Thursday, July 26, 2012

Another Boy!

On Tuesday, we accepted the adoption referral for a baby boy!  I realize that everyone wants to see pictures of the sweet little boy, but we are not allowed to post pictures or identifying information online until we get our formal LOA, which means "Letter of Acceptance" from China in about 3 months. 

So, imagine the cutest little boy you have ever seen, and that is what he looks like.

Here are some things we can share now.

Name - Without disclosing his last name, his first name is Qing Hai (pronounced "Ching-hi") which we were told means "Celebrate the Sea".  Hai is a name often given to boys to symbolize their desire for the child to have a big heart and a broad, open mind.  So, like Veronica, we will be using his Chinese name as his middle name.  And our new son will be named:  Levi Chinghai.  Doesn't that sound wonderful?

Age - He is only 10 months old. (We aren't publicly disclosing his birthdate to protect privacy until our LOA) We were rather surprised by this as we expected that he would be about a year older than that.  We requested a child a year younger than Veronica so they would be in a different grade, and our newest baby will be two grades behind. It will be rather nice to maintain the every-other-year grades for all our kids in school.

Location - He is living in Shanxi province in China.  (Once again, not disclosing the city yet).  This province is located in North Central China. 

 Cuteness - Oh my word is he cute!  The pictures we have were taken when he was 8 months old.  He had no hair.  He is a small but cute little boy.  He has beautiful brown eyes.  In both photos we have, he has an expression like "I'm a little confused about what you want from me".  He's wearing the cutest orange pants with suspenders in the pictures.

Health - Like Veronica, he was born with a cleft lip and palate, but he has already received the initial lip repair in China.  We anticipate him having his first cleft palate surgery about two months after he is home. 

And, the million dollar follow up question we keep receiving - When will we travel to get him?  We anticipate traveling probably in January, but will keep you posted as we pass the upcoming paperwork milestones.

I'm so ready for another little boy to love.  Our house has been filled with joy and anticipation for our newest member.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stop. Breathe. Repeat.

Somehow I slipped into stretch of weeks that didn't afford me a break.  You know how it happens.  Each little commitment I made seemed like not-a-big-deal.  Then, add in the Hubster's commitments.  By the time I actually got around to transferring all our obligations from random scraps of paper and vague recollections to the calendar I was slightly appalled.

You see, I am not THAT person.  I am not an over-scheduler.  My sweet, wonderful husband loves the thrill of racing from one event to another, but I need a breather between commitments, even fun commitments.

I am a firm believer in Gandhi's quote, "There is more to life than increasing its speed."

I always feel slightly sad for my friends and acquaintances who sigh and reply "Busy, busy, busy." when asked how their summer is going.  I admit to feeling a twinge of smugness at my calmer schedule.  Now it is time for me to eat some humble pie as I whine about my busyness.

Don't get me wrong.  All the things that occupied my days were worthwhile.  I had back-to-back trips to Christian camp for a couple of my kids (Each of the four drop off and pick ups was a full day of adventure with me and a car full of kiddos).  There was t-ball, soccer and baseball for the kids.  There were church commitments, youth group commitments, adoption commitments, medical commitments, speech therapy commitments, social commitments, softball team commitments, blah, blah, blah...

I apologize.  If it was boring for me to write that, it had to have been boring to read that.

And the sad truth of it is, I let almost three weeks slip by while running on "I gotta do it" mode instead of "I get to do it" mode.  When I am over scheduled, I wasted so many chances for feeling the joy of the moment because I am mentally too busy crossing things off my to-do list.

So I am publicly announcing my re-commitment to keeping a restful Sabbath and my daily lunch hour (I'll explain more about these on a later post).  For now, I'm going to sign off, pour myself a mojito and plunk myself down on the couch with a good mystery book.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Monopoly and Other Board Games to Test a Parent's Patience

I feel like I should start this post by saying, "Yes.  I really do love my children.  Honest."

But I am afraid I might not love them as much as my husband.  My dear, sweet, wonderful husband not only agrees to play Monopoly with a 10, 8, 6 and 4 year old (Veronica just watches), but he enjoys it.  He's even suggested the kids break out the Monopoly board for a game after supper.

I am not Superparent.  I do not play Monopoly with them.  I guess there are limits to my love.

Do any of you out there have children in this age range?  Can you possibly fathom how incredibly frustrating it is to have a child consistently decide not to buy properties because he wants to save his money, but then complain at the end that he doesn't have properties? 

And the whining.  Oh the whining.  A different child will jump up and down enthusiastically with a taunt on his lips when someone lands on his property and dissolve into that awful scream-cry when he has to pay up. 

All this negativity is not to suggest that I can't admire some aspects of the game from afar.  I do enjoy that my oldest child has declared herself "The Mayor".  This is a self-appointed position that only she can hold.  Basically, she has determined that she has the power to hand out money from the bank to anyone she chooses.  It is all based on her extreme sense of power generosity.  Perhaps she has a life in Chicago politics waiting for her when she grows up.

At the risk of revealing even more parental shortcomings, I am going to admit that I have boycotted Candyland since Child #2.  Even with the first kid, I was cheating and not counting those stupid black dot spaces.  I'll sit for a game or two of Hi Ho Cherry O, and will enthusiastically play some Uno, but negatory on the Candyland.

