Saturday, May 31, 2008

Farewell Dear Friends...

I hardly knew ye.

Alas, the time came to say goodbye to the beautiful champagne shoes today. This picture is a little yellowy (too gold), but you can still get the idea.

The Gorgeous-Never-To-Be-Spoken-Of-Again-Dress has already been returned. That's not completely true- I did return it, but I doubt it will never be spoken of again. I imagine I will be creating all kinds of fun opportunities to speak of this dress for years. And years. I never posted a pic of the dress, but it was the exact same color as the shoes... How often does that happen? I mean, when you don't pay to have shoes dyed to match, obviously. It was as if they were made for each other. And both were made for me. Insert big sorrowful sigh here.

Some of you smaller, healthier snots may not understand how difficult it really is for some women to find a dress (swimsuit, whatever) that makes you feel confident and good about yourself. Bigger ladies will understand. How often do you get to look in a mirror and confidently think, "Oh yeah, baby. I look good!" ???? I don't mean that in an "Oh, poor me. Feel sorry for me. I'm fat," kind of way- it's just a fact. Fashion does not cater to larger women. We get the nerdy grandma clothes. In my champagne dress, even though I knew I still looked like a wildebeest, I felt like a good-looking wildebeest. Oh well. I'm sure I'll feel fine in the Tinkerbell dress, too. And the day is not about me feeling good, anyway. So who cares?

Once again, I digress. Since the dress was gone, it was time to unclench my fingers from the satiny soft, bejeweled straps of my precious friends and let them go. There's no need to wear this kind of fancy stuff in Walmart and, since Walmart is usually the fanciest place I go each week (Geyawwww. My life is so sad.), I had to return the jewelry, too. Needless to say it was an emotionally difficult day for me, and I'm quite proud of myself for getting through it. I didn't even cry as the cashier tore the shoes from my fat little hands. Not much anyway. It just proves one never knows what one is capable of until faced with unspeakable hardship.

Kidding. I kid.

I found a different pair of shoes, more expensive than the ones I returned. Of course. Ten dollars more, and I like them ten dollars less. They're sparkly. They're silver. I'm a fan of silver shoes about as much as I am a fan of sparkles. Some are a little too "Drug-Addled Cheap Prostitute at Studio 54" for my taste, but these are okay. They're actually kind of pretty. Olivia was with me and calls them Cinderella shoes. I now have a Tinkerbell dress and Cinderella shoes. Nice.

All I need is the Jasmine harem pants with the Little Mermaid clam shell bra/tube top thingy and I'm good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thoughts on Race

For those of you interested in matters of race, especially as it relates to adoption...

Here's an interesting MSNBC video: Multiracial in America, featuring different types of families around the country- not adoption related, but still good.

Also, I saw this article yesterday from (Do whites need training before parenting black children?) and it caught my eye because, as most of you know, we have been considering both Ethiopia and domestic African American adoption as alternatives to Vietnam. I think I was telling you in a previous post that we do have some serious concerns over how a black child would be accepted and treated in our small, not-at-all-diverse, Midwestern community (and, unfortunately, even by a few family members). Add that to the lack of resources/support available locally, and we worry that this path would not be the best fit for our family. More accurately, it may not be the best fit for the child.

It really is interesting (and unsettling) to consider the varying levels of racism that exist in this country. There seems to be this Racism Hierarchy that we are all aware of, but don't openly discuss. I was talking about all this recently with a woman I know. As I shared about my conflicted feelings on adopting a black child, and why I didn't have the exact same concerns when we were adopting Bri, her response was very telling.

She said, "Yes, but Brianna is still close enough to being white so you don't have to worry about that stuff with her. I don't think of Chinese as being really different from white... Do you?"

Close enough to being white...

Just for the record, being Chinese (or Asian) is not the same as being white. I know this because any government form I fill out tells me so. There is a separate box to check, so I'm fairly sure of my facts on this one. Ask any Asian person if they consider themselves to be "White."

And, may I go down a separate rabbit trail for just a second to say something about the use of the word "Asian?" If you do not know the exact ethnic background of an Asian individual, just say "Asian." Do not call them all Chinese. They are not all Chinese (and if you are sitting there thinking, "Same difference," then you are exactly the person to whom I am directing these remarks). Chinese and Asian are not interchangeable terms. I actually had to explain this to an adult once, who still seemed confused afterwards. Also, please erase the "O" word from your vocabulary. "Oriental" is an outdated term that is equally unappreciated. While it may have been considered acceptable in the past, now... not so much. It is antiquated at best, and perceived by many to be offensive and derogatory, even when you say it with the most innocent of intentions.

