Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A love letter to my church

It's been an emotional few days (OK, weeks, really) and while we are all doing fine, I won't lie and say it's been easy. But there is one thing about it that has eased the burden and made the whole thing manageable... our church family.

In the recent past it's become sort of the thing to denigrate the church, especially by the Christians who belong to it. We just don't seem to get it right. We're not friendly enough, we're too friendly, we don't live out what we believe, we're weird, we bicker about everything from coffee to drums to other people. No wonder the numbers are falling and no one wants to go. We're not relevant, we're judgmental, we're merely a social club.

You know what? This can be true. The problem is the church is made up of human beings. Sinful, messy, prideful, easily distracted, imperfect humans. The church would be perfect if it wasn't for us. We really wreck the whole thing. It's actually amazing that we ever get anything right at all. No, that's not correct. It's not amazing, it's God. We're too messy to get anything right. We prove it all the time. When we do get things right, we need to give credit where credit is due and that is to the God who loves us and created the church.

And sometimes the church does get it right. The past week has been one of those times. We could never have managed what we have navigated the past few days without the support of a vast number of people. We were never alone and the people of God rose up and supported us in amazing ways. It is with deep love and appreciation that express our gratitude to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. To our pastor who kept checking in with us even though he was supposed to be on vacation. To other staff members who fielded phone calls and acted as a clearinghouse. To the friends who fed our children. To the amazing woman who stayed on the phone, talked us through the crisis, and has held our hands and offered advice and support and wisdom every step of the way. To the people who have prayed. To the people who are using all the contacts they have to find solutions. To the people who call and check in on us. To the people who who visit the hurting in the hospital. To the people who have offered shoulders to cry on. The list goes on and on. I have never felt so grateful for my church, or so proud of it. It has risen up when it was needed and came through in major ways. Thank you.

As J. and I were eating (another) very late dinner a day or two ago, I said that the best part of this whole thing is to know in a very real and tangible way how many people love and support us. It is a very, very good thing to know.

Happy New Year to all of you. May it bring peace and joy to each of you.

Monday, December 29, 2014

When loving is hard

I have now officially spent more time in hospitals this month than I would ever want to. Yesterday, J. and I had to make the hard decision to get HG the help she desperately needed and we spent much of the day yesterday in crisis mode. We are so thankful for friends who drop everything at a moment's notice to come alongside of us to help. I have never been so thankful for them or for our extended church family who also came through in the pinch. Everyone felt so loved and supported as we all went about doing hard things. Please pray for HG and for the doctors who are helping her. She needs them. We have now entered a new phase of life... supporting someone we care very much about, but doing so more remotely... and have spent the day doing a lot of processing with the children. Never fear, we are all fine and we are so proud of our children for the way they handle crisis situations. This is also my explanation as to why blogging has been a bit spare in these past few days.

And to top everything off, we have our first social work visit for our home study this evening. We have been running around trying to control the post-holiday chaos and I have a stack of paperwork I need to attend to at some point. Poor H., though. We kept talking about why we were doing a cleaning-up and though we thought she understood we soon realized that she had gotten the impression that we were cleaning because Tina (yes, she still needs an initial) was coming. After we had finally communicated to her that this was just a helper coming to visit in order to bring Tina home, H. bursts into sobbing tears. She was heart-broken that Tina wasn't joining us today and kept sobbing, "I want Tina to come." It was so heart breaking... and so, so normal that it made me want to cry for happiness. Yes, parents of hurt children have odd things which make them happy.

So that's us for right now. Taking deep breaths... sorting out next steps to be done... and maintaining a sense of normalcy for the little people in our midst.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

We've had a lovely couple of days filled with family, friends, and much food. 

On Christmas Eve, we started out by heading to church where our family is heavily involved with helping to put on/direct the Christmas Pageant. It went well and after we got everything put away were able to come home and start dinner. One of the things we had was linguine with clams. Do you think TM liked it just a little bit?


Dessert for Christmas Eve dinner is always a cake to celebrate Jesus' birthday. We sing and everything. I tried a different one this year and it was a hit. White cake with a cherry/cranberry filling and orange-butter cream frosting.


