Saturday, March 31, 2012


We have become quite the little geo caching family.  The kids love it, a modern day treasure hunt!  I like it because it's free... and we get to spend the entire day outdoors!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adoption News and Thoughts

Adoption is a crazy world.  It doesn't matter if you decide to adopt domestically or internationally; it doesn't matter if your process is carved in stone or a complete roller coaster, adoption is a beast unto itself.

For example, adoption is always a choice.  No one in the world of adoption accidentally ends up in line.  There are no birth control malfunctions.  Adoption, for adoptive parents, is a choice.

For many people, adoption is a scary choice.  These people are usually grossly misinformed.  There are plenty of avenues in adoption--both domestic and international--where the paths are wide and marked in neon.  You pretty much know what you're going to get--or strangely enough, choose what (read: whom) you're going to get.

If and when Bret and I return to China for another child, the path will be wide.  It won't be easy, as anyone who has filled out the paperwork for China will tell you, but it will be expected.  But, even then, you're faced with the daunting challenge (the "God, I could really use some wisdom now" challenge) of deciding what type of special need is right for your family, which in a weird way means saying "no" to certain children.  That's a strange moment, but it is still a moment that makes you keenly aware you are just one person looking for one child.  And, you have to wait, which is hard.

So, yeah, adoption is a strange thing.  It's a beautiful thing, torn right out of the pages of scripture.  For me, nothing has opened my eyes more to the amazing grace of God than adoption.  I understand what it means to be a child of God at a new level.  I understand what it means to be grafted in to a family.

And, as we wait for baby #3, we are keenly aware--more so with this adoption than ever before--that God has the right child for us.   Losing Nadia was more painful than I could have imagined--still is.  I think about her every. single. day.  But, I know that God has a plan.  He has to... he just does.

So, as we wait (baby boy is due on April 24), we wait cautiously, keenly aware that we have chosen this path.  We didn't end up here by accident, and we aren't going to accidentally end up with a child.  And there's a lot of relief, even amid all the chaos and unknown, that I don't have to control this outcome.  A deep sigh to that!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Swim Lesson Time

My two little swimmers are at it again!  Grace did the backstroke by herself the whole length of the pool today!  Grant, too, can swim all on his own.  Proud and thankful!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Backyard fun

Yep, that is a sprinkler going in the middle of March!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fun times

Here is Grant hanging out at Papaw's house.  And, yes, that is a gun!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grant's Pizza Fieldtrip

Playing outside and pizza preschool fieldtrips!  Is there a better week?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Glorious, Glorious

Today was gorgeous.  Like live in San Diego gorgeous.  And, it's the middle of MARCH!

We climbed trees, headed to our creek, took a bike ride, and took a swim at the local Y.  Now, the kids are digging up worms before I grill steaks!

A near perfect day (only made better by Bret being home!).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Grant's Note

The first word is "Dear."  Can you read the rest from my funny boy?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Am I Allowed to Eat During Mass?, The Final Installment

Christmas time always provided a bit of entertainment in our Catholic kindergarten.  The halls of the school were decorated with all kinds of Christian imagery, and few December days went by without special candies or other treats being made available to our class.  I became quite adept at stuffing extra food into my pockets, and I even learned what the “melting half-life” of the various treats were, such that I rarely left any food stuck to the inside pockets of my trousers.  If there was anything that angered me as a Kindergartener, it was losing food to the inside of my pants.  I had worked hard for those candies, and I wasn’t leaving anything stuck to the inside of my pocket.  It would be eaten, fuzzy or not.

When it came time for our school Christmas play, I was selected to play Joseph, husband to Mary and father to Jesus.  At the time, I thought this was a great honor.  I got to stand in the stable during the entire production, looking a little bit useless and dazed (not a far cry from the real Joseph, I would guess).  I remember being excited by my father’s presence in the crowd that afternoon.  I stood there; crook in hand, proud to have been cast in such an important role.  Little did I know that in reality, it was Joseph’s exclusion from the process that made the whole Christmas story a special one.  As my dad told the story later, he noted that Mrs. Moran had selected the closest thing she could find to a Jew to play Joseph in our Catholic class – pudgy, Protestant Bret.  Such is the plight of my people.

Another Catholic tradition that bewildered me as a child was Ash Wednesday.  We would all trudge over to the church, praying silently for a short service and an extra donut, only to be herded into line to be smudged.  The hope was always that the priest would give you a little extra ash; enough to leave little black smudges on the walls, desks, and carpets of the classroom upon returning. 

