Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy girl

So it seems that Reagan enjoys dressing up for Aunt Jacque's house more than posing at home! Maybe it was the abundance of wrapping paper and boxes to play with (since no one-year-old I know ever seems to enjoy the gift as much as the package). We had a wonderful Christmas and are now busy digging out from the incredible generosity of our family and friends. I think that a number of old toys are going to enjoy a little "vacation" in the garage for a while. Better get that done during what remains of nap time!

Monday, December 24, 2007

All ready for Christmas!

Though we've yet to get a photo of a happy Reagan in her Christmas outfit, the three of them still look pretty sweet, don't they? We'll try again tonight! Note the doting big brother who is desperately trying to get a sad baby sister to stand up and smile when mama calls "cheese!".

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hark the herald

I’ve long enjoyed the tune of the carol Hark The Herald Angels Sing, but had never really stopped to consider what the words mean. Several years ago I finally did, and fell in love with the hymn not just for the music, but for the truth it presents about my Savior. The first word is an old one, which means “to listen attentively.” Alternately, hark refers to “a hunter's shout to hounds, as to encourage them in following the scent,” which presents an appropriate and interesting image. The hymn writer is imploring us to listen to, and follow, the truths proclaimed by the angels on that first Christmas night. As we approach Christmas this year, I also encourage you to set aside the busyness for a moment (challenging I know!) to consider the words of the angels. But even more importantly, I would encourage you to consider the Baby they announced - Diety veiled in human flesh, Who was born that men no more may die – and to give Him the glory He alone deserves.
Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
"Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem
"Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Monday, December 17, 2007


As I mentioned in my last post, I recently celebrated the milestone birthday. No, I don’t really feel that much older, but I do finally feel like I’m a true, respectable adult. One would think that titles such as wife, CPA, college professor, aunt, “senior staff” (an unfortunate name for our roles in a college-age Bible Study), homeowner, piano teacher or mom would have done that for me, but somehow leaving my twenties behind seems more definitively adult-ish than any of those other things. So many huge life changes have happened in the past decade that it just now feels like I’m settling in. Between the ages of 20 and 30 I met Dan, graduated from college, started a career in accounting, got married, gave birth to two wonderful kids, adopted a third, ended a career in accounting, started a “career” in teaching – big kids and my own little ones, moved four times, and celebrated 8 years of marriage. It’s hard to imagine that the next decade could hold quite that much stuff. I don’t regret growing older though because each stage just seems to be better than the last. God has been so incredibly gracious to me over the past 30 years that I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me over the next 30!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Not so deceptive, not so delicious

In celebration of my recent birthday (the big 3-0… more about that later), my sister gave me a new cookbook, promoted by a certain talk-show host, that seemed rather promising. The idea is to puree various veggies and sneak them into your kids’ favorite dishes, thus getting them to consume the good stuff unaware. We don’t really have that much of a problem getting our kids to eat what we set in front of them (well, except for Parker who we can’t even get to eat sweets), but I didn’t see the harm in trying to up the nutritional content of the food I serve to the whole family. So on Tuesday I tried the chicken nuggets. Aside from being entirely too much work, they weren’t all that bad. Dan preferred the un-doctored variety, but my mother-in-law swore she liked the broccoli/spinach version even better. I was undecided, but after last night’s fiasco, I am decidedly anti-deception! I thought I’d try the spaghetti pie. Pretty hard to ruin, right? Wrong. For the first time in 8 years of marriage we had to run out for Chinese after dinner came out of the oven. It tasted only a little better than it looked, and trust me, it looked not even half as good as the photo in the cookbook. It was more than a little obvious that the meatballs were full of broccoli, and the carrot and cottage cheese combo was far more than could be overcome by the pasta and tomato sauce. I’m sure a good portion of the blame can be placed on this chef, but I think from now on our veggies will be served steamed, on the side, disguised with only perhaps a little cheese. Now I’m off to find another Christmas present for my sister because apparently great minds think alike – there’s a second copy of this disaster sitting in my closet, wrapped up with her name on it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

They’re out!

Our Christmas cards are in the mail! If I didn’t enjoy getting them so much there’s no way I would go to all the trouble. For some reason the task just seemed especially tedious this year. Maybe it was the multiple photo sessions in multiple outfits on multiple different days (we get to dress and pose for the grandmothers’ Christmas cards as well). Perhaps it was the fact that the cute cards I bought on clearance last year didn’t want to go through my printer, which meant I had to print our letter on a separate sheet. I couldn’t bring myself to make another run out just to get paper, so I was limited to my stock on hand, which of course was not the right size and had to be cut by hand because my paper trimmer was too small to accommodate it… you get the idea! Top that off with the printer running out of ink and the laptop running out of juice mid-print and I was pretty much Christmas-carded-out before I even got to the sort, stuff, address, lick and stamp routine. All in all it’s still worth it for the fun of running out to the mailbox each day to see how our friends and family have changed and what they’ve been up to over the past year. I also appreciate the opportunity to share how gracious God has been to us, but I think next year I might go with the Costco photo shop special. So if you did receive a card, enjoy! If not and you’d like to have one, shoot me an e-mail with your street address ( but you’ll have to do without the letter – I’m all out and not about to start that mess again. Or if you’d rather not have our family photo plastered on your fridge next year, just enjoy it here:

