Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Forever Home - 4 Years!

I can't believe it's been 4 years since I first held our sweet Kinley Grace!  Here is the journal entry from Gotcha Day, as posted on Table for Ten:

Behold the beauty and praise the Father!
I'll journal about the day later ... but I know what you really want :)
first glimpse!!
album we sent ~ trying to convince her mama and baba are ok....
didn't work
getting better
family pic ...minus six
It's like 90 degrees here - but no complaints!
Mama can't get too far away (!!!!)
My goodness, look at that beautiful face!
Amazing big brother!
Down for the count
Hungry girl
Yes, Baba does exist
So I finally get to post about the day.  Ya’ll kept hitting the site and kicking me offline when I was posting pictures … so I decided to leave you alone :)  It’s all good!
In retrospect, I don’t think the reality of getting Kinley Grace today really hit me until we arrived at the Civil Affairs office!  I just kept thinking, “How can it get any better?”  My kids at home are having a blast, Kambry is doing awesome, Andy and Christina are amazing, all my friends keeping the littles during the daytime are giving good reports, Kooper is a.m.a.z.i.n.g!  At what point do we say, “Enough!  We totally don’t deserve Your goodness!”
We arrived at Civil Affairs before 9:30 expecting to see our girl when we topped the stairs.  The emotions had already built to overflow and I was containing a scream… but as we quickly scanned the room there was no sign of our daughter. Two other families were united today, and it was a joy to watch them! 
The director arrived and said the baby was on the way, so we did paper work before she arrived.  Clayton kept asking if he could run to the restroom and I refused … you have to understand something.  When we were near delivery of two of our babies he ran downstairs for lunch one time, coffee another; when we deplaned from China last year he insisted on a pit stop before we saw our kids after three long weeks.  I just didn’t think he needed to miss this special moment!
We were in the middle of placing our thumbprints on documents when Hai Xin entered the room!  I think I screamed, “Forget your thumb – get the camera!”  (My poor husband).  She was fine as long as she was in the arms of the director.  It was painful to continue on with paper work as my baby sat three chairs down.  Finally they gave her a biscuit and handed her to Mama.  Well, not exactly handed her to me.  More like pried her fingers from the director’s clothes as I tried to hang onto her.  The girl can scream!  I’m talking s.c.r.e.a.mlike a girl!
She is absolutely beautiful though.  She has tiny little features, beautiful fingers and the most gorgeous skin. We have been told many times how lucky we are. Lucky, not so much; blessed, beyond measure!
Once she settled down she wouldn’t let go of Mama.  What finally made her think I was ok is when she was handed to Daddy.  She kicked, screamed and reached for Mama.  Whatever works, right?
When we got back to the room she didn’t want me to put her down.  We sat on the bed and played.  We knew Kooper would be awesome with her.  He is a natural big brother.  He makes little noises at her, plays with her hands and gives her objects.  He has never spoken Chinese to her.  He just makes playful noises, and he doesn’t hover.  It’s perfect!
She is off the bottle and eats everything.  She drinks from a cup.  I was able to feed her with chopsticks and a spoon at lunchtime, she really didn’t care.  Right now she’s completely shut down.  She doesn’t like change.  We put her in the Ergo to go to Carrefour.  It was a wrestling match, but once inside she was fine. We purchased some diapers and wipes for the orphanage, some toddler snacks, Kooper snacks, juice and water.  We’re set for our trip to Ningbo tomorrow to get Kinley’s passport.
I can tell Kinley Grace is loved!  Every gift we sent her was returned to us, along with a beautiful keepsake from Ningbo.  They even used the two disposable cameras, and we’re having them developed now.  Possibly the most precious gift is the wrist band she received from the hospital at birth!  It will be a very special keepsake for our precious girl.
I just wanted to share that this afternoon CJ was reading his Bible, and Kooper pointed at it and said Bible in Chinese.  You think I’m a little excited that he at least knows what it is?!? 
Now we can’t wait to skype the kids so they can meet their newest sibling.
We just can’t fathom the goodness of God!  We are in awe!  We praise You, Father!
However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”  1 Cor 2:9

Baked Oatmeal - Who Knew?!?

Baked Oatmeal!  
Shhhhh, my family thought it was dessert!