After Kindergarten each morning, I walked with my friend Jonathon to a house across the street from the school.  There was an hour or so gap between the end of my school day at my father’s ability to retrieve me; therefore, I stayed with Jonathon at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Head.  The front room of the Head house was dimly lit and contained walls full of books.  Jonathon and I occupied ourselves by watching TV and reading most days; although--occasionally--we would venture out into the backyard.  I remember very little about the Heads as people, other than that they seemed old.

Jonathon was normally picked up by his parents shortly after me, on most days.  But on one occasion, I can remember Jonathon being picked up before my dad arrived.  Normally this wouldn’t pose any sort of problem, but I had recently seen a film on television where a mother left several of her kids to fend for themselves in a shopping mall parking lot.  The kids went on to raise themselves for a while before they were forced into foster care.  In my mind, a foster family was a cruel, decidedly evil family which sort of rented unwanted kids so that they could perform experiments on them or force them to eat only roots.

With this scenario in mind, shortly after Jonathon left for the afternoon, I began contemplating my fate.  Where was my father?  Had he decided that he was through sharing his cookies with his kid and his ever expanding appetite?  Had the inconvenience of continually dropping me off and picking me up at the Catholic school finally become too much?  I was terrified.  I went outside with Mrs. Head to help her hang clothes from a line in the backyard, and I thought to myself, “I guess I could make it here.”  I also wondered if I could run all the way home.  In reality, it wasn’t that far, and I had a knack for cartography, so I could probably have made it.  The minutes drifted by, and terror further clouded my mind.  I was convinced.  They had left me.  I played back through recent weeks.  Was it because I threw up my dinner after I ate until I nearly burst?  Had I “back talked” one too many times (“back talking” was one of the seven deadly sins in our house)?  Mrs. Head was nice enough, but she was so old, and the house was so dark.  I longed for my old home and parents.  I would be better.  I wouldn’t throw up any more.  I wouldn’t even sneeze.  I’d go to bed by 8:29.

As my delusions reached a level of unprecedented panic, my father arrived.  I was relieved.  I think I was probably even crying by the time he rolled in.  He told me later that he’d only been about an hour late, but an hour to a five year old feels like days.  It’s funny that such a seemingly small experience can be so terrifying at the time that you can still remember it vividly almost 30 years later.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Am I Allowed To Eat During Mass?, Part II

At some point during the first few months of my schooling, our young, enthusiastic teacher was replaced by an aged, withering, angry woman names Mrs. Moran.  In reality, she was probably in her early 40's, but when you're in Kindergarten, everyone else is ready for the morgue.  Mrs. Moran had a completely different demeanor when compared to our original teacher, and it didn't take long for us to realize that our paste eating and pants peeing would be greeted with the tolerance of a regimist dictator.  Even at the tender age of five, I remember being greatly distraught at the change in teachers, and I'm fairly certain that it contributed to my difficulties with teachers later in life.

Throughout Kindergarten, being the non-Catholic in a Catholic school made for troublesome situations.  Each report card was marred by an "F" in various Catholic studies, including the ability to perform the "sign of the cross" on ones self properly.  I always got the shoulders backwards.  The other kids (actually, my father) tried to teach me "spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch" but this only confused me, as I'm quite sure I had no idea what spectacles or testicles were at that point.  By reciting this poem and still screwing up the gestures, I probably received a failing grade in "Health" as well.

One of the cornerstones of my Catholic schooling was going to mass once a week.  I believe it was only once a week, but at the time it seemed as if we went every afternoon.  We would all line up and march over to the sanctuary, where I would carefully choose the most uncomfortable seat I could find.  I frequently fell asleep during the service, a problem I have continued to encounter in my adult years.  Mrs. Moran would approach with clenched teeth and yell/whisper "Bret, wouldch you pleashe shtay awake!"  This would repeat itself for the eight hour duration of the mass, at which time I would always awaken refreshed and ready for my donut.

The Catholics, it seemed, had two things down pat at our school.  One was the donuts.  After mass we would file into the basement where there would be long, folded tables adorned with cake donuts in white boxes with frosting stuck to the tops of the lids.  I'm sure there was a donut distribution system at work, but I managed to always find a loophole which provided me additional donuts as desired.  The other thing that the Catholics had mastered was drinking coffee from Styrofoam coffee cups while eating their donuts.  I can remember the smell of burnt coffee in that basement to this day.  Once I had received my 2000 calories of donuts, we would march back to our classroom for a nap on the carpet squares. 

