Saturday, December 20, 2008

Life

I'm not sure what it is, 3 kids - 2 in school this year, Piper being 2, me getting old, or what - but, life seems to have taken on turbo speed. Earlier this fall, I started to feel...squeezed, pulled, tired, busy, you know -just how the good Lord intended - NOT!

I listened to a talk by Henry Cloud, the author of Boundaries, and all sorts of light bulbs came on for me. The title of the talk was "Endings, the key to good beginnings". I really want to write a post on what he said, but the main point that really changed some things for me was that for certain seasons, we have to put an end to certain good things, to make room for another good thing. Our life is basically time and energy, and we each only have certain amount. What happens to your budget when you don't manage your money on purpose? Same thing with your time and energy. The day is over and you wonder where it went.

I spent some time thinking about the main things I wanted to spend my time and energy on daily. I have finally surrendered to the fact that if I'm going to workout, it's going to mean waking up at 5:15 and doing it before the kids wake up. I cannot tell you what a difference that is making. I spend about 45 on the treadmill listening to John Piper, or John Waller (usually a mix of the two), praying, and sweating like crazy. I ask God to help me with my time, and allow Him to bring to mind anything I need to do (or be) that day, and just get myself in a place where I am open to hearing His voice.

Putting this first in my day changes the rest of the day, and leaves me ready for bed by 9:00 pm! I am feeling so much more positive and productive, and actually more available for the people in my life. I've had to end some things that I enjoy in order to fit the main things in first. Writing on the blog has been one of the things that has dropped off as I get used to my new schedule. I used to write or at least start my posts at night. That time is now spent, well, sleeping! I am looking at this as a season where I settle into a new routine and am trying to give myself plenty of grace(a struggle at times) as I have to press pause on some things I think are important, just maybe not as important as some other things right now. I don't think that it's a coincidence that I heard this message just before a friend of mine went through a pretty major crisis. I was able to see clearly that God wanted me to be there for her, and put praying for her and walking with her through this trial as one of the things that was a priority, for this season. It was so clear.

Piper requires lots of mommy time and gets into mischief pretty quickly if left on her own for too long! I am a little sad that I've not been able to record on the blog some of her funnies lately. I told my mom that she is either going to keep me young or make me old. My mom thinks the latter.

We are all getting excited for Christmas, but none more than Ella(6). Every morning she crosses off another day on the calendar, and exclaims "I just don't think I can wait!!!". We got to talk to Santa at our town's Christmas festival, and while Hunter(8) is beginning to ask questions, he still believes! We've never made a big deal about Santa, but have treated it as a fun game to try and figure out. Hunter says he thinks it's really God who gives Santa the idea to give gifts. Oh, he is so right! He just doesn't yet know who Santa really is. Santa only gets credit for usually one gift and their stockings. I like to have everything else wrapped and under the tree ahead of time.

What a difference a year makes! This time last year, my dad was still struggling through chemo, and we we'd just learned of my mom's breast cancer that would require surgery at the beginning of the year. Unbelievably, they are both doing really well. Both done with their treatments, my dad having had several clear scans in a row! Thank. You. Lord.

I'm headed to Target and Ikea this morning, along with several thousand others I'm sure. If any of my bloggy friends is still checking up on us (I know at least a couple of you are), hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

***Blogger is not letting me post pictures right now. I'll be back later for that. Just not sure when later will be!

Friday, October 31, 2008

BOO!!!





Ella took her job as a cat very seriously.


Cutest pink bunny on the planet


Annual pumpkin carving at my parents' house with the cousins




Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Maybe I should get off the phone now

Heard from the other room, "Mommy, wanna play a game?"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Melamine makes me mad!

After sitting back and watching others in our various adoption related groups figure out what to do about the possibility that our children may have been given melamine tainted formula in China, I called Piper's pediatrician today. She is recommending every child adopted from China have blood work and urinalysis done, and possibly a renal ultrasound.

Turns out China has known about this issue for quite some time and did a "secret recall" sometime in 2006. What the heck?

Our adoption agency just sent out this email about melamine tainted Halloween Candy that applies to everyone:

"There is a new warning put out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency....Sherwood brand Pirate's Gold Milk Chocolate coins are being recalled due to the fact that they contain Melamine, the ingredient in milk product that has caused many infant/child health concerns in China. These candies are sold at Costco, as well as many bulk and dollar stores.please make sure to check your children's Halloween candy and DO NOT LET THEM EAT THE PIRATE COINS (you know the ones wrapped in the shiny gold foil) and please let other parents know about this!"

