Sunday, July 31, 2011

“Mommy, you are my mommy.”

With "my R&R."
“Mommy, you r my mommy. Daddy is my daddy. EEE yie (Eli) is my brother.” This is the mantra  repeated over and over the past two weeks. Sidney clearly knows we are her family, “to infinity and beyond,” as I like to say. It wasn’t a possessive and selfish three year old tone she was using. It was a knowing and understanding tone. One that indicated, she was joyful and happy. It sounded like, “WWWWOOOOWWWW!!!! You are my mom!!!!! I am so special!!!! You are mine forever!!!!!” Hearing these words, I was stunned. It’s easy to think the wounds should be closed, leaving her unable to feel anything resembling impermanency in her life. But for all the hurdles, there are even more victories. 
Hungry panda.

OK, enough of the serious stuff. VBS came to an end, hallelujah! I don’t think my feet could have taken another night. I am always happy when we can return the kids to their parents after five evenings unscathed. And, we did. I looked back at my photos of the event, and there were so many smiling faces. This is why it’s worth the hours of planning and work. And in the end, if the message this week touched just one child and had a positive impact, it was worth it. 
Fun duct tape.

That being said, it was so nice to spend the weekend doing nothing but recover my house from the last week and go swimming with Eli and our good friends. What a great way to get outside on a day with a heat advisory. It was another opportunity to spend one on one time with Eli and use the last days of summer. Sidney was napping comfortably in the A/C, so she stayed with daddy for the afternoon.

Tomorrow we register for 4th grade and preschool. I know I sound like every other mom that blogs. But, holy cow, where did the time go between kindergarten and 4th grade? Maybe it was the technology list that threw me over the edge. Eli’s class was lumped in the category of 4th-8th grade with individual class lists of items needed in the computer lab. Hopefully, they move beyond keyboarding this year. Eli was not a fan. That’s ok, because neither was I in high school on the old school machines.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I’ve been a horrible blogger!  Every spare minute is occupied by directing Bible school. We have over 60 kids, and tonight was friend night with about 77 kids. I spend 2 ½ hours each evening running back and forth between people. In the daytime hours, I am cutting, drawing, making lists, or giving directions. Eli is a champ, helping out with simple things we need for the event or occupying Sidney playing.  Thursday is our last night, and thankfully, life will resume it’s normal pace. And I can’t get the lyrics “He’s wild! He’s Wild! God is wild about us” out of my head!

Flip Flop Fleet!
 I expected only Eli to attend VBS with Sidney stay in the nursery. It’s nighttime, and I know it is a hard time of day. She’s tired and 3. After I saw her excitement coming to the church, I decided to send her with the older kids. I figured the worst that would happen is Tom might need to come pick her up. This is the luxury of living in rural America. A trip across town takes 2 minutes. So far so good, and no calls to Tom. She loves it, and runs to get her t-shirt each night. Seeing her expression last night, dancing and singing to the music, I was barely able to suck back the tears. There are those times I think about how much change has taken place in the last two years, and how all we wanted was normal life and for her to experience joy. We have it, and it’s the answer to many prayers. 
Eli dodging the camera.
 On Monday, Eli will start tutoring sessions in his school. He is a great learner and a good student, however he requires a lot of prompting, after returning in the fall. Extra sessions are designed to help him in acclimating a bit more quickly.  I am bemoaning the fact that this means summer is ending and school will start soon. We’ve had the luxury of sleeping late, staying in our pajamas, and generally loafing through the summer.  I feel spoiled. And soon, both kids will need to be out the door by 8am. On the up side, I am going to start taking writing contracts again, and it is exciting to see what direction I might take this with the available time.

OK, off to bed. No, not really. Off to listen to the serenity of my home after 10pm, when everyone is tucked in and I am off the clock!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!!!!

Thankfully, I am able to type minus box cutter injury. My death grip was sufficient to keep me from the emergency room. Eli and I went into the cardboard recycling at Tom’s work last week. I am re purposing them into journal covers. Kids will add paper, stickers, and duct tape. Who knew there was so much fun duct tape available? Maybe I need to get a life, but I was rather excited to see all the possibilities. We are making a gratitude journal for kids to draw pictures or write something a couple of times per week. Eli thought it sounded cool, because as he said in his own words, “we need to have an attitude of gratitude.” My wordsmith. 
Can you see a kitchen table? VBS ground zero.

