Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday{silver lining}

38 clothing storage bins just like these....
Brought up out of the 8" of water from Hurricane Irene's fury.

Purged and reduced by 13 bins....

And four over-stuffed garbage bags

It's been a busy, busy week for This Gang.
HUGE kudos to Baby BlueEyes, LadyBug,
Dr. D, and Shaggy for all their hard work
on this and other cleaning and restoration projects
from the storm.
I couldn't have gotten it all done without you!

head over to 5 Minutes for Moms.

And tell me your storm clean- up story....
I'm looking forward to hearing how you all fared.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Sunday Snapshot

We have survived Hurricane Irene. We're really wet. Well, I mean, our basement is really wet. And The Boss, Shaggy, and Dr. D spent most of last night really wet. But we made it through. If I am pressed to find the silver lining, I can say that by the time every thing dries out and all the damage is cleaned up and done, we will have a really clean basement about a month ahead of schedule.  Today's Sunday Snapshot is of the heroes of Hurricane Irene, here at The Gang's house.

Pre-storm, or when the rain was the only evidence that an epic weather event was on its way, we enjoyed a long, quiet afternoon full of movies, home-made cookies, big batches of popcorn flowing freely, more movies, and jammy time just hanging out together. But all that changed at about 11:30 p.m. When our main sump pump failed and the battery-back-up wore itself out right on its heels. Thank the Lord that we had our pool cover pump and that Shaggy found our neighbor's sump pump in their basement when he went poking around their shed and garage looking for their pool cover pump. (They are out of town. The Boss and the boys are charged with caring for their property whenever they travel. Flashlight in hand, he went traipsing over in the wind and rain at 12:30 a.m. or so to try and come up with something to stem the tide of rushing waters!)

Dr. D, checking news reports and chatting 
with friends on F@cebook during the rain-only
portion of the storm.

Shaggy, catching up with a friend between movies
on Saturday.

But during the storm?
These guys proved their mettle beyond our belief.
Bucket Brigade for more than an hour.
Jerry-rigging a supplemental sump pump with The Boss.
Carting furniture and more than 25 big storage
bins full of clothes for The Gang up to the family room.
Running in and out of the side yard to move drainage pipes.
Keeping an eye on the neighbors' property through it all.
Both of them up till at least 4 a.m.
working alongside The Boss without much of a break.

We are blessed.

 And this guy?
This really tired, really run-down and worn-out warrior?
He ran the whole project for more than three straight hours
of rushing water - rushing INTO the basement
faster than he could get it out, that is.
Wet clothes, head cold, sleep deprivation, frustration,
disgust, stress, and more. He didn't quit until it was obvious
the pump was winning over the cold, dark, nasty water.

I am blessed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wrapping It All Up!

Oh, it's been a week! Lists have been whittled down. Hair has been cut. Closets have been cleaned. Rooms have been re-arranged. Toy boxes have been purged. More lists have been written. Freezers have been stocked. Menus have been planned.

Baby BlueEyes' room BEFORE.
Well, sorta "before." More like, MID!

Baby BlueEyes' room AFTER.
Big toy shelf emptied and removed.
Toys out of sight and out of reach for little hands!

Yesterday, Dr. D finished his first official senior high football training camp. Right now, he's sleeping off the high. I've never seen him so excited. Or so tired! They ended the intensive two weeks with a big picnic, catered by O*tb@ck Steak House.... Not a bad way to end the week, eh?

I'm wrapping my brain around what my new schedule will look like in the coming days. Taking care of someone else's kids, almost full-time, is a huge responsibility and I'm sure that Li'l Empress will think it's a big party at first. But I'm aware that it will be a BIIIIIG adjustment for her, particularly when the older kids are back to school and it's just her hanging out with the new little friends during the day. So I'm praying for her, for my new little buddies, and for Li'l Empress's teachers. I've put off the start of her school year till the big kids go back to school - hoping that one change per week instead of two or three will be easier on us all.

And now? Now, we turn to storm prepared-ness as Hurricane Irene is bearing down quickly and fiercely on the East Coast. The Boss is heading out as I type to bring Shaggy to one of his many yard-work jobs and to pick up propane, water, and an extra battery for the sump pump.  Baby BlueEyes is not a huge fan of weather events, as they tend to stir up a lot of fear in his little heart. So we're putting him on Storm Preparedness duty with Daddy - hoping that he learns that many of our fears can be allayed when we wisely prepare and "do our part" and then faithfully trust the Lord to cover and protect the rest.