Next time I will triple it and put in a 9x13...

*3 cups quick-cooking oats
*1 cup packed brown sugar
*2 tsp baking powder
*1 tsp salt
*1 tsp ground cinnamon
*2 eggs
*1 cup milk
*1/2 cup butter, melted
*extra milk
Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk and melted butter.  Stir into oat mixture until blended.
Spoon into greased 9" square pan.  Bake 40 minutes or until set.
Serve warm with milk.

*Note* I didn't have eggs so I made it without them, and it was not set but still delicious!  The possibilities are limitless: add fruit or nuts.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Arise, Church!

As a mom of many, who all too often falls prey to self-pity and the fleshly desire for comfort, I am reminded of the Gospel of Christ.  Thank you, Bill, for sharing from an adult adoptee's perspective ~ 

Stinky Tofu and Other Things

"We spent a wonderful year with this family, growing, learning, and being loved.  After a year, our biological family’s rights were terminated and we were placed for adoption.  My foster parents asked if the three of us would be adopted together or if we would be broken up into multiple families.  When they were told that we would probably be broken up, my foster parents, ages 60 and 64, said they could not let that happen, and they chose to adopt us.  
They chose us.  They loved us.  They wanted us.  Thirty years, and I remember this."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Four Years Ago Today...

...we landed in China, and our Gotcha was moved up to that very day.  
Four years later I know that this adoption is less about us rescuing him and more about God rescuing us...from our pride and selfishness.  Here is a recap of that exciting day from our travel site Table for Ten!:

We're here!  It's been a long 30 some hours but guess what... we just checked into the Mandarin Garden at 11:30 a.m. and WE GET KOOPER AT 2:00!!!!!  We've got to go shower and get ready.  He will not think much of his parents if we don't.  Update later.  Oh, my, I'm so stinkin' excited I can't stand it!  God is good!!!!!!
Updated again below!
Here's what you've been waiting for ... and what we've been waiting for.  Our Gotcha Day was moved up to today!
The anticipation ...
FINALLY!  We meet our son!
Necessary paperwork
We are LAUGHING a lot!
Family picture
Be still my heart!  Nancy suggested Kooper hold his mama's hand to cross the street.  The next time we crossed the street, he grabbed my hand!
We let him call his friend tonight.  It was so fun listening to him.  Okay, so now he's on the phone calling another friend ;-)
The translator that has saved the day!  He loves it, and so do we.  He can play games and upload music ... when we figure all that out.
 There's so much I want to say here.  Our boy is amazing!  He thinks his daddy is a goofball and he imitates everything he does!  Oh great!  We are seriously lacking sleep.  It's been over 48 hours since we last slept, so I'll come back and fill in the gaps.
We're using a lot of made-up sign language and gestures... and did I mention we're laughing A LOT!  We're going to skype the kiddos tonight!  We miss you!
I admit I don't know what day to put all this on, between jet lag and the super emotional and adrenaline-powered early Gotcha!  So I'll just put it on the day it happened, which I think was Wednesday the 21st :)
First and foremost, I need to praise my Father in Heaven!
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  1 Sam 1:27
Isn't it funny how all the obstacles and trials of the wait seem to melt away when we experience God's goodness and faithfulness in His fulfilled promises!
We were exhausted by the many layovers on this journey, and though we had been told it's possible the orphanage would bring Kooper to us upon arrival, we really wanted a chance to collect our thoughts and be alert.
So when Savor (yes, it's Savor!) met us at the airport and we asked if she had anything planned for us the rest of the day, she said, "You get to meet your boy!" well, that's PRETTY BIG!
Savor had a million questions about our family, and we used the time to revive to prepare for our son.  At 1:30 we had showered, found some less wrinkled clothes to wear, prayed and met Savor and Nancy in the lobby.  It was a short drive to the Civil Affairs Office, and when we pulled in we saw Kooper sitting in the lobby with Coco.  He turned and waved ... and I lost it!
When we entered the room, Kooper met us at the door.  He is so amazing!  In many of his pictures he's very stoic and appears expressionless, but he's got an amazing sense of humor.  He smiles at our goofiness and laughs at his daddy's antics.
We got to ask many questions of Coco.  Kooper attends the orphanage school and according to Coco is a 'so-so' student.  Hmmm, better get my thinking cap on.
Next we insisted Nancy and Savor take us to the electronics store so we could find a good translator.  It was quite a bargain and is really awesome!  We just need to figure out what kind of transformer/convertor to use at home to charge it.  And right now we don't know how to change it from English to Chinese back to Chinese so he can play the games in Chinese... the instructions are in Chinese.  We'll have Savor help us today.
I fear we will become lazy with the translator though because we rush to it when he doesn't understand.  He's so careful to take care of things. 
When he returned from the shower last night he asked if he should wash his clothes.  I told him mama would do it.  I need him to know we will take care of him.
more later ... gotta go eat breakfast.  I couldn't sleep past  4!
Back from breakfast.  We have some social skills that need refining, but all in good time.  Our boy is so polite, always holding the door for Mama and saying 'thank you.'  I think he's afraid of taking too much to eat.  We want to be careful for the sake of his digestive system, but we want him to know he won't go hungry.
Last night we skyped A&C and the kids.  He got to talk to Kolton, Kenzie and Kayden.  He says their names.  Daddy was already snoring away - at 8:00 - so he didn't get to see the kids.  At 8:30 I told Kooper that Mama was tired, we'd had a big day and should rest.  I told him he could watch TV a little while, but he turned it off soon.  He climbed into bed, I tucked him in and kissed his forehead.  It was a natural thing to do, and his body language tells us he's ok with the affection ... so we're going to run with it!
There's a lot on my mind but it keeps slipping away ... maybe it will come back to me later.  For Thursday we are going to the department store.  Kooper brought one change of clothes, a backpack and the gifts we have sent him.
Oh yeah, the first word he typed into his translator was "Kooper."  I think he was disappointed he couldn't get a meaning.  I told him what Cooper means, and someday we'll get to explain his middle name, Joe, is Hebrew and derived from Joseph.
We asked Coco what he would prefer to be called, and he said Kooper.  He's so easy-going.
In all honesty, we're expecting a time of grief and melt-down, and I don't know what we'll do when that happens. 
Thank you for your awesome comments and prayers.  They mean so much to us!
God bless you all!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mealtime Made Easy Peasy

