Saturday, July 24, 2010

a fun equation

Good friends (for sure!)
+ Good food (always!)
+ Good weather (SUNSHINE!!!)
Good times...GUARANTEED!!

Vacation--here we come!

Friday, July 23, 2010

heartbreak is…

…1,951 names on the waiting child list released Tuesday from the China Center for Adoption Affairs.  That’s 1951 children.

 1,951   Just ponder that number for a minute.

Most—but not all—have medical needs, but all share a common special need:  a family!   Some of those children have been officially waiting for families for more than 2 years.  TWO YEARS!!

I would adopt again in a heartbeat, but at our house we have two  ‘diseases’ known in adoption circles as “Reluctant Spouse Syndrome” and “Reluctant Bank Account Syndrome.”    If those could be overcome…well…

What’s holding you back?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

adoption vows?

Ryan’s adoption day.  (age 9 months)

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And Logan’s (in the orange).  He was 3 1/2 when we adopted him.  Zhengzhou015 Logan

I’ve often thought that adoption day should have a vow ceremony, much like a wedding ceremony.  It is, after all, a conscious choice to take another person into your life—a person with character traits that may not match your own, with hang-ups and flaws and insecurities.  Although it is ‘just’ adding a child to a family, it is VERY different than bringing home a newborn.  Newborns are on the same learning curve as their parents.  Newborns are cute and cuddly and totally dependent on you to meet their needs.  Newborns sleep lots and don’t get into things.  Newborns smell delicious.  Newborns express their dislike of things but don’t throw tantrums or toys or food…or worse.  No, adding a 9 month old or a 3 1/2 year old should come with an exchange of vows.  Ours would look something like this:

We, Mom and Dad, take you to be our child.  We promise to love you and protect you, even from yourself sometimes.  We promise to provide you with everything you need, and we promise that you will not receive everything you want.  We promise you food, shelter, clothing, and the best medical care we can afford.     We promise the same high expectations of behavior that we had of your older siblings and the same high hopes for your futures that we hold for them.  We promise that the road will not be easy and smooth but the journey will have plenty of love and laughter.  We promise to share with you the things we love—camping, reading, playing games, being together—and the things we can’t live without—one another, an extended family, a church family, and the love of Jesus Christ.   We know that there will be ups and downs in this relationship, but we want you to know that for better or for worse, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, we will be there.  We promise that we will never leave you.  We love you.

In return, their vows would go something like this:

I, Ryan, take you to be my Mom and Dad.  I promise that you will learn new things about raising children.  I promise that I will test your words about always loving me and never leaving me.  I promise that I will try to plumb the depths of your commitment to me as I struggle with daily night terrors.  I promise to raise the bar my siblings set, challenging you to help me reach my full potential.   I promise to keep you on your toes as you seek to keep me academically challenged.  I promise to work hard to be an even better, more natural athlete than any of my older siblings.  I promise to fill your world with laughter and wonder and the joy of childhood.  I promise to love you fiercely and unconditionally, and to be your baby forever.

Then there’s Logan:

I, Logan, take you to be my parents.  If I have to.  I promise to view the world differently than anyone else in the house, and to be more curious than any child who has ever lived here before.  I promise to make Google your new best friend!  I promise to expand your horizons, to challenge you to a depth of medical knowledge you never knew you wanted, and to present you a balled-up mess of medical issues so intertwined it will be hard to know how much each affects my learning, daily life, and development.  I promise to challenge every decision you make until you start second guessing yourself.  I promise to do my own thing, regardless of how many times you remind me that you are in charge.  I promise to plumb the depths of your commitment to me as I strive to make every day as difficult as possible.  You see, I want to be the alpha male here.  I promise to challenge everything you ever knew about childrearing, and every book you ever read about adopting toddlers and preschoolers.  I promise that I will test your words about always loving me and never leaving me.  Every day.  Multiple times every day.  I promise that I will make sure you truly understand the words spoken so glibly by many: "Love is a choice.”  And, I promise that if you stick by me and fulfill your end of the bargain, I will learn that you are trustworthy.  I will also learn that I am valuable and loveable.  Those are things I desperately want to believe.  The question is do you have the inner strength to get me there?  I promise to test that inner strength, and I pray that you don’t fail me.  If you don’t fail me, I promise to love you fiercely and to always remember the love and commitment you faithfully modeled, even when I was at my worst.