Why are people so stupid as to put this in children's products? It makes me crazy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Piper and her buddy Noah at the Pumpkin Patch



Negotiating who is going to drive the tractor.

Love this picture of Piper. It was Noah's turn, and she was trying so hard not to take the wheel! At least she didn't kiss any goats this year.

Where's Piper?


Hunter is running on a track team, and Piper and Ella love going to practices. We walk the track, they practice cart wheels and generally roll around on the astroturf until practice is over.


She's still working on her form.

Coming soon...riveting photos from the pumpkin patch!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Eeeek!

My computer is fixed, sort of, if you don't count the fact that it just shuts down every 35 minutes or so. So this will have to be quick.

We are in the middle of watching Alabama roll right over Georgia. I went out to the garage to get a bottle of water from the outside fridge and a medium sized mouse ran right in front of me - YUCKOLA!!!

Still living in defeat over the frog incident, Scott seems determined to get the rascal. He stopped the Alabama game, and for the last ten minutes he's been out there making a whole lot of noise.

Ok, he just asked for the flashlight, and I have to say, I am in shock over the state of the garage. He's pulled out the car and has all the kids stuff in a big pile in the middle. He is yelling at the mouse right now. It's as if his very manhood depends on the outcome.

I believe I am almost "live blogging" this.

More yelling. More banging around. Something hit the wall.

Success!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Apparently I am spoiled rotten

A year and a half ago, before we went to China, we got a laptop and I went wireless. It seems in that time I've become a laptop snob, b/c I just can't seem to be bothered with using a computer that is, gasp, connected to the wall by a cord.

Scott assures me that my laptop will be good as new by the end of the week. I sure hope he's right. I miss my blogs. I miss my blog friends. I do most of my computering sitting all comfortable on my couch.

So, it's me, here, connected to the wall, by a cord. I really do hope to be back at the end of the week with a squeaky clean wireless connection. I am already planning on hibernating for a few hours (or days) so I can catch up with all of my blogs. Can't wait!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Corrupted

I am using our dinosaur computer that is slow as molasses to write this post. My laptop is apparently "corrupted" and I could just cry about it. Scott took everything off it, put it all on an external hard drive, and attempted to restore it back to it's original state, you know before I CORRUPTED it reading mommy blogs. The little light on the front that is supposed to be blue is still orange.

I can't upload photos, or I'd post a picture of Piper's latest artwork. This morning I was lying on the dining room floor taping a pink polka dot table cloth to our dining room table for Ella's upcoming birthday party. Piper was playing quietly in the other room.

That should have been my first clue.

I walked into the kitchen to get some more tape when the purple scribbles caught my eye. Purple scribbles on the windows, window sill, walls, and tile. At least she's thorough.

Love that girl.

I would have to say we really haven't had our share of scribbles on walls, so I guess Piper just thought she'd humble us a bit. A while back I noticed something on the wood surrounding our garage door opening. I walked closer to discover someone had drawn a perfect Apatosaurous (long necked dinosaur for those over 10). Gee, I wonder who that could have been.

I just used the word dinosaur for the 2nd time in one post.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day

I've never played a meme before, but who doesn't want to read about my labor? Come on now! I read this over at Rocks in my Dryer and thought I'd add my 3 labors to the mix.

How long were your labors?
kid #1 -14 very long hours
kid #2 - 4 hours - their labor and delivery were as different as their personalities
kid #3 - 1,296 hours -oh my word. Once you have all of your paperwork turned into to China, they say you are "paper work pregnant", so that was a 16 month pregnancy. We got our referral call (water breaking???) on January 3rd and did not get to hold Piper until Feb. 26, 2007. Not labor, you say? Try preparing to travel half way around the world, leaving your 2 kids behind, knowing your 3rd child is living in an orphanage with questionable care, as you carry her picture around trying to convince yourself it is really happening.

How did you know you were in labor?
kid #1 - contractions
kid#2- 1 day overdue, doctor wanted to be home for dinner, so he induced me after a check up - grrrrr...
kid#3- I don't know if I can say how we knew unofficially(oh, I wish I could tell this story), but officially when the phone rang and I saw on the caller ID it was our adoption agency.

