Monday, August 30, 2010

Today's the DAY!

Off to school they went- tee hee!! All 6 of them. Phewww. I survived another wild summer. Everyone was up early, if not thrilled. Chloe was excited, as was Chase, Chance was pouting. I think Camden was fretting since he ended up in our bed around 2 am with a "bad dream."

Kat fooled around going to sleep then didn't want to get up, once she did we had a nose bleed issue. She did get better once she was dressed, my niece brought the baby over and witnessed some of the snottiness of the Diva and exclaimed "I think she's be the one to break you." To which I responded, "well, at least she's the last one- so if she leaves me slobbering in insanity from her teen years I will have gotten them all raised."

Don't even think I got to be alone, no way, can't be-Jaxon my man was here, and I got to babysit a 4 year old as well. So what did I do today? Normally I go to lunch to celebrate this day.
Somehow Baba sabotaged my day by setting up a cable appointment, you know, the kind where they are going to come at any time- then don't show up when they are supposed to? Grrrr, not nice Baba. The man showed up EARLY then was in and out, up and down, like a bad song, all day long. Ruined the whole day.

I e-mailed the new ESL teacher over the weekend and she responded last night to let me know the school had an interpreter coming, same one the boys had in June to be with the boys today. I was relieved to hear that.

I also wrote a note to each of the boys' buddies, to let them know what to do if they encounter a problem, what NOT to do with the boys, what TO do with them. Also reminding them that they are NOT obligated to "buddy" our sons, and we will not be upset if they decide they prefer not to, for any reason. It's a huge undertaking.

I only got 3 calls from school, although the third was the cable guy messing with the phone line and cut me off. Does the school have me on SPEED DIAL?? I think so.

Anyway, they called to tell me Chase was too quiet, they weren't sure how to "take" him and thought he was upset. So they called in Chloe and nothing was wrong.
Neither boy would eat lunch (guess they will tomorrow, they missed snack since they didn't eat lunch and learned momma was gonna find these things out) but basically Chase has that whole "blank look" from Chinese culture he uses and when you don't know him it looks like he is brooding.
I am thankful they cared enough to take notice and even had the guidance counselor call me and ask what they could do to make it easier for him, how to encourage the students to include him.

He was smiling when he came home, even telling me "Mother I don't know, what- ahh they say." But he handed me MY homework for the night. I am meeting with their teachers Friday morning to give them a bit of info on the kids personalities, what I expect them to learn, how to work with them. etc. Some of it's basic cultural stuff, some common sense.

All in all, not bad for the first day, my arm is killing me, so much for copying the forms, they used yellow paper and card stock for the 2 big forms that I could have copied. And they sent home enough copies with everyone of things we didn't even need-- what a waste of paper! Shame on them.
Maybe tomorrow will be a 1-phone-call- from-the-school day? We'll have to see:)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Heart's Burden

Have you ever seen a picture or heard a story about a child who needs a family? Have you considered adopting but it didn't work out for your family? Did you adopt and find out your child has a best friend left behind? How do our hearts handle it? We can't possibly adopt them all, can we?? Why does a few of those faces haunt us? What do we DO about it?

PRAY--- I believe God has a plan for each one of the orphans. I believe that if we are meant to adopt the child we can't get them out of our thoughts and God let's us know and everything falls into place for that to happen. It's meant to be. Look at our precious son Chase.

But I have heard His call about children that I knew in my heart God was NOT calling us to adopt, so WHAT did I need to do? Pray, care, advocate. Loving a child from afar till it's time, God's time to show them their family. You see, no one can have TOO many people love them.... it's just not possible for someone to adopt all the orphans, as much as we all wish it. It starts small and grows, which may eventually bring the world to no more orphans, but for now, there are soooo many! But if we all care about and pray, advocate, for a few, then that CAN make a difference.

God places certain children, maybe by country, maybe by needs, maybe by age, but He puts each of us in a place to "care for the orphans." And care we MUST. So if your heart is burdened, there is a reason. Do you need to pray for the child/ren? Do you want to find your child? Do you know of a child and can advocate, even offer support, or financial help to a family who CAN adopt the child of your heart? What about sponsorship of a child so they can get into a foster home? Or into a special school for their needs?

I have 5 children on my heart right now. 2 precious toddlers, a boy and a girl that have repaired spina bifida. Another child is older, healthy, a boy our kids left behind. As well as #4, a child with severe vision issues, left behind. And #5 is a girl from Kat's orphanage that is special needs. So what have I done with the children of MY heart? Prayed for them. The ones left by the teens, the children have called back and we have asked that they get paperwork done to list them for adoption. We are fairly sure neither of the boys have a file done. So we can advocate for them once a file is done. The child with vision issues we are trying to get into a school for the blind. We sponsor the girl from Kat's orphanage to keep her in foster care.

The little ones, I keep in mind, I ask people who are looking for a child, will you consider one of these precious little ones? Are they your child? So far, no, it hasn't happened for either child. So for now I love them from afar and keep the faith that their day IS coming. And I rejoice for the family that HAS found the teens' best friend, blondie boy. They are thrilled and can't wait for him to come home. It's amazing to see after advocating so long for him, feeling so burdened that he had not found his family, wondering would he ever?

I knew there was a reason I cared so much. If your heart is burdened, know that it's not for you to hurt, no, our God is not mean, he does not want us to be pained, but He does want us to take notice, to not idly sit by and ignore His call. To not give excuses why we can't adopt, sponsor, advocate, support, and PRAY. There are no excuses good enough.

There are so many things we CAN DO-- try it, do something! It will change your life. Go ahead, love away, don't protect your heart, because if you do you don't get to LOVE. And love from afar, these precious ones NEED it. It will lift you up in joy when you accept the burden to love a child in need, no matter what their future holds.

They are God's children that He calls us to care for, and I am so glad I do:) And hey, what's a few more to love even from afar for this momma of many? I accept them with JOY, that I can love them while they wait. So God knows they are cared about, they are not forgotten, they are the children of my heart.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bad words

When Chloe first came home we had a few things we had to teach her. Firstly was we do not point with the middle finger- that's BAD. Also, that using our pointer finger was okay to do.

Funny thing is, Chloe has no idea what bad words ARE. She asked me today "what's the "F" word?" Well, I wasn't going to tell her! So she started guessing. Finger? Fries? Funny? Uhh, no.

