Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Paying for procrastination

I am a world class procrastinator, and often I receive positive reinforcement for this somewhat negative trait. The key word here is often, because there was nothing positive about my procrastination yesterday. I had errands to do and didn't get to them as soon as I had wanted. I also had to fill the van with gas since I was down to empty. So I drive to the station that is usually less expensive and was thrilled to see the price was 'only' $3.69. It's a sad commentary on gasoline prices that I thought this was a good deal. And it would have been. I pull up to the pump and the pump isn't working, so I go inside. I am informed that they are updating the pumps and it will work momentarily. As I walk out to the van I notice the price on the sign has changed. No longer is it the good price, but it is now $3.85! Now when I say 'van', I'm not talking about a sporty little minivan, no...I drive a rather large 15-passenger van, with a correspondingly large gas tank. To top it off, the pump turns off at $100 so I can't even fill the whole tank. Why, why, why couldn't I have managed to get myself out the door even 20 minutes earlier?

Monday, April 28, 2008


We are so thrilled to finally get to travel to bring K home, but I can't completely ignore the news coming out of Vietnam with regard to adoptions to the US. It seems as of Sept. 1, adoptions will cease. Those families already matched with children will be allowed to continue, but otherwise that's it. There are many things I could say about ethics and adoption, but that is not what I want to talk about here. For those interested in the ethics angle, go to Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity. What I want to talk about are the waiting children. These are the children who are available for adoption, through ethical agencies, who have been waiting for a family to call their own, sometimes for years. Now, unless matched soon, they may lose any chance for a family. These children usualy have special medical needs (from minor and correctable to more significant) and more often than not they are boys. (The phenomena of boys, sometimes healthy, who wait is a topic for another post.) Please, those of you waiting for a referral, consider these children; they are so much more than a diagnosis on a piece of paper.

Perhaps one reason waiting children are overlooked is because of the unknown factor. What would life really look like to bring a child with X diagnosis into our family? We are in the process of our second "waiting child" adoption. TM was older, had multiple placements before joining our family, and had an extra digit on his hand removed before we met him. We had our struggles at first, but he is a joy and a delight and I can't imagine our lives without him. I know with K, we have surgery to repair his cleft palate and most likely speech therapy ahead of us. I don't know what our future together brings, but know that he is the child who is meant to join our family.

If your family has adopted a waiting child, would you please post a comment about your experience? The unknown is often scarier than the known. Hearing about other parents' experiences may encourage another family to consider these children, who are just as much blessings of God as a healthy infant.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shameless self promotion

I'm published! Ok, well, I'm already published, because J and I "wrote" a mid-grade geography textbook about the midwest. There are many things I could say about the experience, but I'll spare you the gory details. What I mean is that I'm published in something people actually read; one of my ideas appears on page 112 in the new May issue of Family Fun magazine. I have to admit to feeling a bit let down about it. Judging from the amount of paperwork that I had to complete, the long phone call with the editor, and the emails back and forth with the fact checker, I expected at least a half a page. But reality rears its ugly head, and I'm featured in one small paragraph...a paragraph that M completely missed the first time she flipped through the magazine looking for it. Oh well, I had fun spending the check.

The next act of self-promotion isn't so much for myself, but for my offspring. It's spring and around here that means our children's spring show is about to open. Some of you may remember last year's endless posts about Oliver! I promise this will be my only post about the current show, The Man Who Came to Dinner. Since a picture (or 2 or 3) is worth a thousand words, I will limit myself to one link:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Strictly Ballroom

We are blessed with many friends. One couple in particular has taught our family (and several others) things that we would probably have never learned. For instance, twice they have brought a group of families together and taught us how to make Ukrainian Easter eggs...the ones with the bright colors and very intricate patterns. (I tell you, you haven't lived until you've had 17 children and 7 adults dying eggs in your home using a process that includes very intense dyes, open flames, and raw eggs.) But recently we have eschewed the dangers of egg dying for something tamer...ballroom dancing.

Not only do our friends create lovely eggs, but they are terrific dancers. And more importantly, are able to teach the rest of us how to dance. So, we have had several dancing nights. Five or six families all meet together to eat and dance. What's even better, is our older children have also been participating and are turning into pretty decent dancers. Last Saturday, we learned the waltz, foxtrot, jitterbug, salsa, and tango. I'm not sure which was more enjoyable...actually learning how to do these dances or watching my children learn the dances. How sweet is it to watch one's 15 year old daughter and nearly 13 year old son waltzing together and having a good time? Or watching father and daughter? And I definitely start to feel a bit weepy over being able to dance with my son (who is now taller than I) and who is quite the able dance partner. (B did chide me once for trying to lead.) A was also out there dancing, although at 10, the dancing is still accompanied by nearly continuous giggling.

It's times like this that I wish I could bottle. When everyone is happy and healthy and enjoying each others company. I know that moments such as these are fleeting and rarer than I would like. Moments where one experiences joy at just being a family together, without outside interruptions and worries. Moments when nothing more is needed than good friends, some music, and an empty room.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More house pictures

We have cabinets! This is the butler's pantry:And the kitchen:

The first floor guest bathroom:The landing on the back stairs:
The new second floor bathroom (it will be mine and J's):

There are still important pieces missing...counter tops, shower doors, appliances...but it's starting to look like a real kitchen.

