The whole darn fam

The whole darn fam

Friday, March 31, 2017

To read in detail about Hope's (and the others) adoption on the links on the right for my adoption blogs!

9 Years. It seems some days like yesterday, and some days like it's been forever. I will never forget riding on a tour bus, through chaotic downtown Nanjing, China, with at least ten other couples en route to meet our children. I remember nervous conversation, mindless chatter, as we drove. The dads talking business, and the moms mostly looking eyes wide out the window. Excitement, nervousness, and a bit of terror crossed all of our faces as we drove. When we arrived at the government office, similar to a courthouse, we were told the children were there.

OMG. Like reality set in big time. I literally felt my heart beating out of my chest. The thing is, I wasn't worried much, just excited. Darrin and I had four kids. Our oldest, Hannah was with us, giddy with excitement. We loved kids, we "got" kids, and kids really seemed to like us. I knew in my heart that this two year old sweetness was just gonna love us. To date, there wasn't a kid that we couldn't win over.

Until that day.

The kids were brought in, and I spotted my baby girl. The nanny was clutching to her, tears in her eyes, and Hope looked a tad worried/concerned. All the other families were passed their children, and most of their kids were sort of in a stunned silence.

Then, it was time for the nanny to pass off Hope to us. Oh. My. Word. The terror, the screaming, the tears (from all of us). This kid was not having us. I had a bottle ready, snacks, toys, games, candy. An arsenal of bribery items and this little Chinese firecracker, with a sort of slicked back Elvis haircut, wearing no less that 4 layers of clothing could care less. She screamed, and screamed. Then, from stress I assumed, she passed out. I was so thankful. We got to take some pics, and just look at her perfect face, and catch our breath a bit. We carried her on the bus, and she woke up. We braced ourselves, but the bottle I had, and the snacks seemed to work, and she tolerated us. Well, she tolerated Hannah and I..more Hannah though. When she looked at Darrin, it was if the Prince of Darkness was standing in front of her. Scary scary. She had never really been exposed to men before, so she was not a fan. Broke my heart. Really broke Darrin's heart.

I had the hotel room set up like a virtual kiddie playroom. Toys, specially ordered Chinese dolls, beautiful snuggly blankies, books, everything I could think of. She toddled over to her Chinese dolls, picked them up and threw them hard against the wall.

Hmm. Awesome. (side note...she never liked dolls, and remembers those and said she hated them)

I wanted to give her a bath, because let me tell ya, the layers of clothes she wore sure caused her to be sweaty. So I put her in the tub...and I brought out the heavy hitters....Bubbles, and foam bubble spray. Finally...the glorious smile appeared. Then giggles, splashing, and all out fun. I think she was in there an hour....maybe more.

Everyday, actually every hour was a bit better. She learned to like us. Funny Americans will give me whatever I desire. Lots of food...which to date is her favorite thing... won her over big time! And bubbles. Bath bubbles, and outdoor bubbles. Who'd have thought bubbles would help us meet a common ground but they were miraculous!

If I had only know now what I knew that first day, it would all make so much sense. Hope is a girl on her own schedule. She is determined, feisty, strong, and most definitely does not like to be forced into situations. BUT, when she feels comfortable, and lets that guard down, she is the kindest, sweetest, most loving child you ever could imagine. Hope was born a fighter. She was left on a doorstep at 2 weeks old. She spent two and a half years fighting for attention at an orphanage. She is strong. She is a survivor. Because Hope was born with differences in her hands and feet, this personality will be such an amazing asset to her.

Don't tell her that her differences define her. Don't tell her that there is anything she cannot do. She has shown all of us that physically...even while missing most of her toes, and having smaller fingers, she is an insane athlete. Soccer, basketball, name it. She is quite annoyed that she can't play football for her school's team. We are going to look into her being a kicker for another area football team. This child is the definition of girl power. She proudly wears sweats and boy's high tops, and hair in a pony everyday. Unaware of how amazingly beautiful she is. There is literally not one thing I would change about this daughter of mine.

She has taught our family Hope.

She has taught our family strength in the face of defeat.

She has taught our family acceptance of anyone regardless of anything special about them.

She has given us more that we could ever give her.

Our Hope Hexu. Our tiny warrior. I praise God that somehow, someway, we were the blessed ones chosen to be your family. I cannot wait to see more of your amazingness as you grow. Happy nine years sweet baby girl.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Story of One....

It was a cool late December morning...there was the post Christmas hustle and bustle surrounding an open air market...connected to a large strip mall. Shopkeepers setting up their wares, and sweeping in front of their stores, with the large straw brooms typical of China.