Then it was off to bed for everyone except M. and P. who were working sound at the 11pm service and for me and J. who were still working on getting things ready for the next morning. I had to finish a little sewing before I put these little guys into stockings.



Cute, huh? I love the way they turned out, but it was one of those things which sounded good in theory and not so great in reality. They took far more time than I was expecting. 

The next morning, the littles let us bigger people sleep in until the entirely reasonable hour of 7:45. In our family, everyone waits upstairs until J. and I get things ready and slurp a little coffee. Then everyone lines up and gets ready to start the day.


You'll notice that Gretel is in the picture as well. It somehow seems fitting that we caught her barking. It is something she does a lot. 

We then go to the dining room to light our Christ candle, read some Bible verses and say a prayer.



After that it's stockings followed by breakfast. Breakfast is always homemade cinnamon rolls and grapefruit (with maybe a little chocolate Santa as well.) Following breakfast we spend the rest of the morning opening presents.


I made a few hats for various people...

D.

G.

L.

H.

H.'s gift from her grandparents this year was an American Girl doll. It's hard to tell in the picture, but she is very excited. (It was also a Christmas which did NOT include a seizure. Hooray!)


More pictures from the morning..


A. (and some other older children) received some cold, hard cash from grandparents.

M.

G. and L. with their new (and enormous) stuffed animals.


We had been given the American Girl treehouse by friends who were moving a while back and I was keeping it in storage until I had someone who was ready for it. With H. getting her doll, it seemed the perfect gift. (Thanks to our friends who handed it down to us!)


After presents it's time to eat again. Our Christmas lunch is always waffles, bacon, and sausage, after which people slowly get dressed, play with new things, read new books, and generally sit around  and relax. Mid-afternoon we pack everyone up and head to J.'s sister's house where there is more eating and more family. We always have Christmas crackers at dinner (you know, the things filled with little toys that you pull apart), if you are wondering about the paper crowns.

B.

Various family members and J., A., and E.

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from our house to yours

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Comfort and Joy

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of comfort recently. There are two definitions of the noun form of the word. The first is (according to Google's dictionary) "a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint" and the second is "the easing or alleviation of a person's feelings of grief or distress." To really discuss what has been rolling around in my head, we need to go visit the book of Luke again.

In my girls' Bible study, we recently looked at the stories of the rich, young ruler and of Zacchaeus. You'll remember the stories. The rich, young ruler (Luke 18: 18-30) comes to Jesus and wants to do know what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies that he should keep the commandments. The young man says that he has done this, to which Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give it to the poor. The young man becomes very sad at these instructions and Jesus then tells him that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter Heaven.

Not more than 12 verses later, we meet Zacchaeus, who is also a very rich man, though no one would accuse him of keeping the commandments since his youth. His gains were ill-gotten as a tax collector for the Roman Empire. Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus and, being a short man, resorts to climbing a tree in order to do so. (You can also imagine that the crowds were not all that keen to do anything nice for Zacchaeus and weren't helping him out at all.) Jesus comes towards Zacchaeus, stops under his tree, and announces that he [Zacchaeus] should come down because He [Jesus] was coming to his house for dinner. Zacchaeus, being so changed by his encounter with Jesus, does in effect, what Jesus had told the rich, young, ruler to do. He vows to give half his goods to the poor and to restore what he has defrauded fourfold. I imagine that doing that will pretty much take care of the other half of his money. Jesus then proclaims that "salvation has come to this house." The camel was indeed able to fit through the eye of the needle.

What is the difference between these two men? Both were rich. Both met Jesus. Yet one turned away from Jesus with great sadness and the other embraced Jesus with great joy. I believe it all comes down to who was comfortable.

The rich, young ruler was comfortable. He was accepted in his community. He followed the rules. He could buy anything he wanted. He had control of his future for the most part. He had a lot and while he had a vague feeling that he was missing something (hence, his question to Jesus) it was not a pressing enough need for him to take any action. Zacchaeus, on the other hand, was not comfortable. Sure he could buy just about anything he wanted, but he knew he was missing something. He was not accepted in his community... tax collectors were pretty universally hated. He had guilt... he knew he had cheated people out of their money as well as being a type of traitor to his people. Zacchaeus was uncomfortable enough to listen to Jesus, but the rich, young ruler was not.