We’re going through a very rough patch with Logan again.  He has decided that he doesn’t like having people make decisions for him.  His impulsive behavior is worse.  His curiosity can be overwhelming at times.  He doesn’t like speech therapy and has started refusing to participate.  (We’re taking next week off to give him a short break.)  He has given new meaning to the whole ‘love is a choice’ maxim.  It’s a choice that we are making multiple times a day right now.  It’s not fun…or pretty.  But we made a commitment, so we take a deep breath and hang on.  The sign in our hallway over the stairs reads:

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Penned by William Borden, these words exemplify how we want to live our lives.  They serve as a great reminder that the sacrifices and the costs are worth the prize.

The question is…do I have what it takes?  I don’t know…but I will die trying.  Giving up is not an option.  No matter how I feel.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

If variety is the spice of life, then I definitely have a well-seasoned world.  Just today I got to spend time holding a newborn, playing with a friend’s toddler, working with my 5 year old at speech, watching the neighborhood kids play in the back yard, and chaperoning a teenagers movie night.  That’s pretty much the norm around here.  Sometimes the combinations don’t work well together, but most of the time the unusual mix that is thrown together melds into a very tasty dish.

Isn’t God good??  I am very blessed indeed.


How do you teach a 5 year old that lying is wrong? How??? We never struggled like this with the others. When he lies to me, he knows exactly what he’s done wrong. And he can tell me it’s wrong. And yet he persists. I think tonight’s episode is probably the 6th in the last 24 hours. You’d think after losing an afternoon’s worth of privileges today for this very issue—and spending some of the afternoon in tears because of it—he would manage to remember for at least a couple of hours. After all, we are talking about the child who can remember the intimate details of the poison ivy rash the man with the yellow hat had on Curious George in an episode that aired last fall! So why can’t he remember not to lie for 3 hours???

Parenting. A character building adventure. For EVERYONE. :\

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

not my most brilliant morning

I rolled my ankle this morning. Apparently the pothole I didn’t see was out for revenge after I stepped on it’s edge.  True to form, it was a graceful move.  :)  After the initial jolt of pain, it really didn’t hurt much so I pretty much dismissed it.  Now, nearly 8 hours later, it hurts.  No visible swelling, so that’s good, but I am surprised at how painful some steps are. 

Maybe I should use it as an excuse to grab my new toy (a Kindle!), put my feet up, and read??  I wish…  Instead I’ll probably take some Aleve and finish tidying up the disaster of a space we call the office.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

didn’t see that coming

I’m not used to turning heads.

After all, I drive a stereotypical ‘Mom’ car—an SUV.

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A 1996 Chevy Suburban with 200,000 miles, to be exact. And I love it. I love everything about it (well, except the gas mileage!). It’s comfortable. It’s easy to drive. It’s practical. (What else holds 8 people, tons of luggage or groceries, and can tow a 32’ travel trailer??) And it has a great sticker in the back window these days:

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I don’t typically get many second looks and I get very few comments. Save, of course, the ones at the gas station where people can be a bit touchy about the fuel economy of my vehicle of choice. (They generally back off when they see the Marine parent sticker AND the two car seats in the back row or when they learn I have 6 children.)

