Monday, February 28, 2011

My Life These Days

I have finally found my rhythem having 6 boys.
.......Or so I thought.

We were packing up to head to school and as I glanced behind me I noticed Jack heading out the door still in his socks.
Buddy your shoes are right here by the door I said, then I went and got into the van.
And then I came home.

And as I walked back into the house I saw this

Jack's shoes.
At which point I just stood.
Just stood there with my coffee cup
trying to decide if I just dropped off my 4th youngest son at school

So what's a mom to do?
No idea.

So I just stood there.
Sipping my coffe,
enjoying the sunrise,
staring at his shoes,
torn between driving to school with two shoes, approaching the office and saying,
"Exscuse me, but may I please see Jack? He may or may not be here today with

...or do I just wait.
Wait for the phone to ring.
"Good morning Jack's mom, this is the school calling to tell you that your child has no shoes today."
Decisions, decisions.

I chose option B.
Sip coffee and wait.
And ya know what?
They never called.

And sure enough my sweet little blond haired baby walked off that bus at 3:00

And I thought I had it all together.

Gotta go now, my humble pie just finished baking and it's calling my name.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Thoughts

on teenagers.

not all my thoughts.

Just one.

(when they are not driving me to lose my ever loving mind)

Having teenagers is a bit like having a front row seat, season tickets, to biggest show in town.
The show that you have spent over a decade pouring your heart into.
And when your husband emails you a photo like this from DNow.

it makes your heart so excited to see the second act.

I cannot wait to see what plans the Lord has for this young man's life.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Life With a Couple of Noodle Fanatics

The boys like noodles.
They like-like noodles.
As in like-like gonna ask them to go steady in study hall like-like.

Consequently our pantry now resembles something out of the Asian food aisle in the grocery store.

The other day we ventured out to my home away from home,
the place where we buy ridiculously large quantities of food every week,
and spend an equally ridiculous amount of money

And as we passed by the shrimp the boys simultaneously attempted to launch themselves out of the shopping cart and do a nose dive directly into freezer.
Huh, I guess they like shrimp.
Alrighty then.
So we picked up a bag or 12 of some frozen shrimp and then we saw these


First can we please stop for a moment and take note of "Bowl Noodle" rather than "Noodle Bowl".
Crackin me up.

Anyhoo, we found some shrimp noodle bowls/bowl noodles and
gooooood night look at the size of those shrimp inside!

This is gonna be great!
They screeched with excitement and joy as I placed a ginormous box containing something like 32 bowls of these things into the cart.
That's right.
I'm awesome like that.

We got home and they requested the shrimp noodle bowls and a side of shrimp for dinner,
ok then.
I'm game.

I fire up the water,
pull the lid of that bad boy back
and look what was staring back at me.

You don't see it?
Here, let me zoom in a bit for you.

See it now?
The tiniest little shrimp(singular!) you ever did see?
Please do note the size proximity to a PEA for goodness sake.
And in the spirit of full disclosure you should also know that this is indeed not the pre-cooked picture...but indeed, thanks to the boiling water, this shrimp has reached it's maximum size. 
I'm so writing a letter.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Good Sign.

It has occurred to me in recent days that I live with two little Chinese Americans.
Obvious enough I guess but ever since about day 2 with the boys I no longer see them as two tiny Chinese boys.

Now I will say during our paperchasing months as I would see other Caucasian mothers out and about with their little Asian children I would pounce on them with a thousand questions say hello, and I could very plainly see that they were an adoptive family.

But a funny thing happens to you when you become that mother....

Does that make any sense?

Every now and then I have to remind myself when we are out and about why we are getting so many stares and polite smiles other than the fact that I have a ridiculous number of boys trailing along behind me.
To me
it's just us. 
It's just our family.

They are just my children.
Of course every now and then the difference does have a way of reaching up and smacking you in the head.
Yesterday I had to take Jacob to a different, new doctor to get some meds for a rash and as the nurse was asking me for the rundown on things like
Exposed to second hand smoke - No.
Eating well - yes.
Sleeping well - yes.
Any history of chronic illness or cancer in the mother or father - no.

And there in that room
at that moment
And I gotta tell you, it was both a great moment and a terribly sad one all at the same time.
Great that I am so in love with these boys, and have such a firm grasp on the fact that I am their mother that it didn't even phase me to say no when asking about John and mine's health history.
And terribly sad that the truth is in fact unknown.
And then I had to keep answering
So many of her questions....

So here I will stand.
In the gap between what we do know and what only their birth parents and the Lord knows.
And somehow
that's gonna be alright.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Music To My........Electrical Appliances?