Where did you deliver?
kid #1 - hospital
kid #2- hospital
kid #3- at the Center for Marriage and Adoptions in Chongqing City, China

Drugs?
kid #1- oh yes, unfortunately they only took on my right side
kid #2- oh yes, but only for the last hour
kid #3- oh, I wanted some badly on the bus ride over to meet the babies!

C-section?
Nope, but we were close to one w/kid #1. The doc said if I didn't deliver w/in the hour, we'd have to. 45 minutes later...he arrived, he still hates to be late.
Kid #3- One of the great parts of an adoption delivery is you feel fantastic from the very first moment and get to focus on your baby 100%. There's nothing else in this world like it.

Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

See, we are alive!

Piper, cookin in her pink shades, just like mama.
Ella, posing with her "kissing hand" she made in Kindergarten.
Ella's apprentice, "I can pose with the curtains, too!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You must

go here and listen to today's broadcast of Focus on the Family with Steven Curtis Chapman. You just must. Beautiful.

Maria's adoption story. So get it.

"SEE". I will never forget this. Sometimes all I can say to God is "See, do you SEE this, Lord?". He does.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Today

They both had a GREAT day! (Thank you, Lord)
My Kindergartner!
Piper was a bit lost today. Kept asking me "where is everybody???". She likes for all her people to be "ALTOGETHER!" as she puts it.
Every fall, I am an Alabama football widow. So this year we all are joining in the fun!
Roll Tide!
Me? I had a good day too. Back to school...it's a good thing. More later.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kindergarten countdown

(taken today at the park) I would have been happy with any of the Kindergarten teachers at Hunter and Ella's school, but we found out yesterday she's in Mrs. "mom couldn't have picked a better teacher"'s class! I was hoping for her for Ella. This teacher seems very fun and social - two of Ella's favorite things. Something about her I just like, and I am really happy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Have you ever...



been awed by simple green grass and trees? I just love this little park in Lodi, Wisconsin. It has a little river running through it, and is a place of such simple beauty. In my fantasy life, this is my backyard.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I hate thinking of titles for posts that have no real point

So, in a matter of hours we will leave our beautiful Wisconsin retreat, otherwise known as Scott's parents' picturesque farm, and head to Chicago where will board a plane and fly home.

I left my camera cord at home so I can't upload our photos yet. They are real purdy, trust me. I'll do that next week as I try to wrap my head around the fact that in one week, I will walk Ella into her Kindergarten classroom, hug her goodbye, and, well, I'm not sure what next.

Just watched Michael (Phelps of course) do his thang. Wow. That was cool.

Next week...pictures - proof that we are still alive!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Larry King last night

I'm still thinking about the Larry King interview last night with Steven Curtis Chapman and family. SCC wrote a new article for CNN.com here. The message he relays here is close to my heart and wish we, as the church, would truly take it to heart, myself included.

Larry recorded some thoughts on the interview here. Interesting.

At times it was hard to watch, raw and painful. At other times I couldn't believe how much of God's word and character were being displayed on CNN in prime time. I loved the end where they played the recently written last verse to the song "Yours", while showing pictures of Maria.

"I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
So deep and dark that I could barely breathe
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear
And questioned everything that I believe
But still even here in this great darkness
A comfort and hope come breaking through
As I can say in life or death
God we belong to you
And we are yours, God, yours, God..."

Anyone else see it?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Keeping it real

For those who missed it, click here and see the Good Morning America interview with Steven Curtis Chapman, his wife Mary Beth, and their 3 oldest children. Click on the picture of the family to see the 9 minute video.

They will also appear on Larry King Live on Thursday night.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I can finally sleep again!

What is lurking behind this chair? As I pulled the curtains opened this morning, I did my usual glance down to judge the extent of the dust bunnies that usually gather in this particular spot. This window gets lots of afternoon sun, so, due to the blazing sun and our almost $600 electric bill, I haven't opened the curtain here for maybe a couple of weeks. I love having my curtains open, and decided I could at least open them until the afternoon sun hit.

Something caught my eye. A butterfly? No. I look a little bit closer. Eeewww, what is that? I move the chair back to get a better look.

I was going to crop this picture so that our little guy was closer up, but trust me, you don't want me to.

Poor guy. Such an embarrassing position to be discovered in.

If I could figure out a way to turn him over without getting anywhere near him, I would. At least he'd have some dignity until one of the boys in our house can dispose of him properly.