Now we are a family that doesn't swear, I mean perfect, we are not, I have been known to let the SH-T word fly when heavily stressed and upset.
I figure God understands I have weaknesses raising the multitude of children I have but I still ask God to forgive me, and have worked hard to overcome this and use "crap" instead. Here's the issue--- Chloe has decided this is a "bad word." As well as "shut up" since I ask the kiddos to use "be quiet" which just SOUNDS nicer. So every word said even a little forcefully is now "bad" since goober Chloe figures that must be the key to what bad words are.

And she is running around telling everyone that we teach her "bad words." Can't wait to her teachers to get wind of THAT! Oh joy.
Chase is very sore today from his long walk. I am hoping he just over did it. Since the children have come home they have learned we care when they hurt, we can and will give them medicine that will make them feel better, they can get band aids and kisses, okay, maybe not the kisses:) But in learning this they go overboard and complain about the least little scratch. So I watch over them carefully when they have an issue to see if they really appear to be hurt.
He didn't give up going to the store last night with Debbie, our niece, so I count that as a good sign he is going to be okay.
Speaking of... is there anything sweeter than a baby learning to smile? Or cooing? Yes, Jaxon is starting to smile and coo. It's the cutest thing. He adores Chase who calls him "Jack' ahh son." He smiled first for him:)

Chloe and Hannah went to school today to check out their classrooms, see their homerooms. I asked for emergency forms, since it becomes a form of torture to mother to fill these out on the first day of school x SIX! And not one of the children can WAIT till the next evening--noooo way, since the teachers tell every one of them they MUST be back filled out completely by the next day or ELSE.
I've had children reduced to tears by the mere suggestion of cutting me a break and giving me an extra night to complete the tons of forms. Alas, the school is against mothers of many, they have "counted out per homeroom" the forms and refused to give me them.

Mean, they are just MEAN. Crappy, shut up, nasty, rotten people. So there, I let "it" rip. All those "bad" words. Oh no. I'm soooo BAD.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baba's older

You have to wonder what is wrong with you when you refer to your age in terms of "how many years we have left to adopt." Ha ha. Hubby turned 45 so we're out for Korea now, but we have more kids than allowed for there anyway. Still in the running for quite a few options. (MOM- we do not have paperwork started for another adoption--- do not call me in a panic).

Baba had a great birthday, other than he had to work today, such is life. But afterwards we had 5 of our college kids, our niece and the baby, all our crew for pizza and an ice cream cake. It was a loud and fun affair with all these kiddos.

After it was all over I decided to give Baba some quiet time and took our college crew as well as Camden, Chloe, Chase and Chance to the store. The students had a blast checking out everything. We stopped at a shoe store as well, and Chase and Chance found shoes for school. It was hard to have them trying to get them a size too big, to grow in to. Because they were going back to orphanage care where they got one pair of shoes per year, if they fall apart in a month, get too small in 6 months, too bad for them.

So I had to explain to them we do not have to buy them in the wrong size, we buy them to fit and if they need new we will buy them new, no matter if it is a month from now (although I hope not !) It reminds me of something I tend to forget at times, mainly since our children have no desire to be pitied.

That they have been hurt, mistreated in the past. Some of what we do can ease that, can heal that with our love, but in some ways they will carry that burden forever. I would guess at this point it is not something that will handicap them in their future, as well as I have gotten to know them, but will empower them. To maybe even change things for others, to get better care for orphans, or adopt children themselves. At least we hope so.

A wonderful friend reminded me today that I have to remain patient, to allow the blending of the kids to happen, as God planned, to not get annoyed when they make snotty comments that may be coming from their past hurts. That a certain measure of jealousy is going to happen when we have children who have been here longer and were born of us. It's part of the road we will travel as we grow in love with one another. As the new boys learn we love them just the same.

Funny how one person can say something and it's just what you needed to hear, you know it but it a gentle reminder of the Lord's plan and love for us, that it made me feel so much better when Chase and Camden were bickering over the TV and Chase thought I was playing favorites with Camden.
I could see the clouds rolling in on Chase's face. I was worried. Next thing I know, he tells me "Mother, me walk." Okay, he was asking to go for a walk. I knew he needed the space so I said, "Okay, go." He came back a few hours later with a sore leg, a turtle and a new attitude.

He listened when I told him I was wrong, I didn't have the whole story earlier and I was sorry.
It was so much better than last time when he refused to even listen to me, wouldn't look at me and was just plain rude. He's very much like his mother who needs time to cool off when I feel I have been "wronged". I haven't found any red in his hair, but he sure is MY son.

I do hope that every time he needs a "time out walk" we don't gain another "pet"- oh my, we may end up in big trouble:)

I had a great visit today with my cuz, we can't get together as much as we like as we live too far apart and can't manage with our kids and lives, so I was thrilled when she came in and the kids got to catch up and play while we talked and talked. Caught up on old times, commented how nosey Chloe is just like we were as kids, sitting and just being annoying as she listened in on our conversation and had to put in her 2 cents. It's funny how that is. Another generation of our families and my cuz and I who can not see each other for ages but still pick up right where we left off last time. Love ya, cuz, you are one great friend to me:) I'm so happy I have you in my life.

And yeah, 5 days till SCHOOL:) The only issue I am worried about?? Uhh, do you notice where that baby is in all the pictures?? In some one's ARMS. Guess where he likes to BE?? Yeah, they've spoiled him rotten now they will all take off and leave me with the spoiled one.

Hummmm......I think they are paying me back for singing "You're going back to school, you're going back to school, yippee, yippee, yippee YEAH.. You're going back to SCHOOL!" every day for weeks now:(

Monday, August 23, 2010

Room Swap

We started yesterday with moving. That is, Mal moved to college:) 1 more grown, 6 to go--Ha Ha!

It took about 4 hours for us to get another "kid" when we opened our home to host a local college student from Japan. We have Masa for the next 5 days. Then he moves to the dorms as well.

Mal's moving didn't start this weekend, no way, we are talking about 18 years in the same room! It was unbelievable what all was in that room. It took her about 2 weeks to get it all sorted through and store what she wasn't taking with her and pack up to take what she wanted.

As soon as she left the fun (not) began. Kat moved in, it took quite a few hours and some snotty comments on Chloe's part to get everything in and a place for it all. I asked Chloe if she was going to tell me EVERY LITTLE THING Kat does and she clearly did not get my "annoyed tone" because she said "Yeah"--like it was a good thing. Grrrrrr.