As you can tell from our photo, the ~ family became a little more Vietnamese in 2007! After almost two years of waiting, Reagan finally became an official part of our family on May 15th. Since then, we have enjoyed getting to know the little person who for so many months was just a picture and a dream. Reagan is a sweet, happy baby who has blended almost seamlessly into our crazy life. Parker has embraced the role of big brother with gusto, and his laughter and enthusiasm are contagious. Alyssa loves being mama’s helper, but now shares her mornings and tender spirit with her beloved kindergarten class. Dan enjoyed ten weeks away from work, which we filled with all kinds of fun “bonding” activities after bringing Reagan home, but eventually returned to a job he loves. My life is filled with the simple joys and stuff of being a wife and now mother to three. When there’s time left over I blog about it ~here~. But as grateful as we are for our many temporal blessings, and especially the joy of adopting a child, they all pale in comparison to the joy of being adopted as a child of God. At this special time of year, and every day, we rejoice that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). We pray that you too have been redeemed and know for yourselves the indescribable joy of being adopted by God!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not beach people

This is how we love the beach! Close enough to smell the salt air, watch the waves crash, and take some cute kid pictures, but not so close as to deal with the sticky persistent mess that inevitably results from any physical contact with sand and salt water. I know, we're spoiled and probably a little too uptight, but we really did have fun and took the kids on the nearby 3-car ferry to make up for not allowing them to bury themselves in the sand!

Friday, December 07, 2007

THE call

One year ago today we received the phone call informing us that we were parents once again. After months on the waiting list, nearly a year and a half into the adoption process, and two countries later, we were finally sure that our daughter was alive and waiting for us in Vietnam. We were shocked she was so young and so tiny, we could barely tell what she looked like from the little grainy photo, we weren’t even sure what we would call her, but we knew she was ours and loved her from the start. Now we know her in the flesh, are watching her sweet and silly little personality develop, and are falling in love with her more every day. As much as we praised God for Reagan one year ago, we feel even more blessed by this precious gift from our heavenly Father today!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Three times a birthday

Alyssa's birthday celebration became quite drawn out this year. Her party had to be resheduled due to the fact that so many of the attendees were ill. Since she and I weren't sick, we met the only other well family members (my sister-in-law and niece) at McDonald's for dinner - hence the first celebration. We finally were able to have the real party a few days later, and a week later I got to bring cupcakes to her classroom. As you can see from the expression on her face, that was probably the highlight of them all. So there's the birthday wrap-up. Most of you probably get tired of all the family photos, but a few of my readers (hi mom!) require them!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Can I just tell you how much I love artificial Christmas trees? For many years I was something of a Christmas tree snob and just couldn’t bear the idea of forgoing a real tree for the holidays. Growing up, our trees were always real and both looked and smelled wonderful right on through the Big Day. However, I don’t think I’ve yet mentioned that I’m a native Washingtonian. In case you haven’t heard, the climate there is significantly different than my current environment. Southern California tends to be quite dry, which is great for outdoor play and my mood, but not so good for Christmas trees. What may start out as a beautiful decoration the day after Thanksgiving will be a pile of tinder by the time Christmas finally rolls around. For several years Dan and I compromised by picking out our tree on my birthday in early December. This satisfied my need to have the Christmas décor out early while avoiding a fire hazard on the holiday. However, the trees still got quite dry, and man are they expensive here! So, in time my frugality and fear of fire won out, and I finally broke down and bought a fake one. Or rather, make that two. I purchased one on clearance in the after-Christmas sales a few years ago ($14.99 I think!). When I pulled it out the next November, however, it turned out to be a cute, but very stubby little tree. So that became our “kids” tree for all the homemade and miscellaneous ornaments. Ultimately a handy thing to have, but not the Christmasy masterpiece I had envisioned. I then went out and purchased another of significantly greater stature (not on clearance), and have been in love ever since. The thing goes up in a matter of minutes, it fits perfectly into its custom-made stand, there’s no cutting, watering, falling needles, or asymmetrical spots. It comes pre-lit, the branches can be contorted to any position you desire, my Margaret Furlong collection can be protected from little hands with one little bend, and it can stay up for as long as I want. I’ve even solved the problem of smell by purchasing a real wreath from my favorite store. Of course, I am sacrificing a little character, I know the fake ones aren't as "green" as some would like to think, and my kids may not know the joy of searching for the perfect tree, but its not like LA has a lot of “over the river and through the woods” kind of tree lots anyway! And yes, I know these are the same pictures as last year, but they really haven't changed - another plus! Just imagine one more stocking hanging on the mantle.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All is quiet on the blog-front

I’m relieved to see that I’m not the only one who has neglected their blogging duties over the long weekend. Between the holiday times two (Thursday for Dan’s side, Friday for mine), Alyssa’s birthday, a nearly 2-week break from school, the Family Plague (which hit 11 out of 16 family members), Black Friday, and decorating for Christmas, blogging just hasn’t been a priority. Judging by the lack of posts on my normal blog-roll and dip in traffic here, I’m guessing mine isn’t the only hectic life. So I trust I’ll be forgiven, and hope to come up with something meaningful to say here one of these days. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don’t neglect to continue thanking the One who gives us life, joy, and the opportunity to find peace with God.