Okay. Back on track. As I've said before, some of the same people who fuss over my "adorable" Chinese daughter, would probably have horrible things to say about my black son- possibly behind our backs, and possibly not. Some of the same families who would allow their white sons to take my daughter to Prom, would throw a fit to see my black son on their doorstep waiting to escort their white daughters to the same dance. It's sad and disgusting, but it's true. And to choose not to acknowledge that, to pretend those problems don't exist, or to assume we could handle it and make everything "OK" for our child, to blindly jump into bringing a black child into our family just because we have no problem with it personally, feels like a selfish (and foolish?) choice that would affect my child's whole life.

My Chinese daughter faces racism in our community, too. She just doesn't know it yet, because it's "Nice Racism." She doesn't know that when someone asks if she's "a hard little worker," really smart, or if she's especially good at math/music (yes, that really happens), she is experiencing racism (For the record, she is not a hard worker, and even tends to cry when she has to do chores by herself. She is of normal intelligence, and struggles in a few areas in school. She does not have a super-human understanding of computers. Yes, she likes rice. So do I, though. She is a normal kid).

She is only just now beginning to realize that when she is singled out over her sister on a routine basis by someone who gushes on and on (until I'm vomiting in my mouth a little bit) about how adorable, tiny, cute, precious, and beautiful she is, it's based on the fact that she's the "different" one. While it's not overt racism, it is based on her race. Oh, yes it is (just in case you're sitting there thinking, "No, it's not." lol). Of course, she is absolutely adorable, precious, and beautiful, but think about it... How many strangers would approach her if she were not Chinese? Probably the same number as those who approach my beautiful, white daughter. Zero. Honestly, how often do you go out of your way to approach a stranger, just to compliment them on their beauty? How often do you stop and stare at an all-white family, forgetting everything your mama ever taught you about manners, allowing your head to turn and follow them as they pass, as if they're some kind of novelty act performing for your entertainment?

Tracy, at My Minivan Rocks, also posted on this topic the other day. You can read her thoughts here.

We haven't had to deal with negative racism too badly... yet. As a homeschooled kid, Bri hasn't yet faced any awful "playground comments." Once at a Bible study, during recess, a little boy started arguing with Livie about how Bri wasn't really her sister. Bri got pretty upset about that. It hurt her, but he wasn't a racist- just a confused little kid who couldn't see how they could be related.

A dear man at church came up to Bri shortly after bringing her home, patted her head and said, "Boy they sure do all look the same, don't they?" I was mortified, but at the same time I realized his intentions were not malicious. This man doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and I knew his remarks came more from ignorance and age than from the heart of a racist. Because of my love and respect for this man, I could easily overlook and forgive his comment. However, if anyone else would have said the same thing to me, or if Bri would have been old enough to understand and be hurt by it, I doubt I would have been so understanding.

We also get the occasional disapproving, icy glare from a passing stranger (many times those looks come from Asian people... Hmmm).

Michael had some stupid, teenage, hoodlum punk come up to him at school and ask, "You're the one with the chink for a sister, right?" This one is obviously racism, but neither Bri, nor I, were around to hear it (and thank God for that, or mommy may have been facing assault charges- I'm not a fan of this kid. Can you tell?).

A child at church once said something about Bri being Chinese (it was not a derogatory comment) and another girl became very defensive and told that child she "shouldn't say that." This was told to me by the mother of the defensive kid. She thought it was cute and sweet that her daughter was "protecting" Brianna. Protecting her from what, exactly? I assured the mom that Bri is aware of the fact that she is Chinese, and we do not consider it a bad word. I thought the whole thing was a little silly. Again, this isn't an example of being racist as much as just being racially confused. In our current climate of political correctness and tolerance, nobody ever knows what's allowed and what is not.

I know the day is coming when Bri will be fully confronted with the painful truth of racism, and the internal struggles that will come along with that. For an excellent post on this subject, by someone who lived (lives) it, read "The Skin I'm In" at Heart, Mind and Seoul. Paula also posted about the "O" word recently. Check that one out too, right here. If you're parenting or related to an Asian child, you should be reading Paula's blog. Sometimes her thoughts upset me, other times they challenge me, comfort me, educate me, humble me and break my heart... As an adoptee, I can often identify with her emotions, even though she and I come from two very different backgrounds and points of view. As a Caucasian mom of an Asian child, I sometimes leave her blog just feeling like a stupid white lady- lol! But I always appreciate her honesty, insight, and thought-provoking posts.

I, on the other hand, do not have any deep, meaningful thoughts or insights to share. I'm just a stupid white lady, in Spanx, trying to figure it all out. What about you? Anything to add on the subject?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Well, here's something fun...

