Monday, November 29, 2010

dream big

This morning Logan (age 6) announced that he wanted to be a doctor when he grows up.  After a long, sometimes circuitous conversation and several clarifying questions, I discovered this:

“I want to be a people doctor in the morning and a doggie doctor in the afternoons.”

I gave him a big hug and told him that it was a great idea and that he would have to work very hard to accomplish those dreams.  So…the challenge becomes how to get the child who cannot remember from one day to the next what sound the letter “B” makes or how to shape his mouth to pronounce the word ‘after’ prepared for such a gigantic undertaking.  Am I up for it?

Guess I’m gonna have to take it up a notch or two. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

a white Thanksgiving?

A first in my book!  Our November weather now…  snow

snow 2










I spent part of today sewing new fleece mittens for the boys.  Hadn’t intended to do it quite yet since they are supposed to be Christmas gifts, but didn’t anticipate snow in mid-November either.  The boys had a blast playing outside with Daddy, the sisters, and the next door neighbors.  No school in this weather!!  Not that we could get off our street anyway.

And yes, it was only a few weeks ago—3 to be exact—that we were blown away by the weather.  Then it was beyond gorgeous…in a different way!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

“I am God’s favorite!”

Well, the fridge really did die.  Friday morning.  But Thursday night I had the best experience…

I have a friend in Texas who frequently reminds us that she is God’s favorite.  Not in a proud, boastful way at all—it’s a simple expression of her quiet faith that God fulfills His promises to us.  It always makes me smile to hear it from her.  And, honestly, I have longed for opportunities to be God’s favorite too!  Who wouldn’t??

Anyway, I left Thursday evening intent on purchasing a new fridge.  We’ve been looking off and on over the last year, knowing that the one in the house was likely going to ‘go’ sometime sooner rather than later.  I spent Thursday afternoon comparison shopping online and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted, how much it would cost, where to buy it, and when it could be delivered.  I drove down the hill grumbling a bit to God: “How is this going to work?  I NEED a new fridge, and the ones that I want either aren’t immediately available or they cost way too much or there are no open slots in the delivery schedules.  And we don’t have tons of available cash at the moment…   I have all this food that needs to be kept cold, God!  I can’t do this…”

Shouldn’t have worried.  After all, we serve a mighty God!  :)  I stopped at the first store and saw firsthand what I already knew—they didn’t have anything I wanted.  I went to a second store, knowing that I could always ‘fall back’ on the fridge I’d seen at Sears…and somehow figure out what to do with my food until it could be delivered.  I walked to the appliances, and found that they had one of the refrigerators on my list of good choices.  It was on sale…for nearly $800 less than I’d seen it other places!  Okay.  Now God’s got my attention.  I asked the salesman if it was available in white (my choice—my dishwasher and stove are relatively new, and white) and he told me that it was, but not until the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Hmmm… Well, I could always go with stainless, so I asked.  It was available!  The next open delivery slot, however, wasn’t until Tuesday Nov 23.  Not so good.  I asked if it was available from another store, or if another store would have an opening in the delivery schedule to bring it sooner.  I explained my dilemma.  He checked around and got us booked into one of the emergency delivery slots available the very next day!  Wow!!  The free delivery included free haul away of the old fridge.  Awesome!  Then came the best part:  the store was having a financing deal that was ideal.  Every single piece fell into place.

I drove home rejoicing in the fact that that night, I was God’s favorite!  His hand is all over the way things came together.  It was one of those occasions where His word is so very real.  I kept repeating Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

My new stainless steel french door fridge sits in the kitchen, a very real testament to God’s love and care.  I don’t have to go far now to see how much He loves me.  And, as a bonus, I have a very real reminder to pray for my friend in Texas.  That’s fun!  :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I can usually find a bright side to frustrating situations, but I’m having trouble with this one.  Yesterday I took the boys and went to Costco to do our Thanksgiving shopping…so my refrigerator is VERY full.

I can tell you FOR SURE that it is NOT amusing to have the fridge go on the fritz the week before Thanksgiving.  Not full of food for the holiday.  Not when we’ve got things on the calendar.  Not when I have the pleasure (?) of taking 3 little bodies shopping for a new fridge.  Not.  Not!  NOT!!!

sigh.  Does it really matter?  Probably not.  My fridge sure doesn’t think so.  It’s definitely on the fritz.  So tomorrow or Saturday (hopefully it will hold out that long…) I will be purchasing a new refrigerator.  Not really what I want to do with my time and my money, but that’s okay.  The fridge I will be replacing is 17 years old.  And in all that time, I’ve never liked it much.  Maybe this time I’ll get one I like better.  Didn’t have as many choices then, that’s for sure.