Monday, November 19, 2007

5 years ago

About this time five years ago I was recovering from one of the most exhausting and rewarding experiences of my life: giving birth. I was in labor for 2 days, pushed for 3 hours, and was finally blessed with the sweetest, most beautiful newborn baby girl I had ever seen. All of our family was there – those who couldn’t be in the room had their ears to the door – and within hours of Alyssa’s arrival we had dozens of friends stop by to see this precious gift. Dan and I were overwhelmed by the love demonstrated to us by so many of those close to us, but even more in awe of this tiny little body God had entrusted to us! Looking back at pictures she was as funny looking as most brand-new babies are (especially those who have spent that amount of time in the birth canal!), but I thought she was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t wait to get her home, dress her up, take her out, and show the world what an incredible gift we had been given. But as proud I was of her that day, I am infinitely more proud of her on this day. She has already proven herself to be a beautiful young lady, inside and out. Her confidence in who she is and what she knows is both admirable and humorous (Daddy thought he would have at least a few more years before his little girl would start correcting him). Her love for her siblings and cousins is evident in the way she talks about, shares, and serves them (though you shouldn’t think that means they don’t bicker!). Just as all parents think their children are brilliant, I’m convinced she is, but more importantly Alyssa loves to learn, is respectful of her teachers, and is anxious to soak up the truth of the Scriptures. Alyssa exhibits care in her appearance and loves to dress up, but isn’t affected or afraid to play in the dirt. She is excitable about something like a birthday party, but patient and humble when it has to be postponed as a result of the Family Plague. Many of my own character qualities are bound up in this little life, but she has enough of her daddy in her to make her incredibly likeable. Already I admire the lady I see emerging from the precious girl God allows me to mother. Already I am thankful for the pain of that day 5 years ago, and the indescribable joy He has brought to our lives as a result. Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What's more fun...

...than one kid with the stomach flu? Three kids with the stomach flu! At least, that is, if you measure fun in loads of laundry...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

1st Fieldtrip

Tuesday was a big day! Alyssa got to ride on her first real school bus and go on her first real field trip! The bus was actually a more anticipated event than the play we attended, and the field trip in general has been talked about even more than her upcoming birthday. Needless to say, we had a good time and I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to be a part!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I watch in hope

A favorite worship song of mine is taken from Micah 7:7

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.

While singing this chorus on Tuesday at Bible Study, I thought of how diligently I watched in hope for Reagan, and how diligently I don’t wait for God my Savior.
Throughout those many months (years!) of waiting for our adoption to be completed, I could not be torn away from my computer. I scoured the internet for any information about adoption, Vietnam, adoptions in Vietnam. I hit refresh more times than I care to admit, hoping that some e-mail about our process would be waiting for me. I tied myself to our agency’s forum with the sense that our adoption somehow became more real as I watched others complete the process. My heart leapt each time the phone rang, hoping it was some news about Reagan. Most of my blog posts are about The Wait. My idle thoughts often went immediately to Reagan. Even my worship of God was colored by His gracious care of her and me during that trying time. My sense of hope for my third child was almost palpable.
My conviction now is that I might learn to cultivate the same sense of hope for Jesus Christ. His return is far more certain than the promise of a child ever was. As I witness the dramatic developments in Vietnamese adoption over the past week and the possibility of a shutdown at some point, I realize just how delicate the balance of international adoption really is. In stark contrast is the promise of Christ’s second coming which is guaranteed by God in I Thessalonians 4:16-17 - “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God… and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” The joy that Reagan has brought to our lives pales in comparison to the joy I will experience when I am finally united with Christ. Through Him I can rejoice even when I suffer, knowing that “when His glory is revealed, [I] may also be glad with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:13).
Yet even in light of those promises, that precious hope, I often fail to anticipate His arrival with anywhere near the longing and urgency I felt for our daughter. Perhaps the thousands of intervening years between His first and second coming have lulled us into complacency, but we are commanded to be ready (Luke 12:40). The gospels are full of tragic parables of those who thought they had time to prepare themselves for His coming, only to be told by the Lord “I do not know you” (Matthew 25:12). My prayer is that none of you, my precious readers, will ever hear those words. I pray that you intimately know the grace of God that brings salvation, and look with me for “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Monday, November 05, 2007

