Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting my groove back

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.
Aaron Siskind

I saw this quote recently and wondered what happened to me - I never went anywhere without my big camera - I guess as the iPhone camera got better and we had more and more little ones, my big camera slowly made the way of so many other things - showed in a corner.

Then last night I dropped my first born off to fly internationally (without us) for a mission trip - although I am completely at peace with this trip (thank you God!)  ~ but then realized the last photo I would ever have of him is a grainy picture taken with my iPhone.  Although a terrible thought, the utter failure of this thought broke my heart.

So, as my kids were outside playing and I stopped with the thousand mom things we always have to do.  Grabbed my big camera and did something I haven't done in forever - photographed  my kids just to remember a fun day in the sun!!

Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.
    ~ Robert Frank

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
   ~ Dorthea Lange

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A change of thought

Growing up I had very little self esteem.

I am an introvert at heart but because of family dynamics was taught how to be an extrovert.

THose tests you take in school - yeah the teachers and professors always look at them with a befuddled look - At over 40 I am a classic case of nature versus nurture.

Sometimes that low self esteem still gripes me hard, and I have to force my self to move forward, to look at the underlying reasons to my reactions, to analyze.

Truthfully, I loved having little kids, because I always felt that holding them created a sort of a shield for me.  The attention drawn to one angelic far and off of my own.

It gave others an instant conversation topic.

(Don't get me wrong, I love babies anyhow, even as a young teen I loved how they curl up, the dimples in their hands and the softness of their spirit.)

Then God started working, in our lives, in our home and in ME!

When Brahm was a toddler, the attention shift began to turn back to me - people looking for answers why this seemingly newborn was walking, sitting etc.

I learned my pat answers and moved on.

Then we added more and more kids - all with visible SN.

AS the looks and comments came more and more, I felt myself drawing in further and further.

Taking less trips outside of our boundaries.

Staying where others knew our family, and didn't comment.

Almost growling at comments when we were out - like a preschooler on a very bad day.

A dear person was out on one of these very bad days, and I watched in amazement as she talked to one of these people who I thought was making fun of our kids - piled onto our double/triple stroller like some traveling circus.

THen the words came - she is amazing, what an inspiration, an absolute joy.

My breath almost caught - had I been so focused on myself that I forgot God's calling?

Had I reverted back to my low self esteem days and saw the smiles not as kindness but of jeers?

Over the past year - I have tried hard to change my thinking.

Our children are a blessing.
People smile because like babies and puppies they speak of JOY!
Of God's work on earth,
of HOPE.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Ha - I keep getting nudged to blog more - I have so many things both good and bad running around in my head but sometimes I feel like who wants to read the same stuff over and over again.  This one is struggling, no wait I meant that one.  We are good, blah, blah blah adoption blah, blah, blah.

And then today I remembered.

I remembered why I started blogging, keeping this journal of sorts.

Both to document our journey, since scrapbooking has been set aside until being a mom slows down some, 

As well as to verbalize the thoughts that run around in my head - so that I don't actually verbalize them in person to people . . . which turns them away and makes me feel bad.

So, although our life is busy, we have no real plans to adopt again now, this blog still has a purpose for me - I am realizing.

Lets start with a quick recap on the summer before we get into some of those things racing in my head.

SUMMER - like Olaf, I love summer, but we learned last year one child in particular does not like the laziness, nonscheduled part of summer.

We were extremely blessed to find a camp for kids with SN (it's partially ESY for some of the kids even though we don't qualify).  I have to admit this was a huge dilemma for me.  I don't see my kids as disabled . . . but the rest of the world does.

So for once I pulled up my big girl britches, analyzed how difficult it would be to get Cav into a "regular" camp program or daycare situation, as well as the cost.  I spoke to the director about him, how capable he is etc and I felt a peace.  It was also cheap enough that if we hated it, we could pull him midway and it would not be a burden.

Plus it's 9-3 FOUR days a week.  It wasn't so horribly early I'd regret signing him up, but it also got most of us up and ready so we could actually enjoy summer (plus I knew hubby drove right by there on his way to work LOL!!)

Also, because of the nature of the camp it has something like a 3 to 1 ratio.
THey go on 2 field trips a week.
My kid is not the token freak, that slows everyone down, special accommodations have to be made etc.

That brings me to Fei - our sweet little girl who lost her mind last year.  We now realize it was a bunch of things but ultimately she was pulled from school in February for lying, and constant stealing.  She was in such a bad spot that she wasn't learning anyhow (I will write a post on this, promise.)

Anyhow, we decided that maybe sending her - where she was highly supervised would be a good reentry into an organized program away from home.  Again we would try a few weeks but for less than $400 for the entire summer we felt ok pulling her if it was not the right fit.

