Friday, October 29, 2010

Crazy Hair Day

It's about the only thing all school year
that gets my little Gang members up early.
As in 6:10 early.

(And they weren't even quiet about it!

The all-important, ever-popular
Crazy Hair Day!

A back view of the madness.

LadyBug actually started Baby BlueEye's up'do
last night before bed.

I wonder what time she would have had to wake
up if she'd started it all this morning.

There's pencils, paintbrushes, pipecleaners, bows,
Really! Big! Bows!, chopsticks, and even a kazoo in there.

Sheer madness.
Crazy Hair Day lives again!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Don't Deliver

As I mentioned on Sunday, we spent the majority of our Saturday purging our attic. Nothing was sacred, nothing was safe. In fact, the only things I didn't open and dig through were our Christmas decorations, 'cuz I went all ape-crazy hard-core purging machine on that stuff before I packed it all away in early January.

What I didn't mention is that I spent all of Saturday evening, until about 11:30, taking pictures of some of our more "sell-able" items and writing up ads for them on the infamous cr@igslist.  I did so, knowing that it's not the best way to make huge amounts of money. But the stuff we're parting with truthfully isn't really worth a ton. And I did a little homework, checking on and off in the weeks prior to the big day to research what was selling and what it was bringing in for sale prices.

By 11 p.m. Saturday,  I already had two hits on my listings. They were fairly straight-forward, serious-intentioned inquiries. And in fact, I made $30 in one hour on those sales Sunday afternoon. But then the weirdness began.

Early Monday morning, I got this email:

Desperately interested in XYZ ASAP. Please contact 2day.(555)123-4567. Thank You.

followed by a bunch of symbols and other gobbedly-gook that appeared to be a bad translation of another language. Unless she was cursing at me and I'm just not hip or cool enough in my texting skills to know it...

So, eager to make the sale, I called the number. Not the Hollywood number like I listed above. The real number. Yeah, you see how I went all film-maker there and gave the "555" number?  Anyway. 

Whoever answered did so in what must have been a very crowded subway or train or bus. Cuz if that is how noisy her car always is, then she has some serious issues with training her kids. I'm just sayin'...  And through the shouting and (ahem, colorful words?) in the background, I made out that she's not sure she can get "all the way up there" to my town. That she'll need a ride, unless I'm willing to drive to SOUTH PHILLY (caps because she was shouting at me over the din in her background) to deliver the goods. Nope, sorry. I don't deliver. She was not pleased and went all "well, do you want to make this sale or not?" on me. With more garbled and, I'm sure, colorful words, in the background.

Ummm, yeah. It's not like I'm selling this item for a gazillion bucks. It's FIFTEEN dollars.  So, no. I'm NOT driving to SOUTH PHILLY for $15.

Then, this morning, I got another request.  To deliver a similar, $10 item down to University City. Not much closer than SOUTH PHILLY. But folks, it's $10.  And if you want it that bad, you come to me. Right? So, no, I don't deliver.

Got it? I don't deliver.

Monday, October 25, 2010

One of Those That Makes Me Think

I mentioned last week that I enjoy reading blogs and books and essays that make me think.  This post is certainly one of those.

It's not the easiest read in the world - it's gritty and compelling. Vulnerable and searching. I found myself bookmarking it and coming back to it for several different readings after it first went up.  I really think you'd enjoy it.

Though I don't know the author well at all, she is one of the few adoptive-mom bloggers that I've ever had the pleasure of meeting in person. We met in the early days of Li'l Empress's home-coming:  I had bumped into a great friend from our agency's community and this sweet young mother approached the two of us as we were trying to catch up a bit and still manage our three little empresses who were chattering and climbing all over both of us like little monkeys. We connected in that "I've been where you are" kind of moment and I so appreciate that she shared her blog address with me that day.

Skip around, I think you'll enjoy some of her other writings, including her most recent.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Y'all

It was time. It was, truthfully, waaaay past time.

Time to tame the wild beast that The Gang
calls "the storage room." Also known as the attic.
Or, to a certain two or three little Gang members,
known largely as a most convenient dumping ground...

