we so grateful and lucky to say that! 

At this point, I'm gonna kinda describe a bit of what happened. 
But... I want to warn you... if you're a "dog person" or sensitive or have a history of trauma that you're still dealing with, prone to take on other people's trauma, or feel an animal's pain... you know that sort of stuff, please stop reading here. I promise that I'll love you all the same! I don't want you to internalize yucky stuff. 

So here is what happened is... 

Monday had her spay surgery on Thursday. Unbeknownst to us, her incision, somehow, came apart. When you were a kid you ever read the book "Where the Red Fern Grows?" On Saturday, something like that happened. It was awful. I mean it was awful! It was bloody. It was a shocking and traumatizing event. Mimi was the one that initially discovered Monday with her insides out, and all 5 of the children that were home witnessed it. What happened afterwards was also not great. Papa and I trying to transport Monday to the vet also has lots of stuff that I rather not remember, but I do. The sounds of both Monday and my family. The smell (I had no idea that blood in that quantity has a distinct smell!) The sight of it all and our reactions to it. In the end, Monday had about 1/3 of her intestines removed. 
But as I was telling a friend, as awful as it was, there were so many little blessing throughout the story too: that neither of the other 2 dogs that were there, got involved in the scenario, (which could have easily and naturally happened 'cause dogs are dogs.) That both Papa and I were home when it happened. That Mimi discovered it almost immediately (within a 60 second time frame) and alerted me immediately. That Monday didn't initially flip out or even wander around in that condition. That it happened on a Saturday at 6pm where there was little traffic. That we landed with the best surgical vet in the state. So unlucky as this was, some parts were very lucky!
How? Why? 
We just don't know, and truth be told we aren't at a point to even think that part of it yet. And honestly it doesn't matter to us right now. Right now what matters to us is that she survived, and she's still bringing ridiculous amounts of joy into this crazy family, which is good stuff indeed!

For the next week-ish she's confined to my bedroom with her cone of shame and getting lots of mandatory quiet resting and recuperating time, which is HARD for a puppy. The fact that it's hard for her is a wonderful sign she's getting back to herself at the same time. I just wanted to fill those of you who wanted to know in, and be sure and say thank you so much for those that said a little prayer for us, the kids, the husbands too, and sent their good vibes and thoughts our way. It looks like this crazy thing is gonna have a happy ending and for all that we are so grateful! 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Doodle Bath

Mimi loves to do this.
And she loves to do this often!
Monday... not so much. But she tolerates Mimi's love language which is evidently acts of service, specifically giving baths to puppies in the kitchen sink. 
Right about this time last spring, Papa and I were thinking of some ways to bring some more joy and happiness into our home. Honestly I didn't have get a dog on my radar since we lost our Spirit about 18 months prior, and honestly it still hurt my heart to think about. Still does. But... there were a few people in the house that really needed some more honest-to-goodness unconditional dog love, and so when Papa brought it up, I thought about it, and yeah, I agreed. Enter Truly.

And then poor Truly didn't know what hit here when she landed in the Crazy house! An abundance of love and hands were being showered upon her 24/7. Honestly it just wasn't enough dog to go around. So this time it was me that brought up to Papa that maybe we should get another puppy. Enter Monday.
Honestly I'm not a small dog person, but I got outvoted by the family and started searching for the bigger small dogs that would be a match for our family. In hindsight, smaller dogs have been a great for our family, and I'm ridiculously happy that counter surfing is no longer an issue. Open-dishwasher surfing is an issue, but whatever!
Truly and Monday both mini bernedoodles, (half Bernese Mountain dog and half poodle. Toy poodle to be specific, (And because you're now probably asking yourself Nancy how in the world did that happen? I'm going to say that I'm guessing nature was assisted by artificial insemination. Just guessing folks!) and have the same dad and their moms were sisters. They weigh/will weigh between 25-30 lbs when they are full grown. They do have to be regularly groomed and brushed. and even though I thought that would be a lot of work going in, it really hasn't been. Actually I kinda look forward to it! The fact that Truly doesn't shed and Monday only minimally sheds is the icing on the cake! Truly is a 65 year old lady stuck in a sausage dog body, and her sister cousin, Monday, isn't the sharpest light bulb in the shed.
If you would have told me a year ago in that we'd have TWO dogs I would have said you were crazy... but really they do bring us all so much joy, and despite all the chewed up things and puppy vomit and razor sharp teeth and vet bills and... and... and... I'm overjoyed that we now have 2 dogs in our home.

And Mimi, our future veterinarian, agrees!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Update: Mimi's bday!