There was some thought that if she was good at something (i.e. being the highest functioning camper etc) she would find her way.

And selfishly, our family needed a rest.  We needed to be able to go to the pool without fearing a temper tantrum, or being on constant guard.  We were worn.  Dawson's adoption was the hardest - primarily because he came home in April, we had mother's day, Cav's birthday, then Tao's birthday, then end of school started - 7 kids and 5 different end dates.  Our disregulated kids remained disregulated from spring break until camp started in June.  WE WERE WORN!

I remember in May sitting, almost crying wondering what I would do for the summer.  A few accidental clicks and we found the camp.

Do not mistake it when I say it has been good for our entire family.  Cav and Fei love camp.
Our other kids love having a carefree summer without the stress.
I love that Fei is finding herself.  And Cav - he has a place he can go and not try so hard to hold it together.  Which ultimately makes home life just that much easier.

Brahm and Dawson did Mandarin camp for a couple weeks through Dawson's school.  It was so fabulous and we learned that Brahm is really good at language.

 He had a blast, learned several songs, count past 100 (that would have been helpful in China) and a smattering of words.

For Dawson it was one of our planned stops so he would maintain his Mandarin during the summer break.

The other thing we learned is I LOVE having a big family.  I LOVE that I don't have to scour my list for friends to call for playdates.

In general, Dawson has been amazing.  He is very go with the flow - albeit he doesn't like exercise LOL.  He is happy 90% of the time, and is learning the underlying nuances that make up a family.


Tao - sweet boy has not a single special thing.  I guess we kind of forgot about him - and truthfully I so enjoy having him around that the thought of camp . . . well, I just couldn't do it.


Our big kids are crazy busy.  We are fortunate that we can send them to different sports or religious camps.  I am loving having teenagers - they are fun, I love to see their minds and opinions form.  My heart breaks through their struggles but I still relish seeing the outcome and how they respond.

Before locks of love

and after

Heehee they aren't much bigger than Tao, but somehow he gets Dawson and Brahm to swing him!

Handsome boy at a wedding this summer

Do I dare say we are getting the smile back?

Not sure they liked the cows when we visited friends in Wisconsin

I love having a house full of boys ~ most days!

A darling new nephew

A twin egg!

Lots of orthodontia and dental visits - 
this is what happens when you don't wear your retainer and grow a foot!

Hiding from the blazing sun during lacrosse games!!

Late nights, enjoying time together!

Monday, May 5, 2014

THe Mailbox

It was a beautiful weekend finally here in Colorado - so we got busy with yard work and replacing our mailbox - ladies it only takes the mail lady reminding your husband that the door is falling off to light that fire LOL.

In all fairness, we live on a curve. . . the mailbox is at the top of the curve. . . NO WAY was I gonna let him change it out when I was in the adoption process for fear I might miss a very important letter LOL!

So there is sat in it's very tattered shape, hanging by one hinge, barely standing and dented.

But yesterday he came home with a supposed indestructible new mailbox and wood to replace the entire thing!!

When it's nice out the kids go outside - they are loud, and full of energy LOL!

But as I fiddled around inside the house, I remembered we have a new 11 year old.  He has gone so many years without a father teaching him about these things.  Although it would take longer, the life lessons for our boy would be invaluable.

(as a disclaimer, we never allow the kids outside of the gate because of said curve and we live kind of in the country so there are no sidewalks)

Our biggest problem is - this new 11 year old is really little.  He is a solid and buff little dude but this was our first encounter of thinking things through as an adult little person.  Tools, well tools are made for men - who I swear must all be close to 6 feet.  How does a little do these things.  As I was filing away a note in my brain that he would need to have a good handy man - our biggest littles brain stormed themselves and used a little teamwork!

They dug, flattened, and scooped while the littles carted rocks over!

They did an amazing job ~ what a blessing it is for this boy to finally have a father!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I think the number one thing people ask us especially adopting an older child has been language.

Some people even use the lack of knowing another language as an excuse NOT to adopt.

I don't know Mandarin - although several of my kids have a knack for language I do not - thus the partially used rosetta stone sitting in my growing pile of good intentions!

AND for some reason people are under the impression that our son - who lived in an orphanage in basically podunk China knows English.  I know it's so bad - but I am sure I give them this look that says - really - really you can't be using up air to ask me this question.

But alas - the same question keeps coming.

SOOOOO, the answer is NO - I speak maybe 10 whole words of Chinese - I know 10 whole words of Chinese because

a.  it was the one word a particular child needed repeated the entree trip for my sanity
b. it's easy
c. my children learned it on said trips and kept correcting me in fits of laughter until I got it.

