Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Lost" in a Dilemma

A couple of weeks ago I confessed that I was a total Lostie. If you watch ABC at all then you know that this Thursday is the 2 hour season finale with a repeat of the last episode the hour before-- hopefully the enhanced version-- since it is, interestingly enough, it is actually Part 1 of 3 for the Season Finale.

And if you read my blog at all, then you know I hads movers coming Wednesday to pack up my house. We're spending the night afterward sleeping on air mattresses and I was going to stay a day or two to wrap up loose ends. Last week it occurred to me that I had scheduled to have my cable tv turned off this Thursay. It also rather startlingly occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to watch Lost at my house!

Now, I realize in the scheme of things this seems rather stupid, but it was really a dilemma. Lost won't be back on until NEXT JANUARY. That's a really long time to go without Lost. And while I do realize that I could watch it on on Friday, I don't want to wait. What if something slipped out somewhere and I heard what happened before who knows when I would watch it?

So then the question is what to do? I could drive all the way to Kansas City and stay with my brother and his family, getting there right about the time Lost started so I would be rushing in the door and down to their basement for 2 hours leaving my children to do who knows what while I was glued to the television. It didn't seem very polite. What I ultimately decided was to drive to St. Louis and spend the night in a hotel with a suite so I could watch Lost in one room and the kids could watch something else in the other room. (Julia is afraid of Lost and making her stay in the bathroom for 2 hours didn't seem like a very good option either. Although it might be a nice payback for all the times she ran off leaving Emma with me this past weekend while she was supposed to be watching her so I could get some work done...)

It was decided to stay in a hotel but then I realized I would have the dog with me! (Does it never end??? Can't ANYTHING be easy???) So a not so quick internet search produced The Drury Inn, which does accept pets and I found one Drury Inn that still had a suite in the St. Louis area.

Now if this plan will just work.


Editors note: This post was written several days earlier.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Hole in the Head (Or in this case two)

Julia has wanted her ears pierced for several years but Darrell had always wanted her to wait until she was older. Julia's friend Anna also didn't have her ears pierced and the girls had mentioned from time to time about getting them pierced together.

This weekend Anna's mom Beth and I talked and decided we would let the girls get their ears pierced yesterday. They are both getting ready to start middle school and it was one last big thing they could do together before we leave.

While Julia was excited about the piercing she was also VERY nervous. Julia doesn't do pain, of course most (normal) people don't, but Julia really doesn't do pain. Of any kind. So purposely inflicting pain upon herself was very much out of her character. Did I mention that Julia doesn't do pain? I just can't stress this enough!

Yesterday morning we all met at Claire's at the mall for the big event.

The girls with their "pre" pierced ears.

Jenna and Emma excited to watch holes bored into their sister's ears!

Anna's very concerned older brother Adam. (Note the sarcasm)

Anna went first because she is the braver of the two. Julia is the extrovert and Anna is the adventurous one. Notice that they are wearing matching shirts.

Marking the dots.

The first ear pierced.

And it's done!

Julia's turn

Julia was so nervous that she was shaking so Anna held her hand to offer support.

Getting her ears cleaned. You can see that she's starting to rethink this. I had told her the day before to notice all the people in the world with piercings, many with more than one. If it hurt that bad they wouldn't be doing it.

The first hole

The first ear done and it wasn't so bad! They only pierced one ear at a time (as you noticed) so I was slightly concerned that she would get one pierced and refuse to pierce the other!

Two very happy girls!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A House Full of Boxes (Part 1)

The movers show up on Wednesday and my goal was to be almost completely packed by Monday night. That way I had Tuesday to do any last minute things that popped up. Yesterday, Sunday afternoon, I really didn't think I was going to make that goal. For some reason packing up the house was very low on my children's priority list. Go figure...

I had a few moments of lack of self control as I quite loudly pronounced my dismay over doing the majority of the work. In other words there were a couple of times I screamed like a crazy woman "I can't believe I'm doing all of this by myself while you all live in your own little world!!!" Or something to that effect. Much to my disappointment it usually went in one ear, got a slight reaction, and then out the other ear and was totally forgotten. See my kids are far from perfect!

