Sunday, December 18, 2011

things I love

Sometimes the grey dreary days of winter threaten to get the best of me.  Today would be one of those days, and being  exhausted from a string of bad nights with my little one and fighting a stuffy nose and sore throat aren’t helping much.  Instead of focusing on all the things that aren’t ‘right’ in my world at the moment, I decided to make a list of things I love. 

In no particular order…

These faces: 


And, of course, the older ones too (of whom there are no current pictures…yet).  They bring unbelievable joy to our home!

Sunset, as seen from the bow of the ferry in mid-December:


If you know me, you know that one of my all-time favorite things to do is ride the ferry.  No matter the season or weather, I’m outside standing in the bow, enjoying the view and the wind in my face.  This particular ride was about a week ago at sunset; the return trip was about 8:45 at night.  It was COLD but amazingly gorgeous standing out in the bow…

Mint brownies:

brownies (1)

This nativity set, made and hand-painted many years ago for us by my brother in law and his wife:





And the things without pictures:

  • My big guys home for the holidays, whether it’s for 3 weeks (like Emily) or 3 days (like Brent).  Hey…I’ll take what I can get!!
  • New friends.  We had a great time hosting some new friends for playtime and lunch on Thursday.  Can’t wait to have them over again!  And the other new friends God has brought us…SO special!  It’s fun to be at the beginning of these new relationships, looking ahead to good times. 
  • Old friends.  The shared memories.  The laughter.  The tears.  The tenderness and the ability to pick up where we left off, no matter how long it’s been since we were together last.  These are people I cherish…and never see often enough!  I was SO blessed by an old friend recently—I got a gift certificate for some time at a spa for my birthday.  What a treat!
  • Friendships that are neither new (less than 1 year) or old (more than 10+ years).  Although there’s not the excitement of a new friendship or the shared memories of the long time friends, there is the joy of the journey and the hope of a shared future.
  • An incredible small group.  We laugh together, cry together, and are challenged together.  They are a great group of people, and it’s a privilege to be part of their lives.
  • My parents.  In a word, they’re awesome!  They live close enough to be part of our world regularly, and we see them often.   Everyone is looking forward to Christmas this year with Grandma and Grandpa.  :)
  • The joy of adoption, and the depth of understanding about my worth to God it has brought.
  • The challenges of adoption and parenting a special needs child.  Some days it’s tear-your-hair-out frustrating, but the rewards rank right up there with slobbery kisses and sticky hugs.  And the side benefit?  Refining our character.  (Or maybe that’s the primary goal!)

So that’s a start.  The list is by no means complete, but the blue funk that had captured me this afternoon is definitely gone.  (Now, if the sinus headache would move on, the afternoon would be pretty close to perfect.)  The hot cider is waiting, and I hear Ryan playing backgammon with Daddy in the background.  The girls are off finishing their Christmas shopping, and Logan is watching a Christmas movie.  I’m off to enjoy a quiet Sunday afternoon with my crew. 

How about you?  What are the things YOU love?  Is it time to put them on paper and beat the dreary grey hanging around?

Friday, December 16, 2011


 define necessity

This picture has haunts me.  Before 2004 (when I spent some time in Honduras working with orphans and feeding centers in the slums), it probably wouldn’t have affected me as much.  Seeing poverty—the kind that makes a woman walk away from her 1 year old baby, never to return, so that he can have food to eat—will change your perspective.  Seeing people live in cardboard-and-blue-tarp tents in highway medians will change your perspective.  Seeing crib after crib after crib lined up, with small children starved for food and attention will change your perspective.  Seeing your own child in the poverty of a Chinese orphanage will change your perspective.  And with changed perspective comes changed ways of living.

We’ve never been huge Christmas gift givers.  It’s always been a ‘3 gift’ thing here:  a toy or book, an article of clothing, and something either needed or wanted (depending on the circumstances).  Stockings are typically filled with fun treats but minimal as well: an orange, some gum, a toothbrush, a small treat like double-stick tape or band-aids, and a box of favorite cold cereal.  Our children don’t really NEED anything.  As we have had to redefine necessity here, our children, who have had the privilege of seeing poverty and its effects up close and personal, have also shifted their priorities. 

This year, I’ve been re-thinking.  Again.  Last night at small group we had a conversation about the things that make us ‘angry’.  Not things like being cut off in traffic, although that sure makes us angry.  :)  Instead, we were talking about things like homelessness and orphans and foster parents who don’t provide for their foster kids but are only in it for the money.  We talked about how ineffective it can feel to be just one small contributor to solving the problems.  But we also talked about how important each person is, each contribution is.  Only as a team can we make a difference!  We started exploring ways we can make a difference.  And we talked about priorities.  How to adjust.  WHERE to adjust.  How it will affect our children.  Why it’s important.

It was a good discussion.  As I look at our tree, I know that we’re making progress.  We still have a long ways to go, perhaps, but our priorities are getting better.  Seeing our grown and nearly grown children ‘get’ this is amazing.  They are wise beyond their years sometimes.  But seeing how 98%+ of the world lives will do that to you.  They are fortunate—they’ve witnessed it.  And the difference that getting involved can make.  This year we’ve cut back again.  Next year?  We’ll take it another step.  What will that look like?  I’m not sure…but we’ve got a year to figure out how to make a small difference in the things that make us ‘angry’.  That’s a start.  Our time and money and energy at Christmas may go that direction.  We’ll see. 

Getting real with one another…just in time for Christmas.  Gives hope for the new year!

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

   “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
   if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Rom 12:9-21

Friday, December 9, 2011


Check this out!  God is SO GOOD…our sweet friend Katie Collier (whose story is here and here and here) will be playing basketball tonight.  You can read today’s blurb in the newspaper here.

