Wednesday, July 31, 2013

More?

Nope, not more questions or answers.  Too many long posts make a bloggy boring. Don't want to go there (MOM).

 So bring back the FUN----- Every so often I send one or more of the kids off with the camera and tell them to get some pictures, and  it's always interesting to see what they come back with:)

So here they are, compliments of Chloe and Kat..............









Asking for prayers for Paisley, she really isn't feeling well, her arthritis is flaring and she's hurting. We are running into the end of choices for medications, as well as being at the highest doses of medication she can take. Although she hasn't lost her sense of humor (see picture #2 above) I know her well and it's hard to know she's in pain every day:(

Monday, July 29, 2013

More Questions

I just love you gals all giving me more things to answer--

Let's see-- As far as Chase and cooking he said he prefers to cook "Mean meals" which he was trying to say "Main meals." (Chase's accent is still very heavy and at times he is hard to understand)  No pastry chef for him. Although I do occasionally get hungry for something sweet and will give him pie filling and say "Make me something yummy" and he does:)

He will help make meals but I usually like to cook suppers, although he will cook anything I ask him to, say if I don't feel like it?  He will stir/ keep an eye on anything I am cooking which is a super help:)

He learned his cooking skills in VoTech, this year will be his 3rd and final year in culinary arts. It's a half day of his school day and he has learned a bunch, they serve banquets as well as cook for fun.

He even chose to do his senior project using his skills, he is cooking a fundraising dinner at our church (details coming soon) to raise funds for cancer.

Chloe isn't sure what she wants to do as in a career yet, all she knows is she is adopting a child from China and she is greatly offended that she must wait until she is 30. She wanted to know if they would make an exception for her? I am betting by the time she is ready to adopt if the low age range doesn't work for her she will MAKE CHANGES HAPPEN:)  She's just that determined.

She did inform me that I have to "be around" for her to do ALL her paperwork and guide her through the steps of adoption. Since it's about 13 years away I told her I totally plan on being here, but that God has the final say on that one. I would HOPE His plan is to allow me to be around to love on my grandbaby/babies, and adopted ones are just fine with me.  Actually we hope and pray it's the route we get many, many of our grandchildren:)

Chloe does want to do something with her Chinese/ English skills, as well as her Spanish she is learning and she would love to do something that allows her to travel to China often. Maybe adoption agency? As mission minded as she is, even if her chosen career doesn't line up with those goals I wouldn't be amiss to believe she will go back to China one way or another, and it will be with orphan minded reasons. Although she doesn't want to live in China.

But maybe she'll join me-- yes, my dream is to go to China long term and work in healing homes with orphans. Like, when I retire (No calls MOM it's years away)

As far as our older kids, I really don't talk about them much because, well, they aren't adopted right? 

Let's take it from oldest to youngest--

Derrik.   He actually IS adopted. By Dad. He is my bio son and he was 15 when he asked  Dad to adopt him and so he did.  Derrik lives in an apartment  that was located next door to us, up until we moved 1 1/2 years ago. Although he is about 8 miles from us now, so still not far.

We see him about once a week or more, he comes out for a meal once in a while. He has always been a quiet, shy person but he loves kids. He is good with all of his younger siblings and they look up to him-- literally and figuratively-- he's 6 ft 4:)

Although that size only means he is a BIG TEDDY BEAR of a brother, lots of jumpin' on him, having him hold up little girls clinging on to one of his arms like their own personal jungle gym. Yep, that would be their biggest bro.

He usually handles the kids a few at a time better, since he is used to his quiet solitude of his own apartment- I think I sent over 2 at a time mostly when they wanted to go play videos games at his place and we were next door neighbors. Although I'm pretty sure I sent 4 over once and rocked his world- ha ha.

Derrik was always someone I could count on with our precious Tristan, when others were scared of him for his big head, his "conditions," Derrik saw a BABY that needed love, and he worked his calming magic he has with kids on that baby brother more than once:)

On to Jay. Jay is much further away, although still within our state lines. He will be re-joining our crew in about a week or so, yes, he is coming home after some issues in his life that have not gone well. He's told us how he plans to use coming home to make some much needed life changes. 

The kids all like Jay and are eager for him to come, we think it will be a time of healing for him and we never stop being their parents or being here for any/all of our kids when/if they need us.

 Jay hasn't been home since before we got Paisley, so he has her and Phoebe to meet.  (Where does time go?)  He has a very special bond with Kat, you see when he struggled greatly with some personal issues over the years he always knew he could come home and see Kat, the love bug.

  I think she believes Jay was "hers" to love on, or else she just sensed he needed unconditional love at times. She has always been carried around on his back like a baby monkey and called him "Her Jay."


Brandon-- he also doesn't live close, but in state. We see him about once a month-- wish it were more. He is very, very quiet. Always has been. The kids often pepper him with questions, the first one being "Are you Jay? Or Brandon?" Yep, poor guy, they can't always tell them apart. Might be the buzz cuts they both favor, or they are both skinny with dark eyes? (Or maybe a reason both he and Jay should come by more often?)  He's always amused by the kids and their many questions/comments as well.

This is what he said to me when I got back from China and he met Phoebe (after she left the room) "So they told you she was Chinese, huh? And you believed them?" Another funny guy in the making here, she was speaking Chinese.

  He also said, "Well I can imagine how she stood out in a crowd of black hair" as he was marveling over her beautiful white head of hair. When meeting Paisley he said "How old is she?" (About Paisley) as well, "And you know that for sure? And she won't get any bigger? Bummer, how's she gonna drive?"  Loving concern:)

Malaree- we see her the most, she is on her last year at our local college, studying to be a social worker, of course:) If I had to say any of the older kids were favored it would be her. (By the other kids MOM, not the parents-- we don't play favorites, no way)

She drives, works, goes to college, most of these things our older ones are looking forward to. She's close in age to the teens, and she finds them totally funny. As they really are. Even just bombarding her with questions, because that's our kids, full of questions-- Mal-ree-  (they miss the Mal -ah- ree) are you staying here? Did you drive here? Did you go fast? How you take test and pass to drive? Will you let me drive your car?