Perhaps there’s a bright side after all.  :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

so much for that

One BIG reason it doesn’t pay for Mom to feel under the weather…

nap 2

…it’s awful hard to get in any ‘time off'!’

Ryan has strep throat.  Again.  (Still?)  Now Hailey has it too.  Who’s next?  Hopefully NOT me!  Of course, with a ‘rest’ (and I use that term VERY loosely!) like this, I’d say the odds are against me…

Friday, November 12, 2010

about now…

A snowstorm, a roaring fire, a good book (or 6 or 12!) and a supply of hot chocolate sounds so heavenly!  I think we all could use the slower pace that comes with the snow. 

Wishful thinking…

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

life lessons from my camera

I was in Pullman yesterday, visiting Emily. Had a wonderful visit, albeit far too short!  As I reviewed my pictures from this trip, I realized something.  My attempts at photography reinforce some everyday life lessons.

Lesson #1:  Quality comes in the context of quantity.

My camera is set for multiple frames per second, primarily because I take pictures at of my crew at various athletic events (and I never remember to reset it!).  When I downloaded the pictures from my trip off the camera, I realized that only when I had taken multiple shots of the same thing did I truly capture what I had hoped to.  Never was the first shot the one I liked best, and if I had only taken one, I wouldn’t have the ones I love.  Quality comes from quantity.  Just like in parenting—quality time with my children comes out of the quantity of time I spend.  I can have an ‘agenda’ for my time with them, but it rarely goes the way I want, and the best gems and most teachable moments are not ‘plan-able.’  So it should be in all our relationships:  quantity begets quality.  How else do we get to know others well except by spending time—lots of it—with them?   That lesson leads easily to the second one.

Lesson #2:  Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and into positions that feel awkward.

There was a picture I REALLY wanted to get this time.  It’s a cemetery, with a grain elevator and the gorgeous rolling hills of the Palouse in the background.  I found the road to the cemetery, but actually getting the shot I envisioned meant I had to get out of the car and walk a ways.  That wasn’t a problem…it was more that it felt awkward to be walking around the area near the cemetery in plain view of several roads with my camera.  And for the best picture, I probably needed to lay down in the grass!  Ugh.  So I didn’t take the picture.  Now I regret that.  I should have!  Just like life—sometimes building relationships means doing things that take us outside our comfort zone.  Typically, that’s not a bad thing.  Being stretched means growth, and growth is GOOD!  If I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone, I won’t regret missed opportunities.

Lesson #3:  The best pictures come when you’re not going 70 miles an hour!

Life is lived too fast these days.  Most of us agree on that.  I found, on this trip, that there were many occasions that I REALLY wanted a picture of this vista or that view, yet by the time I found a place to pull over, it was gone.  That’s the risk of going 70 miles an hour—you miss out on things.  Life works that way too.  How often do we find ourselves too busy for a cup of coffee with a friend?  How often do we lament the lack of time for relationships?  And yet…how much of what we fill our lives with is truly necessary?  Wouldn’t we all be better off living at least part of each day at a walking pace?  I told Jim that the next time I head to Pullman, I’m going exploring on a Vespa with my camera!  A red Vespa.  Seriously.  :)  It’s hard to capture the beauty that is there if you are moving so fast.  My sister has one, and maybe…just maybe…I’ll pack it in the Suburban and head east next spring.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?? 

I did take pictures this time.  They didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. But I learned some things about photography and about life. I’ll take it.   And I’ll leave you with these pictures, taken at Dusty, WA.  Population?  10.     Sounds like a lot slower pace to me.  :)




(And yes, the sky really looked like that!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a totally strange day

Today was my birthday.  It was also a day of firsts.  Until now, I have never:

*had a birthday with 70° weather.  I’ve had snow.  I’ve had rain.  I’ve had fog and clouds and wind.  I’ve even had some occasional sun.  70°?  Never!   This was taken in the backyard this afternoon.


*mowed the lawn on my birthday.  Usually we’re quite finished mowing the lawn by November.  Not this year.

*worn jeans and a t-shirt outside without freezing.  Today?  No problem!  I also had the doors and windows open most of the day and the heat shut off!  Generally in November we’re shivering.  Too weird.