SO looking forward to tonight!  It doesn’t hurt that it’s an away game, and we get to ride the ferry.  :)


Katie and Tori after the game.  Kate was the leading scorer for the Warriors last night.  That’s pretty normal for her when she’s healthy but incredibly impressive under the circumstances. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

big day today

Today’s the first day of our neuro-psych (cognitive and learning issues) evaluations for our Logan.  It’s a phone appointment about how he learns and other concerns we have.  I think I’m nervous…not specifically about the appointment, but that I can correctly describe the issues we see, and that I don’t forget anything important!!  You should see the white board on my fridge…
This appointment today will help determine the testing they do in person next week.  If you feel inclined, please pray for wisdom and clarity as I spend time on the phone with the doctor this morning.  I’d appreciate it, and Logan will benefit from it!  Thanks.  :)

Update:  Phone appointment was amazing!!  Thanks for the prayers...the dr. has some great ideas for what tests need to be run, and she thinks we'll get some answers when we do them.

And another update!  The testing next week has had to be rescheduled for the first week in January.  I knew it was a possibility, and it's happened.  So now we wait a bit, but at least he's still on the schedule.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a red letter day!

Today, the 1st grader who struggles tremendously with school had an awesome day!  We sat down to work on phonics and math, and he completed every problem on his own.  AND he got them mostly correct!!  (He does occupational therapy for his fine motor skills, so we do lots of ‘dictation/transcription’ here.  But, on the phonics sheets, he has to copy over the yellow pen.  It’s a real challenge for him.  By the end of the math sheet, he was struggling with number formation—and the blanks for counting by 5s are tiny!—so I wrote for him.)

Check out his incredible work!!  Sorry the math is hard to read.  It didn’t scan as well as I had hoped.  Combined with his weak handwriting, it’s a bit hard to read.

excellent work 11-30-11

If only it was possible to convey how huge this is!! To have a day without tears, without tantrums, without anger and frustration, and with almost all the correct answers is unbelievable.  Makes me think that maybe someday we’ll even get there.  God is good—we both needed this!  :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011



It was only a 5K.  But I finished.  And I wasn’t last…not even in my age group.  :)  For uncoordinated, non-athletic me, often called “Grace”  because of my klutziness, it is an accomplishment.  This may help clarify why finishing means so much.  (No paying to see…but no one came to watch, either.)

Enjoy your Saturday! 

Friday, November 25, 2011


relationship graph

is a graphic representation of the number of interpersonal relationships in a group of 8 people (like our family).  If you don’t want to count all the lines, 8 people have a total of 28 interpersonal relationships.  :)

It also explains why, as much as I love holidays with family, I come home tired.  It’s not from working hard physically; instead, it is from the ‘work’ associated with all of the interpersonal relationships that come with 22 people.  That’s 231 different relationships!! 

Fortunately, these are wonderful people, and it was a delightful Thanksgiving.  We loved every minute of our time with them and were sad to leave this afternoon.  But it’s good to be home, and our (very tired!) boys were quite thrilled to see their own beds tonight.  Hopefully they’ll sleep well.  I know I will!


Enjoy the rest of this holiday weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

crazy days and a thankful heart

Mercy!  I am not quite sure what happened the last few days, but I’m not in a hurry to repeat most of it.  Some of it was fun—baking desserts for Thanksgiving, for example.  The pumpkin pie, the raisin pie, the 7 layer bars and the fudge are in the freezer ready to go.  The Rice Krispy treats, the silk chocolate pies, and the apple crisp will be made on Wednesday.  The shopping list for the salad is ready and the shopping will be done on Wednesday too.  The packing list is on the white board and the first items have been set out, ready for a quick Thanksgiving visit with family.    But some of it has been not so fun.  I don’t enjoy watching my smallest boy deal with recurring nightmares night after night.  We’re in an especially bad spell again, and I’ve been up for hours and hours in the middle of the night the last several days.  (Makes for one exhausted mom!!)  People have been on edge…perhaps due to the grey weather.  Or the lack of sleep.   Tempers have flared and cross words have been spoken.  And injuries!  Oy.  Nothing serious, but the last few days have included several burnt fingers, a skinned knee or two, and a significant knock on the noggin.   Fortunately (?) they’ve been evenly distributed, and only the goose egg is mine.   Ought to be some truly lovely shades of yellow and green for Thanksgiving.  Sounds mighty attractive!  :\

Then, this morning, I came downstairs to find that sometime in the night our computer died.  Talk about irritating!  It turned out to be a fun adventure though, as it occurred to me that I might know the problem.  I followed my hunch, took the computer apart, went out and bought a replacement part, put it back in, and voila!  The computer works again.   YAY!!   Once in a while, it all comes together.  :) It feels great to solve a problem…and to do it on something most people find intimidating.  And to do it for less than $50!!  I just figured if it was truly dead, I couldn’t make it any worse…

Tomorrow is an all new adventure.  Logan starts his first round of neuro testing.  Tomorrow will be developmental, looking at physical skills and overall development.  Then, next month, he will do some intense learning assessments, trying to figure out WHY the 7 year old can’t get past 3 or 3 1/2 developmentally.  In any area.  It’s frustrating, but we are hoping and praying that the hours of testing will give us something useful.   We’d LOVE to know where to set the bar, how hard to push, what we need to adjust to make this work! 

Even as the days are crazy and busy, we want to make sure that Thanksgiving is not only celebrated but understood and enjoyed.  It’s hard to cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ especially when things seem to go wrong—or at least ‘not right’—at every turn.  So, for school this month, the little guys are working on a section of memory verses.  My favorite, and the one we are focusing on now is

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.  ~Psalm 100

Right now, I’m thankful for a working computer.  For a dry warm place to live, and plenty of food to eat.  For peace and quiet, and sleeping children.  For family and friends.  For the opportunity to serve those around me.  For a God who loves me (even though I don’t deserve it!), and His gift of salvation.  What are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

the football fanatic

DSC_0208 Ryan’s pretty tiny for almost 7.  Fully dressed (and just fed!) he weighs in at a whopping 42 pounds…but the kid’s pretty mighty in ability.  He loves football.  I mean…he LOVES football.  He lives for the weekend, when he can watch game after game on Saturday AND Sunday.  But he doesn’t just watch—he knows the teams and remembers what happens, too.  Last night we were watching the UO/Stanford game (numbers 7 and 4 respectively in the college polls) and someone asked who was ranked #1.  He promptly—and correctly—listed the top 5 teams in the current BCS rankings. 