WHEN did this happen?
Wasn't she just yesterday that sweet, little baby that was barely toddling about?
Now she's just 9 years old going on 15, and it's true what they say: As you get older times goes by even more quickly. I guess it's one of the repercussions of being a mom of "advanced maternal age:" this lightening fast pace at which they grow up.
What's your favorite color?
Golden.  Because it’s sparkly, and it looks pretty.
Please nobody correct her and tell her gold is actually a color, instead of golden. I beg you! 
Do you have a best friend? 
My best friend is Natalie. But my best friend at the cabin is Annabelle. 

What type of job do you want to have when you get older?
I want to be a vet so I can help animals. For example I would work in a veterinarian's office and and would help stray animals and dogs and cats. 
What do you think you're life will be like 30 years from now?
In 30 years I’ll be taller. And I know that I'll have dogs and a house. Probably 3 dogs. And maybe nobody would live with me because I might not get married. When I grow up I want to remember that I was little and that I liked girly stuff.
What is something you do really well?
I am nice. I let people play the games they want to play if they want to play that game even if I don't. And I play with people when they ask me too. I like to help people, like when they drop something I pick it up for them. 
What is something you're been working at getting better at? 
I'm trying hard to not be a baby. I’m trying to explain my problems instead of just saying, "Stop!"  

What is something you remember about this last year?
I remember that one time when I was 8, we went to Disneyland. We went on the pirate ride, and we watched the pirates steal money, and they had sword fights, and they had lots of gold! I was kinda scared of it then, but I want to go again soon! 
So Mimi has not surprisingly continued to be a lover of all things girly, including glitter, pink, ruffles, sparkles, shiny things, lip goo's, dresses, unicorns, twirling and skipping, dressing up the puppies, princesses, and pastel colors. She's nearly always wearing a smile and is absolutely a glass-half-full kind of gal.

Love you to the moon and back and then some my sweet, wonderful, growing-up-way-too-fast girl!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Update: Ru, the birthday boy!

Lookie who had a birthday this week!
Hi Ru,
Can I write you a little letter for your birthday. Maybe it's something you won't really like or even want right now, but maybe later, maybe a couple decades from now, you'll like it. Maybe your children will read it over after I'm long gone and have a better appreciation of where you came from way back when. Maybe they'll like it. Or even there kids. So here it goes.
This week you turned 9 years old. It's been our 9th birthday on this planet and your 2nd birthday with us. And unlike last year, this your you understood what birthday's are all about and your were giddy with anticipation about yours!
9 amazing years that have taken you so far, literally and figuratively. There's so much I don't and won't ever know about the first 7 years of your life, although we have a few pics to help us think we know what some things were like. But really can a few pics really tell us that much? I know you went through a lot. I know you went through 6 surgeries and a lots of firsts without us. I know you're crazy ridiculous strong and brave, but I'm not sure if these are traits that you were born with or ones that you developed in those first 7 years. I know you're a glass-half full guy and I know that you love living your life to the fullest. You smile. You beam. You radiate strength and soaking in everything around you. I think we should all take some lessons in that from you!

You do remember China and every once in a while we discover something new about your time there. When asked, you said you remember the homework and the games you played when you were living there. You said birthdays were fun in China too, but they were different. You told us that when it's your birthday in China you (and the other kids when it was their birthday) got a cake, and there's a bag with toys in it. You said the toys aren't from any person, just a bag of toys. And each child would gets to keep the all the presents in the bag for about a week, and then the toys would be shared amongst the children. It makes me so happy to know you have fond memories of your time in China before you joined our family.
Your favorite food is food. Pretty much all of it. In the last 2 years you've really expanded what you eat. You still don't care for biscuits and gravy. You're pretty sure it's the devil on a plate. Or cheese or butter. But there are many foods that at first you didn't like you now enjoy like spaghetti and ice cream!

You're favorite color is green. It is one of the few things that has not changed over the last couple years. You said you liked green the best the very first day we got you and you still do!
For about the last year, you're commented on many occasions that when you grow up you want to be a teacher, an elementary school teacher specifically. I think that means you've had some wonderful teachers in your life already! I couldn't agree more! I think you'd make a wonderful teacher!