The last couple of weeks, though, I’ve had the fun of being able to drive this several times:

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I can tell you it’s tons of fun to drive. However, I never expected anyone to take a second look. Like I said, I’m definitely not used to having people drool over the car I drive. It feels weird to have people admiring the car. But not so weird that I’d quit driving it. I’ve learned something in this experience, too: Learning to drive a 5 speed all those years ago was definitely worth it. This car would NOT be as much fun if it was an automatic!

Where to? I’ll drive! :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

wishful thinking

Occasionally, when life goes on overload I find myself wishing for the chance to hide away for a bit, a chance to catch my breath and regroup.   A friend used to live in a place where a rocking chair sometimes sat in front of a picture window with a wonderful view.  I spent a lot of time there in my mind this weekend--rocking in that chair, admiring the view, and thinking. 

Sometimes life is a bit stressful.  Life with a houseful of teens and twentysomethings is chaotic once in a while—even when some of them don’t live at home.  Being able to remove myself from the chaos on occasion is important, even if it can only happen in my mind.  I wish circumstances had allowed my ‘mental vacation’ to be a real visit but that’s not how it is.  And the mental break was definitely better than nothing.  For that I am grateful.

Now it’s Monday, time to start a new week with a fresh perspective.  I can do that.  :)

Thanks, my friend……

Saturday, July 10, 2010

an afternoon’s work

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28 jars of strawberry jam.  At least it wasn’t 95° today!


That’s all. (I think) I feel better now.  Back to your regularly scheduled day…

Thursday, July 8, 2010

questionable ethics?

I’ve been frustrated all afternoon.  I wonder, sometimes, about why doctors and dentists would employ questionable business practices and still be highly recommended by their peers.  For their medical expertise, I guess.

Today Emily had a consult with an oral surgeon.  She needs to have her wisdom teeth pulled.  No question there…I’ve seen the x-ray and I trust our dentist.  He’s a good guy who knows we have 6 children.  :)  And the oral surgeon, himself, is okay too.  He did Hailey’s wisdom teeth last fall.  But since Hailey had her teeth pulled, I’ve learned some things and I don’t intend to make the same mistake twice. 

Once the consult is done, the surgery is scheduled and a worksheet with the fees is prepared.  So far, so good.  Then the estimated insurance payment is determined (based on the remaining amount of coverage for the year…in Em’s case, quite a bit) and subtracted off the total bill.  Then you get a piece of paper stating that you must bring the entire balance in a check to the office the day of the surgery.  No credit cards.  No payment plan.  No choice.  No money?  No surgery.  Okay…but for Emily the total is over $1,100 that we have to pay the day of surgery.  The problem is this:  the oral surgeon is a preferred provider for our insurance.  I KNOW what the schedule is for his payment. I KNOW the percentage our insurance covers and the percentage I am responsible for.  And I KNOW that he has agreed to ‘write-off’ a portion of the cost, since he can only recover the ‘allowable’ amount.  And the allowable amount is roughly $600 less than we are being charged.  That’s $600 that I have to pay up-front, then once the insurance pays the bill and I make a phone call reminding them that they owe me money, they eventually return the $600.  Money that they’ve earned interest on for roughly 6 weeks  (Yes, I know that’s not much any more, but still…)  Money that they KNOW isn’t theirs to collect in the first place—they have a contractual agreement with the insurance company! I learned all of this the hard way last year.  When I set up Emily’s appointment, I didn’t even think about it…until this morning when we walked in the office and it dawned on me:  “I’m going to have to do this dumb thing with them again.”  So I asked about it when we did the money part.  The gal at the desk was almost rude as she stated that this was the way they did things—they had to make sure they had their money. 

When I got home, I stewed for a bit then made 2 decisions.  First, I’m going to call the insurance company in the morning and ask them about this practice.  If' it’s ‘legal’ in their minds, fine.  Then I’ll move forward with the second decision.  I have several recommendations for a new oral surgeon, so I’ll call some of those guys.  I’ll ask about their financial practice (their surgery skills already come highly recommended!) and start this whole process over.  Again.  And I will call the oral surgeon and tell them I need my panoramic x-rays back.  That they can have Em’s scheduled surgery date back—that I refuse to deal with such a financial practice.  It may be legal, but it’s entirely unethical.  His loss.  After all, I have 3 more children who will need to have oral surgery in the future.  And I have some strong feelings on his financial practices that I’m not afraid to share. 

