Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How 'bout a little something to lighten the mood?

OK, you guys. We are going to declare a day off from the depressing Vietnam stuff for the whole day. Got it? Wednesday is a depression-free day. Go to the gym, or get your tub of Ben and Jerry's out, go shopping- whatever lifts your spirits. I'll even kick it off right now.

In an effort to stop dwelling on my own misfortune, to have a more selfless outlook, and to do my part for my fellow man (and fellow moms), I will attempt to momentarily distract us from our collective sadness by enlightening you on the secrets to a long and happy marriage. This is all absolutely free, mind you- no books to buy or Paypal donations to be made. No weekend seminars at Comfort Inn to coerce your spouse into attending. This treasure trove of sound marital insight costs you nothing. How awesome is that? What can I say? I'm a giver. I keep trying to tell you that, guys.

Darrell and I will be married 19 years, this August. Nineteen years is a very, very, long, flippin' time to do anything, especially to be married. After 19 yrs., you have to find new ways to keep the sizzle in the relationship; heart-pumping, exciting things you can enjoy doing together (or alone, when necessary) that will keep the spice and mystery alive in your marriage. It's all about trying something new each night, pushing yourself a little bit beyond what you did the night before. Oh, yeah. I think you all know what I'm referring to...

I'm speaking, of course, about computer games.

I'm sorry. Did you think I meant something else? This is not that kind of blog, honey.

Lately, Darrell and I have this one game in particular that we like to play. Luxor. We. Are. Hooked. It's loaded onto both of our computers. If you don't know the game, it's basically about slinging little colored balls at long, moving strings of other colored balls, shooting them all before they disappear into this little house thingy. If they go into the house thingy, you're done. Each level moves faster, with more strings, and gets more difficult to keep up. Fascinating, isn't it? Aren't you glad you asked? OK, so you didn't ask, and you really don't care. Anyway, it's very addictive. And frustrating. The whole thing gets me very stressed, and it's probably the last thing I need to be doing at night before I try to go to sleep.

After we get the kids to bed, and finally have a few precious moments to spend together indulging our passions, we pull out our laptops and sit down in separate rooms to play the game. That's right, I said separate rooms. The key to togetherness is (are you taking notes?)... Separate rooms. Darrell often sits at his desk in his office, which is right off our bedroom where I usually sit, so we holler commentary back and forth. Romantic, huh?

I thought I'd share one of our typical Luxor conversations with you, so that you can get a sense of the burning passion between us, and possibly even pick up a few valuable insights to help your own relationships...

Me: What level are you on?
Him: Still on 8-4. You?
Me: 8-4. Can't beat it. It's driving me crazy.
Him: Hey, does your computer ever stop for a second to make you take a break?
Me: Take a break? You mean it turns off? I don't think that's called a break. That's called crashing.
Him: No. If I've been playing for awhile, my computer will stop and make me take a break.
Me: That's weird. How does it make you take a break? Does your computer tell you it's making you take a break? Does it say, "You're doing a terrible job. Just give up, you loser"??? That would be funny.
Him: No, I'm pretty sure it's so you don't have one of those fits.
Me: (laughing) Whaaaat?
Him: You know. Sometimes this kind of stuff can make you have some kind of fit.
Me: (laughing harder) You mean, like, yanking your own hair out while shrieking profanities at the screen when you lose... again? Because I think I've had one of those... Are you talking about that kind of fit?
Him: No. It's from the flashing lights and stuff. You know? You know. Don't you?
Me: (laughing and peeing, just a little bit) No, I don't know. Tell me more about these fits you speak of. I need to know what to look for in case you have one.

This would probably not be funny to anyone else but me, but it was just something about his use of the word "fit" and the seriousness in his tone when he said it that really got me. Hilarious.
By the end of the "fit" conversation, I was laughing so hard, Darrell thought I was having some kind of fit. Good times. So... There you have it. That's how we roll. That's how to keep the fires burning after all these years. Hot, I know.

Darrell does know what he's talking about, he was just having trouble explaining himself. I knew what he meant, but I sometimes amuse myself by pretending not to understand him when I can see he's having trouble finding the right words. It's fun. It's another one of the secrets to a happy marriage. At least it sure makes me happy.

Anyway, this is what he meant. This is attached to one of our other games. "Warning: A very small percentage of individuals may experience seizures when exposed to certain light patterns or flashing lights..."

Hey, speaking of Darrell having trouble finding the right words, I dragged him along to go dress shopping with me earlier today and while driving to the store he asked me, "Do you have your flak jacket on?"
?????? I usually have a pretty good idea of what he means no matter how badly he mangles it, but this time I was totally clueless.
I said, "Flak jacket? Are you saying F*L*A*C*K? I don't even know what that is."
Then he goes, "Yes you do. You know. Your spats. Do you have those on?"

...Oh, OK. Now I got it. He means "Spanx."

Flak Jacket...



Yes, I know. The differences are almost too subtle to see. Look again, carefully. It's quite easy to understand how someone could get these confused.

