Tuesday, March 24, 2015

life in God’s creation

Beauty all around us…







And under the sea as well…

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Our next adventure is on Saturday.  Hopefully there will be some good pics…  Winking smile

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

some thoughts on Disney

The boys loved Disney.  REALLY loved it.  It was great fun to see them step outside their comfort zones and try new things.  Huge thanks to Hailey and Alec, who were there to experience it all with us, to encourage, to hold hands, and to challenge them to do more.  It made a difference, I know.  The first time at Disney will be a treasured memory, I’m sure.

Some observations:

  • The behaviors that tend to irritate me in everyday life didn’t seem out of place in Disneyland.  Things like high pitched singing, abundant enthusiasm, and perpetual  motion were the order of the day, but at Disneyland they just fit right in with the overall atmosphere. 
  • When it was important, the child with developmental delays could remain in control.  Standing in line for long periods of time?  No problem.  Playing ‘rotating seatmate’ on the various rides?  Not a huge problem.  Not eating at the stroke of noon?  No big deal.  Those things are HUGE, folks!  We did NOT expect any of them.
  • The fearful child took deep breaths and (mostly) conquered those fears.  Having an adored big sister and brother in law along helped tremendously.  He tried every ride suggested, and his list of “thanks but no thanks” rides is virtually non-existent.  I think he’ll do everything again.
  • The sense of adventure blossomed in both boys!  Usually a bit afraid to try new things without one of us, they begged and pleaded to be allowed to ride alone on many rides.  It’s awesome to have a safe place to allow them to do that, and as often as possible, they rode alone.  Fun for ALL of us!
  • Roller coasters were not as bad this time as they’ve been in the past.  As a child I LOVED roller coasters.  As an adult, I did them fine.  Once I had children, though, I couldn’t deal with the stomach dropping stuff.  I stayed off all those kinds of rides.  This time I took a deep breath and tried them again.  California Screamin?  Yes please!  Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?  Absolutely!  Bring ‘em on.
  • We WILL be back.  Because we bought annual passes, heading to Disneyland only costs us the gas and parking fee.  While that’s a bit steep, it’s no more costly than paying the babysitter for small group once a week, so we’ll go back.  Many times.  Our first return is scheduled for the end of the month, just before the boys and I head back to Renton for April.  (more on that trip later)

I love the beach.  I enjoy our new home.  We are slowly getting settled into a new church.  So far in this adventure, though, I’d say that Disneyland has been the best part, and the biggest surprise.  Having been there before, I wasn’t expecting to have such a great time. 

Once again, it’s the little things that mean the most.  And it is the little things that God uses to touch me, to remind me that He has not abandoned me, that He brought us here for a reason.  Seeing Him in the everyday—isn’t that the goal? 

Feeling blessed these days.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Doing Disney

After much talk and many days of waiting (im)patiently, March 10 finally arrived.  What was so important about March 10?  Well…it was the first ever trip to Disneyland for the dynamic duo.  (A fun side note:  on March 10, 2002, we took Emily and Tori to Disneyland for their first time.)  As far as the boys knew, the plan was to get up and have breakfast, drive to Disney, and spend the day.  What they didn’t know was that we needed to make a short side trip on our way, and it would be well worth it!

We swung by the grocery store to pick up some granola bars and orange juice because we were headed to John Wayne Airport on our way to see Mickey Mouse.  Big sister Hailey and her husband Alec have insisted for years that they wanted to be with us when we took the little boys to Disneyland the first time,and Tuesday they made good on that.  You can’t begin to imagine the shock on Ryan and Logan’s faces when they saw Hailey and Alec at the arrivals area.  Ryan had tears in his eyes and Logan couldn’t sit still.  It was heaven for those two little boys.  Add Disneyland to it?  Unsurpassable.   (When asked Wednesday about the best part of Tuesday, Ryan answered, “All of it, but Hailey and Alec are the VERY best.”  Mission accomplished.