I wish I had something to say…

but I don’t. The only thing I don’t like about having a blog is the pressure to keep it going. This is just one of those weeks when there are a lot of things floating around in my brain, but there’s not enough time or brain cells available to put anything coherent down on “paper.” I’ve been thinking about the intense conversations going on over at Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity about the potential for corruption in adoption (specifically in Vietnam) and what a truly ethical adoption looks like. I have my own, somewhat unorthodox views and a related post that’s been in the works for some time, but it’s just not ready yet. I’ve been thinking about our friends, the Kostjuk’s, who are facing the possibility that they may never get to know their newborn baby girl. I’ve been thinking about the babies we lost through miscarriage. I’ve been rejoicing in the glorious way God used that pain to lead our hearts ultimately to Reagan, and how without their deaths we never would have conceived Alyssa and Parker. I’ve been falling more and more in love with my newest daughter, almost to the point where I can say I hold the same affection for her as for my eldest two. I’ve been thinking about whether God will ever lead us (or rather Dan!) to adopt again, and when that time might be. I’ve been wondering whether our family is complete and what it will ultimately look like. A lot of fragmented thoughts, but like I said, nothing really cemented enough in my brain to compose a post in and of themselves. So maybe some day I’ll expand upon these thoughts, but for now you just get this little dump.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Though Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays (just why do people have to decorate with tombstones, and what are we supposed to do with all this candy?!) the kids really do love dressing up! Even Reagan tolerated her slightly-ridiculous-but-very-adorable goldfish costume, and Alyssa has only shed her scrubs for the few hours she was at school this morning. I had this great idea for a themed Halloween when I saw the fish costumes on clearance at Babystyle, but Alyssa was set on being a doctor and I just never found the time to create a fisher-girl outfit for her. So alas, no theme. They still looked pretty cute though and are already busy deciding what they're going to be next year.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Football fun

As the daughter of a sports fan who only fathered girls, I was exposed to a great variety of live sporting events throughout my childhood. Though I no longer really follow baseball or basketball, my love of football remains. We’re not an NFL kind of family, but together Dan & I really enjoy college ball. Even when Dan’s beloved USC is having a hard day or my Washington Huskies are having a hard season, we’ll watch just about any good match up or tension-filled 4th quarter. But anyway, the point is this: I ran across two unforgettable football clips this week that I just had to share. This is a video from a division III school in Texas. It’s a little hard to follow at first, but a pretty funny and unbelievable ending. For the second I’ll link you to our friends, the Pyromaniacs, since Phil does a much better job rehearsing the background than I could. All I have to say is, how proud would you be to be this kid's grandpa? Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My baby is one!

Reagan turns one today, and my feelings approaching this event have been mixed. While it is a big milestone, in many ways it seems very anticlimactic. One year ago today was just a normal day for us – we had no idea that halfway around the world a little girl we would come to love with all of our hearts had been born. We surely thought about her and prayed for her on that day, but we have no cherished memories to accompany this celebration. Dan went to work while I stayed home with Alyssa and Parker, and I then spent the evening teaching my Cost Accounting course. There are no stories to rehearse of going into labor, packing up for the hospital, checking in, enduring the pain, joyfully setting our eyes on our child, greeting visitors, or any of the other things that normally accompany a birth. Instead I’m left to imagine what that day must have been like for the woman who gave Reagan life. Her feelings likewise must have been very mixed both then and now. She endured the pain of childbirth, but probably without the joy a mother is usually rewarded with at the end. Perhaps she was relieved to no longer be pregnant, but also faced the pain of knowing that she would never really know the baby she had cared and sacrificed for over the previous 9 months. While I wonder about and pray for her, she is probably equally curious about us. Perhaps she wonders who Reagan has become, what she looks like, whether she’s healthy, happy and loved. She may know by now that Reagan has been adopted by Americans. I wonder how she feels about a part of herself now residing so far away. I wonder whether we’ll ever get to meet this special lady. Somehow I think probably not. It’s strange that so many clues about who our daughter is and who she’ll become are hidden from us. Reagan herself will likely have even more unanswered questions than I do. I pray that she will be able to reconcile those missing pieces with the little bit we do know. More importantly I pray that she will one day embrace Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and find her identity in Him. So, we will celebrate today with a special appreciation for the life we have been entrusted with, and both the God and the woman who made that life possible.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No more pumpkins

Well, it's a good thing we went to the pumpkin patch when we did. According to reports I've heard, the ranch in the pictures below was one of the still-innumerable locations destroyed by the raging wildfires. Life around here has been pretty crazy since Sunday, as I'm sure you now know from the national news coverage. By God's grace, everyone we know who was evacuated has since returned to their homes unharmed. Now they're just digging out from a pervasive layer of dust and ash. Not too big of a deal, considering the alternative that so many families are dealing with. Please continue to pray for all of those affected, and that God would send a little humidity (dare we say rain?!) and calm winds our way.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Please pray