Tom and I spent a relaxing night away minus kids! Our nephew got married late in the day, so I decided to make it an adult event. Sidney does amazingly well, and as I have blogged before, Eli is almost too independent. Off the kids went to a parade, Cars 2, and McDonald's play land. Grandpa BobBob and Grandma JeanJean attempted to reach Grandmania Master status by doing all 3 in one day! Grandmania is a term my brother and sister-in-law coined, seeing everyone frothing at the mouth over our nephew Finn. 

Today, our themometer said a cool 100 while the bank thermometer said 103. Let's say I won't be upset if I never hear another episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. 
This is the best my flowers have ever looked, so I had to throw a photo in!
We are waiting for the pool until later in the day. We need to zap some energy. Sidney loves the water. In fact, she loves it so much that she scares her mother no end. She’s not afraid of anything, but that doesn’t surprise me! 

OK, on to making nametags. Kids keep registering…and registering. That’s good, right?  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2 Years !!!

Yesterday, we we celebrated two years together as a forever family. I can instantly go back to the excitement. Lying in our Beijing hotel, in the middle of the night before flying to Changsha, the clock wasn’t moving fast enough. I was thinking sleep while you have the chance!  

Hey guys, you brought me all the way here, who are these crazy people?
And on the VERY turbulent plane ride early the next morning, it was like time stood still. Once the plane landed, around noon, everything was in fast forward. In a period of three hours, we were delivered to the hotel, wrapped gifts for the officials and orphanage workers, showered, and sat in the room looking at an empty crib until finally it was time to leave. One stop later, and we secured formula with the advice of three chattering clerks and several onlookers. 

At 3:30pm, we pulled through a small construction site and through gates to the civil affairs building. We walked into a small lobby and into an elevator. One short walk down a dimly lit hall, and there she was! 

In so many ways, being a mom the second time, was so much the same. Only the delivery room was on the other side of the world with circumstances so incredibly different.  

In the first two days, XiaXia (her orphanage nickname) didn't make a peep. Her grieving was intense with lots of sleep. Then, on the second day, mom got a smile and a couple of minutes later a laugh! We were on the right track. And I could see Sidney was thinking, now that I'm sort of past being afraid of this big bearded guy with a mop of blond hair, these two are fun! Each day she came out of her shell a bit more.
It never leaves my mind that someone had to suffer great loss and hardship in order for Sidney to be our daughter and sister. We pray whatever burdens and trials Sidney's birth parents face might be lifted. And if there is any feeling or sense things are alright, we pray they know all they wish was possible, in an impossible situation, has miraculously taken place. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

VBS, VBS, & More VBS

One of MANY crafts I am working on for VBS. I experimented with Sidney's Chinese nickname to see if "spray painting" with a toothbrush had decent results. I just taped 53 names to 53 banners using tape and an xacto knife. And I did it without needing stitches! I think the kids with have fun with this - I did!

Part of Sidney's Chinese nickname.

Silence on the Homefront

Eli made it home safely from Boy Scout camp. Though I enjoyed the quiet, it was like my right arm was missing.  The energy was gone from our house. Ei’s feet hit the ground running. This doesn’t stop until he falls over at night. And it’s not a hyper obnoxious sort of energy. Eli is a kid’s kid, and he has had the luxury of growing up without much of the worry pervading kids his age. If his Legos table isn’t touched, he has food in his stomach, and mom is giving him jobs to earn marbles for his jar (earning a DS), he is HAPPY! 

Life is tough in my mismatched PJ's.
I only received one call that put my heart into my throat. After saying little more than “hello” I quickly turned to “what’s wrong?” No news is good news, if a child is at camp. I assumed the number on caller ID meant a broken bone.  “I’m on speaker phone with Eli. Does he get nosebleeds?” Heart can stop beating out of my chest, and breathing is resuming normalcy! "Yes, he gets nosebleeds from his allergies in the summer."  After a few questions, he was off to whatever adventure awaited. I resisted the urge to squeal through the speaker phone with additional one on one advice.  