It seems the new "hangout" is going to be Kat and Chloe's room. At least it has been so far. Chance really wanted to be moved to Donovan's room but with the fact that he has grudgingly moved a number of times to accommodate numerous additions to the household, we felt it best to give him his own space for now.
So he is the only one with his own "digs." I think it might just have gone to his head since he has already asked if he could have a microwave? "No." A mini fridge? "No." So, how about a coffee maker? "A BIG NO." A soda machine? "No way, no how!" The no food rule extends to bedrooms as well.

One thing I have been so thankful for is the room Donovan has now, it has grey sponge painted walls, white trim. Take down all of Miss Kitty's things, the cat curtains, and wha- la! Easy as pie to hang plain blue valances, and outfit the room for a boy.
That room has been switched out often, even split half and half when Kat first came home and wanted to be with Camden.

Another easy fix we use-- we had a dresser fall apart, and since I hate throwing anything away without seeing if any of it is salvageable. So hubby took the sides which were in good shape, we laid them across two plastic 3 drawer sets and wha-la! Instant desk. For the girls, I threw an extra curtain panel (bought those for $5 each) and the drawers are covered up but still easily accessed. Since we do have a ton of kiddos, I have had to learn to be not only thrifty, but space saving as well.

Masa's student partners for this week stopped by, Frank is Chinese, and Hector from Costa Rica. Nice young men. Chloe said "we have many Asians, more than YOU." I said "yeahhhh, we sure do." I guess she thought we would feel odd about that but I am outnumbered by the kids all the time, so it wasn't a big deal to me or dad.
Frank said he would have to stop over to see us, we feel like "home" to him. We talked about holidays, snow, and their trips here. They are all eager to see snow and a real American Christmas.

I was pleased to hear Hector say that Christmas in his country is very much "religious" based. Not commercialized like here. Kat was very taken with Frank, that girl, she is going to give me a ton of white hair. Frank was saying how "Asian people are very desirable here, huh?" We all laughed as they really were showing their "college nature" with that comment.

We enjoyed sharing our supper tonight with the 3 of them, they were pleased I made rice but Frank told me I add too much water, that it's just a fingertip over the amount of rice in the steamer. Imagine that, here I was following the directions on the bag all along, and getting it wrong. I'm glad he told me:)

I posted pictures of the girls' room, Kat is still calling it "Mal's room"-- guess it will take time for her to get that right? She is really liking her new room though, she enjoys having the desk she can sit down and draw at, she made cards for all of us, then even Santa, she's a bit early for him but she's got it covered.

Hey, just so you all know-------7 days till SCHOOL!!!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The "Secret"

I had a dream a few nights ago. I have to share it as I laughed so stinkin' hard when I woke up. I was in a house of some kind, looking around, it was to be my house, but people's things were still in it. More importantly, I went around counting TOILETS. There were 2 bathrooms, then 2 toilets just sitting in the hall area, functional toilets. I was sooo thrilled with TOILETS. Guess you can tell what is missing in my life! How sad is that?

I can't recall the last time we had a day here with no laughter. I guess that's just par for the course with these kiddos. Chloe was watching Wife Swap- I dream of swapping with some rich dude with 2 kids, just for 2 weeks, mind you, not for good! Calling it "vacation?" Wouldn't that be sweet?


Anyway, there was a mixed couple on the show. Wife was a lighter skinned African American, hubby white, kids were dark brown. Chloe said "why they not like me (lighter) brown, they cheaty." Everything is "you cheaty". Meaning you tricked her, you fibbed, you teased her, something isn't fair--it covers that all.

The boys, they kept saying "Mother, Kat noisy" when she wasn't doing anything loud. I finally caught on, "noisy" really means "annoying." She is annoying them, kissing them. Ohh.

Chloe's BFF's mom and I planned a surprise for yesterday, a fun day out with the kids before school starts, since it's down to 10 days till they go! WHOOO HOOOO. Anyway, we kept it a secret from Chloe. Nosy Chloe could not STAND it. She begged us, she pleaded, "please tell me cigarette". I am thinking "Cigarette?? What is she talking about?" Oh, that would be Seek-er-ret- or better know to the rest of us English speaking people--SECRET. Nope, we didn't give.


She said "It no my birthday, it no Jesus birthday, no you birthday, YOU CHEATY ME!" I still didn't cave:) And she found out yesterday. Pizza party then bowling, followed by a camp fire supper with the Youth. Fun for all. First time the boys went bowling but an easy and fun game to catch on to. I got pictures of the elusive Donovan, he loves to bowl and while waiting for their turn arm wrestled Chase to show him "who was the boss" of the children- ha ha.

The Min sibs weren't thrilled with the pizza, the whole CHEESE thing, ya know, but the rest of us love it and sometimes you just gotta let us have our cheese. Plus the night before we had delicious, home made Chinese food, since we helped our friendship college student move back to the dorm for the new school year and he made us 4 different dishes. YUM.


Chance really got into the bowling, Chase bowled but said he would rather go skating. Ok. Guess we'll try that next time, but for now, just PLAY. Miss Kitty had a blast, even with the balls too big for her as well as the shoes. She is very funny trying to get the ball down the alley.

The owner was so kind to us, he didn't even yell when that goofball Chance bowled, sent his sunglasses he had perched on his head down the alley with his ball, then slid down the alley on his belly to get the glasses. As well as the kids using the intercom to say "Hi" numerous times. OIY. Can't take 'em anywhere:)

The camp fire supper was a ton of fun, till we hit my limit of 6 kids with me, 4 injuries. First Camden ripped a toe nail, no biggie. Then Chloe and Chance somehow slammed into each other, hitting, of course, her front teeth! (You know, those ones we had huge dental work done on to save them??) Yeah, she loosened them, the 3 front ones with her brother's cheek as a landing, leaving him cut and bruised as well.

So when dark came and they were playing a game and we heard a BIGGG crash, I said "which one of mine was it this time?" Out of 30 kids, it was Chase. He fell in an old dried up covered well scraping his arm and leg. At that point I was done. Going home to assess injuries and put children to bed as long as we didn't need to go to the hospital.