Some pics from our day:

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After a down day on Wednesday, the boys and I went back to Disneyland yesterday with Hailey and Alec while Jim went to work.  (Hey…someone has to pay for our adventures!  Winking smile  )  We started early and stayed all day, arriving back home about 7:30 last night.  SUCH fun! 

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Already, even after 2 full days, they can’t wait to go back and are sad that Hailey and Alec are having Disney fun today just the two of them.  We are thrilled to have Hailey and Alec here through the weekend, so we’ll show them around and play at the beach.  The weather should be perfect for some body boarding!  Ryan and Logan can’t wait to show Alec what they have learned.   

Although living 1200 miles from our big guys has been hard, this week has been especially sweet.  I LOVE seeing the adoration the little ones have for their older sister and brother in law, and the sweetness the big ones bestow on the adoring (pestering) little guys is amazing.  It feels very much like Psalm 127 in the flesh around here:  “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord…blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”  We are blessed indeed. 


PS  Those Mickey Mouse hats the boys are wearing?  They’ve only come off for showers and sleeping since Tuesday. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

keeping busy

We had a special treat a week ago!  Some friends from home were at Disneyland, and they came by for a day.  We explored the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach together, then came home and enjoyed dinner.  Two of their girls spent the night here, then they all came back the next morning to see ‘our’ beach and enjoy the surf.  It was sure hard to say goodbye when they left! 

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Shortly after our friends left, I decided it was time to pick up some body boards.  Oh. My.  The boys LOVE them!  They do require the ability to time the waves, and Ryan got the hang of it right away.  They are now wishing the weather would warm back up so they can hit the beach again.
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They also LOVED the minus tide we had one day…

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And over the weekend, we went exploring.  My parents were supposed to come visit, but my dad got sick so they couldn’t make it.  We packed up Saturday morning and headed for the hills.  Literally!  We ended up at the San Gabriel Dam, where the water level is INCREDIBLY low.

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We stopped for lunch, then headed into LA for one more adventure:  a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits.  One of the advantages to a Pacific Science Center membership?  Reciprocity agreements!  We had a wonderful time exploring the George Page Museum and the tar pits.  We’ll be back there, for sure!

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More adventures to come, I’m sure.  Stay tuned…  Smile

Thursday, February 12, 2015

sand in the shorts

Yesterday, we went to the beach.  Nothing unusual in that.  Logan wore swim trunks; Ryan wore a pair of reversible Adidas shorts.  This pair, in fact:   

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Again, nothing unusual.  Ry doesn’t love wearing swim trunks.  After yesterday, though, he may change his tune.

As is their pattern, when we got to the beach, the boys immediately grabbed up their football and headed for the water and a game of catch.  They love trying to time it with the incoming waves.  After playing catch for a bit, they tried some bodysurfing.  It was fun, so they did it for a bit.  Ryan’s reversible shorts have a mesh side…and the waves forced sand between the layers!   We all laughed at the sand, and they settled back into playing on the shore.  This time, it included digging holes at the water’s edge, so every time a wave came in, it spread their piles of sand everywhere.  By the time they were ready to call it a day, it was apparent we had a minor problem: how to keep skinny Ryan IN his shorts for the walk home!

We managed.  Barely.  His normally confident stride was reduced to a step-step-hitch walk.  And, sand kept running down his legs, spreading lovely brownish colored streaks down the backs of both legs.  I’m sure we were quite a sight to behold.  Once we got into our neighborhood and into the alley behind the garage (I don’t let them come in the front door after the beach), he quit hitching up his shorts.  It’s probably a block from the end of the alley to our garage door, so by the time we got there he looked like one of those high school kids with shorts hanging down.  His shorts were barely hanging on, tucked neatly under his little butt cheeks. 

