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.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

where does the time go??

leaving reception0001

25 years ago, we got married.  Hardly seems possible that it was so long ago.  But it was. 


Clearly we were quite a bit younger.

Christmas 060

It’s been quite the adventure and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

 Christmas 004 adjusted

Christmas 020

Christmas 043

Here’s to 25 more.  At least.  :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


He ro  noun \ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\  plural –roes  A person, typically a man, noted for feats of courage, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his life.  (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition.  © 1982)

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word hero?  I know for most of us, there’s an immediate response.  For me?  Simple.  It’s people like our neighbor Bill, a police officer on a local force; our friends John and Susan, with their ministry to homeless men and their commitment to homeless single moms with children;  a whole group of dads we know who are firefighters; my brothers in law (Jim’s brothers—all 3 of them!), our nephew, my dad and grandfather, and our son, who have willingly served in the armed forces—those are the first people who come to mind. 

None of those people have sacrificed their lives to help others, and some of them have never even really put themselves at (serious) risk for others, but they all have another characteristic in common—they selflessly put others ahead of themselves.  They are willing to meet the needs of others, to take care of others, and not count the cost to themselves.  They willingly sacrifice things besides their lives:  creature comforts, financial gain, safety, peace and quiet.  They are, to a number, people whose lives exemplify qualities I would be proud to see in my own children.

It’s hard to help kids understand real heroes.  Real heroes don’t have superpowers like Spiderman or Superman.  Those are things most kids—boys especially!—find so attractive.  But even then, they can learn at an early age that superpowers are not the only important thing for a hero.  My little guys have a friend who is beginning to get it.  Collin is 5, and he’s enchanted with Superman.  He wears his Superman cape everywhere, and lives to wear his Superman shirt.  But Collin’s parents are very good at helping Collin understand that being a hero is more than just having special superpowers.  How do I know that Collin is getting it?  Well, he made this:


to let the world know that inside that house, there was a young man willing to make sacrifices on your behalf. And, if I know Collin, he’d do it quite happily for a cookie.  :)  

The thing is…most of us don’t do a very good job of training up our children, our boys, to believe that being a hero is something they can do.  Something they are capable of achieving.  In that regard, Collin is light years ahead of his peers.  That’s a good thing.  Way to go, Mom and Dad.  Keep up the good work.

And Collin?  If I ever need a hero, I promise you’ll be the first person I call!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011




my garden…



has a new ‘friend.’ DSC_0149



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

it’s back….

Volleyball season, that is.  Today was the season opening jamboree.  I’d forgotten how crazy volleyball days can be!  School this morning…visit from my brother in law and his wife…make 13 meals for the team (and coach and bus driver.  I signed up for the 1st game, to get it over with)…get them to school in time to make the bus…dash back home to pack OUR dinner…head north to the jamboree (game time?  5pm.  Location?  30 miles north of us, THROUGH Seattle at rush hour.  Such fun!)…watch volleyball until 8pm…come back home and tuck tired boys into bed…clean kitchen from the mess of making 17 sack meals.

Whew!  1 down, 14 more to go.  Sadly, it’s ONLY 14 more this time, since Tori is a senior and this is the last year for high school volleyball at our house.  I will miss it!  It was fun to watch the new team work together.  They’ve got some kinks to work out, but they’ll get there! 

We enjoyed our visit with Uncle Jay and Aunt Christy today.  Or, perhaps more accurately, the boys liked meeting Uncle Jay and Aunt Christy and LOVED seeing Dixie and Dakota, their dogs.  Jay recently retired after 24 years in the Air Force, and they’re doing a bit of traveling before they settle into ‘civilian’ life.  It was so much fun to have them here!  Jim and I saw Jay just last year at Brent’s graduation from boot camp, but none of the rest of the family has seen them for 5 years.  That means Ryan was a baby, and they’ve never met Logan until this weekend.  The boys have new best friends, and we had such a wonderful time just catching up a bit.  It will be so nice to have them closer to us and able to come to family holiday celebrations!  No, Utah’s not that close, but it’s sure closer than North Dakota!!  Now, to get their son transferred out this direction…  Arkansas is just too far away.  :)

Family…fun…a visit from Emily…a promised visit from Brent…what a great way to start September!  Even if the whole “first day craziness” of volleyball snuck up on me this year.  I’m gonna enjoy this while it lasts, ‘cause I KNOW for sure I’ll miss it next year!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

6 years ago…

…we got a VERY important phone call.  The caller let us know that the packet we’d been waiting for was in, and if we wanted to come pick it up we could.  Wanted to?  We’d been waiting for MONTHS for this information…we’d be on our way immediately.  Inside, we found these:

Yang Fu Tao

Yang Fu Tao visa cropped

Referral pictures (and paperwork) for a baby born just 8 1/2 months before.  He looked so worried with his furrowed little brow!  We couldn’t wait to go get him.

We left about 7 weeks later, and brought home Ryan Joseph.  It’s been quite an adventure!  He’s a joy and a delight.  And now we only see that furrowed brow when he’s joking with us.  No more worried baby!

November 2005 008

November 2005, 10 months old


May 2006, 16 months

 ryan 006

Feb 2008, 3 years

homecoming 003

January 2009, 4 years

ryan and logan 002

January 2010, 5 years (yes, it’s the same shirt!  He doesn’t grow very fast…)


January 2011, 6 years.  (Same shirt. Again.  And it’s STILL in the drawer…)

Ryan, you are such a blessing!  It is quite an honor to be your parents.