While he watches football, he runs ‘plays’ in the living room.  Jim passes the football and Ryan practices his running catch.  He’s pretty good and only misses about 15% of the passes.  He’s clearly mastered the fine art of' ‘bobble/catch/fall/slide’ in our fairly limited space.  He would play like this all day if someone would pass to him.  And outside?  Absolutely!  He LOVES to play football with anyone who will throw for him.  But the thing that blew my mind today?  Listening to him.

He was watching the New Orleans/Atlanta game.  It was close to the end, and someone had just scored.  (I clearly wasn’t paying attention.  Actually, I had been  napping—HORRIBLE night here last night—and was only semi-awake.)  The game was nearly over, and I hear Ryan say “What are they doing?  If they want to win this game they need to do an onside kick!”   He no more than got the words out of his mouth than the broadcasters started a debate about what the team should do next.  Their conclusion?  An onside kick was the team’s best chance of winning.  Huh?  How on earth does my 6 year old know this?? 

So my tiny guy has football dreams.   Big ones.  He wants to play professional ball, then be a coach.  Pretty ambitious for a child in the 10th percentile for height and weight.  Maybe Mom can offer a bit of encouragement, though.  I was fortunate to go to high school with a football player who wasn’t the biggest guy on the team.  He was pretty good, too—spent 8 years playing professional ball.  :)  Someday, I might just have to introduce him to Ryan.  Maybe he’ll have some good tips for my dinky little dreamer.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The simple things are free

How I love the simple things…the simple things just are.  (Jim Brickman, Simple Things)

Life is complicated.  Sometimes it just is complicated; sometimes we make it that way ourselves.  Regardless, I am convinced that we don’t take enough time to sit back and really truly enjoy the simple things in life.    I got to spend a weekend doing just that…enjoying the simple things.  What did it look like?

  • Reading books to my heart’s content.  Not just any books, but books for FUN.  No books about learning issues.  No books about teaching children with to read.  No books about hearing loss or apraxia or sensory integration issues or economics or worldviews or anatomy and physiology.  Just plain old fiction books, chosen solely for entertainment and enjoyment.    Ahhhhh…a simple pleasure.
  • Long walks in crisp sunny fall weather.  The trees were beautiful.  The sun was shining.  The sky was blue.  The mountains were visible.  God’s creation is breathtaking!  Enjoying walks in the sun was another simple pleasure of the weekend.
  • Bubble bath (without interruptions!).  Never EVER underestimate the simple pleasure of a hot tub filled with bubbles.  ‘Nough said.
  • Being able to sleep (or lounge in bed!) until you feel ready to get up and face the day.  Even if it’s a day filled with things you like.  Sometimes the lack of impending projects and deadlines  is refreshing.  I loved spending a weekend on my own time schedule…no commitments, no obligations.
  • Wandering the fabric store or the book store solely for the enjoyment of it.  Looking at fabrics and picking out just the right ones for a project taking shape in my mind.  Alone.  :)  So simple, and yet so enjoyable.   And now I have a nice stack of pretty blue and green fabrics on my desk, waiting to make that pattern in my mind a reality.
  • Making a spur of the moment decision to take in a concert.  And relishing every single moment of the experience.  Not regretting for an instant that I was there but instead loving the incredibly talented piano player and his music.  Music that feeds my soul….a treasure.
  • Enjoying some time to catch up with an old friend.  Never an easy task, with our busy lives it seems to get more difficult as time goes on.  We’re both committed to other things, other projects.  And yet, when we can spare a few minutes to sit down and catch up, it’s priceless.  I wish it could happen more often than once or twice a year, but so far that’s not possible.  It’s not about finding good coffee (which I don’t even drink!) or going out to eat…just sitting down to talk on a park bench works.  I treasure those times together.   And we both agree—we need to make it a higher priority.   In the meantime, we catch what we can and enjoy the simplicity of uncomplicated, long-time friendship. 

It was an incredibly refreshing weekend.  Never long enough, of course, and yet when I came home I felt ready to face the world again.  I love the opportunity to step back from the busy, crazy, wonderfully fun life at home and just take a deep breath.  Relax a bit.  Feed my soul.  Focus on the blessings in life.  Enjoy the simple things…sunshine, music, creativity, good books, good friends.  Makes me remember just how grateful I am for the life I have been given.  I am truly blessed. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.    ~James 1:17

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

striking a balance

Several times in the last 8 weeks, Jim and I have been on a parenting panel of ‘experienced’ (read that OLD!) parents answering questions for the young families at church.  We’ve participated in panels on Parent/Child Relationships, Transitions, and Education Choices, including a discussion of parenting special needs children.  It’s been great fun, and we’ve had the opportunity to spend some time reviewing and refining our own parenting practices.  Each week, before the panel discussion, we receive a list of questions that will be asked.  Not all of them come up, but we try to prepare answers for all so that we don’t look like idiots.  :)

The first week, on Parent/Child Relationships, there was one question that didn’t get asked, and I wish it had.  The question was

balance How do you strike a balance between rules and relationship?