Scott will be relieved that we can finally TURN OFF ALL THE LIGHTS IN THE HOUSE that we HAD to leave on all night for the last 3 weeks. Hmmm, maybe that had something to do with our electric bill.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Brevity is not my gift

We went to Friday night's concert tired, weary, tired, and weary. Did I mention we were weary? We came home from Friday night's concert revived, moved, changed.

Scott's been working extra long hours for 3 weeks now. For the last 3 nights, Piper has woken up crying and had a hard time getting back to sleep. Lots of holding, rocking, singing...in the middle of the night.

Our first Steven Curtis Chapman concert, "Speechless", was way back when we were first married, 11 years ago or so. I remember him talking about their 3 kids saying "We have eeney, meeney, miney, and we are going to have no MO!" HA! We didn't have kids yet, and I remember thinking that was funny. We had someone sing "I Will Be Here" as a part of our wedding ceremony - love that song. He sang it that night as well.

Our next concert was in the beginning of 2006, about a year into our adoption process. Our paperwork was in China, but the wait was just beginning to grow, as well as the uncertainty surrounding what was happening with China adoptions. I went to that concert weary. Came home inspired and encouraged. My personal BIG moment at that concert was SCC and Mark Hall singing "Believe Me Now" together. It was a moment I'll never forget. It felt like God took me by the shoulders, shook me gently, but firmly, and reminded me that He was the one who had led us to adoption, and He was working, even when nothing was going according to my time schedule or plan. I had no idea at the time, but on the other side of the world, a woman was about 7 months along with our future daughter.

"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:15-16

So, Friday night was our first SCC concert since going to China and adopting Piper. It was only his 5th concert since the death of his adopted daughter, Maria, and his first since that time without his band, just him.

He walked out on stage as the audience took in the site of him, first time to actually see him since tragedy entered his family. It was good to see him putting one foot in front of the other, doing what he does so well. The sound of his voice is ripe with brokenness, wisdom, reverence. He sat down behind a keyboard and said, "I don't actually play the keyboard, but just wanted something to hide behind for a little while." He said it was going to be different for him, first time without the band since May 21st. He said the song "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord" was the only real thing that he held onto on the night of May 21st, and it has been his comfort since then. He said he doesn't think he'll ever be able to play a concert without doing at least part of it, and he began playing and singing it. There are many lines to that song that cut deeply given his circumstance, but the end "He gives and takes away....He gives and takes away...My heart will choose to say....Blessed be the name of the Lord...". And I will say, the tone of those words seem to mark SCC now. Surrender, complete brokenness, trust, reverence.

He talked, a lot, maybe even more than he sang. We loved it. Several times he apologized for rambling. I loved how he didn't seem to have a real plan for what he was going to say, just following his heart.

The second song was one he decided to do last minute after seeing the promotional posters they had up in the church "Changing lives one heartbeat at a time". The 7th song on his latest CD, This Moment, is "One heartbeat at a time", a song he wrote for his wife, Mary Beth. Every mom needs to go listen to song! I had listened to it many times before Friday night, but it has taken on a whole new meaning for me after hearing SCC tell about it. Wow, I started crying and couldn't stop, so glad it was dark in there. Like I said before, I'd come to this concert weary, tired, wondering if anything I do really matters all that much. As anyone who reads this blog knows, since going to China and falling head over heels in love with Piper, I carry with me the weight of feeling like I should be doing more, and vacillate between barely being able to sufficiently care for 3 kids and wanting to adopt the rest of the worlds orphans. So that was the place I was in as I sat and soaked in his story behind the words of his next song.

Years ago, when Shoahannah was little, he'd called home after concert to an overwhelmed Mary Beth. Shoahannah had been having trouble sleeping, common for these kiddos who have experienced so much in their short lives. Mary Beth was frustrated at her inability to get "anything done" and was worn out from so many nights of being up with Shoahannah. SCC was speaking straight to me - I just know it! I so connected with Mary Beth's feelings, but suddenly I could see just what SCC was getting to - this thought that she wasn't actually "doing anything" worthwhile, barely just making it day to day. Lately, I've started to get frustrated that right now I can't even attend bible study because Piper is having so much trouble separating from me at church. We are sticking to Sundays only, trying to give her consistency in a measured way. My time at church is spent praying she'll make it through the whole service, praying she's doing ok, etc.. The thought of "serving" in any way is out of the question right now, and I think I'm starting to feel like a Christian loafer or something, like I'm not pulling my weight. Like I should be doing more.