We bought a minivan on Saturday. Finally. After days and days of looking, comparing, driving ourselves and each other nuts, we finally found the "perfect" van. It's not exactly the same level of perfection as that "dream van" I told you about, but it was close enough for me. It's an ugly gold color, but who cares? I won't be riding on the outside of the van looking at the color. It was the last new o7 they had left and they were trying to get it off the lot, so we got a new van at a used price. SWEET!

No. Not sweet... Today we had one heck of a thunderstorm while driving home from the store- a real toad choker, as we say in these here parts. Water was coming in from all over the freakin' place; a steady trickle dripping in through an electrical button thingy up at the top by the compass, and another trail of drips coming in from down under the glove compartment somewhere, soaking the carpet. Can we all say a great big "OH, FRAP" on my behalf, please? We're going to call the car saleman guy tomorrow and I hope Darrell rips him a new one. I'm so mad. When it rains, it pours. Bad pun. Sorry. This crisis has thrown off my sense of humor.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Alex!

Eighteen years ago today, I became a mama for the first time. I was 23 years old, with no idea what I was doing, but I quickly learned just how much love a heart can hold and was amazed to feel that love grow bigger and stronger every day. Eighteen years ago, I had so much I was looking forward to... First smiles, teeth, steps, words. It always seemed I just couldn't wait to reach the next big milestone. It all seemed so important at the time. Now, I sit here looking back and wondering how it all happened so fast. Eighteen years is so incredibly short when you're head over heels in love with someone. I'd give anything to go back and slow it all down; take more time to enjoy each and every second in between those milestones. It's the in between things that I remember and will miss the most- sitting down together to watch Sesame Street in the evenings, as you would turn around and try to push my pregnant belly out of your way so you could fit in my lap, reading your favorite books to you, hearing your laugh, singing to you and praying together in the dark when you were scared at night...

These next few years are going to fly by for you, Alex, as you try to find your way and discover the man you are becoming. Take time to enjoy it along the way. Always remember you are loved and treasured. You will always have our love, pride, and support. As you step out into the world, don't forget that you will never be alone. You always have a home, a family, and a loving God to lean on. Never forget to whom you belong, and who you are in Christ. You are His far more than mine and Dad's. I pray you will choose to serve Him faithfully and fully throughout your life. Seek Him in everything you do. Stay in the Word. Listen to His voice. Go to Him with every decision. Do you remember the passage I taught you when you were small? Proverbs Chapter 3. Go back and look it up.

Happy Birthday, Alex! I love you with all my heart!

Friday, May 23, 2008

What a week

I haven't had much to say lately, since it's been crazy busy around here.
Here's a "quick" recap of the past week:

Last Wednesday- My mom arrived. We attended an assembly at Alex's high school to recognize the kids who earned scholarships and other awards.

Thurs.- Mom and I made the long trek up to Kansas City, spent the afternoon visiting a cousin, and found my sparkly Tinkerbell dress for the wedding. When we got back home, Mom took us all out to dinner.

Friday- Spent the whole day acting like a crazy person trying to get my house "company clean" and prepping food for graduation the next day. We invited 37 people to dinner. I bought enough food to feed quite a few more. Due to several unfortunate events, guess how many of the invitees came to dinner????

Saturday- Graduation Day. We were so, so, so proud of Alex! I spent the whole morning acting like a crazy person trying to get my house "company clean" and prepping food for the dinner that night. Sooo... How many people came over after the ceremony?

As in T-W-O.
Dos. Duex. Er. Due.
TWO people, besides my mom and the eight of us.
Two out of 37.
Do I know how to throw a party, or what?

Incidentally, I didn't cry at the ceremony like I thought I would, because I was so focused on getting the perfect pictures. Awesome shots like these:
I am an amazing photographer, I know. The talent abounds and astounds. Eat your heart out, Nicki. I am available for weddings, Mitzvahs- both Bar and Bat, and all your special occasions. You can book my services by calling:

Here are a few of the not-as-bad, obligatory grad shots...
Alex and his Nana (my mom)
The Proud Graduate with his diploma
Posing with Grandma (Darrell's mom)
Back at home, in his standard uniform (I believe this ensemble is from the K-Fed collection at Walmart), enjoying the tasty goodness of Mom's dinner. Notice I'm getting a Thumb's Up.

Sunday- Our youth pastor did a special service to honor the graduates.
Another example of my mad photog skillz...

Alex with one of his best friends

Monday- We celebrated Alex's 18th B-day a few days early, because he wanted to do it while Nana was here. We took him out to Buffalo Wild Wings (his pick) for dinner after Tucker's first baseball game, then back to the house for cake.

Tuesday- Mom wanted to take us all out to dinner before she had to go back home, so we went out for pizza after the girls' softball game. By this time, I'm beginning to feel like a stuffed pig, and look like one, too. All we did the whole week was eat, eat, eat. My mom is a size 2/4 and could eat any one of you under the table.

