Monday, April 26, 2010


I have mixed emotions about tomorrow. Not because it's Tuesday. (Typically I look forward to Tuesday!) Not because it will be crazy busy. (That's pretty normal.) Not even because I will spend most of my day in the day surgery center waiting area at Children's Hospital while Logan has a tonsillectomy/partial adnoidectomy/ear tube replacement. I'm not necessarily looking forward to that, but I don't think it's the root cause of my mixed emotions. So why??

Tomorrow, April 27, is Brent's birthday. He's not here, but by itself that's not a big deal. It's not the first time he's celebrated a birthday away from home. But tomorrow?'s his 21st birthday. A milestone. A day that for some reason I wish I wasn't missing. If he was still in Boise, I might have even taken a trip over there to see him. (HA! Fat chance. After all, I will be spending the day in the waiting area in the day surgery center, remember??) My baby is all grown up now, and we won't be able to celebrate with him. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month. Before summer is over? Maybe. Just maybe. And then again...maybe not. Military life can be like that. Or so I'm learning.

So in honor of Brent and his 21st birthday, please watch this video. Read the words, and thank someone in the military. Do it for Brent.

I love you buddy. You are a very bright spot in my world, and we all miss you lots. Have a wonderful birthday.



Sunday, April 25, 2010

incredible blessing!!

Logan's still not feeling well so he and I are home this morning while the rest of the family is at church. I've been making copies of paperwork for his readoption hearing tomorrow--a technicality required by the state of Washington so that he can have a state issued birth certificate. (Actually, I think it's a money-grabbing thing, but that's beside the point!)

As I was sorting through the paperwork, I came across something I thought I'd lost forever...a DVD with pictures of Logan from November 2004 to May 2008. He was 6 weeks old in Nov 2004! There are probably 150 pictures of him!! (Edited to add: Uh...yeah. Try again. There are 273!) I am so grateful to have found this--what an amazing gift from the staff at Philip Hayden Foundation.

Logan at 6 weeks

Logan at 2 months

Logan at 5 months, just after his lip repair surgery

Logan at 11 months

Logan at 2 1/2

I feel like the most blessed mama in the world today!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010


So the answer to the question "Will it help?" is definitely YES! SOOOO amazing to see...this child whose hearing aids DO help him hear is having speech and language truly unlocked for the first time. Watching his face yesterday morning as I put the mic near the TV and he heard all the words in Curious George was fun. The awe was priceless, and he was totally entranced the entire 1/2 hour. Then he asked if he "could hear Sid the Science Kid" too. I know he's heard these things before--he recognizes Owen Wilson's voice on my computer greeting--but I don't know that he's heard the words clearly. He LOVES it! He couldn't wait to go to school yesterday, and his teacher said the difference was out-of-this-world amazing. And already this morning he's wearing the aids and I'm wearing the mic. Not that I have tons to say at 6:30 in the morning, but still...

One specific thing to ask, too. Logan is scheduled for a tonsillectomy/partial adnoidectomy/ear tube replacement on Tuesday. He's picked up a nasty cold. Please pray that he will recover quickly. We don't want to have to reschedule. When we scheduled this, the first available slot was 13 weeks out, and we really need to get this done. Preferably before the FM system loaner period is over in July, since cleaned-out ears and new ear tubes will affect his hearing. In addition, Logan's cold means that we have to stay away from my nephew Nicholas. Tomorrow is Nick's birthday, and Sunday we are headed there to help them get started moving to the house near the hospital and share some birthday pizza and cake. If Logan is still sick, he and I will be staying home. :(

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

will it help?

Today Logan gets fitted for an FM system. (An FM system is a boot-type receiver that fits onto his hearing aid coupled with a wireless transmitter and microphone worn by me or Jim or his preschool teacher or speech therapist. That mike is gonna travel for the next 3 months!! Here you can find a good description of what it can do for Logan. ) It will be a 3 month trial, with the system on loan from Children's. I can't wait to see what it might do for Logan--finally a chance to truly unravel how much of his speech problem is due to his hearing loss and how much is from his dyspraxia.

