Saturday, July 30, 2011

Birthday Post

Having a birthday this year is a good way to get me to post! I missed it one year and all my fans went crazy. And by "all my fans" I mean Steph, and by "went crazy" I mean she asked me several weeks later why I didn't do a birthday post. It's actually just another chance for me to wax philosophical on any given topic and narcissistically assume you all care what I think!

Last night right before I fell asleep I was reading a great book that two good friends recommended long ago and I finally took their advice. Basically, it's like finding your favorite blogger has written a book. One of the posts, or I guess in a book they'd be called essays, was talking about the princess phenomenon of the past 15 years or so. It made me thing a lot about myself and my daughter. The author was purporting that the princess concept--of training girls from a young age that their beauty and a handsome prince will rescue them from trouble and deliver a perfect life is damaging to said girls. I fell asleep considering this and agreeing and disagreeing at the same time.

I agree--if that's what you mean by princess: if you are beautiful and demure enough, eventually a good looking guy will come and rescue you at which time you will finally be complete, then no, that's not what I want for my daughter or nieces or friends' daughters. There's a horrible trend lately of almost grown celebs who think it's awesome to act dumb. They are giggly and flighty and flirty and talk in baby voices and it makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I don't want to send a message to girls that they need a boy or man to be complete, that if they don't look like Belle or Aurora that well, then you'd better wear more make-up or get a boob job. I want my girls (and by that I mean Sydney, Kaitlyn, Abby and every other little girl in our life) to find pride in their strength--physical and otherwise--in their abilities, in their humor and cleverness. Maybe they like flowers and babies and pretty dresses, maybe they don't. But I want them also to try new things, jump in puddles wearing their brother's frog boots, wrestle with their dads, fall of their bikes because they were riding too fast, lift heavy rocks to throw in the creek, make funny jokes and solve problems.

But I think there's another aspect of telling your daughter she is a princess. If you do it right, you are conveying a message to her that she IS (already) beautiful. That she IS (right now)important, royalty. That she is valuable and cherished and that you would pay a ransom of a million dollars to get her back if she were ever lost to you. I have a friend whose husband woke his 5 year old daughter up in the middle of the night to watch the royal wedding in April. He has strung white Christmas lights from her bedroom all the way to the TV room, where he snuggled with her and they ate tea and scones while watching the wedding. I don't know what he said to her, how he described what they were watching or what makes a princess, but I guarantee she will always remember that with a warmth and a knowledge that her daddy loved her dearly.

It makes me wonder if there is danger and getting caught up in the debate over princess or non-princess, when what we should be focusing on is just LOVING the HECK out of our little girls and pouring into them everything we have to give and teach. I don't remember what season of life it was (probably middle school) and I don't remember the surely dramatic and life-crushing situation that initiated the conversation, but I specifically remember a conversation with my mom when she told me that pretty girls are a "dime a dozen." I wasn't even sure what that meant, but I got the idea. She said there will always be a girl or woman in the room, the class, the school that is prettier than me. And fortunately, I took this as intended, not to crush me that I'll never be the prettiest girl in the room! But she encouraged me that it's fine to want to look my best, but that I should just BE MYSELF and I would stand out in other ways. Find what I was good at and get better at it. Make people laugh and feel good about themselves, and they would want to be around me more. I will never forget that conversation and it has guided me through hundreds of self-esteem crises.

Sorry to my boys that these thoughts are not full of gender equality. And they are not necessarily date-appropriate; I should be talking about all the things I'm looking forward to in the coming year (ASHER! HOME!), but this is what was on my heart as I woke up this morning. I'm so grateful to my parents for, as Tina Fey likes to say, "instilling in me a confidence that is disproportionate to my looks and ability." My birthday wish is to raise my daughter to trust her gut, to value strength and humor, to crave knowledge and wisdom, and to expect to be treated with respect and love--whether she's wearing a Cinderella dress or mud boots that look like frogs.