Not a bad way to handle all of this stuff, eh?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {haircuts}

One more thing off the TO DO list, which seems like it's growing instead of shrinking, by the way!

Took LadyBug yesterday to get some long layers
and side-swept bangs for her big middle school debut.

The Boss clippered him up tight and close
to avoid the "Did you do your hair?" hassle!

I just trimmed up the bangs
to even them out. Not brave enough
to attempt any more myself...

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
(which, by the way obviously does NOT 
have to be wordless!), link up over at
5 Minutes for Moms.
Leave me a comment and I'll try 
to swing by and say hi!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gearing Up for Change

It's the last Monday of summer break for this Gang.  There are a host of big changes coming our way, and this Momma has been awake since about 4:30 a.m. trying to wrap my brain around all of it. You know, all the things that have to happen between now and the first day of school (Sept. 6, after Labor Day) in order to facilitate those changes.

My To-Do list is ramming around inside my head, almost impossible to pin down and wrangle into a manageable, linear list of bullet points. My head is pounding, and it's NOT from lack of caffeine! It feels like tangled Slinkys in there. Rusty, tightly wound, tangled Slinkys.  It's really not pretty. Especially at 4:30 a.m.

So you must all bear with me while I process...
Yes, I'm processing it here. My blog, my rules :)

Here we go!

I've accepted the opportunity to care for two children of some friends of ours, as an attempt to supplement and  expedite the savings process for our adoption. (I start next Monday, hence the "last Monday of summer break for this Gang" line...)  For the downstairs of the house, that means this week has to be all about sorting toys, child-proofing, consolidating the play area to one part of the house, and cleaning out a space for kiddie arts and crafts.

Heh. Written down in a paragraph like that,
it doesn't really seem like all that much work.
But it's almost crippling me right now,
and I feel so completely overwhelmed by where to start. Ugh.

I've been struggling to find time to sit for a while and plow through my friend's novel that I'm editing, because of all the taxi-duty that I've been pulling for Shaggy, Dr. D, and Ladybug's various activities. This week, I'm down-sizing all the taxi-runs and trying to dig into this work of art and give it the attention it deserves. And guys? This novel is beautiful. Rich, layered, and captivating. The characters have really drawn me in - I miss it when I can't get to it for a few days. When she gets it published, I will be sure to let you all know to look for it!

I also have to figure out what to do with all these beautiful pieces of collectibles that folks have given toward our adoption cause. I have some things out for bids already, but Cr@igslist-ing them majority of them will net very little, I'm learning. I'm unfortunately hearing the same thing about and now I don't really know where to turn. I have no eB@y "seller cred" and don't really want to get "taken" there either. But they are filling the dining room and I have to get them out of here soon. I can't take the clutter much longer.

I have a bunch of other things already on Cr@igslist that aren't moving and I'm getting impatient about those. They are of some value so I just can't bring myself to donate them if they can add to our little Adoption Jar instead. Especially given that there are likely a bunch of other things in the attic that I can choose to list if and when The Boss and I get in there and start cleaning.

I have no idea of what is in the freezer, so I am guessing that my freezer inventory is way out of date. I also have no stash of supplies for snacks, school lunches, or quick meals. I haven't "stock up" shopped in a while, and I'm thinking that might be where I have to start. Well, there and defrosting the freezer so that I can see everything I purchase. It's so bad in there, it might take a couple days to thaw and clean it all out... Then, I'll have to really dig in and plan meals for the month of September to help me through the learning curve of "working" four days a week.

I must also wrap my brain around the idea of our new schedule. Li'l Empress will be doing three mornings a week at her little pre-school, with an arrival time between 8:25 and 8:45 a.m. Baby BlueEyes is heading off to our wonderful little elementary school at 8:05 every morning. LadyBug will be starting a brand new adventure in the middle school, leaving here around 7:20 each day. And Shaggy and Dr. D head off to the local public high school, we think at 6:50 or 7 a.m. daily.

Speaking school, have you seen the prices of school supplies this summer?! OMIGOSH, I was in T@rget the other day (I despise that store, on almost every.single.level. Really, I do.) and the mothers were scary. Grabbing. Snatching, Shoving carts. Snarling at their kids. I had to leave. With my incomplete list of two of the kids' needs. But I just couldn't stand the tension and the chaos. I mean, really. A three-inch binder is a three-inch binder. Is it really worth the horrible example to your kids to get the TEAL one instead of the royal blue one?! Really, the stuff I heard and saw scarred me for the entire day.

