The Letter I Wish I Could Write:

Dear Neighbor, 

Thank you for finally removing your rusty scaffolding from the side of your house after only leaving it there for just a year. How thoughtful of you. I especially love how you decorated the back fence with a tarp. Considering it has been raining (I realize that may seem odd for SPRING), I don't think the tarp is going to dry anytime soon. 

If you would be so kind, could you kindly throw your empty diet coke cans in a trashcan versus leaving them on the lawn because you are too lazy to walk the extra steps after cleaning your car out. I would appreciate it because I am very afraid that my children may hear me call you something I shouldn't every time I see them. And, well, that just wouldn't' be good...not good at all. I'm not really the kind of girl known for saying nasty things. 

Oh, and by the way, I was putting kids in the car the other day while you were outside burping loudly enough that the windows shook. Sadly, I imagine you were probably scratching your belly while belching. Ahh, such a lovely sight in the morning. I would courteously ask that you warn me next time so I can indulge in a second cup of coffee before I have to face such indiscretions. 

Lest you think that I am not compassionate or inconsiderate, please note that we do not live in the ghetto.  Our lovely, small town and neighborhood take delight and gratification in keeping our homes and living spaces tidy. Oh yes, the exception:  my daughter will be cleaning out her "fort" she constructed in the backyard very, very soon. 

Yours truly,
Your neighbor

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Wordy Wednesday

 Sometimes, it's better to just lie down and take a nap.....


......especially when your room looks like this and you're mom tells you to clean it up!


FIRST PLACE SPELLER:
Winning word "AMUSE"

He loves winning! Way to go Grant!


Ally's Pioneer Woman Cinnamon scones = falling off the diet wagon 


Just for Jake's gotcha day, Shanghai noodles!
(ditto on the diet comment)

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Gotcha Day: March 29 One Year Ago


One year ago, we met you for the first time. I remember sitting in a conference room in the Yinchuan orphanage wishing we could hurry through the paperwork faster. Red thumb prints and signatures could not go quickly enough.  Jie Jie was ready with the video camera, and Baba was so excited to see you! Grant was so eager to meet you and give you your new backpack. Me? I had such a nervous excitement. I worked so hard to get all the necessary documents in on time. After we saw your picture for the first time, we had only 12 weeks to complete all the paperwork and have it physically in China.  God not only moved mountains, he moved federal governments! The day was finally here. 

As you walked in with the Ayis, you looked a little bewildered. You had a fresh haircut and new pink and purple shoes that you were especially proud of.  You were so brave walking in to meet your foreign parents.  You had been promised a ride on a fei jie (airplane), after all! You didn't shed a tear until later that night after it was dark outside and you missed Chinese mommy. 


I could have held you forever. 




Daddy had a bond with you from the second you walked into the room and you bonded so well to him. You found so much comfort in Baba.




Meeting new parents and a whole new family is exhausting. Little did we know that this sleeping beauty was only gearing up for the rambunctious terror of a little boy who kicks, bites, and runs! Ha! We still laugh about the time that you kicked Allyson in the rear in the Civil Affairs office! WE should of had the nap that day!  



"A Handful" would barely describe you! But we knew you were a perfect fit. After all, the children in this family come with a personality!  


In one year, you have grown, learned, loved and changed in too many ways to count. 


There are no sores on your head from nervous scratching and no more teeth grinding. No more quiet sullen moments when you don't feel like playing as you think about your China home and Chinese family. You love to sit on my lap and talk, and you love to shave with Daddy in the mornings.  You look up to all the big kid things that your older brother can do with esteem. Wrestling Grant is your favorite thing to do.....not mommy's though! One thing hasn't changed. Your Jie Jie still spoils you rotten and attempts to get you out of trouble. She's cool like that. 
Your English language skills still astound me. Every once in a while, a word pops out of your mouth and I wonder where you even heard of such a difficult word. Your personality is still huge and you still can carry on a conversation with a complete stranger. That's okay, because you are still so endearing when you do it. You add an "uh" sound to words when you're irritated with us like All--EE--UH! or Mom-EE-UH,  NO-UH!, YES-UH! and STOP-UH.  The word I like the best is Ka-pauze it for the word pause.
You amaze me with your adaptability and your resiliency; with your determination and your love. 
You are happy.

