A dose of reality as we head out

8 duffle bags and 8 backpacks wait in our schoolroom.

We have maxed out our big 12 passenger and will be having a friend not only drive us to the airport, but also towing our utility trailer behind us with our luggage as well as my parents’ luggage and 3 strollers.  Moments like this make me realize we have a larger than typical family.  Funnily enough, someone seems like they are missing.

Nw for the dose of reality.  Little Theodore’s photos haven’t been shared a lot by us.  I know it’s a little strange for those who have walked with us through our other adoptions.  Truth be told his first photos just made us heartbreakingly sad.  9 months old and 9 pounds.  Red eyes from crying.  Unable to sit.  A long list of expensive lab tests had been run.  His stated diagnosis was clear cut in one respect and very dire in another.  He was not meeting milestones, nor was he ever expected to, according to one respected professional who looked at his medical file for us.

And yet we sent in our letter seeking to adopt him and make him our son.


Because he’s worth it.  

Totally worth it.

Our agency director went looking for an update.  She called his orphanage and found that he had been transferred to a special medical foster home run by a NGO (non-governmental organization) in the same province. We were thrilled!  His pictures show a very serious little face, but he is now nearly 26 months old and he has gained 10 pounds and 10 inches.

We aren’t sure what his medical future will hold, but we do know that God woke us up to love him unconditionally, to fight for him, to give him a place to belong.  We have several medical teams available to us here in North America and once we are home with him we will pursue all of our options to get him the best treatment we can.


And we have been given a little glimpse into his personality.

Theodore belly laughs when he is tickled!

 How great is that?!

As we leave tomorrow please pray for us about the following:

*easy travel (all parents will understand the full depth of our request!)

*that Theodore’s heart will be prepared in whatever way it can be for the enormous life altering changes about to occur.  Adoption, while redemptive, is still trauma.

*the hearts of our Chinese born children who are returning to their birth country.  So much processing has already occurred as we went through this preparation for this trip.  They are new ages for this homeland visit and with each new developmental stage come new ideas, memories and levels of processing.  Pray that this will be a rich time for them to see China, to know China and to love China.

*the hearts of my children not Chinese born.  They have welcomed their siblings like kings.  They have embraced their adopted country wholeheartedly.  They look at China with pride and realism and helped our other children feel brave and strong in spite of the complexity of what they are processing.  They take leadership roles with their younger siblings on all of our travels and it can be exhausting.  Pray that they would have strength beyond their years and experience.  Also, pray for their patience while trying to breach the great firewall of China in order to connect with their loved ones and peers back home. Not.even.kidding.

*Health.  Stephen and I have been trying to get healthier over the past six months knowing this was coming.  We are on a continuing journey with this, but I pray that God would honour our attempts and keep our backs strong, our stomachs ironclad and our sleep deep (even if only for a few short hours – haha!).

*for my parents.  They come with us on these trips and there is very little glory in it.  It is not how most couples would choose to spend their empty nest or retirement vacations, but they do it without any complaint about missing the actual tourist areas, grumpy grandchildren (and, ahem, children), and enormous piles of luggage and children attracting stares and stopping traffic everywhere we go.  Please pray for their health and that they would be able to enjoy their time away in spite of the busy schedule.

*for Stephen & I.  It’s physically exhausting, but it’s also emotionally taxing.  I’ve cried more in the past few days than I have in, oh, about two years.  Adoption does that in the final days before we leave.  Pray that I would hear God prompting me to be quiet as Steve leads us and that I would listen more to Him rather than trying to control each and every detail.  Truthfully, that is my downfall.  And pray that Stephen wouldn’t run down to far as he tries to juggle all of us and be emotionally available to all of our many and varied needs.

And thank you, each and every one, who has offered to pray for us.  We’ll be thanking God for you all too!