When I find an easy dish that my family loves, it is my duty to share :)

Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders
2 lbs lean ground
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 small onion finely diced
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp salt
1 pkg Kings Hawaiian dinner rolls
6 slices American cheese
Preheat oven to 400.  In a bowl combine the beef, bread crumbs, diced onion, onion powder and salt.
Evenly distribute the beef mixture in a 9x13 pan, gently pressing to even thickness.  Use fork tines to poke holes throughout the meat. 
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or till cooked through.  When cooked through, remove the pan and drain off the liquid.  Top with the sliced cheese and return to the oven for 2 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow to rest a few minutes and then cut into 2” squares.

*My kids don't like onions in their burgers, so next time I will skip the onion and use dry Ranch mix.  And I made 2 pans of this, of course*

Easy Peasy Stromboli
1 pkg peperoni
1 (13.8 oz) can Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust
¼ cup pizza sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp dried Italian seasoning
Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Unroll dough on the cookie sheet and starting at the center, press out to form rectangle.  Spread the sauce over the dough to within 1 inch of sides.  Top with Italian seasoning, peperoni and mozzarella.  Fold long sides of dough over filling, then press edges to seal.

Bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes or till crust is golden brown.

Friday, October 11, 2013


This is the word the Lord has given me recently.

Quite a while ago I stopped posting about the unwelcome guest in our home:  Trauma.  I wish I could say that absence of posting = absence of the impact of trauma.  

It’s been nearly four years since we were first introduced, and I realize I need to take some time to ‘heal thyself’ in order to maximize my ability to help us become a healing home.

I still ask the Lord to change my hard heart, to give me the patience to respond with compassion, the strength to persevere through the trenches and joy to rise above the chaos.  I still make the same mistakes.  Not because He isn’t answering my prayers.  Because I am so very human.  I get in the way of His work in me every day.  I’ve been desperately asking God to show me why I am so insistent upon living as the former self, rather than as the new creation He has made me to be.

And He has!  It’s all about forgiveness.