SCC said he felt so much compassion for the place she was in, and then jokingly said he wanted to slap this crazy notion out of her head. But being the songwriter kind of guy he is, he sat down and wrote her a song at 1 a.m. instead. He said, "there she was, mothering this sweet child, who not long ago lived in an orphanage with no mother."

He then paraphrased Mark 9:36-37 "He (Jesus) took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

"That word ONE recently jumped off the page at me. Think about what that means. We don't have to save the whole world to welcome Jesus himself, and live in that place. Just one." he said. Something clicked in me with those words. The burden I had carried was lifted off of my shoulders in that very moment, and instantly I felt the significance of those middle of the night sessions with Piper. Gratefulness flooded me as I realized what a wonderful privilege I've been given. I've known this at other times, but like Mary Beth, temporarily lost site of it. Perspective. Scott, knowing the place I was in, looked at me and said, "that's you, one heartbeat at a time". I cried through the entire song. Months of burdens that had piled up without me even realizing it flowed out in those tears.

I also cried everytime he talked about caring for the fatherless, orphans. No words to describe the meaning those words carry when your own child was once labeled an orphan.

It's an amazing experience to be so ministered to by one who is in such extreme grief. There's really no way for me to adequately express it. We got the sense him being there and sharing his heart was healing for him, but at the same time for us too.

He asked for prayers for Mary Beth and said he loves her so much and is amazed by the strength she has shown in the last two months. He then sang, "I Will Be Here". He said himself how the words of his songs take on a whole new meaning now. That song sure does. He said he's gone through all of his lyrics and asked himself if he can still sing those words. He thought he'd never sing "Cinderella" again, but has since realized it's message is more important than ever.

He started talking about Maria and ended up sharing her adoption story. They had already adopted Shoahannah and recently Stevie Joy, when he was in Beijing singing at a worship service. He walked out into a parking lot and was stopped by an American family with 2 Chinese babies. They explained that they were missionaries and their teenage kids would love to meet him. SCC said he was missing his babies terribly and asked who the babies were and could he hold one of them. The family was fostering them and was in the process of adopting one of them and was looking for a family for the other one. He asked the name of the one he was holding and they said "Maria" - an unusual name for a Chinese girl. SCC said that immediately and loudly, the words to a song he'd written 12 years earlier flooded his mind. He'd written it about a friend of his daughter Emily who'd come from a troubled family. The name of the song was, "Who's going to love Maria?" He said with all of the work they do in orphanages in China, he'd never felt so strongly pulled to an orphan in this way, like he was supposed to do something. He called Mary Beth who said he was crazy, so he figured he'd have to help her in some other way than making her his own. He said he got home a week later and Mary Beth had the filled-out adoption paperwork on their kitchen counter, waiting for his signature. Maria became Maria Sue Chapman.

He told about how she had asked to pray to accept Jesus into her heart, completely out of the blue, just weeks before her death because she wanted to go to "God's house, where there are many, many rooms!".

He seemed to think maybe he was talking too much and said, "I guess I just needed to talk about Maria tonight." Tears (mine).

He talked about the level of suffering they are in. He says looking back on the place he was when he wrote some of his songs, it was like they were in a foot of water saying, "wow, we are in really deep.". Now it's as if they are in the bottom of the ocean, saying "okay, this is really deep!". Everything he knew before is still as true as ever, just with a whole new view of eternity and the fellowship of the suffering. He kept back tracking, wanting to make sure we understood he didn't think he was experiencing some special kind of suffering or that it was about him. He kept steering everything back to God, His provision, His sovereignty, His plan.

He also asked for prayer as his family shares their suffering and their hope with Robin Roberts of Good Morning America on Monday. The show will air sometime the first week of August, but she is coming to their house tomorrow to interview the entire family. Their hope is to glorify God.

So that's my little recap. Hunter and Ella are spending the night at our friends house tonight! Ella has asked me 584 times today if it is 6:00 yet. I think we are all a bit excited!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tonight

Scott and I are going to see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert, tonight! We've seen him twice before and it's always memorable. Both Scott and I are sort of running on empty right now, so we are really looking forward to it.