So this morning I told Julia that she WAS watching the baby while I packed and that meant that if I walked in the room to get or do something that did NOT give her permission to take off to another part of the house, leaving Emma behind with me. (Like she did yesterday, multiple times.) I also woke Ross up at 11:05 (teenager) and told him that he was MINE today and not to even THINK about leaving the house or doing something with his friends until he was released-- so don't even ask! And low and behold, we got a lot done!

This is what my house looks like right now:

Just about everything in our house that will fit in a box is currently in one! Yeah! And I met my goal! Double yeah!!!

I just knew I didn't want repeat of my last move out where I didn't have everything completely packed yet, nor cleaned and the kids were at school and it was literally about 95 degrees outside.

But you know, I've decided that I'm just too old for this so I don't think I'll be moving again for a VERY long time.

But my kids keep reminding me that's what I said last time -- less than a year ago!

Friday, May 23, 2008

A house full of divas

Julia's birthday is in June. In our family you don't just have a birth day, you usually have a birth week.

You mothers know how it is. You have the actual day of the birth celebration, often just immediate family. Then there' s the cupcakes/cookies/snack sent to school for their birthday. There's the friend party. Etc, etc. These usually occur through out a week's time. Birthday week.

But Julia's special this year because she's not just having a birthday week. She's getting a birthday quarter.

Her birthday is in June but her friends gave her a surprise party for her birthday in April because we are moving and would be gone for her birthday. (Interesting note: We got Ryan's referral the afternoon of Julia's surprise party making a crazy situation even crazier.) Even though she had the surprise party Julia wanted a party for just her 4 closest friends and she wanted a sleep over and pedicures. In June we will have a large family celebration/cook out.

April, May, June= 2nd Quarter. Birthday Quarter.

A sleepover birthday party was the very last thing I wanted less than one week before we move but I just couldn't tell her no. I wanted her to have one last fun thing with her friends.

The girls showed up and we soon left for their nail salon pedicures.

The finished products. As a bonus they each got a design on their big toes.

We weren't home long before Julia hit the presents. Julia with Jenna and her friends. Starting with Jenna and going clockwise: Jenna, Julia, Anna, Chloe,Leah and Emmy.

Next it was time for Glamour Shots. Sound a little Retro? A couple of days ago as I was sorting through things to pack I came across the proofs to some Glamour Shots that I had taken back in the mid 90's. The best compliment I've received in some time was from Julia's friend Anna who saw my proofs and said "Julia, I didn't know your mom was a fashion model." And she was serious. And I didn't pay her.

This inspired Julia and Anna and Glamour Shots was incorporated into the party. I was the photographer. There were themes. Hollywood, Summer and Free Choice. Here are some of the "proofs":

All the glamourous beauties. These photos are just one each of the girls. They were throughly enjoying themselves. Notice the white sunglasses were a popular prop.

Jenna had to join in the fun. And then and unexpected visitor showed up in the "studio" (Julia's room.)

Ross. A rare photo for many reasons, one of which is the goofy smile.

After that I was feeling a little left out, especially since I inspired the whole Glamour Shot craze. I was going to try to go for the Angelina Jolie look since I was just asked the other day if I was trying to be like her by adopting AGAIN. But I don't have enough money, or Brad Pitt so I figured that wasn't an option. This will have to do:

Nothing else needs to be said.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sleepless in Tennessee

Remember when you were a kid and you would do anything to not have to go to bed? "Can I stay up just a little bit later? Please???"

Well, I'm still kind of like that. For some reason I have a hard time making myself go to bed. I'm like a kid that needs to be told to go to bed. Actually I go to bed, I just don't go to sleep. My down time is laying in bed watching HGTV from 10:00 to about 11:30.

My darling daughter, Emma, has kind of put a crimp in this arrangement. She sleeps in my room and often she will stay up until 10:00, cutting into my "me" time. I can live with that part, the part I have a hard time with is the middle of the night feedings.

When I got Emma at 3 months she would take a bottle about 9:00, sleep until 4:00, take another bottle and sleep until 8:00 am. I knew I was incredibly lucky. And then RSV struck, soon followed by 10 days in the hospital which does not acknowledge night time. Emma was getting bathes in ICU at 3:00 am. Bye-bye sleeping through the night. Hello sleep deprivation.