You are healthy. But most importantly,
And you are right where you belong. 




We love you San San. 


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Introducing The Newest Superhero

 Let me introduce you to the newest superhero! He's fast as lightening, can use a screwdriver, can take toys apart, and is especially destructive when the superhuman goggles come out. He's been wearing these for the last week or so. I love it when he tries to talk and it sounds like he's holding his nose!


Evidently these help him lift houses, fong-jias, or anything else you need help with. 

Gotta love that face!

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Sunday Snapshot: Camping in the Great...Sunroom!

 I have a large tent in my sunroom! And, evidently, we are prone to black bears around here because I see one in this picture. Oh wait, that would be Lola who really only moves about it if she smells that the kids have popcorn. She knows they're messy and there's bound to me buttery pieces falling to the ground. 


Sure enough, there's the popcorn. Dog has a nose like a -- a-- well, I'd say a blood hound, but that'd be extreme. 

So who made it all night?

  
Ally and Jake did. Jake still would much rather co-sleep with someone. However, he sleeps more like on top of someone while rubbing ears between his knuckles.  It's safe to say, Ally didn't get a great night's sleep. Grant, on the other hand, went to bed right after the 1970's movie of Huckleberry Finn.  He said he can't sleep "without his music" (i.e. lullaby CD). Smart kid! If I slept on the tile floor of the sunroom, You'd be hearing my creeks and groans all the way to Timbuktu~


Ni Hao Yall

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When I needed encouragement.....

I've had a couple of tough days. Long days. Days of being overwhelmed. Days of questioning my ability and commitment to homeschooling and keeping such a busy schedule. It hasn't helped that I haven't had the time to get to the gym which always helps clear my head and my focus. On top of that, I tried on a bathing suit today at Tar*et that certainly didn't make me feel any better about myself.  Not a smart idea, I know! 

God knew I needed some encouragement too! So He certainly supplied it.

I emailed a friend who has been through all of this. She is always so encouraging and full of advice. After all, she homeschooled all five of her children who are grown, happy, and VERY productive members of society. Boy did I need her emails when they came. The emails came full of guidance, links, support, and encouragement. 

Allyson had Thursday homeschooling class today. On the way home, Jake was telling his China story about how he used a sharp knife trying to cut an apple and cut his finger. According to him, he bled and bled but did not die. Thank goodness for that. He is starting to be like a little old man who tells the same stories over and over! Allyson explained how he didn't bleed to death because of the platelets that God put in his body for the very purpose that he would stop bleeding. "The platelets are part of your blood.......yada yada yada".  Score one for homeschooling, learning, and remembering! 

She then proceeded to talk non stop about her bacteria growth in her petri dish! She was super excited to see the nasty bacteria she swabbed off of a school banister, and also so excited to tell me about the growth seen from the water fountain handle. That one had white, pink, black, and other nasty junk in the petri dish. So, score one for homeschooling and being excited about learning! And while we're at it, let's just score one for the makers of Clorox wipes!

Add on top of that, I was able to go to the gym for a workout so I could get stinky and sweaty while thinking about all the germs in the gym Ally could swab and grow in a petri dish. It cleared my head! 

But here's the closer, I came home and started bathing kids and taking off nasty muddy jeans and sweats from soccer practice. I was putting the clothes into the washer when I remembered that I needed to wash the sweatshirt I wore to the gym. As I was putting it into the washing machine, I saw this: 



My love note -- right there in my sweatshirt. Gotta love it! 

