Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I'm All Out of Love... But NOT Out of Coffee

The other day, The Boss was working from home in order to be here for the "whole family" home study meeting. When he is home all day, he tends to drink a lot of coffee.When he drinks a lot of coffee AND he has the gang around as a pretty captive audience, he tends to get a little wacky. As the kids are getting older, they have all had varying reactions to him busting out of his "regular dad mode."  We especially like LadyBug's reactions to his wacky.

This is The Boss on coffee.
He's belting out "All Out of Love" by Air Supply.
He'd been randomly singing along like this all morning
to the oldies radio station I was blasting 
while we cleaned for the home study.

This is LadyBug.
She's eating her lunch and wondering when on earth
his embarrassing behavior is going to stop.
Poor kid.
Hasn't figured out yet
is exactly what keeps feeding his behavior.

Well, that and the big ole' mugs of coffee he sucks down.

Heh heh.

Sometimes parenting this gang is just too darned much fun!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Too Good NOT to Share

A family within our agency community recently came home with a precious little daughter from China. It's their second adoption and it was a total joy following their journey to their girl. Honesty, vulnerability, reality, and sweet expectation all rolled into one big adventure. Last week, she posted about their first week home and linked to a blog post that she felt was a good summary of their experiences and their intentions in these early days of attaching and bonding. I read it and found myself nodding and "uh huh-ing" through the whole thing.

Ummmm, yeah. What she said!

The bonus is that while I was "yes and amen'ing" along to this great link, the author linked to another of her earlier posts. I followed it, cuz who doesn't love a good link-along now and then? And again, I was "oh, yeah'ing" and "uh HUH'ing" all over the place.

Again with the "WHAT SHE SAID's"!!!!!!

So, here are the two posts:

How To Be The Village by Jen Hatmaker
After The Airport by Jen Hatmaker

The actual posts are new to me but the subject matter is nothing new for this momma. It's something I feel so strongly about and I was so blessed to have other adoptive moms share these ideas and practices with me before we brought our Li'l Empress home... And the OTHER bonus of the links? After spending some serious time surfing around Jen's site as a whole, I think I've found a new favorite voice in the adoption community!!!!

Reading these and thinking about our own plans to "shrink our world" make me giddy with anticipation for our little Brynna to come home.

(Here's a link to the final installment of a series of posts
I wrote about intentionally fostering attachment
when Li'l Empress came home.
There are two previous posts if you are interested.)

Read. Enjoy. Come back and let's chat. And by all means - share, share, share!!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Not Just Quite Yet"

Monday was another home study day. This time, it was the social worker's appointment to meet individually with all 7 of us for quick interviews. While Li'l Empress and LadyBug met and chatted, this is what I over heard from the laundry room.

SW: Are you excited about adopting a little sister, Li'l Empress?

LE:  Ummmm, yes! I am gonna be da big sitter and she will be da littul sitter. And her name id gonna be BRYNNA ROSE!! But I am gonna call her mei-mei.

SW: And when Brynna comes home, are you going to be a big helper?

LE: Ummmm, yes!

SW: When Brynna is home are you going to share your toys with her?

LE: Ummmmm, YES! But, but, but, no. I don't want to share my camewa. Not just quite yet. Dat one I will keep up high and I won't play wit it wit Brynna. I mean, mei-mei.

Poor LadyBug. Poor Social Worker. I had to go in and rescue them from our chatty patty by physically removing her from the family room. Just so LadyBug could get a word in edge-wise. And promise to share her toys and be a helper, too.  That is, according to Li'l E's summary of the meeting. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Grandma Rose

Would you please take a moment
to pray for my Grandma Rose?

We learned on Tuesday that she
has been admitted to the hospital.
She is 93 and has been dealing with a form
of leukemia for many years now.

This is a picture of her and my grandfather
when they were a young married couple.

 This is her and my mom from my cousin's
wedding in the summer of 2009.