Emma goes to bed around 9 or 10, sleeps until 1:00, takes a bottle, sleeps until 3:00, takes a bottle, sleeps until 5:00, takes a bottle and sleeps until 7:30-8:00. The last week or so she has started waking only at 3 and 5.

Last night she went to sleep around 10 and woke at 3:00. When I woke up with her I found Jenna's lamp on. I went to the bathroom, turned off the light and started to feed Emma her bottle. Usually I doze through the feeding but after all the activity I was more awake which I instantly recognized as a problem and then all the thinking began.

When I'm stressed if I wake up in the middle of the night for any reason I begin to think and worry about all the stressors in my life. I had a lot items left over from the garage sale that a charity was picking up today but it all had to be outside on the driveway by 7:00 am. Julia had a program at school this morning, I had to have my safety deposit box emptyed by today or pay my annual renewal fee, get more boxes for packing, make a zillion phone calls and work on my new stay at home job. (I'll tell you about that another time.) I also realized at 3:15 that I had a bill I had forgotten to pay and was due today. I still don't have Ryan's care package all together to mail. I think you get the picture.

Emma finished her bottle and I went downstairs where I promptly began cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry, picking up the living room, read the new National Geographic about China. Finally around 5:30 I started getting sleepy but realized that my alarm was going off in an hour so I might as well stay up. I had fantasies of napping in the afternoon. Silly woman. It also dawned on me that Emma hadn't woken at her 5:00 feeding time. My first night of only getting up one time in MONTHS and I missed it. Story of my life.

So here it is, after 10:00. I've been up 19 hours and I'm still up.

Maybe I should start getting ready for bed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Graduation day!

{Editor's note: The Mother Board has landed, er, been replaced by the Geek Squad so welcome back to photos!}

We had a graduation in our family yesterday.

Introducing the future high school graduate of 2021 and the present Pre-K graduate of 2008:

Jenna Meilin, proud graduate.

Jenna receiving her diploma from her teachers Rachel and Heidi. When their name was announced the director of the school also said what the child wanted to be when he or she grew up. Jenna wants to be an ice skater. Perhaps I should get her some ice skate lessons since she's never ice skated in her life.

Jenna's class and her teachers. The girl to Jenna's right said she wants to be "a China girl" when she grows up. She loves Jenna and her daddy makes business trips to China and brings her back Chinese dresses.

The girl at the very far left of the photo wants to be a "house cleaner girl." I really need Jenna to be influenced by her!

The second little girl to the left of Jenna apparently prays every night for Jenna to get a new daddy. Her mother confessed this to me at their end of the year party on Wednesday. She can't fathom not having a daddy and feels badly for Jenna so she and her sister have prayed for the last 6 months for Jenna to get a new daddy. Her mother told me if someone appears on the scene I now know who to blame. She even had someone in mind! Oh dear! I told her it would have to take someone really special to accept a woman with 6 kids!

And what's the best way to end a graduation?

Let them have cake!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Confessions of a Lostie

Hi, I'm Denise and I'm a Lostie.

I'm not just being trendy either. I've been hooked on Lost since its premiere. I confess though, they kind of lost me part of the second season when they were totally hooked on The Others. And then of course, during part of the second season my life totally crashed. (I have Season Two on DVD and have viewed the entire season.) But Season Three, I was back. The season finale of Season Three, I was wishing I had DVR or Tivo. My boys thought I had lost my mind when they heard me shouting at the TV and pounding on my bed screaming "NO! Charlie can't be dead!"

Season Four, I'm totally hooked. Sometimes I will watch an episode twice. My kids know that when Lost is on they are not allowed to even speak to me! (Unless they're bleeding and then they have to wait until a commercial. Kidding... or am I?)

Anyone into Lost will tell you this has been a fantastic season. The problem is I really don't know many people who are fellow Losties. Friday I'm stuck scouring the internet for blogs and chats about Lost, trying to find pieces I have missed, connections I didn't catch, theories I hadn't thought of. I even found a blog last season at Powell Books by an author, J. Wood, who is just a little too smart for his britches. He ties literature to parts of the plot, characters and dialogue. If the creators of Lost have even thought of half the things that J. Wood has thought of then they are utter geniuses. When I first started reading his blog I felt really stupid and then really smart. The stupid part came from never even knowing about the literature he was tying things too, let alone reading it; the smart part was the fact that I was reading his blog and being "intellectual."