By the way... No luck with the dress shopping. That is now 2 wasted, worthless trips to Springfield, over an hour away. We searched the whole town. Even went back to a few stores twice, just hoping out of desperation that I'd missed something the first time. Found a few pretty ones that were either the wrong size or the wrong price. Most of the others were ugly. Too matronly. Wrong color. Too... BEDAZZLED. What's the deal with all the *&$# sparkles and doo-dads? Who decided that moms want to be covered in sparkles and doo-dads? Hideous. It's like Cher in Vegas, or something. I'm not a sparkly doo-dad kind of girl. Meanwhile, I have a GORGEOUS dress hanging in my closet that has to be RETURNED. So... The Great Dress Disaster of 08 continues. Stay tuned for our next installment, which will probably include a trip up to Kansas City. I don't suppose anyone else has noticed how FLIPPIN' EXPENSIVE GAS IS??? Just wondering.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Telling the kids

Well, I bit the bullet and had the Vietnam talk with the kids yesterday. I stopped short of saying we are not getting our baby (I guess either that last bit of hope is a resilient little bugger, or I am just in deep, deep denial), but I tried to make it as clear as I could, in an age-appropriate way, that things aren't looking good, without going into too much detail of all that is going on in Vietnam. I tried to reassure them that if God has a baby on the way for us, he will come no matter what. God cannot be stopped. We just don't know from where. And we don't know when. I reminded them we can keep praying. My voice cracked the whole time and my throat hurt from trying to keep the sobs in, but I managed it. I didn't look Brianna in the face while I talked, because I knew I wouldn't be able to finish if I saw the disappointment in her face. And disappointed she was. She said she was really hoping for and wanting a baby brother who looked like her. It crushed me. I feel as if I'm letting her down. Like I'm the one who screwed this up. I let her get excited and look forward to this, and now I can't deliver on what I promised. All the kids were disappointed, but she seemed to take it the worst.

Also, I find it interesting that we haven't heard from our agency yet about any of this. Not an email, no phone call, nothing. It doesn't really surprise me since they have rarely initiated any communication, but you would think that if there was ever a time to call your clients, this would be it. I find it rather insulting and feel it shows a total lack of interest or concern for the families, but whatever. Maybe I'm just being impatient and too high maintenance (entirely possible) and not giving them a reasonable amount of time. Maybe they just assume everyone has heard about it, and they have nothing additional to tell us. But still... I know this has nothing to do with what I was talking about. Sorry. Just ticked off and venting.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The latest

Most of you guys in the adoption community have seen these, but my family and friends probably have not. I posted the complete articles for you, which makes this a little long, but I know you people never really click on my links!!! lol!

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction...

First we have this one:

Vietnamese official discredits US criticism of adoption system
A senior government official Saturday rejected a US embassy report criticizing the Vietnamese adoption system. Vu Duc Long, director of the Justice Ministry’s Department of International Adoptions, said the allegations in the US Embassy report were “groundless” and “unreliable.”
US authorities “did not cooperate with their Vietnamese counterparts in its investigation,” Long said.
The report, released Friday, claimed the Vietnamese adoption system was riddled with corruption and fraud.
The report, written after a review of hundreds of adoptions by US citizens since 2006, said there was evidence of baby-selling in Vietnam.
The two countries agreed to resume the practice of inter-country adoptions in 2006.
In the 18-month period ending March 31, Americans – including actress Angelina Jolie – adopted more than 1,200 Vietnamese children.
A bilateral agreement on adoptions, which was signed in 2005, will expire on September 1.
Long said the US would use the report as a reason for not extending the adoption agreement.
The Associated Press (AP) quoted Long as saying bribery of orphanage officials may occur but serious offenses such as baby-selling or kidnapping were not a problem.
US adoption agencies active in Vietnam told AP that most adoptions in the country were ethical.
Already, the US embassy’s concerns “have left scores of Vietnamese adoptions in limbo,” the AP report said.
Source: Tuoi Tre

And also, this one:

Vietnam to halt American adoptions after damning US report
By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press Writer Mon Apr 28, 6:09 PM ET
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam - Vietnam, where growing numbers of Americans have turned to adopt a baby, announced Monday it is halting all U.S. adoptions following allegations of baby-selling, corruption and fraud.
The abrupt cutoff cast a cloud of uncertainty over pending adoptions in the Southeast Asian country, which have surged in the face of tightened restrictions in China, Guatemala and elsewhere.
The announcement came days after The Associated Press published details of a U.S. Embassy report that outlined rampant abuses, including hospitals selling infants whose mothers could not pay their bills, brokers scouring villages for babies and a grandmother who gave away her grandchild without telling the child's mother.
"It is tragic for children that the U.S. government has not been able to find ways to work with the Vietnamese government to prevent adoption abuses while at the same time processing legitimate adoptions," said Tom Atwood, president of the Washington-based National Council for Adoption, a research and advocacy organization.
"Many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children will not have families as a result of this failure of leadership."
U.S. adoptions have boomed in Vietnam, with Americans — including actress Angelina Jolie — adopting more than 1,200 Vietnamese children over the 18 months ending in March. In 2007, adoptions quadrupled from a year earlier.
In its nine-page report, the U.S. Embassy said some American adoption agencies paid orphanage officials as much as $10,000 per referral, while others took them on shopping sprees and junkets to the United States in return for a flow of babies.
It said questions arose after routine investigations turned up widespread inconsistencies in adoption paperwork. There was also a suspicious surge in the number of babies listed as abandoned, making it impossible to confirm the children were genuine orphans or that their parents had knowingly put them up for adoption, as required by U.S. law.
Vu Duc Long, director of Vietnam's International Adoption Agency, called the U.S. allegations "groundless." On Monday, he said Vietnam was scrapping a bilateral agreement with the United States that sought to regulate the adoption system.
"They (the Americans) can say whatever they want, but we are not going to renew it," Long said.
In a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam said it would stop taking adoption applications from American families after July 1, but would continue to process applications of families matched with babies before that. Adoption arrangements with other countries were unaffected.
The U.S. Embassy said it respected Hanoi's decision, but was confident of the accuracy of the report.
"The government of Vietnam has made their own decision, but we believe that our report speaks for itself," said spokeswoman Angela Aggeler.
It was not immediately clear how many U.S. couples were affected by the decision.
Linda Brownlee, executive director of a Washington-based international adoption agency, said it was a bitter blow for 20 families on its waiting list who will not be able to be matched with children in time.
"Now their dossiers will be returned to them," said Brownlee of The Adoption Center, one of more than 40 U.S. agencies that arrange adoptions of Vietnamese children.
She said the embassy report did not cover positive aspects of adoptions in the country.
"They didn't say how many visas they had approved with no problem," she said. "I know many agencies who have done great work there and that doesn't get reported."
Keith Wallace, CEO of Families Thru International Adoption, agreed. "The (abuse) cases reported by the embassy ... are such a very small fraction" of U.S. adoptions in Vietnam, he said. "It is wrong to imply that Vietnamese adoptions are corrupt through and though."
Vietnam suspended all adoptions with foreign countries in 2003 over concerns about corruption. U.S. adoptions resumed in 2005 under a bilateral agreement intended to ensure they were above board. It was due for renewal on Sept. 1.
Vietnam is only the latest country where U.S. adoptions have been halted or severely restricted. Suspected fraud and other irregularities have cast a cloud over the nearly 3,000 pending U.S. adoptions from Guatemala, the second-largest source of U.S. adopted children after China. Under State Department pressure, Guatemala is allowing those to go through, but would-be parents were warned last year not to initiate new adoptions.
By contrast, adoptions from Ethiopia are on the increase, growing 71 percent to 1,255 last year. "Ethiopia has become a country where, because of the transparency of the system, many are adopting," said Wallace.
In the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, American adoptive parents have become a common sight in the city's hotels.
On Monday, J.B. Sikes, of Anselmo, Neb., cradled his newly adopted son Binyam.
"It was my desire that my family represent what the Kingdom of God looks like, and that's all different colors," the 39-year-old corn farmer said.
Adopting in Ethiopia, which cost about $30,000, was less expensive and restrictive than in the United States, said Sikes, who has two other biological children.
"We started out wanting to adopt domestically, but we found we were the last one on everyone's list, because we have other children," he said.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


That's what it is. It's a thick, heavy, suffocating grief. I feel as if I'm mourning the loss of a child I've never even laid eyes on. A child who was never even mine, except only in my imagination... and in my heart.

That's the thing with adoption that I think a lot of people just don't get. You start to love that kid long before a referral. I think it happens as soon as you choose to say "Yes" to adoption. Once you decide to take that leap, something in your heart transforms. Your common sense is still telling you to be cautious- Don't be silly. Nothing's final yet. Don't get too wrapped up in this. Be careful. But your heart doesn't care. You're a goner. You think, you wonder, you stress, you fantasize, you worry, you daydream, you plan. You love. You begin feeling and thinking with the heart of a parent months, and sometimes years, before you sign the final papers. Your heart aches to hold this little one who is completely yours. Except they're not. Whether it's right or wrong to do it, a mental picture of this child is created. He or she is so very real. Hopes are formed for his future. For many of us, this child already has a name, a room, clothes, toys, and even siblings who ask, "How much longer until we bring the baby home?"

Sam never existed. But now he's gone. Just like that. Overnight. And I miss him. The Sam in my mind may not have been real, but the hole his absence leaves in his mother is. It sure hurts as if he's real.

Maybe we'll still adopt. But, unless some miracle happens before Sept. 1st, we won't be adopting Sam. Sam is a beautiful, Vietnamese, baby boy who was going to have a diaper bag covered with dragonflies, and a quilt made by his mama, with jungle animals on it, out of material that was carefully and lovingly chosen just for him.

Was I stupid to concoct this vision of a child when I knew there were no guarantees; no certainty? Of course I was. Was I irresponsible to discuss it with my children so soon and allow them to become excited? Probably. How many of you did exactly the same thing?

I want to make it clear that I absolutely, in no way, would disrespect or devalue the grief of parents who really have lost a child by comparing my feelings to theirs. I'm not doing that. I know many of you have come to adoption through a long, difficult road of infertility, pregnancy loss, or the death of a child. I have never experienced anything even remotely close to that level of pain, and here I sit with my six healthy children complaining about my grief. Please know that I don't mean to be insensitive. And yes, I do know that I am incredibly blessed. Even if we never adopt again, I have been allowed to enjoy and experience motherhood to its fullest and I don't take that for granted. Many of the parents whose hearts have just been broken by the latest developments in Vietnam were waiting for their first child. For some the waiting has come after years of struggling and hoping and Vietnam seemed to be The Answer, finally. I'm so, so sorry.

I guess there is still hope that that miracle I mentioned will still happen. God is certainly big enough. Darrell believes it. He's not giving up until Sept. 1st. He''s faithful and optimistic. Too bad he's married to such a pessimistic old hag. I'm hoping and praying he's right, but for now his faith will have to be big enough for both of us.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Looks like this is it...