Sidney was whinier than normal over the weekend. It was likely a reaction to her brother’s absence. He is very much a security blanket. If brother is doing it, it must be ok. I wouldn’t say she really relaxed the entire weekend until Eli was home.  

Eli is taking a huge interest in Chinese. I have no idea what he copied. Hopefully, nothing offensive!
Over the weekend, we splashed in the local pool. This is the only way to be comfortable outside in the humidor. This is what Tom and I call humid Midwest weather. Sidney has zero fear of the water. That’s great, but it is a bit frightening for mom. I also have zero fear, but as an adult, I have learned a healthy respect. And she would rather go into the big pool than the kiddie pool.  Eli also loves the water, but he needs more time to get used to swimming. Lessons refine technique and teach safety, but I know the real reason I can swim is the hours I spent in the water.

Off to Monday!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th of July

Two years ago, I was packing our bags. Do we need more prunes? Is this enough diapers to get through the first couple of days? Is it really ok to buy formula in China, or are we going to find out it was tainted? Will she be sick and need these antibiotics? What about H1N1? Should we throw this ibuprofen in to make sure our body temperature is ok during temperature checks upon landing. Panic – I CAN’T GET QUARINTINED! How is Eli going to react to two weeks without mom and dad? What if her need is worse than we anticipated? Then back to more internal dialog, lice medication? What if we ALL get lice! And if I could do it all again??? In a minute! 

Who's the kid?

Luckily, this 4th of July was much tamer. I couldn’t watch Sidney in her red, white, and blue outfit, celebrating the holiday of a free nation without being thankful for the possibilities and what she will accomplish as a result of living in a free country. Now, if the person that named her Ningxia in the orphanage or “to flourish” could see her. All sass, kicking in the swimming pool, barreling over the uppermost part of the playground equipment, taking charge of play with kids twice her age. She is 100% spunk, and I couldn’t be more thankful! After all Tom always tells me “dynamite comes in small packages.” 

We spent the weekend preparing for our annual “Impromptu BBQ” with our good friends down the street. Tom and our friend Dustin spent the day smoking and grilling, ribs, chicken, brisket, and all matter of American Asado while my friend Jill and I spent the time inside the air conditioning sipping a soda and solving the world’s problems – not! Then after hours of meat preparation, people began arriving bearing all matter of sides and deserts. After taking Sidney home for a brief nap, she quickly joined the mayhem in the back yard where Eli was the oldest of fifteen kids. A majority were having a water fight. Sidney continued taking the wild passage down the slide after hosing herself down. Her slight frame came down at a rapid speed, only to catapult off the end into the grass. There was no stopping her!  

So maybe I get out from behind the camera sometimes.

In the midst of the fun, our house sat idle for a day. It has been transformed into a VBS sweatshop. After opening a package Sunday morning, I was disgruntled with the banners I received for one of our crafts. I made a pit stop at Wal-Mart and several hours later, I sat huddled over the buzzing sewing machine whipping out one banner after another. At one point, Tom was a part of the operation, pinning the banners, so I could easily go from one to the next. Eli assisted today for payment in marbles, clipping the strings off. In the morning, my mind quickly shifts from sleepy haze to my mental to do list.  

OK, off to continue packing my camper. Eli leaves for Boy Scout camp Thurs night –WHAAAAA! I guess I am happy he makes it so easy. No tears, no drama. I used to get SO worked up before leaving overnight from my parents as a kid. He tells me, he is happy to have a vacation from Tom, Sidney, and I. I guess that is the deal with having a stay-at-home-mom. A kid is ready for a break. And Miss Sidney is back to “playtime” a couple of days this week as summer preschool came to an end last week. This summer is going at lightning speed!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


It's so much more fun when Aunt Jill (my friend Jill) takes us to the pool instead of mom. And look, she even threw on a life jacket to make extra sure I was safe!!!!!!!

Eli and the goggles......enough said.