PS: I'm 34 and proud of it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Yep. I haven't blogged in long time. I don't have a great reason, other than this: I didn't feel like it! So many times I've wished I could turn blogging into a money-making venture (but the first step would be putting advertising on, and I'm not ready to make that step), but then in months like this, I'm glad that I'm just a little amateur blogger with a few loyal readers who will stop back in whenever they get a chance. If I don't want to blog, I don't have to! Plus, I know it's going to be a LONG time before we have any adoption updates, so sometimes that takes the wind out of my bloggersails.


But here's an update on something we've been doing this summer. For the first time, BOTH kids are enrolled in soccer camp through the city. It's every Tuesday night for 7 weeks. Each week I am exceedingly amused by both of my children. Carson is totally in his element. He gets to run around with other kids and play games with a little bit of structure.

Carson (mostly) tries to listen to the rules of each little exercise or game, so that he can get going ASAP. He is motivated and wants to look like a soccer player and do well. He's focused on what his teammates are doing and usually waits his turn with a patience that is never shown at home. We couldn't find his shin-guards this particular night, but I'll try to post some with the guards. He looks pretty legit. And also like his dad/uncle.

THEN, on the adjacent field, we have the Birdie. Not an athletic bone in her little 29 pound body. Not that we've done much to cultivate it. We don't even have any sporty clothes for her, so she is usually decked out in colorful stretchy clothes of some manner. She makes no notice of the other kids around her, what the purpose of the exercise is, when it is her turn or where the soccer ball is at any given moment. She's just a giggling, clueless little orange fuzz skipping around.

Now, granted, most of this is due to her age--I mean, she's probably one of the youngest kids out there. But honestly, she'd be the stereotypical girl out on the field picking dandelions if this weren't parent/tot class, and her soccer-loving dad were not by her side throughout the entire hour. Daddy says she has one speed, which is "casual." She frequently la-dee-dahs away from the drill to wave, grin and give me thumbs-up. After soccer, she has way more to say about her ponytail (it looks like the babysitter's!) than anything that actually took place during camp.

But I'm so grateful for experiences like this, and grateful that my kids (so far) seem to go with the flow. They are neither the aggressive kid obsessed with winning, nor the unwilling participant crying and laying on the ground. At least not this week. ;)

Plus it gives them both a time to blow off some energy.

And a chance for Syd to have some special time with Daddy.

And after parent/tot is over, they come over with me and we watch the rest of Carson's camp.

And Sydney will give big brother some tips on his game.

A few kisses and wrestles and then we all go home! And hopefully sleep very well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Because! I said so! And I'm too tired to think of a better reason!

My friend Tiffaney and I were cracking ourselves up yesterday, discussing all the random rules and logic we pull out of our hindquarters during the daily parenting rigmarole. (Oh yes. I just used that word. Semi-correctly.) Because as Director of Development--aka Mommy--the one main perk of my job is that I am The Boss. The highest human authority. The Big Kahuna. Of course this is a jobshare situation when Daddy is home, but I'm talking about the long days when he is at work. As The Boss, I have the executive authority to decide on new founding principles of our family unit, create new standards and also imply that any such newly articulated guidelines have been in place since the beginning of time. And with this executive authority, there are no checks and balances, people.

In the defense of these tactics, might I point out that there are some rules that I never KNEW would be needed. For instance, my friend Amanda was recently shocked to find herself declaring "We never, EVER lick the toilet. Under any circumstances. No. Licking. Toilets." See? New rule! I had no idea we'd have to formulate our family's clothing (and lack thereof) policy. "You have to at least be wearing underwear when you leave your bedroom. You must have pants on when answering the door or talking to neighbor girls. Sydney must have a shirt on as well. I know, it's not fair, but it's a cultural expectation that we will abide by." Speaking of the outdoors, I tend to make and break my own guidelines on when it is and is not permissible to urinate in the backyard.

But it gets rather humorous when I start getting all "moral high ground" on the kids. No, I'm not proud of it, and please don't see this as an invitation to help me rewrite our household rules or my parenting technique, but I have been known to say things like "That would not make Jesus happy." I know! Mommy guilt PLUS religious guilt! So terrible. But actually kinda true. My "go to" fly by the seat of my pants rule creation is the ever-popular "IN OUR FAMILY." See, we learned early on that you can't make sweeping rules that seem universal, because then your kid will learn that it is forbidden to stick his tongue out (which is like flipping the bird in our family) and then fly off the handle when some other kid does it innocently on a playdate. (Or the reverse, like when your kid is allowed to play with light sabers and other kids are not!) So we focus the rules on OUR FAMILY. Oh, man, I use this one a lot. I justify it in my mind by thinking of the wonderful foundation of justice and goodness that I'm surely laying in their little minds.