The official announcement that I have been expecting and dreading has been released. Read it here:

And here is the Embassy's Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions in Vietnam:

Please take a moment to go to VVAI and read Nicki's post on all this. It's long, but she's done an excellent job of summing it all up- much better than I can do right now. If you are a friend or family member who still doesn't quite understand what the big hold-up is with our adoption (because I've done a poor job of keeping you informed), it's worth your time.

I'm going to go soak in the tub and sob for a while. Talk to you later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

U.S. alleges baby-selling rackets in Vietnam

Embassy report says lax policing lets adoption fraud flourish

Associated Press

HANOI, Vietnam - Vietnam has failed to police its adoption system, allowing corruption, fraud and selling babies to flourish, the U.S. Embassy said in a new report obtained by The Associated Press.
The nine-page document describes brokers scouring villages for babies, hospitals selling infants whose mothers cannot pay their bills, and a grandmother giving away her grandchild — without telling the child's mother.

Full article here:

Alex Update

Alex's test went well. He's back at home and fine. They didn't find anything wrong- said everything looked normal, BUT that's both a "Praise God," and an "Oh, Frap" at the same time. It wasn't like I wanted them to find something wrong with my kid, but the problem he's been having has been going on for 4 years now and various doctors have put him through several really invasive, painful procedures trying to diagnose it. I was hoping that whatever is wrong would finally be found and fixed. Now we wait to see if his symptoms flare up, then call the doctor all over again. It's frustrating. But still, I'm thankful they didn't find something bad. It always makes me nervous when one of the kids has to have anesthesia, so I'm grateful he's OK and the test is over.

Also had to take Michael to the doctor today to look at a ree-hee-heally gross burn on his leg. I'll be kind and spare you the picture. You would vomit in your mouth. He burned his shin on the muffler of a friend's dirt bike the other day. At first we thought it would be okay and heal on its own (and by we, I mean Darrell), then we decided it was much too icky to look at without gagging and needed to be seen by a doctor (and that we would be me). He's going to be OK, too. Just needed burn cream and antibiotics to prevent infection. He had just been to the doctor earlier in the week because he had poison ivy in his eye and needed a shot to clear it up.

Teenage boys... They're so much fun! They never allow my life to become dull. They keep me perpetually broke. They eat like a Biblical plague of locusts descending upon a field. They scare me to death with their constant stunts, illnesses, injuries, etc. They know every single thing about every single subject EVER, so I never have to worry about trying to teach them anything. Plus, their bedrooms reek like a CSI triple homicide crime scene half the time! Bonus! It's all sheer bliss, I tell ya.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Well, my predicament could be worse...

I could be this poor lady- lol. Saw this on right after Monday's post and thought it was too funny, considering my current dress dilemma:

Dear Prudence,
My wedding is 59 days away, and I am concerned about my future mother-in-law's dress. She is a wonderful woman who makes me feel accepted as her son's choice for a wife. But with only two months left before the wedding, she had finally begun her search for a dress. Last Sunday, my mother-in-law held my bridal shower at her house. My mother told me that while she was there, she saw a photo of the dress my mother-in-law picked out. She described it as "young, low-cut, and flowing." I wanted to get to the bottom of this, as my mother-in-law had not even informed me that she had purchased anything. So, after the party, I sent her an e-mail, and she sent me a picture of the dress. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. My 51-year-old mother-in-law has picked out a dress with a wispy skirt, a V-neck, and spaghetti straps. It's fit and styled for someone my age—25! And it's robin's egg blue—which doesn't even go with my champagne-colored dress, the bridesmaids' sage green, the chocolate brown tuxes, and my mother's pale pink dress. I can't swallow the fact that she would attempt such a daring wardrobe choice on a day so important to me and her son. This dress has been ordered and is not set to arrive until two weeks before our wedding! I really need advice on how to tell her that I do not feel it is appropriate to wear.

—Frustrated Bride

Dear Frustrated,
The nerve of this 51-year-old woman to decide she's just going to march off and buy a dress that she finds flattering without asking permission of a 25-year-old. Sure, she has welcomed you into her family and thrown a shower for you. But now she has really shown her true colors—robin's egg blue, to be exact—by pulling this spaghetti-strap stunt. This V-neck desecration has to be stopped! You simply must tell her the hard truth. Something along the lines of, "Hey, you old hag, no one wants to see your saggy flesh. Your choice of color is an outrage. And, in case you've forgotten, in 59 days it's going to be my day, my day, my day, my day."


Want to know what's really funny? If I'm doing the math correctly, my son's wedding is 59 days away!! HA! How crazy is that?

I've heard from several people on the dress topic and I soooo appreciate your encouragement, support and advice. A couple people I know have some seriously strong opinions about it! However, regarding suggestions that I should do whatever I want, "stick to my guns," keep my dress and wear it anyway (which seems to be a common refrain), there is one major factor that I can't ignore... My son. He's a great guy- a very genuine, kind person. Although I'm his stepmom, he's gone above and beyond to treat me like his mom and make me feel that I'm in "equal standing." He always has. I'm just his mom, if that makes sense. He treats me with nothing but love and respect. I'm not about to do anything to stir up trouble or drag him into the middle of some Big Icky Thing and make him deal with all this stupid crap. Especially not right before his wedding. And especially not over some lousy dress. Ultimately, any stress I create for the bride is going to rub off on him, I'm sure. Why would I do that over a dress? My personal feelings about how the situation has been handled, or even my intense love for the dress and shoes, are nothing compared to my feelings for him. He's way more important than a dress to me.