Time rolls by

So much has happened since that last post.  We finished the 15 casts on Isaiah’s legs, the 5 on his arms, spent time touring the area around Philadelphia, NYC and DC.  We even took the long circuitous route home by cutting across the US and visiting the Grand Canyon and Disneyland before making it home just in time for Christmas 2014.  Two Philadelphia visits, Portland visit, and several trips to Vancouver happened over the past year for medical check ins, casting, new or repaired prosthesis and braces.  We schooled, we worked, we started attending a new church, we camped, we dirt biked, we took the motorcycle out, we swam and well, we decided to add one more little person to the family herd.

The process for our newest child began with a call to our agency November 2014 while we were still in the throes of Isaiah’s casting.  Many months of soul searching visits with our agency social worker, piles of paperwork and more recently, drama over just when we would be travelling to meet our new child have culminated in a China trip planned for Monday, piles of stuff surrounding me in our schoolroom and butterflies as we pray for our newest family member’s heart to be prepared in some small way for the enormity of what is to come.

I hope that you will follow along.  We feel the most sure of this child out of any we have welcomed into our home, but we also have probably the least information to date.  Please pray for our children, all our hearts to have peace in these days of upheaval to come, the process, the travel (that’s many posts in and of itself!) and my folks (who are joining us once again!).  We’ll be in China from November 9-26.  IMG_0035-Edit DSCN0427

              We can’t wait to meet you, Theodore!


So here we are

After writing that last post about our visit to Samuel’s friends, we returned to the hotel and Isaiah promptly fell into a deep, dark, angry grieving rage.  It was a long and loud one.  So long in fact, that we sent my folks off to the Goodbye China Party that our agency throws all on their own.  We ended up following them after a bit, and enjoyed watching Samuel so excited over the magician, but that’s not really the point.  Actually, that rage was only the beginning.

The airplane.  The drive to Stephen’s folks.  Driving home.  At mealtime.  At bedtime.  At play.  At the doctor’s.  Never for so long that we fear for him, but definitely intense.

Isaiah had fussed and cried before.  Not long-lasting, but it spoke of what was going on underneath.  It appears to be a typical two year old type of thing, for sure.  Head clunking against ours.  Back arched and stiff.  Sharp screams and yells.  The hard part is knowing where the two year old part of it begins and the fear and grief ends.  And mix it all in with thoughts like our doctor voiced yesterday, “He’s got to be frustrated that he can’t do for himself.”

Yeah.  Not a simple thing to sort out.

He has enjoyed playing with his siblings, that’s for sure.  And honestly, I will do a post later about it, but they’ve enjoyed him too.  That is the 90% of it.  The 10% remaining is this rage.

0-60 in no time flat.

So, we hold him and remind him and love him and hold him some more.  And sometimes when the yells are too piercing we hold him and wear ear buds.  Whatever it takes.



Post swimming at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  He’d say, “WOOOOOOW!” with great enthusiasm every so often.


Samuel, showing Isaiah how to open one his birthday gifts.


Rolling, rolling, rolling…  Sure glad we kept those baby gates up!


Yes, we own desks and nice furniture.  This is James’ room.  And this is the den of Minecraft.  Isaiah was welcomed into the fold.


It looks sad, but this is the crew allowed to play, yes, you guessed it, Minecraft, together for a few minutes before we headed out for swimming at their grandparents’.  They had just finished laying all over the floor playing with Isaiah.  He was kind of like, “Huh?”  He is pretty good at swiping on the iPad.  IT’s only a matter of time….


He’s sexy and he knows it.





What do you see?


What do you see?

I see three children washing dishes.

I also see one of the children using step stool.

I see that it is not the child who measures in at 2 1/2 feet tall without his prosthetics.

LOVE it!


What can you do on a snowy day?

Grace teasing Mom with her smile

Grace teasing me with her smile…

Faith creating with clay

Faith working on her polymer clay figures…

Christmas Village

Appreciating my last night with the glow of the Christmas village…

Winter out of the schoolroom window

Gazing outside the schoolroom window at the snow…


Garnet building creatively with the new Magformers…

Faith watching Anne of Green Gables

A reintroduction to Anne of Green Gables…

Samuel playing with snow indoors

Bring the fun inside.  Snow in the kitchen?  Samuel thought I was hilarious!