Which we didn't--but....Chloe is informing me I need to go to the hospital, I have a problem, that I am writing about what we did yesterday on here, already:) See how funny she is? I asked her what it would be called-- blogitis? Blog addicted? Blog goofy? She told me to "knock it off, I cheaty her!" Of course I do:) But isn't it great that she can READ some of what I am writing? Enough to know it's about her accident last night. At 17 months home, I have to say, I'm impressed:)

Uh, Shelley, you can move in, but the only room we have is with Donovan. He's really "special." Just last Sunday when I "forced him to get up and go to church" he told the pastor when asked "how are you today?" "I don't like my mother, I want a new one." So I told him to pick one, at least we were in church and I would send him home with the poor woman he chose. Somehow he ended up back in MY VAN heading for home when the time to go came? Can you feel the LOVE??

Thursday, August 19, 2010

And one more

Sorry to make you wait for the answer to this...my fave question of all..... How do I do IT all?
And my answer is......I don't. And I don't mean someone else does it either, no maid, no butler, no laundry elf. Although I did think I had one of those, a laundry elf, that is. Clothes suddenly started appearing clean, dry and folded in a big pile on my bed to be sorted! After a few days of this, I realized Chase was making a few too many trips to the basement and the "elf" was caught.

Since I tend to do crazy things like separate white and darks, treat stains, use fabric softener, clean the dryer vent and not dry swimsuits in the dryer, I had to discourage (almost twist his arm) to get him to STOP. I made sure he knew he didn't have to do the laundry, but he wanted to, as he said he was "bored."
Then Chloe yelled at him for drying her swimsuit, and he informed me I needed to give him something else to "do" just it had to be "in the house." I started to wonder who these kids really belonged to, although not so much after that comment, then when I showed him how to dust and he said "no, you do it." I knew then he was MINE, ALL MINE.

So I am the laundry queen again. He told me he was doing the laundry because "Mother no fast enough." Meaning the plum colored shirt he LOVES was getting washed every evening so it could be worn again the next day for DAYS. He doesn't know I deliberately do not wash things too fast so they can't be re worn too often. I like to see them in different outfits(imagine that), since they DO have them. See his nice gray shirt he wore today- no purple in sight:)

The kids help with dishes, but I cheat and use foam plates as well-- yeah, my big shame of not being GREEN. I cook supper every night and we eat at the table with the kids, it's just a super way to connect with everyone. I guess many families don't do that anymore?
Once in a while hubby will grill or even just cook something I have planned to help out. He also is the "run to practice" parent. He will usually spend at least 4 nights a week taking one kid or many on bike rides, working on bikes or something in the garage with him, doing something kid oriented. So he is a big help and good Baba.

I am kinda picky, I like beds made when you get out of them, towels hung up, clothes put away, and I don't mean ME doing it all. I also do not allow one bite of food ( for the kids) to go past my dining room (dining room and kitchen) doorway. I hung a sign at that doorway when I started this and we only needed it for a week or so and even visiting kids hear "you can't take that in there." It's a HUGE no-no. This keeps SOOO much of the mess down, especially with kids who eat dry noodles that fall all over the floor! And shoes go off at the door.

I expect that the older ones help the smaller ones, not so much to do everything for them, but to make them a bowl of cereal, pour a drink, to keep them from making a mess. And really Kat will be 7 soon and she is the only one who even needs help. Everyone is potty trained, no one gets up at night, usually. I have rules against yelling or running in the house. People visit and are surprised how quiet the house is. They expect chaos. I'm not fond of chaos and know children do not thrive in chaos, so even these 2 small rules help tremendously.

Why? Well... if someone is loud, they are either laughing, which is fine and good or yelling- aka, fighting and need to be watched that it's not getting out of hand. I can keep stock of what is going on really easily. And running in the house with clumsy children who never had to respect anything equals broken stuff, hurt children.

NOT that it doesn't happen, broken things, yelling kids, but at least I feel some measure of control over the household with rules that are simple but honored. I'm baffled by parents, including ones I have babysat, fostered, that have no rules, don't want to "upset" their children. Or have the kids "not like you." HUH? I don't get this. Are they supposed to like us? Someone forgot to tell me that, because I was told to PARENT them, not be their friend.

Even though I am admitting I am "kinda" picky, I do not, will not, ever, put cleaning ahead of the kids. My house is pretty clean most of the time, but you can and will find dust if you look for it. You will also see happy kids. I don't know of anyone who has "cleanest house keeper ever" on their tombstone and it's NOT what I want to be remembered for. Had happy kids, blessed by kids, enjoyed being a mother, a wife, made a difference for someone else in this world- that's what I want to be known for. Not my dusting ability.

As far as my time goes-- I expect the kids to take down time. That is, we do NOT need to have something to do every day. I don't like having to run somewhere every day. I frankly think we, as a society fill our lives with too much noise, busyness, that we never have a minute to take time to hear GOD. He speaks to us, but in times of SILENCE. We have to listen for Him. So I want my kids to know "bored is not BAD" it's okay to be still, have quiet time and be silent. Too many of our kids today are lost somewhere in their "stuff" that they can't seem to function without. And sadly, they are. Lost to God and His word. His amazing blessings for their lives, all because they are so BUSY and too loud to hear Him. To take time for Him.

It's my quiet time, if I am reading or watching TV that I sit down and usually at least one kid is sitting on the arm of my chair, or at the very least on the floor with their feet up on ME. They come to me if they need something, even if they are just needing a snuggle, to sit next to me. I can usually tell if something is bothering them, knowing each one as well as I do. If someone is either too quiet or whiny (depends on what kid it is) it's usually my sign they need some momma time.

I am sure that some days, I come up short. I used to fret terribly, about what I did not accomplish each day for this child or that one. Now, I put God first as well as being an older mother and I get it. I am not doing anything but beating up myself by focusing on what I was not doing for my kids. Wasting time. Do I have time to waste? NO way! So I stopped stressing, and it wasn't so hard to be sure the important things get covered. And my children thrive when I am not stressed and can give them the best I have. Even though there are many of them.