Above our garage, behind the older boys' room
lies the roaring monster.

Well, really, the roaring was really only in my head.
But you know the saying:
When Momma ain't happy,
ain't nobody happy.

After a little insulating,
and a loooootta sorting. And sweeping.
And purging. And pleading.
Don't ask. I heard nothing.
I am immune to the pleading.
No matter how cute That Boss is!

Then Momma was happy. Ecstatic really.

The trunk and backseat of the van was filled to
overflowing with items for donation.
Two large garbage bags were carted to the dumpster.
And lots and lots of other items
were posted for sale on our local cr@igslist!

Tidy order has been restored to the kingdom.
The roaring monster has been subdued.

Stripped of his powers to clutter
and overwhelm,
the raging beast is no more.

The nasty monster of mess has been vanquished.

And for the hungry dragon tamers?
This sweet offering of thanks.

Eat, drink, and be merry. . .
For next weekend we attack the basement!

Come on! Join the fun
Give a little comment love,
get a little comment love.
I promise :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

For The Boss

Just cuz I love ya, so much.

There's no one else I'd rather be "stuck" to!!!!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

No Pick Outs!

Last week, we made home-made pizza.  Five different pizzas, with five different combinations of toppings and flavors. Glorious, beautiful, messy hand-made pizzas.  Every time we make pizza, I do a "white" pizza. No sauce. I know, I know. The half-Sicilian in me should be scandalized. But I'm not. I just love going crazy with gourmet flair to "my" pizza. And make no mistake about it. It IS "my" pizza.  This time, it was deliciously smothered in two kinds of cheeses, lightly steamed broccoli, sliced onions, fresh tomatoes and the slightest touch of smoky bacon. A riot of colors and flavors, all waiting to be melted and melded together to create an explosion of flavor on my tongue.

When we sat down to eat, I noticed that LadyBug had taken a piece of "my" pizza.  Which is kinda fine. I mean, she's not a huge sauce lovin' chick either. But.  And it's a BIG but. About 10 minutes later, I noticed that she had divested that same pizza of all toppings except for cheese and a couple pieces of bacon.  Limp broccoli, onions and tomatoes sat forlornly on the side of her plate.  I was NOT a happy gourmet.

See, we have a little "rule" about meals like that.  When I make a dish with lots of flavors and textures, especially when it's a brand-new creation, I reserve the right to pronounce "No Pick Outs" when I set the meal on the table.  I've been known to be merciful and allow "One Pick Out" on occasion, mostly when there are peppers or tomatoes in a dish. I try to be accommodating, given that I usually KNOW in advance that I'm preparing a meal that might be more mature than my kids' palates can handle.  But in general, I stick to the "No Pick Outs" policy for the purposes of helping the gang "get" that the entree is meant to be experienced as a whole offering. That the ingredients are meant to be melded all together to create one flavor experience. A whole sensation of both nourishment AND pleasure in one bite.  In one dish.

I know, that's lofty. And often unrealistic. But it's my policy and I'm sticking with it. Hang in there. I'm going somewhere with this. Somewhere way deeper than pizza.

So later that night, after the left-over pizzas were neatly stashed away and The Gang was all tucked into their beds, I hopped on to Google Reader and caught up on some of my favorite blogs.  Several of the blogs that I read are adoption blogs. Some of them are special needs blogs. Many of them Christian adopters. Many are not professing believers. But I love reading them all. I don't always agree with them all. But I love learning and connecting over shared experiences. They challenge me and sharpen my mind and make me think about things. (I'm reading a book or two right now - on similar topics - that also are giving me quite the mental stretch and challenge.)

And as I read, I got to thinking.
That's always dangerous, I know.

Now, I'm not sure that I have all the answers to some of the questions I'm about to pose, but I've been thinking and praying. And though the adoption blogs that I read that weekend are the impetus to this extended metaphor, I know for certain that it applies to many, many areas of life. For anyone who reads the Word and tries to live it. MYSELF INCLUDED! You ready?! Don't say I didn't warn you. . .