About the suggestion to take my future DIL shopping with me- there was already a shopping trip for all the mothers last month and I was invited. It was my choice not to go. I felt it may be an awkward, uncomfortable day for all involved (the bride, her mother, my son's mother- the first wife, and me- the second wife). My son kept encouraging me to come, and I almost did, but decided it may not be the best idea. I could have gone along and probably found something that day that would have met with DIL's approval, as the other two mothers did, but I didn't- so that's my own fault.

Anyway... it's just clothes. It will all work out. The wedding day will soon be here and gone and no one there will ever remember a year from now what I was wearing... Unless of course, it's a short, robin's egg blue, spaghetti-strapped, sexy little number. Hmmm. Something to think about, huh? Maybe those suggestions to do as I please and wear what I want are absolutely right!

Wait! I'm suddenly seeing a bright red, bedazzled, one-shoulder, mini-dress in my very near future!!

I could also decide to go in something like this, in honor of my son's love of hunting:
Possibly something with a jaunty, little hat...Or, how about this one? Who needs some plain, boring champagne dress? My bases would certainly be covered, as far as trying to match any and all colors in the wedding, and I wouldn't have to worry about my white legs being seen.
I could even get a sudden burst of creative energy and pull a Molly Ringwald (and if you don't understand this reference, rent the movie "Pretty in Pink")...

Or maybe, I'll just wake up on the morning of the wedding feeling especially sexy...You never know. It could happen.

The more I think about it- I'm starting to feel totally excited about this! The ideas are really flowing now and the possibilities are endless! I'll let you know what I come up with after the next big shopping fiasco trip. I'm sure you're all on the edge of your seats! Are you even able to think of anything else during your day?

Thanks for the kind words and support!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bomb Threat Update

I feel a little like a CNN anchor with a title like that... "And here now with our bomb threat update, is Chelle." Why, thank you, Anderson...

Darrell talked to the school principal today and heard that only about 30 kids showed up for school, so we certainly weren't the only parents not willing to take the chance. Nothing blew up. We haven't heard yet if any explosive devices or anything suspicious was found, or if the responsible party was caught- but thank God nothing happened.

I'm a little freaked about sending Michael back to school tomorrow (Alex will be home getting ready for his med. tests). I'm thinking goofy, paranoid thoughts like, "What if there really is going to be a bomb, but the bomber lied about the day it's going to happen to catch everyone off guard?" These are the times I have to remind myself that my children are in God's hands. There's only so much I can do to protect them and the rest is up to Him. They belong to Him more than me anyway and He loves them so much more than I ever could.

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone,
O LORD, make me dwell in safety." Ps. 4:8

When the kids were little and had bad dreams or were scared to go to bed for some reason, I'd sing them a little song that went:

"When I am afraid, I will trust in Him.
I will trust in Him.
I will trust in Him.
When I am afraid, I will trust in Him.
In God, whose word I praise."

I hate to admit it, but I find it helps to sing that little song to myself sometimes!! I also like the Veggie Tales song:

"Don't cry Daniel. Fear not, Daniel.
Don't you know you're not alone?
There is One who is watching you,
He listens when you pray.
And though it seems
this time you won't get through,
God has made a way..."

What can I say? This is what happens to one's self-comforting skills when one has a truckload of kids... Whatever works, I guess.

Thank you to all who prayed. Please also remember Alex on Thursday.

Oh, and also- I just found out today Tucker needs to have his adenoids removed! We finally saw the specialist today and found out that his adenoids have been causing the 4 month long sinus trouble. His surgery isn't until June. Actually, it's only one week before the wedding, but they said he should be feeling okay by then. He's pretty excited about the idea of being able to breathe again- it's just a shame he'll have to continue being miserable for the next two months waiting for the surgery. He wasn't too excited about that part.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bomb Threat

Here's the kind of excitement nobody wants: We just received a pre-recorded call from the high school, saying a note was discovered at the school today with a bomb threat that is supposed to go off tomorrow. The school will be open with regular classes, but under increased security measures. However, student absences will be excused for those who wish to keep their kids at home. Well, gee... That's nice. My kids are not going. I'm sure it will turn out to be nothing- all just some sick, twisted, psycho hoax, but some chances aren't worth taking. Please keep the kids and teachers in your prayers tomorrow. This is scary stuff.

Happy Blogiversary to me! ...followed by dress disasters.

I noticed it's been one year exactly since starting this blog. I never would have guessed a year ago, as I sat down to write my first post, that I'd still be waiting for our adoption to happen and wondering if it's going to happen at all. I really, truly thought I'd be sitting here with a smelly, snot-nosed kid on my lap by now, and loving every minute of it. I know I'm not in that boat by myself- many of you involved in a VN adoption are still waiting and wondering with us. I feel for all of you. I continue to hope everything will work out, even though that hope is becoming harder and harder to sustain. At least this blog has been a lot of fun over the past year, and has provided a great escape from dwelling on my Adoption Mama Trauma, as well as a great opportunity to connect with new and interesting people (that means YOU... maybe. lol!).

On the adoption front, there's still not much to report. We talked to our agency's coordinator for their African American Infant program and didn't come away from the conversation feeling very hopeful. She wasn't trying to sound discouraging, but she did say our age and family size would work against us in that program as well. Geez! Aren't old, tired, busy, over-worked farts able to love and parent a child?