If you don't live with us here in southern California, you may not know that much of the area is dealing with out-of-control wildfires. We are not in immediate danger, but it sure is smokey and windy here! Our neighbor had a large tree fall on his property today and we've been busy chasing our outdoor furniture across the lawn. The news is saying at this point that there are gusts up to 80 mph and relative humidity is 4%, which is obviously not good for fire-fighting. My sister-in-law and her family, as well as some of our friends, have evacuated their homes, and several dozen houses have already been lost. God certainly has the power to comfort those families and to protect the fire-fighters and structures still being threatened. Please pray that He would do so!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Office

Around here, we’re fans of the quirky, sweet, and increasingly funny show called The Office. You may remember a while back that Dan managed to score a tour of the set with one of the executive producers. Well, said producer invited them back, so yesterday Dan enjoyed one of those famous, entertainment-industry catered lunches with the cast, and sat in on a day of filming. Dan has yet to stop talking about how kind everyone was, and how much work goes into even the simplest of scenes. Stanley quickly became his buddy, leading Dan to the brownies when snack time came around. Phyllis was just as sweet in person as on the show, and both Creed and Toby were happy to chat for a while and pose for pictures. Needless to say, Dan had an incredible time, and I have a feeling we’ll now be watching the show at least three times each week instead of our normal two!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A gray day

It is a truly lucky girl who has a cosmotologist for a sister. I am one of those few who can trust her hair to hands who love her and will tell the truth, even when the truth is unpleasant. Saturday, Sarah became the bearer of this sad news: I have begun the journey towards my grandmother’s salt and pepper hair. Sarah discovered (and pulled!) my first gray hair. I know it’s only one, and when the time comes for all-over, gray-covering color the service will be free, but I had hoped to hold out on this milestone a little longer. Maybe at least until I say good-bye to my twenties in December. Or maybe until I’ve walked “in the way of righteousness” long enough that my gray head really will be a “crown of glory” (Proverbs 16:31). Or maybe it’s just not that big of a deal at all. But in my vanity, I’d really prefer to stay a natural brunette!

Friday, October 12, 2007

We have a little walker!

Reagan took her first independent steps 2 weeks ago, but it’s becoming apparent that crawling will soon be a thing of the past. She can already put 10 or more steps together before falling and will walk without any kind of encouragement from us. It’s happened so quickly that I don’t even have a lot of great video yet, but here's a photo of one of those fun, shaky steps, and a picture of Reagan laughing at her mama's attempts to capture it. Honestly, she just looks way too little to be walking. She is just a couple of weeks away from her first birthday but Reagan is the size of your average six month old, so looking at her it’s hard to imagine that she can actually walk. Alyssa and Parker were both early walkers too, and while I’m obviously thrilled that Reagan was so on-target developmentally when she joined our family, I had secretly hoped that she might remain less-mobile a little longer than they did. There sure is a lot more they can get into (and a lot more quickly) when crawling isn't the only option!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Still little

As is the plight of most eldest-children I think, Alyssa already seems so grown-up. Compared to Reagan, and even Parker (though their 19 month age gap is quickly shrinking), Alyssa is responsible, knowledgeable, tall, poised, articulate and independent. Though she’s not yet five, it’s easy for me to forget that she is still very much a child. That is, until glimpses of her naivety shine through, reminding me that she’s still quite little. Things like…

  • Until this week she didn’t know who the tooth fairy is
  • She would still jump at the opportunity to sleep with a pacifier
  • An ice cream cone is a really big treat
  • So is getting her own soda or a “buy” lunch at school
  • Her nightmares are about crocodiles
  • She can’t comb her own hair
  • She still insists that I sing “rock-a-bye-baby” to her, wrapped up in a hooded towel after a bath
  • The average kids meal is still too big for she and Parker to finish off in partnership
  • The number of “obedience” stars accumulated at school is an important tally
  • Palm Springs and Vietnam are roughly equidistant from our home
  • She prefers to sit by mama

I realize that this list will quickly shrink… but I hope that the last one remains for a very, very long time.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Disney pumpkins

Okay, so we’ve made another trip to Disneyland. Despite appearances on this blog, we really aren’t hard-core Disney fans. In fact, there’s quite a bit about the company and many of the movies that we don’t love, but the park really is one of our favorite places. We have season passes and bring our lunches so it’s not terribly expensive, and the kids naturally love it. The longest we’re ever there is about 5 hours and I get a nice dinner out of it, so I love it too! Dan’s not completely sold yet but we don’t always drag him along, and he’s coming around to the idea that it’s more about just watching the kids.
One of my favorite parts is the “park” part of Disneyland park. The landscaping is always impeccably maintained and the creativity of men with God’s creation is quite remarkable. This time I was most impressed with the fall flowers and pumpkin carving. They have the cleanest petting zoo you’ve ever seen at the back of the park, and Thursday it was decorated with pumpkins carved into Disney characters. Pretty amazing! Here are a couple of examples, as well as the obligatory photos of my adorable kids and nephew!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Daddy's helpers