IN OUR FAMILY, when we spill something, we clean it up. IN OUR FAMILY, we slide down slides, not walk up them. IN OUR FAMILY, we don't splash mommy when in the bathtub. IN OUR FAMILY we don't say "butt" or "shut up" or "hate." IN OUR FAMILY we don't like being late. IN OUR FAMILY we flush the toilet promptly and jiggle the handle in the front bathroom because you know that one gets stuck. IN OUR FAMILY we don't roll up in the floor rug, thus exposing the disgusting stuff underneath that mommy doesn't ever clean. IN OUR FAMILY kids don't hold fancy cameras or permanent markers, they don't drink mommy's soda or coffee, and they don't put stickers on glass or wood.

Tiffaney said her special off-the-cuff authority spouting is the "threefold reasoning." When she gives an instruction or order, and some child pouts and says "Aw! WHY?" She is never to be found without reasons, demonstrated with dramatic finger gestures: "FIRST, you'll do it because I told you to. SECOND, you'll do it because we need to take care of our things. And'll do it....BECAUSE I TOLD YOU TO DO IT!" She is very wise and witty, and I'm sure she never falls short on the threefold, but I know I do.

But as with the vast majority of my parenting practices, the goal is to get through the day without harming anyone and making sure everyone knows they are loved. Then just pray that by God's grace they really will find a balance of justice, morality and sanity that they picked up...IN OUR FAMILY.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I forgot to post about a funny quote from Carson on the day of our referral. Carson was actually on a fun outing with Bapaw Roy when we got the call. After I picked him up, we were in the car on the way to Daddy's work when I told him the news. He was satisfactorily excited and asking lots of questions about Asher. After a couple minutes, our conversation lulled and he asked where I was when the social worker called me. I told him I was at Michael's.

"The craft store?" he said with a smile, but also a semi-confused look on his face.
"Yes! The craft store!" I said.
"Huh," he replied, with a very matter-of-fact tone. "That's random."

Saturday, July 09, 2011

How I almost cursed at the ice cream man who was a lady

I don't have a lot of blog fodder right now that is not a long complaint about parenting a whiney three-year-old, so I'm going to have to go elsewhere for a story. I've been sitting on this story for a few weeks and thought I'd share.

If you'll remember, the second week of June we had a HUGE SALE fundraiser in our yard/garage. Doing a garage sale of any kind is exhausting, but the martyr in me likes to think that when over a dozen different families bring you all their treasures, the sheer volume of merchandise to be stored, moved, organized, priced and sold entitles me to a little more exhaustion. (Not that I didn't have help, because I had great help!) Also you need to know that Trent and I kind of have a deal about these kinds of things: I do it and he stays out of my way. Or helps in specific ways that I request. Like staying out of my way. And keeping the kids out of my way. Wow, I'm really starting to sound like a crazy mean lady, but it's all for the BABY, people!

So, let's just say that after weeks of prep, two LONG days of dealing with weird garage sale people and constantly adjusting the position of the sale items for optimum presentation, by Saturday evening? I was DONE. Dead woman walking on shakey legs and even more shakey temperament. Trent, the T family and my in-laws had done a wonderful job of caring for my children during the sale, but they were home when we were cleaning up. My parents were also there helping, which was wonderful. There were a few straggling shoppers that wanted to haggle/scavenge, and I wasn't having it. I told them to remove the items from my sight pretty please, hoping they would be scared off by my rudeness.