When we were in China our totally awesome guide Helen took us to a bookstore one day, at our request, where we loaded up on a variety of Mandarin books for the kids.
Everything from encyclopedia's to comic books, we bought it.
I think we ended up, in two separate trips, with something like 40 books and two maps of China for their room.

Our aim is for the boys to retain their ability to speak, read and write in Mandarin and books are certainly a big, big part of that.
Looking back now, I wish we would have bought triple the amount we did.

Anyhoo, we also purchased a children CD of songs.

That CD then became buried underneath a mound of things that I have yet to fully unpack and put away,,,, until today.
After tripping over the pile and stubbing my toe for the umpteenth time I decided to try and tackle a bit of the pile, found the CD and decided to do something put it where it belongs.

I started to walk downstairs to put it in the car and I began to take what was my first good look at the CD.
And that's when I nearly pee'd my pants laughing.
It should be noted here that I didn't actually pee my pants.....that just would have been another thing I need to clean up and gracious knows I do not need anything more to clean up. 

So would you like to take a look at some of the songs we will be bopping around to?

Yeah, I thought you would's a small sampling of the totally awesome song titles.:
  • Little girl who picks mushroom
  • Song of the wood that A is virgin
  • Girl gathering seafood on the beachtide is ebbing
  • Protect teeth
  • Clean the song
  • Wear the clothes song
  • Good father's bad father
  • Small Buddhist monk
  • Fish's water middle reach
  • Toffee haws
  • Water should save
  • Black cat's police chief
And my all time favorite......
  • Careful when using the electrical apparatus.
Now I'm certainly no music critic, but I am pretty darn sure that Toby Mac will soon debut Careful When Using the Electrical Apparatus as his new single. 
Pretty catchy dontcha think?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

1 Month

One month ago today on January 17th we walked into the Guangzhou Civil Affairs office and almost immediately caught a glimpse of our sons behind that curtain.

A moment forever etched in my memory.

Just thinking about that moment still and forever will make me smile.

So here we are,
1 month later.
Suitcases still in the hallway.
And spending our days getting to know each other.

If there is any doubt that God in His sovereignty hand picks your children for you, let me tell you.....
He does.
These are our sons.
Through and through.
Some things we have learned in the last month:
  • Despite what they may have thought in China, we actually don't live at the Victory Hotel. 
  • Despite my hopes to the contrary, there is no one waiting for me each morning at home as I descend the stairs at 6:30am with a breakfast buffet.
  • This fact makes me wish we did indeed live at the Victory Hotel. 
  • If you unbuckle your seat belt while we are driving, mom will pull over no less than 100 times on the 5 minute drive to the grocery store to calmly re-buckle you and explain to you that we do not unbuckle while driving.
  • This fact will annoy you. 
  • Eventually you will learn that I do not budge on issues such as this and I am waaayyy more stubborn than you so you may as well give that up. 
  • You acquiesce. 
  • Acquiesce is very hard to spell.
  • We have plenty of food in the pantry, in the refrigerator, in the freezer, on the table, and no one is going to take your food from you so there is no need to have a death grip on your food. 
  • But if that makes you feel better than that is completely fine with us, because we understand, and we love you. 
  • Jet lag will not be present in Heaven. 
  • Jet lag is evil. 
  • Jet lag will mess with every fiber of your being and leave you a sobbing, overtired puddle of goo on the floor. 
  • Jet lag is not our friend.
  • Jet lag is evil. 
  • Jet lag is evil.
  • Jet lag is evil.
  • If you give your children ring pops on Gotcha Day....well, don't. They will look like they have giant pacifiers in their mouths in all of your pictures. 

  • We are champion charade players by this point because it is one of our main tools of communication.
  • Every woman you see is not your momma. -sigh- We will continue to work on this one.
And most importantly,
you are learning that this family thing is pretty darn cool.....

....and that mom should get the camera out more often.
Happy 1 Month Gotcha Anniversary boys! We love you!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Around the World in 16 days With 6 Boys.

I thought you might like a glimpse of what it was like flying halfway around the world with 6 boys in case you ever want to try it.

Yep.  That's pretty much what it was like.
Jordan making new (girl)friends wherever he goes.
A little Poptropica on the internet during layovers.
My little best friends....the in-flight entertainment systems.
There was a lotta food, a lotta giggles, a lotta sleeping and a whole lotta this

I almost think it'd be worth doing again just so I can sit down for 16 hours straight and have people feed my children.
.....But then I remember the jet lag and well.....
let's not go there again.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Settling In.