(OK, I've got Mommy Brain and I need my intellect where I can get it. Back in the day I could answer Jeopardy questions and do cross word puzzles. Now my biggest challenge is deciding between Huggies or Pampers.)

So tonight's episode for anyone who reads this and shares my interest-- please tell me your thoughts! I sometimes feel like I'm lost on Lost Island.

Tonight we found out for sure who the Oceanic Six really are. The question is if they are on 5 different areas, both on the island and off, then how do they all get together to be The Oceanic Six? And why can't they tell what really happened? What happened to everyone else? Is Jin really dead? Does Desmond ever find Penelope or the visa versa?

Last week's episode-- what in the world happened to Claire?????? She looked totally drugged out in the cabin! And what is she doing there? Is she really dead? Will we ever see her again?

And what's with all the dead people running around talking to The Oceanic Six after they get back? Are they really dead? At the beginning of this season Charlie told Hurley that he really was dead. Is it the time warp?

So many questions, so few answers. I can't wait for this season's finale in 2 weeks but then we have to wait until next winter for Season Five!!! How will I survive?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Earthquake in China

I want to thank everyone who has asked about Ryan's safety. I have not heard specifically that he is safe but I am trusting that he is. His orphanage is very far from the epicenter of the earthquake.

The earthquake was in Sichuan province. Ryan in in Jiangxi province which is due east. (I apologize for the poor color shading of this map but I'm still figuring out how to go about finding things on the internet to place in my blog.)

This is Ryan's province and he is currently residing in Shangrao which is in the northeastern portion of the province. I know that the earthquake was felt very far away from the epicenter. Last night I was reading the blog of a family who are currently in Wuhan, Hubei (Jenna's province) and the mother felt the earthquake WHILE she was blogging. Hubei is to the northwest of Jiangxi and is closer to the epicenter.

My agency, CCAI, does not have any families in Sichuan at this time, thank goodness. It is obvious that there is major devastation there. This morning I heard there were 12,000 dead and that number is sure to rise. I am inserting an email I received from a humanitarian aid agency who focuses on children residing in Chinese orphanages. The agency is Half the Sky and they provided much needed aid to orphanages this past winter with the major winter storms during Chinese New Year. Jenny Bowen, the director, gives an update of the situation.

Hello again,
During the past several hours Half the Sky has been working hard to get more information about the children impacted by the Sichuan and Chongqing earthquake. We know that it is not only children in welfare institutions who are in trouble. We know that hundreds of children have been separated from their families, have lost their parents, are hurt, traumatized and in pain. We know we must help; we have been working to figure how best to do so.
We have just a little bit of news. There have been hundreds of aftershocks, one reported to be as strong as 6.0. Children have again been evacuated from the Chengdu institution. Relief workers have arrived in the epicenter, Wenchuan. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (this is the ministry that HTS works with and also the agency responsible for disaster relief) has been unable to reach orphanages in the most affected areas: Mianyang, Zitong, Deyang and Aba. There are other welfare institutions in the affected areas but no others that house children. Each of the four institutions above houses about 100 children. We believe they will need help. We will continue to watch and wait.
Many of you have asked us to set up an emergency relief fund, like we did during the winter storms. Given the nature of this disaster and the fact that help for children may well be needed outside welfare institutions(where we have a direct line) we have waited to set up such a fund until we had absolute assurance that we could put a system in place to deliver the aid where it is most desperately needed.
Half the Sky takes the designation of a donor-restricted gift seriously –that’s our promise to you. We understand that when you make an emergency donation, you put your trust in us. We have spoken very carefully about this with our colleagues at the Ministry of Civil Affairs. We now have their promise as well.
In cooperation with the ministry, we have now set up the Half the Sky Children’s Earthquake Fund. Your donations to the fund will be used to provide emergency and long-term relief to children affected by the disaster. Relief will include emergency shelter, food, and medical care for children orphaned or separated from their families. It will include temporary or long-term foster care or, when necessary, temporary institutional care.
We have a commitment from the ministry that we will receive regular updates on the use of funds and, most important, the well-being of the children.
Within a few hours we will have available a dedicated donation site. In the meantime, if you wish to make a gift to aid children in Sichuan and Chongqing affected by the quake, you may donate through our website , Please note that your gift is for earthquake relief.
I will give you more information as I receive it. Please don’t write to ask about the situation in specific locations. I will tell you everything I know.
Thank you for caring so much about the children.
with love,
Jenny BowenExecutive DirectorHalf the Sky
Half the Sky was created in order to enrich the lives and enhance the prospects for orphaned children in China. We establish and operate infant nurture and preschool programs, provide personalized learning for older children and establish loving permanent family care and guidance for children with disabilities. It is our goal to ensure that every orphaned child has a caring adult in her life and a chance at a bright future.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day For Me!