Dan and the "big kids" went for on a 5k run today... according to Parker it was a "marathon!" While daddy obviously did the great majority of the work, Alyssa and Parker were there to run across the finish line and consume the free bagels and gatorade at the end.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I have become more aware and curious lately about the tendency in adoption culture to criticize the term “adopted.” Over and over again I’ve come across bloggers bemoaning the fact that outsiders openly identify their children as such. They feel slighted by any reference other than simply “daughter,” “son,” or “parent.” I’m sure I’ve offended more than such parent with my simple profile to the right. The fact I’ve labeled Reagan as our “first adopted daughter” has probably led many to believe that I am in some way ignorant or insensitive about the new reality that is our family. I would naturally like to believe that such is not the case at all. I am simply stating a very obvious fact. We are multicultural, and it is clear from the first glance that Reagan does not match the rest of us (at least on the outside!). I think it’s only natural for people to be curious about her, about us, and the adoption process. It’s strange to me that the same parents who cherish and have embraced the institution of adoption are so quick to shy away from any reference to it. From what I’ve gathered, it seems that many adoptive parents believe such labels can be derogatory – as if their status as parents, or their children’s status as legitimate members of the family, are somehow threatened by the term “adopted.” Their motivation, I believe, is honorable. They want to protect their family from scrutiny, or any sense of feeling “less than.” However, here is where I feel they are doing their children a disservice: By so quickly dismissing the term, they are actually reinforcing the notion that being adopted is less acceptable than being born into a family. I contend that adoption is even more precious than birth! While I would never deny that Alyssa and Parker are priceless treasures, and that the time I enjoyed with them in my womb was special, we prepared for Reagan in even more dramatic ways. We hoped, prayed and sacrificed for her years before we knew she existed. When people try to insinuate that adoption is an easier way to parenthood, I am the first one to insist that pregnancy and childbirth (even 3 hours of pushing!) is far less painful – both emotionally and physically. While most adoptive parents seem to worry about whether their adoptive child(ren) might feel slighted compared to the homegrown variety, I worry that the opposite might be true. I’ve considered that perhaps one day Alyssa and Parker might be insecure in the fact that they weren’t chosen in the same way that Reagan was. Though I’m sure there will be some challenges in parenting her as a result of her past, I pray that she will grow to be proud of the fact that she became our daughter in a very unique way. “Adopted” is a term that I hope Reagan will come to love, and view not as a curse but as concrete evidence of our love and sacrifice for her.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I didn't expect... be a minority in our own local elementary school. Naturally, living in Southern California, our county has a high Hispanic population, but our suburb is more predominately Caucasian. Our home is in an odd pocket of a neighborhood situated between a very affluent area and one that is decidedly less so. All of that to say, I expected that maybe half of the students in Alyssa’s class would look like her that the other half would not. I was wrong. In actuality, she is one of only 4 Caucasians, and two of them are twins – that makes a total of 3 white families! Of course there is nothing wrong with those ratios, but it’s not at all what I thought elementary school would be. For many reasons I am grateful for an ethnically diverse educational environment. I’m glad that Alyssa and Parker will be exposed to different cultures and a new language. I hope they learn how to interact with people who are not just like them, accept and appreciate both their similarities and differences, and maybe even pick up a little Spanish (in addition, of course, to that which they’ve learned from Dora!). I am especially glad that when it’s Reagan’s turn to go to school, she won’t be the only non-white student. However, selfishly, I had hoped that school would provide opportunities for me to get to know and develop a ministry among the other moms. Thus far I’ve found that quite challenging since the majority don’t speak English and yo hablo un poquito Espanol (and yes, my accent is just as bad as my grammer and spelling!). They actually had two different back-to-school nights (one in English, one in Spanish) and a translator on hand for the assembly on the first day. Alyssa’s homework has instructions in both languages, and every flyer that comes home is two-sided. In speaking with moms who have been around longer than I have, I get the impression that it’s almost as if it’s two distinct schools – a kind of de facto segregation. Of course, all of the instruction is in English, and the kids are in no way segregated – even the children from Spanish-speaking homes become bi-lingual very quickly. It’s the parents that are separated by language, and I don’t know what to do about it. Of course, there are other English-speaking moms, and I’m doing my best to reach out to them, but what’s a girl to do? I’d love to say that I would just sit down and learn a new language, but being able to make myself understood and actually developing a friendship based on my ability to communicate in Spanish are two totally different things. Perhaps I should just embrace this as an opportunity to experience a little of what Reagan will face every day of her life. Looking different, feeling different. Or maybe there are other options. Any ideas?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Well boys

My boys, both of whom have been ill lately, are finally well! Don't they look especially strong and handsome in their coordinating "gun show" shirts? Both are here displaying their "guns," which, though slightly smaller due to weeks of virtual starvation (Dan lost 10 pounds in as many days) are still quite impressive!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nothing much sadder...