Thanks, mom, for babysitting - may God be with you!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

You might be having a bad hair day if...

You are "fixing" your hair in the bathroom mirror at church, when a complete stranger casually asks you if you've ever tried a hair product called "Frizz Remedy"!

I am not even kidding. This happened to me today. No, I had not had time to flat iron my hair, and it was humid outside, but are you kidding me???

So in case you are interested, you can apparently purchase "Frizz Remedy" at ULTA and they are having a buy 2 get one free sale! Who knew?

Apparently not me.

The Year - Part 2

The surgeon looked up at my mom, me, my brother, and Wanda. We'd been waiting for 4 hours to hear what he had to tell us, and there was nothing light hearted in his demeanor.

"Don is doing fine, now." I remember wondering why he said "now", like he wasn't fine before. Looking back, I now know that he was giving us the good news first. Basically, he's alive.

"We couldn't get the tumor, it was blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...."

me: "You didn't get any of it?"

"No, because of the location, and how it was wrapped around the main artery, blah, blah, blah...He could have bled out if blah, blah, blah...I'm sorry."

It had not occurred to me that this was a possibility. That they would cut my dad open from one side all the way across his body to the other, work on him for 4 hours, that I would pray fervently and BELIEVE God for total healing, only to have the surgeon tell us that they did not get any of the tumor. At that point anything would have been better, some of the tumor, even if it was a small amount. We could have told ourselves it was worth this huge surgery.

Normally, I'm not one to immediately claim that God will heal someone. In fact, I think the bible plainly shows that sometimes God chooses not to heal or rescue for some divine purpose. My faith does not rest on God being my Santa Clause, but on His sovereignty. Sometimes, God shows Himself in the miraculous, and sometimes in our grief. I knew this. I knew this from the bible and also from my own experience. But, as I said in Part 1, as I was praying during my dad's surgery, something shifted in me. I can't really put it into words, but felt like I was being led to let myself believe that God quite possibly would do something amazing here. It took a leap of faith for me to allow myself to believe that all things were possible, even the statistically unlikely. Because if I let myself go there, then I was setting myself up for a big fall.

And fall I did.

I felt somewhat numb at first, but as the time came for us to go in and see my dad in ICU, the numbness wore off. My heart had taken up residence in my throat. The surgeon had told us that patients generally ask about the surgery when they are ready for the answer, and it may well be tomorrow before he even asks.

As we came into his room in the ICU, we could see that he was in a lot of pain. They were having a tough time getting it under control. But within minutes, he asked.

My mom gently explained that they were not able to get any of the tumor. There it was. The cold hard truth. It sounded so real and cruel, given the state he was in.

"So I'm going to die."

my mom: "Yes, and we are all going to die too."

The focus then shifted to trying to get his pain under some sort of control. The surgeon had explained to us that because they'd tried for so long to find a way to get to the tumor, he had a lot of healing to do. They had put in an epidural during surgery that was supposed to really help with the pain. Unfortunately, it did not work and it took them a while to figure that out, and switch to something different.

Pain, it was everywhere that night. Filling my dad's room. Filling up my entire being. It's hard to admit this now, but I felt God had tricked me, risen my hopes up, just to pull them out from under me. We had prayed about every decision leading up to this moment, every one. Why couldn't his pain at least be under control? I was angry.

Why? Why did we even do the surgery? All it did was wreck havoc on my dad's body. He would now have to heal from it before he could try chemotherapy or radiation. Why? It seemed so senseless.

I drove home at around 11 pm in disbelief. Exhausted, crying, asking God why. So much life had been lived in this one day. My last drive from the hospital to my house, during my dad's surgery, was so different, filled with hope and anticipation.

I kept hearing my dad's words in my head, "So, I'm going to die." I felt completely helpless.
I didn't see any good that could possibly come from this day. Here was my answer to my prayers for a miracle as I saw it, "NO". I'd love to sugar coat this and say that I felt the peace that surpasses all understanding, but that night all I could feel was a tidal wave of grief. It drowned out everything else. I do remember begging God for mercy for my dad's pain. I remember saying, ok, I get it, you've said "no", and I will learn to accept that, but please be with my dad tonight and ease his physical pain. I remember yelling in my car, "Do Something, Lord!".

I could have never, not a million years, predicted what God was up to. Instead of this being the end, this story was just getting started.

To be continued...