We will keep you posted!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

sharing the truth of adoption

Adoption. The military. They don't seem connected in most people's minds, but right now thoughts of teh two are swirling around in my head. The link? Commitment. Or lack thereof.

I'm sure that many have heard of Torry Hansen and the 7 year old boy sent back to Russia on the plane. (If you don't know what happened, google her. The news changes so fast it's difficult to choose a relevant link.) I have thoughts about what happened. It's easy to want to judge her for what she did, but the fact remains that we don't know everything about what went on. Now, having said that, I firmly believe that she missed one crucial element: commitment.

And the military? Well, twice in the last 2 or 3 weeks I have become aware of friends who have children choosing to go AWOL rather than fulfill their commitment to the military and the US government. Both young men are younger than Ms. Hansen, but it does make me wonder: are we raising up a generation that has absolutely no concept of what commitment really means? I am afraid so.

When you talk about adoption, what does commitment look like? Besides the day-in, day-out love and care for a child--the obvious part--commitment means digging deep when it's hard. It means remembering that love is NOT a warm fuzzy feeling, it's a choice, and making that choice as often as needed. It means doing hard things that your child may not like in the short term for their long term benefit. One example: Ryan was 9 months old when we adopted him. At 9 months, babies are beginning to realize that they are totally separate entities from mom, and stranger anxiety often kicks in. So does the need to start exploring and expressing their autonomy. Ryan was at that point. He was both frightened of us and determined to explore the new world he'd just been placed in. And a battle began. He didn't want me to hold him close and cuddle him up for his bottles. He didn't like being face to face with me--it was frightening and threatening. He didn't appreciate having his world 'shrunk' even temporarily--he wanted to determine how things would go. In his mind, the ideal position for taking a bottle would have been sitting on my lap facing the big world and not having to look at Mom's face. But there's a reason Moms and Dads are older and wiser. They know that the long term good HAS to outweigh the immediate need. So Ryan was unhappy as I held him close, snuggled up like a newborn. I stroked his face and talked to him softly. Initially he hated it. I think we both did. There's nothing fun about trying to feed a baby who wants nothing to do with you. But perseverance was the key, and I knew it. After a couple of weeks, I could see a huge change. The baby who didn't like to be held started seeking my lap or my arms. He started recognizing that I was trustworthy, that I could keep him safe. After a few more weeks, it turned into fun as he would put his hands on my cheeks and turn my face toward him if I tried to do something else when it was time to eat. He had discovered the fun and the joy that comes from the snuggles, from being deeply loved and loving in return. He and I played tons of peek-a-boo type games. Every day. They involved snuggles and tickles and kisses. And they taught him that Mom and Dad were fun. It's so easy to say "He didn't like it" and let the child win that battle...but where do you draw the line? There are so many adopted children who struggle with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in varying degrees. (To learn more about RAD, click here, then click RAD Symptoms on the red scroll bar on the left.) It's hard to know exactly how many, since it shares many symptoms with autism spectrum disorders and mental health issues. I just knew that I didn't want my child to become a statistic, that I was going to do whatever I needed to do to make sure that in the long run he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was loved and wanted, and that he had every opportunity to learn that we were trustworthy. For Ryan, it paid off.

When we first contemplated adopting Logan, we knew things would be different. Instead of 9 months, we would be bringing home a preschooler, already over 3 1/2. And we knew that he was already seen as the 'alpha male' in his living situation. It has to be incredibly hard to go from being the top dog in the orphanage to low man on the totem pole in a few short hours. That's what happened to Logan. His journey has been much more difficult. How well I remember emailing a dear friend from China, telling her I couldn't do this! (She assured me I could. She was right.) His sensory integration issues mean that snuggles and soft caresses are not comfortable for him. His hearing loss means that he doesn't necessarily hear all the words we say to him, increasing the frustration for all of us. His vision issues (and the cultural learning from 3 1/2 years in China) mean that maintaining eye contact is hard for him. His speech issues limit communication and frustrate him to no end. But the goal is still the same; the road is just different. Instead of close snuggles, we've opted for side by side time. We play games together that require face to face interaction, and I often whisper to him so he'll come close. He's my perpetual helper in the kitchen, and I try hard to use those times to our advantage. His journey has been much slower, much more difficult. Many people know that I have said the first year was like spending every day having my character power sanded with 30 grit sandpaper--it hurt! Now, nearly 2 years later, we are using mostly finish paper. There are still lots of rough spots, times were the coarse paper comes back out. In the process, though, the entire family has been polished and refined. We've learned a lot about ourselves and about Logan. And it's paying off. Every day we see Logan grow and learn and trust us more. As he continues to trust, he lets his guard down further and becomes more and more fun to be with. It's a process, but we're making huge progress, and while there are still things to work on, Logan is clearly and firmly attached to this family.

