Saturday, March 31, 2012

inspiring. and amazing.

I’ve shared some of Katie’s story here before, but this video is DEFINITELY worth watching.  Check it out:


We love this girl at our house!  Kates, it is a real honor to know you.  :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

progress…and the lingering pain

Today is March 28.  7 years ago, a baby boy, approximately 9 weeks of age, was left here on these steps in the dark of night:

yunyang steps

Every year since then, late March has been hellish in his world.  Night terrors, screaming and thrashing, sobbing “don’t leave me here!”, and general fearfulness have marked our nights.  And days.  Then, as quickly as they come on, they subside again.  They ALWAYS correspond to March 28 and his abandonment.  This year, we’re (finally) seeing major progress!  Our sweet tempered little boy has remained so, even though we are now almost totally through March.  No night terrors.  No screaming or thrashing or clawing at the sheets.  No sobbing and crying.  No fear of being left.  Just calm ordinary days for a typical 7 year old boy.  We are thrilled to see this horror lose some intensity!

Surprisingly, though, it comes with a sense of loss.  Not for him, but for me.  I have spent countless sleepless nights over the last 6 1/2 years praying for a woman I will likely never meet.  My heart aches for her, especially this time of year.  Finally, this year, with the subsiding of the nighttime issues, I don’t always remember to pray for her.  It hit me yesterday—he’s so much ‘my'’ son that sometimes now I forget about her.  Today I am feeling very sad for her.  Does she think about him?  Does she wonder how he’s doing?  Does she even know he was left at the orphanage?  Or was that something done by someone else in the family?   How I long to assure her that he’s charming and delightful.  Curious.  Smart as a whip.  Coordinated and athletic.  Darling.  Tiny and tenacious.  Tenderhearted and compassionate.  And so very VERY loved.  He is the apple of his big brother’s eye, and his big sisters’ darling.   He’s playing spring basketball right now, all 47 inches and 43 pounds of him.  He’s the littlest on the team, but one of the most coordinated.   It will be fun to see him play his first ever game on Saturday.

I have the privilege of having this delightful child with me now.  For this, I am eternally grateful.  I hope that I don’t become complacent and forget the sacrifice made by an unknown mom across the ocean.  She deserves better.  She gave him life.  I want to honor that, to recognize that. 

Father, thank you for the little boys You have graced our lives with.  We remember their China parents and the sacrifices they have made.  We ask for Your comfort and Your touch in their lives, Your peace, and Your assurance that their sons are healthy and happy, growing and thriving.  We ask especially that You would draw them to You so that someday we can rejoice together over these two children, loved on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.  Thank you for Your faithfulness to them and to the China moms and China dads from their lives.   We ask these things with grateful hearts.  Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

meet Bob

This is Bob. 


He’s lived with us for years and years.  And even though he’s a stuffed dog, you wouldn’t believe the number of times one of us has been surprised when he’s been on the floor in the living room.  At first glance, he looks VERY real.  He was Hailey’s dog for a long time, but when she grew up he was relegated to the closet.  Now the boys have discovered him.  And they are in heaven! 


Although it’s a goofy picture, Logan especially loves Bob.  So much so, as a matter of fact, that this morning he asked if Bob could ride along to speech therapy then go to basketball practice later today.  Ummm…no.  Bob is bigger than Ryan.  And I have the little car today.  Bob would take up a good chunk of the back seat!   I guess the good thing is that we wouldn’t have nose prints on the windows from Bob if I were to agree.   But today Bob stays home. 

Logan’s not particularly happy about that.  In fact, he took Bob upstairs and tucked him into the portacrib (out because we had a sweet 7 month old visiting yesterday), all the while crooning, “Don’t worry Bob.  We won’t be gone that long.  You will be okay, and I will miss you.”  He gently covered Bob with a pink (!) blanket, then closed the door.   Somehow I don’t think Bob is going to mind that much.

It’s a good thing my husband grew up on a farm and is a ‘dogs are for outdoors only!’ kind of guy.  I don’t need anything else to take care of at the moment.  Cute or not.  If it doesn’t grow up to do the dishes and the laundry and eventually leave home to live independently, I’m not much interested in taking the time to train it right now.  Maybe someday, but not now.  My plate is plenty full.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

so it begins

“Mom, there’s a kiwi in my lunch!  Did you remember to pack me a fork??” he said, with exasperation in his voice.

“Of course” I answered, laughing at his exaggerated tone.  “What do you think I am?  Stupid?” 

Giggles erupted from the back seat.  “No!  Not you, Mom.  You’re not stupid!”  His voice turned somber.  “But moms in China are.”