Don't even get me started on Chutes and Ladders. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

1 Year Adoption Day Anniversary

Last week we had a family day celebrating Veronica's 1 year anniversary of her adoption day.  It has been 12 months since we adopted her, about 1 1/2 years since we first saw her picture, almost 2 1/2 years since we applied to the agency, 6 years since we began actively saving and planning for her adoption, and a lifetime of God preparing us for this incredible blessing.

Here's the first picture we ever saw of Qin Ni who became Veronica QinNi

Sweet girl at 14 months
Veronica - home one year

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vacation Recuperation

I am coming off of a week long vacation "Up North" (For those of you not from the northern states in the US, "up north" is a colloquial term for any area of a higher latitude that is covered in pine trees and deer.) , followed by a short anniversary trip to San Antonio with the hubby, followed by a week of catching up with housework and trying to survive the sweltering heat. 

It has taken me a while to get back to this blog-o-rama.  Honestly, it just took me this long to find that stinkin' cord that lets me upload pictures from my camera to the computer.  And then summer procrastination rolled in.  So, this post is just a few weeks late.

We spent a week with a menagerie of Ben's family at his parent's house.  At one point, there were 12 children in my parent-in-law's home, with my 10 year old being the oldest of the bunch.  It was a fun, loud, exhausting time.

Let me share a  few highlights of our Up North vacation:

1.  Boating, Fishing and Swimming - This is the trifecta of Up North vacations.  My in-laws have a boat, so that met the first requirement.  Everyone has a fishing rod.  My sweet hubby managed to snag a 7 pound, 32-inch Northern, the prize fish of the trip.  And boy did that thing taste great fresh off the grill.  I'd show a picture of the enormous swimming beast, but the pictures are on my in-laws camera.  I know.  That sounds like the ultimate fishing lie.There was also a small beach close by to fulfill the swimming requirement. 

2.  Mosquitoes - Normally a negative part of the vacation experience, we were able to turn it into an incredible positive through the power of bug zappers.  Not just any bug zappers.  These puppies were shaped like tennis rackets.  The giddy kids waved these through the grass and air creating a chorus of "zzft" noises and beautiful little sparks that lit the night.  Yes, it was a bit redneck-y, but it brought so much joy.  How fortunate for us that this year was heavy with mosquitoes.

Watch out Skeeters, we're ready.

3.  Homemade Deliciousness - Isn't food really the best part of vacation?  This year was a endless parade of wonderful nibbles.  From the pizza pudgie pies cooked in the cast iron camp cookers over a bonfire, to homemade ice cream (hand cranked by several of the kids and adults), grilled ribs, homemade waffles, and too much yumminess to list.

I was able to sample a couple new delicacies, too.  I feasted on rabbit and squirrel.  Now I'm no vegetarian and I am not opposed to trying new things, so I kept an open mind.  Really it wasn't too bad.  I guess it tasted like chicken.  The only time I had a hard time swallowing was when I was told that it was so tender because the animal was so young and small.  I immediately thought of every cute, fluffy bunny I had ever seen.  I didn't eat much after that.  It is never wise to envision the living version of the animal you are eating, especially if they have made an appearance in a Disney animated movie.  Sorry Thumper.

Just finishing a meal of squirrel and rabbit.  And With a BB gun and good aim, you could have some, too.

Outside breakfast after camping out.

I think someone forgot his table manners.

4.  Togetherness - There was no way we weren't going to spend time together as a family. We slept all seven of us in our bedroom.  Sure we didn't sleep much, but no family ever reminisces years later about the good sleep they had on vacation.

5.  Girls Day Out - Ever year when we get together with Ben's family, we have a girl's day out.  This usually involves trips to several thrift stores, antique shops and a nice lunch that isn't interrupted by the needs of several children.  I felt like I hit the second-hand jackpot this year.  I picked up a bunch of great books.  I have a mild obsession with vintage cookbooks, parenting books and advice books.  I also found a ginormous stock pot.  I have been looking for one for a while, but they cost about $75 new.  I found one that had been used probably only once or twice for $10.  I admit, I squealed loudly in the store.  My mother and sister in law thought I was either injured or had lost my wallet or something equally horrendous for me to make such a sound in public.

6.  Road Trip Music - Ben drives nearly all the time.  He claims he gets carsick.  I like to drive, but co-pilot has its perks, too.  For example, I could read magazines for the nearly 3 hour long trip Up North.  The navigator also is in charge of the radio.  I pull out my alternate persona of DJ Jazzy Kristin and listen to some truly uncool (yet child appropriate) music.  I sing loudly and off key.  No, we do not listen to children's music.  We listened to a lot of Beatles, 80's music and Country.  There has to be some perks to being a grown-up and choosing the tunes is one of them.

Sure, there was more we did on vacation, but it tends to blur together from lack of sleep.  We are now all trying to recuperate from the fun.

Helping Grandma fill the bird feeders.

Pit stop at a playground.

Piggy back rides.

Playing in the sand.

Playing with bubbles.

No vacation is really complete without a chance to play in the dirt.