I deeply believe that God gave us these last 4 that put us up from a "large" family with 6 kids to a "mega" family with 10 kids. He knows us inside and out so He knew our abilities and chose us to parent these wonderful children. We honor that by CHERISHING them as the precious children they are.
BTW, yes, the One Child Policy is in effect for people of Han descent only. I spoke of this in terms of our kids since all children being adopted from Ch*na are supposed to be of Han descent, since it is the largest group of people. Minority groups are not held to the same rule due to their group dying out if they have a one child per couple limitation. I would guess our kids are all Han, the twins are 5 ft 1 inch, Chase is 5 ft 8 in. Tall for Chase but not overly tall as Han either.
That Chloe has been cracking me up, I gotta tell you a few stories about her, but I'll save those for next time:) Leaving you hangin' AGAIN!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And a few more

I got a few more questions, don't worry about how you all contact me, I never mind e-mails. At least I know someone is reading what I take time to write:)

First one was "How is Chase handling handing over responsibility of the twins to us?"

Well... I have to tell you. This boy/young man was just waiting to be given a reprieve from them. The twins are quite the handful. I really wonder how he did it! Chloe for one, is as bossy as the day is long. She yells at them, she is a snotty sister. They love one another but they sure do squabble.

Chance is a boy out for FUN. He already knows in English, "knock it off, stop, don't do that, quit it, no, NO and NO." And the biggie- "SORRY." I swear he wakes up chanting "sorry." I guess he is preparing for his day? He is one ornery boy. He's lucky he is so stinkin' cute I can't possibly stay mad at him and I love him to pieces.
Chase's progress of English is much slower than Chance's. He is less willing to USE the words he knows, but they are there. I have been saying "use ENGLISH" about 20 times a day and he is slowly doing it. He said his first whole sentence to me last week, "Can I have more?" (Food related, of course) The lack of language/unknown culture/ customs, puts him at a (good for us) disadvantage that he cannot provide for the twins, and has HAD to hand it over to us.

He will occasionally scold Chance to tell him to behave, because Chase very much wants mother to not be upset with them, but he also clearly knows I am their mother, dad is their dad and we want to parent them, we will not send them back EVER and he is cool with dumping their behavior to us to take on:) Can't you just see these two spunky ones? Chloe was telling Chance what the rules in of school are- he was saying "what?" Over and over.

Chase as well has enjoyed just being a kid. At Bible School and other activities we have him do are geared for much younger kids and at times he is clearly bored, but when he is having fun with the Youth group, he is really having FUN. Someone at church said you can just SEE his happiness to be home with us, that he just radiates joy. And he does. I told the agency when they asked how things were going "He was SOOO worth bringing home, he is like the icing on top of the cake."

He is funny, he makes all kinds of silly noises when he is happy, it's hilarious.

Chase has a more quiet nature, he is very caring and I know he is going to be someone special, he's already on the road there:) Although he has his stubborn side as well, when he gets mad, he wants to stand his ground. Just like his momma. I understand him quite well, even with the language issue. And he is NOT the oldest or biggest boy in the house, Donovan is. So that makes it even more that he is NOT "big brother" anymore.

As far as the jealousy issues we had with the boys, the meanness to Camden.....

This has eased tremendously. I really and truly wake up and say "Lord give me strength" with these kids. I leaned on HIM-- knowing He meant for these 3 to become a part of our family, not shut us out of theirs!

So we were blessed with Chloe babysitting and the boys left here often this summer which allowed Chance to make his own discoveries of Camden and find things to bond with him over. Nintendo, going to big brother Derrik's (to play video games), riding bikes, going to the pool were only things they could do WITH Camden. Camden can take my cell phone and use it, he knows what they are allowed to do and what they aren't.

Having to rely on him has allowed them to do a few things- learn a ton more English which helps them communicate with us better, getting to do fun things, and has built a better relationship between them. Chase less so, only since he is quite a bit more mature than Chance and Camden, so he does less with them, but he understands I will not tolerate meanness, and I take computer time, going anywhere, TV, etc, when they don't listen and get mean with Camden.

It's a fine line to provide Camden or Kat with protection from them being mean, and them not thinking the others are favored, but I know they will take time to learn and believe they are all equal to us. Camden or Kat being treated badly will NOT be healed if allowed to keep happening and will not help the blending of siblings.
I can say I am soooo happy the blending is going better. It was rough. I am human, I cried to God more than once "you wanted us to do this-- HELP?" Camden is by no means an angel but he was and is still thrilled to have 2 new big brothers. He wants them to love him just like he loves them, their acceptance of him is helping:) Kat is the baby girl of the family and she just loves everyone.

As far as the question of the one child rule.....

When a couple is married and has a child, they give birth, register the child's birth. If they have a girl, and decide, we want a son, they do not register the birth. They may raise her for a few years, or have a family member hid her in the countryside. They may abandon her immediately. Even with a son, they may wait to register the child if they think anything might be wrong with the child. If they had a son, like Chase, and they registered him that would be their "one child." If mother became pregnant, say by accident, then what?

Did father kick mother out? Did he wait till she gave birth and the babies (Chloe and Chance) were born and then couldn't provide for them, or did it take a year or two for him to do that? Or was he abusive and she fled to protect her babies? Was the "authorities" getting closer to checking into their region for illegal births? Was she showing signs of whatever illness she had and father didn't want/couldn't care for her? I don't know.

I would guess Chloe and Chance were a "surprise", which makes sense that they are twins, I can't see a woman in their culture having a healthy son and then risking jail, fines, losing everything they have (which can and DOES happen for breaking the 1 child law) by getting pregnant 2 more times??

Mother's crippling issue was a progressive one and I believe she tried to care for her babies as best she could till she was left with no choice but to rely on them to take care of her:( I can't know for sure but I feel in my heart she has passed on, and that she knows I love her babies like my own. That I would give my life for them, just as she may have.

It's truly nothing like our society, where if we see someone fall down we try to help. We rush to the aid of people in need, no matter their country, their color, their age. We freely worship our God who made us, the One who tells us to love one another, to love the orphans, His children and welcome them as our own into our families. I know as long as we follow Him we can't go wrong, He does not make mistakes.

We are so blessed to freely proclaim our love of our Heavenly Father and His ways, to allow us to follow His lead and bringing us more children to love and cherish, to see children as more than "a son to care for me in old age." Or a daughter "who will be a waste of food." Many reasons that create the orphans in their society that God calls us to love and care for. Is He calling YOU to care???

Monday, August 16, 2010

Answers

Can't believe I only got 4 questions and a Ch*nese advertisement for a-hummm, unmentionables. But that's okay, here goes.. I checked out the grafted site, wow, love it! Any place I can freely give God His rightful place as the One who made our adoptions happen, I'm sooo there!