If you've been around this little corner of the blogosphere
for any length of time, you might remember
that our travel plans to Li'l Empress (way back in 2008)
included a stronger-than-normal sense of urgency.
That was because of my sweet little grandma.

We were trying to get there and back in time to bring
Li'l Empress with us to an early 90th b'day bash
that my mom and aunts were throwing for Grandma Rose.

Our desire was for Li'l E to meet her great-grandma
and join us for the family celebration.
After all, it's not everyday
that a little Sicilian grandma gets to meet
a Chinese great-grand-daughter.
We don't take for granted the treasure of four generations
celebrating life together 'round these parts.

And we don't take for granted the power of prayer
to ease and comfort the pain and illness of the ones we love.
We know HE loves her far more than we do
and HE is holding her in His hands even now.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It's been quite the wild ride on the adoption train for the past ten days around here. We had been trucking along quite nicely up to this point, surprised at the overall ease of the paper chase this time around. Surprised by the speed with which government agencies are returning documentation. Surprised by the ease of gathering forms and completing our check list of "To Do's" for the home study. Surprised by the blessing of free certified copies of Li'l Empress's Certificate of Citizenship necessary to the building of our dossier. It's always nice to be surprised by quick response times. Even nicer to be surprised by "free" copies of anything from a government agency.

But the happy surprises came to a screeching halt last Monday morning. About mid-morning, we received notice that our social worker was no longer employed by nor associated with our agency. That we would be contacted soon with details as to how this change would affect our particular paper chase. As the day went on and further information was released, I grappled with what all of this meant for us. For a right perspective on the situation. For a realistic perspective of it all, which is often NOT the same thing as a right perspective. So you can imagine how I felt when my forecast of the worst case scenario was realized. This social worker's departure from our agency's employ meant that our home study interviews would have to be re-done with a new social worker in order to be compliant with Hague guidelines. Ugh. We were only 1 appointment away from being done with the interviews that go into writing the lengthy home study report. My search for the right perspective was being jostled out of the way by the realistic perspective elbowing its way into the room. For a little while on Monday night, it didn't feel as if there was room for both.

I was especially frustrated because coordinating the calendars for the original four appointments was a gargantuan task. The Boss's work schedule, including meetings over which he has no scheduling authority, my work schedule, the kids' work and extra-curricular calendars AND the social worker's very full calendar were not easy to coordinate into the required forms of four different meetings. I am so grateful for a compassionate agency that desired to make this part of the problem so easy to fix. The Boss's concerns were quite different, although no less irritating to him, and certainly less tangible for our agency to re-mediate. Through no fault of their own, I must hasten to add. New appointments with a new social worker meant MORE time talking about himself (and his private thoughts and feelings) AGAIN with a stranger. NOT his favorite thing about the adoption process to start with!

There was a lot of venting (mine) and processing (The Boss's) and praying (good, constant, godly friends) and consuming of comfort food (both of us). It wasn't my finest hour. Or four. Then there was more drama on Tuesday, connected to Monday's disruption, that made the scenario worse for all of us involved in the conversation. But that part of it, we were able to settle between us fairly quickly by Wednesday morning and respond appropriately. By Wednesday lunch, we felt the "click" that happens between us when RIGHT and REALISTIC make room in the same space together. We've had it happen before, in other times of our marriage when trying to keep our hearts right was at odds with what was realistically happening right before our eyes. So we knew it when we felt it.

After the initial shock and irritation passed and conversations about moving forward began to replace conversations of indignation, right perspective returned. And then? Then there was peace. My "make a list" and "tackle the issue head-on" skills came back to the front of my brain and I went about the business of re-scheduling all four appointments with our new social worker. Who, by the way, is a doll to work with. So sweet and kind and accommodating. So anxious to get us back on track and keep us there. So flexible in her planning. We are in a two-week "gap time" between the fast track of life again. That blissful gap that exists between winter sports and other extra-curriculars and the re-gaining of momentum that comes with Spring sports and band events. Realistically, the rescheduling couldn't have had to happen at a better time in our family calendar.