They LOVE to grill her and she handles it all so well. She's really a gifted person, with tons of patience and love for her younger siblings. And they think she is soooo cool, which of course, she is:)

Donovan-- he is about 25 miles away from us. We see him about every 2 weeks or so, depending on his work hours, if he is working nights. Donovan is our son with Aspergers (very mild on autism spectrum) so it overwhelms him to be surrounded and questioned. Not that is stops his siblings. Because he drives as well, and has a job, tried out college, so the kids have to ask him all kinds of things.  He complains that we "breathe up all the air" when too many try to talk to him at once:) Which, I must say amuses the teens to no end.

They think Donovan is as funny as can be.  He's loud, he doesn't want them hanging all over him,  so they do, and he often "pushes" mother in ways the others will not dare to try (talking about bodily functions, etc.) all while exclaiming it's all nature's fault and he shouldn't be held accountable for having brought it up.  (See what I mean about FUNNY?)

He also says "OH MOTHER" when I complain I don't see him enough and the teens just think he is ALL THAT.  The younger girls are a mystery to him, without one doubt we told him all about Phoebe ( he was there when the social worker came and did home study interviews as well) but the first time he visited once she was home he said "What, you got another one? You gonna have a ball team of your own?"  Yeah, funny guy, he is.

And even though I have told him of Paisley's medical issues he never once fails to not say "How old is she? How come she doesn't get any bigger? She's the same size every time I come here." Yep, she is. So observant, that's Donovan.

Now I won't tell you there isn't "some" jealousy, you see the older kids were the first ones we raised, and I think certain one/s feel, well-- bummed, that they didn't get the more experienced, more patient, better equipped parents that we are now:(  We can't change that though. And truth be told, I am sure the younger adopted ones feel a twinge of jealousy that the bios have always had us. It's just how it is.

I think too, that Malaree and Donovan are closer to the kids because they lived with them-- the other older kids were grown by the time we started adopting with Kat,  them being busy with life/ us basically starting a "second round" of parenting children made it different for the older ones.  The 2 (Donovan and Malaree)  that actually got to live with some of our adopted kids got to know them better which gave them a different, closer bond. Not that any of them don't love their siblings. The current kids still at home love their older sibs and really do look up to them.

And the older kids love their little sibs and find them interesting, fun, helpful, busy and I've never heard that they denied us as their family-- we are known as "the family with all the Chinese kids."  Not a ton of diversity (obviously) in our area. But no denying us:) 

I do have to share a FUNNY story about 2 of the older kids, Brandon and Jay, they once applied to the same place for a job, when I asked them what all they had to put down on the application (It was one of the first time filling out applications for them both) and  because it was a job working often with groups of kids one question was "How many siblings do you have?"  One put 12, the other 14.

Neither one had that many siblings at that time, nor did either get the job. 12/14 siblings, not even close, guys. FUNNY BOYS. Real funny.

So there you have it. All about cooking, futures and our wonderful older crew.

We love them all, each one is so very special to us in their own way. It's one of the greatest things about parenting this many kiddos- all the different personalities, seeing them grow, seeing the different life paths they choose,  the bond they have with each other, adding the new siblings and having great older siblings giving the new kiddos more people to love/who love them.

I think adoption has been a special blessing to all of our children, when some of the older children have had hard times, have struggled, I know they have drawn strength from the younger kids, knowing where they have come from.

Our adopted kiddos have seen/lived through life experiences that *should* cripple a grown person-- yet most always the added on siblings here are happy, they are learning, they are eager to enjoy each and every day.  They find joy and happiness even in the smallest of things.

They really do inspire even their own family members with their personalities, their joy, as well as amuse all of us. I mean, how can you not smile when they are thrilled just because we are having a food for supper, something we've eaten a thousand times but they are THRILLED and willing to SHARE THAT with anyone and everyone around:)

Never a dull moment. Nope, not here.

Even the blue eyed monster (NOT dad or Phoebe MOM-- the  blue eyed DOG) keeps me hoppin'--- of course late the night before Chloe and Chance's birthday celebration that rotten bugger (the dog) went and got sprayed by a skunk. Yes, he did.

As it was "late" and dad was tired, he parked the dogs in the kennel outside on the porch and I got to bathe them when I got off work in the morning as well as air out the house before our guests arrived. He (Dad) thought I was no less than amazing for getting the smell off the dogs and out of the house in that short time.

As for me, I  finally got in bed and dreamed of choking a blue eyed dog and that a skunk was running around in my house.  I even dreamed we had to call "T*rtle man" to come get the skunk out. OIY. Even my dreams are nuts.

 What can I say? The party went on:)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Answers

Time for answers---
  CHRIS--As far as re-doing chores and attitude. I don't usually get that because attitude brings ANOTHER chore assignment and then ANOTHER until an attitude adjustment is made. And the chores get less "easy" as I go. So as smart as my kids are they certainly don't "go there" often. Once in awhile (Chance being the worst about this because he likes to do things FAST, but not so GOOD).

 I try not to let any poorly done chore "go" because it means anger from the other kids who see that as me playing favorites.  They end up resenting the one who gets away with this. Not good all around. But I totally understand too, because sometimes you just get tired of saying "do it again" and you wipe the sink and move on, yes you do. And so do I.