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Wordless Wednesday: Maestro




 (He threw up shortly after this picture was taken.  No wonder he was grumpy! I thought it was because he was being stubborn since he doesn't like his picture taken!)

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"Randomness"

Alrighty, I really did have a thoughtful, meaningful, deep post to blog about. However, this is not it.  The kids are back in practices for soccer and baseball which means we have a practice each evening. However, tonight it was a rainout so I hit the gym. Usually, Eric takes them to most of the practices except when Jake's are in a different location at the same time. But this practice thing is really getting in the way of my ability to get to the gym! Sheesh! You'd think we had active kids or something!

So I drafted the meaningful post and all you get is pictures of me, no less! I didn't have time to fool around with it. When I was gathering the required pictures for the post placement, I realized that I did not have any of just Jake and me which was one of the requested pics. Out came the camera and I told Allyson to snap away. She did very well!







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Save the Date: May 14, 2011

For those of you in the area (you know who you are)  PLEASE save the date of:

MAY 14, 2011 for our Arthritis Foundation Walk

I'm getting ready to nag everyone with emails so I can gather my team together. I'm thinking matching shirts this time. What do you think? Or maybe bandanas! Either way, we're walking, people! Get those walkin' shoes out and dust 'em off! 

My team name is "Heather's Helping Hands".   Corny, right?  AND, you can join with me in walking and raising money for the Arthritis Foundation.  Just sign up and join my team.  You can find my team page here at:

HEATHER'S HELPING HANDS TEAM PAGE

or you if you cannot walk with me and would like to donate to the Arthritis Foundation towards my personal goal, you can view my personal page here. 

Did you know the Arthritis Foundation sponsors many, many grants for research? However, in our area alone, they provide grants for Univ. of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, and A.I. Dupont Children's Hospital. They are doing research for Rheumatoid Arthritis as I type! I have been a patient at every single one of those hospitals at one time or another.

 Arthritis affects over 50 million people. That includes very young children, teenagers, young moms and dads; every gender, every race, every age. Arthritis certainly isn't discriminatory!

I try not to mull over all of my RA issues with every post. However, considering the cause, here it goes:
This May, I will have had NINETEEN YEARS of joint fusions, plenty of screws, nuts, and bolts, 4 knee surgeries including 2 knee replacements, tendon transfers, two wrist reconstructions, rheumatoid nodules removed, lung surgery..... and it will continue to go on for me. There are plenty of surgeries ahead that I am digging in my heals asking my roommate named "Rheumatoid" to avoid.

Research is necessary. Support is necessary. Education is necessary. That is what the Arthritis Foundation provides. And that is why I am supporting them and "using up" my wonderful titanium knees to walk on May 14th!  Let's raise some money and find new and amazing ways to rid others of this disease.

Will you help me?



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Post-Placement: Where's my Check?

Last social worker visit yesterday! China adoptions are "easy" like that. PLUS, we get some money BACK from our agency. Who ever heard of that?   It's actually our money that they were "holding" for us until we finished the last post-placement. Yes, they wanted to make sure we held up our end of the bargain.   So as soon as the post-placement report is written up and sent over to CCAA, I'll be getting a check.  I don't care if it was my money to start with.  It still makes me feel good! HA!

Jake did well while she was here and showed off when I asked him too. After all, if someone is actually getting paid to come see my kids, I can show them off all I want to, right?

Now, my homestudy is good for 3 years and we are going into year 2......HMMMMM.......

I'll leave it at that. Better not let my mind wander too far. But there sure are a lot of kids out there needing families and it's hard to hit the delete button on them. I'm just sayin'. 


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Black and White Wednesday: My Girl


See that cute little flower in her hair? She made that this morning when she was at my friends house! So cute! I think she may blog about it. I had a breakfast meeting today about the upcoming arthritis walk. More on that later!



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It's Whats for Dinner!