So we are moving forward. With right hearts. And refreshed perspective. We are actually finished now with two of our four necessary appointments. And unless some weird convergence of weather, sickness or alien abduction occurs, we will be done with all four appointments by Saturday.

And the wild ride continues.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Psalm 61
 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee,
when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me,
and a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever:
I will trust in the cover of thy wings. Selah.
For thou, O God, hast heard my vows:
thou hast given me the heritage
of those that fear thy name.
Thou wilt prolong the king's life:
and his years as many generations.
He shall abide before God for ever:
O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.
So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever,
that I may daily perform my vows.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Because It Bears Repeating

I love Valentine's Day.
I said it last year.
And I'm saying it again.

I love the proliferation of hearts and flowers that take over the stores. I love seeing my and my neighbors' flags fluttering across the neighborhood. I love watching the flower trucks zooming past the house on their delivery routes. I love the love songs that the radio stations pull out from the archives, sparking memories as I listen. I love the sappy television commercials (Well, except for that dumb one with the couple looking out the window during a storm where the crack of thunder makes her jump. Ugh. Really? Puhleeze.) and all the Hallmark movies with all the Hallmark ads. I even loved watching the two managers of my local grocery store set up their annual flowers and chocolates display at the entry to the store and listening in on their banter while they worked.  I love it all.

I'm a sap. I know that. And I'm perfectly content with it. I like my sappiness. Frankly, I think that a few more people should give in to their inner sap more often. Instead, far too many folks seem to camp on their cynical, critical, jaded side. And this particular holiday seems to bring out the worst of it.

Oh, yes. I went there. I wasn't gonna do it. But I went there. And here's why.

I KNOW that what we experience as the "day-after-New-Year's" headlong media blitz and retail snow job called Valentine's Day promotion is overdone.  I know it and I don't like it any more than the rest of you.  But I don't buy into the commercialism of it all. I recognize that it's way overdone in the media. The car and jewelry and travel and chocolate ads are bent on selling us stuff we don't need.

(Well, okay, we all need some chocolate. And now that I stop to think about it, I might need a bit of a tropical vacation while I'm staring out at all the dirty snow in my front yard. But I digress....)

I also know we're "supposed" to show love and express love every day of the year. Really. And I do, every day. In countless, often menial and unnoticed ways. I mean, I am not scrubbing toilets and sorting stinky socks cuz I'm getting paid so well, right?

I also know that Hallmark and American Greetings and all the other card companies have been cashing in on the holiday. Yada yada yada. I know all that.

And I still don't care. I love Valentine's Day.

I think everyone needs to stop once in a while and play in the puddles of sappiness a little bit. I think everyone should pause and think about their first love for a moment. It is my firm opinion that everyone should take a stroll down memory lane and remember their favorite Valentine's Day. I think we all need a little mush. I am determined that we all ought to find a moment or two - or, say, a whole day! - to let the sentiments of all the glorious, lavish, crazy, sweet, innocent, and interesting kinds of love wash over us.

Husband and wives should take an extra minute to kiss a little naughty.
Don't worry, it won't kill the kids to see it - after all, it's Valentine's Day!

Parents should hug some extra and kiss the sweet faces
of their babies, no matter the age. And if you have teen boys like I do,
it might be the one day that they LET you be a little mushy
and maybe even be a little mushy back!

Siblings should stop and say "I love you" to each other
and acknowledge that the love they share
is vitally important to keeping a family healthy and growing forward.

Friends ought to take a moment and recognize
that their love is sustaining in good times and in bad.