Ribbit

This frog is a sneaky one. We have not seen him since our 3:15 AM brawl.

For the 1st 24 hours, every time I entered a room, I'd scope it out, get down on the floor and look for the little rascal. I was living on the froggy edge and it was wearing me out. So now I've just changed my personality. I am now one of those nature loving Tom boys who would love nothing more than a frog jumping on her pillow as she sleeps. It's all a matter of perspective, really. I just change who I have been for the last 38 years, and I can get through the day just fine with a frog in my house.

Ribbit.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Would checking into a hotel be overboard?

What does one do when one knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a medium sized frog loose in your house? Well, if you were me, you'd spend every last bit of energy resisting the urge to sit on the kitchen table until the 8 year boy finds it. We have now been searching for said frog for 6 hours now, and I am beginning to get used to the idea that Kermit is hiding somewhere and may hop at me at any moment.

How did Kermit find it's way into our house? Good question. If you find out, please let me know, because this is freaking me out just a tad little bit. The 8 year boy is the obvious culprit, but has convinced me it wasn't him.

However, whenever, whatever...there's a frog in my house. Unfortunately I discovered him on my way to a bathroom break at 3:15 AM. He was sitting, very peacefully under a night light, just sunning himself I suppose. I couldn't tell what it was and almost reached down to touch it - Eeeewwww. Suddenly I snapped fully awake and screamed - FROG!!!! I woke S up, saying "do something, do something, there's a frog in the house, do something, NOW!" He was not near as excited or alarmed as I was, but did get up, despite his best attempt to play dead.

The scene that followed will forever be etched in my mind. Scott(in his boxers) vs. the medium sized brownish-green frog. I believe he was wearing boxers too.

Basically, the frog won. Scott lost the frog and decided he was going back to sleep. WHAT??? How could one sleep with a frog on the loose? We must find the frog, right? Wrong. I lay awake for an hour. I fell asleep enough to dream about a plague of frogs in my house. Huge, ugly frogs all over my house. I feel so rested today.

First thing this morning I had all the kids on the floor with flashlights, searching. So far the only thing we've found is several piles of rolly pollies, and way more dust than I am comfortable with. Seriously, if you have wood floors, take a flashlight and look under your furniture. Shocking.

I've already called Hunter's top bunk for tonight if we haven't found the frog yet. We've done our best frog calls and even googled "how to find a frog in your house", nothing. Suggestions???

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lake time!

Ella let Ms. Wanda pull out her first tooth! If you come within 20 feet of Ella, she will tell you all about it, she's a bit excited!
Piper and her cousin, Reed, digging a hole to China.
Yep, that's my mom on the ZIP Line!
Ella had a lot of firsts yesterday...1st time on a Zip Line, lost her first tooth, first time on a jet ski, first time on a go-cart...can you see how proud she is of her little self???
Ready for the parade
We had a great time at the lake yesterday, an annual 4th of July tradition. The kids played all day long, and I got to visit with friends I grew up with and be with my family. The only thing I would've changed about the day was the amount of time I spent sweating. Hunter got to ride behind the boat on a giant inner tube and a knee board. I love to watch him try new things and love them. He had a blast. All the kids did. They really loved sliding down the Zip Line off of the tree house platform. Ella thinks we should buy a lake house so we can have a Zip Line too. Why didn't I think of that?
I appreciated our time there more than ever, because we didn't get go last year. Part 2 of our Year story coming soon.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Year - Part 1


A year. Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, 4th of July. But for our family, this year also included much, much more than the everyday life that goes along with the changing of the seasons.
I am just now feeling like I can write about the events of this last year. The 4th of July is especially significant to us this year, and I really wanted to write about it, but a little recap is necessary.

A general timeline:
1/3/07 - We receive our long awaited referral from China for our daughter, Xiu Fu Zhu(8.5 months old)

2/26/07 - Scott and I travel to China and meet Piper Grace for the 1st time, same day, adoption is complete!

3/8/07 - The 3 of us return home, and introduce Piper to Hunter, Ella, and my parents

3/10 - 4/26 - We struggle to get our bearings while Piper endures jet lag, Giardia (which leads to dehydration), ear infections, 2 strains of the flu, an allergic reaction to an insect bite on her eyelid, and allergic response to an antibiotic shot, and gets the measles from her MMR shot!