It’s a great question.   But it wasn’t asked.  I’ve spent lots of time thinking about this question over the last 6 weeks.  And I think it needs to be addressed.  The question assumes that RULES and RELATIONSHIPS are in conflict!  They’re not…at least at our house.  That’s because at our house there really aren’t rules.  Not in the traditional sense, anyway.  Rules are generally a set of ‘do’s and don’ts’ for behavior.  If you think about it much, you know that most rules are ‘don’ts’ guiding behavior.  Instead of rules, we have a set of foundational principles guiding behavior.  Why is that different?  Because it is not a set of do’s and don’ts.  So…what do they look like?  This:

  • Honor and obey God with our words and actions
  • Treat others with kindness, honor, love, and respect
  • Watch our words
  • Work for God
  • Be a good steward

Each of these principles has a Biblical basis, meaning we can support the principle with scriptures.   (I have a long list of references for each principle.  If you’re interested, let me know.  We gladly share!)Having expected standards of behavior is so much simpler than having rules!  Why?  Well, think about this:

You have a rule in your house that you don’t run in church.  But tonight is AWANA, and it’s held at church.  It’s your child’s first time attending, and there’s a games portion of the evening.  One of the games they play is 'Duck Duck Goose, which requires running.  Your child is put in an awkward position—play the game and break the family’s rule about running in church, or choose to obey by sitting out and miss the fun.

Clearly, that’s a very simple problem, but it illustrates well how having foundational principles can be so much simpler.  How?  Well, at our house there’s no rule against running in church.  When our guys have tried it, we’ve talked about whether or not that action is showing respect to those around us.  If not, then we choose to honor them by refraining from the behavior.  So, if we’re in the gym at a business meeting, running is inappropriate—it’s not showing honor and respect for others.  If we’re at AWANA during game time, then go for it!  Running is completely acceptable. 

Using principles like those above allows parents to equip their children’s decision making tool box with appropriate filters for making good decisions about their actions.  That’s the goal of rules, too, but they seldom work that way because there’s no development of internal controls.  Equipping children to make decisions, allowing them to do so, then talking about the results of those decisions develops maturity.  Works well.  The bonus is that there’s no sacrifice of relationship in the ‘foundational principles’ model, since the principles apply to all in the home.

Developing maturity.  Strengthening relationships.  Equipping children to make decisions.  Isn’t that what parenting is supposed to be? 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Please Mrs. First Lady, may I be the parent in my home?

french fries

Yesterday we went on a short road trip.  Jim’s aunt and uncle were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and there was an open house in their honor in Newberg.  That’s about 3 1/2 hours from home.   With other commitments already on the calendar for part of the weekend, we opted to make it a day trip.  Leaving in the morning at the same time we’d normally leave for church, we got to Newberg about 1pm, just in time to change into ‘reception clothes’ and head over to the party.  We loved it and had a great time catching up with everyone.  Ryan and Logan were in heaven—an afternoon with their cousins is always high on their list of favorites.

So why the french fries in the picture?  Well, on the way home we stopped for dinner.  Nothing fancy, and as a matter of fact, we let the boys choose since they’d be so cooperative and well-behaved all day.  (Being allowed to choose is a special treat.  We don’t reward for expected behavior, but yesterday, with just over 6 hours in the car, it was appropriate to take their input into account.)  Their choice?  McDonalds, of course. It’s definitely not my favorite, but on the rare occasions we eat fast food I can deal with it. 

The boys LOVE Happy Meals.  They eat the food.  They love the toys.  They think the french fries are pretty delicious.  And roughly 2 ounces of french fries (maybe 30 or so fries) really isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things.  I mean really—they eat healthily every day.  A treat once in a while should be just that:  a treat.  Yeah.  Not so much any more.  McDonalds has cut the amount of fries in their Happy Meals to just over 1 ounce, or approximately 14 fries.  (Yes, I counted.  Both containers.)  Instead, you get apple slices with your meal now.  Ummm….really?  REALLY?  When did I lose my ability to make decisions for my children?  And apple slices?  Are they organic apples?  What preservative was used so they’d stay pretty and white all sliced in their cellophane bag? And how about that caramel sauce handed out with it?  Doesn’t the sugar content and the calories of THAT treat roughly equal that of 15 fries?  It’s such a crock.  And to make things even better, when they were done, they were still hungry so we bought some McFlurrys for the road.  NOT how we would choose to do things, and certainly not healthy.  From this point forward, on the rare occasions we eat at McDonalds, they’ll now be sharing an ‘adult’ meal instead of having Happy Meals.  More food to keep tummies happy, and cheaper too.  I guess I’ll be grateful for that.

I have 2 little boys.  LITTLE boys.  One of them is barely on the weight chart for his age, having just cracked the 7th percentile.  The other is larger, but still only in the 45th percentile for his age.  Their consumption of McDonalds fries as an occasional treat will not make them obese.  Heavens…if it would put some weight on my littler guy, I’d buy them more often!  As it is, we struggle to help him gain weight.  Cutting his caloric intake is definitely not on my radar!  I’d appreciate being able to make those decisions myself, based on the needs in my family.   

It’s a sorry state of affairs when school recesses are being canceled, the ability to walk and play and run and ride bikes is seriously curtailed due to ‘safety concerns’ and work schedules and the primary approach to childhood obesity is to remove a parent’s freedom to choose how to feed their children.    I laughed when I saw Jimi Hendrix’s quote that says

“I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.”

There’s a hint of truth in it, for sure.  And I think that Dwight D. Eisenhower hit it in his State of the Union address in February 1953:

“To be true to one’s own freedom is, in essence, to honor and respect the freedom of all others.”

So please, Mrs. First Lady, can you please keep your hands…and your laws…out of my feeding of my children?  Will you please respect and honor my freedom?  No one forces people to eat McDonalds fries!  But when you restrict them, you are limiting my freedom.  There HAS to be a better way than dictating what our children can and cannot eat!

*Note:  I am far less frustrated and angry than I was last night.  :)  The whole thing is incredibly stupid, and it’s hit a hot button with me.  Ridiculous laws that don’t address the root cause of the problem (High fructose corn syrup, anyone?  How about excessive consumption of carbohydrates?  And don’t get me started on ‘fat free’ foods like sour cream and cream cheese…how on earth can all those chemicals be good for us???) only serve to perpetuate the issue.  Until we learn to eat foods that remember where they came from, foods that were lovingly made with fresh ingredients in home kitchens, and spend more time outside running, jumping, playing, and working like we used to, the problem will continue to grow.