You see, I come to this strong set of feelings out of a long history. My mom always made Valentine's Day special when we were kids growing up. A fancier than normal meal prepared just for the occasion. A card by our plate. A little box of chocolates or conversation hearts from my dad.  A special, usually decadent dessert to share together. It wasn't over the top. It wasn't sensationalized. It wasn't commercialized. It was a pause in the regular routine of our busy home to acknowledge that the everyday love in our home was to be celebrated. To be cherished.

Later, my dad started a tradition when I went off to college of picking out a Valentine's card and sending it to me with a little something that every college kid loves: cash. And while I really appreciated the moolah, what I really treasured was the card. It was all done by him. (I suspect that ours was like many other families - most of the correspondence was from both of my folks but usually carried out by my mom, so his handwriting on the card took on special significance to me.) And even now, when I get that card in the mail addressed to The Boss and I in my Dad's script, I still feel a little thrill.

When the grandkids came along, he continued the tradition by picking out cute little cards for each one of them and tucking a crisp dollar bill inside. And each year, my kids LOVE the anticipation of seeing his distinctive handwriting on the card, addressed to each of them individually. They smile and delight in their "monies" (as Li'l Empress called it this morning) and they revel in the feeling that Grandpa (and Grandma - he signs it for her, too!) loves them. Even though my two oldest are far past the thrill of a simple dollar bill, they tuck it in their pockets with soft smiles. They GET what that card means. They know that they are loved. 

And THAT, my friends is why I love Valentine's Day. It's a beautiful excuse to pause and appreciate the love you have in your life. It's the perfect reason to stop what you are doing and let the ones around you know in no uncertain terms how you feel about them. Celebrate love today. In whatever form it appears in your life - go and celebrate it simply or lavishly. Just be sure you do it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Snapshot {odes to love}

Sunday Snapshot

Valentine's Day is a big deal around here. Well, let me re-phrase that. It's a big deal to me around here. I take full advantage of the numerous opportunities to share my love for my Gang in all kinds of ways. While they all good natured-ly put on a show of tolerating my smushy surprise hugginess and my gooshy proclamations of love, I have a sneaking suspicion some of them might actually look forward to it. If nothing else, they'll have great memories of Momma makin' a fool of herself. All in the name of love. And around The Gang's house, there are lots of little odes to love to remember each year!

 Come to either of my doors
and you'll be greeted with love!

Love is in the air
out in the front of the house...

...and as you pull in the drive.

For some unknown reason,
these particular little expressions of the holiday
seem to irk my older kids.
Not that I care.
And the little ones love them.

Little hand-made expressions of love
are starting to appear around here
courtesy of some of the Gang members...
who shall remain nameless to protect them
from the good-natured taunting of the older sibs.

and I'm not the only one
tossin' around the sweet nothin's.
Look at all the loot from the grandparents!

Do me a favor? Don't decry the commercialism of the day. Don't get all cynical and grumpy about the cultural hyper-focus on the romance. Instead? Take a moment to hug someone whom you don't ordinarily hug. Share a little chocolate treat with the postman. Or the UPS guy. Just because. Find a creative way to spread some real love around today. We all need a little more love and a little less cynicism these days. You never know the hurt someone is carrying. And cheesey as it might be, Valentine's Day is a fun and easy way to touch that hurt with kindness.

Now. Consider yourself hugged.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Forced Happiness

I'm working hard to find the "happies" in the drudgery of cold and snot season. Really I am. So, today, I'm forcing myself to post about the things that are making me smile, even though Li'l Empress is so sick with a fever that it makes me want to cry for her.

I mean, it's not the "so sick" that I need to run to the ER or anything. It's more of the red-eyed, mopey, limp-as-a-dishrag kind of sick. The kind that makes me miss the incessant exclamations! of! great! enthusiasm! for which she is known. The kind that makes me want to crawl up on the couch with her, snuggle her under a pile of blankets, and work some kind of mommy-magic that whisks the fever and the snot right out of her in an instant. She's down-right pathetic, laying on the couch listlessly watching kids' shows. I mean, she's so out of it, she hasn't even requested D0r@ or D!eg0 for over an hour. And this is right on the heels of my recent similar virus that kept me unproductive and wiped out for 4 + days.