Notice the chickens in the picture? They were in the school parking lot this afternoon.   Jake walked up to them and asked me if we could take them home and eat them for dinner.  He was dead serious.  We did have chicken, but it came cleaned, skinned, and deboned from Sam's club. I don't see myself plucking a chicken anytime soon. 


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Thought For Parents Raising Adopted Children

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Wouldn't it be nice:

Wouldn't it be nice if adoptive parents -------

Got a buy one get one on round trip airfare to adopted child's birth country

Received free tours of their new child's birth country to better understand the culture

Was given free fed ex fees for a year

Could submit the charges acquired via adoption to their medical insurance company for payment as if  "delivered" by birth not airplane

Could click on "Retail Me Not" and find a coupon for apostilling and certifying a dossier

Could find a pediatrician that completes the post placement medical forms on time

                                     ----Just sayin'


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Can you hear me now?

Jake is constantly yelling, "What?".  It drives us a little on the insane side. Also, he's just simply loud. I knew it was probably time for a hearing check when even Eric said, "We've got to get that kid's hearing checked!".   However, I can see the wax in his ears, which, frankly, we've been battling since he's been home from China.  A quick visit over to the doc and a couple of scoops of ear wax later, and he passed his hearing test! The wax had hardened and stuck to those small ear hairs. Poor Jake was not happy as it hurt him quite a bit to have the dry wax pulled off. The doc even had Jake lean over and shake his head. Sure enough, wax fell out after the doctor worked with it a bit. Yeah, that was a little gross. Guess I should have bought one of those ear spoons while in China. HA!

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Wordless Wednesday: Notice the watch?



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The Busy Season starts off with a bang.....Literally!

  We have all three kids in spring soccer, and one adding on baseball as well. All this means to me is we have four practices, one guitar lesson, one Chinese lesson, two birthday parties, one orthodontist visit, and two after school help classes I'm offering ALL this week. My head would be spinning if I hadn't already determined that it all isn't going to happen.  I'm making what practices and events I can.

Oh, the bang, you ask? That would be the sound of my hatch scraping against the closing garage door.  Silly me, I asked the kids to carry in groceries and didn't specifically say, "Don't close the garage door on the open hatch!".  GRRRR!!!! You see, it wouldn't even be as frustrating but we just had the car repaired. Several weeks ago, I hit a bit of ice while trying to turn in a turn lane. Why can't the plows get the packed snow actually OUT of the turn lane?  Besides, I'm short and it's hard to see on that side of the car. That's my defense and I'm stickin' to it.

Moving on---- this required a new bumper at one ugly price tag. I had the car home for ONE HOUR when one of Ally's friends lost control of the electric scooter she was walking beside and hit my new bumper with it. It was pretty for the first hour anyway.

And my new scratches? Well, they are adding character to the backside of my car. It's gonna be a fun week. I can just tell!

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Conversations with Jake: Making the Grade

Riding in the car yesterday just Jake and I, we were discussing nothing. I was driving along listening to my ipod music, and Jake was quietly looking at the window in case he saw a "fong-o-jia". 

Out of the blue, he said, "I like my new mommy and daddy". 

There it was. The statement made completely by him on his own --- no bribing or pulling for information.  Jake's statement. 

"I like my new mommy and daddy." 

At first, I cringed hoping he was truly talking about us! We talked further again about permanency and how he will always have us as his mom and dad. He will not change parents ever again. And again, he wanted to ask why Chinese mommy and daddy didn't keep him and why we were the new parents. 

I've explained it many times before, and I'm sure I'll explain it to him many more times all over again. However, I know he has a better idea of permanent parents than he did just six months ago. I'm just glad he's happy and content and actually likes us! 

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Seeing Outside the Well

We've still been heading over to Chinese church every Sunday afternoon, and, yes, I'm still an oddity there. However, I don't feel that out of place anymore.  There are certain ladies that I carry a conversation with after church, and the others are always so kind to me. Having said that, I still think that they don't really "get" my being there.