Wednesday- Mom left early in the morning, and Darrell and I headed out to start the car shopping. We put in a full day and came home with nothing. At the end of the day, we found a minivan that I loved (as much as one can love a minivan) and I was really hoping we'd get it. I was sitting there quietly praying God would tell Darrell to buy it! We went home to think about it. I was horribly disappointed.

Thursday (yesterday)- Mike's last day of school. He had finals Wed. and Thurs. Did pretty well for the most part... Algebra, not so much. Got my hair done (it was long overdue) and feel like a new woman. Not really. I feel like a fat housewife with awesome hair. Good enough. Met Darrell for lunch, where we decided we wanted to go back and get my dream van. YEAH! OH, HAPPY DAY!! The birds started singing, the sun began to shine, Darrell called the salesman and... Someone came in and bought the van right after we left the night before. %*&#*$*%!!!!!

Which brings us to today: I'm hoping I can get Darrell to take some time this afternoon and/or tomorrow to go shopping again. I will probably detest everything I see, because nothing will come close to my dream van- but, we need a vehicle so I'll suck it up and take whatever we can find at this point.

Sunday is Alex's real birthday. Tucker has been doing odd jobs to earn enough money to take his big brother to see the new Indy movie after church, which I think is so cute and very sweet. He even worked enough to earn popcorn money because he thought it would be terrible to ask the birthday boy to spring for his own snacks! What a guy! I'm making Alex his favorite enchilada lunch and a cheesecake (which he will probably polish off all by himself).

The rest of this lovely weekend will find me doing laundry to get ready for a mini-vacation we will soon be taking. I won't give the exact dates, just in case some of you are scary robber-types who only read my blog looking for opportunities to swoop in and take our stuff. I would threaten you with this intimidating beast of a guard dog... But he will be chillin' at the Vet's. He wouldn't protect our stuff anyway. All he does is sleep and vomit.

Hope you all have a relaxing, fun holiday weekend planned. Enjoy it!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chapman Family Tragedy

If you're familiar with Contemporary Christian music and/or China adoption, you've probably heard of Steven Curtis Chapman. His youngest daughter was killed when hit by a car driven by her older brother. Please pray for this family.

Here is a link to the article below:

Daughter of Christian music star killed by car
By JOE EDWARDS, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 54 minutes ago

The 5-year-old daughter of Grammy-winning Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman was struck and killed Wednesday by a sport utility vehicle driven by her brother, authorities said.

The girl, Maria Sue, was hit in the driveway of the family's home Wednesday afternoon by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by her teenage brother, said Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The brother, whose name and exact age weren't available, apparently did not see the girl, McPherson said. No charges are expected.

"It looks like a tragic accident," she said.

Several family members witnessed the accident, which happened in Williamson County just south of Nashville. The girl died later at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, hospital spokeswoman Laurie Holloway said.

In a statement, Velvet Kelm, a publicist for Chapman, said Maria was the Chapmans' youngest daughter.

Chapman, who is originally from Paducah, Ky., and his wife have promoted international adoption and have three daughters from China, including Maria. They also have three biological children.

The singer's Web site says the couple was persuaded by their oldest daughter to adopt a girl from China. The experience led the family to adopt two more children and create Shaohannah's Hope, a foundation and ministry to financially assist thousands of couples in adoption.
The Chapmans did missionary work at Chinese orphanages in 2006 and 2007, according to the Web site.

"After our first trip to China, my wife and I knew our lives were changing — our eyes and hearts were opening to how big God really is, and we have wanted to experience more of that," Chapman says on the Web site.

"We've really wondered whether or not we should just go to China and stay there. But I don't think so. I believe God is saying, 'I want you to go, get your heart broken, your eyes opened, and then take this story back to the church in America and around the world.'"

The 45-year-old singer also has released a book about being a father titled "Cinderella: The Love of Daddy and his Princess." He has won five Grammy awards and 54 Dove awards from the Gospel Music Association, according to Kelm.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Let's title this one "MISC"

We had our appointment with the insurance guy today to look at our vehicle and jet ski damage from the storm last Saturday. All 3 vehicles are totaled. We don't know yet about the jet ski- we have to get an estimate, then they will decide what to do. Car shopping times three- Yippee! They are going to give us pretty decent money for them, though- so no complaints. Wait... one complaint: I do not like car salesmen. Not at all. I would rather have an enema, get a root canal, poke myself with sharp sticks, or any one of a million other uncomfortable things, than deal with a wretched, lying weasel car salesman. Nothing personal to any car salesmen out there. I'm sure you're all lovely people. It's the other ones who are weaselly. Not you. Of course I didn't mean you.