Whew!  I feel better now.  Thanks for letting me vent.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Today’s news:  61 months and 2 bone marrow transplants after his original diagnosis of ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia), my nephew Nicholas is CANCER-FREE!!   His blood work and bone marrow are completely free of any signs of leukemia.  PRAISE GOD!!

Thanks for praying with us and for him over the years.  ‘Grateful‘ doesn’t even begin to cover it…

Monday, October 17, 2011

another great article!

Katie is getting famous.  :)  (Just preparing her for life as a top notch Division I basketball player!)  There’s been another article published about her and her family…you can read it here. 

And while you read it, you can rejoice with us!  She’s finished her first round of treatment.  She’s feeling better and hopes to get back to school sometime soon.  The doctors are thrilled with the way she’s responding to treatment.  The road is still long and there’s still a need for prayer, but today is a day of rejoicing and praise!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

crazy days

Life right now is crazy…bordering on overwhelming.  As a matter of fact, I told Jim yesterday that when life is so busy I only have time to do the grocery shopping on Saturday, I’ve got too much on my plate!  I know it will slow down, and even more than that I am painfully aware of how much I will miss some of this next fall.  In the meantime, I’m just hanging on, hoping to avoid a total meltdown.

Tomorrow is Monday. And it’s back to the grindstone (so to speak, anyway).  Here’s typical week for us:

  • Monday:  laundry, school, speech therapy, high school student here, volleyball
  • Tuesday:  school, teach preschool, speech therapy, occupational therapy, errands
  • Wednesday:  clean house, laundry, school, grocery store, high school student here, volleyball
  • Thursday:  school, speech therapy (3 hour trip, as it’s 45 miles to therapy this day), small group
  • Friday:  tidy house, vacuum and mop, laundry, finish any incomplete school for the week, relax (maybe.  hopefully)

Then there are this week’s bonuses:   tomorrow we get to add a doctor’s appointment for Tori, hoping that she’ll be cleared to retun to play volleyball again.  Tuesday we have a couple errands on the docket that are critical and must be done on Tuesday.  Wednesday and Thursday are ‘normal’ days; Friday is Logan’s 7th birthday and I have the honor of taking dinner to some friends.  Saturday is an all day volleyball tournament about 30 miles north of here and a birthday dinner for Logan.  Somewhere in all this I have to get out my sewing machine and finish his birthday gifts, or he’ll be having a present-less birthday.

It can feel way overwhelming.  Some of it is a huge challenge.  Speech therapy, at about 3 hours a week for actual therapy plus the additional practice daily at home, takes a gigantic chunk of time.  Thursdays especially, since it’s an hour each direction.  It shoots most of the day for us.  I get frustrated by it, but I have to remind myself that we are here because God chose this child for our family.  He placed this young man here, in our home.  He trusts us to care for this little boy, to advocate for him and to give him the best we have.  I often remind myself of Colossians 3:23  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  The reminder that all this is to honor God doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but it sure helps keep my attitude in check! 

The next thing to go on the calendar is for me.  I hope to get another weekend away for myself sometime soon.  I can feel myself getting raggedy around the edges and know that I need time to recoup.  The calendar is pretty full, but somehow I’m going to fit it in.  Soon, I hope!  Refreshment for my soul has to be part of the schedule, or I can’t keep up the pace.  It comes in applying Psalm 90:12

Teach us to number our days aright,
   that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Numbering my days aright to gain a heart of wisdom?  Sounds worth the effort me…

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

field trip!

Monday we spent the day at the zoo.  The weather was less than delightful, but the company was perfect and the boys had an incredibly good time.  They loved having an older friend along, and were thrilled to meet up with Rachel and her mom Anne.  As a bonus, we saw some families from church who homeschool…families with students the same age as the boys.  I knew one family did, but the other was a surprise.  How fun for the boys to see that one of their little buddies was home too!  Now maybe we’ll have the opportunity for some playdates.  :)



















Friday, October 7, 2011


I came to an awkward realization a few weeks ago:

I have become my mother.

It’s not a bad thing.  It does feel strange.  It hit me last month when I was at Costco.  I was buying groceries like normal and passed the chocolate covered almonds (yum!).  I looked at them for a brief moment, then decided I would wait.  After all, Emily loves them and she was going to be home from school the following weekend.  I’d wait ‘til she was home, take her to Costco, and buy her a container to take back to school.  Almost as soon as I finished the thought, I realized that it was exactly the type of thing my mother used to do.  Still does, as a matter of fact.  And I laughed. 

I remember the first time I ever thought I was turning into my mother.  Brent was probably about 5 or 6, and we were headed someplace in the car.  Someone said something, and my immediate response was something my mother would say.  I took a deep breath in and tried to come to terms with the thought.  I was too young to be her!  It wasn’t fair.  Then I realized…there are far worse things in life!  I let go of the concern and went on with life.

Now Brent is 22, and I’m becoming more like Mom all the time.  I say the same things she would.  We like the same kinds of things.  We have some of the same hobbies (but she’s a far better quilter than I).  Our mannerisms are very similar.  Heavens…we cook the same dinner several nights a week without talking about it!   The whole thing just makes me laugh.

