Sunday, November 29, 2009

yeah sure

Came home from Portland today. We had a great holiday--visited with friends, met new little people, and enjoyed a thoroughly relaxing time. We even had some time with just Logan, since Ryan headed back to Seattle on Saturday morning with the girls. He got some special time with them; we got some special time with Logan.

When we got here, one of the first things I saw was Brent's shoes sitting just inside the laundry room door. Took them up to 'his' room and it hit me--he's really gone. Boot camp starts Tuesday. I KNOW it will be good for him. I KNOW that he will be fine. But here, surrounded by all his things and by pictures of him, there's a hole. I miss him. It doesn't really matter how 'ready' I am for him to take this step, he's still gone. And I'm sure it will be several weeks before I can make it through an entire week without tears. That's how it was when he left for college, and we could talk and text then. This time--not so much. Hopefully he'll write.... I know I will.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Well, we put Brent on the plane today. Tuesday he leaves for USMC basic training...

Today wasn't as hard as I thought it might be. Tuesday? Not sure yet...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How do you answer this??

The boys and I have spent some time recently with several families who have new babies. As a result, they've had more questions than normal about babies. That's not a huge surprise. We've had some fun conversations about what babies can and can't do, and they've loved holding little babies. But nothing prepared me for Monday afternoon....

After some little friends who had spent the morning with us went home, Ryan blew my mind with this question:

"Mommy, tell me about my China mommy. What do you know about her?"

HARD! We know nothing about Ryan's biological family. Nothing. So what did I tell him? Well, the truth. I told him that I don't know anything for sure, but that his China mommy was probably not very big, that she is probably very pretty, and that she's probably younger than me. That satisfied him for now, but I know there will be more questions.

In the meantime, today as we drove to Portland, we were regaled with story after story of what the China mommies and China daddies (Ryan's and Logan's) are doing right now since their special little boys live here. Heartbreaking and fun at the same time--heartbreaking to hear them telling stories that show how they're trying to work through their abandonments, and fun to see their creative juices flowing. They came up with some GREAT stories.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving! We're going to enjoy one last day with Brent before he heads off to boot camp. I know it will be fun to spend time with Jim's family and I am determined to ENJOY my day. There will be plenty of time for tears on Friday.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Ryan will be 5 in 2 months. He's quite a dinky little guy--weighs in at about 30 pounds on a good day. That puts him just UNDER the 3rd percentile for his age, meaning that 97% of children his age weigh more than he does. He's tiny. But he loves to eat. Case in point:

Tonight for dinner, Ryan had 2 bowls of chili, 3 cinnamon rolls, and a whole bunch of carrot sticks and cucumber slices for dinner. We ate at 6. I just put him to bed...and he sobbed brokenheartedly when I wouldn't give him ice cream before bed. "But Momma" he sobbed, "I'm HUNGRY!"


Sunday afternoon

What fun! We've got a houseful today--Victoria and 3 of her friends are in the office watching movies for "memorial points" for their world history class, Emily's doing homework at the kitchen table, and Hailey and her best friend are chatting in the family room. Yes, that's 7 teenaged girls here in the house! The boys are playing basketball in the dining room (on their preschool sized hoop) and Jim's watching a movie. Me? Cooking dinner for the crowd. Chili and cinnamon rolls. Yummy! Enough to fill even the hungriest teens. The only thing missing? My big guy. He's not home this weekend. Too bad for him--chili and cinnamon rolls is his favorite meal, and it will be a while before he can have them again. :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

life lessons

"What are two things you've learned in life?"

Interesting question. I had the opportunity to answer it recently, and it was hard narrowing the field to ONLY two. But it got me thinking....what have I learned so far? Here are a few things on my very long list:

*I have been richly blessed with a wonderful family and amazing friends.
*There is great peace in knowing that God has a plan and that He doesn't make mistakes. Even when everything seems hopeless.
*Money isn't everything. And the best things in life really are free--a child's smile, time with a friend, a special drawing from your 4 year old tucked into your overnight bag, sleepy hugs and slobbery kisses, dandelions carefully picked by chubby hands...
*Some days I don't have enough patience to parent my crew.
*Some days the 'to-do list' of life feels horribly overwhelming. "Just do the next thing" is what keeps me moving.
*Because I tend to process things by thinking rather than talking, I can be very slow to respond. As a matter of fact, I typically come up with the 'best' response much later than I need it. That's frustrating!
*I spend too much time on the coulda/woulda/shoulda and the if-only of life and too little time simply enjoying it.
*I NEED time to myself once in a while--time to do what I want to do, have a complete thought without interruption, read a page (or a chapter, or heaven forbid an entire book!) without someone needing my attention. Without that, I tend to get very grumpy. Once a month would be heavenly, once a quarter would be amazing, but I can be content with once a year.
*I'm a terrible candidate to win the lottery. I'd give away most of it, and probably need a bigger house for the additional children I'd adopt! :)
*I need a 12 step recovery group for my addiction to babies. There's a reason I work in the nursery--so I can hold them!! I'd have another baby in a heartbeat if they'd just stay little for me.
*It's never to late to tell someone you appreciate them.
*Fancy vacations are overrated. I'd rather settle in at a cozy cabin at the beach and watch the storms blow through.
*Watching my guys grow up and spread their wings is the hardest, most rewarding thing I've ever done. And I'm SO not ready for this next step. When did my firstborn get so old?
*I hate not being able to fix things for people! Seeing people I care about hurting is hard, and knowing there's very little I can do makes it worse.
*I hate confrontation. And I don't want to let people down.
*Teenagers are great people! Most of them don't deserve the bad rap they get. And I have LOVED having 4 of them living here at the same time!

So, what have YOU learned from life??

Friday, November 20, 2009


Crazy crazy crazy day! Spent the morning doing the mundane--laundry, paperwork, housecleaning--and the not so mundane, like playing with my little guys. They helped me make dinner for some friends with a new baby at home. After a too-brief playdate with another friend and her 3 girls, the boys and I dashed out to deliver dinner, then ran back home to get our dinner started.

Why the rush? Well, in just under one hour I'm OUTTA HERE! One glorious night in a hotel by myself, then a day of power shopping tomorrow to do all the Christmas shopping. As much as I hate shopping, I will do just about anything for a night off. I intend to enjoy every minute of this time!

Catch you later....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

harnessing an obsession?

Logan is obsessed these days. His new obsession? These...

...especially when used on this.... (fortunately, only HIS old coloring pages, not anything else!)

to make this! These are the BIG shreds, the ones we can pick up easily. Most of his cutting has to be vacuumed up since it's too small to pick up.

His occupational therapist is thrilled because cutting paper is so good for his fine motor skills. Me? Not so much. Or, more accurately, not at all. Vacuuming the itty bitty shreds of paper off the floor for the third time today, it did occur to me that perhaps there is a redeeming value in his obsession. Maybe I should harness it and make it work for me....

Instead of replacing my paper shredder, I could just get a big box, put Logan in it with all the papers I need shredded, and let him cut to his heart's content! The mess would stay contained, I would get rid of the papers I don't need, and he can practice his fine motor skills. Problem solved!

Monday, November 16, 2009


I am a huge klutz and have NO athletic ability at all! As a matter of fact, Logan and his gross motor issues fit in fine here, since he appears to take after me. No, I don't fall all the time or walk into walls like he does, but still.... I'm such a klutz that for years Jim called me 'Grace' in reference to my less-than-graceful attempts. It took me a long time to come to terms with this--and I've finally made peace with the fact that while I'm not athletic, I DO have other talents and strengths.

Fortunately, my children have (so far) inherited their father's athletic ability. Herein lies the problem. What exactly will I do with myself this winter? For the first time since 1996, we do NOT have a basketball player in the house. Victoria has opted to quit playing basketball. I am sad, but it's HER sport and HER decision. She does not have to play to make us happy. She played last year and knows what high school ball is all about; she's making an informed decision. That works for me. But I LOVE high school basketball! I love spending time at the gym, watching the kids play, cheering for my own child and their friends. It's the highlight of my year, and my favorite social outlet! :) This year? Well, it's going to be sad. I still know many of the players on both the boys and girls squads but it's just not the same. I'll still go watch, especially since Emily is the captain of the cheer squad. But that's not the same either, and previous experience has taught me that I am SO not a cheer parent!! Thinking about spending time in the gym focusing on the cheerleaders rather than the athletes makes my skin crawl. Even if one of them is my daughter! Ugh.

The cheer moms are such a fascinating group. For them and for the coach, everything is about how you look. How you perform. How perfectly together everything is. I don't mind some of that, but in today's society there's already enough emphasis on how young ladies look. We don't need to spend more time highlighting their outward appearance! Truly, this is where I have such trouble as a cheer mom. I want my girls to be neat and clean, to look pulled together and pretty. But I don't want it to be their sole focus. I want them to be beautiful on the inside. I want their character to shine! I want to see them beautiful because of who they are, not because of how they look. I want my girls to radiate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self control! Those are the things that make them beautiful. It's not about the right lip gloss or the right hairstyle or the perfect uniform. But that's where cheer seems to get hung up...