4/27/07 - And then, the unexpected. My parents tell us that my dad(66 at the time) has had a CAT scan and they are fairly certain he has lung cancer. This hits me really hard. I was already emotionally, physically spent from the prior month. I love my dad. My kids love their Papa. I'm glad I didn't know the worst of it was yet to come.

5/07 My brother and I attend several doctors visits with my mom and dad to find out if my dad is a candidate for surgery, his only real medical hope for a cure. After many tests, the surgeon gives us some hope he will be able to remove the tumor. He cautions us that the tumor is near the main artery in the lung and it will not be easy. All I hear is that my dad is candidate for surgery.

5/21/07 Surgery Day-I felt a lot of stress/guilt for any time spent away from Piper during this important bonding time, so Piper came with me to the hospital for the first half of the day. She was a sweet distraction while we waited and waited and waited some more for my dad's surgeon to arrive from an emergency he'd had to go to at another hospital.

We spent the morning in a little curtained off surgery prep. area just talking, laughing, and waiting. My dad had several visitors which kept us somewhat distracted, but as the hours went by, my dad began to get more apprehensive about having surgery so late in the day. Would the surgeon be tired after such a grueling day? This was my dad's only shot, he wanted it to count. He asked us several times if we thought he should cancel the surgery and do it another day. He decided to talk to the surgeon when he came and voice his concerns.

The surgeon finally arrived and told my dad it was his decision, but that he did this everyday, and felt completely confident in preforming surgery that afternoon. This would be the first of many times I felt helpless to provide relief to my dad. He really struggled with whether to go ahead that day, but finally said, "Let's do it.".

I hugged my dad and told him I loved him. Once he'd gone into surgery, I decided to run Piper home, so she could get to bed on time that night, and so I could be fully with my mom as we heard from the surgeon. For every minute of my 30 minute drive home, I prayed. I was afraid to believe that the tumor could be removed, but as I drove, my prayers shifted and I began to believe that it was possible. I prayed all the way back to the hospital, then found my way back to the waiting room where my mom, brother, and a few friends were waiting. It was now about 6 p.m. or so, and my parent's very good friend Wanda arrived. 3 years earlier, at this exact time of year, the situation was reversed and it was Wanda who sat and waited to hear how her husband, Jack (my dad's best friend), had made it through the same exact surgery. Jack's tumor had been successfully removed, but 6 short months later a complication unexpectedly took his life.

Wanda suggested one of us have some paper ready to take notes when the surgeon came out, she volunteered to do it for us. As the minutes ticked by, the anxiety in the room increased as we waited. We all considered it a good sign that the surgery was taking as long or longer than the surgeon had told us. He must be at least doing something. If he'd gotten in there and it was inoperable, he would have sewn him back up and it would already be done by now. By this point, I had convinced myself that an all out healing was a real possiblity.

My mind is fuzzy on how long my dad was in surgery, but I think it was around 4 hours. Sometime around 7 p.m., the surgeon walked into the waiting room and took took a seat. I desperately tried to read his face as he took off his surgical hat and crumpled it up in his hands.

Somehow, I was not prepared for what he had to say.

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

My new favorite quote

"You are never actually doing nothing. Sitting and laying down are not nothing! They are something!!!"
-Ella, 5 years old

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I just can't stop

video "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"


For Piper's fan club - her singing debut...

videoPiper's rendition of "Jesus Loves Me"

I'll be shocked if this works

videoThis is just a little video we shot using my camera to see if we could load it onto here. The suspense is killing me. It's taking a long time to load. I have nothing to say, but I just keep typing. Oh, look there it is! If this really worked, I'll get one of Piper tonight.

Let's see..

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Did I mention that I am scared of heights???

The Black Canyon
I prayed without ceasing the entire time we were here.
See that little metal bar? It's the only thing that stands b/t you and a very painful death, not that I was thinking I was going to die or anything.
There was about 2 feet of dirt b/t the road and this drop off.

My favorite spot










Mr. V, our host for the week and owner of the beloved Molly, told us about several back roads to take just about 15 minutes from where we are staying. We drove 7 beautiful miles up a mountain and found the most delicious spot. We were the only people there, so we claimed the area as our own and made ourselves comfy. I love the groves of Aspens. I am trying to figure out how to pack an Aspen branch that I found - it's pretty big. Scott and Hunter went for an hour hike while Ella, Piper and me climbed rocks, threw rocks in the river and played in the snow!