Oh, Lord, please make this one pass quickly
and never return our way for the rest of the season!

So. Here are the things that I'm choosing to be happy about. The things that are making me smile this week. In between wiping snotty noses and dispensing medication and juice refills. .......Oy.
The Boss drove in to work this a.m. with my defunct, dissassembled Kitchen Aid stand mixer in the trunk. He's bringing it to the certified repairman after 14 months of disuse. I'm smiling at the fact that I might actually be able to make mongo batches of yummies again soon. And that he loves me so much that he's willing to drive in to the city to do this for me. It's a pain in the neck compared to the train, but he's loving me very practically by taking care of it for me.
The Boss is also heading to the Living Hope Adoption Agency offices today for his turn in the series of four home-study meetings. This kind of progress makes me so happy, for so many reasons! We're getting closer to Brynna, obviously, but it kind of tickles me that he has to sit with a virtual stranger (she's new to our agency and we've only met with her a couple other times since she came on board) and talk about himself. NONE of these things are within his comfort zone. But he already loves his waiting baby girl and he loves me and he's doing it.  I am also supremely tickled by the notion that his appointment will likely be far shorter than my appointment was with her last week. I'm just sayin'......
Additionally, The Boss is making time in his shortened work day to head to the central Immigrations Services building near his office to get the issue of Li'l E's certicificate of citizenship and/or Chinese adoption certificate settled. We need certified copies of one of those for the dossier to Brynna and he's going after the final answer and the copies in hand today.  That makes me so happy, to have that done and checked off our big "Dossier To Do" list.
Another thing I'm really happy about is that Baby BlueEyes was named a "Citizen of the Month" at his local elementary school. I think he's an amazing kid, but now he knows that the teachers in his building think so, too!
Oh! And I'm thrilled that Dr. D scored a shiny medal at his indoor track meet this week. He rarely runs this particular relay, but since there was no triple jumping at the meet, I'm especially happy that he "took one for the team" and was willing to try this event AND that they worked together so well they medaled! Yay for Dr. D!!!!
LadyBug had a Wind Ensemble concert this week. The Boss and I snuck out just the two of us for an evening of beautiful music and we got to hear the award-winning high school ensemble also. She has some great music programming in this district and I'm so happy that she has a place to grow in her gift.
I'm also happy to report that Shaggy might be closing in on some good plans for "life after graduation."  Make no mistake, I am NOT happy about my oldest spreading his wings and flying the nest, but that's my issue. I am happy that he feels like he has some next steps that are feeling right for him. This is the month of applications and narrowing of options, so I'm happy to spend time praying over him and for him.
Finally, I'm happy that Little Guy and Little Gal have been healthy for almost two weeks. Hopefully, they won't catch the crud that Li'l Empress was sportin' all day yesterday and both families can collectively kick the nasties for good. Then, I'll be really happy.
Like, kick-up-my-heels and do-a-happy-dance kind of happy!

Hope you all have lots to be happy about today. Even if you have to force yourself to find it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {Finally!}

{Finally!} I'm posting.
{Finally!} It actually looks like February.

Kinda pretty, isn't it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
even when it's not of the wordless sort,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom and link up!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name....

First, let me say that I never intended to drop a teaser on you like I did last Wednesday and then take so long to come back to ya'll.... That's like telling you I've got home-made chocolate chip cookies for you and then leaving all the ingredients on the counter to be assembled into gooey dough 5 days later. Mean. Just plain mean.  I know. I'm sorry.
Suffice it to say that 2 boxes of tissues, a bag of cough drops, and lots of acetaminophen, decongestants, and V!cks V@porub were consumed. LOTS. 
All of this makes the progress update on our adoption journey to mei-mei just a teensy anti-climactic. But there's a story to it and since this blog functions as my kids' scrapbooks and life-books too, I'm determined to tell it. You are welcome to stay for the story. Pull up a chair.
As some of you might know, choosing a name for this little one that God is choosing for our Gang has been a big weight on my mind for much of the last year or year and a half. Really, it has. I know it's likely just me and my slight OCD, first-born, preparation/order/tying up loose ends issues, but the fact that we've been paper-chasing to this child for over a year now and had no name rising to the surface as THE ONE has been a stressor for me.