Mom turned 70 last week.  We had a birthday dinner to celebrate.  While she was here, I watched her.  And something dawned on me.  Becoming my mother is a good thing!  She’s all the things I want to be when I grow up.  She loves her children and grandchildren unconditionally.  She’s involved in their lives—everything from watching their sporting events to reading them books for the 897th time.  She’s generous (to a fault, my dad might say!).  She gives from her heart.  She’s fun to be with.  She is genuine and loves people.  She talks lots but listens well and remembers much.  She and Dad will celebrate their 48th anniversary in December.  Dad’s been retired for over 20 years, and she still enjoys having him around.  :) 

feb 2010 cruise 056

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” ~Proverbs 16:31

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  ~Proverbs 31:30

Thanks Mom!  It is a privilege to call you Mom and role model.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

more about Katie

I know I posted a picture of Katie last week and a little bit about what is going on with her.  She still needs our prayers!  She’s home now, going in every morning for outpatient treatment.  Each day gets a bit worse, and according to her, yesterday’s treatment was brutal.  She’s dealing with headaches and intense nausea. She’s got a cold, which keeps her feeling crummy.  Her immune system isn’t healthy enough to fight it off, so it keeps dragging on.   Overall, she’s just kinda miserable.

But there’s another side to Katie, one that I didn’t share.  She’s an incredibly gifted athlete.  This article was published yesterday by ESPN, on their college sports site.  Check it out.  Learn a bit more about our friend, and keep her in your prayers.   They are greatly appreciated.

Friday, September 30, 2011

catching up

It’s Friday.  The sun is shining!  And today is my mother’s 70th birthday, so we’re having a party.  It’s going to be a great day!!  :)

Some updates on odds and ends for you:

*We saw the doctor about Tori’s shoulder.  He’s a bit concerned about some issues and scheduled her for an MRI.  That was done early this morning.  Hopefully we’ll have results on Monday some time.  In the meantime, she’s on the rest/ice/aleve regime until further notice.  I think that might hurt as much as the shoulder does…giving up even a part of her senior season is painful.

*I emailed our nursing care coordinator at the Craniofacial Clinic and shared my concerns about Logan’s possible developmental delays.  She immediately replied that it was, in fact, an area of concern and that she would bring it up with his team the following Monday.  They clearly decided it needed some further investigation, because yesterday I got a call from the Neurodevelopmental Clinic with a referral and a request to schedule an appointment.  It’s on my list of things to do today.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have some answers.

*I went yesterday to the hospital to see my friend Ann and her daughter Katie.  What fun!  It was so great to have a chance to sit and visit.  I got to visit with both of them for about an hour, then Katie was not feeling well and ready for a nap, so Ann and I went out to the lobby for a bit.  With such busy lives, I rarely get a chance to catch up with her.  This is NOT how either of us would choose to do it, for sure, but it was very nice to be able to sit and talk.  Usually our catch-up time is taken in bits and pieces while we work in the concessions stand at basketball…this was a treat.  And such good news!  Katie will hopefully be released on Sunday.  She’s feeling well for the most part (dealing with headaches from the meds) and her labs and other tests show that she’s exactly where the doctors want her.  Every day they see evidence of God’s hand on all this, from the hospital to the doctor to the diagnosis and treatment.  Will you pray with me for Katie?  I know that she and her whole family would appreciate it.  This is Kate:

katie c

Isn’t she just gorgeous?  She’s so much more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside…an incredibly amazing young lady.  It’s a real privilege to know her and her family. 

I think that’s it.  I’m off to the kitchen to prep for tonight’s birthday dinner.  Enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

crazy week, busy day

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster week around here.  Most of it is stuff that is happening to people we love around us rather than right here at home, but still…

Sunday morning I was up at 4 with Ryan, and for some strange reason checked my phone.  A text had just come in from a dear friend.  We’ve been friends for 22+ years.  We’ve been in small groups together.  We went on vacation together for years.  Her boys are older than Brent; her girls are the same ages as some of mine.  (Ann has always been the perfect mentor and go-to person for questions about raising boys!)  She was texting us to let us know that her 18 year old daughter, a beautiful, talented girl with a life full of love and promise, had been diagnosed with leukemia.  We’re familiar with that disease here.  Sadly.  I cried.  We all cried.  It was hard.  (Still is!)  But Katie is upbeat.  A real trooper!  Treatment started Monday night, and they’ve been surrounded by friends and family lifting them up and loving on them.  Good thing, too—my friend had texted me on Thursday morning to let me know that her mother in law had just passed away (not unexpected.)  It’s been a tough week at their house.   Here, the feelings of helplessness flow.  It can be easy to get bogged down in how little can be done to really ‘help’ in this situation. 

Monday was busy.  School.  Speech therapy.  Volleyball in Tacoma.  Then Tuesday came, and it’s ALWAYS crazy.  Preschool in the morning.  Usually speech therapy in the afternoon, but this week preschool was followed by a quick dash home to take care of a forgotten chore, then a trip to Costco for groceries.  Laundry and a quick tidying up followed.  Wednesday had school for the boys.  School for my high school friend.  Setting an appointment for my girl to see the doctor about her shoulder, which hurts right now.  It’s likely a volleyball injury.  Then volleyball, ‘til way too late last night.  And the final straw…a fall on the court, which pushed my already tired, frustrated, in-pain child over the edge.  The shoulder is in agony.  Good thing the doctor’s appointment is this morning!

That brings us today.  The current schedule is nuts:  doctor this morning.  Speech therapy, far from home.  A visit to the hospital to see Katie and hug her mom.  A park date with a friend who moved away.  Small group.  Too much!  At this point, it’s probably speech therapy that will go.  I’m not even sure we could make it up there, given the distance and the rest of the schedule.  In between all those things is some prep for tomorrow.  That’s okay…I LIKE the routine stuff like that. 

Since this day officially gets moving in less than an hour, I should really get myself started.  It was a long night (Ryan couldn’t sleep) and today will be a long day.  But the same God who called me to this job will bring us through this day.  Especially if this is our attitude:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Col 3:23

Off to “work for the Lord” today!  I’m so glad He’s in control!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

our day

We had an incredibly fun day with friends. To see pics , go here.  (One of the girls asked to use my camera, so I didn’t have it to take along.)    The fun was a good thing after this morning’s  incident with the deer.  :\  The boys ADORE playing with Rachel…so much so that this afternoon they decided that Rachel and her family need to move onto our street so they can play together more often.  That sounds about right…

an early morning fright

Now that the sun is shining, I’m quite grateful to be alive.  I was nearly scared to death this morning in the dark.  It was 5:40; Jim had already left for work and everyone else was upstairs sleeping.  I was sitting at the table looking over the newspaper when outside I heard a noise.  A loud noise.  The sound of something dropping.  On the back porch.  Like right on the other side of the wall from the kitchen table!  Yikes.  I got up from the chair, walked to the sliding glass door, and came face to face with..