Finally, (well, really, not finally, cuz there is so much more going on here that is weighing heavily but is not blog-able) I am contemplating the arrival of my two new little friends at 8:30 for four mornings a week. Things like figuring out when I'll need to get up and get showered. When I'm going to exercise. Or blog. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I was planning to join The Boss's gym and working out the mornings that Li'l Empress was in school, which would allow me to head out, bed head and all, and then come home to shower at my own leisure before picking her back up from school. But the need to earn some money and accommodate this alternative schedule trumps that plan. And now, just writing it all out here, I feel even more stressed than I did at 4:30 a.m.......

{Mumbling and shuffling away as I pull on my hair}

Oy..... Coffee. I need coffee. Just get me some coffee!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Sunday Snapshot

My three boys got a chance this weekend
to immerse themselves in the things that they love.

Dr. D's first official season of high school football
 has begun. He's #26 this year.
This is from his first scrimmage.
Just 10 plays each - offense and defense.
But he got his hands on the ball a few times.
And picked up some really nice yardage for the team.

This Momma was cheerin' loud and proud.
I'm already lovin' the chance to yell my brains out
on the sidelines. He can't hear me through all that padding.

Later, The Boss took Shaggy to one of his favorite
music stores for an end of season inventory sale.
Shaggy got to play some seriously top o' the line drum sets.
His passion for the drums has expanded.
This summer, he's been dabbling in music theory
and teaching (re-teaching) himself some technique skills.

And Baby BlueEyes?  Well, at almost 10 years old,
his passion is to be with and be like his brothers
and his Daddy. Whenever and However.
He went along for both rides and was a happy camper
All. Day. Long.

The fact that he made his Daddy and I laugh out loud
with this face was just icing on the cake for our little guy!

Click on the button up at the 
top of this post and join in the fun
of Sunday Snapshot!
Leave me a comment, here
and I'll come by to visit you, there.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Repost, Of Another Variety

I'm in a bit of a re-posting mood lately. Not because I'm so impressed with the things I have had to say before. But because when I was surfing around looking for the original "Bittersweet" post, I happened upon a favorite recipe of mine... Later that same day, I also happened to be blessed with a great big, plump home-grown zucchini. So I'm sharing this favorite summer recipe again with you all.

 And you non-zucchini lovers out there, try to be open-minded
about the yummi-ness I'm sending your way.
Or, as your momma used to say, "take a thank you bite
and go on your way."
You know who you are :)

Stuffed Zucchini
Take one of the longest, plumpest zucchinis that you can find. (Big zukes work well for this as their skins are firm enough to hold their shape when baking.) Clean it well and cut off the stem end. Cut it in half the long way, as evenly as you can manage.

Seed each half and be sure to leave an even amount of squash inside the halves. It should look like each half has a trench running down the middle. If the halves are very rounded, take a bare thin slice off the rounded edge so that it will lay flat in the pan with the cut side up. Generously spray a 9x13 pan and lay the zuke in, trenched side up.

Brown about a pound of ground turkey breast, breaking it up into taco-meat texture. Add fresh pressed garlic and chopped onions to the browning meat according to your tastes. I also generously pepper the mixture while it's browning. Drain any liquids from the meat.

When meat mixture is done, add some of your favorite sauce. This time around, I used a tomato Alfredo sauce (which was very thick and creamy) and I think it was better than any other version I've ever made. On top of the sauce, add an even ratio of shredded Parmesan and shredded mozzarella. Again, the amount of cheese will be to your preferences. *Please note that when you are done adding the sauce and cheeses, the mixture should be a similar weight and texture to an average cookie dough. Not heavy like meatloaf but not loose and liquid-y.

Spoon the meat and sauce and cheese mixture into the zucchini trenches, generously. It's okay if it piles high. The juices of the zucchini will level everything out.

Sliding it into the oven, it already smelled amazing!

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. In the final 10 minutes, top with another mixture of Parmesan and mozzarella. Let that topping bubble up and start to turn a little golden.

All baked and bubbling away.
It smelled divine around here!!!!