I am so blessed to have 5 beautiful, loving children who tried very hard to make this a wonderful Mother's Day for me.

I woke up this morning to find my bedroom door closed and a note by the door that told me not to go downstairs. About an hour later Julia and Jenna came to tell me that I could come downstairs. They, with a lot of help from Ross, had made me pancakes and scrambled eggs. They had cleaned up the family room and had set up all the food on the coffee table and had the Jazz music channel on the TV.

This afternoon we went to Outback Steakhouse for a late lunch and the kids gave me their gifts. Trace had took the girls shopping on Thursday and they all pooled their money together and bought me some perfume. It is Daisy by Marc Jacobs. They were quite excited about it and this morning Jenna kept trying to get me to guess what my gift was. Ross gave me a gift certificate to Starbucks. UMMMMMM! Its kind of cool here today so perhaps a Starbucks run will be needed later...

This afternoon while we were all at the table waiting for our food I looked around at my 5 children and thought how blessed I am! Every single one of them is kind hearted, loving, and devoted to me-- today is one of those days when I think to myself that I must be doing something right! I looked at all of them and also thought of Ryan, halfway around the world, and realized that most people find us an oddity, a family of 5 soon to be 6. But I can't even imagine life with just one or 2 kids! How quiet would that be? And kind of lonely. I love being with my kids. I am such a lucky mom!

And finally, there is one last Mother's Day gift and that is a gift I gave myself-- my new and improved blog! Isn't it beautiful???? I have visited several blogs that have been designed and I got Blog Envy and just had to have mine more personalized. I found Blogs by Danielle and here is the finished product. Danielle was absolutely wonderful to work with, listened to what I wanted and had some great ideas to add. She finished it last night. I think my kids were tired of hearing me squeal with delight as I kept checking her progress. If you're thinking about redoing your blog I HIGHLY recommend Danielle!

I hope all you mothers have had a great Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Garage Sale that was and the Garage Sale that wasn't

As everyone knows, we're moving, in 18 days to be exact. Since we are moving across several states I thought it was necessary to hire real, official movers. But real, official movers don't come cheap and they charge by the pound. I have a lot of stuff=a lot of pounds=a lot of money. So I decided it was necessary to clean house and have the Mother of all Garage Sales.

We live in a neighborhood that really likes to control things. One of these things is when you can have a garage or yard sale. You are limited to 2 days a year. I thought it was the first Saturday of May and the first Saturday of October. But I live in a neighborhood with over 1000 homes (my house is Lot 1256) and I live in the back. Your traffic gets drastically cut by the salers stopping at the beginning of the neighborhood so I decided to be proactive and place an ad in the paper for last Saturday. It read:

Big Moving Sale
May 3, 8-12
New applicances, Designer Bedding, Decos and Lamps
Baby Items, Musical Instr.
(and then there were specific instructions how to get to our house)

This ad cost me $65 and ran both Friday and Saturday. Last Saturday morning I got up at 5:30 to finish setting the sale up and looked out the doors from 7:00 on and nothing. No one. I opened the doors at 8:00 and NO ONE. I finally shut the doors at 8:50 and decided to go to Julia's volleyball game. I couldn't believe it! NO ONE!

It turned out that last Saturday was not the Saturday of our neighborhood sale, it is the second Saturday. This time I decided an ad was obviously a waste of money and planned to put out signs.

This morning I got up at 6:30 and started taking things out in the yard/driveway at 6:50 and I already had my first customer. Things never slowed down after that. I never even got my signs out. I had a 2 car garage literally completely full of stuff -- I had to move part of it out in the driveway so people could get in. In fact, all the regular garage stuff is in my dining room at this moment to make room for the garage sale items. By the time I closed the garage doors at noon, most of my garage was empty and I was $1011 richer!!! Its the best garage sale I ever had.