The result? Zacchaeus received what the rich, young ruler could only vaguely imagine. Joy. When we feel we do not have need of Jesus, we miss out on the joy He has to offer. It is joy that is not tied to material goods or physical ease. It is the joy of feeling complete, of having purpose, of knowing you are loved beyond all imagining. It is joy that eases any discomfort in our present life. Zacchaeus moved from seeking joy in the first definition of the word comfort to finding it in the second definition. If we have no need, there is no need for God to give us His comfort.

So this Christmas and in the coming new year, beware of being too comfortable. It is a hard task master which gives us the illusion that we can find no happiness and joy without it. It makes us passive, unwilling to take action that may inconvenience us. It ultimately steals our joy. Instead, ask to be made a little uncomfortable... or be willing to risk a little discomfort for a greater good. You may be surprised that the joy you find waiting for you.
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I realize that I never shared the link to my newest article. It's No Biking in the House Without a Helmet: A Book Review. Please read, click, share.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Don't Panic!

We're still here and we're all well. (Apologies to the people who were beginning to panic and worried something was terribly wrong because of the lack of posts.) Losing the first two weeks of December to medical drama combined with the usual busyness that happens as Christmas gets closer meant that blogging was one of the many things which fell to the wayside.

It's been fun, if a bit exhausting. Here's what we've been doing.

A very dear friend came over because she had a craft she wanted to do with everyone. They are little angel ornaments made out of pasta. They have been drying and are now ready to spray paint white.


There are very few times in my children's lives when adults have said to them, "Use more glue! More!"


That evening we did our annual Hannukah celebration with latkes, dreidles and chocolate coins.

Friday morning brought another doctor's appointment. This time a regular follow-up with the neurologist for H.

Friday afternoon was scheduled for making gingerbread houses.




Saturday morning was the last Christmas pageant rehearsal all morning.

In the evening we had invited friends over to sing Christmas carols together and eat cookies.

Sunday morning was church followed by a Christmas brunch at a friend's.

Later that day, we joined some other families from church to go caroling at the local retirement community.

And in between all of that I also did some laundry, taught some piano lessons, nearly finished sewing some gifts, and wrote a couple of articles. You now understand why blogging didn't make the cut. Even though my lists of things to do are not short, there is blessedly little on the calendar for between now and Christmas. I might be able to catch my breath.

One funny L. story about the caroling. For the past three weeks, L. has had it in her head that she wants to 'sing Christmas carols outside." She has tried and tried and tried to get her brothers and sisters to join her in the front yard to sing. No one would cooperate with her plans. But yesterday, we sang outside. She loved it. After every song she would look up at me and say, "I love singing outside. This is fun!" She dutifully carried her song book (though she can't read) and insisted that I find the correct page each time. Even though most other people were getting cold and a little tired at the end, I'm pretty sure she would have happily continued on for quite some time. It's so nice when a child's fantasy about what something will be like matches the actual event.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Well, I know what we are eating for lunch




We made approximately 250 tamales yesterday... pork with a spicy red sauce, onions and peppers with cheese, and chicken with green salsa. These pictures show what was left after everyone ate their fill for dinner. I would freeze some if my freezers were not completely full of beef. I guess that means we have no choice but to continue to gorge ourselves on them.

It's only once a year, right?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Drains are out!

It only took twelve days and three different trips up to the plastic surgeon's but H.'s drains are finally out and she can go back to being a child who doesn't look ill (because of the bandages and tubing). They were also able to do another expansion and things look very, very good. What a relief!

So that's done and now we are on to tamales. We're just about ready to begin and hope to get about 200 this time. It smells so good everyone is eagerly anticipating dinner.

Obviously, I am otherwise occupied, so enjoy the posts related to Christmas from past years.

Mary was not a Teenager

Have you Fought with this Mercy You Don't Understand?

The Twelve Days Before Christmas

Gingerbread Houses

Homemade Gifts

Making Room in the Inn

Christmas Preparations... or Baby Jesus Found!