On the wall in our stairwell, there is a picture. It says "No reserves. No retreats. No regrets." Those words were spoken by William Borden, heir to the Borden family fortune, as he pursued God and his desire to be a missionary in the early 1900s. They are amazingly similar to the Marine Corps motto: "Honor. Courage. Commitment." Maybe it's not a surprise that Brent enlisted in the Marines--he grew up with similar values. These days, they get to see them in action more. No reserves? Check. Some days it takes everything I have mentally and emotionally to deal with Logan's issues. No retreats? Check. We are still here and so is he. So is Ryan, for that matter. It's a choice. No regrets? Check (at least most of the time!). How could we have regrets? Two sweet boys who love their family? They are such fun! It's not easy dealing with all the stuff or trying to juggle the needs of preschoolers, high schoolers, and college kids, but it's life and you just do it.

So...would I do it again? Absolutely! If someone else would foot the adoption bill... :) It's hard, but so are most good things in life. Do I have regrets? Probably--there's a place in my heart I simply don't let my mind go right now because hanging out there isn't productive. Does it mean I love my little guys less, or wish they weren't part of my life? Absolutely not.

Bottom line, that's the truth of adoption--it's hard work but SO worth it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010!

For some reason, I regularly call Ryan by his biggest brother's name. I almost never make that mistake with Logan. I do get Ryan and Logan mixed up all the time, but I think that is to be expected. After all, they're both 5 years old, short, and Chinese. Smiley But Brent and Ryan? They are as different as night and day! I mean really--Brent is TALL, almost 21, and fair skinned; Ryan is teeny tiny, just barely 5, and so dark skinned many people think he's Hispanic. But they have similar temperaments, similar personalities, and similar mannerisms, so I guess it makes a little sense. Ryan laughs when I call him "short Brent." This afternoon, though, I think I figured it out...

Logan goes to preschool in the afternoon (long story, and I cannot WAIT until preschool is finally over!). While he's gone, I typically spend some time with Ryan 'doing school,' in part to occupy his time constructively, in part to start the formal learning process, and in part to get him used to being taught by Mom. (They'll both be homeschooled for Kindergarten in the fall.) Today I pulled out a whole stack of math papers for Ryan to work through while Logan was gone. The stack was large--something like 2o or 22 pages--and while we took Logan to school, we talked about our afternoon. I mentioned some schoolwork to be done at the kitchen table. Ryan got all excited for a minute. Then he asked me how much work he would have to do. I told him there were lots of papers, but we didn't have to finish them all today, that we'd only work for a while and could quit when he got tired. (I knew that these math papers would present NO challenge to him at all and the exercise was more for practicing left-to-right processing than it was for learning math.) After a moment of pensive thought he looked at me and said,

"Mom, I am tired now. And I will be tired until school is out. What time is school over again? That's when I'll be not tired any more. Can I play on the Wii?"

Oh. my. goodness. I nearly choked trying not to laugh. It was like listening to Brent many years ago. So much so that I wondered if Brent was somewhere nearby feeding Ryan the words. Then it hit me: These two are so alike because Ryan is channeling a young Brent!! :)

So, for my "short Brent" and my "tall Ryan," you can't fool me any more. I'm on to your game. I'll still probably call you the wrong names. But I guess it really doesn't matter. I love you both!