So if you head to the gym to watch basketball this year, I"ll be there. Sitting with the parents of the players, not the parents of the cheerleaders. As much as I love my girl, I won't be gushing every day about how cute she looks. Instead, we'll continue to focus on her inward beauty. The other cheer parents won't be happy that I won't 'come to their party.' But I want so much more for my daughter. Is that so wrong?

sleep study pics

Sorry they're not very good. Lighting was horrible, and it's hard to take pics and help out at the same time!

And yes, he really truly slept all night wired up like that! It took him about 10 minutes to fall asleep, then we didn't hear a thing from him for just over 8 hours. Amazing child!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

lessons for girls

Basic auto maintenance. Jim does ours on all the cars and Brent's pretty handy when it comes to auto mechanics too. But the girls aren't off the hook. Once you're old enough to drive here, you are old enough to assume the responsibility for basic auto maintenance. Jim has always said that he'll teach you how to change the oil and rotate the tires or you can pay someone else to do it--those are the choices. Today, Em's car needed an oil change. So guess what? She's outside having a lesson! See?

Just like me when I was a girl--my dad taught my sisters and me those things. And the harder stuff, like changing starters and spark plugs? Well, Jim teaches those things too. If you're really good (like Hailey) you do those things on your own! What a girl...

Friday, November 13, 2009

time is too short

When did my baby go from this (7 weeks old):

and this (4 years old):
to this (17 years old):

And now, 3 years after that picture was taken and 2 years after he moved out to go to college, why is time so short??

We only have

*1 more holiday
*9 more days with just our family
*14 more days in the Pacific Northwest
*18 more days until he boards the plane

I've been okay with his enlistment. I love the child I'm sending in and know that I will get an outstanding young man back for a visit after boot camp. Now that it's REALLY here though, I have my moments...times when the memories flood and the tears fall. I will miss this child! No matter how old he is, he's still my firstborn.... Even though he's not lived here for over 2 years, we've been able to talk to him pretty much any time we wanted. Starting December 1? Not so much. No phone calls, no emails, no text messages. Only regular US mail, and that only when he has time. We can write to him any time--and will--but it will not be the same. I will miss the fun give and take of conversation with him. I will miss his smile and his laugh. I will even miss his 'glass is half empty' view of the world. Sometimes.

One of the things the Marines give the recruit parents is a Parents Survival Guide for boot camp. The things in it are helpful and most make a great deal of sense. Much of it is reassuring and I am excited for him and this new adventure. I look forward to being a 'Marine Mom' (I think). I know he can do this.

And on the tough days, when I'm missing him too much, I will take the words of the Marine Parent Survival Guide to heart:

"Besides the Corps itself and their country,
there's only one other thing Marines revere--their mamas."

I have a feeling I'm going to need to post it on the wall.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

false alarm

Ryan's not sick. His overactive gag reflex was triggered by a coughing episode while eating carrots at lunch. Not pretty, but MUCH better than the flu.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

oh no

Last week Ryan ran a fever. Nothing significant, and nothing like his "typical" fever of 104. But he still felt miserable for 36 hours. Once it broke, our chipper little Ryan returned. Apparently, though, it was temporary.

This morning was preschool. I was upstairs in my classroom with my little ones when the director came in and told me that Ryan needed me. It seems that something else is bugging him--he threw up in class! Ugh. SO not fun. Packed up a stinky Ryan and a ticked 0ff Logan and headed home, leaving another gal in charge in my room. Logan says he's fine; Ryan looks fine but acts funny, and we're hanging out here watching a state tournament basketball game from March 2005 on DVD. Ryan's cheering his heart out for Brent, and probably will be surprised at the end when "Brent's team wins again!" Hopefully it was an isolated incident, and no one else gets it.

In the meantime, I get to decide if my minor headache and upset stomach means something or is simply the power of suggestion. ...

a sure sign I'm gettting old

Yesterday I left a whole bunch of stuff on the porch to be picked up by Community Services for the Blind. It was my intention to go through more rooms and get more together, but my weekend was a bit busy (see previous post!). Anyway, Sunday afternoon this thought went through my head as I was going through my closet:

"I should do something with this. If I don't, my children are going to have to deal with it someday. Will they know what it is or why Mom kept it? And will they care???"

Hmmmm...inspiration to purge the junk! Now all I need is the time.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Sad day at the volleyball court today. The Warriors played hard but lost their first match 3-1. Down but not out yet, they tried to recover enough for a second match against a top ranked team. This match was critical--the last state tournament berth was at stake. Winner take all. Game 1 wasn't pretty, and the other team won. The girls rallied back for game 2, pulling out a big victory. Game 3? Well, it had a disastrous start. With the Warriors down by a score of 15-1, things were looking pretty grim. All of a sudden the fire alarm rings! Surprised, I looked for my little guys, who had been sitting nearby with some dads they know. I wanted to make sure they weren't too frightened. I didn't like what I saw.....