We still don't know the extent of the roof damage, if any. Even so, we are so blessed. So many people here are wiped out- everything's gone. I have nothing to complain about.

My mom is here. We're enjoying having her. She helped me quite a bit today getting ready for graduation and we planted some rose bushes outside. She has quite the green thumb. Opposite of me in every way.

Looks like I won't have to fall back on my Standard Plan B Outfit for my son's wedding, which is my old faded Van Halen t shirt (original lineup; none of this Sammy Hagar crap), torn-off Bermuda shorts, and old red Chuck Taylor Cons. We found a dress on our shopping trip up to KC the other day. It does not require any duct tape or other special hoisting devices to keep the girls displayed properly. They will be contained (and we all utter a collective "thank God for small favors"). It beats the baby poop colored dress. It does not beat the champagne colored dress, but I guess it's time for me to let it go. Deep breaths, Chelle... Let. It. Go. This dress... It's very sparkly/glittery. Frap. I feel like flippin' Tinkerbell in it; I drop glitter everywhere I go. This could work to my advantage. I can walk up to people at the wedding and wiggle ever so slightly, shaking my obnoxious glitter loose all over them. It will be fun. The only thing I have left to do is try to exchange the beatiful satin champagne shoes for some ugly silver ones. Breathe, Chelle. Let it go, hon.

Nick (the son getting married) called yesterday to let us know he lost his job. He just bought a house. He's getting married in one month. The place where he works is cutting back and he's fairly new there, so... That's that, I guess. I'm praying he finds something else even better very soon! Hopefully he'll be looking back on this as a blessing in disguise in the not-too-distant future.

Tomorrow is Alex's graduation day. I'll try to post some pics by tomorrow night or Sunday.

Enjoy your weekends, Everybody!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tornado Damage Photos

Last night, Darrell and the boys went down to help friends clean out their house and try to find their stuff that had been blown to kingdom come. Darrell took these pictures of their neighborhood. This town is just south of us and it's basically wiped out. It was the hardest hit.

The town we live in did not get a direct hit, but still took some damage here and there. Most people around here have hail damage, and there are some blown out windows.

Something kind of funny... After the guys got home last night, we all started talking about our little adventure in the van and comparing stories- what we each saw, heard, how scared we were, etc. As we started to share our own personal take on the whole thing, we began to realize that we saw two different tornadoes! This makes sense, because we now know there had been multiple tornadoes touching down (I believe I heard there were 4), and the one that hit the little town in the photos above actually split into two, with the smaller one that split off going a different direction. However, we didn't know any of that at the time, and until last night, we assumed we had all seen the same thing.

There was a point in the van when Darrell said, "There it is. I see it."

When he said that, Evan and I both looked to the side and saw a tornado across the road in a field, on the driver's side. I was looking out Darrell's side window and there it was, directly across from us. I discovered last night, that the tornado Darrell was looking at was out the front window, in front of us and off in the distance a little. He knew nothing about the one right next to us, because he was so focused on silly things like trying to see to drive through all the water, hail, and leaves, find a spot where it would be safe to pull over and get out, and of course- trying to keep an eye on the tornado ahead. I knew nothing about the huge, looming tornado in front of us because I looked out the side window first, saw a funnel-shaped cloud, and of course assumed that was the one he meant. It didn't occur to me to ask, "Do you mean this one right here beside us, or might there be another tornado you are referring to?" Darrell and Mike were looking at the larger one that caused all the destruction in the photos above, while Evan and I saw the one that split off from it.

Darrell has been thinking I was confused each time he heard me say it was right across the road, but he was trying to be nice and not say anything to correct me. I am a poor judge of distance, so I can't blame him for assuming I didn't know what I was talking about. Then he learned last night that Evan saw exactly the same thing I did. Darrell had been confused about how and why that window behind Bri's seat blew in, since the actual tornado was off in the distance in front of us. Now he knows. He was so shocked to realize he had been driving right alongside a tornado the whole time. I was shocked to hear we were driving into a tornado right in front of us. I'm glad I didn't know that at the time. One more way God protected us, I think- spared us from knowledge that would have sent us over the edge into breakdown mode. We were having a hard enough time keeping our wits about us as it was.

Darrell was talking last night about how helpless he felt- how much pressure he felt to make a decision quickly and make the right one. It had to be the right one. I can imagine how frightening and horrible that must have felt for him as the driver, to think that the fate of his family is going to hinge upon when and where he decides to stop. Of course he knows that he fate of our family was (and is) in God's hands, not his. But still... to be right in the middle of that kind of situation and have to make a snap decision that will affect everyone else with you, makes you feel as if the weight of the world is resting upon your shoulders. It just makes me even prouder of the way he handled the situation.