Feeling out of sorts today...a bit stressed, a little tired, restless, pressured, overwhelmed with some decisions, concerned about friends and family.....that kind of thing. I don't like days like today!

I need

an afternoon off, or
a good book and a glass of cold lemonade, or
time to catch up with an old friend, or
maybe even a good cry and a nap.

Regardless, it's highly unlikely I'll get any of the above. Sometimes, that's just how life is. So I will take a deep breath and keep going... Is there any other choice??

Sigh. Guess I'll go fold the mountain of laundry that is waiting for me, then go do some ironing. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Friday, April 9, 2010

life is NOT FAIR!

Remember my nephew Nicholas? He was diagnosed with leukemia in Sept 2006 at the age of 4. The picture above was taken last month at an event called St. Baldricks. Nick's in the front, with his big brother Ted directly behind him and a friend beside Ted in the blue shirt.

Nick will be 8 this month. He had a bone marrow transplant in March 2009. Just this week they've been doing their long term follow up, the last set of visits before Nick is released from Seattle Cancer Care's care and allowed to live a 'normal' life. Yesterday, they received the most devastating news a parent can get--Nick's leukemia is back. He will be readmitted to the hospital soon...go through chemo...have another bone marrow transplant. It's hard. There are tears all around. Anger. Frustration. Discouragement. And other emotions too...

Please pray for Nicholas. Pray for his body and his strength as he goes through another 12-24 months of treatment. Pray for his big brother Ted. Ted's 10. The last 4 years have been hard on him. Pray for my sister and brother in law, Pam and Tony, as they work through this and make new adjustments in their lives, just as they were finally starting to feel 'normal' again. Pray especially for Pam today--it's her birthday. This is not how she had anticipated spending the day. And one specific, significant request for Nick: He spent his 5th birthday sick. And his 6th. And his 7th. Pray that they will be able to delay his hospital admission and his chemo until AFTER April 24, his birthday. They'd really like Nick to have one birthday, one party that he can enjoy. The odds aren't good for next year (since he'll be in treatment)...

Today my heart aches for my baby sister and her family.

Friday, April 2, 2010

feeling 'stuck'

Sometimes I hear something or see something that starts me thinking. Not just the 'in passing' kind of thinking, but the deep 'I need to work this out' kind of thinking. Wednesday night was one of those nights. Jim and I were watching (previewing?) the last video for our small group the next night. The topic was community, and the question that really got me thinking was this:

"What breaks your heart?"

Thursday as I went through the day, I realized that there are many things that break my heart. It hurts that we have families in our lives who are unemployed and we can't (don't?) do more to help. Lots of families! It is hard to watch a friend struggle with a special needs child and know that because of distance I can't be as helpful as I'd like. (Or do I use the distance as a convenient excuse? After all, my life is busy too!) And, not surprising, my heart breaks when I think of the children around the world who simply need someone to care. (Isn't there room here for one more?) But I have found that even though those things--and others--break my heart, it's not as hard as it has been in the past. Why? Have I allowed myself to become hardened to the needs around me? Or do I sit back complacently because I don't think I have the resources to do the things I want to do (and therefore settle for doing nothing?)? Not exactly comfortable thoughts...

In the car yesterday, I heard a song I have always really liked. This time I just sat and listened to the words. REALLY listened. And I realized something. I'm just going through the motions these days. But how do I change? I can come up with lots of excuses as to why things are the way they are; in the end, though, they are just excuses. I could do things differently...IF I were willing to make a change. So, for today, for this week, for this month...this is my prayer:

No regrets
Not this time
Gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something

Just okay's not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

I don't want to go through the motions
I don't want to live one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't want to spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything....instead of going through the motions?
(The Motions, by Matthew West)

Here I am, Lord. Use me! Then maybe I won't feel 'stuck' any more.

creativity reigns

Amazing what they can come up with to do with plastic Easter eggs. Here's Ryan and his new "hearing aids."

And he and Logan 'sharing' those same aids. Lots of laughs and giggles here this morning!