Serve with whole wheat pasta or rice on the side, along with extra sauce. We also love it with ground beef, but the turkey breast is a much healthier option. And I've often used reduced-fat cheeses with excellent results. This time, I mixed the zucchini with yellow summer squash and each were super tasty.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Li'l Empress got some birthday money
from Grandma and Grandpa...

Momma used it to score
some serious bargains for back-to-school.

Don't you think that every little girl should
have some sparkly red shoes for fall and winter?
Or is that just me?

Thank you so much, Grandma and Grandpa!!!!
She loves all her new pretties.
And she LOVES YOU even more!

For  more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Moms!

Leave me some comments
and I will be sure to 
come by your WW post too!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bittersweet {revisited}

Today is a day that this Momma spends in quiet prayer and reflection.
No matter the crazy that we have planned (heh, or unplanned in most cases),
August 15th will always be a bittersweet day for me.
I can't say it better than the previous years that I've said it,
so I'm reposting my first thoughts on the place
that August 15th holds in my heart.
I hope you enjoy it - and join me in prayer
for that special woman to whom I am joined now, forever.

(from 2008, while we waited for our Travel Approval)
. . . One year ago, on the 15th of August, my sweet baby {Li'l Empress} was left outside the local police station in her province, to be found by "common people" and turned in to the local authorities.
I spent much of the day running errands and grocery shopping. But my mind and heart were very pre-occupied with thoughts of {Li'l Empress}. With prayers for her birth-mother. Many adoptive parents feel similar mixed feelings as I've been experiencing, and I've read some beautiful posts honoring the excruciating choice to give up a birth-child. I've also read some sad, heart-wrenching posts about the issues surrounding the choice to abandon.
Sometimes, given the lack of information that we adoptive parents have regarding the circumstances of our child's "finding day," there exists a tendency to romanticize the story and even embellish what we surmise to have happened. To assign feelings that would be ours and put them onto a woman or a circumstance we don't fully know. I understand that some of us adoptive moms want to empathize and understand the choice of a birth-mom to give up her child. In the process of attempting to identify, however, I think that some of us tend to look at the issue through our own lens, through the filters of our Western mentalities and our American sense of justice and right vs. wrong. I've been reluctant to put voice to my feelings about these issues, for several reasons.
There is still a lot about the abandonment conversation that I do not understand.
Even with as much as I've learned about China and the circumstances that have created the conditions by which we are blessed to adopt from this beautiful nation, I will be the first to admit that I still do not know enough. I do not understand the deep-rooted belief that boys are more valuable to the institute of the family than are girls. I do not understand the economic structure that contributed to the one-birth policy. Although I AM learning that the details and the contributing factors that played into this policy have often been mis-represented and mis-interpreted by many in the media and in our culture. I do not understand the idea that children with special needs, birth defects, or difficult birth circumstances are considered "unlucky." These things that I do not know and do not understand are only the very tip of the iceburg in the conversation of adoptions from China.
What I do understand, what I am fairly confident of now, is that {Li'l Empress'} birth-mother desired for her to be found. She wanted this beautiful baby to be taken in and cared for. How do I know this? She was found to be fairly well-nourished, alert and in a place of common traffic. I know this now because I have learned that most provinces and most towns, regardless of their size, have local police stations in centralized locations. I dare not romanticize a story of grief or pain, and I dare not surmise her birth-mother made a "plan" for delivering her baby girl to a specifically chosen location. I don't know those things for fact. But on this day, when my heart was heavy for a mother whose arms are now empty, when my own heart is aching and my own arms are restless in their emptiness, I do know these things.
know that in HIS infinite wisdom and love, My Father in Heaven is working to bring to fruition the beautiful plan that He has for {Li'l Empress'} life. I know that her birth-mother played a significant (I dare say annointed?) role in the journey of her life so far. I know that the plans He has for {our girl}, and indeed our whole family, are beautiful. They are for our good. They are for our work on this earth that is purposed to bringing Him glory. I know that, should she choose to seek Him and cry out to Him, her birth-mother can find healing and comfort in His arms.
And until the day I die, I will say a prayer of gratefulness for this woman. And I will pray that she find Her Father and experience the filling of her heart that only He can bring.

"I'll show up and take care of you as I promised
and bring you back home.
I know what I'm doing.
I have it all planned out -
plans to take care of you,
not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for."
Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Shaggy!!!