Tree Trimming 2011

Crafty Christmas Gift Ideas

Advent and the Liturgical Calendar

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tree Trimming 2014

We trimmed our tree yesterday. We usually have more people, but it didn't work out for most people to join us and after the past two weeks we've had it was really nice to have a low-key day. Everyone was pretty tired. 

Some things stayed the same. We had a lot of treats which people enjoyed while waiting for the lights to be put on the tree.



Once the lights were up, TM and J. worked on putting other lights up in other places.


More decorating...

L.

G.

K.

G.

G.

H.

B.

H.  H-S - aka B.'s girlfriend

And still the lights are being put up. They did eventually get everything sorted out and displayed.

A funny G. story. After most of the tree was decorated and we were cleaning up and people were eating more snacks, G. took herself upstairs and crawled into bed unbeknowst to anyone. A couple of hours later, A. comes down to ask if G. didn't want to watch the Christmas movie because she was upstairs sound asleep. I had A. bring her down and she woke up to watch the end of the movie, but as you might guess, at 9:15, Cindy Lu Who comes walking into our room saying she can't sleep. It wasn't until we got B. (her very special brother) to carry her back to bed would she agree to go. I do wonder how those two survive when he is away at school.
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I have a new article up: Virtual Triplets and Biological Twins Please feel free to read and share.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Magna cum laude

We all had a very late night last night because we are now the proud parents of our first college graduate. M. graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree from North Park University last night. The perk of having a father who works at the same institution is that at the last moment he was able to snag a few extra tickets, thus saving me extensive game plans as to how we would all get in and have a seat for the ceremony. But he did and we all got seats with very little drama... a lot of waiting, but I came prepared with a bag full of activities for the littles.

It was a very nice ceremony and because M. graduated magna cum laude, she was asked to carry the school banner. It was easy to pick her out in the processional. Well, she is also currently sporting bright blue hair, so we would have found her in any case, but it was still nice.  Here are some photos from the evening.

Here we are waiting for the ceremony to start. In order to get seats, we first got to the school 45 minutes before the doors opened and then had 45 minutes to wait for the ceremony. The small people did a remarkably good job with the waiting business.




I don't have any good pictures of M. walking in with the banner or of her getting her diploma. One of the nice things about North Park is that they have a tradition that if your parent teaches there (and it is not terribly uncommon for professor's children to attend), then your parent gets to step in and award the diploma. So M. got to receive her diploma from J. It was very sweet.

We (and by 'we' I mean B., because my camera battery died) did get some good photos afterwards.

M.

M. and A. (I love this picture!)

M. with her roommate of the past three years who was valedictorian.

As we were heading towards M.'s graduation, I did a little investigating. It turns out that M. is the fourth generation of women in our family to receive a college degree. That's pretty remarkable. My grandmother (M.'s great-grandmother) received her bachelor's degree in English with a classics minor from Northwestern at the time when they still had the women's college. She then went on to receive a master's degree in English from Columbia. My mother has a college degree and I have a bachelor's and master's degree. Not only this, but M.'s great-grandmother on J.'s side also received a bachelor's and a master's degree in classics.

So, congratulations to my wonderful daughter. We love you and are so proud of you!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lunch time read alouds

A reader commented asking about the details of how our lunch time read alouds go. Here is what I expect you all imagine they look like.

At noon, the children close up their school books, put things away, and come back to get lunch. We set out the leftovers and other lunch options and people quietly get what they want while helping little people get their food. I grab a quick bite while this is happening and get our book. Everyone sits quietly at the table eating while I read. If they need more food, they quietly help themselves (or a small person) so I can continue reading. When the chapter ends, they wish aloud that we could read more, but stand up and put away their lunch things, wipe the table, and head off to quiet time.

I wish I could say this is what life looks like. No, I really wish I could. But, in all honesty, the only things that are similar are the fact that people eat food and I read a story. Here is the more truthful version.

We finish whatever group project we were doing and I ask people to gather up their things and put them away. Often their idea of what put away looks like and what my idea is are two different things. I think they should gather their books and take them upstairs to their assigned bookshelves, they are under the impression that it means make a pile and leave it on the table. If I insist they move the books, then it means take the whole pile and move it to the next available flat surface.