…a DEER!  Standing on my back patio, contentedly munching on the apples in the buckets that Jim had picked the other day.  I was tied up Wednesday and gone yesterday, so dealing with them was on my calendar for today.  Never in a million years did it occur to either of us that we needed to put them in the garage…we’ve lived here 18 years, always done this at the end of September, and never had a problem. 

The deer looked me in the eye and took a step away from the bucket, quite clearly waiting for me to go back to the table so she could get back to her feast.  I turned on the porch light and waved my hands; she moved a few steps further away.  I took a deep breath and slid the door open (all the while thinking “You are a first class IDIOT!!”) and she started for the back fence.  Gathering all my courage, I stepped out on to the back porch, and in a flash she jumped our 6’ fence.  Good riddance!  Go eat the neighbor’s crops for a bit, sweetheart.  :\

Clearly, now, we’re going to have to make some changes.  It’s been a long frustrating summer with our newest yard guest.  My roses have been destroyed.   Our tomatoes never had a chance.  My only peach was enjoyed by a deer, not by any of us.  The cherry tree has been decimated.  The raspberries are, apparently, quite delectable.  As are the strawberries.  This.  Will.  NOT. work.  I’m sorry, dear deer, but you are NOT welcome here.  And next summer?  Think again before you try and make my garden your buffet table.  (Hopefully by then we’ll have some sort of remedy for this issue!!)

In the meantime, I am very grateful that it was only a deer in my backyard this morning.   It could have been something worse.  And after all, perspective is everything.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

5 years ago

Some days are indelibly etched in my mind.  I vividly recall all sorts of details about those days.  September seems to have more than its share of them: 

  • Saturday, September 13, 1986—our wedding. 
  • Friday, September 16, 1994—Victoria is born. 
  • Tuesday, September 11, 2001—the attack on the US. 
  • Thursday, September 1, 2005—our referral for Ryan arrives in Seattle and we see his picture for the first time. 

And Wednesday September 20, 2006.  8:15AM.  I was sitting in the family room on the floor playing with 20 month old Ryan.  The big guys were all 4 at school for the first time in several years since Tori was in the 7th grade at Seattle Christian.  Emily, 9th grade, Hailey, 10th grade, and Brent, 12th grade, had already been at SCS for a year or two.  The house was mostly quiet when the phone rang.  It was my sister on the other end.  And she was crying.

Her 4 year old had been sick, and they’d been to the pediatrician for a blood draw to see if his diagnosis of strep was a systemic infection.  Through her tears, she told me that the dr. had called and asked her to get her husband and her son and meet at the oncologist’s office.  She was, understandably, terrified.

Blue Lake and High School Camp 2005 026

After a long day of waiting (for us) and an interminable day of medical terms and plans of action (for them) we learned that Nicholas had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, or ALL.  He was admitted to the hospital at that point to begin treatment.  Ted, their older son, had just started 1st grade.  Trying to manage a 4 year old in the hospital and an almost 7 year old in school all day was overwhelming.  I got on a plane Thursday to go help out.  It was far easier for us to adjust and make arrangements for Ryan than it was to expect Pam to be able to do it all alone.  I spent 4 days in Boise, then flew home for Ryan’s readoption hearing.  When it was done, he and I flew back to continue to help out.


It’s been a rough road.  Nick’s treatment was initially successful, but over the years he’s relapsed several times.  Treatment was hard, and Nick lost his hair.  Many times.  He’s been on steroids, and we’ve seen the bald, moon faced Nick more than once.
nicholas bald

The first bone marrow transplant was in March 2009.  At this point Nick was being treated in Seattle, so he was closer to (our) home.  Pam and the boys were living at the Ronald McDonald house, and Tony was in school full time in Boise.  It was not fun.  Not for anyone.  But God is faithful, and some things changed.  Tony was able to join them here.  Didn’t make the circumstances any less ugly, but it helped to have him here. 

nick transplant day 0

Nick’s first transplant was a success, and his recovery was (relatively) quick.  (I know…it depends on who you ask!)  Sadly, when he had his 1 year post transplant workup, the doctors discovered that Nick had again relapsed.  The odds were definitely stacked against them.  But there were no other options.  Late September 2010, Nick had a second bone marrow transplant.  This was much rougher, and included a stay in ICU.  There were some scary moments.  But you know what?  God is SO faithful!  Look at Nick today:


He’s healthy.  He looks incredible!  He’s attending the neighborhood school and playing football.  In late October he has his 1 year post transplant appointments and follow up.  It’s tense for sure, and I would bet that at some level Pam and Tony are holding their breath.  But they also know that for the first time in a very long time, Nick feels GOOD.  He feels HEALTHY.  And he’s not afraid to tell you that.  If you asked him, he’d say he’s got this thing beat. 

5 years later, we are rejoicing.  The miracle is Nick, the praise is God’s.  And it doesn’t get much better than this.

Monday, September 19, 2011

at what point do you get concerned?