I know full well that I likely made it much bigger than it needed to be, especially for The Boss and the gang. It's my special gift. Snort.

But I really wanted the kids to have some buy-in, some sense of ownership this time around, ya know?  When we were adopting Li'l E, I had her name picked from back before I was expecting Baby BlueEyes. In fact, when Baby BlueEyes was an infant, I felt the Lord clearly reassure me that He had my little "Aidan" waiting for me, that He knew who she was and that she would come to us someday. It was such a comfort and encouragement to me in that moment and for many, many moments to come. Both when I was wondering if we were done building our family AND when we were paper-chasing for her.

Plus, that meant her name was ready. No debate or discussion. That part of the "To Do" list was checked off. Yay. I love when things can get checked off my lists.

This time, however, the kids are all significantly older and at varying stages of understanding both about adoption and about building our family. Plus, they almost all have pretty strong opinions about what "flows" well with the other names and what names mean, either by definition or by experiences with other kids' names they know. And, ahem, about everything else.

Heh. That's what I get for trying to raise strong, confident kids who can articulate for themselves what they are thinking and feeling.

Yeah. That's come back to bite me in the hiney. On several levels. Almost every day. Heh.

So for about a year now, we've had a running list of names popping up on the fridge. Occasionally, LadyBug or I would rally the troops to think them over and cast a vote. Sometimes, one or two of them would get all smarty pants on me and add crazy names like "Beulah" or "Eunice" and commit voter fraud, to the delight of the other sibs. But over the year, none of the names really rang true. In fact, the name we've finally come to love and all agree upon has never once appeared in the list. Until this Christmas season.

The Boss and I were visiting his sister and family for an early Christmas celebration. We were looking through her baby book, talking over names. They were in a similar predicament, knowing that Baby Boy was coming soon after the New Year but not having a clear sense of what name felt right for their crew. And there it was. Or, should I say, there it was - a derivation of a name that The Boss kept coming back to over and over during the weekend. He liked the shorter version of the name, but to LadyBug and me, it sounded a bit too abrupt. It didn't flow well with the femininity of the other girls' names.

So we talked it out. And tried it out. We used it in sentences. We listed it at the end of all the Gang's names. We talked about her using the name. And finally. FI.NUH.LEEEE. We took one more vote.

And we finally have a name.

Ooooh, I still get a little giddy when I say that.  WE. HAVE. A. NAME!!!!!!

Brynna Rose.

"Rose" is after my mom's mother, who will celebrate her 93rd birthday next week. And for The Boss's grandmother who went to party with Jesus back when Baby BlueEyes was a really little guy. It works well, together, doesn't it?

Oh, great. I just realized. I gotta come up with a blog-name for her now. Oh. Sheesh. So much for the relief of the stress.


Maybe soon I'll tell you about some of the names that we posted on our fridge for the last year or so. And all my weird little criteria for picking a name. Believe you me, there were quite a few. Looking back on it now, I am so grateful The Boss hangs in with me for all my weirdness. Really. Wait till you see my "check list." You'll be happy for The Boss that the insanity is over. Or, at least this particular little insanity. I'm quite confident I'll have some other new eccentricity for him to tolerate. That's love, baby. Real love.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {artistic rendering}

Someone around here is excited about
other progress we've made in our journey to mei-mei.

And that's all I'm gonna say about that.
For now.
Come back later. For more.

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