In the distance, a soft cry can be heard. At sounded more like a cat, so it was ignored by many. Then, it became more persistent...and as a woman looked closer..she saw it was coming from a bundle on the stairs leading to a large store. The woman picked up the bundle, and saw a baby was inside. A very sick looking baby. A boy...with a birth note..and a copy of a medical report.

She wasn't all that surprised, unfortunately. If a baby is sick...they most likely are left. Most Chinese living in this area do not have the funds to pay a hospital to care for a baby like this.

She did what she knew to do. Called the police...and this sweet, sickly, baby boy...feverish, and making a painful, pitiful cry..was brought to the orphanage. They immediately brought him to the he looked close to dying. Thankfully, this was one of the more well-funded orphanages, that could arrange for him to have medical care.

Dr.'s looked at his medical report that came with him...saying he had a cyst on his brain...but they noticed he was also in extreme distress and pain. His almond eyes shut, wincing, his sweet face in a painful grimace. They then discovered he had a stomach issue...his bowl had begun to collapse into itself. He needed surgery immediately...or he would die.

Surgery was performed..sloppily..but it was life saving. And he was sent to the orphanage.

The nannies there thought he was brain there was no rush to file paperwork for him to be adopted. It was predicted that he would live his days out there...and then be transferred to an institution later in life.

But this baby had different plans.

He not only defied any expectations...he exceeded them! He grew chubby and darling. His smile made his eyes disappear..and lit up any room he was in. He met every milestone...and then some!
He quickly became a favorite of the head nanny.

She loved him so..and brought him home with her some of the evenings...and made sure that he had that extra hug and kiss during the day. She cheered his first steps....and watched as he played...knowing that someone could love him as their own.

She made certain that adoption paperwork was filed for him. And then a camp came to the orphanage from the United States. Originally...this sweet boy was not on the list of kids that the Americans were coming to meet and get information on so they could be adopted. Most of the kids were older than him...he was just 3 years at this point.

But some last minute begging...had him added on...and boy did he charm the pants off of the American staff! He danced, he sang..he threw balls, and bounced a basketball like no ones business.

Yet...all of these descriptions of a seemingly healthy child...seemed to mean little to perspective his file listed him as having a "brain abnormality". Most of the children that were met on that trip..found a family through the agency that visited. But this darling chubby faced, adorable boy still waited. Not one family would take a chance with a "brain damaged" child.

He spent his days with many "brothers and sisters". Some of them had something different about them...some of them spent time on a room just with other kids that couldn't do much. None of them had a mom and dad. Sometimes his days were fine...and it wasn't so bad. Yet, sometimes he got hit...for no reason at all.

So he went out of his way to be extra good so that didn't happen. He became a leader in his class...and made sure all the kids were good so they didn't get in big trouble. All the kids loved him. But..because he was allowed to go home with the one nanny...he saw what a family was like. He knew that this wasn't a real family...although it was the only one he knew.

He knew love there. But he also knew he saw many of his friends treated far worse than he. Food withheld...being ignored. It made him so sad.

One day...when he was close to 5 years old, he learned that he had a Mama and Baba! A family chose him! He was so excited.....and showed the album of his family to all of his friends..he couldn't sleep at night he was so excited to meet them! He even got a birthday cake sent to him..with a card that played music for his 5th birthday! He smiled so wide for his pictures with his cake because he knew his very own parents would look at them.

The day finally arrived..they were here!!! He rode in the van to meet them..clutching his card...not knowing if he would ever see anything familiar to him again. He was a little nervous but mostly excited. The nannies told him that there was a very special family for him...that would love him so that sounded great to him.

He first saw his Mama--she was crying, but smiling...and grabbed him in a huge hug and smothered him with kisses...and he tried to show her his card...and say thank you. Then..he saw his Baba--oh had he waited for the day to have his very own father!! He ran right into his arms...and didn't want to let go of his strong and safe embrace! He also met his brother and sister...and they wanted to play with him right away...and gave him all sorts of balls, and toys to

He wanted them to like him, so he grabbed the bag of goodies his nannies packed for him, and handed all of them out to his family. He was so proud he had something to give.

Fast forward....10 weeks. He is home. He is cherished. He is amazingly smart. He is athletic. He is kind. He is giving, and loving like no one can believe.

He is a son.
He is a brother.
He is a nephew, a grandchild, a God-child, a friend, a student, a basketball player.
He is NOT an orphan.

And we got the news a few days ago that he should not be here. No...he should absolutely not be alive....or at very least not functioning as he is.

That "cyst" on his brain was actually a pre-natal stroke. Yes..that's right...he had a stroke in utero...and by most accounts should not have survived it...or thrived after it. He also had his stomach issue...which can be fatal even when treated immediately. It wasn't. He was abandoned at one month...not treated for it for almost 2 months.