We left the shorts on the patio to dry, hoping than when they were dry we’d be able to get the sand out.  This morning I went out to see what we could do, but not before I put those suckers on my kitchen scale!    Weighed them, shook them out, then weighed them again.  There was ONE POUND of sand in between the layers of his shorts!  And that’s DRY sand.  Wet?  I can’t even begin to guess how much it weighed.  The pile is pretty good sized:

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His comment this morning? “ I think I’ll wear my swim trunks from now on, Mom.” 

Good plan, little man.  Good plan.

Monday, February 9, 2015

“Not wrong, just different”

Before we headed to China to adopt Ryan, one of us was required to attend a travel workshop put on by our agency.  (This was in place of the ‘parenting babies’ class they typically required of adoptive parents—with 4 biological children, we had pretty much mastered the parenting babies thing.)  The day was pretty much a waste, except one small nugget:  it’s ‘not wrong, just different.’  That phrase was well used while we were in China the first time, since there are many cultural differences that felt ‘wrong.’  Recognizing them as simply ‘different’ made the trip much smoother.  Since then, it has become a common refrain in our home.

That mantra is oft-repeated these days.  Taking reusable bags to the grocery store? Not wrong, just different.  Choosing the 2 loaves of bread for the double loaf pack at Costco? Not wrong, just different. Paying to put at book on ‘hold’ at the library?  Not wrong, just different.  Finding that many churches here start their Sunday morning service far later than we’re used to?  Not wrong, just different.  Iced drink stands on the patio instead of coffee carts in the lobby at church?  Not wrong, just different.  Small groups that meet on campus and all study the same thing?  Again, not wrong, just different.  No AWANA or Upward (sports for children) but mid-week Bible study for grads 3-6?  Not wrong, just different!   The ‘California culture’ is not what we’re used to.  It would be easy to focus on all that is ‘wrong’'’ but instead, I want to see them as opportunity for refinement.  For growth.  For maturity.  I want to be mold-able.  I want to go back home in 2 years changed on the inside.  I want to trust God more fully, seek Him more faithfully.  It won’t be easy.  It hasn’t been so far.  But He promises to never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:9).   He promises new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24).  So…I will trust.  I will not be terrified or discouraged.  (HA!  Easier sad than done.)  And He’ll do the rest.

The only thing I can think of down here that is simply WRONG, not just different?  This:

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In my world, you’re not supposed to be able to play on the beach in February!!  This is what I’m used to:


And I miss it already. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

getting there

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This was Tuesday.  The sun was shining and the beach beckoned.  Never underestimate the value of time to play on homeschoolers finishing schoolwork in record time!  After spending time playing in the waves studying wave action, the dynamic duo moved inland a bit to see the effects of sand on throwing, running, and catching skills.  See? 


The rest of the week was cloudy and/or drizzly so we focused more on schoolwork and tying up the loose ends around here—things like parking passes for our cars (so we don’t get tickets in the neighborhood!) and kitchen tables.  Today the sun is out again, and Daddy is home.  How to spend a glorious Saturday?  How about at the beach?  Digging holes and playing football took up most of their morning; I enjoyed sitting in the sun and reading a book.  Ahhh…the good life.

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We had talked about taking a road trip this weekend to the Bay area to watch our sweet friend Katie play basketball at UC Berkeley.  Because it’s been a challenging week, we opted to stay here instead.  It would have been wonderful to spend time with Katie’s parents and some other friends who live up there.  I would have cried for sure.  Surprisingly, there have been almost no tears since we left. I anticipate they’ll come.  Maybe in another week, when Jim heads to Wichita for a few days and I’m completely on my own.   Another adventure!  Fortunately, Jim’s travel has never bothered me, so I don’t expect too much trouble.  Smile

Days like today I love almost everything about being here.  I still miss home terribly.  I know church tomorrow will not be what I’m familiar with or even necessarily what I’d like.  But that’s okay.  God is stretching me.  Growth is good.  Hard sometimes, but good.  The things I have learned, even after only 1 week at a new church, will be useful when we go back home.  

In the meantime, I have sights like this to enjoy:

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And a boy with a bloody gash after a tumble at the park!  Gotta run…