The thing is, not one person goes to their grave saying they wished they had spent more time cleaning. So I am all for FAST, but want it done RIGHT, so if they can do both I allow it. If they can't I ask them to redo because it has to be done. And I explain to them that they wasted time they could have been out playing, doing fun things, but instead, they are cleaning something for a second time.

DAWN-Now for technology. Well. I think we would be called "Strict" in this sense. I don't worry about what other people think though, cause we gotta do what works for our family. And what that looks like from "out there" isn't as important as kids getting what they need "in here",  in the family.

 
So as far as cell phones, Camden and Chloe have them. Chase has one that uses units, we put them on the phone. Chance doesn't have one. Nor does Paisley. Chance and Paisley (as well as Chase) have the least amount of "phone etiquette." (And yes, we have tried to teach it MOM).  When anyone that doesn't have a cell phone goes somewhere they can take along someone else's cell phone to use if they will need to call home, etc.

Because certain children here, regardless of  their ages, decided learning was hard and they "didn't want to do it." So we find it impossible to hand over electronics they can't/won't use appropriately.  Thus we must go by maturity/abilities learned instead of age.  An example is-- Chance, Chase, and Paisley. All 3 were given I pods from the school for translation purposes and other uses.

We realized very quickly they were accessing sites on the Internet they were not allowed to access even after we sent the I pods back to school and told the tech guy to block them from doing this--- they turned around and did it AGAIN. (nothing illegal MOM, just not things we approved of) 

 As well, they were hiding/ non responsive using these devices (ear plugs) --- and we wanted to SEE, SPEAK, ENJOY our children.  The common picture of people doing everything bent over their electronics is NOT what we want our family to be. This does not teach FAMILY, love, English, relationships.  

Matter of fact, it doesn't foster anything healthy that we could see. So the I pods went back to school never to be brought out again, not even in school because they were doing the same thing there. Hiding away and not bothering to communicate or interact with anyone. Sooo not good.

It's VERY, VERY easy to let a teen be swallowed up in electronics and think they are "happy" because you don't hear anything from them. It's a lot harder to actually PARENT and teach a child/ren and that's our goal. Our kids NEED parents.

All of our teens came with few self regulating abilities, huge doses of  immaturity-- I couldn't imagine handing them typical teen electronics just because of their number age. They don't know how to say "Well, I need to go do this, so I better get off my I pod."  Not at first, no way.

 
Again, I'm not trying to win any popularity contests and my kids aren't thrilled at times that they don't have what their friends in school may have. I just know from my vast experience with adopting older kids that electronics are NOT something to hand them right off the bat. We think, oh they are a teen, they will want them. And they might.

But wanting and knowing what's good for them is 2 different things.

 Take for example Paisley--- when she arrived at first family- she came with the know-how of computer use. So they unknowingly allowed her to have computer access, phone, Skype, you name it, feeling that she needed it to help her adjust. This is a common thought with those adopting older since our kids have lost everything comfortable (known) to them.

BUT this is NOT good.  Paisley immediately had herself right back in China, via computer, phone, Skype. She was VERY unhappy with the work she was facing to learn English, make friends, start school, learn how to be in a family. And as things got worse, she retreated MORE in to her contacts with China. Trying to BE back in China.

If course, it didn't work, at all. Didn't help her one bit.   It damaged their relationship with her for good, crashed their computer and honestly by the time we got her she was like a newly adopted child (in adjustment sense) with better English.

We started at square one with her. And her progress has been great, mostly in part to not allowing her to hide in electronics.

Nope-- it just doesn't help any of our kiddos. And we don't wish to hinder their learning, no way, we care too much about them to do that. 

We do allow all the kids to have some type of music player, not hooked in to the internet. They listen to Chinese music/Christian music.  This gives them "down time" that they really do need especially at first when they NEED to be able to take a break from hearing English all day long (mostly needed for this reason when newly adopted, now they just like music:)

For TV, we have a TV in every bedroom and in living room and family room. Only the 2 main ones have DVR's so the kids want to use them the most. TV time is NOT limited now, it has been in the past and I have been known to ground children who seem to think life is watching TV,  so mine know if I see them watching endless TV (like during the summer months) there's gonna be an issue.

 The kids know what they are allowed to watch, even some shows on Disn*y channel are not allowed because we see some snotty behaviors from Kat when she watches certain shows. And, again, in this big family, you aren't gonna get away with watching anything that you aren't allowed to watch because someone will rat you out.

Honestly, we pay attention to what they are watching, doing, getting in to, etc. It's a lot of work but then we didn't expect it to not be with 7 children at home. It's what we are used to doing.

Our kids really like movies- karate ones, (of course Jackie Ch*n movies) anything with dogs, cats,  animals---we watch Animal Plan*t stuff, and Chase likes to watch cooking shows. None of the kids can watch anything besides "G" rated movie without permission.

As swearing is usually PG, we allow the kids to watch (after checking with us)  with them all understanding that if one swear word comes out of their mouths EVER that will be over for them. (probably for the rest of their lives-- just kidding MOM)

We aren't stupid and know they are going to hear swear words at school, on the bus, etc. We are teaching right and wrong because they will be exposed to it no matter if we like it or not.

  The kids do many other things besides watch tv. Kat makes crafts every day. Paisley likes to make jewelry, Phoebe likes to do both. Chloe even makes folded paper treasures, as well as cleans her room, helps get lunch for the girls. Chloe likes older (like the Annie movie) movies, ones about kids and tv shows-- Brady B*nch, Walt*n's. All clean, wholesome shows.

Chance and Camden like to play on the Play station, it's set up in Camden's room, and the girls like to play on the Wii, which is in the family room. Really all of them take turns, they can record any shows they want to see "later" so if the TV is being used they can go do something else till that person is done watching their show.