I took a deep breath.  I hadn’t expected that, and knew I had to tread carefully.  “Tell me what you mean by that.” 

Praying silently for wisdom, I listened as he expressed frustration at his “stupid” China mom who left him when he was a tiny baby.  “What kind of mom does that?  Why would a smart mom leave her baby at a hospital when she knows he needs her? A doctor can’t take care of a baby like a mom can.  Or should.” 

The hurt was evident in his voice.  How to help him see it wasn’t stupidity that led to his abandonment without exposing him to the harsh reality of a culture that values physical perfection?   “Remember the picture we have of you when you were a tiny baby?  The one that shows you with your open lip?”  In the rearview mirror I saw him nod.

Fu Xiaotong

“In China, it takes lots of money to take care of babies with open lips like you had.  We don’t know for sure, but we think probably your China mom and China dad didn’t have enough money to take care of you, to have a doctor fix your lip and your mouth.  And without those being fixed, it’s hard to feed a baby.  So maybe your China mom wasn’t being stupid.  Maybe she was doing the best she could to make sure you got taken care of.  We don’t really know for sure.”

Silence as he pondered that.  “Mom?  If my China mom hadn’t left me, then I wouldn’t live with you, would I?  I wouldn’t have Daddy and Brent and Hailey and Sissy and Tori and Ryan either, would I?”   “Nope.  Probably not.”  “Well…then God must know what He’s doing, because this is a pretty awesome place to live.  Maybe she wasn’t stupid at all.”

Whew.  To see a beginner’s grasp on God’s sovereignty and omnipotence is cool.  To see contentment (for now, anyway) with how things are is amazing.  To know that regardless of what questions are thrown out, God is merciful, and He provides wisdom when it is needed?  Priceless. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

already better than it started

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.  ~Psalm 7:17

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.  ~Psalm 9:1-2

Today started out with a sense of dread.  I don’t know how else to describe it—it was simply a sense of dread.  School, for big and little people.  Speech therapy.  Laundry.  And over it all was hanging a dreaded call to the IRS.  Again.  For a tax year that we’ve had questions about since the taxes were originally filed.

So, I started the laundry, ate breakfast, prayed, and took a deep breath.  Picked up the phone and called the IRS to ask (again) about the issue in question.  It’s the adoption tax credit for Logan’s adoption.  And because it’s a carry-forward, we’re talking small(er) dollars here, not thousands or tens of thousands.  Nevertheless…

When I called this morning, I had some very specific questions for the examiner.  Things like “Why are you denying a credit of $xxx when I only claimed $yyy to begin with?  And the amount I claimed is LESS than what you are denying?  AND the amount I claimed is made up of 2 parts—1 part in question, 1 part not in question.  What’s with that?”  Finally, we were blessed with an examiner who saw exactly what I was asking.  She didn’t have the answer but took copious notes (and my phone number!) and promised a manager’s review of my legitimate questions, complete with a personal phone call and answers, by Friday.  Thanks God!  She understood my questions but not what had been done to our return and felt that we were, in fact, correct.  She apologized for not hearing us before (this is my 3rd or 4th or 5th phone call, plus several letters, all unanswered to this point) and not addressing our questions.  

While I was on the phone with the IRS, my cell phone buzzed.  Our speech therapist has sick children (not good) and is unable to do therapy today (most excellent!).  So, in addition to the blessing of being heard at the IRS, God heard my cry for some relief in the schedule.  We have no therapy today…only time to enjoy school and get caught up on some other things that have been pushed off and pushed off.  I feel as though a thousand pounds have been lifted off my shoulders.  

On top of all this, last night I had a wonderful, fun phone call from our oldest.  He’s been struggling with some things, and for the first time in a very long time there’s enthusiasm and excitement in his voice.  He sounds good.  REALLY good.  We laughed and talked and did some vision-casting for his future.  And he likes what he sees!  There’s not much better for lightening a burden than knowing things are right with your children.  Again, only God could do that.  I am blessed! 

It’s going to be a good day.  No, a GREAT day! 

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.  ~Psalm 71:8

Thursday, March 8, 2012

not a good week

One of the ‘hallmarks’ of Logan’s learning/developmental issues is the back-and-forth nature.  Some weeks are excellent, and he can do and remember lots.  Some weeks are not so good, and we struggle to maintain the level of learning we had worked so hard to accomplish.  And some weeks are like this one, where it feels like I’ve got a 3 year old in the house instead of a 7 year old. 