*seen raspberries with flowers and new fruit.  Yep.  Growing in the garden.  But they’re there…see??


*seen gorgeous blue skies, beautiful red, yellow and orange leaves, and fresh flowers on the roses, sweet peas, and pyracantha.  This year?  You guessed it…  In the last picture you can see the blue sky behind the sweet peas.  It was GORGEOUS here today!






*had pavlova for dessert.  We did tonight.  Usually in November it’s WAY too damp to make pavlova.  Not this year.

It was probably the strangest birthday ever…

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

completed event or ongoing process?

I am regularly asked if our little guys are adopted.  I don’t mind the question and I understand the intent, but I always wonder:  Is ‘adoption’ a term describing a legal event or is it a word used to describe an never-ending process?

My boys WERE adopted.  It was at one time an on-going process—the paper gathering and submission, the wait, the travel, the legal work.  That is over.  My boys ARE my children.  In the eyes of the law, they are Kassebaums now and forever.  And when people (well intentioned, I know) ask me if my boys ARE adopted, I used to answer “No, they were adopted.  We’re finished with the process.  Now they are ours.”   Why I stopped, I don’t know.  Watching Ryan this week, it’s maybe time to go back to that reply.

October 31 2005…Ryan’s adoption was final.  In a Chinese civil affairs office, we signed the paperwork, put our fingerprints (or in Ryan’s case, his handprint) on it, had everything notarized and translated, and it was finished.  Yang Fu Tao officially became, in that moment, Ryan Joseph FuTao Kassebaum.   His adjustment over the last 5 years has been mostly smooth.  He’s a delightful almost 6 year old who knows he is loved and wanted.  Somehow, though, every year in late October, our happy easygoing boy becomes a frightened clingy child.

This year was no different.  In many ways, it was the worst October ever.  Things here are busy.  Maybe busier than ever.  Jim’s been more committed this fall, with less time for the boys.  (He’s been the JV volleyball coach at Tori’s high school.)   He’s been dealing with several crises at work.  Brent’s had a tough fall.  Emily moved to college and Hailey is living at home and commuting to UW this fall, so we’ve been trying to adjust to a ‘new normal’ around here.  Nicholas (my nephew) has been very sick and in the hospital.  His treatment has opened the door to some discussions about heaven and death.  (Ryan and Logan know that Nick is very sick, that the doctors are doing their best to make him well, and that there is a chance that their cousin will go live with Jesus.  We haven’t seen any need to try and hide these things from them.  It is real.  It is a topic of conversation here. So they are aware, to the best of their understanding, how things are going.) As a result of all this, Ryan has been more clingy and weepy than  ever.

He has always struggled a bit with going to sleep.  He doesn’t like the dark.  He doesn’t like being upstairs when the rest of us are downstairs.  He wants Mommy with him.  Most of it isn’t a big deal, and 90+% of the year we give hugs and snuggles, promise to check back in 5 minutes, and he goes to sleep without further ado.  Not so in October.  As the month wears on, the sleep issues get worse.  By the end of the month, it’s really bad.  Every year.  But he’s never been able to verbalize well what he feels.  This year we heard new things.  Hard things.  Things like “Are you really coming back?”  “I am afraid you are going to leave me on the steps like my China mom.”  “I know you said you’d come back but I thought my China mom would come back too.  And she didn’t.”  It’s heartbreaking to see him in such pain and fear.

The night of Oct 30 was the worst.  He fussed and cried.  He screamed.  I held him for a long time.  He came downstairs and sat with us and cried.  We snuggled.  I ended up curling up with him in his bed and holding him most of the night.  He slept poorly—tossing and turning and crying out.  I was not looking forward to Oct 31, thinking that he would be so tired it would be another bad day.  Wrong!  He got up cheerfully.  He was pleasant all day.  He had a wonderful time trick or treating, then when bedtime came, he crawled in without a fuss and went right to sleep.  Last night was the same.  It’s like someone flipped a switch.  We’re grateful for the return to normal.

Each year, we work through another layer of the trauma associated with Ryan’s adoption.  Again, 90+% of the year it’s not even an issue.  This year was very hard, but I think we made major progress.  As I watch my boys, I think again that maybe it’s time to be pro-active about reminding them that their adoptions WERE and that they are forevermore Kassebaums.  Warts and all.  :)  We are here to stay. 

So, are my boys adopted?  No.  They were, but legal process is complete.  They are Kassebaums.  Always.