Anyhoooo... we're still contemplating what we'll do. Darrell still wants to leave it in God's hands and wait it out to the end with Vietnam and see what happens. So this is me, waiting patiently.

Onto other things... The latest development around here has me yanking my hair out. Remember I was telling you about pulling off the ultimate shopping trifecta when I found the perfect dress, shoes, and jewelry for my son's wedding??? Well, scratch that. It all has to go back to the store and I have to start again. The bride decided she no longer approves of the color of my dress (champagne), since her dress is ivory. The dress I bought is much darker than ivory (champagne is actually more of a dark goldish beige, if you don't know), and I didn't realize it was a wedding faux pas to wear something in the same color family as the bride. I just thought it wasn't supposed to be the same color exactly. I knew enough not to choose white, ivory, black, or blood red... Beyond that? I'm clueless, apparently. I found something online that said champagne was considered a neutral color that is "always appropriate with any color scheme" for mothers to wear. Whatever. I'm going to sue that website if I can't return all my stuff. More about that in a sec...

In addition to my own stupidity and lack of fashion sense, size and cost issues are also causing me trouble in trying to find an "acceptable" dress. Unfortunately, there is not an abundance of color choices in bigger sizes, or on the department store racks- period. Is everybody else's mom a size 8 or something? If so, then I'm sorry but I hate everyone else's moms. I saw several pretty colors that would work, but they didn't come in a size "Horse" (however, I have lost 23 lbs. so far. Yea me! So put that in your skinny pipe and smoke it, all you size 8 moms). A lot of the mom dresses in my size look like old lady stuff. Who decided that fat chicks want to dress like they're 88 years old? I don't wanna look like somebody's grandma (even though I am), dangit. I want to look young, hip, and classy, like Paris or Britney.

...Kidding. Just seeing if you're still paying attention. If I go the Bridal Shop route and get measured for a dress in the size, color, and style I want, the cost seems to increase exponentially. That's a problem. It's just not a good time for us right now for a lot of extra expenses. Actually, I don't recall when it's ever been a good time for a lot of extra expenses. And I feel guilty spending bajillions of dollars on something I'll probably only wear once (unless the dress code at Walmart suddenly changes). Ahhh, Mom Guilt... Dontcha love it?

I need some of you awesomely fashion-forward ladies to set me straight. If it's considered inappropriate for the moms to wear champagne, why do so many mother-of-the-bride/groom dresses come in that color? Why are the racks marked "Mother-of-the-Bride" full of champagne dresses? That doesn't make sense. Someone should look into that and get back to me. Call your congressmen and senators, please.

Back to returning my stuff: What makes it extra cruddy is that I had my perfect shoes on for all of 3 whole minutes to give Darrell the full effect, but somehow the bottoms still appear worn and I'm afraid it may be difficult to return them. Yea! They are not cheap shoes, either. In fact, I've never spent this much on a pair of shoes before in my life. I decided to go ahead and splurge since they are such a perfect match to the dress, and they are gorgeous, and they fit my wide monkey feet with no unsightly spill over on the sides, and they are comfortable. I knew it was all too good to be true! Dang (or feel free to insert some other word that will probably come much closer to the word I'm actually thinking)... I hope the store doesn't give me too much trouble. Yesterday, I ordered swatches of all the bride's colors, so hopefully next time I can go to the store feeling more confident about choosing something that won't clash with everyone else. But I still ain't happy. Nope- not at all. Can you blame me?

Looks like I better go get my Spanx back out of the drawer. Again, I must say Dang.

Before I go, I need to request your prayers for Alex. We have to take him up to KC for some unpleasant medical tests on Thursday. I just wish God would either heal him or allow the doctors to find the problem and get it FIXED once and for all. Wednesday is also not going to be a very fun day for him, as he has to go through all the prep stuff for the test. Yuck. Poor kid. We would all appreciate your prayers! Thanks so much!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Yesterday morning, after taking Buddy outside, Tucker came into the kitchen and said, "Hey- why do we have so many forks in our front yard?"


We all went to look, and this is what we saw.

We'd been FORKED.

Forked. Spooned. Sporked. Knived. All over the front yard. We believe the perps are some of Alex's super-funny, punk friends. Just in case the hoodlums read my blog (and of course, why wouldn't they?), we want them to know we are going to pull a total CSI on their delinquent butts. We're collecting fingerprints from the forks, and hair samples from the yard (which may turn out to be mostly Buddy's) to turn over to the authorities. Actually, we're saving the utensils until they can be returned to their rightful owners at a time when they least expect it (probably next Saturday night). It's ON, punks!

As if getting forked wasn't enough excitement all by itself, last night was the Senior Prom. Alex's date was a gorgeous girl named Dylan (also a senior).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spanx are a tool of the devil

Well, yesterday was the big shopping day with the girls. We started at Build-a-Bear and added 2 new members to our family: A pink poodle named Petunia, and Millie the monkey. Both animals got to be decked out in new Hannah Montana outfits, so I'm everybody's favorite mom for the time being. It really was a lot of fun!

Next event: Dress shopping! No, I'm sorry. I'm jumping ahead of myself. Actually, the next event was a bathroom trip, followed by a long, hot trek from one end of the mall to the other (literally) to get to the first dress store.