When there is enough table showing to allow people to eat their lunch, we get out the food. Thus begins the daily bargaining of who eats what, who gets to eat the last serving of the popular dish, who can and cannot make a smoothie, and discussions of what actually constitutes a decent and sufficient lunch. Because I am refereeing this little scene, I often wait to eat my lunch until after I read.

Once everyone has some food before them, I commence reading. It often goes like this.

Read, read, read, read.

"No, please don't bang you cars together while I'm reading."

Read, read, read.

"Stop it with the cars."

Read, read.

Pause to glare at the boy still banging the cars.

Read, read, read, read, read, read.

"Yes, you may have another cracker. No you may not have a cookie yet."

Read, read, read, read.

"Please close the book while I'm reading."

Read.

The phone rings. I decide to let the answering machine answer it.

Read.

"No, it's OK, I'm going to let the machine answer it."

Read, read (a little louder to be heard over the noise.)

Pause to listen who is leaving the message, realize I really do have to answer it. Briefly deal with whoever is on the phone. Try to call everyone back. "Yes, you may color while I read. No I'm not printing out a page for you to color."

Read, read, read, read, read.

"Quick! Get some paper towels to wipe up the water! Ack! Move the books!!!"

Read, read, read, read.

"Yes, everyone can have a cookie now."

Read, read, read, read, and finish the chapter.

The children run off, leaving disaster in the wake. If I'm feeling up to it I call them back to help clean-up, but usually not until I've had a quiet moment to eat some lunch. I often wonder if anyone actually managed to follow the story during all of that, yet, more often than not, at some later point, what we read will be discussed. It's messy, but it works.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Christmas Read Aloud

For our lunch time read aloud sessions during December, I try to read a book that is more Christmas-y than our usual fare. Our favorite December read has been The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. (I wrote more about in my post about Christmas books.) Last Monday, I blithely went to the bookshelf with our Christmas books to pull it out so we could enjoy it again. And it wasn't there. As I thought about it, I couldn't actually remember seeing it when we brought our Christmas books out of storage. This must mean it didn't go into storage last January. It makes me wonder where it will turn up. In any case, I didn't have it to read. We needed a new plan.

My new plan involved Charles Dickens. All my children were a little older and anther year of English under their belt. My older people were about the same age when we drove across the country and listened to the complete and unabridged Oliver Twist. It was time to read A Christmas Carol. So that is what we have been doing. It is incredibly gratifying to be reading and come to a place in the story that you find particularly witty and realize that some of your children are also chuckling. Most people seem to be enjoying it. L. is amenable enough to listen to it in the daytime, but absolutely refuses to allow us to discuss the book at dinner time after the sun has gone down. She finds it too scary which shows both that she is understanding the story and that she has a fantastic imagination. (Not that we doubted her imagination at any point in her existence.)

I personally love Dickens. (And boy did he have a sweet deal getting paid by the word. I could clean up if that system were still in place. Imagine... I could be even wordier!) I love his use of language. I love his humor. I love his ability to develop characters. I've also discovered that I love reading his stories out loud even more. I read fast and do have a tendency to skim a bit. When you are reading out loud, skimming is not possible, so you don't inadvertently miss something. I've read this story before, but missed this wonderful line. It's from when Scrooge is heading home and Dickens is describing what his life outside his office is like.

"They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again."

You can just picture it, can't you.

My children may not catch everything in the story and we may have to stop occasionally so I can explain something that confuses someone, but it can never heard to be exposed to that level of language. Dickens (and all the other Victorian writers) write sentences and use vocabulary that are much more complex than we come across in any modern medium. It takes more mental effort to make sense of them and reading them (or listening to them being read) is like a workout for the brain. And like all other exercise, it may be difficult at first, but as the brain becomes accustomed to it, understanding comes much easier.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Practicing a little avoidance

I am writing today's post so that I can ignore that growing pile of papers sitting next to me just a little bit longer. No, this time it's not bills, though there is some money involved. This time (and for the next several months) the pile of paper which will accompany my every waking moment is adoption paperwork. Paperwork for the placement agency. Paperwork for the homestudy agency. Paperwork for the US government. And, of course, some of this involves medical check-ups for every single person in the family, so I get to add the joy of visiting more doctors on top of everything else. (Because I don't see them enough, you know.) I will just say right up front that I don't like it. While I do it because it is how we bring our daughter home, there is not one single aspect of it that I enjoy and it hangs heavy on my head while we are in process.