So I have learned from this experience-- don't try to plan ahead, just let it happen.

Uh, yeah, wouldn't my mother be proud...

Friday, May 9, 2008


"Sometimes God asks us to do things that are hard."
Bob the Tomato from Veggie Tales

Jenna's favorite DVD right now is Veggie Tales Sumo of the Opera. Its currently in our van's DVD player and she watches it over and over. (For the record, I don't usually let the kids watch DVDs driving around town but its hard to say no to a DVD that teaches her about God.) Early in the week this quote from the movie played and Jenna asked me if God had asked me to do anything hard.

As anyone would answer, I said yes. And she wanted to know what God had asked me to do that was hard. There's a huge list but what do you tell a 5 year old? I told her that God had asked me to stay in Vietnam last fall and not come home without Emma. I told her I was scared and just wanted to come home before I got her but God told me to stay. But of course there was more to the story.

I wasn't just scared I was terrified. NOIDs (Notice of Intent to Deny-- the US government's way of saying they won't give your child a visa) were being handed out right and left. As I was on my way to the orphanage to get Emma my friend Tommi was on her way to the US Embassy to receive her NOID for her new daughter Anabelle, who was from the same orphanage. I spent that 2 hour drive on incredibly bumpy roads praying "What am I doing? What I am doing?" I had no idea if I could bring my precious baby home but God kept telling me to go. He was with me.

God has been with me most of my life and two times in my life I have leaned on Him like never before. The first was when my husband was in a plane crash and hospitalized for 5 weeks with burn injured before he died. I learned that God was in control and I needed to trust Him. I have no idea how I would have gotten through that terribly painful time of my life without my Lord. And then a year and half later, on the other side of the world, all alone with my 4 year old daughter, I leaned and trusted in Him again. And He saw me through. I had to let go and trust no matter what happened. I wasn't assured by Him that Emma would get a visa; He never told me that Emma would get a visa. He merely told me to get her. Trust and Obey.

In March, I viewed the file of a 6 year old boy from China. He was darling, but he was seriously behind developmentally, especially with language. There was a concern that he was autistic. I had his file for a week and I pray and discussed this child with my other children. I ultimately said No. It broke my heart and it was hard to do but the bottom line was I never felt God telling me "Yes."

And then on Friday, April 18 I was checking my email and I noticed a post on the Waiting Child email list with my agency, CCAI. I still have no idea when it was posted that day, I should go back in the archives and actually check, but I signed on and read it about 2:15 in the afternoon. It said that there were 4 boys, ages 8 months to 3 years, with cleft lip and cleft palate. Anyone interested had until 3:00 mountain time to call them or they would be released to another agency.

I had studied cleft lip/cleft palate last November. I wasn't sure if my insurance would pay and I knew there would be multiple surgeries needed. I decided at that time it was probably not a realistic option for me. But over the course of the next few months I realized there were other options to my insurance, such as Shriner's Hospital. I had already decided that club foot was special need I would be open to because Shriner's would have provided treatment if my insurance denied coverage.

So with this knowledge I searched Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis and called them. They said they didn't do cleft lip/cleft palate but Chicago's Shriner's Hospital did. I found out that I could get treatment there.

So I called CCAI about 2:35 and left a message that I was interested. I called on my way out the door to get Jenna from Pre-K. In the carpool line, they called me back and asked me what age I was interested in. I had no idea what children they had left. I told them probably age 2-3 because I had a baby. Deniece told me that she had a 2 year old boy available. Would I like to see his file?

I hurried home, on the way calling my sister-in-law Janne'. She told me that my new school district would cover speech therapy. Everything was falling into place.

I got home and checked my email and there it was. Ling De Long's file. He was healthy, had had his lip repaired and a partial cleft repair. He was beautiful. I emailed back "Yes." I then had about an hour to take and email a family photo and send my LOI --Letter of Intent, which states the child's name and special need and how you plan to address it. It was all crazy and moving so fast but it felt so right.