I know I have been remiss in doing a post recently about how the boys are doing.
Plus I really like using the word remiss.
So I will sum it up in one word:

Last week, as you gathered, was rough.
Rough, rough.
Rough, rough, rough, rough, rou.....oh never mind. 
And as we are now all the way through this week I can look back at that now and say with certainty that 85% of our trials of last week was due to severe sleep deprivation.
My sleep deprivation &
their sleep deprivation.
My sleep deprivation, my sleep deprivation, my sleep depri....oh never mind.

This week has been tremendous most of the time.
They are settling in, they have some idea of how our family functions, they have much more security when it comes to things like getting in the car for example.
They now know that when we get in the car and go somewhere a funny thing happens....

They sleep all night in their beds.
They sleep all night in their beds.
They sleep all night in their beds.
I sleep all night in my bed.
I sleep all night in my bed.
I sleep all night in my bed.
I sleep all nig....oh never mind.

They are also once again acting like the brothers that we knew in China, their spirit of cooperation now that they feel more secure with us has come right back.
They will play outside for hours upon hours and they are enchanted with their power wheel(thanks Kim!) scooters and the trampoline.
They play for hours upstairs in the play room and here is what it looks like after they have dumped each bin out as they play.

Ok....yeah....I'm too lazy to walk upstairs and take a picture, but trust me. It's crazy clean.
I know.
Be jealous.
They are amazing.
And I am hopeful that their cleaning abilities will soon wear off on their brothers.

Jacob who the first few days home would have a crying fit if things didn't go exactly his way or if he felt like he wasn't in control of what was going on;
has learned that having a dad and mom that takes care of him and meets his needs is actually a pretty cool deal.
He doesn't have to do it all anymore and you can almost
bit by bit.

Joey who had a death grip around our necks desperate for love now has a death grip around our necks because he is loving the love.

Though it is not all sunshine and rainbows we are definitely finding our feet again.
Jacob still has a hard time in big, populated spaces. I think it's a bit much for him.
Going from institutionalized life to....well, real a transition. 

Joey is well....doing abnormally well.....though he has a hint of mischievousness behind those stunningly beautiful brown eyes.
Yesterday we were at the immunization clinic getting their oh-so-cute-little Chinese immunization cards put into the system and they were both dying to touch the computer that is used for check in.
Joey reached down and grabbed Jacob's hand and made his hand touch the keyboard instead.
Sorry kiddo, but I've got momma eyes.

So here we are, near 2 weeks home, falling more and more in love each day.
Praising God for His faithfulness in all of this, for loving them, for protecting them, and for calling us to them.

Joel 2:25 "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten..."

Sonia 2:25 "I promise to get the camera out more and provide you with some pictures."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Life With Tiny Chinese Americans

The squat.
Oh how I love the squat.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crackin the Code.

I think we are beginning to crack their codes in a variety of ways in figuring out what makes them tick or
their "price of poker" if you will.

But for now let's specifically discuss how I think I have cracked their code as it relates to food.
Because really, who doesn't like to talk food? 
And if you're saying, "Well me. I don't like to talk food." 
Then I'm not sure we can still be friends.

Food hasn't really been a big issue.
It certainly wasn't in China
and it hasn't been a huge one here.

That being said however, I still can't just sit them down with a poptart bowl of rice krispies and bananas.....yet.
So in my quest to bring them comfort, food is most certainly one area that I can try my best.
Pre-adoption my Asian cooking skills hovered somewhere around non-existent.
Post-adoption my Asian cooking skills are hovering somewhere around non-existent.

But alas,
I think I have cracked the code.

Rice as a base.
Not just rice alone I've learned after many wrinkled noses.
Rice first and then pile on the goods.
Soy sauce.
Orange sauce.
Chow Mein noodly thingy bobbers.
Dried seahorse.
Hard boiled egg.
Water chestnuts.
Bamboo shoots.

Any type of meat, good.
Any type of veggie, good.
By golly, I think I've figured it out.
Now instead of cute little wrinkled noses, I get cute little smiles and "thank you momma!".

I'm going to file the food revelation under
"Things I wish I would have known before we left."
I would have cooked and chopped and opened up a meat market and had them frozen in baggies in the freezer.
Meat prep has consumed much of my days recently.
Only the love of these two boys has driven me to handle the insane amounts of raw meats I have handled in the last 72 hours. Blech.
As back up I purchased a few canned meats yesterday when

The food issue will be doubly entitled,
"Things I wish I would have talked to their foster mother more about."
I so wish I had asked her to show me her process.
Her spices.
Her seasonings.
Her methods.
Her ginormous bottle of soy sauce.

Live and learn though and though it took me a week,
I have cracked the code.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Much, MUCH Better!

I have a few posts in draft that I have written over the last few days
but now
none of them seem right.