They rarely ever fight because that means they ALL get grounded  and have NO TV to watch. (How's that for FAIR, MOM?)

MARIA--As for 3rd grade vs. Kindergarten-- our school placed our kids where we asked them to. All but Paisley, they asked that we start her in 7th so we did. (We were thinking 8th grade)

Here's my opinion--- Do NOT place your 9 year old child in Kindergarten. Go with 2nd grade even if he/she is struggling with the alphabet at 4 months home. And DO NOT stress that she is struggling with that. I know, you are saying "But, BUT, she's gotta learn this and FAST, she's already behind!!"  RIGHT? 

I totally get that. BUT here's what's really super important at 4 months home with a 9 year old-------- FAMILY.  Love, care, security, provisions, acceptance, adjusting, LOVE.  Learning alphabet-- NOT SO MUCH. Yep, I said it. And I have kids much, much older than 9. But seriously-- your child needs time to adjust to this HUGE change in her life. Having parents. Maybe siblings, pets, a bedroom, clothes, food every day.

At 9 there's soooo much more leeway than 15. Trust me, I know. So stop trying to teach the letters, work on the social things- the verbal language, and the written stuff will come later. She needs to be able to communicate verbally first, for her own wellbeing. Give her security of your family and home and don't put stress on her about learning, not yet.

Then when school comes around, I would push for 2nd grade because she will catch up and she's gonna know she doesn't "fit" socially, maybe physically, maturity wise with kindergarten children.

Matter of fact, our school sent Phoebe to kindergarten at first, for the morning session, thinking it would help her to learn. She refused to go after day 2. I wasn't told they were going to do that- even though we had a meeting about her placement, schooling, needs, etc. 

So when I heard she "refused to go to Mrs. X's class" (Kat told me) I asked "Who is Mrs. X?" And Kat told me the kindergarten teacher. I knew the problem right off the bat. And I told the ESL teacher "NO, you will not do that to her."  This is NOT the way to teach her.

I know it seems like a great solution. But it offended her. She knew she wasn't "A baby learning" and she did not want to be in with kids 4 years younger than her. Since our school only gives her so many hours with the ESL teacher one on one, they arranged to have her work on worksheets left by the ESL teacher, as well as do "Starfall" on the computer when the other kids were doing more advanced computer time. All staying with her own 3rd grade class.

This is how it "should" be done for a younger child. ESL is supposed to meet the child where they are at, not place your child lower than they should be. Because your child will have huge issues when they are say, in 8th grade and be able to go for a driver's license. Kids PICK on differences. Your child will feel out of place. And you do not want that for her. It's HUGE to fit in once you hit those  teenage years.

It's one of the issues our kids have faced with being older. Kids ask them "Did you flunk?" (Other) Kids are MEAN when it comes to "differences". And all our kids want is to "fit in" like any other kid.

With our older kids, we didn't have the luxury of placing them by age in their grades. We had to tell our school district to "show us the law" when we wanted to place our first older child lower than her age dictated. (There is no law, they had to concede to our wishes) So all of our older ones are much older than their classmates and we deal with those issues because we had to give them as much time to learn as possible. It takes 7-10 YEARS to fully learn English as a teen coming here, we didn't HAVE that much time with them if placed by age.

And for them education is very important. It's going to dictate where they can go in life, how they support themselves, a family, etc. For Chase and Chance, likely Paisley too, we will be looking at technical programs that teach job skills. Chase wants to go on to culinary school after graduating, Chance wants to learn welding in Vo Tech (high school) and Paisley wants to be a nail tech. (Can also learn in Vo Tech, high school)

Chloe may go to college because she came earlier than the others and English learning came easier to her, although she works her butt off to maintain honor roll grades with no sliding scale from ESL, where the other 3 teens are still on sliding scale grading and will be for some time to come.

But for Phoebe, she is the only one we placed at grade level-  I chose 3rd grade for a number of reasons. Big one was- Kat was in the same grade and could/wanted to help her. Another big one- her size, she's taller than Kat. She is our only child who has been bigger and couldn't really pass as much, much younger. A few other reasons were her desire to go to school, her very open and social personality, probably last was her actual age. We are blessed that both girls are very bright and I knew  early on it wouldn't hurt Kat to help Phoebe, nor would it be hard for Phoebe to learn.

Kiki- I will be checking this out, sounds interesting, just have to find me some time to do it!! Thanks for the heads up, it's just downright crazy what you can save using coupons, bonus buys, etc. I totally get so excited to see how much I can save, although I'm not anywhere near what some people save.  But then I do refuse to buy 100 bottles of mustard just because I can get them for 25 cents each. Nope, just what we can use but even that is ALOT of stuff. Razors, body wash, shampoo, dish soap, besides actual FOOD really adds up for 9 people.

Hope nobody thought you were getting "short answers" nope, not from me- ha ha.
I DID jazz up this post with pictures, of the kids and us, going crayfishing, cooking those buggers up and having supper.(No, I don't eat them)

 A beautiful day, a gorgeous lake, hungry kids who love to catch crayfish, and a few that went just to goof off. We ALL got in and got wet, it was harder for Paisley but dad helped her in over the big rocks and she sat on one of the big rocks, held the bucket and helped. Phoebe had help to get in too, then she played and was quite happy to be wet.

Paisley was amazed by my rock skipping abilities (7 skips from 1 stone) and Camden enjoyed swimming, as did Chase. Chloe and Chance are quite serious about the "catching supper", they didn't even take a break to swim?

So there you have it. Lots more about our crew. Feeling amazingly blessed to have them and to share them with you all:)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Birthday Time again

Yep, 2 more birthdays. Told ya I was swamped with 'em.