So here is how our day goes -
Good Morning,     Ma    Ma
Good Morning Dawson did you sleep well?
followed by this grunt that sounds like a baby dinosaur yawning.

Then I gesture shoveling food into my mouth
he smiles, and nods if he has already eaten (daddy makes the breakfast).

Then I point to the broom,
his teeth,
his shoes,
 and eventually his backpack before he leaves the house.

All this time the other kids are incessantly chattering away.

I get him from school (see below)
AND he smiles with a Hi,. . . .  Mama (although yesterday he called me mop lol)
I say my few pat words
Swayshowe - How or La  (school good or bad)
Pengyo - How or La?
Shovel food into my mouth and do a thumbs up or down.

HMMMM, writing this I am thinking no wonder he looks at me like I am a dork LOL.

Luckily, he goes to a Mandarin immersion school, so the teachers all are from China and can speak to him for the most part -
Since I am ADHD today - his stinking teachers can't get he or she right either LOL

If we have issues at home, or questions about school, we go in with him and have them translate to him.

Also his ESL teacher works on him answering in English.

Anyhow, I write all this because I can see how having him home with me all day, with no one to translate would cause many of the frustrations that I hear about with older kids.  We do use the translated on the phone to get important facts across but my guess it's not always exactly what I am trying to say.  In addition, because of where he grew up - they have a very strong dialect (his Mandarin teacher told the principal he needed to work on his Mandarin heehee - she said no he needed to work on his English LOL!)

Dawson can read the translator but doesn't understand what the voice is saying much of the time.

As far as English - we have pulled out the preschool prep videos, the preschool apps on my phone and right now we are just working on letters.  My goal is to have him proficient in letters, sounds and beginning to blend by the time school starts next fall.

A summer home with our extroverts will hopefully help.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter 2014

For the most part we had a fabulous Easter
The weather was nice,
it was Dawson's 1st Easter,
he is a JOY!
we shared our time with cousin's
it was low key and simple!

I don't know whether to call this pure joy or redemption 

I hate dyeing eggs so we now have chickens that do it for us - and they have been busy!

Heehee Tao looks like a Cuban grandpa

We really to Easter egg HUNT!

Finally got smart and the little single loaders our littles with little hands can do themselves!

One particular child had a meltdown but recovered midway through the day - we just kept celebrating this year and it did our family good!

Got himself together to join us for a meal together!

Ended the day watching Frozen!

Friday, April 18, 2014


First and foremost, and although I eluded to it, I did NOT mention how absolutely TERRIFIED I was to bring an 11 year old boy home.  We have so many struggles with Cav that I could NOT in my wildest imagination think about adding to that stress.  We were ultimately obedient to GOD but now I realize the whole time I was holding my breath, not even really looking forward to the next step in the process simply because it meant we were getting closer to D-Day (coined that in every sense of the negative image it brings up.)

Of course I am ashamed to admit it now.  We were faithful but not really joyous and definitely NOT trusting in God's plan that He cares about us - ME - as much as He cares about these kids.  It's with tears that I write these words now.  It is with tears that I think about this boy who so many passed over  in the SIX years he was available for adoption.  Because adopting an older boy from an orphanage only situation has to singly be one of the best things we have ever done PERIOD.

That doesn't take away from our other adoptions, that doesn't take away from our bio kids in the least - they are ALL treasures.  But Dawson - it's almost indescribable (I know really helpful to say on a blog LOL!)

I don't know if it was the months of fear,
I don't know if it was because we thought of turning away so many times,
I don't know if it is because he only had 2 1/2 more years before he turned 14
and became unadoptable,
forever lost, without a name, a family, a connection.
I don't know if it is how he embraces each new thing,
How he rolls the word mama around in his mouth,
trying it out, practicing it,
adding it a little to late to the few words he knows.

It's probably a combination of all these,
plus the bravery this child has shown in changing everything he has ever known,
and still wakes with a smile.
Playing silly word games with his new brothers Ha-zhu (baby)
back and forth until I want to poke my eyes out.
Trying new foods,
learning table manners,
taking on the chore of sweeping the kitchen
and starting at his brand new school.

Our communication is lacking,
words only spoken through a translator,
but still he lets us tousle his hair,
rub his back,
and smiles, oh the smiles.

This isn't a unicorn and rainbows story, I know we will have our struggles.  This is more of a story of redemption - of MY growth, of learning God loves me as much as my kids.  That God knows the plans he had for Dawson AND for our family.  Of the pit in my stomach to think of wanting to turn back,  - away - because I thought that would be easier.

    Jeremiah 29:11

    New International Version (NIV)
    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.