It's a really busy season, here at The Gang's Headquarters. Regular life, crowded in by part-time jobs, camps, lessons, momma-taxi runs all over the valley, the normal everyday mini-crises that come with five kids, and so on. So busy, in fact, that I forgot to write Shaggy's b'day post. (sigh. I'm so embarrassed!)  I'm grateful that he's so laid back and humble that he is okay with a delayed honoring. I guess the fact that he doesn't even read the blog every day (gasp! I know, right?!) makes my "running behind it all" pretty okay with him, too.

But have no fear - we did celebrate our guy. We celebrated off and on all day. Every time he came into a room (before and after he put in a 9 hour day at work), at least one of us said, "Happy Birthday Shaggy!" And every time I saw him and Li'l Empress in the same room, I reminded her that big brothers need lots of birthday hugs and kisses. She was On.The. JOB! And quite happily I might add!

Which brings me to one of the things that I most appreciate about my Shaggy boy.

The other day, we were in a store, chatting while the littles were milling around us. For some reason, Baby BlueEyes felt compelled to hug Shaggy. In a store. In public. Which, I have no problem with. But I was watching it all carefully, trying to gage Shaggy's reaction and being prepared to step in if I sensed that he needed a rescue from the inevitable swarming that one hug from one sibling almost always triggers from the other littles.  It never happened. In fact, Shaggy wrapped his long arms around BBE's head (giggle!) and waved me off. 

He said, "It's okay. Really, I know I went through a stage where this stuff bugged me before. But I'm over that. I don't mind public displays of affection anymore. Weird, I know."  (or something to that effect...)

And it's true. Shaggy is one of the most loving, caring, tender-hearted and affectionate kids I know. He never makes the younger siblings feel as if he doesn't have time for them. He is "present" with Li'l E's constant barrage of conversation, even when her toddler stuttering turns the conversation into an exercise in patience. He listens to the things I say about respecting their developmental abilities and tries to honor them in the process. He is unfailingly sweet to his cousins and is such a "safe" place for all the little(er) people in his life. In fact, yesterday at work, his employer's two kids worked with him almost all day. He was telling me all about it: their stories, their interests, their personalities and so on. All without a hint of impatience or irritation at the shadows they were all day. In fact, I think he really enjoyed himself!

I've watched this trait grow and bloom in his life over these last two years and I just know that God has something unique and amazing for the ministry coming in Shaggy's adulthood.  Here's some end-of-the-day pics I clicked, of all the sibs givin' him some final birthday love...

Excuse the poor quality of the pics... It was late, and all I had was my phone. I really need to learn how to use that the camera on that thing....

I know. I don't even have words for this one.

Gosh, I love these kids!

Happy Birthday, Shaggy!

You are absolutely the best guy for
the job of big brother to this gang.
And firstborn to this Momma.

God really, really blessed us all
17 years ago. At 4:12 p.m.
and every single.second.since.

I love you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {birthday edition}

It's a really big day here at The Gang's Headquarters.

SOMEBODY turns FOUR today!!!

We spent last night prepping for the festivities.

This morning, SOMEBODY beat me down the stairs,
so I missed the "look of surprise" photo op.

LadyBug made a pretty little crown.
Li'l Empress just can't stop smiling!

Happiest of Happy Birthdays
to my exuberant, joyful,
"fiery little one!"
You are a gift to us all.
And your huge personality
and outrageous embrace of life
has changed all of our lives!

We love you like CRAZY,
Li'l Empress!!!!!!

head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.
Leave some love for my girl, won't you please?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wherein I Stop the Teasing

Okay, so last week I alluded to a thing I've been brewing up in my head. The recent conversations about adoption, finances, and fundraising have brought "this thing" to the forefront of my mind. I say the "forefront" cuz it's been tickling around in the back of my mind for quite some time now. In fact, really for about a year and a half now.

Are you all totally surprised that I kept something in my head for that long and DIDN'T do my regular verbal vomit of sharing-ness with you all?! Are you totally impressed with my thoughtful and self-contained processing?! I am. And I'm exhausted from it all, too. Sheesh. This discernment thing is hard work.

I am thinking of some ways to bring in additional income to The Gang's Headquarters to bolster up that little Adoption Jar of ours.

I mean, I can't sell much more on Cr@igslist. You know, The Boss kind of frowns upon selling the furniture and furnishings right out from underneath The Gang. He's not a big fan of sitting on the floor. Watching our 1998 era tv is painful enough for him.