...or cuter, than a sick little guy on the couch. Parker has been a little under the weather the past few days but seems to be on the mend. One benefit of childhood illness is that my bigger babies are actually willing to snuggle with me for longer than the obligitory minute or two per day. A benefit for them is that they actually get to watch more than a few minutes of television. Parker's favorites of late are Monster's, Inc. and Toy Story 2 so I've nearly got them memorized . He keeps his sword handy for Randal and Zurg appearances - he has a little sister to protect you know!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Undistracted worship

We are blessed to attend an incredible church with intense, Bible-based preaching, sweet fellowship, beautiful and uplifting worship, and innumerable other strengths, not the least of which is a lovely outdoor patio. It is from that patio that we have participated in those precious services over the past several months. We are able to hear the sermons and sing along with the congregation, while at the same time caring for a baby girl still bonding to her parents and a little boy enduring a lot of life changes. It is a great set-up and carries the added bonus of exposure to the southern California sunshine. However, it clearly is not the ideal way to worship. Yesterday marked our first Sunday inside the worship center since May, childless and undistracted. Reagan has transitioned seamlessly to the nursery and seems to really enjoy playing around kids more her size (though she’s still the smallest by far!). Parker had a difficult time saying good-bye, but quickly settled in to his class and said he had a good time. God has been so good to provide men and women who really love our kids, and I have no doubt that they are well-cared for in our absence. I hadn’t realized quite how much I had missed, however, until I sat down in a pew and found I was quite emotional. Sitting there worshipping along with so many other people passionate about my Savior is a privilege I often take for granted, but appreciated with a new fervor yesterday. So today I am still praising God for a great church with equally fabulous childcare!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Where’s Parker?

While it’s a fun game mid-afternoon when I can here the giggles from behind the door, it’s not so fun at 5am. This morning when Dan went in to kiss the kids before leaving for work, Parker was not in his bed. He did a frantic run around the house before waking me to join the search. We quickly located him in Alyssa’s bed, but not without a lot of serious heart pounding. As you can see, he’s snuggled in next to his sister, close enough to the wall that he was not easily visible from ground level. For reasons I was unable to gather from my little guy, he awoke sometime between my 11pm bedtime and Dan’s 5am wake-up time. He proceeded to hunt down a banned pacifier, help himself to a snack (a very crumbly granola bar), change into his favorite undies, and climb up into Alyssa’s top bunk. He’s never done anything like this before, and I pray will never pull a stunt like this again - this mama’s heart can’t take it! But don’t they look sweet together? Even with the your-flash-is-too-bright-mama scrunched-up face!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Her scent

Though I’ve not always valued the sense of smell, becoming a mother increased my awareness and appreciation of this unique gift from God. As most people, I’ve long enjoyed the smell of flowers, a good meal, my favorite store, and even a cup of coffee, though I don’t drink it. I’ve understood from discussions with a friend whose sense of smell was very limited that it plays a critical role in our enjoyment of food. I’ve appreciated the way my nose warns me when I forget bread in the oven or am about to pour myself a glass of past-due milk. However, I had never really loved a scent until I came to know the scents of my children. As newborns Alyssa and Parker’s mouths smelled like sweetened milk, their bodies of Johnson and Johnson’s timeless lotion. As they grew, each took on their own unique scent, each uniquely precious to me. Alyssa is all girl, and her scent reflects it. No matter how rough her play gets, she rarely seems to require a scrubbing. Parker, however, will smell like a boy within hours of bathing – even if all he’s done is sleep! But each night when I bury my nose in their necks, I’m reminded of the overwhelming affection I have for each of them. There’s just something about the way they smell!
Which brings me to Reagan. I’ve loved my baby girl since we first started planning for her two years ago. My love intensified when we first saw her photograph and heard her name last December. I was overwhelmed when I finally held her in my arms on Mother’s Day. My affection for her has grown daily since then. However, it still doesn’t quite match that which I have for Alyssa and Parker. I think there are a lot of reasons for that – maybe I’ll go into them in another post someday – but my point today is this: I know I’m on the right track because I’m beginning to love Reagan’s scent. It is decidedly different from both Alyssa and Parker, though they are subjected to the same baths, shampoo and lotion treatments. I don’t think it is objectively much different than the way she smelled those first few weeks. All of a sudden, however, it is incredibly sweet to me. When I kiss her, I inhale a little deeper. Though her neck is almost non-existent, I’m starting to bury my nose in hers too. It seems a strange step in the bonding process, but to me a very real one, and presents yet another reason to praise God for the amazing little gifts He continues to bring into my life!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A few funnies

I've never embedded video here before, and rarely do I click on videos in the blogs I visit, but these I just couldn't resist. Dan and I laughed and laughed together over each one, and I'm not one that's quick to laugh out loud. They really are worth a look!

911 Math

A phone call Sarah might have made!

Pachelbel Bedtime

A little long, but hear him out - the end is quite sweet!