I am on Day 21 waiting for my LOA, Letter of Acceptance, which is China's official approval to adopt Ling De Long. I have no idea when it will arrive. It could come next week (unlikely) or it could come in July or August. China's been moving some things very quickly, so there's no telling. Travel will be 5-7 weeks later.

If you know me, you know that I seem to make things complicated. I don't mean to, it just happens. I'm moving in 3 weeks from Tennessee to Missouri. Missouri requires different things for an adoption than Tennessee does. Even though I'm adopting from China I still need to meet the requirements of the state. Also, my approval from Immigration (aka USCIS) also known as an I-171H, expires on August 21. So within a few weeks of moving I need to have a home study update, request an extension of my I-171H, get refingerprinted, and meet the requirements of Missouri. I'm a bit overwhelmed.

"Sometimes God asks us to do things that are hard."

It would be so easy to say 'This is too hard. This isn't the right time. I should wait and try to adopt again later." I have asked myself this week "Why are you doing this? Why are you driving yourself crazy like this?"

There is no easy answer. I feel like God is telling me too. I see the picture of this precious little boy and my love for him continues to grow. I know that my adoptions of Jenna and Emma were hard, very hard. I could have given up with both of them, almost did with Jenna. But look what I would have missed out on if I HAD given up. I can't even imagine my life without my precious girls. So I trust God, follow His lead and trust that He has a wonderful plan for this child and our family. And I persevere, because the author of the Hebrews 10:36 says:

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

I am already living with His promises. The hugs and kisses of my beautiful girls are my promise. Imagine what else He has in store!

But I have one thing to ask of you. Would you pray for me and this situation? Would you please pray that God works out all the details, some of which leave me sleepless at night? And would you pray that I am always aware of His will, not mine.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Roid Rage

When Emma was hospitalized last November with RSV, her pediatrician warned me she might develop asthma. I was actually already aware of this. Emma was first diagnosed with bronchiolitis in Vietnam. While I anxiously waited for her visa holed up in an apartment 24 hours a day, getting food through room service, I had plenty of time to research bronchiolitis on the Internet.There is a high incidence of asthma in children who have had RSV. So Dr. Chamber's news wasn't new to me.

But we made it through December and January without any breathing issues (her left ear was another matter-- 5 infections in 2 months) and then came February. Right before Jenna's birthday, the 27th, Emma got a cold that produced a cough and wheezing. Dr. Chambers had me get a nebulizer and said he was sure we would need it again but said it still might not be asthma. That her lungs were conditioned to the RSV and she could grow out of it in a year or two.

Last Thursday she came down with another cold and woke up Friday morning wheezing. She wasn't really bad but by Monday morning it sounded worse-- back to the doctor. Dr. Chambers said her lungs sounded really bad, worse than all winter and told me to put steroids in her nebulizer twice a day.

When Emma has been hospitalized she was given steroids via IV. When she finally came off the ventilator and I could hold her at times she seemed very angry -- at 4 months! Of course, I might be angry too if I had a tube down my throat, tubes in two arms and one foot and I had to lay in a bed for 6 days and my mom wouldn't (in reality couldn't) hold me. Her nurse practitioner in ICU told me it was the steroids. He told me when they gave steroids to the most docile kids with asthma they would sometimes go into screaming rages and run up and down the hall.

Monday night I gave Emma her first steroid breathing treatment and part way through she began getting SO mad! She doesn't really like the breathing treatments and often tries to move away from the mask (I don't strap it on, just hold it up to her face) but this time she was screaming and arching her back and tensing her entire body. And that night she didn't sleep well.

(My laptop with all of my photo software is currently being attended to by the Geek Squad because my mother board crashed. So mentally insert photo of Emma with a mask to her face and her arching her back and screaming. Pretty picture.)

Yesterday morning and night, repeats of Monday night. I thought maybe I was imaging things, surely Roid Rage only comes with steroid injections, but inhaling steroids seems to be making my daughter the Incredible Hulk.

On a positive note, she seems to be much better this morning so I have held off another steroid round.

Emma still does not have a diagnosis of asthma but Dr. Chambers said the fact that she is having to use steroids in the middle of May is not a good sign and expect for her new pediatrician to have to use them next fall. Wow! I can't wait!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Name Game Top 4

Trace finally voted and here are the Top 4:

And they are: Brendan with 15 pts, Connor and Ryan tied with 16 pts and Jake/Jacob 17 pts.

