Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Your Mom

"Your Mom" jokes are all the rage here at The Gang's house. Shaggy brought them home with him from his YWAM experience, changing it up to make the "your mom" ending super-hyper spiritual, Christian-ese. They are usually quite funny and creative. However, Li'l Empress hasn't quite gotten the hang of them yet. This happened this morning over breakfast.

Li'l Empress sniffed and grimaced while she asked
"What smells like rotten egg in here?"

Baby BlueEyes (oh-so-lovingly) responded quickly,
"You smell like a rotten egg,"

Just as quickly, Li'l Empress started to shoot back,
"Your MOM.... "

And just as quickly, she trailed off in a whisper, looking around uncertainly,
"... is cute."

Do you think this means that the "think before you speak" message is starting to become the rage, too?

One can hope.

One can always hope.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bitter Winds is Available NOW!

By now, you all know that I'm a crazy Kay Bratt fan.
 I love her books. I love her heart for the children of China.
I love being friends with an author. I know, I'm a geek :)
So it's not going to be any surprise to you that I'm happy to share
about her newest release, available as of yesterday,

You can order your own copy HERE!

Bitter Winds is the third in the sequential story line of Benfu and his family. The story this time focuses on the relationship between twins Lily and Ivy. Lily is blind and desperate to prove to her family that she is capable of growing independence befitting her adulthood. This need for independence is most greatly hampered by strong-willed Ivy who, for all intents and purposes, acts as Lily's guide, interpreter, and protector. She, of all the sisters, particularly seems to relish the role of "big sister." As the girls set off on a bit of an adventure, which Ivy is pretty opposed to from the start, things happen that jeopardize not just Lily's independence but ultimately her very freedom and well-being. The misunderstanding sets of a series of events that forces Ivy to face some hard memories and then some hard truths about who she is, who they are as sisters, and where they are "heading" in their lives. I won't ruin the story line for you but I really enjoyed the revelations that they faced about themselves as unique individuals separate from their twin-ship as well as the things they learned and ultimately cherished about their equally unique bond of sisterhood. The way they come back together as strong, independent, and ultimately healthy individuals greatly enhances not just their relationship but that of their whole family, too. That message of strong family ties built amidst hard, heart-wrenching tragedy and self-sacrifice really resonated with me.

Along the way, almost as a back story connecting much of the the details that support the girls' escapades, is woven an expansion of Li Jin's (or Dahlia's) story from Tangled Vines. She's come into Benfu's fold, learning to embrace her role in the new-to-her family that has longed for years to have relationship with her. She brought with her a son and a companion named Sami from the days before she was found by Linnea. But she also brought along a huge heart for serving the disenfranchised and a big vision for creative practical ways to do that. The unfolding of the community that she builds while she is learning to live in this (again) new-to-her expanding family is really well written. On a personal note, I had the privilege of visiting the "complex" or compound of Living Hope International's Beijing home back in April when we adopted our Mei Mei and when I read the descriptions of the shelter that Li Jin creates and crafts into a community, I completely relate to what is happening in her heart and mind. I keep picturing the physical surroundings of the LHI home when I'm reading and it's really a fun way to connect with the story.

Throughout the whole book, Kay does an excellent job of creating vivid pictures with her words. The little glimpses into everyday life in the bustling streets of China. The peeks into lives of street vendors and Benfu's whole "common folk" family. These all are things that keep me reading and make me want MORE of this mysterious land from which my daughters came. Her descriptions and understanding of Chinese culture draw me in to that mystery but also make me acutely aware of the common ground between the regular every day there and the regular every day here. I'm so grateful for what I learn about a culture different than mine when I read these books. But I'm also really thankful for the reminders I get along the way. Family is family, where ever you go. There's pain, there's difficulty, there's hardship. But there's also great joy and love. There's someone who has your back - even if you think you are the strong one who has always had their back. Those lessons are timeless. They are also the biggest reason I find this whole series so meaningful. I can't wait for more stories about Benfu and Callie's beautiful daughters!

*I was provided with a free,
Advance Reader's Copy
in exchange for a fair review of this book.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Miss Particular

The control issues that our Mei Mei experiences affect a lot of our daily life. It's exhausting sometimes, but we're taking the philosophy that we're building trust and confidence. So that if she's feeling uncertain and a choice about something small makes her feel more peaceful and secure in our interactions, we give that latitude.

It's bigger than the old adage "choosing your battles" with this kiddo. It's more about helping her feel that her voice matters and that her feelings count. So that when and if we arrive at a bigger issue where there can be no choice, she feels safe and trusts us. More than any other time in my parenting, I feel as if this kiddo has us on a huge learning curve and we're all kind of finding our way together in this particular lesson.

We know how ridiculous her need for choices can get, we all try to make them non-issues when we can. As I sit her typing this, she's "helping" her big brother put away the dishes and he's cracking up because she insists the forks go in the spoon slot. He's really good-natured about it and he knows he'll have to fix it when she tires of the task. We've come a long way, baby.

Thank goodness for this and for the other light-hearted funny moments that make the learning enjoyable along the way. These are the moments that keep us all sane.


Yesterday, while The Boss was getting a plate for her strawberries, he was grumbling a little bit about how picky she is and how a bowl would be just as good as a plate, even though all the bigger kids had plates with their berries. He walked back over to the cupboard and pulled out a plate and walked back to Mei Mei.

When he set the plate full of berries on the island for her, he said, "I'm going to change your name to Miss Particular, Mei Mei."

Without skipping a beat, Li'l Empress piped up (in her cheery, eager-to-please voice), "I am gonna keep my name the same, right Daddy?"

Monday, April 7, 2014

12 Months of Mei Mei

Come on in and enjoy the stroll down memory lane 
as we celebrate a year of life with our Mei Mei...
It's never boring, it's not often easy (as of late),
but it's always, always full of love and joy.
We can't imagine life without her!

Our first morning home together with all the Gang!

Her first Mother's Day.

Uh Oh. Ya caught me!

This sassy girl loves her some accessories!

Sweet sisters snuggling.

She also loves her some Minnie Mouse!

This is one of my faves - those chubby cheeks
just kill me!

No first trip to the mall
is complete without a first taste of
CFA, am I right?!

Such a rough month for our girl.
First surgery, sleepless nights, and more.

They love being my little baking buddies together!

 Our little fashionista

 Her favorite new thing is to yell, "Cheese!"
and be on the "taking" side of the camera these days.

Good Morning and Happy Forever!
Today is a beautiful, happy day to look back
and to thank God for the gift she is.
{April 7, 2014}

(She celebrated by eating strawberries with
her breakfast. That's a HUGE milestone in and of itself!!!!)

Happy One Year Mei Mei!
We are so grateful you are ours and we are yours.
You have changed our family in beautiful and necessary ways.
We love you, bunches and bunches and bunches!!!!!!

For a look back at our
adoption trip to China,
(particularly for my newer readers)
you should start by clicking on 
this link: "We Are Here!"
Happy Reading :)