It’s been tough.  Overwhelmingly difficult.  One of those weeks I’d really rather never repeat.  A week where I am certainly not proud of how I behaved as a parent.  The only positive thing I can say is that yesterday, when I got to the place where I couldn’t take any more without flipping out, I sent him to his room, letting him know that I was too frustrated to deal with him at the moment, and that it would be better for all of us if he spent some time on his bed thinking about what he’d done and how he could have responded to the problem in a more appropriate fashion.   (He was playing on the computer, and somehow managed to reset the user password on not one but 2 accounts on this computer.  This was after he removed a cemented in orthodontic appliance and a few other equally frustrating, equally confounding things.)  Once I took several (many?) deep breaths, I trudged up the stairs and gave him a hug.  Told him I was sorry for yelling, and we went over what to do when you come to something you don’t understand.  Reminded him that asking questions is always okay, and that it’s always better to ask for help when you are using someone else’s things than it is to try and fix it and make the problem worse.  We prayed together, had a good snuggle, then headed back downstairs to finish fixing dinner.  His sunny disposition returned.  And he’s worked hard at controlling his impulses and asking for help.

But we’re seeing evidence of the decline (that we know is temporary) in other things.  His speech has taken a real hit.  At therapy today, many of his sounds were nearly incomprehensible.  The things he blew through last week were nigh unto impossible today.  Such is the way of apraxia.  And some of his learning differences.  We hope that this temporary loss means that his brain is processing other big things and we’ll see a developmental leap in some other area.  In the meantime, I am barely hanging on, waiting for the weekend.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to do some tag-team parenting, and some physical labor out of doors.  There are pine needles to rake, and a bed for the sweet peas that needs to be prepared.  There are cars to wash and branches to pick up from the yard.  Fresh air and manual labor do wonders.  For all of us.  And maybe, if Saturday goes well, we’ll find some time to do something fun.  Make ice cream maybe? 

Time to tie an knot and hang on, I guess…


…and rejoice in the words of Lamentations 3

“Because of the Lord’s great love  we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning…  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him…  Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men...”  (Lam. 3: 22-23, 25, 32-33)

Monday, March 5, 2012

a ‘normal’ day

Several people have asked recently what a ‘normal’ day looks like at our house.  Although the schedule varies some, here are the basics:

5:45 rise and shine.  Unload dishwasher, make coffee for Jim’s thermos, make his lunch, fix his breakfast.  He leaves at 6:30.  Then Tori gets up for school, and I fix her breakfast and lunch, and make her a cup of coffee.  She’s out the door at 7:15 or so, and I get myself ready for the day.  The boys eat breakfast about 8, and we’re typically ready to go between 8:30 and 9.  Then, we do…

  • school (M/T/W/Th)
  • therapy (speech M/T/Th; occupational Tuesday only; need to add physical therapy to the calendar)
  • laundry (M/W/F, other days as needed)
  • keeping house (M/T/W/Th/F)
  • errands (W generally, sometimes M or F afternoon)
  • helping homeschool a high school friend (M/W)
  • sports practice (M/Th)
  • preschool (Tuesdays. I teach, the boys are junior helpers)
  • all the other stuff (pay bills, file, make phone calls, take care of business) required to keep the family running smoothly (M/T/W/Th/F)  This is done while the boys get playtime.  :)

It looks sorta like this, graphically: schedule

Frequently, I need more hours in my day…or to use my time more efficiently!  :)

Some days things are different.  Today I’ve got an extra all day.  She’s darling (and little!) but it definitely changes the flow around here.  Then Friday, my ‘catch-up’ day, is likely to be spent making a round trip to Pullman.  Em is coming home for spring break, and because of her class schedule can’t get a ride back.  We’ll see.  While I’d prefer to not make the 600 mile round trip, I would really love to see her (duh!)  so road trip it is!  Fortunately, I don’t mind the drive, and I haven’t been to Pullman since August.  Plus, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous, so I’m game for it.  :)

So…seeing it laid out, it doesn’t seem like that much.  So why does it feel so overwhelming some days??

Friday, March 2, 2012


The boys asked yesterday if we could make chocolate chip cookies today.  Since I’m going to be gone for the weekend, I told them it sounded like a wonderful idea—Daddy and Tori love chocolate chip cookies!  So imagine my surprise this morning over this conversation:

Ryan:  Can I play XBox?

Mom:  Umm…as soon as I start the washing machine we’re going to make cookies.  You’re going to help, right?

Ryan:  Mom, I don’t want to help.

Mom:  Not at all?

Ryan:  Well, not with this part.  I want to help.  Can I do the ‘after-the-oven’ part?

Mom:  The ‘after-the-oven’ part?

Ryan (with a HUGE grin):  Yep.  The part where you EAT THEM!

Goofball!  I laughed so hard…   Now he’s playing XBox and I’m ready to bake cookies with my ‘before-the-oven’ helper.