Now everyone revotes ranking them in order of their favorite only this time its done by secret ballot.

More to follow!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What's in a name??

Back in the Stone Ages when I went to school, in sophomore English we had to read Romeo and Juliet. Part of our grade was to memorize and recite from memory 20 lines from the play. To this day I remember most of those 20 lines! I can't remember my last phone number in Little Rock that I had for 3 years but I can remember 20 lines of obscure English literature. Go figure.

What's in a name?
Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

Ole' Will even knew the importance of names. It was names that kept those two impulsive, suicidal star crossed lovers apart. So I do not take the naming of a child lightly. Not only is your child stuck with the name that you give him/her but you are too. You have to make sure that you don't get sick of yelling Jimmy John! every time he does something wrong.

I've done pretty well with the names I've given my children, at least on my side of things. I guess you would have to ask them if they liked their names although I have received no complaints so far. I think I like their names even better than when I named them. Maybe its because I have grown to love the kids with the names more than I even imagined possible, but that's a post for another day.

Suffice to say, I take the naming of my children very seriously which makes what I have done very out of character. I have given my children equal say in the naming of their new brother. *

*Fine print: Said mother has the legal right and responsibility to revoke all said privileges if she feels the future welfare and safety of her future son is at stake.

We were keeping a list of names but lists and I soon part ways. (Yet another topic for a future post.) So yesterday I pulled out our white board and we made a list of all the names we had and then a chart next to the names. We had 8 names and each person is to rank the names with 1 being their most favorite and 8 their least favorite. When voting is done we will then take the top 4 names and re vote. Confusing enough?

Julia was the first to enter in her rankings.

And here is our board. See the list of names on the left? The numbers on the far right are the totals of the rankings so far. (You will notice Evan is #1 and Reginald is #8) I should have made this secret ballot though because my children have realized the power of their rankings. They are mathematically figuring out how to hurt names they don't like, thus the decision to take the top 4 names and re vote. I think that the second vote will perhaps be secret ballot. Trace is the only one who hasn't voted yet. He really wants to make his vote count. Fortunately, no matter what he does his top pick, Reginald, will never make the top 4.

You'll notice that there was an add on name late in the game that wasn't even ranked. In case you missed it:

Yes, you are reading this correctly. It says Voltron. It reminds me of when I was pregnant with Ross and I let Trace help give suggestions for names. If Trace had had his way Ross would have had the name of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, preferably Michelangelo.

Now you see the reason for the fine print!

My baby is a big girl

Jenna, my 5 year old has hair that grows. Julia was my first girl and I was dying for her hair to grow so that I could do something with it. I had always dreamed of pigtails and ribbons and braids. Pretty little girl hair-- and don't forget long! But that wasn't Julia's hair. It was thin and curly and grew SOOOOO slowly. Julia didn't have her first hair cut until she was 5 and she didn't even need one then. That's how slow her hair grows.

But Jenna, her hair grows like a weed. She said she wanted to grow her hair to her booty and it got pretty long but the ends were even and last year we decided to cut it shorter. It went from mid back length to a few inches past her shoulders. Then this fall we cut it TO her shoulders. She wanted it shorter but I just couldn't do it. I finally had my girl who had hair I could play with.

So a couple of days ago I came across a blog that had some photos of two cute little Asian girls and I just loved the hair cut of one of them. I showed it to Julia and Jenna and they both loved it. Today I took Jenna to get it.

Jenna loves hair cuts. Of course, part of the draw is where we go-- Sweet and Sassy. You know, where her birthday party was. When they are done with the haircut they get glitter all over their hair, glitter stars on their cheeks and a sucker. Could life get any better??? Jenna was even more thrilled to find out that now that she is 5 she is officially a big girl at S&S and she got her hair shampooed and conditioned first. And then the cut. No, cut doesn't cut it. LOL She got it styled. I literally almost cried when I saw her in the chair with her haircut (Or maybe it was the baby pinching my fat rolls with her toes as she tried to climb me that brought tears to my eyes. Nah, it was the cut.) My baby was gone and there in her place was a big girl. She literally looked like a different little girl.

Jenna with her hair at her birthday party at the end of February.

And Jenna this afternoon after her hair appointment. She was quite pleased with herself!