Granny Airbag

Check out her expression - or lack thereof!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A few firsts

First time actually playing at the mall playland. We love playlands (especially when its' 100+ out) but our little one is now mobile enough to join in the fun.
First playdate at the park. The girl loves the swing!
First real illness. Reagan spent most of the afternoon cudddled up on Daddy, but seems to be on the rebound. Alyssa insisted on sharing her favorite jammies with her sick sister - needless to say, size 5 doesn't fit too well when you've just graduated from 0-3 month clothes!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A cure for self-doubt

If ever you start to question your abilities as a parent, the stability of your home, the character of your children, the love shared between you, or your personal worth, I’ve found a great solution: hire a social worker. Truly, these people have an incredible knack for making a very ordinary family seem very extraordinary – at least on paper. Today we received a copy of our social worker’s report on Reagan’s 2nd post-placement visit, and to read it you’d think we walk on water. It’s all very nice, and I’m grateful that another American family will be represented well to the government of Vietnam, but are we really “exceptional parents in many different respects”? Doesn’t it take longer than 30 minutes to “observe an unconditional love and bond between [a child] and her parents”? Of course I can’t argue with his claim that “Reagan is a personable, happy and loving baby girl” or that “she frequently smiles and maintains a cheerful disposition.” But that’s my baby. The praise he’s heaped upon her parents is certainly appreciated, but almost comical in its extravagance. So if you’re feeling down, I’d recommend giving him a call!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

3 months home, 10 months old

It’s hard to believe that our sweet baby girl has already been home 3 months. The best word I can think of to describe her, and us as a family of five, is normal. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: her transition has been almost totally seamless. I expected to have so many issues unique to this bonding process, but she simply accepted us from day one. Much credit has to go to the nannies at her orphanage - one in particular who clearly loved Reagan – and some easy-going genes. I’ll also give them the credit for the fact that she is so on-target developmentally. While we also expected to deal with some developmental delays, Reagan is babbling, cruising, crawling on all fours, trying hard to stand on her own, sleeping like a champ, and eating increasingly more real food. Everything a 10 month-old should be doing. Of course she is extraordinary in many ways too, as every parent knows, but I thank God daily for the fact that she is so very normal.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Very strange

In preparing Reagan’s cereal yesterday, I noticed this recipe for meatloaf on the back of the box:

1 2nd Foods Green Beans
1 2nd Foods Garden Vegetables
1 pound ground chuck
1 cup Gerber Oatmeal cereal
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup ketchup
1 ½ Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Garlic powder

So maybe a few of the ingredients are a bit adventurous for a toddler, but okay. That is until I realized that this meal is not just intended for the under-1 set. This is a recipe for an actual entrée intended for adults! I have a hard enough time serving these jars to my infant - I can’t imagine subjecting the rest of my family to the same strange smells and textures. But you have to admire Gerber’s ingenuity!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I just realized that my blog turned one year old yesterday! When I started this basic little site I never would have guessed that a year later I would have over 20,000 hits and visitors from around the world. Just today I had hits from Australia, South Africa, Canada, Vietnam, Norway, France, Germany, as well as from across the United States. I know as far as blogs go that’s not very remarkable, but it has far exceeded my expectations. At first I wasn’t sure if anyone other than my mother and cousin Gail would be reading, and I was certain that everyone would stop once our adoption was complete. I’m glad that I was wrong, because it’s fun to have a place to share all my joys and frustrations, and perhaps encourage others along the way. God is so good and I’m grateful to Him for the strange little gift called blogging! And of course, thanks are due to you, my readers, for giving me a reason to write!

What I’ve learned from kindergarten

  • Green paint doesn’t come out of new school clothes, even after being soaked in bleach overnight.
  • 7:45am comes really fast when you’re trying to get three kids and a mom out the door.
  • Kids are good at spreading germs.
  • Sick days can be a blessing in disguise.
  • 4 hours actually go pretty fast.
  • Late-night blogging quickly falls by the way side when the alarm is set for 6:30 am.
  • Moms can get a lot more done in the morning when everyone is ready shortly after dawn.
  • Little brothers and sisters get more attention from mom when the kid-count is reduced to two.
  • Little brothers and sisters push each others’ buttons more often when big sister isn’t around to mediate.
  • Teachers are better at explaining how to form “s”s than mommies are.
  • Kindergartners aren’t very good at rehearsing the details of their day.
  • 20 minutes isn’t nearly long enough to eat lunch when mama isn’t there to prod.
  • Mommies can survive for a few hours each day without all their babies at home.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

1st Day of School

Here you see one very excited Kindergartner and one very sad brother, aka. keeper of the tissues. Alyssa had a great time, but the rest of us were more than a little emotional. The worst part is, she had to go back today! Did you know this isn't just a one-time event? They go to school day, after day, after day. Parker and I are already counting down the hours until noon, and the days until next summer. Thankfully, at least Reagan is just her happy, bubbly self!