My curious, inquisitive child, the one who can't keep his hands off anything, looked nervous. More than that, he looked guilty. When I asked him what happened, he burst into tears. With that, I knew. The fire alarm was ringing because the temptation to pull the lever was just too much for him. Torn between wanting to cry, wanting to laugh, and wanting the a hole to crawl into, I decided that I might as well laugh. Here is a child born half way around the world and he's just proven without a doubt he's related to one of his sisters. A brand new reader, one of the girls couldn't resist the temptation to do just what the little handle said: "Pull." So she did. Now I have TWO children who have pulled fire alarms at 5 years old. Hers was a bit less dramatic, only requiring the evacuation of the music room at school. His? Well, yes, we had to stop the match mid game. Evacuate 2 teams, all the officials, and all the fans. Then, we got to stand outside in the cold to wait for the fire truck to come and give us the 'all-clear.' Hopefully NOW he'll have a better understanding of why Mom and Dad insist that he keep his hands to himself, that he not touch everything all the time. Somehow I doubt it. We talked about it. This was a great object lesson, an opportunity to really SEE why we insist on it. I can still hope. In the meantime, we'll get a good laugh out of his inquisitiveness.

The Warriors never recovered after the fire alarm and ended up losing the second match 3-1. Heartbreaking? Yes. I wanted to see my Emily able to play at the Sundome. Her older siblings have had the chance. It was her turn. They played hard and have no need to hang their heads. For most of the girls on the team, this was their last chance. But the growth, the improvement of skills, and the final record of 16-4 are not things to be ashamed of. Even without a trip to state, it was an awesome season. So we take a deep breath, enjoy the day tomorrow, and watch Emily switch gears on Monday to her new adventure: cheer.

Sometime later I'll post pics of Logan at his sleep study. He's such a trooper! I cannot imagine sleeping all wired up like he was. But he did. Now we wait for 4 to 5 weeks to get the results. Hopefully we'll learn something helpful.

Friday, November 6, 2009

fortune cookie meets reality


That's what the fortune in the cookie Brent gave me said. We had a good time as we laughed and joked about where I would be going and what I would do with my newfound fortune. Little did I know that it was about to come true...

No, I didn't win the lottery and I'm not headed off on some fabulous vacation. Or even a semi-fabulous one. But Emily's volleyball team is poised to head to the state tournament! That means a trip across the mountains to Yakima. Been there plenty in March; never in November. Guess it's about time. A single victory tomorrow will seal the deal and I'll soon be traveling! As wonderful as a week on a sunny shore sounds, I"d much prefer a trip to watch my girl play volleyball. Maybe the fortune cookie was right. :)

And the fortune? Well, I feel like we did hit the jackpot. Or at least hold a golden ticket. Last week Logan had a preliminary visit to the sleep clinic at Children's. Craniofacial kids are highly likely to have sleep issues (something like 80% of them do!) and we have some concerns about Logan. He shows some symptoms of mixed apnea (an abnormal breathing pattern), and his daytime behavior reflects it. After talking with his ENT and his craniofacial pediatrician at clinics in September, they suggested that perhaps a sleep study would be a good thing, but that we could decide. Two weeks ago, after reviewing the symptoms again and again, I called. They saw him for his preliminary visit last week like I mentioned, and we scheduled the sleep study for March 30, 2010. Yes, that was the first available appointment! Ugh. Because he's a cranio kid, he was placed on the wait list. Apparently with high priority! Today my phone rang, and Logan will have his sleep study TONIGHT. That feels like a winning ticket to me. If we can get some answers to some of his ongoing issues, that would be incredible and better than anything money can buy.

What are his symptoms? Well, for Logan it wasn't so much the snoring (a typical symptom) as it was the daytime stuff: tired and irritable, mouth breathing, hyperactivity, distractability, and developmental issues. He does snore lightly, but the other big concern is his inability to breathe regularly and evenly. It's noticeable during the day but very clear at night. He simply stops breathing, then after a few seconds (that feel like a lifetime!) he gasps several times the resumes a 'normal' pattern for a bit.

Will the golden ticket lead to the jackpot? I hope so. It would be nice to have an answer for all the little stuff that plagues my guy. If I have to stay overnight in a sleep center for some answers, well, then, let's make it happen! I'm ready. What's everyone waiting for??