Who this time? Well, guess? 2 at once??? 

Chloe and Chance the big 17. Gosh it just can't be. So I think I'll say they are 16 again, okay?

Chloe says she "doesn't care" since we don't know for sure their real ages, she likes to say "I think I am 20" as well as "I'm a WOMAN." Both of which I tell her I think she is 12 and she's a GIRL to me. She usually says, "Okay, because that means I can live with you longer." (I'll take it, for sure-- one thing we see with older kids is the sadness that we don't have much time with them, the years FLY by)

I would love to say I know exactly how old they really are and there are some bone tests we could do, some guessing by teeth, but really, age is just a number 'round here and I think we are as close as anyone could get to right.  Just look at the neat card her friend made her for today-- 

So as for the big 17, um, well, not much changes around here. Still no driving, Chloe is practicing for the written test but is scared to take it so far. Chance is not ready (per us) to drive anything. (MOM-- you were not there when he was driving a MOWER with a cart full of kids and the cart tipped and he just kept on going, totally oblivious to the children on the ground.)  No one injured but it's incidents like that that make up my nightmares of him driving on a road with a vehicle, OIY.

I don't think there's enough hair left to whiten on my head for that boy to drive. (Maybe ever, ha ha)

ANYWAY--- No biggie celebration today, saving that for later in the week when I have a night off. No big, huge gifts, they asked for MONEY.
No surprise there, they like that green stuff.

I did want to touch on one answer from the last post, as well as--- so here goes---

"Background differences of adopted children" Because that can be a huge issue for families/adopted children.

It's funny because we have children who have the same story and yet it's different for each one. So what I try to make sure we do for each child is for them to understand that "their" story is special. It's all about THEM.  

Just as you say "I was pregnant and we couldn't wait for you to be born, etc." I tell our kids all about our "paper pregnancy" waiting for them, how we knew they were ours, how God knew when we were supposed to have them.

In a way, I guess you could say I give this over to God. Because it was His doing, His guidance, His timing when we got each one of our children. And each one has a very special story of that.

 So if one has issue with being older when adopted (like Chloe feels) I do not just push that off as unimportant, but I do tell her I don't know why God gave her to us older but I am so thankful He DID give her to us.

Her whole story, which I am not sure I ever shared here is nothing-short-of-amazing. 

You see back in 2008 when we found our Chloe, we had asked for her file. Saw a picture of a girl with her hair in ponytails and knees pulled up sitting in the grass. Nothing extraordinary to anyone else but for us, she blew us away. We were looking at our daughter. We just KNEW THIS. It really didn't even matter what her file said, this was our girl.

BUT-----just as we asked for her file, we were told she was "taken." On hold for another family. And I asked- for sure, they are serious about her? And was told "Yes." Was asked to review 2 other older girls files, which we agreed to do. As well, we were looking for a home study agency who could do our HS for a low fee, a mere $800. That's what we had saved to do it.

So as we looked at the files of these "other 2 girls" over a weekend, we prayed and I cried, because I knew in my heart these other girls, not a thing wrong that would make them unacceptable to us to choose, they were NOT our daughter. The girl with the pigtails was our girl.

Come Monday morning, we were sad, but resigned, maybe this wasn't the right time? The feelers out to get the home study done were not coming back with any news, so I was feeling really bummed.

Then late Monday morning I got an email, an agency willing to do the home study for that amount. Great,  I thought, but still sad about "the one", our girl being taken. 

Within AN HOUR I got an email------------ the girl, the ONE, "Did we still want her? " Because the other family had backed out. She was OURS.

WHOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOO there was some crazy screaming going on that day in our house:))

Funny enough, wayyyyy back then, when I still needed many a lesson in TRUST-- trusting God that is, because I asked Him for a sign that both Kat and Chloe were meant to be ours.

And with Kat as soon as we were locked in for her, we were told new updated pictures had come in, they were sending them to us NOW.  And there she was, name already chosen as Kat, after my grandma, with an outfit on with a cat face, even whiskers:))) "UH, thanks God, gotcha." was all I could say.

So what was Chloe's?  Well, agency had blacked out the "last name" given to her. We got Pre Approval and I asked, by the way, what is her last name?  Ummm-- MIN. I seriously said "Naaahhunnn."  They said "Uh, yeah, that's her name."

What's the big deal with the name?  Well MIN was Kat's Chinese last name! AND I knew by this time that MIN was not a common name, matter of fact it was only used by Kat's very small orphanage for ALL the children and Chloe's orphanage for only a few years. I've not found ANY other orphanages that use that last name.

It was our "sign." 

Now with the boys, I have to really stress to them that GOD chose them for our family. They saw the pictures we had sent Chloe. They had accepted that we "didn't want them" because we had many sons. We didn't go looking for 2 more sons, but let me tell ya, they are no less special. We had no idea they even existed when they were accepting we wanted their sister and not them:((

And they were saying "Goodbye" to her forever, or so they believed and were all accepting that she had been chosen and she would be better off to go, even though it meant leaving them behind.

It just breaks my heart to think of them believing we didn't want them when we had no idea they existed. I will never get out of my mind the image of Chance with a huge smile-- yelling the loudest out the doorway full of kids"Bye, bye, BYE" in ENGLISH. As we left the orphanage from visiting I didn't know that was him at the time (I wasn't allowed to "meet" the boys in person)and he caught my attention only because he was yelling it in English.

I guess what I am trying to point out is that we can't go back and "fix" the past. Our kids' pasts are part of who they are. I don't think it's any easier to say "Well, Kat you got us sooner, you are better off" because she lost her Chinese language getting us sooner.

And Chance and Chase, who know more about Chinese culture, living, language would most likely not gotten adopted at all- but they came later when it was harder to learn English, to blend in to a family.