Oh, and I forgot one fairly important item in my last post about timing. My fingerprints were to expire on May 9. But we were able to get a fingerprint appointment last weekend and our new I171H ( a VERY important piece of paper which we will need to obtain K's US visa) arrived today. It was the last detail I was a bit anxious about.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm able to think a bit more clearly now,

but I'm still walking around with a goofy smile on my face. It has been such a relief to get travel approval. I knew I had been weighed down with the waiting, but didn't fully realize quite how badly it had affected me. Even doing small, everyday things had begun to feel like a burden and I wondered how I was going to manage when K came home and I had to deal with him as well. (In full disclosure though, I'm still not really enjoying cooking dinner in the basement and cleaning up from meals in the basement. I'm afraid the only thing that will help that problem is moving the kitchen back above ground.) Now, even preparing three children for an extended stay at a friend's house and three children for overseas travel doesn't seem that big of a deal. I am just so grateful that we can finally go and bring K home.

And the timing is just about perfect. Even though I would have prefered to bring K home 9 months ago, I have to admit that how everything is working out is really for the best. In my good moments I knew God had everything in hand. It's just as the wait dragged on that it became easier and easier to forget that. So, to remind myself the next time I want to doubt God's timing, here is my list of all the positives about travel happening when it is:

1. J is able to finish teaching the two classes he has right now and doesn't need to find someone to cover for him.

2. I am able to direct the musical that my children's choir is doing in a week and a half. And my choir will be done for the school year. I won't need to figure out how to direct and take care of K at the same time.

3. M and B are able to play their roles in their theater group's performance of, The Man Who Came to Dinner. (Much to the delight of the director, I might add.)

4. TM is much more stable emotionally than he was 9 months ago. He is better able to handle suitcases and trips. That just leaves the Vietnamese language as a trigger which we will need to help him with.

5. The friends who are watching our children brought home a son from China last fall. The delay has allowed him to settle into his new family without the disruption of adding three more children temporarily. The trip is also before their son's cleft surgery so they don't have the added stress of extra children while they help their son through major surgery.

6. We have the money to pay for the trip.

7. We get to travel with another family whose daughter is in K's orphanage. We have corresponded with them over the course of the year and it will be wonderful to meet in person. Plus, our children will have the comfort of seeing each other even after everything else has changed.

8. The remodelling is at a point where we can leave it. Even better, when we return it will be nearly completed and we probably will be able to move into the kitchen.

9. Related to the kitchen...I can't imagine trying to cook in the basement while watching a very active 2 year old at the same time. Do you know how much there is in a basement for a 2 year old to get into!?!

10. K has lived his whole life in a very hot and humid place. When he arrives in the midwest, it will not be in the dead of winter. It seems almost cruel to do that to a child...especially the winter we just survived.

11. I didn't have to worry about a toddler playing in all the construction dust. Yuck!

12. M's (new at Christmas) camera broke a month ago. It was a given to her mainly because of the upcoming trip. I have to say that Kodak was terrific about honoring the warantee and fixed it for free, but it was just returned two weeks ago. Now she'll be able to take it with her.

13. It will be warm enough in Hanoi to use the hotel's outdoor (unheated) pool. This is something that TM specifically talks about. He was happiest when we were swimming and he is very much looking forward to swimming in it again. I just hope we can get rooms in the same hotel, it is sometimes full.

14. I was able to finish the sweater I was knitting for K. (This is no small feat since in January I finished a sweater vest that I had been knitting for J that I had been working on for 10 years.)

So, how's that for a list of positives? We have our plane tickets, and they were not as ridiculously expensive as I was fearing. I am most excited by the terminal we leave from and arrive to. Our main airport is not one that anyone wants to have to use on a regular basis. By using the terminal which we are, we avoid a lot of hassles. Plus we go through customs at our final destination. We don't have to worry about missing flights because customs was a nightmare.

Now I can work on important problems...such as keeping our luggage weight under 40 pounds, and setting up online bill paying accounts, and organizing gifts, and finding costume pieces for M, and buying summer clothes for B who has grown nearly a foot in nine months, and...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Glory Be to the Father...we're going to Vietnam!!!!

The long awaited travel call finally came. Our Giving and Receiving Ceremony is scheduled for May 5. I'll write a more coherent post later...perhaps when my hands stop shaking.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I love you, Mommy

These are sweet, sweet words to hear on any occasion, but in some cases they are downright remarkable. I have written before in this blog about the rough transition that TM had in joining our family, and if I am honest, the rough transition I had in becoming his mother. Since he came home in July of '06, we have seen steady progress in his ability to attach to us and in his general comfort level. But the past four months have been remarkable. TM shows a level of comfort and relaxation that we have never seen. He is also learning to practice self-control (not touching/breaking things, telling the truth, not talking all the time) that I wasn't sure was possible a year ago. But I realized several months ago that he had never told me he loves me. I tell him I love him all the time, and my other children (especially D) are often coming up to me and telling me they love me. I would never force or even suggest to TM that it was something he should say, but I noted its absence. Yesterday, while I was dozing on the couch, trying to convince myself that I really was getting well (having been sick since last Friday), TM comes up to me and without any notice says, "Mommy, I love you." Talk about the best medicine! It has been a difficult road to get to this point, but I wouldn't trade any of it. The difficulty of the struggle makes the success that much sweeter.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

House update

Unlike K's adoption (still no news, or any idea why it is taking so long), the house project is running on schedule...maybe even ahead. The wood floors are in and stained, the drywall is up and primed, and tile starts on Monday. Here are some pictures:

This is the kitchen, looking east and south. The sink will be under the east window (staight ahead). You can't tell that the floors are done because they've been covered-up to protect them.

This is the north wall of the kitchen, opposite the above picture. The opening on the right goes into the mud room, the opening in the middle (with the ladder) will be the refridgerator, and the opening on the left will be the walk-in pantry.

This is the view of the other end of the kitchen (looking west). The door leads out to a side deck. A desk will be under the window, and I'm not sure what we're doing along the wall. The doorway on the right leads to the butler's pantry:

And (because I forgot to post it earlier), what does it look like when two families, with twelve children between them, dye 11 dozen Easter eggs?

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