PS Can this girl jump or what? Such fun to watch... But hard to take pictures from the top row of the bleachers!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

off to a great start

What a great week so far! Every day, every week a fresh start, just as God promises. :)

Logan started preschool on Monday. He was nervous in the beginning, so I stayed for about 35 minutes while he got acquainted with his teacher and classmates--5 others, all boys. Once circle time was done and it was time for the first activity, he was all smiles and grins, waving furiously so I would leave. Yesterday, he couldn't get out of the car fast enough to join Mrs. Nelson! And when I picked him up, she had such great things to say about him! She praised his quick pick-up of the classtime routine, never mind the fact that Tuesday is nothing like Monday. She was impressed by his leadership skills, gently reminding fellow students of the teacher's request to move to the yellow table, to use quiet feet, or to sit with quiet bodies. (Not surprising for the child labeled the "alpha male" in his orphanage!) She loved his enthusiasm and his correct, on target responses. She said he was a joy to have in class. And he LOVES it. My concerns are long gone, and I'm thrilled to see him doing so well. Praise God for His provision in the face of my fear!

Ryan yesterday kept asking me if it was time to get Logan yet. This is a huge thing! They fight like brothers, and Ryan's frustration with Logan and his irritating behavior has escalated a bit. To see him truly missing Logan is awesome and fun, and a great reminder that bringing Logan into our home in part so that Ryan had someone to grow up with is a good thing. They may not always get along but they ARE friends. For that we are grateful! Again, we see God's provision...

And yesterday was my birthday. We started celebrating Monday night with a family dinner at Olive Garden. I think it's the first time EVER that we've all been out to dinner as a family, all 6 children plus Jim and me. With Brent in Boise the last 2 years it just hasn't happened. But Jim went up to UW to get Hailey so she could join us, and we had a wonderful, fun dinner. Such a joy to see all those faces around the table! And so much fun to see others around us try and figure us out: "hmmm...the biggest one looks like both adults; some of those girls look like him and some like her, and those little ones keep calling them mom and dad...maybe they really are a family!" :) Yesterday was fun too--I got some "chick flicks" from my big guys, a new lens for my camera, a new sweatshirt, lots of little boy kisses, tons of birthday greetings from friends old and new, and a promise of a gift and get-together from a longtime friend I rarely see. THAT was a surprise, and a bonus. Now, to find the time to get together! I had a quiet peaceful morning at work yesterday (rare in my class, and unheard of this fall!) and even had the opportunity to chat at length with one of my moms to see how we can help her little one better while he's in class. All in all, I think it was my best birthday ever!!

Can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings. It's going to be fun!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

really? REALLY??

It's been one of THOSE weekends. You know...the kind where nothing's wrong, but nothing's quite right either. Seems like that's how most of October was, and I must say that I'm a bit disappointed (frustrated? irritated?) to see November starting out this way. But that's life.

Em's volleyball team played fairly well on Saturday, but not well enough to win the district title. That means they play a string of loser-out games to earn a spot to the state tournament. Selfishly, I'd really like this settled as I have some things I need to do and some people to see on a weekend, but I have to HAVE a weekend. All our plans right now are tentative at best, and I hate that. Thursday night will bring more answers, and hopefully some Saturday volleyball! It's hard to see them lose, to know that they could have won, and to know that Em's desire to play at state is still so far out of reach. But that's life.

Brent moved back home last weekend. It's been quite the adventure having a 20 year old living here after 2+ years on his own. It's so nice to have him around and yet there's the constant struggle to recognize him as an adult when to me he's still my first baby. But I'm trying! Add to it his frustration with his car--not running at the moment, and every time he and Jim think they've got it figured out, something else turns up. Trying to coordinate "car schedules" is enough to drive a sane person mad I tell you! But that's life.

Logan starts preschool tomorrow. It's been a tough day for him, filled with disobedience, defiance, and tears. I know much of it's related to the nerves about school and I'm sympathetic. Yesterday I was struggling with feeling inadequate to help my own child; today I'm ready to send him to boarding school! Parenting Logan has been the hardest thing I've ever done and I just have to trust that someday it will be one of the most rewarding as well. Today, though, I just feel like a miserable failure. Someday we'll find the keys to unlock ALL the pieces for this bright sweet child, but in the meantime...... yeah. But that's life.

At this point, I'm ready to just curl up in bed and pull the covers over my head. Unfortunately, that's not an option. So I'll re-choose my attitude and be grateful for the things that are right, grateful for the things that are "learning opportunities," and grateful for those that refine my character. (Yep. Even those things. Ugh.) I'll start tomorrow with a renewed sense of hope. And an early morning run. Those always seem to help.

Hoping to ENJOY life this week,