One of your favorite things to do, still, is play games. I swear that mind of yours is always strategizing and game playing! Recently you got a kid's Monopoly game and will play it for hours on end, even by yourself if nobody else wants to join you! You told me that you like it because "it takes a while and you get to do lots of counting with the money!" Chess is another game that you enjoy. You're in an after-school chess club and your chess teacher says you love to strategize. And you've been going to Friday night chess tournaments and even have 2 trophies to show for it!
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, you said it would be Hawaii. You said you wanted to go there so you could go surfing and enjoy the beach. I think you've been listening to Papa and me talk about our recently booked trip to Hawaii, which sadly you will not be going on 'cause mom and dad need a little alone time! But it's okay little dude. Maybe someday I'll take you to Hawaii, and until then, we can hit a beach and do some surfing that's a little closer, okay.
I hope every single birthday for the rest of your life is met with such joy and enthusiasm, my son.
It's all my pleasure.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Update: Tess

On February 29, 2008, I saw this gorgeous picture for the first time. 
11 years ago today, I saw this gorgeous face for the first time.
My girl. My daughter. And I pretty much knew it was her when I first saw her,
But I was completely unaware and unprepared of how much this single person would change me forever!

Tess is 5 months old in this photo. It was her referral pic. The first time I saw her, knew her name, knew who she was and that she existed. We had been waiting to our referrals for a while and I was so excited to know who she was. The first things I noticed about this pic was those lovely bow tie lips, her broad nose and those amazing dark eyes that even at 5 months old, that even in a photo just seemed to piece right through you to the soul of you!

Tess and Jude's adoption was hard. If it could have gone wrong it did, and after a crazy long battle with so many turns and huge delays, I found myself in a very large conference call with legislators, lawyers, US government officials and lots of very anxious and upset adoptive parents. Yeah, really, legislators and lawyers. ***gulp*** And in the midst of that life-changing phone call, I prayed, mustered all the bravery could, unclicked the mute button, and pleaded with anyone who would listen to help the special need's children come home and get time-sensitive the medical attention they needed. Someone listened to me, and we were on a plane within a week as the Vietnam adoption program closed around us.

Neither Tess or Jude fared well during that extra waiting period that their adoption journey had to endure. Tess especially was slipping deeper into what I now clearly define as institutionalized autism. We could see it in the many many photos and videos that we got of her while we waited. She was 12 months and 1 day old when we got her into our arms, and let's just say I was immediately aware of my own fear about what lay in front of us. I was unprepared and scared.

We made it home after a whirlwind of appointments and me almost too frightened to admit how scared I was. and those first years were so hard. I often thought it was too hard and that I would break from the weight of it all. It was years till I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and years more before I could feel the warmth of that light. But fast forward 10 years, fast forward to this sweet baby girl growing into a beautiful young lady that has come through it all... oh my word, what amazingness she is.

Through it all, I really really mean it when I saw I am a better me because of it.

Years later, I can see more clearly. I can see the specialness that Tess always was and always was meant to be. Back then I couldn't, but now I clearly can.
She is amazing.
She is strong.
She is unique.
She is beautiful.
She is brave.
And I wouldn't change a single thing about her or the very hard process that we went through to get to this point. The journey is not over. Many things are still hard and some things always will be. But, wow, it is amazing where we are right now... and this young lady? Ohhhh my. I can't really call her a baby or child or little girl or even girl anymore. After all she'll be 12 years old this summer, and young lady seems to be the most appropriate thing to call her now, although she'd surely cringe at the term.
So I thought a little update on my Tess might be in order.

Tess in all her amazingness...
Her favorite color black.
She can spin and maneuver a bow staff (or long stick. Whatever.) like nobody's business.
She's quick with a hug and the patron saint for lost causes.
She's still a tiny little bug. At 11 1/2 years old she weighs 55lbs and still hasn't hit the growth charts although I am just starting to see the first signs of her body changing.

She loves to read, and is often found squirreled away in a comfy chair or in her room with her nose in a book... which is kinda ironic since school and reading don't come easily to her. She has to try hard, but books are her little safe place, and I'm more than happy to encourage that with as many of fantasy and dragon books as I can get my hands on. Thank you very much public library.

Remember the years of eating/food therapy? Well food is still a struggle for her, especially most all fruits, but as a mama I've come to realize that it's not a hill I'm willing to die on. She still has "safe foods" that she turns to when nothing else looks appetizing, but these days she'll try most anything (although not necessarily with an open mind!) and mostly prefers vegetables, edamame, celery and Brussels sprouts being her favorites.

You'll usually find Tess hanging out with the boys, and Jude is still her favorite partner in crime, although she has some other close friendships too. Specifically, Lily, Ava and Nolan.

She loves to exercise and is ridiculously athletic. Tess has taken parkour classes off and on, golf lessons each summer and was on a soccer team for a couple years, but she hasn't found a "sport" that speaks to her yet. Honestly I think she might be a runner, but we haven't had the opportunity to try it out yet. Next year when she and Jude start middle school, I'm hoping for some opportunities for her to try running out. Yep you read that right... they are starting middle school next year!
Tess and The Man Child, who is now 20 years old, have really evolved an amazing relationship. I think they feel like they are kindred spirits and "get" each other. Life can be hard for each of them albeit in different ways, and I often find them together just talking. The Man Child often seeks her out just to give her some extra support in life. What amazingness adoption weaves.