What if God is looking at us, watching us pick apart His Word, and trying to make a meal out of just the little parts that we pick out?  What if He's sitting there, trying to put the whole thing before us and He wants to say to us "No Pick Outs!"?  What if He's watching how we take a principle of His Word, or a verse that is "pivotal" to us and is frustrated by the way that we camp on it and make our daily walk all about that one principle or that one verse?

When I cook, one of my primary agendas is to prepare multi-faceted, nutritional meals.  I am creating a well-rounded meal for my family and exposing them to different flavors and spices and textures because it's good for them. It's good for their bodies, it's good for their minds, and it's good for their spirits. I'm not just thinking about the food pyramid. I'm thinking about their sense of identity. I'm thinking about their future. I'm thinking about their social skills, their academic skills. A lot goes into preparing those meals. Dinner at our table isn't meant to just be healthy. It's meant to be NOURISHING of their body, mind, and spirit...  Sound familiar?

"God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it—no matter what." ~ Heb. 4:12 and 13 
"Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him
with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!" ~ Deut. 6:5
"And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God! We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God's command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us." ~ I John 3:21-24

(all quotes from The Message; emphases mine for the point of this post)

When I read the Word, I'm trying to take it all in. Trying to make it count, desiring it to go in deeply and surely, and asking the Lord for it to nourish my whole being.  But when I take out one verse, one section of the Word, and camp my whole life on it, I'm starving myself in other areas.  When I pick out just one portion of the nourishment of His love letter to me, I am missing out on the balanced, well-rounded LIFE that He's calling me to build.

For some folks in Christian circles, I've seen it in parenting: they capitalize their parenting style on "Children obey your parents."  And they leave the rest of the messages about unconditional love, grace, compassion, and modeling ourselves after Christ by the side of the plate.  Or they go the opposite direction and make it ALL about grace and freedom, forgetting that boundaries and limits to freedom are not laws but loving guidelines meant for our safety and protection.


For other folks in Christian-dom, it shows up in what is popularly now becoming known as "adoption theology."  The foundations of their thoughts and discussions revolve around verses that call the believers to action regarding the orphans. Around the call to "rescue" and be about the 'mission" of enfolding the orphan into a family. Usually with regard to the plights of the orphans in destitute, poverty-stricken nations.

I don't disagree with them, inherently. How hypocritical that would be of me? I am the blessed mother of a beautiful girl adopted from a country that, inherent to its current circumstances, would never ever appreciate or even accept her simply because of her former status as orphan and her visible birth defect. I dare not disagree with the fact that on some levels: our journey to her was a mission of sorts, to get to her, to envelop her with the love of family and to see that she has everything that she needs to thrive and live joyfully as the beautiful image-bearer of Christ that she is. (And yes, I am biased!)

As I read on that particular night, I couldn't help thinking about the "lonely" (referencing Ps. 68:6) in that writer's community.  Or about the widows (James 1:27) on another writer's block. I find myself asking, "What have you done to meet those needs right in your own community?" - not out loud, not in earnest. Certainly not critically. For that too would be hypocritical of me - I am asking myself the same questions daily.

(At this point, let me state unequivocally that I am not, nor will I ever be, a theologian. I am just a mom making observations about myself and my world. And I do not have all the answers. I am making every attempt to not judge, but to process my observations and open up a dialog. Respectfully.)

And for each of those examples I gave above, I am certain that you, too, can come up with many instances where you have observed your own life or others and thought, "No Pick Outs!"  I know I do it still. I tend to have a myopic view of what tithing means. I am fairly stuck on some of these adoptions issues myself.  That being said, I fully admit that I am only seeing one facet of another writer's life, the one facet that they allow me to see when they share. I do that too - choosing carefully what I share and how I share it.  As one blogger said to me, when we were discussing the topic, speaking of some who may have a tendency to only blog about or discuss their theology of adoption:

So, while they continue in their homes and churches walking out a full, well-rounded Christian life, their on-line discussions don’t always show it. The good news about their adoption-soaked blogs is that they have led to connections between families from all over the country that are walking through the same issues, building each other up in very real ways.
So, do I think there are people that have taken up the call to care for orphans to such an extreme that they are neglecting the whole of scripture? Possibly. Mature Christians should know that when God begins to highlight another facet of scripture that has been too long ignored, what He is asking is that the “new” facet be folded into what is already being done, not replace it. I guess that’s another prayer point to take before the throne…

That says it far more maturely and graciously than I've been thinking about it. See what I mean about loving to read and be stretched by others who thoughtfully and intelligently write, even from a perspective with which I may not fully agree?  (If you aren't reading things that you might disagree with, I highly encourage you to do so. No matter the topic, you will be better for it! I'm grateful for parents who encouraged me to do so! Thanks, Dad and Mom!)

I must confess, though.  I'm still left wondering. Now mostly about myself. Am I living the Word wholly? Am I fulfilling all of the "Great Commission? (Matt. 28:18-20)  Am I living the FULL Gospel in all areas of my life? Am I out of balance myself? Does The Father feel the same frustration over that tendency in my life that I feel about my life? Or is He more circumspect and gracious than I, allowing for more factors like maturity, timing, and grace for this child on this journey?

I can't help but hope He is.
And while I have no answers to the questions,
(and I don't ask them to be flattered
or falsely built up by others' words)
I am eternally grateful that I can ask them.
And that He is patient and merciful in the answering.

"If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it’s not the gospel you believe, but yourself " -Augustine of Hippo

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My son and his friends got to try some Ready to Eat Meals that are served all over the world to our servicemen and women.

All I'm gonna say is that they were not a huge hit.

And the boys are just a little more thankful for the sacrifices of our military.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Remember - let me know you stopped by
and I'll return the favor!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You Gonna Fix That?

Recently we bumped into someone with whom we had a bare acquaintance years ago. He was flabbergasted to see that we now have five kids

"Dude, that's crazy! What, are you like the Duggars?"

AND that we had adopted.

"Is she Ch!nese from Ch!na?"
"Yeah, I've heard those Ch!nese just don't want their girls at all."
and "How long did THAT take you?"
"I've heard it's like forever for those kids."
and my personal favorite: "They don't really want all those kids there anyway, so why the big deal?"

At which point he launched into a semi-political rant about the US owing Ch!na so much and Ch!na owning the US someday and economics and something about the big, bad, terrible C*mmunist machine...

Yes, he really did. He DID.

And so, after only 2 minutes of conversation with him, I'd already had it. I'm not proud of this, but with a little bit of me that wanted to just wig him out a little bit more, I sweetly smiled and explained that our process really didn't take all that long because we opted to pursue a special needs adoption. I almost grinned at his totally predictable response.  Gape-jawed, he was looking over at her to see if he could find any obvious signs of "NEEEEEDS."

I repent. I was snarky. Please, don't judge me.

HA! She was laughing and playing happily with her sister, talking a mile a minute and acting like a totally "normal" three-year old. Well, a three-year old badly in need of a nap, anyway.

"Really? What's wrong with her?"

By way of background, please understand, none of his comments were said kindly. He doesn't "do" kindly. But by then I was feeling a teensy bit badly about my snarky intents, so I nicely explained that she is deaf in her right ear as a result of microtia. At his blank look (and I admit, to ward off further offensive commentary) I gave a brief explanation of what that looked like in real life for her. You know, the deformity of the ear and the lack of an ear canal. And I stopped there.

"So. You gonna fix that for her?"
"You know, make it look more normal, like a regular ear?"

At this juncture, I knew it was pointless to continue this conversation. I knew that he didn't really care that her speech was "normal" and that her hearing ear is able to receive sounds "normally." Or that she was beautiful, inside and out and had more drive and more passion and more LIFE in her little bitty pinky finger than he did in his whole critical, judgmental, narrow-minded self. He just didn't.