Anyway... I won't keep blabbing on and on about the tornado. I'm done. We will return to our regularly scheduled overshares about my undergarments, shopping dramas, and such. Thank God for that.

My mom arrives in two days and my house looks like a tornado hit it- lol. I wish I could use that as my excuse. I have to get crackin' and get this place in shape for company. I'll post some pictures after Alex's graduation next Saturday, and let you all know how the upcoming dress shopping trip goes. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!!

I hope all you Mamas and Waiting-To-Be-Mamas have a blessed and wonderful Mother's Day! I don't have anything special planned for the day, other than still counting my blessings after last night. We will probably celebrate the day with a little house cleaning party after church, to prepare for my mom's arrival on Wednesday for graduation next Saturday. If I'm feeling extra adventurous, I may just top off the FUN with a trip to Walmart!!! Oooooh... Squeals of joy! The excitement is electrifying. Do you feel it, too?

Follow-up on last night's drama: We do have some damage to one side of the house (siding), and we're not completely sure yet about our roof. The cars are pretty bad. Our poor insurance man here in town is probably wishing he could call in sick tomorrow. I bet his phone will be ringing all day. Overall, we are extremely blessed.

A portion of the view from my van's passenger window. These cracks were all happening while we were driving. It sounded unbelievable. I was sure the windshield was going to shatter completely...

And Alex's windshield- this was done by ONE hailstone, the one he was holding in last night's picture... Truthfully, I couldn't care less. It's just stuff. The 7 treasures that mean the most to me (8, if you count my stupid dog) are all here, safe and sound to celebrate Mother's Day with me. I couldn't ask for more. That sounds so cheesy, but it's the truth. I'm a very thankful Mama today!

I just can't convey in words how dangerous the situation really was in the van without sounding like a drama queen. But it was. We can't believe it even really happened. Here is a link to an article on the tornado, if you're interested:

Deadly Storms Batter Missouri, Oklahoma (

I'm honestly not trying to be a drama queen, but last night I did think we could all die. I think we all thought that. I am so, so proud of all my kids and Darrell for the way they handled such a frightening ordeal. Evan and Mike stayed pretty calm, and were trying to help me comfort Tucker and Bri. After the storm passed, Mike said he thought the whole thing was kind of exhilarating, and he now wants to be one of those insane storm-chasing people. I've always suspected something was wrong with him. Now we know for sure. lol. I could do with less exhilarating. Me and the exhilarating aren't so good together!

Liv was amazing and so brave, as I mentioned last night. She had her moment to fall apart after we were safe in that kind stranger's basement. I looked over at her and saw the tears starting, and the bottom lip sticking out. She needed some major hugs from Mama.

Darrell joked that Tuck was apparently the only one in the car who really understood the seriousness of the situation at the time, and was acting accordingly. He was screaming like someone right out of a movie, and his reaction matched exactly how Darrell and I were feeling on the inside, I think! Darrell told Tucker not to feel embarrassed for being so afraid- it just proved he had common sense!

Darrell did a great job of staying calm and focused, as dads so often do. He said he was so proud of the way I handled it, and that I also did a great job, but it sure didn't feel that way to me at the time! Between the shaking, the pathetic prayers of "Please, God!" and the urge to vomit and/or pee my pants, I didn't feel very brave.

Once it all really started to sink in after we got home, got settled, and felt safe, I lost it a little bit. I'd be fine for a while, then I'd cry for a while. A mix of stress tears and grateful tears. I feel so terrible for all the families around us with damages that are far worse, and for those who were injured or have family members who were killed. Some friends of the boys were in Kansas City while all this happened and they are hearing from neighbors that they don't have a home to come back to. They live in a town right next to us, which was hit pretty hard. The number of deaths and injuries is going up. Again, please remember to keep the people in our area in your prayers.

I'll end with a shot of my cutie pie girlies from their first softball game yesterday. They only got to play one inning, but they did an awesome job! The game was called due to rain. We had left the game to go grab dinner at a drive-thru when the tornado hit. Let's hope the next game night is a little less "exhilarating!"