When we got to the first dress store, Bri announced that she left her jacket behind in the restroom. So we walked all the way back to where we started at the other end, looked for the jacket, didn't find it, found a cleaning person who told us it was at Lost and Found, went to Lost and Found, stood in line waiting, started to sweat profusely, then retrieved the jacket. Oh, how I wish she would have been wearing a cheap, cruddy Wal-mart windbreaker. I would have just said who cares and left it.But it was this jacket I had made for her from Little Lanterns, which we love, so we had to go back. I stuffed it down into Bri's Build-a-Bear box. I'm glad we found it, but have I mentioned yet that I've been wearing Spanx under my jeans this whole entire time and by now I am sweating like a... well, never mind what I was sweating like. Spanx are freakin' hot. The mall thermostat is permanently set on "Hot as Hades." It wasn't a good situation. The hairdo was ruined about 15 minutes into the trip. The sweat started visibly dripping down my face about 15 minutes after that. I could smell myself. I'm not proud of it, just being honest. If you have to ask, "What are Spanx?" I want you to go away. I'm sorry. No offense. You may return for the next post.

Why was I wearing Spanx to the mall under my jeans? If you honestly have to ask me that question, you are either: A man, you have never been fat and dangly, OR, you have never had to try on a fancy-schmancy dress while also being fat and dangly. In any case, if you don't understand the Spanx, I can't even deal with you right now. All I can say is, a dress with Spanx fits very differently than a dress without Spanx. I can't make an objective decision about a dress while looking at the bulgy, rolly, dangly bits. I have to see the complete picture, which means SPANX. It was a mistake to wear them there, but I thought it would be harder to get them on in a tiny dressing room. There is an elaborate procedure involved in putting on a pair of Spanx that includes a lot of tugging, heavy breathing, mild to moderate profanity, and a few Chuck Norris style kicks. I prefer to do all that in the privacy of my own home.

After we made it aawwwllllllll the way back down to the first dress store and got into the dressing room with a few dresses, I was ready to be done with the Spanx. Actually, I was ready to be done with the whole trip. I wanted to give up and head home. But I hung in there. I'm a trooper.

I'm not an idiot, however. The Spanx had to go if I was to make it through the day without heat stroke or needing IV fluids. After trying on one dress, I peeled them off. Now, where to put them? Hmmm. My purse was tiny. Bri's box was stuffed full with her jacket. That left Olivia's box.
I said, "Here, Livie- open your box and let me stick these in there."
Liv said, "Oh yuck," or something like that.
I said, "No, look! I'm folding them up, and I'll put them right under your monkey, so it will be like she has a cushion to sit on. It's not gross. See?"
"Yes, it is gross. Come on, Mom. Please!" She said.
I pleaded, "Livie, I have no choice. Where else am I supposed to put this? Help me out here. This is an emergency and it can't be helped."
I put the Spanx under her poor Monkey. I had flashbacks to the last time Livie and I were in a dressing room together. Remember that? I hoped she was going to be more sympathetic to my plight this time. She was not.

We ended up going to 4 stores, looking for dresses, and found the keeper at the fourth. It's a champagne color. I figured that would be the safest and easiest choice. I look like a huge horse in it, but a well-dressed one. Once I had the dress, I figured I might as well shop for shoes and jewelry, so it was another trip to the other end of the mall... again. It was easier this time without the Spanx, but I was still about ready to flop. I found the perfect shoes, necklace, and earrings though, so overall- a major success.

Now, get THIS! We encountered our first openly hostile racial slur as we were leaving the mall. When we walked outside, the cold air felt so good after being in that furnace, that Bri did a little twirl and shouted, "Oh Boy! It sure feels great out here!!" There was a young man with his girlfriend walking behind us. As soon as he heard Bri, he loudly said, "Ching Chong Ha She Sho (etc., etc.- a bunch of other nonsense crap)." I turned around to look at him just in time to see him with his eyes all squinty and his top lip pulled up to show his teeth; apparently his best Asian impression. I was not impressed. His girlfriend appeared to be embarrassed and/or confused. He was oblivious to me staring at him and, thankfully, Bri was oblivious to the fact she was being made fun of. She seemingly didn't even hear it. She went right on talking, as if everything was normal. Livie could tell there was something wrong with me, but she didn't know what it was, so she didn't understand it, either. Thank God! I, on the other hand, was mad, sad, appalled, insulted, and beyond shocked. I thought of a million different things to say in the span of two seconds, but ended up deciding against saying anything at all. He was clearly an idiot; not the type that can be educated or would even care. And since Bri didn't even know she was being mocked, I decided to let her remain blissfully ignorant. I want to teach her how to handle those kinds of things in a healthy way, and the way I was wanting to handle it at that moment would not have sent the message to Bri that I want to send. Anyway, I could not believe it. What a horse's butt. I can't comprehend how anyone could look at that adorable little girl and want to be cruel or make fun of her. I'm so thankful she didn't hear or understand what was going on.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Another reason to celebrate today!
My Sweetie Pie, my Hubei Honeybunch,
my Sunshine, my Mini-Me, is 7 years old. Shorty, you are the joy of our lives and a treasure to our family. Your smile and cheerful voice can light up the dreariest day! We love you so very much and wish you a very, very
Happy Birthday
We began the festivities this morning with a birthday breakfast party (as usual, that's the only time we are all home together). Cake: The breakfast of champions. (Allowing cake for breakfast makes me either an awesome, fun mom, or a terrible mom, depending on who you ask. We don't always eat this way.)