But it must be done. There are quite a few children in the background who want to what I have done to get Tina home. They are quite happy to let me work as long as it is for THE ADOPTION. When they speak of it, it does come out sounding like that, in capitalized italics. If you hadn't guessed, everyone is very excited. When we told the children what we were planning, there was a rousing cheer around the dining room table. I think there might have even been some jumping up and down. They don't feel as though there are too many children here.

It is interesting to watch some of them process what is going on. TM has commented about how much paperwork is involved and also commented that he knew I didn't like it. (That he noticed goes a long way to show you how much there really is.) It allowed me a moment to point out that his adoption (and K.'s and H.'s) required the same amount of paperwork and that while I didn't enjoy it, I did it to bring each of them home. I also pointed out I would do it again and again if I needed to in order to have them all here.

H. is noticing that there is a lot of work involved. She keeps asking when we will bring Tina home and why we can't get her right now. H. wants her home right now. She's been practicing spelling Tina's name, talks about where she will sleep, points out that clothes she has outgrown can be passed down. She's ready NOW. I am not working fast enough to do my part to bring this new sister home. I tell her that it will still be a while and don't quite have the heart to say exactly how long she will have to wait.

But now I've dithered enough. I must do this most recent stack or my children will start to point out my tardiness. They are hard task-masters.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

ABD

While I could brag about my husband every day on the blog, I spare you the gushing. But sometimes I just can't help myself. Today is one of those days. I am so happy and proud to tell everyone that J. took his comprehensive exams for his PhD yesterday and today the email came notifying him that he passed. This is a huge step and even bigger relief for him. He is now officially All But Dissertation towards his PhD degree.

He manages to keep up with graduate studies as well as working his other two full-time jobs... that of father to 10 and the one he goes to every day to support us all. It is a Herculean task that he does with amazing grace and patience (as well as very little sleep.)

So congratulations to my wonderful husband who makes me the most blessed and happiest of women.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Sisters, sisters

I've had a couple of people comment on the similarities between H. and Tina (boy, she needs an initial!). Take a look at this.

This is H. and A. when we were in Guangzhou. Look how little she is! 

This is Tina
Now some people (cough, cough, Mom), see a real resemblance. I see one as well, but I'm not sure if it significant enough to mean anything. (I'm also the one who really doesn't think G. and L. look identical.) But the girls are from the same province and linear nevus sebaceous syndrome does have the odd quirk about it that it can run in families. J., the realistic, points out that the province has 83 million people in it.

I think we can file this under interesting facts.
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Another article is up... Adoption and Young Adult Fiction - Part 2 of 2  (These are for my paying gig... every click and share helps.)

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The beauty of doing nothing

Thank you everyone for your well wishes. We are very excited to bring our new daughter home. We are not excited about the paperwork. Yesterday I stayed home and did NOTHING. It was heavenly and just what I needed to refresh my batteries.

How badly was I functioning by the end of the week? Well, worse than I thought. Yesterday, J. calls from work to say he was contacted by our insurance agent. Had I dropped off a bill to them the day before? Well, yes, I had. It was one of the 134,295,392 things I did that day. I was proud of myself for getting the bills paid in the midst of the chaos. But we all know that pride goeth before a fall, don't we? That bill I dropped off? It wasn't the insurance payment, it was the city water bill. The insurance agent very nicely put a stamp on it and mailed it on, but now it was going to be late, which is my particular pet peeve in the home finance department. I hate bills being late and having to pay the late fees. My wonderful husband called the city and managed to get the penalty waived.

I also sat and snuggled a lot with L.who was clearly suffering the effects of Mommy being gone so much. I think we both feel better. It's busy weeks like this past one that make me appreciate our usual more relaxed schedule... the one that allows me to take time to snuggle with my children and listen to what they want to tell me. For instance, this gem from K. this morning.