On May 13, 1981 an announcement was made over the little loudspeaker at the front of our classroom.  "We have received a report that an assassination attempt has been made on Pope John Paul II's life.  More information will be provided as it is received."  This announcement meant little to my heathen five year old ears, but it had a profound effect on my teacher.  I remember her clutching her chest and saying a prayer.

"Who the heck's the pope?" was my response.

She muttered something about "you ungrateful little basket" or something similar to my ears and dragged me off to a corner.  I genuinely had no idea who the pope was (or what an assassination was, for that matter) so I was incensed at my treatment at the hands of the warden.  The circumstances of the day were later explained to the class, but it did little to cool my head after being made to stand alone in the corner for a good 15 minutes.  The nerve.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Blog Fodder

We've been negligent.  Really, really, REALLY negligent.  But, things are going to turn around, I swear.

And, in the spirit of second chances or New Year's resolutions, I'm going to start again by stealing... from Bret.

What you don't know about Bret is that he's been writing his memoirs.  I don't know, in the end, who will want to read them, but they're darling--if a wife can say that--and funny and sweet.  I love Bret's stories; it's part of what made me marry the guy, so it's no shock that I adore these stories.  And, I hope you do too.

So, when things get tired around here (like NOW), I'm going to reach into his storybook and steal...

He doesn't even know I'm doing this... so don't say a word: he never blogs anymore, so maybe he won't even notice.  These stories are unedited, which means that in places they might be rough, but hey, a blog entry a month is a bit rough too!

The first little section is on Bret's experiences in Kindergarten.  I'll break it into several days, for the sake of time and space.  It's a good place to start, don't you think?

Am I Allowed to Eat at Mass?, Part I

I went to a Catholic Kindergarten when I was five years old.  I was always one of the youngest kids in my class, only bested by kids who lied about their age on their paperwork or had parents on the school board.  I'm not really sure that there are any advantages to being the youngest kid in your class, other than the excuse it provides when you do dumb things like eat paste or pee on yourself.  For my parents, I suspect that I was sent to school young because they thought (hoped and prayed are probably better terms) that I was intelligent enough to carry my own with the other kids.  I spent the next 17 years trying to prove otherwise.

The Catholic school was on my dad's way to work.  We weren't Catholic.  We weren't considering being Catholic.  In fact, I went to a church that spent a lot of time explaining to me why I shouldn't be Catholic, so my presence at the Catholic Kindergarten was sort of an infiltration behind enemy lines.  In reality, it was a matter of convenience, a choice I fully understand now that I have children of my own.  My dad was able to drop me off on the way to work and pick me up on the way home. 

When I started at the Catholic school, I had a lovely, young teacher who I very much liked.  She let us choose our own carpet squares, and she didn't complain when I ate paste or peed on myself.  My mother had done a wonderful job teaching me to read prior to sending me off to school, so I don't remember really having any trouble with the learning portion of Kindergarten.  My problems were always rooted in the social, a trend which continues today.

One of my best friends in Kindergarten was a fellow named Jonathon.  Jonathon was the son of a guy my dad knew from the real estate business, so he was already sort of an acquaintance.  Jonathon used to frequently drag me kicking and screaming into situations which would get us both into trouble, often involving sharp objects.  He was also keen on the Jeopardy category, "Eating Things Which Weren't Meant To Be Eaten."  In the end, I think Jonathon got the short end of the stick.  He was paddled at least once in Kindergarten, while I escaped such a fate altogether. 

The Paddle at the Catholic school was ensconced in great myth.  Some said it contained holes, which sharpened its blows.  Some said it was leather at one end with hooks in the middle.  Others had heard that kids had died from its use, and a small monument to Those Who Never Returned hung from the walls of the Vice Principal’s office.  Whether the tales were to be believed or not, you didn't want to mess around with being introduced to The Paddle.

I recall the day when Jonathon took his licks.  We all stood around the door, waiting to see if our teacher returned with the body.  We were amazed when Jonathon came around the corner, face red from what were obviously tears.  (Nobody teased him about the tears.  In our eyes, he was a warrior who had survived a bloody battle.  No shame in that.)  When asked about the experience as we returned to our carpet squares, all Jonathon said was "I got splinters in my butt."  If nothing else, Jonathon was a poet.

The story continues tomorrow...