As we were tearing down, moving heavy items, boxing up the many things that didn't sell, trying to find a way to get stuff back into our garage, etc. THE ICE CREAM TRUCK comes down our cul-de-sac. Now, i don't have a lot of enemies, but in my mind? The Ice Cream Truck is my enemy. I never make eye-contact with the driver, but imagine him as a childless jerk who has years of manipulation perfected in the art of seducing little ones with sugar and fracturing parent/child relationships. My kids and I can be having a lovely, whine-free afternoon full of free back-yard sprinkler fun, and as soon as they catch a note of that tinny, jack-in-the-box music, and all hell breaks loose. They burst into begging and pleading with such passion that you would think someone was offering them a new car, not a $5 treat that is really worht 75 cents. Sometimes they evade my capture and run out to the front to "just look" at the truck, which totally eggs-on the Ice Cream Truck, who slows to a crawl and (I imagine) a smug, knowing smile. He may not get my $10, but he's wreaked havoc, which is worth almost as much. So it goes in my mind.

But back to the garage sale. The kids were out front with us, and they, of course, were jumping up and down with excitement, begging and pointing. All four adults took the classic stance of ignoring the entire existence of the Ice Cream Truck. This is my go-to move for such situations. Pretend it doesn't exist and soon it will go away. BUT IT DIDN'T GO AWAY. The truck not only slowed to .5 mph, it made LOOP around the cul-de-sac and came BACK around to our house where the children were on the verge of hysterical tears at the injustice of their parents. I walked inside for a moment, and my anger (surely compounded by my exhaustion) started to bubble up as I walked back outside and saw the Ice Cream Truck has STOPPED right in front of my children. Oh no he di'int. I put on my best confrontational face (which actually not that great) and started my Stomp of Justice out to that driver to give him a piece of my mind. Oh. I tell you. I was on FIRE with all the zingers I had planned for this stranger (so much easier to tell off a stranger!).

But when I approached the truck, this little post-middle-aged lady came out to meet me. Hmpph. OK, first surprise. It was a "she." Then she asked where we were adopting from. She had seen the signs. So I told her. But I still was mad at her! I was! Then she asked if she could buy this total gym thing that hadn't sold, but that we'd been lugging around for weeks and were wondering how we were going to get rid of. And I told her that everything was free at that point. She was overjoyed and almost hugged me. She asked if she could come back in an hour and pick it up, and I said yes. Then she asked if my kids could have a popsicle. And I said yes. I almost bartered for Klondikes instead, but I decided to let it go.

But she totally ruined my angry mojo. Now instead of picturing an evil, faceless, family-wrecking man behind the wheel of that pink truck, I'm picturing Sandra, the 55 year old grandma whose niece is adopting domestically and who is trying to earn a living and maybe do a little exercise on the side. Well. Pff.

So maybe the ICT is no longer my enemy. But that doesn't mean I'm going to drop $10 everytime Sandra drives by. But I MIGHT crack a smile. Or possibly wave.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

Friday, July 08, 2011

Photo Overload

Here's a post for the grandmas & grandpas & aunts & uncles.
This is the first weekend in 7 that we will not be out of town, having a birthday party/Father's Day/Referral, doing a garage or consignment sale. I'm quite happy to be past the craziest part of our summer! The last 2 weekend we were at the coast and the mountain, respectively, first with Trent's extended family and then with my family. I had my camera on me a lot more on the mountain, but got a few pics of the beach weekend too!


The highlight of beach weekend for Sydney was having Baby McKenna there! They are...second cousins? Their dads are cousins. It was a mutual entertainment for the most part.

G.G. with her 2 great-granddaughters. And a doll.

Gorgeous, gorgeous day at the coast!Auntie Tata and Riley--whom the kids think is their other cousin.
Cousin Kevin entertained Carson endlessly by building little villages and then inventing nature weapons to destroy said villages.
Denae has the patience to wait for Sydney's extended shyness to end...then they were best buds!
Chasing Auntie Shell in a pick-up game of beach baseball. 4 generations!

Now to Mt. Hood!
These boys have been coming on this trip since they were in utero.


This picture feels very Mark Twain-esque to me.

All 8 kids loved playing in this lovely, shallow creek!

These are the kids as they were almost done with their traditional treasure hunt. Henry is especially loving it.

Dirt, water, rocks, sticks? 2 year old boy is in heaven!
As Aunt Steph said, this picture really captures JACK!