And mind you, I am not eliminating the idea of a big fundraiser project at all. But I'm tabling it for this week and chatting this idea over instead.

The thing is?  I don't have a ton of work-in-a-traditional-office type of experience any more. I mean, I was a kick-butt awesome administrative assistant back before Shaggy was born. But that was 1994 and we were still using WordPerfect at our office. Heh. Remember that?

Plus, I have five gang members. Which makes my availability hard to nail down. What with football, band, ensembles, before and after school clubs, soccer, worship teams, lessons, and some half-day, three-days-per-week preschool thrown in for the fun of it. I'll let you do the mental math on that one.

So I'm thinking. And thinking.
In case you are new around here,
these italics and parentheses
are ME, thinking....

I love words. I love reading. I love writing.  And, (I haven't mentioned this to many folks before and certainly not here yet) I love editing. Proofing. Nixing commas left and right. Getting the PERFECT moment to insert a semi-colon.  You know, crazy stuff like that. Reading it again and then reading it out loud. I love it. If the story is really good, you know, like the ones that this amazing lady cranks out, then I am in word paradise. If it's not, then I am in editing Heaven while helping you get it there.

It's a sickness. I know.
Sigh. Can we move on now? Thanks.

So this is where you come in.... I think I might be interested in taking on some projects that might cushion that little Adoption Jar just a little bit more. I'm looking at essays, short stories, school papers, and resumes. Marketing brochures, presentations, or business flyers. College papers and research projects. You get the idea. Now, can you go share the idea?

I can work with you (or friends you might recommend) and make a rough draft into a final copy. I did it all school-year long, for the last I can't count how many school years with my older two boys. And I have to say, even if it sounds braggy, they got A's on all the projects I helped them complete. In fact, often (with the perks of cyber schooling) we were usually able to turn the rough draft into a final piece in just one or two steps that later saved them a separate lesson to complete and hand back in later. They liked that "skipping a lesson" thing pretty danged much.

I don't really have any other "professional credits" to be throwin' around here. I don't even know how "professional" I want a little beast like this to get. Certainly not a big suit-and-tie kind of monster. I do know that. But I'm asking nonetheless.

So. This is the post wherein I stop the teasing.

But it's also the post wherein I request your help. Wherein I ask you to consider throwing a girl some work. Or throwing the girl's name around where work might be generated.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Sunday Snapshot

Oh, such a funny story on the way to these pretty pics!

When LadyBug, Li'l Empress, Grandma and I all gathered in the kitchen before church this a.m., we noticed a theme. And consequently, a perfect opportunity for some picture time, if you ask me.

This is the first shot. Pretty much perfect, I think.

And then we requested The Boss to follow up with another. You know, "just in case."  I'm big on the "follow up" pic, even bigger on the "just in case."

Not just with pictures. Kinda generally in life.

But with this second shot, Li'l Empress just.would.not look at the camera. W.O.U.L.D.N.O.T. I even "got in her face" a little, assuming that she was over-tired and acting out.

Finally, she stopped us all in our tracks, by patting Grandma's arm and asking, "What dis arm doin' here foh?"

Oh. My. Word. She COULDN'T look at the camera and smile pretty.

Because she couldn't figure out whose arm that was and what it was doing on her leg.

Those smiles are pure hilarity. She had us totally cracked up.

I have no idea where she comes up with this stuff.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stirring It Up A Bit

So, the conversation over at Creating a Family has continued throughout the week. When my post about the conversation went "live" on my Facebook page, via the handy-dandy app called "Networked Blogs," the conversation continued here too. Admittedly, it's been pretty one-sided over here, but I'm not surprised by that terribly much. I mean, really, the only folks who read this little corner of the blogosphere called "The Gang's All Here!" are likely doing so cuz they know me. Or are related to me. Or they owe me some big bucks and this is the payment I've exacted.

"Read my blog and I'll cancel your debt."
Snort.  Yeah. Not really, but seriously.
It's not like I've got a nation-wide readership here, guys!