He shouldn't have survived. quote a neurologist at Johns a "walking miracle". "A child with the stroke that happened to that part of his brain should have extreme weakness in his left side, and difficulty walking. He should have motor problems, and vision issues..even vision loss in the left eye. He should not be a basketball playing, soccer ball kicking child that is picking up English faster than any 5 year old I have ever seen".

He is a miracle.
He is OUR son.
And my God...what if we had fallen victim to the worry and stress that he "may" have all these issues instead of trusting that he was ours. And mind you...he would be loved NO less if he did have more needs than we had known. But we could have been so scared of the "what ifs" that we missed him.

Him. Our son...our PERFECT Shawn ShaHe. Who may need an eye surgery for a slight wandering of his left eye---the only need that can be attributed to his stroke. The ONLY need. He compensated for what part of his brain is affected. He will have no further issues...other than what we have seen...what's done is done. And God has granted this beautiful boy LIFE. A life that is already marked by by matter what he does or becomes.

Although at the breakfast table this morning he declared..."I gonna be a Doctor!"
And that he can be...if he wishes.

How many kids are still him?
Too many.
Too many that on "paper" seem unmanageable, needs far to great to handle.
TRUST me....a child is SO much more than what is written in a report.

They are beautiful little beings with needs FAR greater than what it states medically.
They NEED love.
They NEED to be cherished.
They NEED to feel worthy and important.
They NEED to believe that they are worth taking a chance on.

I was never going to share Shawn's diagnosis...I thought that it was his story to tell.
Yet---after I saw all the miracles that surrounded him....I realized that he could inspire SO many.

He can inspire people to take chances. To live POSITIVELY. To LOVE with every ounce of your being. To have FAITH.

He is my inspiration for so many reasons, and I believe that we are being graced by his gift of self to us. And we are so, humbly grateful.

And we cannot wait to see what God has in store for our miracle son.

***Beginning part of the story was embellished with one of the many scenarios that I dream happened with Shawn in his first years...mixed with facts that I have learned.

Sunday, February 19, 2012





Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gung Hei Fat Choy!!!

Gung Hei Fat Choy...from our family to yours!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012


Cold Peanut Soba Noodles With Chicken

Food Network Kitchens

Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

Picture of Cold Peanut Soba Noodles With Chicken RecipePhoto: Cold Peanut Soba Noodles With Chicken Recipe
Rated 4 stars out of 5
Total Time:
25 min
15 min
10 min
4 servings



Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the soba noodles and edamame and cook as the noodle label directs. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the noodles and edamame and run under cold water until cool.

Whisk the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and chili sauce in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water and whisk until smooth. Add the noodles and edamame, season with salt and toss to combine (add more cooking water to loosen, if needed). Divide among shallow bowls and top with the chicken, cucumber and scallions.

Per serving: Calories 652; Fat 25 g (Saturated 5 g); Cholesterol 57 mg; Sodium 1,446 mg; Carbohydrate 78 g; Fiber 5 g; Protein 38 g

Friday, January 20, 2012

The whole truth and nothin' but the truth.....

Ok--so my ambitions were BIG in writing on the blog this week.....and then LIFE happened! Birthdays, and pneumonia (for Charlie), schoolwork, and practices swallowed me up.

And guess what I did? I felt guilty about not doing what I had said I would. Felt like I kinda set myself up for failure..and that everyone would judge me.

I recently passed on a link on FB that was so powerful, I now see it being spread amongst many of my mom friends. It's called "Don't Carpe Diem" and it is such an insightful article..and SO NEEDED!!

Read it HERE...and then come back!

I have a tendency to look on the bright side of things...remain somewhat unruffled by kid stuff...and to keep things least to the outside. I cannot TELL you how many times I have been told while out with the kids...minding my own business...

"oh you must enjoy having all those kids around"
"So many reasons to be happy"
"What a blessing they are..enjoy them goes fast."
"What an incredible person you are"
"You are a saint!" (at this I literally laugh out loud...)

And I ALWAYS give the answer that they want to hear....

"Yes...our house is SO much fun!"
"Oh they make me smile everyday!"
"I am SO enjoying every minute..I'll be sad when they're gone!!"
as for the accolades about me being a great person and all....well I always respond...."these children have blessed me waaayyy more than I them."

And I actually do mean everyone of those responses..I truly do.
Just not EVERY day.

And why is it that we can't, as human beings... just tell the truth?

Why, instead of giving wanted answers...can we really say how we feel? Maybe not to the cashier at Target...or the well-meaning grandma...but how about to our friends?