The lake was so shallow, the daddies waded out and pulled the kids in the rafts. They loved it!
This girl takes her relaxing very seriously. Look at those divas! Ethan is giving Trent a good splash.

Beautiful Pacific Northwest!

My stubborn girl didn't want to walk back to the campsite, but since I was already carrying the tricycle she abandoned, I couldn't carry her as well. This was our stand-off.

Nina is the queen of fancy S'mores! I wish I had a picture of her fixing them up. We all loved them! Jojo was showing Sydney the finer art of tasting sticky marshmallows.

You don't have to ask her twice.

Oh yeah. that's the good stuff. This was right before we went home. We were flithy and stunk like smoke, but we had a great weekend! Why, yes, we bribed the kids with sugar to hold still for a picture. Except for poor Wyatt in the front row--we hadn't given him a sucker yet. This was the moment he realized....

Friday, July 01, 2011

Asher Update

First, a note to my other Holt Thai mamas who are "waiting to travel" (that's what they call the torturous time between referral and homecoming): we got an update on Asher yesterday, but I heard that only a few files came through so far. The rest are supposed to come by the end of next week. :( I hope this post isn't pouring salt on your wounds/aching hearts!

Yesterday we received the quarterly update for Asher from March, when he was 6 months old. He seems to be doing well! He weighs 9 kg, which yahoo conversion tells me is about 19 lbs. The reports are brief, but it says that he rolls over, smiles, coos, raises his chest high off the floor. Although I take all personality reports with a grain of salt (what are they going to say? He cries all the time?) the social worker reports that he sleeps well and is a content baby.


I put the new pictures on our private blog, which you can find by CLICKING HERE. The password is the same--my maiden name, all lower case letters. When you go over there, you'll see that Asher is totally rocking a bright PINK shirt and camo pj pants! I love it. We cherish every little detail of these pictures, and I'm sure we'll recount this one to him for years to come.


Some people have asked us about the details of Asher's current care and/or why he's older than some internationally adopted kiddos. It's a repeat for others, so feel free to stop reading if you already know this! One of the reasons we chose this particular program in this particular country (other than a strong leading from the Holy Spirit!) is because of the work of Holt Sahathai Foundation (our agency's partner in Thailand). When birth mothers come to them, believing they are unable to raise their child, HSF works HARD to see if the birth mother or her family actually CAN raise the child. Often children are put into a foster family while the birth mother/parents receive support and training to become more stable. If it's a financial issue, often children can be enrolled in Holt's child sponsorship program, when somone from the states pays a small monthly amount--just enough to cover the basic expenses the birth family cannot. To date, 80% of the women who come to HSF have decided to keep their baby.

As a part of the Hague Adoption Convention laws, it is my understanding that before relinquishing a child for international adoption, an effort must first be made to find a family in the child's birth country willing to adopt. Only after family and in-country adoptions are not an option are the children available for international adoption. That's why HSF's work is so large, yet the US program is so small. (The waiting list hardly ever gets longer than 15 families.) Also why babies are often 9 months old before being referred. (For more info on Holt and HSF's work in Thailand, click HERE.)


The other benefit of HSF's work is that they actively recruit loving foster families in Thailand to care for the babies while their files are being processed. Many times, it is a family with older children who bring in an infant for a year or two. Asher's foster family lives in a rural area a couple hours north of Bangkok. In the home is a mother, father, two older sisters (7 and 10) and the maternal grandmother. Be praying for all six of them! From what I have read, there is a significant difference in a child's ability to attach and bond as a toddler when he has already has the opportunity to bond with one or two caregivers in a home environment, rather than an orphanage-style home. I'm sure with two older foster-sisters and being the only baby, he's getting lots of one-on-one attention and love! The hard part about this scenario is that Asher will grieve the separation from this family much more strongly than if he were in institutionalized care, sharing the caregivers with several other children. We are preparing ourselves for one very upset and sad little man, for an indeterminate length of time. However, we are greatly encouraged by our friends who have gone through this before us, who fill us with hope at the resiliency of young hearts and minds, and the power of unconditional love, educated parents, attachment tools and loads of patience.


PS: If you do not know the password and would like to see the pictures of Asher, feel free to email me at