Jake is still pretty defiant. Although, he has forgotten a lot, he knows some Chinese words but acts like Chinese is a very foreign language and starts acting very naughty when he is spoken to in Chinese. We are going to keep trying.  Jake's Chinese tutor told the Sunday School teacher not to use ANY English in the classroom as she was re-explaining things to Jake in English. By the way, have I told you how much I love her? She is so interesting to talk to --- so insightful, incredibly smart, and a wonderful teacher!

Now that they are a little more comfortable around me, my new Chinese friends have asked some of the questions they are curious about like, "Why did you adopt again if you already had a boy and a girl?", "Why didn't you get girls? Americans only adopt girls!", "Why didn't you get a baby?".

I've also learned that many Chinese think Americans are like "Frogs in a Well." I don't remember the Chinese words of this saying, but it's the thought that many of us completely oblivious to how other people live and work in other countries. We only view the world from our own surroundings so we only see as far as the "top of the well".  I was discussing this with our Chinese tutor.  Do I think this is true? Only in some respects.  After all, look how many places in the world we've sent our troops and how many countries we've bailed out or provided funds to.  However, does the average, non-military American really know how other cultures really live? Most everyone I run across could not identify where Kazakhstan is on a map much less be able to say anything about the country - myself included.  I had to learn before I went.  I don't think we put an emphasis and effort in really keeping our children informed about events happening in the world around us.  I think we get too comfortable sometimes in our own realm and forget to keep learning and trying to understand where people come from and learn about the circumstances of others.

Learning more and viewing from "outside the well", will give a deeper understanding and a clearer picture of what people may be going through. For example, have you ever walked into an ethnic restaurant and thought, "Sheesh! Why can't they learn English if they are going to live here!".  Of course we think they should be English speaking since they are living in our America. But let's think about some things:  America is, after all, the "melting pot." Our nation grew out of hard working immigrants desiring a better life. And secondly?  I now know some of those non-English speaking people who have been here for 16 years! I've come to find out that they reason they are not speaking English isn't because they are lazy. Quite the contrary! They are working in a back kitchen cooking 7 days a week all day long so they can support their family, their child, their live-in in-laws, and send money back home to care for their parents. Would you have time to be fluent in a second language?

My point is, there is so much to learn and understand about other people. Sometimes, we just need some compassion for others and a broader mind to go along with it.  When we get too comfortable, our view becomes narrow-minded and we become the "frogs in the well."

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Bragging Rights

Allyson has been working on some creative writing assignments for me lately and a research paper for her study skills class. She blogged her latest poem, and I thought it was very sweet and sincere.  Check it out HERE.   Now, her research paper topic is one that she picked all by herself. It's on the Battle of Bunker Hill......................
Yes, I said
 Three to five pages on the Battle of Bunker Hill.  

Oh my, it wouldn't be my choice for a topic. Tomorrow, you'll find us at the library.  Hopefully she will find some fascinating facts about this piece of history that can be written in a very, very wordy manner! 

I was listening to Grant attempt to teach Jake how to play Battleship today. Grant deserves Saint hood. Don't you get saint hood for not banging your head against the wall while teaching Jake a somewhat complicated game? He never loses patience. Never sounds irritated. I think he should be a teacher someday. He'd be excellent!   I'll tell you, he has high hopes for Jake's abilities too. He attempts to give him chess instruction, connect four instruction, reading instruction.....and Battleship instruction. It goes something like this: 

Grant:  "Jake, G 4"
Jake: "NO-A!  MISS!  I say 4369!"
Grant: "No, Jake, you have to use a letter and a number." 

This repeats a bazillion times, until JAKE gets tired of the attempt and says, "FINE-A! I NOT PLAY WITH YOU!"

Poor Grant. He has such patience. He is definitely my game buddy. He's always up for a game of scrabble or banangrams with mom. He's one of those kids that you don't have to play "kid games" with. I love it! And I love him so much! 

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