It's not where we are today.
It's not where we are this moment.
It is most definitely

I think I'll save them for now.
I know at the very least typing it all out helped me to really think through specifically what issues we are facing and focus bit by bit on them instead of letting the entire picture overwhelm me.
What's that they say about how to eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.

So all I have to say today,
this moment
this instant
is that it is much
much better.

The fact that we have all slept through one night has in itself made a tremendous difference in my level of emotional clarity.

Everyday I have woken up and felt a renewed sense of hope.
Even though nearly every child that calls me mom has vomited all over me in the dead of night or had a fever or needed me for a hug at 1am ever since we arrived back home.
Even though my house is a complete disaster.
Even though there is still dirty clothes sitting in suitcases from our trip emitting a toxic odor throughout the house.
Even though I have yet to get dressed or shower everyday.
Even though my coffee pot is now broken....wait....never mind....this actually is terrible news....of which I am unable to cope with....
Even though I have yet to prepare a meal that is beyond scrambled eggs or pizza rolls
Even as I had to laugh this morning at myself as I realized that I would have only 5 kids home today instead of 6 as Jack was well enough to go to school and I wondered what has happened to me when having only 5 kids felt slightly easier.
I am hopeful.
I have a much, much better handle on things now.

I am feeling it. 
I am feeling that this is our new normal.
And I'm lovin it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Our Dual Adoption Issues Vol. 1

followed by some cute pictures.

Before I begin to delve ever so slightly into sharing our experiences over the last week let me say thank you SO much for your supportive comments on my last post.
I have printed them out
and promptly
taped them to my forehead.

I needed to hear your encouragement and very much expect to need them again
thus I decided my forehead was the perfect place for safe keeping especially because the rest of my house looks like a bomb exploded in it and I wouldn't be able to find said list anywhere else.
And really, if we're not going to be honest then what's really the point? 

Where to even begin.....
as I mentioned and you read about, our time in China was incredible.
It was truly remarkable how easy the transition was and I am ever thankful that the issues we are experiencing now waited until we got home to begin.
Dealing with all of this
over there...
that would have been ugly.

I think they felt safe there.
And here?
Well, notsomuch.

This week has reminded me a lot of when we first brought the twins home.
2 more kids in the blink of an eye.
It's parenting on steroids.
Oh wait....that sounded wrong....I am not on the 'roids or anything....that's not what I meant.....oh nevermind.
Only this time instead of two newborns that I could just cuddle and feed and love I feel like I've given birth to a couple of scared 7 year olds who don't speak my language.
And the difficulty level gets ratcheted up a notch or 12.

Instead of scooping up a baby...or a 7 year old....and being able to fully focus on that child and his needs your attention is divided.
And divided attention when they are both crying or scared or mad is well

I am but one.
One mom.
One non-Mandarin speaking mom.

Personality wise the boys are
Night and day.
Black and white.
Apples and oranges.

Joey by personality is very snuggable.
I just made up a word.

Joey can be comforted by holding, snuggling, and rocking as he silently cries sobs.
Jacob by personality or more accurately, circumstance is not very snuggable.
I don't think anyone ever really cared to pay him much attention the last few years.
So comforting him as he cries very un-silently in whatever hidden location in our house he has placed himself is just different.
Heartbreakingly different.

When one is upset and being comforted by one of us they are quick to let the other one know.
Which results in some building animosity between the two of them.
Periodically they will say some rather un-kind things to one another in Mandarin which sets the other one off thus leaving me on constant alert for that subtle change in tone of their voice.
I don't speak Mandarin.
But I do speak Mom.
And there are some things you realize are happening without the need of translation.
They are scared.
They are somewhat shell-shocked.
They are ridiculously cute.
and they are loved.
They just don't know it yet.
But baby, ohhhh baby...will they ever soon.
Cuz though I am only one,
I am one who isn't going anywhere.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Well, At Least I Haven't Cried Today....


I feel like I've got my butt kicked by a couple of 7 year olds.
Oh wait.
I did.

Re-entry has been tough.
Like tough-tough.

As in

All Much of it is due to the intricacies of a dual adoption.....
and in my "Well that won't happen to me because I have parented in sets of two before" frame of mind
I was sadly unprepared.

My two boys who were best friends in China have become, in America, competitors for love and attention.
Much more to come about this in the coming days as I am come out of my state of shock slowly....very,

Essentially I have decided that our time in China was a bit like being in a bubble.
A perfect, safe little bubble......for them.
Still in their own country.
Still eating their own food.
Still surrounded by their own language.

And this?

And reality?

Someone asked me yesterday how we are which I replied
"Not very well."
To which she said
"Well, at least your honest."

Much more honesty to come.
I think I'm starting to find my feet again.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.