"Mommy, when I get bigger than you, I won't live with you anymore. I'll live in another house."
"Well, P. is bigger than I am and she still lives in our house."
"When I'm married I'll live in another house. I'll live with a lady but I won't know who she is," K. said in a resigned tone of voice as if to indicate that these things happen, but no one really understands how. Whoever that future wife might be, she will need to have a deep and abiding love for super heroes because K.'s prime goal in life is to be the Hulk. And if he cannot be the Hulk, then he wants to build his muscles up to the point where he at least looks like him. The rest of us are a little concerned that he will be so top heavy that he will just fall over.


Friday, December 05, 2014

"Tell me when you win the lottery."

H. did well in surgery yesterday and it was successful. The doctor moved the port that was causing so much difficulty, removed the too thin and inflexible scar tissue that was splitting, and generally cleaned things up. There was absolutely no sign of infection and he thinks if we let things rest for a couple of weeks, we can resume our expansion schedule and save these expanders. It does mean we will be cancelling the surgery in early February and moving it later, but that is still better than having to remove the expanders and then start all over again. H. is feeling quite well this morning, which is a significant difference from how she felt right after surgery three weeks ago. I am giving myself permission to have a day where I don't leave the house and we can all just relax. We need it. I cannot tell you how very, very tired I am of writing about hospitals, doctors, and medical issues. Even more tired than you are of reading about it, I assure you.

So let's not talk about hospitals and doctors and surgery and such. Let's talk about something happy and exciting. That would make a nice change, wouldn't it? But first we need to back up and I need to tell you a cool God story.

You all know that I have been advocating for this little girl for a while now.


Tina has the same special need as H. and really needs a family. She would thrive in a family who could give her the constant love and support she needs to blossom. But no one seems interested. Everyone agrees she needs a family, but I'm afraid she had fallen into that "poor little girl, someone should adopt her... just not me" category. Her list of needs sounds a little scary and no matter how much I tried to reassure people that they were manageable, I guess they still seemed to overwhelming.

I was kvetching to J. one night about this problem... that people were just too scared, she seemed too different, no one would look and see the worth of this child. At least not enough worth to bother bringing her home. I was worried she would languish in care until her 14th birthday at which time she would lose forever her chance of having a family. I was a little upset. So he says, "Well, let me know when you win the lottery and I'm in." You see, as my husband so eloquently puts it, we don't have two nickels to rub together and coming up with the adoption expenses was not even a remote possibility. That winning lottery ticket would have to flutter into my hand.

The next morning, I open up my computer to do whatever it is we do when we open up our computers. One of the very first things I see when I look on Facebook is this astonishing fact. All of a sudden, little Tina has a $25,000 grant to go towards her adoption. If you are not in the adoption world, you have no appreciation of exactly how rare this size of a grant is. It truly is the adoption equivalent of a winning lottery ticket floating into your hand.

J. and talked about it. My mother and I talked about it. As crazy as it seemed we decided we would take the next step and submit our Letter of Intent to Ch*na to ask their permission to adopt her. So we did and settled into wait. We had heard that Pre-Approvals, the next step in the process, were taking two or three weeks. So we settled in to wait hoping we would hear before Christmas.

Imagine my surprise when, on the Monday after Thanksgiving, with our Letter of Intent being submitted just the day before Thanksgiving, to open up my email and see that we had been granted Pre-Approval to adopt this precious child. All week I have been sitting on this news, just dying to tell everyone, but between needing to let family members know first and then coping with all the medical surprises, it had to wait until now.

We are thrilled and delighted to announce that we have been given permission to continue working on adopting Tina.


Of course, Tina is not her name. We haven't even had the name discussion yet, so she will need to wait a bit in order to get her official initial for the blog. But that is going to have to wait until after I dig out from underneath the paperwork which has piled up around my ears in the past five days.

One thing you can all do right now is start praying that our homestudy be approved by IL DCFS. If you weren't around for H.'s adoption, then you missed the drama. I have been warned that it could be even worse this time around. I'm gearing up for a fight I desperately hope I don't have to fight.
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