Now about the bonding issue...... I always remember that even though we have paper ages of teens here, these children really are like babies at first. The language barrier is HUGE at first and they are very vulnerable for a long time. This means it's my job as their momma to protect them.

I know they are not as cute and cuddly as a newborn, BUT they are as needy and vulnerable at first. I make sure to connect with them physically, just to assure them I am right by them. Literally. I pat a shoulder, muss up some hair, I try not to overwhelm with hugs at first since they aren't used to getting hugs and kisses in their culture. They also aren't told "I love you" in their culture.
I need to "connect" with them, to show them OUR form of love, as I am a very affectionate person with my kids. I wasn't shown that as a child, I was uncomfortable with hugs and "I love you's" I didn't have that. (MOM- it's true, NO CALLS)
So I ruffle their hair, it's rare that I walk by them at any time and don't pat them, just touch their arm, something. They get it really quickly and understand, that's ME. It gives them a connection with ME. I don't hesitate to plop right down next to them, no matter if it's the couch, floor, whatever and say "whatcha' doing?" Even if they don't understand me. SHOW interest in them. I play card games with them and tease them (lovingly) when they beat me at games:)
Another HUGE thing to bring them close to you, FOOD. I can't stress this enough. I take them to the store with me. They LIGHT up. It's like Disneyland to kids with rice soup as a main meal, every meal and sometimes NO meal. I pick things I KNOW they will like, the noodles, the beef jerky. I teach them what things are.

I keep a stock of Ramen noodles and I have gotten very creative in making them dishes similar to Ch*nese dishes. Just yesterday I used a canned beef, 4 packs of beef noodles, and a bag of frozen broccoli, cooked it all up and they ate it ALL. Just the 4 Min kids! I buy them whatever they recall from Ch*na and allow them to cook up stuff even when it doesn't turn out:)

I also buy them things like warm blankets, fleece pillows with prints, clothes, earrings, things they see and want, if they need them or not-again, providing for them. Not spending tons, we are on a tight budget, but when I go food shopping, I try to bring back something, even if it's a beef stick, or a shirt on clearance. Dollar store trinkets. It's knowing you care enough to think of them and what they would like to have, not just HAVE to HAVE.

I do not ever hit a child, not them, not another child in front of them. Our teens had been hit at the orphanage and I never want to take them back there in their minds- I am not an auntie, to be tolerated till my shift is over. I do scold and they KNOW when I am displeased. They do not want mother to be unhappy, because we have a good bond. Built from their desire to please-allow them to "please" with good behavior,affection shown to us. I did make it clear, they do not have to please to EAT. That was a "belief" they had that was not healthy.

I allow and encourage, contact back to the children they love, who they miss. Their friends left behind. They know I advocated for their friend to be adopted for a long time. They know I raised money for an AC/Heat unit for the older children's dorm- it shows them I CARE. They are puzzled WHY I care about others, but it's also showing them OUR culture and the Love of God I want them to eventually "get".

When they do have struggles and they cry, and they do, I sit with them, stroke their back. And I tell them I am sorry, I cry with them. I do not let them suffer alone, unless they show they really want to be alone. Then I will allow them private time, but they know I care.

As I am being totally honest, I will tell you all that Dad has had a harder time bonding to the older ones. It's harder for him since the children aren't trusting of men (from their past)- he is also quiet and they aren't sure of what to make of him. They aren't able to "read" him like they do me. I show them almost exaggerated emotions so they can learn to read people's faces, in Ch*na you show no emotion, it's their culture. So the huge play of emotions we show can be very overwhelming to the older kiddos trying to understand this new culture.

Dad also has less time with them and sees the whole "teaming up" issue as a bridge we are trying to build with all of our kids. Some days they still can not understand, or don't want to, that all 6 of them belong to us, not just the 3 teens, or the bio kids. It's an ongoing blending. It's not fun when they try to isolate themselves and hurt the other kids.

Dad is very patient and this has allowed them time to build a connection but it is slow going. I encourage them to ask him for things, showing he can and does provide for them as well as me. They also deeply respect that he works for us to have the home and life we do have. They know he, as well, will never hit them and he is a very good father. He is eager to have conversations with the boys, that is one thing that is tough to wait on their English to improve to that level.

Another bonding tool- a Life book, nothing fancy but a book that they can go back and look at their orphanage pictures has been huge for our kids. I begin at their birth (the kids think this is silly but I want to recognize their births and birth parents) and move right into their orphanage, their province, their zodiac sign, etc. Then how we found them and our trip to them. It is a visual blending of their life into our family. Honoring them. Our kids are so proud of their books I have worked on for them. They refer to them OFTEN.

As far as the kids' family and finding them...... It was many, many years ago that they were taken from their mother in the street. She was disabled. This is in a country that sees disabled people as a burden. They are NOT cared about. If they had had any extended family to go to, I believe they would have been there, not on the street begging for food to survive.
The kids did mention once an "older sister" (yeah, freaked me out for about 10 minutes) that I figured out what they meant, that she was on the street with her mother as well and she was older than them, acted like a sister to them. Not really their sister.

They say she was "adopted" within Ch*na and they wanted to try to find her. With no recollection of her name, I had to tell them it would be impossible. The kids recall no father at all. Ever. I believe they knew that when they were taken from mother and they had been begging to get her food to survive that she wouldn't have survived long without them.

So they do not ask about "finding" mother. They ask at times about her not being able to walk and will they be that way? It appears that no, they will not, it seemed to be something mother only had, not genetic. This is an educated guess of their doctor from tests and what he could learn from them of her abilities and inabilities, over the time they were with her.

How do I handle it? It's a part of their life. I try not to be shocked, but I have been floored at times. I have cried and told them I am so sorry that happened to them. They were all very, very young and don't have good memories of their life with her. I encourage them to respect her that she gave them life. I was curious if she gave them their names Lu Fei, Lu Kai and Lu Yun, but they don't recall.

I let them tell me anything they want, sometimes it just comes out. Chloe told me at about 7 months home she lived on the streets with her brothers, it took her another 4 months to mention their mother was with them! It doesn't really occur to them that I care to know these things. I am open to talking with them anytime about anything, Chloe comes to me often and says "can we talk."

She usually means, "can she talk" but I listen. The topic of their birth mother comes up maybe once a month, and it seems to me that they have come to a place of peace about what happened, and they have no issues with letting her be their past and accepting me as their mother now.