I have said over and over that I do NOT have a grasp on all sides of the issues surrounding adoption. But the thing that keeps hitting me about these conversations and the strong stances taken on either side of the debate is that I don't HAVE to have an experience on all sides of the issues. I cannot speak for an adoptee or for a birth mother...  I can listen, I can try to understand, I can choose to expose myself to her viewpoint and choose to think about it. But it will always be done through the filters of my own life experiences AND through the choice to accept another's filter as valid and helpful to the conversation. My sweet friend, Christie, said it well:
"All I could think while I read those articles was how struck I am by the selfishness of others. Choose not to be offended people!"
Now, before you get all riled up, let me say that I think I know what she means. I actually said something similar to that in another adoption related post over at Creating a Family. I think what she means is that standing strongly on your own viewpoint, refusing to listen or consider or process what you can from others' viewpoints is selfish. Not in the mean-girl, snotty, haughty kind of selfish. Rather, it's self-focused, self-serving. It's camping on a viewpoint that may or may not be right and refusing to consider that other ways of addressing an issue just might be a key to getting yourself into the world (or the heart?) of the others around you.... Of being part of the solution to some of these issues rather than continuing to gripe and whine and vent about the problems. I think that is what she means. At least in part. The other part? Well, she is a strong Suthern woman, ya'll. And I love her for it. Just love her.

Several of your responses have been so sweet and so vulnerable. Sharing my viewpoints about things like (gasp!) money and (double gasp!) faith with the world-wide-web is kind of scary sometimes and for those of you who have encouraged me and given me the virtual "you go, girl" here or on Facebook, I thank you.

But there is one response that simultaneously cracked me up and made me cry. In fact, her response so resonated with me that I've been thinking and brewing on something kinda big (for me) that I want to throw out on this little corner of the blogosphere in the coming days.... How's that for a teaser, for ya?!  Nothing like a little shameless plug to keep you coming back to see what it is I have up my wordy little sleeve, huh?

Anyway. The reason I'm sharing this response today is because it's from a friend whom I trust. From her, I learn much about BEING the Church, minus many of the trappings and "Christian-ese" turns of phrase that we hear all around us. This friend has an "outside perspective" of having never been in the world of international adoption. And to me, that makes her perspective very valid in an unique way. She thinks things through. And asks for God's heart on the matters that confuse or trouble her. And I need friends like her.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that she's so darned loyal and supportive that she'd dedicate a whole post to the issue and be willing to "take it on the chin" for this Momma in doing so. She rocks. And I am grateful for her friendship.

 Go over HERE and read her post.
You'll see what I mean. Chat it up over there. I'll jump in on it, too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I LOVE a good give-away.
But more importantly, I love a good give-away
that is meant to support a good cause.

Really, I'm not a big fan of the word "cause"
as I've used it here but it's early
and I'm having a tough time finding another word
that works.
Just a little hang-up of mine....

is hosting a HUGE give-away contest.
HUGE. Like, 15 winners huge.
That, I think we can all agree, is awesomely huge.

Heh. There's my "finding another word" thing
cropping up again. Meh. I need more coffee.

to be one of those 15 winners. Once you read all the details,
I think we can all agree that the "cause" is also awesomely huge.

I think we can all agree
God's name is going to be glorified
and His hands will have lots and lots of extra opportunities
to work His Good in lots of little hearts.
Quite literally.

And that? Is HUGE.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Three years ago this week,
THIS was the sight that greeted me
when I opened my email before heading
off on our annual vacation.

I know, can you STAND it?!

And now....
Holding her (instead of a couple of pictures!)
in my arms still doesn't get old!

head over to  5 Minutes for Moms and link up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

To Fund Raise Or Not To Fund Raise?

Apparently, THAT is the question of late!

Recently, the hot button topic of adoption fundraising has been making its rounds in the forums, blogs, and even the newspaper columns again. Really, I tend to think its an issue that will never be settled.

If you check out this blog and its links and comments, you will see one perspective on the issue. It was hard to read. But I forced myself to read it all and think hard about the comments and the reactions that all sides of the adoption issue had to share.

And if you head over here, you'll see the exact same "Dear Abby" letter and a very different set of conversations happening about that issue (and frankly! an even broader perspective that wasn't adequately addressed at all in the original "Dear Abby" post). Not a ton of agreement, for sure, but again a challenge to me to think before I speak and really consider where I fall on the spectrum of beliefs and ideas.

(Kudos, Dawn, for targeting that additional conversation
that should have been handled much more
compassionately and realistically in the original "letter!")