There’s a child in this house who is totally, completely unable to entertain himself.  Without a sibling or a parent to play with, he’s at a loss.  Unless someone is (figuratively) holding his hand every minute, he cannot do it.  He can’t play cars or Legos or anything else alone for even 5 minutes.  He LOVES passive entertainment, and hates that we keep TV/movies/electronic games to a bare minimum. (For him, anyway.  It’s less limited for some of the others, who are capable of entertaining themselves, can read, and have rich imaginations.) If someone isn’t actively engaging him and directing his play, he does one of two things:  1)  he wanders around the house from person to person, moping and pestering; or 2)  he will start imitating the closest person, without having much (any?) independent thought.  He mimics his brother, parroting nearly everything that is said.  If one person asks for something, he immediately perks up and says, “Oh!  Me too please!”  Doesn’t matter who is talking or what they’re asking for…he request is always for “Me too.”  Some days it seems that he’s totally incapable of a single independent thought. He does, clearly, have some independent thoughts, but they feel few and far between.

I’ve long wondered about an overall developmental delay.  He seems to be stuck in many ways at 3 years old.  His drawings look like those of a 3 year old.  His fine motor skills are about on par with a 3 year old.  His gross motor skills are only slightly better than the average 3 year old.  His language skills are a bit beyond 3 years, but his construction and syntax sure aren’t.  And after 2 years of speech therapy focusing on grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, we’re not seeing much progress.  :\ (He also has speech therapy for articulation, where progress is very slow, but we are seeing progress.)  His impulse control is on par with a 3 year old…if it’s that good.  His emotional responses to frustration and disappointment mimic those of the neighborhood toddler.  For the last bit, it’s been like living with a perpetual 3 year old.  Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE 3 year olds.  I adore their inquisitiveness and their zest for life.  I also love the fact that they are learning and growing every day, continually making forward strides.  We’re stuck deep in early 3’s here.  No signs of forward strides.  And it’s getting a bit frustrating.

I understand about orphanage delays, but this child has been home long enough that he should have outgrown much/all of that already.  He’s been home almost exactly as long as he lived in China!  One would think that we’d see progress…

So…with an impending visit to the Craniofacial Clinic at Children’s, where they have developmental pediatricians as part of the team, would you ask to have him seen by one?  We don’t currently have a dev. ped. on the team—his craniofacial pediatrician is a geneticist—but we have an awesome nursing care coordinator who could set it up for us.  Or, should I just take him to our regular (and excellent!) pediatrician and see what he says? 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

when actions speak louder than words

“More is caught than taught.”  If I ever doubted it before, I don’t any more.  We got a package in the mail for our anniversary.  It included an original canvas and a letter. 

It said:

Happy 25th anniversary!  I don’t know where I would be without you both…literally and figuratively!  Like I said in the note with the flowers, I admire the relationship that you two have modeled and I could not have asked for a better example of how a marriage should work.

I have learned that happiness is not dependent on the other person, but happiness sure is able to come from that person.

I have learned that relationships are an equal balance of compromise and cooperation.

I have learned that personal wants and desires sometimes need to be sacrificed for a marriage to work, but the unexpected blessings that arise leave absolutely no room for regret. 

I have learned that there are specific roles in marriage that each spouse has, neither being subservient to the other.

I have learned that love is not always in the form of words or touch, but in doing the little things.

I have learned that marriage gives you someone who will always love you even if your jokes are lame.

I have learned that a true relationship is one that is felt not only in the good times and the bad times, but all the boring time in between too.

I have learned that a marriage cannot be founded on the fallibility of each other, but on the infallibility of Christ.

I have learned that marriage is a dynamic and continuous learning experience—for there are always aspects that can be bettered.

I have learned that to get respect, you have to give respect.

There is plenty more I could say, but here is one last one:

I have learned that a marriage is something, that after 25 years, both will sit on the couch at nigh (one browsing—browsing, eh?—train prices on the computer and the other eagerly scrutinizing her quilting handiwork) and wonder how in the world it has gotten to be 25 years.

(the painting)anniversary painting emily0001

As for the gift, I would like to explain it because otherwise it is simply an abstract piece of art.  Which I specifically chose to do, mind you, because then if it ended up looking terrible no one can judge…it’s abstract art, people!  Haha.  So to begin, I would like you to notice the colors in the painting: red, white, silver, and golden yellow.  First off, we have the red and white striped background.  Together, red and white are used as ceremonial Japanese wedding colors; oftentimes the newlywed couple receives red and white ornaments as a tangible symbol of happiness and celebration.  The color red signifying passion and the color white symbolizing purity; I believe strongly both colors imply two important facets in a successful marriage.  Moving on, I would like you to notice the sprinkled gray and golden yellow paint.  The color yellow is sometimes understood as the color of joy and happiness, both being attitudes which I have witnessed through my cognizant years of your marriage.  Furthermore, the complete luxury and richness of life and in heart that comes from a marriage is typified by the golden hues of the yellow paint.  Lastly, however insensitive and callous it may sound, the silver color archetypally represents old age.  But what I would love to focus on is not the graying of your hairs but the wisdom and sagacity that has come out of your many years of life together.  Silver symbolizes security, reliability, and maturity, which likewise are all aspects of your marriage that I see firmly today.

I love you both more than words can say…

There’s no way on earth we could have intentionally taught all this.  Heavens—some of this is simply a result of being committed to the marriage, not specifically a conscious decision to act in a certain way.  It’s far more than I ever hoped or dreamed they would see in us. I am humbled.  God’s faithfulness is seen by those around us, simply by acting in a manner worthy of Christ.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ~Phil 2:3-4

**One thing to note:  this came from our child whose gift is most definitely words.  She’s a talented writer and artist.  But the others gave gifts that are equally thoughtful, and much more fitting to their personalities.  We have a child with an incredible servant’s heart.  We have one with the gifts of mercy and compassion.  We have one blessed with a quick wit and a tender heart.  All of them expressed their love to us in their own unique style.  It just happens that this example is the easiest to share…

Friday, September 16, 2011

too fast

From this……








to this…

halloween 009


July 25 to 31 027

JSB and garden pics 014





in the blink of an eye.  Where does it go??

Happy 17th birthday, sweet girl!   It’s a joy and a privilege to be your mom.  You bring sunshine to everyone around you.  Thanks for being just who you are!  We love you.