Again, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all! Thank you, Moms, for all you do!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

An All-Around Interesting Day

I'm pretty freaked right now. My writing skills will suffer, I'm sure. Bear with me. We just drove through a tornado. No, that's not a joke. Not even a slight exaggeration. We could see it on the other side of the road. We had no place to stop or pull over. No ditches or low places, no culverts, no underpasses, nothing. We had baseball-sized hail smashing our windshield. We couldn't see with all the rain, hail, and blowing leaves. Alex was at home alone, while the rest of us were trying to get home. He had called and let us know the sirens were going off. We were going to stay where we were, but then Alex called back to say the sirens had stopped and everything seemed OK. It was getting stormy where we were, so we decided to start driving towards home, thinking we would be driving away from it. Big, big mistake. BIG. We drove right into it. Tucker was TERRIFIED and crying, asking if we're all going to die. I kept saying we wouldn't; that God would protect us. I must admit, though- I had my doubts. I was trying to stay calm and pray with the kids. It got so scary, that all I could think to say was, "God, please. Please, Jesus. Please." A side window in our van smashed in right behind Bri's head. As the wind and water started blowing in through the window and Bri started to join in the hysteria, Olivia put her hand over Bri's eyes, telling her to just close her eyes and everything will be alright. I've never been so proud of anyone in my life. She stayed totally calm, thinking only about her little sister. What a girl!!! We came up to a driveway and pulled in as our windshield and roof took one hit after another. Darrell got out and went up to the house, and took a major hit on his shoulder from a hailstone (which left a mark about 3 inches across). The elderly couple who lived there let us come in and go down to their basement. Thank God. Very few houses in and around our town have basements. Just the fact that we stopped at one that did is an answered prayer. God was definitely good to us. We're all fine. Shaking and ready to vomit, but fine.

When we got home, Alex was here and safe- another answered prayer. He had tried to get up town to the closest storm shelter, but it wasn't open. He turned around and drove back home right in the middle of this mess. His car was almost swept away in a flooded creek. Oy Vey. It makes my head spin to think what could have happened to him- and to the rest of us- but so, so grateful that we are safe. God heard us, no matter how pitiful and faithless our prayers were, and kept His hands on us. I know He did.

There's a lot of damage aound here and in towns around us. Cars were picked up off the road and flipped over. Roofs picked up off of houses. I'm hearing on the news right now that one death has been officially reported so far. We're hearing from friends that there are more deaths that have not been "officially" reported yet. I cannot believe we were in a van, with our children, right in the middle of it. To say it was scary is an understatement. All three vehicles' windshields are ruined, but who cares? Our house is fine. Most importantly, we are all OK and safe.

I snapped a few shots of our windshields when we got home, but they don't even begin to do justice to the way it really looks.

The missing window...One of the hailstones in our yard...Please pray for all the folks who didn't fare so well. We know people who have missing relatives, and some whose homes are completely destroyed. This is just horrible. We were so incredibly blessed.
My post this evening was supposed to be about my daughter. Our oldest daughter, Kindra, received her Associate's Degree today. She's hoping to continue on and eventually get her 4 yr. degree, but she's a single, working mom and, as you single moms know, that's a hard, busy life. Throwing school into that mix is an additional strain. We are so proud of her, so I couldn't end this post without posting a pic or two...

Kindra and her proud dad...Darrell, with all nine of our kids and our grandson, Braden (Tucker and Braden did not appreciate the sun in their faces)...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Great Dress Disaster of '08: Day 38

Seriously. 38 days of worrying and trying to find an acceptable frock to cover my carcass for this wedding. After the last shopping adventure with Darrell (when I forgot to wear my flak jacket and spats) sent me home in tears, I got on the computer and ordered 3 dresses from an online store. THREE. My thinking was that one of them will work, and I can send the other two back. They arrived today.

Let's play a fun game. See if you can guess which one I'm wearing to the wedding. Ready?

Choice #1: The dress I ordered is not in this red color. I got it in Blush, but they don't have a picture of it.

Choice #2: This one is the actual color. It's Taupe.And here is choice #3: This is also the color I ordered. A soft pink. This dress also comes in Champagne, but of course, we can't do that.

Okay. Have you made your guesses? Do you need a few more moments?

Who chose "None of the Above?"

Dress #1 was not actually a blush pink as shown on the computer. It's a bright peach. ICK. And it fits like a nightgown. Add some bunny slippers and you've got yourself a nice bedtime ensemble. Quite comfy, actually, but not flattering on a fat girl. When I look at clothing on the computer, I always forget to subtract 10 inches from the height of the model and add it to the width, strategically placed as various rolls and globules of fat.

Dress #2... It fits. Darrell likes it. It's the color of baby poop. Baby Poop. The neckline is waaaaay more low-cut than it appears in the picture. My breasticular regions would require some type of enhancing garment with this dress because they are definitely on display and will need to be sitting up front, paying attention. None of their usual slacking on the job, just hanging around being lazy. Know what I'm sayin'? Actually, this may have to be my backup dress if I don't find something in Kansas City next week with my mom, so if you picked this one, we'll dub thee the The Big Winner.

(God, please. Don't make me have to wear a Baby Poop dress with my jumblies hanging out. Pleeeeeaase. I beg of you.)