I guess I had a lot more going on inside my head and my heart than I thought when I finally got around to reading and processing both blog posts and their comments.  Cuz look at what came pouring out of my fingertips after I'd read them both a few times and took some time to step away from it all and think it through.  Sheeesh, I feel like I just unloaded a ton of bricks from this old brain of mine.  I've re-posted my comments from the Creating a Family blog post, (I commented there mostly because I'm more familiar with Dawn and many of her regular readers).  What are you all thinking about these issues? I'd love to hear from you - but be sure to read the above links first.  It's worth it.
The way I see it, this discussion will never be agreed upon by those who camp strongly in the “adoption fundrasing is never right” and those who reside in opposite field of “adopt to save/rescue a poor little orphan.” Too many polarizing worldviews between them, methinks.
I am so torn, myself, frankly. I strongly resist the “adopt to rescue” mentality for myself and my Gang. Yes, we are born-again believers who will be raising all of our Gang in our belief system that says we all need Jesus. And without Jesus life is meaningless. BUT I don’t believe that proselytizing my faith should be the reason I work my hiney off to bring another sweet little girl into my home. We are gearing up for another adoption BECAUSE WE DON’T FEEL OUR FAMILY IS DONE YET. BECAUSE WE HAVE MORE LITTLE ONES IN OUR HEART TO LOVE AND WE WANT TO SEE THEIR LITTLE FACES IN OUR HOME. Period. In fact, I want it so badly that I am tearing up as I am typing this. In my view, it’s already been too long a wait for my next daughter.
Having said that, I will be the first to admit that we don’t have the necessary $24+K sitting around to do that. Granted, we have more tightening up to do. We have more debt-snowballing to finish. We have more STUFF to sell and more income to generate. (Anyone need some editing or writing work done?!) But if we wait till all those ducks are in a row to HAVE all that $$, we have several unwanted extenuating circumstances that will occur. Circumstances that are private. That are tender to a momma’s heart. That can be solved if we had the money sooner than later.
So we wonder. Can/should we fundraise? In my particular circles (church, special needs/adoptive moms), the vast majority say “Yes. Go for it. However we can help.” And I have some kickin’ good ideas (aaaah, that communications/public relations experience and degree are coming in handy now!) floatin’ around my head. Ideas that could turn into a great annual event that would possibly help us help other families build their families. Which is the second thing that I wonder about. When I do feel as if my family is “complete” (I hope sincerely that it is with this next one for whom we are working and waiting!), I wonder if I can parlay my passion to see kids find families into some fundraising and/or awareness support. I WANT to parlay my degree and my experience and my passion into something that creates permanent and loving change for kids and parents.
Which brings me back to the fundrasing… If it is done rightly, without the “save my child, the pitiful orphan” focus; if it is done with integrity and with a sincere effort at helping folks build families, what on earth is so wrong? I know, I am not an adoptee and I don’t fully understand the implications for how it might make them feel. But really? Shame on the folks who would allow that message to settle over their adopted child! That would allow lies and wrong motives to attach themselves to their child’s psyche without swooping in with loving TRUTH of the matter. When I hear a lie, any distortion of truth spoken to or about my child’s life (any of my children!), I correct it.
I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. And I’ve never laid out my thoughts or heart about fundraising and adoption quite this publicly before. I fully realize that I am likely speaking in great niavete. Sigh. I am just a Momma who loves her kids. Those here in my gang’s headquarters and those not yet home. And frankly, most days, I feel like I will do anything I have to to get my next mei-mei home where she can be loved and doted upon like Li’l E is. Even if I make major faux pas along the way.
Which, I fully recognize I am likely already doing. Another sigh.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Late Thursday night, Shaggy and Dr. D were helping me unload groceries and put things away after what was supposed to be a fairly "light" trip to my local G!@nt. Ha. What exactly IS a "light trip?"

I was crowing about some of the big bargains I'd scored, as explanation for the larger-than-anticipated stock up I'd brought home.

Shaggy said to me, "You don't need to tell me everything that you got on massive sale with coupons and bonus buys. We pretty much assume that if it is laying around the house in large quantities, it was on sale."

"But, but..." I blustered through my laughter. My son knows me well.

But it's what he said next that JUST.CRACKED.ME.UP.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd think kids were on sale at G!@nt."

Really. I don't know where these kids come up with this stuff.  Between Shaggy, Dr. D, and Li'l Empress, I swear I should have the flattest abs in town. It's a laugh a minute around here.

And really?!  FIVE seems like "large quantities?"  Seriously. I wonder about that kid.

What's he gonna do when Mei-Mei comes home to join the fun?