The theme this year, requested by Her Royal Shortness, was "Enchanted" (all the chicks in this house seriously love that movie), so of course, she had to dress the part.
Evan got Bri a Hannah Montana wig. So funny!Bri asked for a lunch out with Mommy and Daddy all to herself today for Thai food (Bri's and my favorite place to eat- not Daddy's, but he'll suck it up cuz he's a great dad). Later, we'll head over to softball practice, where she will bring cupcakes for her friends.

We're wrapping up "Birthday Week" this Saturday with a mom/daughters trip to Build-a-Bear. The girls will each get to spend their Build-a-Bear "credit cards" (as Olivia calls them) on an overpriced stuffed animal and outfits for the overpriced stuffed animals, complete with cute shoes that will get lost in the bottom of the toy bucket by next Wednesday, but it's the fun memory we're creating that counts, I guess. After that we'll top off the fun watching Mommy cry in the dressing room as she tries on dresses for the wedding. End it on a high note, you know?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Random thoughts and questions

To begin with, I was bowled over by the encouraging comments I received about continuing this blog. You guys are so nice. Thank you! I imagine I will keep it up as long as I can think of stupid, useless stuff to pass along. That's my ministry. I'm so proud.

Second topic... I have to find a dress to wear to my son's wedding in June. The bride's colors are clover green and tea rose pink. She is wearing ivory. The bridesmaids are in clover. The flower girls (Livie and Bri) are in ivory and pink. The other moms (remember, I'm the groom's stepmom) have chosen full length, formal dresses. One dress is chocolate brown and the other is a burgundy/reddish color. My question to you, based on the information I've provided, is: How long will it take me to cry in the dressing room?

Not really. I'm wondering if anyone out there is good at the whole color coordinating thing and can help me not commit a major wedding faux pas. I know orange and purple are probably out. But other than that, I need help. What color goes with green, pink, brown, and burgundy????? Is there a color that goes with all of those? I'm thinking something rose-ish or that beige-y champagne color? Anyone... anyone?

Topic #3... Homeschool issues. Evan is leaning towards staying home for his freshman year like Michael did, and not going to public HS until 10th grade, if at all. If he's going to stay home, I will need to make some curriculum changes and am open to suggestions. Anyone have suggestions for high school? Particularly Eng., Hist., and Sci/Biology. We're happy with the math we're using, although it's expensive. Evan is not a real self-motivated type of person and I need to stay on top of him to make sure he's doing his work (except for math). This makes it hard with the 3 little ones who will be starting 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades next year. I can't spend all day at the table with Evan, because the little ones must have my time and attention, too. If any of you are homeschooling moms (or know someone who is) and are juggling different grade levels like this- dealing with both HS and elem.- I'd love to hear how you're doing it and what you're using. Also, if you have experience dealing with a kid who constantly needs gentle, loving "motivational assistance" I'll take advice on that, too. You would think that after 13 years of homeschooling, I would feel like an old pro. I don't. Each kid throws me for a loop. They're all so different. What works for one kid is hated by another. I'm beginning to think I'll never feel like I know what I'm doing.

You know... This whole raising kids thing is turning out to be considerably harder than I was led to believe it would be during the orientation.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Happy Birthday, Olivia!

My precious girl, my BFF, is 8 years old today.

Happy Birthday!
I love you so very much and hope today is a very happy and special day for you!

As much as I love all your brothers and enjoy having sons, I was really looking forward to having a little girl to love. Someone to dress up in pretty little dresses, cute little pigtails, toenails to paint... When I found out you were a girl, I was so happy and couldn't wait to have a daughter to share those things with! I started buying pink, pink, pink the day I heard you were coming- You had more clothes and hair doo-dads before you were born than you would ever be able to wear, but I was too excited to care. After years of buying little boy things, shopping for you was so much fun! I think that's why you enjoy shopping so much- you were in training to be a Power Shopper since before you were born.

Since it's your birthday, I'll tell you one of your favorite stories; the story of the day you were born... As soon as you were born, you were screaming like a crazy woman. You were handed to your Daddy, who held you up to my face so I could see you. I kissed your little face and said, "Hello, my beautiful baby girl! I'm your Mama. You're alright. Mama's right here." As soon as you heard me, you stopped crying. You became calm and quiet in an instant and listened to me talking to you. You knew your Mama's voice. You have had my heart since that moment and you have never let it go.

You had a ton of dark hair and the fattest, cutest little cheeks. You were beautiful then, and you are beautiful now, inside and out! Daddy and the nurses took you out of the room to get you cleaned up while the doctor worked on putting Mama's tummy back together. Soon, the nurse came back in and shouted, "ELEVEN TEN!!!" Everyone in the room started oohing and ahhhing and laughing. I said, "What's eleven ten?" I was clueless! It never occured to me that my first daughter, my precious, dainty, tiny little peanut could possibly weigh ELEVEN pounds and TEN ounces... But you DID! You were bigger than any of your 4 brothers before you. You beat my previous biggest baby by a whopping two whole pounds! Way to show those boys how it's done, Liv! You smoked 'em!

This is the day we took you home from the hospital. I was so proud to be going home with my gorgeous daughter. Daddy was, too. It looks as if Dad is twisting you into an uncomfortable position, but I promise you didn't mind. You were conked out.

In this picture you look a lot like my baby pictures. Look how dark your hair was!

Those beautiful blue eyes!

The Birthday Girl

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