Heaven knows I don’t deserve the depth of forgiveness God has extended to me.  I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for His redemption.  With God’s grace, I have been able to overcome deep wounds and forgive others who have hurt me, only because He has shown me how!  But now comes a revelation that shakes me to the core. 

I am withholding forgiveness.  I am casting blame.  Not audibly, but clearly in my heart.  And it is spilling over like poison, tainting everything it touches.

What a horrible admission!  But maybe you’ve been there?  Maybe you are like me and didn’t realize this is brewing in your heart?  Let the healing begin!
I realized that I was so beaten down with the impact of my child’s trauma that somewhere in the process I began to blame him.  In my heart I held him accountable for the countless hours we spend on the road for therapy, for the constant attention he requires, for taking my focus off the other children, for every time our plans change suddenly because of his reaction or response, for the fact that he must always be supervised, for the fact that I am exhausted because every moment must be a teaching one, and on and on and on…  I blamed him for relationships lost, conflict gained, misunderstandings, judgment, and  criticism.

Truth is, as critical as someone else may be of my parenting, I am my worst critic.  

And so, I was also blaming myself.  I couldn’t understand why he would do things he shouldn’t or wouldn’t do things he should, why he would retreat so deeply within himself, why he would lash out for no apparent reason, why he would lie about something so c.r.a.z.y and obvious, and why MY response would typically escalate his reaction.   And so I also blamed ME!

Forgiveness starts here!  
My child doesn’t need to know that I blame him or that I need to forgive him.  He doesn’t need that burden.  But it is something that must happen in my heart.  Today I began by granting myself and to him.  I will never be a perfect parent.  At the end of the day I hope to say I did my best (totally relying on God!).  

Raising a child requires commitment and investment.  Raising a child with neurological, physical or emotional conditions requires even more.  And in the words of Dr. Karyn Purvis, “…the longer a child experienced neglect or harm, the more invested you’re going to have to become in their healing.”    In an effort to help my child heal, I’ve focused too much on ‘fixing’ him.  That has proven to be frustrating and exhausting because in the process to ‘fix,’ I have not been able to appreciate who he is, making this adventure more about the destination than the journey.

He is treasured.  He is valuable.  He is wanted.  He is a child whom God has entrusted to me.  Not so that I can fix him.  So that He can change my heart.  And so that I can shape, nurture and protect my child.

God has given me a firsthand opportunity to live out Scripture.   It is one thing to say, “Sure, I can love my enemies (because I can keep them at a distance); I can speak for those without a voice (because, in all honesty, I get to choose how much effort I put into it); I can fight against injustice (because I can quit when I’m tired).”

What am I to do when the person who acts most like my enemy lives in my home?  When the person whose voice I must be doesn’t want to hear?  When my fight for injustice is mocked?  When I am at the end of my rope but the battle rages on?

Then I lean in close to my sovereign God, and I trust that He will never leave me (Jos 1:5), that He works ALL things for His glory and for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28), that His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9), that He gives me hope (1 Pet 1:3), that His strength is enough (Phil 4:13, Heb 12:12).

God is more than able!  He has loved me in spite of my hard heart, and He has made a way for me to love.  Healing begins with forgiveness!
To HIM be glory!

*Disclaimer*  I am not a single parent.   My husband and I are very much a team with the attitude of me-and-you-against-the-world-babe, but this is my heart issue.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Just for Kicks

Every day I think I will blog...and before I know it, I'm into another week!
I love to blog.
But so much of what I do is at the computer.
I work at the computer.
I pay bills at the computer.
I connect with adoptive families at the computer.
I research farm stuff for Mr. Greenthumb at the computer.
And by the time it comes to blogging, well, I have nothing exciting to say :)
But I have found something I truly enjoy, and it has consumed what was left of my time the last four weeks.
I took an on-line photography class from another adoptive mama.
I have learned a lot about myself.
1) I lack the creativity to become a photographer
2) With much practice I can take good shots of my beautiful kids
3) I could spend an afternoon playing with my camera
So, here's my shot at sharing what I love in a way that I love sharing :)
Some of these pics seem random, but they are all part of my assignments using different perspectives, different lighting scenarios, etc.
*I did manage to get all the littlest Treasures in here*

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