Although at one point all of them have said "how you my mother, you no Ch*nese. I Ch*nese, you American." To which I always tell them "God gave you to me to be my son/daughter and love. And I love you. You are now Ch*nese Americans so I CAN be your momma." Then if they get snotty I go further and say "who feeds you, who buys you school clothes, who takes care of you, who give you kisses, who fixes your boo-boos, ME- ME AND ME. I AM YOUR MOMMA, then I start singing "you are stuck with me, ha ha I'm you're momma, ha ha, momma, momma mia, stuck with me." Getting louder and louder till they are forced to give in.

(Mom do not call me and tell me to "grow up"- it's NOT going to happen)

Seriously, it just lets them know I am their mother, that's it. Not listening to any discussions about how I am not. I also have thick skin when it comes to them and realize they are teens, who love to say things snotty just to get a reaction. We are still working with Chloe to understand when she is being rude, it's a hard concept for them.

Hey, even the cute little ones, you know that adorable Miss Kitty? She was mad she wasn't getting her own way the other day and said "I don't like you, I want to go back to live with Po Po (her foster mom she calls "grandma"). Yeah! She said that!

Besides the fact that she is 6 but thinking she is 16, I told her "sorry, out of luck, you are stuck with me." Very calm and matter of fact. Didn't give her what she wanted, a reaction. She hasn't tried that tactic again:)
Here she is at the family reunion, POUTING. Refusing to join in. Imagine that? Did I mention I have a sense of humor that borders on insanity? Oh, might want to have that if you adopting 4. Just so you know:)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

3 months home

Today is the Anniversary of 3 months that we brought the boys home. WOW. We will never forget the day we met the boys or the day we arrived on US soil when both our new sons became American citizens. Home safe. For good. With their sister, forever. As siblings, with the same family name again. A mom and dad that just wanted to love them and parent them all.

In honor of the boys' 3 month home anniversary, I am going to open myself up for questions. Anything. Ask away. Our goal with our blog has always been to be as open and honest as possible so we can help others adopting older kids with what to expect, what is fairly normal, so that others can see how worthy,bumpy, fun, crazy, annoying, loving, incredible older child adoption can be.

But I know that sometimes questions arise that I don't think to cover so I am asking you all to throw out there anything you wish to know, wondered about, that would help any parents considering adopting an older child.

I don't sugar coat, I don't feel that's right. Parents need an honest look at the journey to an older child, for them to be able to handle things and ask for help if they need it. I am not a saint. I do not have nerves of steel. I believe in preparedness. I have seen people go into older child adoption unprepared. I am happy to say the majority of people I know do not do this. It's a decision made with tons of preparation, learning and willingness to accept.

It helps no one to not be prepared and have the adoption not work out. You end up with a grieving family with a hole in their heart, and a child who feels they have been rejected AGAIN. Pain, all around. If it's for your family it can be a wonderful thing, but if not, then it's perfectly fine to admit that too. Any choice you make when adopting as long as you love your child, that should be all that matters.

Not age, country, sex, SN, cuteness. An orphan needs the love of a family- they ALL deserve that.

So go on, ask anything you've been wanting to know? Go for it. Don't be shy:)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fair

And I don't mean the "other F word" in the house. I mean the FAIR. It was cooler last night, even rained a bit, which helps my breathing, so off we went. To the fair. First time for the boys to see animals up close and personal.

And to ride some rides and play a few games. So what did they think? They seemed to really like the horses, the bunnies as well. The cows, well, not so much. It was the smell, ya know? Although Chase was fascinated by a farmer shaving the cow's tail? I never saw that either so didn't have an answer for that one.


All the kids won a stuffed animal when a vendor goofed and said 1 game for $3 or 5 for $5 and we let them all play, of course. She later said "I goofed, it's 1 game for $3 or 3 games for $5 but it was my mistake so I let them all play." We thanked her, since it saved us $$ since we didn't want to spend a fortune for them each to win something little.

The smells were wonderful, so they had to eat, even after a big meal at home:( The teens each had a hot sausage sandwich, a love they share with their Baba. They also had to have cotton candy, a love they share with their mama:) They said they had cotton candy in Ch*na as well, so that was fun for them to see it here.

The boys wanted to buy some cheap necklaces, Chance has broken his already today, but they picked out friend ones, Chloe and Chance that is, and Chase got a dog tag with his name on. He wanted Chase LuFei on it but the man refused to engrave 2 names so he went with Chase.
I was happy Chloe pointed out to him a child she overheard someone call "Chase" showing him it really is a good American name. Not just his nutso parents that gave him a name that sounds like a not nice word in Ch*nese:) No wonder he was not sure with a goofy looking Baba wearing an Elmo balloon on his head. I wonder about him too:)

The teens seem to have no sense of "girl vs. boy" jewelry, I guess they wouldn't, never having had any to wear. Chance really wanted a necklace with a girl and boy kissing on it, I had to turn that down and tell him "boyfriend- girlfriend necklace" and he is not allowed a girlfriend yet. They wanted rings as well, and were looking at girl ones. I told them "no" and when we left the stand I explained they were cheap and would turn their fingers green. They were surprised to learn that but glad I didn't let them get any.

We stayed all evening and left with full bellies, happy kiddos, and no complaints. Tired and ready for bedtime:)

Today is a cooler day as well and I am scrap booking, catching up Camden and Kat's books, adding to Chase and Chance's. Taking it easy. Tomorrow is Baba's family reunion, that will be fun for all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kill me with kindness

There's no lack of love for this momma. I think they might just do me in with kindness. I am barely allowed to pee by myself today. Goodness. I feel the love. It's suffocating me, but they are so sweet. (Today anyway)

Chloe and Chance were off to a fun day at an amusement park, they left early and got back late. They went with the church youth group and Chase was supposed to go as well, but when he refused to listen about going to his room yesterday I told him he was not going:( He actually took not going with grace and spent some quality time with Camden today as well as his big bro Derrik.
Chloe and Chance obviously had a blast, if the pictures are anything to go by:) They both came home exhausted but smiling, and hadn't even spent all their money!

I took it easy today, I was wiped out, but thankful for the medicine that helps my breathing and for the time to heal. And very thankful for my children who are so helpful. Also, whoever it was that told me Vapor Rub on my feet for the coughing at night- WOW, I thank you sooooo much, it WORKS.