You see, it's always going to be what "someone else" had/has. We have to teach our kids it's okay to have their OWN story, different from others, and special to them. They got US when they were meant to.

I've always been a HUGE fan of life books for this reason. Even if you have no clue about scrap booking there's a ton of sites to make a book out of your own pictures, it doesn't have to be a fancy scrap book.  Just showing your child they were born (even older kids because someone was excited/ hopeful of their birth) then moving right in to the first pictures we saw of them, bits of info about them, where they are from, then us meeting them, etc.

And yes, that means for some, we have days old picture (Phoebe) but then nothing for years after that. Kat's got a first baby picture of 5 months old. The teens have NO baby pictures. They just don't. And when they bring it up I tell them I am sorry. (Chloe always says "Why you sorry, you didn't do it")  It means, I am sorry for them. I CARE.

That's as much as we can do. Care. Show them acceptance of when we did get them-- no matter when that was and of their pasts, their lives before us. Because that's how they learn to accept it themselves.

It doesn't mean you say this once, at least not in my household, but actually it's an ongoing thing. Because without a doubt with Chloe and Chance's birthday there will be some grumbling out of Chloe about not knowing her "real" birth date. And I will assure her that GOD knows and that we accept her even if she is 12 or really 20:) 

No one else like her, that Chloe. Or like our Chance:)  2 precious kiddos we are honored to call "ours." 

Happy Birthday Chloe and Chance!

Other answers to last post coming up next, so if you have any others, get them posted and I'll do my best to answer.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Post Ideas

Hey, someone took pity on me (I noticed it wasn't you MOM) and gave me a list things  they want to know. About us:)

More than happy to answer ya- actually jumpin' up and down that I have something to post about.

So here goes-

Chores- every one over age 11 has a "dish night". This starts with Chase on Mondays down to Camden on Friday, I do Sat and dad does Sundays. So there's no fighting over dishes or forgetting what night is their dish night.

Usually everyone gets their clothes (Camden is the only slacker here) to the 2 laundry baskets, one in each bathroom. I wash 3-4 loads  of clothes daily. I wash, Chloe or Chance will throw them in the dryer and fold when done. Baskets of clean clothes go to my room for sorting by me or Chloe, and everyone comes for their own clothes and puts them away. (Kat helps Phoebe with this since they share clothes) If anyone doesn't get their clothes to the baskets, they don't get washed, I do not go looking for them. No one has gone naked yet (even Camden). I do tell them when to strip their beds for me to wash bed stuff.

Cleaning- I run the vacuum, mop the floors. My children are very hard on machinery of any kind, even can openers ( including non electrical) so I don't invite trouble. I will assign bathroom cleaning as I see fit, usually twice a week, rotating who cleans. The kitchen counters, table, stove are done as part of the assigned person's dish night.

I let the younger girls dust- I tell them when and where. Extra stuff like sweeping the porch, wiping out the fridge, feeding the dogs, I usually can tell Chance to do because he asks me multiple times a day "You have anything for me to do." Now, you *could* say this is unfair but he KNOWS this will be a chore I give him to do, not finger painting or picking roses, so I keep in mind little things that can be done for when he asks this. Miss Phoebe asks too, wanting to "help" so I keep little things she can do in mind as well.

Oh, any chore I do ask a child to do and they slack and do it poorly, they get to redo same chore till mom is satisfied with the job they have done and then they get ANOTHER CHORE to do for not doing chore #1 well.  It keeps me from having to make them re do a chore very often.

Everyone is expected and does keep their rooms clean, make beds daily, take laundry to baskets, get laundry and put it away, keep rooms tidy. We have a few (Camden, Kat, Paisley, Chance) who believe out of sight means tidy. So every so often I have to go and point out the mess their closet, dresser, desk, is and tell them to "get on it."

I am kind of spoiled because my kids are seriously great helpers. They ask to help and want to help. I don't get many groans, eye ball rolling, refusals to do chores. We are very thankful and make sure the kids know this as well as them realizing that doing their part is a help to the whole family. Something very important we  stress to our kids- this family works because everyone does their share. 

Clothing-- this many kids. I am a die hard clearance/off season shopper. I will buy shorts and swim stuff in the dead of winter. I am looking NOW for clothes for winter. I recently bought 4 pairs of brand new colored jeans for $1 each for the girls. (Chloe, Kat and Phoebe). Because who is out looking for jeans NOW? So I got a steal for jeans, my kids aren't as big on "names" at least not on their bottoms, as they are fit. And I can pair up some name brand (bought on clearance) tees, with those $1 pants.

I do the same with shoes, for the little girls, bought on clearance off season, a size bigger. We are also blessed that all the girls, even Chloe still fit in the little girl dept sizes, which are cheaper. The boys we buy clearance time tees, jeans at the discount place for $10 each or less, usually their big expense is shoes. 

God blesses us with the ability for me to work extra during the summer when the child I care for is not in school, thus giving us added income which goes to school clothes and the extra for groceries with the kids home. But I do coupon because food just gets eaten, I have yet to convince the kids we should only have to feed them every other day (Just joking MOM) and why NOT use coupons? 

Now for Christmas, last year we did something new. I told dad he was figuring out what the kids were getting. This solved a HUGE problem we had been having for years. I would purchase months ahead of time-- gifts. I would often forget what I had purchased. So I would purchase MORE, then dad would get his Christmas bonus and he would buy MORE. I have trouble EVERY-SINGLE-YEAR with what Christmas has become.