Maybe I’m way wrong here and this is how all oral surgeons run their practices.  I sure hope not.  I would hate to think that all of them think it’s okay to take money from patients that they KNOW isn’t theirs, even for a few weeks.  For some of us, that kind of money isn’t just pocket change.  And it’s definitely worth fighting for.

Monday, July 5, 2010

bountiful blessings

“Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.”    ~Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White © 1952 p 69

How often God must think that of us, His children! 

The boys and I are reading Charlotte’s Web these days.  Well…they are listening while I read.  :)  Tonight as I read that sentence, I was struck by just how true it really is.  Obviously, it’s true of children (especially since it was referring to the ability to hang on to a rope swing), but it is quite true of many of the adults I know.  Myself included.  We tend to hang on to THINGS much more tightly than we need to, much more tightly than God intends us to.  Funny that it would be in tonight’s chapter, since while I was washing dishes and watching the water from the faucet hit my open hand and pour off, I spent some time pondering how much the water is like God’s blessing.  It pours out of our open hands, so abundant and free flowing it can’t be contained, but the minute we close our hands to hold on to ‘our share’ it ekes out through our fingers and we have nothing left.   When we try to hang on tightly, it disappears. 

Today I had the opportunity to practice letting go.  One of the young families in our church lives outside the US.  They have 4 young children, and in the fall they will be doing some homeschooling.  Rebecca was looking for some specific items to take back with them when they go, and many of the things she needed were sitting in boxes in a closet, just waiting for the little guys to get older.   I’ve used it all before so it’s not new, but it’s easily replaceable here in the states.  As I briefly considered whether or not I needed to keep it, I kept thinking about God’s blessing.    The ONLY place in the Bible that God tells us to test Him is here:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it…’”  Malachi 3:10

I want to live life with open hands, to be able to share God’s blessings.  So today 3 huge boxes of homeschooling materials walked out of my house.  I’m thrilled!  They’ll be used and appreciated.  Someday, if I need them, God will provide for me just as He did today for Rebecca.   After all, it’s only stuff.   If being faithful in the little things—willingly sharing what I have with others—means that God will open the floodgates, there’s really no decision to make. Since God owns it all, I can count on His provision.  He’s already proven Himself trustworthy time and time again in our lives.

What are you hanging on to too tightly tonight?  Are you willing to step out in faith and loosen your grip?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

no lack of enthusiasm here

Even in this weather—58 and rainy—there’s no lack of enthusiasm for the Fourth of July.  Only about every 23 seconds do the boys ask if it’s time for fireworks yet.  We’ll have to see what the evening brings, since we can usually see several shows from our cul-de-sac.  Tonight because of the low cloud cover, it might be different.    We also have an invitation to join some friends at their house on the lake for fireworks tonight, but with 2 of my guys coughing again (ugh), going out in the rain and cold may not be a wise choice.  We’ll see…

In the meantime, we’ll have a quiet dinner with just 4 of us around the table.  How strange!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Today we took a road trip back to the farm.  The boys were in heaven—they got to drive the tractor, check out the sheep pen, gather eggs, and play with the dog.

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After the ‘work’ on the farm was done, we loaded up our coolers to bring home Hiram—182 pounds of wrapped beef.  Yum!  My freezer is full…

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…and the boys are SO EXCITED with their newest possession.  Tim gave them a magazine for the ride home.

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The boys read this magazine all the way home!  And now Jim’s read it too.  :)  My future farmers…

Oh!  Hey Mom…Tim sends his greetings back.  And he says stop in next time you’re in town.