Dress #3 didn't fit. I couldn't get all my back fat zipped into it. Besides, up close in real life, it's that obnoxious "baby pink" color that only looks pretty on baby blankets. No, thank you. I like pink, but a "big girl" shade of pink, please. Plus- the top is COVERED in little white sparkly doodads that did not show up in the picture. They appear to be little chips of children's teeth. Odd embellishment for a dress, in my opinion, but maybe I just don't know fashion. Again, I must ask... Who decided that sparkles, glitter, and little bits of shiny plastic are the epitome of elegance and class? I want to choke this person. This one also had a VERY sheer skirt, which would require an extra layer underneath. I'll be sweaty enough, I'm sure. I don't need additional help.

I don't want to look like some weird bedazzled, jacket-wearin', version of myself. I don't want to sit there worrying that my back fat will win the battle with my zipper and burst free, or that the duct tape holding my poor, tired girls in place will begin to slip as I start sweating. Honestly, am I asking for too much? Why is this so flippin' hard??????????

As I said, my mom and I are going to KC next week and hopefully this horrible ordeal will come to an end. She's coming to town for Alex's graduation and will be staying a week with us. Surely we'll find something. We HAVE TO. Every day, I get more and more upset about this. Over a stupid dress that will be worn once! I'm beginning to think some of my friends and relatives are right. Just buy something bright purple or orange or an icky PEACH nightgown, and be done with it. I'm going to have an ulcer by June 20th. Maybe by then, I'll be sitting in a padded room, weeping softly, clutching a swatch of beautiful champagne fabric, and allowing the sweet release of insanity to wash over me and carry me away from this stress. One can only hope.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Have you seen Expelled yet?

When was the last time you were sitting in a theater and heard the crowd applauding for the film? It's been a long, long time for me. I can't even recall when it last happened. But applause is what I heard the other day when I took the three older boys to see Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. And no, I do not believe all the people were applauding for me... I polled them as they exited the theater. They all said "No, it was for the movie but you seem very nice too."

The critics have not been kind, but I wouldn't expect them to be. This isn't a critics kind of movie. It's a people kind of movie. And the people in my theater must have thought it was pretty good.

The boys said they enjoyed it and I would recommend seeing it, no matter which side of the origins fence you stand on- just to see the amount of bias that exists in the academic, scientific, and medical communities against proponents of ID, and most definitely against people of faith in general.

I have a few very minor complaints about the movie (and Ben Stein), but overall, I'd say it succeeded in its objectives and made some really strong points. I was glad to see them broach the subject of Darwinian evolution as it relates to Hitler, Nazi Germany, Eugenics, euthanasia, and abortion- All interesting topics to explore with teens.

Some of the comments on the evolution side were definitely insulting to intelligent people of faith, so be ready if you're a believer with any brains whatsoever. I'm a believer with no brains, so for me, it was insulting to the point of being amusing. It was a little disappointing to see these well-educated, highly intelligent people (evolutionists) resort to name-calling and mockery instead of logically and intelligently making their points, but it wasn't surprising. I loved watching Richard Dawkins talk himself into circles near the end of the movie. Made my day. I'd definitely take a youth group or science class to see it from middle school on up. I'll probably buy the DVD when it comes out to use later on in homeschool.

Go see it. It's good. Of course, all this assumes that there's someone out there who gives a piddly flip about my opinion of a movie.

If you've seen it, what did you think? Care to discuss?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Quick Agency Update

I just included this information in the comments of this post from last Tuesday, so I'm kind of repeating myself here, but I realize not everybody goes back and reads comments. To clarify, the post saying I hadn't heard from my agency was written around 12:30- 1:00, last Tues. morning. We received an email from WACAP on Tues. afternoon around 4:00 pm. Elizabeth (our coordinator) called a few days after that. We are still undecided about what we'll do. I brought up the topic of getting a refund, since most of our agency's other programs are not a good fit for our family (due to age and/or family size). I don't think we'll be holding our breath, waiting to see any money back. It didn't sound very hopeful and the subject was quickly dropped. So... We're stuck. Still hoping and praying for a miracle. Please join us. We'll take all the prayers we can get. I don't care if it's 99.9999% impossible that we'll complete an adoption from Vietnam. My Bible says:

"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matt. 19:26

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

"Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:27

"He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 'Where is your faith?' He asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, 'Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.'" Luke 8:25

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matt. 17:20

And right now, I just so happen to have faith as small as a mustard seed, so... there you go! It's just as easy to believe as not. So we will believe.

To those of you who commented about our agency's lack of response, I appreciate your concern and just wanted to let you know that we did hear from them. And, as always, your kind and supportive comments mean the world to us. Keep them (and the prayers) coming!

Thank you, friends! Blessings to all. HUGS!