It's maddening. I want it to be about GOD, about His Son's birth, soooo important. Not about how many gifts the kids are getting. So----- when I didn't buy anything early, dad started coming up with gift ideas (he had some great ideas too) and we talked more about what they were getting and even though he STILL went and bought more at the last minute with his bonus, I felt more at peace about how our Christmas went. It was nice, enough, not over-the-top. And all paid for as we went, we set aside each week to buy gifts, a little money from Sept/October on.

Sibling rivalry-- well. We get some of this. BUT our kids have heard enough times "Worry about yourself" and know what it means. It does not mean ignore a sibling needing help. It only means, worry about what you are doing, how you are acting, what you have or need to be doing. Because we have a 12 year old with a cell phone and a 16 year old doesn't have one. For our home, this is how it is. For a typical home, age would define when someone is "ready" for a cell phone, computer time, Ipod, etc. In our home it's behavior/maturity. Some can handle having a phone and not misusing it, some can not.

As far as getting to do things, same applies. You show us you can handle it, then cool. Child acts out, misbehaves, can't see what the issue is, they won't go do things until they know what we expect of them. Our kids are language/experience impaired, not stupid. They pick up real quick on what is acceptable and what is not, going places and sitting with parents is NOT fun when everyone else is off playing/having fun with other kids. This includes church, they have issues behaving in church (Sunday school classes) we make them sit in our class. And to them it's BORING.

One good thing about having so many children, it's a RARE occurrence that someone does something wrong either at home or out anywhere and we do not find out. We do not encourage tattling but we do LISTEN when the kids are talking and often will hear snips of things and can tell something isn't right, something happened that we need to address.

Chinese holidays-- We celebrate Chinese New Year, of course. Gotta do that. We also like to recognize Children's Day, June 1. Because our children are so special. And Autumn Moon Festival is usually a celebration at our local college where we are a "Friendship Family" for a Chinese student (our girl will be a junior this year so we may accept another student to follow through their college years).

Between those holidays, our religious holidays, birthdays, gotcha days, anniversary, I get plum "celebrated out." I mean, just from June 26- July 22 we have 5 kids birthdays. I have been known to be clueless up until 1 day before a birthday as to party time, cake not ordered, etc, even who is invited- YIKES. So don't give me any awards for Mom of the Year for that:(

Plan a menu for the week. Hummm. No. But then neither is any meal usually spur of the moment. Too many people to feed to "pull something together." And rare leftovers so can't say that's an option, we don't hardly ever eat out, I can't stand knowing how much I could have bought in groceries that is spent on just 1 meal feeding us all out. It makes me sick:(

 I usually have an idea of what I'm going to make every evening for supper. We almost always do noodles, sandwiches for lunch. So my cooking is suppers, except Sunday, I make lunch and supper is noodles, sandwiches, even cereal (Don't call me MOM, it's my one evening off cooking).

I try to alternate if we had chicken for one meal, next be pork, spaghetti, etc. And it's not easy to cook for the majority of kids who do not like CHEESE. I make many things in my crock pot, like tonight, I (already had thawed)  cooked a LARGE sized flavored pork loin (or 2 small ones) in the crock pot. Adding a side of flavored rice (3 packages), broccoli (frozen family size bag) fresh pineapple (whole one) and we have supper. Tomorrow night will be salmon cakes (4-5 cans salmon to make enough patties), tator tots (family size whole bag), green beans (at least 2 cans) and peaches (2 small or 1 big can).  I can tell you who won't like what-- I don't like pork loin. Won't eat it. Dad is "sick to death" of rice. Paisley and Phoebe do not like pineapple.  Camden will not eat broccoli. 

I do not worry about who doesn't like what. With 7 kids, 2 adults, there's always someone who doesn't like something I make. I do not take it personally ever. I just tell them "Hopefully you will like tomorrow night's meal." I do not make different food for anyone-- there's almost always SOMETHING they all like and can eat more of that than the stuff they don't like as well.

And I always cook and have everything ready at the stove. We do a line to get our food, then sit down together at the table. Because when the kids first came (teens) they didn't care if they got 3 servings of food and another person got NONE. So now I watch over the "dishing out" and we sit down, everyone having food. THEN when they finish they can go back for seconds.

It works best that way-- when the boys first came home they really couldn't understand "feeling full." It was something they didn't know how to accept, their bellies being full. Especially for Chance who seems to have had food issues longer than any of the others-- to know there is another meal, and another, and to go ahead and STOP eating-- not eating just because there is still food available. 

Taking the food away from the table and having them get up to get another helping really helped them to give their stomachs time to register as "full" and not feel the panic that the food in front of them would disappear and that they "should" eat it just so they would have food to live on. They finally both have learned to walk away from the table full, not stuffed, not worrying about what is still at the stove not being eaten and also not eating as fast as possible to get MORE the fastest.

For our teens (other than Paisley) who all 3 gained 20 lbs each and are NOW at healthy weights, that's huge. Chloe was 76 lbs at adoption, she was like a stick. And Chance has shot up to 5 ft 10  1/2, so there's where his 20+ has gone. As well as Chase who has gotten taller, but is more muscular than Chance.

I don't ever cook small, when I do chicken legs, I will bake 2 packs of 15 legs each, which is about 3 per person. I make 2-3 lbs of spaghetti, with 2 big sized jars of sauce, at least 2 loaves of garlic bread.

The only meal that doesn't go over well is "breakfast" for supper, they do not like fried or scrambled eggs, toast, pancakes, omelets, French toast. Really the only "breakfast type" food they really like is onion flavored bagels that they burn to a crisp which drives me nuts smelling burnt onions so I wouldn't be caught dead making those for supper. They will eat sausage, bacon. (They love meat, all but Camden). 

  The kids are all healthy and active in biking, running, field hockey, basketball, pretty much any game you can think of they want to play. All but Paisley and Phoebe who have restrictions with her vision (Phoebe) and Paisley's arthritis issues and even they will go outside, walk around, play when possible. Nobody overweight, so I figure their diet is okay.