In school news, we did find a friend/buddy for Chance for school, he will be in separate classes as Chloe but the same grade. They will have lunch and other things together, so they will still see each other. At this time we are still working on a friend/buddy for Chase but we are putting him in 8th grade. A bit lower than his "age" but we want him to succeed and feel this will suit his needs best. BTW, just 19 days till they go:)

Chase came down today dressed in a pair of shorts bought for school. I told him "school clothes." He told me, "no, have 5 pairs". I guess he is saving 5 pants and shirts and will wear the same things each week? Okay then-- as long as he is clean, I'm not arguing with him over this. Not worth the battle.
I'm starting to realize Chase is an awful lot like his redheaded momma, stubborn, insistent. Hummmm. Seems awful strange that I have kids with not a drop of my blood but so like me it's not funny. No wonder you can forget they are adopted, then people look at you like you've lost your mind since they only see Chinese kids. I see my CHILDREN.

Matches made in Heaven, that's what I think:) Even when they drive me bonkers I love 'em like crazy. It's all I can do with 'em some days, at least that's what I keep telling myself:)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pet peeves


I don't get it. I understand with our teens that they come from a totally different culture. A culture that doesn't see animals as pets, they have a function. For food, for protection, not just to cuddle and love. So when all 3 kids came home, one of the first things we had to teach them was respect for the pets.

The dog. Do not drag him around like a rag. He is not to be locked in rooms. Pet, don't HIT. Never trap for eating.


The cat. Do not kick. Do not tease. Do not lock in rooms. Do not carry by the tail. RESPECT the pets.

They were not so pleased that these "animals" resided with us, as treasured pets. Fed indoors. Not teased or expected to earn their keep in any way and fed anyway. WOW.

I THOUGHT when the boys found the bunny and showed huge compassion for the poor little thing, they nursed it back to health, Chase was taking a medicine dropper with warm milk 4 times a day and feeding this little bunny by hand. Yet, yesterday when I got home late from an appointment, I am greeted with a crying child (Camden) due to Chase, who somehow let the bunny go and was not bothered by it at all. I'm so frustrated not knowing where he is coming from.
Today Kat was watching TV and he waltzed in the room and changed the channel. When I told him "no." He went off in Chinese. Mother is not dumb, he was being rude and saying mean things, and I told him to stop. He did NOT. He said something MORE. So I told him to go to his room. And HE DID NOT. He sat there. I told him 4 times and he ignored me. So I turned OFF the TV, he sat there awhile then did go to his room. I went up later in the day and he was watching TV, I went in, turned it OFF. He's such a TEEN!

When he was still in his room pouting after supper I told Baba I thought he should try to talk to Chase and apparently he didn't want to hear it, he took off out the DOOR! So we took off after him, all of us. Sadly I got overheated and since I am sick anyway (thanks for sharing your germs bro) I started having an asthma attack. With no inhaler on me. Yikes. Never a good place for me to be. Camden and Chance took off for the house as fast as they could for my inhaler, Baba had caught up with Chase by then and had him come back to where I was sitting, struggling to breathe.

When the boys got to me and my breathing calmed a bit, dad went for the van and got us all home. Once home the children, all but Miss Kitty, who must not have realized the seriousness of my breathing, sobbed. And I mean SOBBED. I had to take a breathing treatment then go around and tell them all I was okay, hold each of them and tell them to stop crying. I did feel terrible that they were so scared by my breathing.


Chase tried to tell me he was a "bad boy" but I told him "no, bad behavior." And that we still loved him. But I did tell him never take off like that again. It wasn't how I expected to resolve his sass but I think it scared him bad enough he won't:(

Add to the fact that the neighbor found that bunny at lunchtime, only for Camden to find it in the box expired at bedtime. OIY. Chalk this day up as a crappy one for sure.
Although daughter is sure to make any day better since she is such a goof. Here she is imitating the dog. Now who wouldn't laugh at that?


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chance cries

Poor little Chance. He was mad at Chloe today and he cried to me. First he sent me a little note, it was so cute, we were leaving church and it said "Chance no happy."

When I asked him what was wrong he said something about "Chloe" and he started crying. Turned out he was writing on the table in Sunday school and got yelled at by Chloe and in trouble from the teacher, of course. He knows better.

Then later when he was asking me about school, was I going to put him in 6 grade or 7. He badly wants to be in 7th with Chloe, but my concern is his lack of commitment to his work, he would rather be playing. This is not going to be acceptable in 7th grade. He started to cry. He was really upset. I told him I was starting him in 7th but if he didn't keep up with his work, he would go to 6th.

Why does it matter that he is crying? Well.... this is a child who, up until now, has only cried once that I know of in 3 months home. He has come to a place where he understands "WE CARE." If he is unhappy, or upset, or someone does something to him, WE are going to protect him, go to bat for him, want to fix it for him. It's HUGE that he is making this connection with us. We aren't just people taking care of him as our job, we are his parents. We went back for him to make him our SON, beloved, wanted, and we want him to be happy. Not just existing, not just because he was Chloe's twin.

It's a big part of the whole picture of the boys becoming part of our family. Not just the two boys that came with Chloe that we felt we "had" to go back for. I know for them anytime we have issues and we have to give them "a scolding" they are concerned that we aren't happy with them.

Another thing I have noticed. Chance is not worrying if mother is happy every minute of the day. He is not "knocking me over" to get something before I get it, trying to help. He will still help me anytime, but he doesn't have that "desperate to please" look about him anymore.

Chase on the other hand, has seemed to blend right in, he seems so much more comfortable with his place here. Not sure why that is. Maybe he is just holding his feelings in more? He has cried, when upset, but he has a totally different personality than the twins. The twins are "in your face, all about them, want this, want that NOW, gotta tell you something immediately," typical teen kiddos.

Chase has maintained that "more serious" personality with a neat touch of humor thrown in. He will say or do something funny when I least expect it. He gets the biggest kick out of Donovan, and laughs often at how he acts, things he says.

One of those things today? Donovan looked at Chloe ( it took him a full day to even notice his sister's new hair do) and he said "you look like Dora the Expl*xer. She came right back at him and said "you act like Bob the Build*r. Oh dear. Now we are slinging cartoon characters as insults to each other. Just act like brothers and sisters why don't ya?

Oh, yeah, they are:)