And I knew this not just because I've known him since he was a clueless, narrow-minded 20-something, eons ago. (I know, weren't we all?! To some degree or another, I'm sure I was.) But because he had his child with him.  A sweet, adorable, shy little child who had an obvious physical struggle going on. However temporary, that physical difficulty was OBVIOUSLY not sitting well with daddy. We never asked about it, but dad offered. In sharp tones of frustration mixed with denial and a touch of disbelief at its very existence.

I fully admit that I might have been assuming a lot at that particular observation. But watching the sweet, tender little person gauge dad's disapproving, harsh tone and react accordingly?  I don't think so.

So I guess the real question was for that dad.

You gonna fix that?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rainy Day Fun

Yesterday, I was wracking my brain to find some suitable entertainment for Li'l E that didn't involve hours of mind-numbing television viewing. I really needed to try to tame the wild beast that has become my dumping ground closet over these past two years of learning to live with five kids. And I remembered the tents! Many, many moons ago, when it was just me, Shaggy, and Dr. D wiling away our days, we used to have little tent picnics on rainy days in the kitchen.

So . . . I got out one of our play tents and set it up in her brother's room. She played Tea Party with her HoHo monkey and two Kai Lans as her special guests.  While she was chatting happily with her little friends upstairs, I had the big brothers set up her other play tent in the kitchen for a special little lunch date.

  She was delighted!

Dr. D is such a good sport.
They eat lunch together almost every day
and it's so great to see how much she looks forward
to their funny faces and silly noises together.

The best news is that I was able to purge two years' worth of the kids' papers and projects that I had totally de-prioritized. You know, while I was struggling to maintain some semblance of sanity focused on keeping the household running.  And I filled a big shopping bag with clothes that I haven't worn in those same two years. Lady Bug is excited, she inherited some of my "funky" socks that she now fits into.

I was on a roll, what with a happily occupied three year old and successful purging of my closet, so I organized all the toiletries, took inventory of what we need, and even cleaned out my dresser drawers. I even put some of The Boss's laundry away. I almost never put his laundry away anymore cuz once I open those drawers I feel unnaturally compelled to straighten them up. But then they NEVER stay that way so I have just stopped putting it away. Problem solved.  I also stored away (in all that extra space!) a couple Christmas presents that I bought early (I'm still in shock over that. "that I bought EARLY!"  I never buy early!).

Including this little treasure.  Shhh, don't tell Li'l E what she's getting. But it came last weekend and I'm not sure JUST HOW I am going to keep this one a secret. I mean, HOW CUTE IS THIS DOLL?!

I had a ball on our dark, dreary, cloudy, rainy Thursday.  And judging from how hard Li'l E slept during her nap time, she did too. What more could a mom ask for?!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

With Fall, comes college prep tests.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Remember, give some comment love,
get some comment love!!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is it Semantics? What Do You Think?

Okay. So to get the whole gist of today's post, you really need to FIRST read this post and then it's follow-up. (It's not necessary to read all the comments, they are really mostly "atta boys" and aren't necessary to this particular conversation.)

Go on. I'll wait.

Then, skip over here and read another perspective.

Tapping, tapping, tapping.
Yes, I'm waiting for you.

THEEEEEN, come on back and see what I contributed to the conversation - via a comment that I left on the first set of links. . . . The rest of today's post is actually a re-post of a comment (with some slight editing) that I wrote to the "follow up" post indicated above.  It's regarding a topic about which I've been brewing and brewing for a long, long time. I'm reading a book that is stirring up a LOT of questions. I've been reading a ton of blogs from all across the spectrum of this particular conversation. Most of which have fairly stirring conversations that stir up other conversations, I'm sure. I'm also fairly sure that I have nothing new or unusual to add to the conversation on either side of the debate. But I HAVE been thinking on it a long time and I feel like the comment below was just the "brainstorm" I'd been searching for to set my thoughts in some sort of order.