What is it...Fear of being judged?
Fear that you might come across as...I don't know...normal???
Fear of breaking the perfection illusion that you have created?
Or in us adoptive parents..fear that people will think you regret your adoption? Or that you have gotten yourself in way too far over your head?

Because, as I posted that link...I got thank you's from my niece who is caring for her first infant...and feeling guilty when she just wants to scream from her baby screaming. But she's afraid to say it because she should be grateful she has a beautiful healthy infant .

Or the private message from a friend that has many kids that feels like she's drowning some days...and won't fess up because she got herself into it in the first place.

The email from my friend who is navigating her way as a single mom..and doesn't want to give off the impression that she's struggling.

WHY?? Why can't we share??

I know that when a mom tells me of any kind of trouble with her kid, personal life..whatever...I am so happy to hear that I am not alone!

When someone lets you feel closer to them..and it can have a great impact on the quality of your friendship. I know that I LOVE real people. The kind I can dish with over coffee...and that I can tell about the craziness at my house..and all of the sudden be laughing so hard I can't stop!

I think it is WAY healthier than keeping it all bottled up on that note...I will share. I will give you (in bulletpoints) an honest look at the past few weeks.

I will promise you that all of the following statements are fleeting feelings...that we all have...and I DO LOVE MY KIDS....really I do......

Here are some things that I could have answered to the above statements....

*Well-meaning samaritan:
"Oh you must enjoy having all those kids around!"

My "real" response:

"You think? Yes I really enjoyed waking up to 4 kids, two dogs, and 10 matchbox cars in my bed this morning. In addition, I enjoyed discovering that my 4 year old wet the bed..again..and I have to wash all his sheets....again. I also enjoy seeing that as I go downstairs in my hazy fog..I discover that someone has drawn smiley faces on my white red....with a sharpie. I also enjoy the mad scramble of feeding 7 kids..5 of whom are always running late for the bus..and all of whom argue about everything that I prepare.
Now THAT, my friend...sure is enjoyable...especially before 7:30 am!!
Yes..having all these kids is a daily joy-fest. Have a nice day...."

*Kind..usually elderly person: *"What a blessing they are...enjoy them now, time goes fast"
(this would be the carpe diem comment)

My "real" response:

"How fast does it really go? Because right now my dreams consist of being able to have one nano-second to for the luxury of peeing in peace. Yes---please tell me it goes fast..I would like to go into the pantry for a pretzel, and eat it without hiding in fear... of the "seagulls/kids" that will swarm me if they see me having a morsel of food.
Yes, dear kind person...I would like to watch something besides the Disney Channel..and I do NOT want to know all the words to every Justin Bieber song. I would like to watch movies without 3D glasses, and go to restaurants that don't have a kiddie menu. Fast, you say? Yes, fast will get me through the day...thank you very much!"

And the best...of them I tote around my adorable Chinese children..from all kinds of people:

"you are an incredible person, saint, Mother Theresa..whatever.."

My "real" response:

Well, thank you kindly...but I seriously doubt that saints, or the dearly departed Mother looked forward to a beer at 5:00 pm to get them through to bedtime.
I also don't think those of a saintly status had times where they lied to their kids and told them it was 8 pm...time to brush their teeth..when in actuality it was 6:30.
Or I am quite certain that saints don't second guess themselves...thinking that if we had only had two...we would be doing this, that and the other....(usually quite frivolous trips, and the like...)
I also know that the Holy do not throw temper tantrums worse than a two year old at times when their kids don't listen. So ....thanks for the compliment...but.....

The saintly would also be quite calm and patient when kids do things like....
hide mom's car well that the car has to be towed to the dealer for a new set
stuff 12 juice boxes down the toilet...mixed with applesauce..for fun..
take food from the pantry..and when they have eaten half of it..just stuff the remaining half in the be found..quite awhile later...
carve their name in the kitchen table...
YES..these things would NEVER ruffle a person with "holy" describing them.

So, that' the REAL truth...and nothin' but the help me God!

And at the end of the day, I would never, ever, trade this life for anything. No life of leisure could compare to the love that I feel for every single one of my kids. No amount of money could replace the amazing experience of having this family. And quiet, perfect, houses make me a tad nervous.

I'm just saying' aint perfect ALL the time. And it's ok to let it all out. Tell a friend, sibling, partner, your you REALLY feel at times. It gives such a sense of freedom.

And to be honest.....I think it helps you to appreciate your life on a whole new level, because when you REEAALLLY picture your life without all "this"(whatever "this" entails to you") just seems empty.

SO vent away my friends....take a load off your shoulders and your heart...and your tomorrows will take on a whole new meaning.