She's not sure what she wants to do when she grows up, but she does say that she wants to be a writer often. She does like writing short stories! My daughter, Tess the writer. I like the sound of that!

I love you to the moon and back, my beautiful girl!
And thank you, Lord, for the gift of being this wonderful, amazing child's mama!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Tap tap... tap tap...

Is this thing even on anymore?
Is it working?
Is anyone out there?

Sooooooo, yeah, I took a break. A LONG break from blogging. Not from life mind you. Life is still clipping along at a breakneck speed, and blogging needed to go by the wayside for a wee bit. Life happens like that, ya know?! In that time I've done no less than 981 gabillion loads of laundry and lost and gained and lost and gained the same 40lbs.

But, I'm back!

And I'm wondering... is ANYONE is still out there?

On the off chance that anyone actually is still out there and interested in this self-absorbed, middle aged blather, I'd like to ask you a favor. I'm gonna update you on some goings on. No, there aren't anymore kiddos joining our family (shocker!) or anything monumental like that. But I think an update or 10 are in order.

And after the updates, could you please help me out?
If you were reading Ordinary Miracles & The Crazy 10...
or maybe Ordinary Miracles & The Crazy 9 if you've been hanging around here a while...
 or even Ordinary Miracles & The Crazy 8 as this blog was originally christened way back in the bronze era, circa January 2007 all 1,541 posts ago...
What would you like updates on? Are there any blog posts or topics that you especially remember? Anything that you are now scratching your head wondering whatever became of that?!
Hoop skirts?
Boulder holders?
Those stealth looking $5 aviators?
It's all fair game. #OverSharer-er
Photo creds go the the fabulously talented Ann Sevig who is found HERE on IG. 
Give me a holler!
Pretty please.
'Cause seriously I'm not sure what in the world I'll be writing about these days!

Monday, February 4, 2019

It's GIVEAWAY TIME again!!!

This time for a FREE SEAT in my upcoming Composition 101 class that starts on Feb 18! It's the last time this class will be offered for probably a couple years. Only folks who have never taken this class from Ordinary Miracles Photography are eligible for this giveaway and ANY camera works even cell phones.  (If you're a member of Ordinary Miracles Photo Club there's a special giveaway coming just for you!)

This online course class is great for any skill level photographer and is 5 weeks long. It discusses many compositional guidelines with tons of examples. There will be a private forum open 24/7 for you to ask questions, get clarifications, and get feedback on your own images. Like all my classes, this class is quite interactive, (or not if you prefer to just sit back and soak it all in) and I’m there the entire time to answer questions, clarify information and offer feedback on all your images and assignments. Via the forum, you’ll also be able to see and learn what the other students are doing and asking and interact with them too. Yes, there will be assignments, and they are all totally optional, ’cause that’s how I roll! And there is no need to check in to the class at any particular time. You are encouraged to come and go as you please. All the details of the class and a link to register can be found HERE


I'll announce the winner on my Facebook and Instagram pages in a week's time. Fingers are crossed for you!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

It's GIVEAWAY time again!

This time for a FREE SEAT in my upcoming Lightroom 101 class that starts on January 7, 2019! It's the last time this class will be offered for a while since I'll be taking a little break from teaching after the next couple classes are complete. Only folks who have never taken this class from Ordinary Miracles Photography are eligible for this giveaway. (If you're a member of Ordinary Miracles Photo Club there's a special giveaway coming just for you!)
IThis all-online class is beginner through intermediate level and will demonstrate how I edit photos efficiently via the Lightroom editing program. I’ll keep it simple, use easy-to-understand language, and give step-by-step instructions in both written lessons and over 20 video demonstrations. I will not toss you a PDF and drop you, but rather I'll walk you through the whole thing! My classes are as interactive as you'd like, and we’re going to do this together! Via a private group just for our class, you can share your photos, {or not} ask questions, and get feedback anytime throughout the class. You will be able to see what other students are doing and asking in the class too. You choose when to check in online, view course material, and there’s no pressure because you work at your own pace. You can participate during nap time, in the middle of the night, only on the weekends, or whenever. Feel free to come to class in your jammies! I will be available the whole time for questions and to offer clarifications and information. NO SECRETS! If I know it, I am more than willing to share it! 


I'll announce the winner on my Facebook and Instagram pages in a week's time. Fingers are crossed for you!

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