I'm gonna leave "Differences in background stories" next time----so I'll add in a few pictures of the kids from this week and there you go. Some of them were off Bible Quizzing, some at Bible School all week, some helped our Youth Pastor move (sorry to see you go Pastor Dave) and they all were quite busy this week.

Oh and thanks all of you for being so nice and not telling me of my big goof of 7 vs. 6 months. I know you all figure I am busy (I am) and cutting me some slack was really cool of you. (Not talking about your call MOM) And for giving me some questions to answer:)

Made my day- seriously. Well, that and when I got up from working nights/sleeping days and the kids had tea ready for me as soon as I got up every day this week. Are they just the BEST or what?  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

6 months

I have been severely lacking in posting how our last little treasure, Princess Phoebe is doing since we got her home in Jan. So sorry (MOM)

Communication is huge to her, she loves to ask questions and learn, she's like a sponge so she is doing very, very well in that way. Her vocabulary list is huge.

She's also gaining maturity-- a few times she has whined and cried like a baby and I can tell her to stop, without tears ensuing.  She's pushed that issue some, now don't forget she is a kid:)  So usually it's more than once I have to tell her and I remind her that she has been told this before, still without tears and drama.  

I think it's an odd difference  (for us)  since our other kids had to learn to BE dependent on us, that this sweet one has to learn some independence.  But we want her to be able to enjoy and have the pride that she can, indeed, do things for herself and she is learning some, picking out clothes to wear, cleaning up after herself. 

You'd have no idea her vision is as impaired as it is when you see her get around, do things. She was blessed to receive a donated CCTV which is a machine that will enlarge anything she can fit under the hood and it shows on a computer screen enlarged/ black and white, however it helps her best to see it. She really likes being able to use it anytime she needs it, it's on the desk in the girls' rooms for easy access. And she gets to keep it for as long as she needs it.

We are hearing some  more stories about life in China, of how she was picked on:(  She wanted to wear a beautiful white dress I bought the girls, and I told her, yes, she could wear that last Sunday.  

And she told me in China she wasn't allowed to wear white because the children would laugh at her and call her a "snowman." Shame on them, I was thinking more along the lines of an angel, a snow princess, white may not flatter her white coloring but she was gorgeous in that dress.  

She was very serious while talking to me when I did her hair this morning, it's really growing along with everything else.  I caught this picture of her, it's not often she isn't smiling, didn't have her glasses on yet, but her beauty once again was caught in my lens.

She takes my breath away, she has no clue how stunning she really is.  Add in her zest for life, she is just so incredibly happy with everything in her life.  She calls everything "AWESOME" now, it's not just "good" it's AWESOME. It's so hard to fathom that a tad over 6 months ago she held the title "Orphan." It seems like it's been 6 years she's been here, as well as she is adjusted. Seriously. This child was sooo very ready to be a DAUGHTER, to be CHOSEN. 

She makes the most of every single day, every single experience. It's really a lesson for us all, I think of the many, many days waiting to get her home and I would be thinking of  her, yearning for her, felt like life was "on hold" waiting.  And now here she is teaching ME to live life to the fullest, each and every day, no "waiting" for something to happen to feel fulfilled in life. To cherish what God has given us.

Don't miss the little things. Family, food, a cool/warm home, friends, a car to ride in, church to attend freely. Everything we tend to overlook, we take for granted.  


One thing that did puzzle our Phoebe-- Why does big brother NOT have any hair?  We chuckled when he visited and said it's too hot, he's gone to the "shaved off" look for the summer. Phoebe couldn't imagine anyone wanting their head shaved on purpose-- she said she "Didn't like that" when talking about her hair being shaved.

We have to mention Donovan because today is his birthday!  Happy Birthday Donovan!  And yes, I will too post pictures of you even if you do refuse to smile or look happy-- TOLD YA SO!
  A wonderful day for 6 months gotcha for Phoebe and a 19th birthday for Donovan:)  Two of our many treasures.

Now I want to know--- dear bloggy readers, how many of you read that she had been home 7 months and you didn't even catch my error. That's right, where did I learn to count? Now are you really READING this or are you all just too nice to tell me?  I'm wondering?????







Saturday, July 13, 2013

Post ideas

I asked Chloe for post ideas, told her I was plum out of ideas. 

SO much for that. She said to tell you the teens are going to a movie night. Well then. I'm sure you all are THRILLED to hear that and that will keep you going for a week or MORE right?

Camden chimed in "Quit blogging."  I'll have him at the door for all of you to come over and flog him at 5 pm. 

Kat said I could tell you all about the MANY paper things she has made over the last few weeks. Yes, an origami master she is--- she watches videos to see how to fold paper and dad and I are the proud owners of hearts, bunnies, frogs, boats, swans, hats, flowers, stars---you name it I think she can fold paper and make it.

Phoebe said to tell everybody --"Me happy and love mom and dad and brothers and sisters and the dogs and go outside to play."  

Chance wanted to know if we are going for groceries. No surprise there, Mr 5 ft 10 1/2 and still growing, taller than dad or Chase, or me.  Declared healthy and fit this week when I took the boys for physicals.

Chase grunted at me, some unintelligible language called "teen speak" that means a bounty of things, none of which I would get right if I tried.

Paisley just smiles, and says "I don't know."  

We've done a  few appointments this week- physicals for Chase, Chance, Chloe, Camden.  All declared healthy. Some tests for Paisley, our not-so-healthy one. Holding steady with her health for the moment. 

Summer is half over and flying by. What can I say.  It always seems to do this-- come and go before we know it.  There you have it, not much excitement but all is well (MOM).