I'd love to hear what you all think.  Just remember to be nice and I'd love to have further discussions with you all!
I have enjoyed the last two discussions and the subsequent comments about the "lifestyle" of adoption. Choosing to surrender yourself and your "American dream" of a neat and tidy little life with the picket fence keeping it all in and controlled TO God's dream for your family is a beautiful thing to peek in on. And a testimony to the opportunities that Christ offers when He says, "Come and follow me!"
While I greatly appreciate the last two posts and the conversations about the mandate of the Gospel to choose HIS path of eternal investments and intentionally living in a way that makes us AVAILABLE to His calling, I must admit to being uncomfortable with the use of the word/words of  "rescuing" an orphan.  It may be semantics, but I do think that many are put off by the idea - even within the Christian community.
I am an adoptive mother to a child from China. I don't want her to ever feel that she was a "rescue mission" for our family (or for those in our life who gave very graciously to help our dream to build our family further thru adoption).  I am concerned that that mentality could lead her to feel unduly grateful, unnaturally "special," and not in a good way. I want her to walk through life knowing that she is part of us, and being "rescued" or talked about as if she was "rescued" will set her apart in an unhealthy way. The way I see it (and I grant that I am still very "young" in the adoption community, having only been home with my daughter for two years now), her special need will likely do that for her in enough venues. I don't want "rescued" to be part of a label that I or anyone puts on her.
Additionally, I don't even want her to be still labeled as an orphan. That part of her life is done. She is no longer an orphan. She is beloved. She is chosen. She is "hand- picked" by our God for our family.  Do I believe that God's original intent was for her to grow up and be cherished by her family of birth? Yes. But the sinful world into which she was born prohibits that and God graciously chose to weave us together in a redemptive plan for her. AND FOR US. The changes that have come about because we opened our hearts to alternative ways to grow our family have already started to reap eternal-perspective-type changes and growth. In all of us.  We believe that we are part of God's redemptive plan for her life. BUT we believe just as strongly that she is part of God's redemptive plan for our family's story.
Again, I admit that it might be semantics. But the use of the word "rescue" doesn't sit well and this is why.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

I'm here. I'm still here. I am glad to say that I am no longer buried beneath the piles of summer clothing and pool paraphernalia that needed to go into storage. Nor am I stepping over the mounds of laundry waiting to be finished from the fall/winter clothes bins that needed to be washed. And washed. And washed. And the folding?! OY! All that folding!!!!

The good news is that it's done. Another season change-over done and only a few necessities have been added to the shopping list. Mainly shoes. What is it with shoes? I mean, why must all four of the older kids need new shoes (and multiple pairs at that!) all at the same time? Can we please space out the growth spurts once in a while? I'm just sayin' . . . .  The bad news? Well, as soon as all the capris and shorts and flip flops got boxed up and stored neatly in the basement, the temps zoomed right back up. To "Mom, it's so hot out side I think I'm dying" temps.  Yeah, I know. It happens to me every. stinkin'. fall.

It's been two weeks since I blogged at ya.... Really, I can hardly believe it. I'm easing back into things with a pictoral stroll through the last two weeks of  The Gang's life. Just a fun little Sunday Snapshot, brought to you courtesy of the lovely Stefanie over at Ni Hao Ya'll.  Link up and join the party, won't you?

Ni Hao Y'all

Dr. D discovered a new "perk" to home-schooling.
Behold his little study cubby.
Complete with a fleecy Eagles blanket on cold mornings! 

The Boss splurged on this lovely bouquet
of orange roses to celebrate our

 LadyBug and I transformed two dreadful
Halloween costumes into a lovely, ladylike
noble-woman's gown for her field trip
to the local Renaissance Faire.

And of course, Li'l Empress had to get in on the
prettifications. She even tried to learn a proper curtsy.
You know, just in case the Queen walked by.

And most exciting of all the events of the past two weeks???

The Boss and I got to enjoy a long, lingering, quiet, and romantic dinner for two at the local fondue restaurant.
There are no pictures of the auspicious event.
We were too busy snuggling in our corner booth and smooching between visits from our waiter.

To join in on the Sunday Snapshot fun,
head over to Ni Hao Ya'll and link up.
But don't forget to leave me a comment
if you want me to visit you :)
It's only fair, you know.