Genuine Christmas Spirit

Like most of us, I really love the weeks leading up to Christmas.  The lights, the visiting, the anticipation – they bring out such a warmth in my spirit and in the demeanour of so many around me.  Truly, what’s not to love?

Unlike many, I try to avoid the Boxing Week sales.  The return lines in the mall, the 70% off everything signs, the bedraggled decorations – they put a damper on my glow, you know?

Today though, I decided to take James out to exchange a couple items.  And as expected, folks were a bit more down in the mouth.  And things didn’t have the sparkle that I’d noticed just a few short days before.  Until, that is, we headed over to a new prosthetics office that we haven’t been to before.

I needed to pick up some spray that helps Samuel’s prosthetic liners suction a bit better.  We go through a ton of that stuff. I ran in expecting a quick errand and stopped dead in my tracks.  Amongst the clients and professionals, there was laughter and smiling; friendly banter and joking.  I paused for a second while they waited for me to announce my reason for stopping in.  Such a contrast and in such an unlikely place, or so one would think.

But that it the secret that we have discovered over the past five years.  The key to happiness and joy has nothing to do with the packages and shiny lights and brand names and deep discounts.  It has to do with perspective.

And today I realized, not for the first time, that I am one of the privileged few who have been let in on the secret to joy and maybe even the true essence of Christmas Spirit.

It was a wonderful reminder for a brand new year.

Welcome 2013!

Santa 2012

(Don’t mind the late Santa photo – it needed a home here.)


A few of my favourite things (and people too!)

It was a very good week – full of the best!

{Hover the cursor over the individual photos to read the captions.

Click the individual photos to enlarge them.}


Ahhh the chatter…

While driving away from Fall sleepover camp:

Garnet: We carved pumpkins! We made one if ours stab the other one and the other one was throwing up!

Grace: we carved some too! It had a cross and on the other side had a beautiful flower….

Steve and I just about died laughing. LOL



Been thinking about…. being a Truth Teller

This girl surprised me tonight.  Actually she’s been surprising me a lot lately.

I had to leave for the evening and I left her elder siblings in charge of the herd.  Birthday season is on a roll in our family and I needed to do a little shopping without the kids.  When I got back and checked in on each of them, I was truly surprised to find a tear stained little girl waiting for me.  She had convinced herself that I was taking a really long time.  So long, in fact, that I must have been in a car accident or suffered some other terrible end.  So long that she had gone through half a box of kleenex and made herself get the hiccoughs.

She poured out her heart to me.  Told me all about how she had begged God to bring me home.  Asked me (not for the first time) about what would happen to her if I went to Heaven first.

I am choked up just writing all this.

It’s tough stuff.

Stephen and I have always tried to tell our kids the truth (Okay, except for that one subject involving a jolly old elf in a red suit… but that’s another story for another time.).  It’s something that we’ve taken a lot of flack for over the years from family and friends.  But that’s just us.  We aren’t very skilled at finessing a fine story when our kids ask us a pointed question.  And early on it just became the most logical thing to tell them the truth when they have questioned us on things.

Why do I have to eat my veggies?

Why does that man use a white cane?

Why does the neighbour lady stumble funny when she comes home late at night?

Why did the policeman take away that man?

Where do babies come from?

Will you ever die?

{What will happen to me if you die?}

Now there’s a show stopper.

Each of our kids has wondered this allowed during their preschool years.  I don’t honestly know if this is age appropriate thought material or not.  Perhaps we breed morbidly focused children?  Regardless, when it has come out of their mouths, we have told the truth.

“Only Jesus knows, but here’s what the plan is no matter what and you can trust us to take care of you.  You can trust Him.”

And off they would go.  Sure it would come up again if a friend or aquaintance that we knew passed on, but honestly, it seemed to be enough.

For Grace?  Not so much.

It seems as though a lifetime has passed for us with our girl.

I chose the photo for this post on purpose.  I really love the camping dirt.  The chubby toes.  The relaxed grin.  The lounging girl in the hammock.  Such a picture of carefree innocence.

Such an antonym to the churning worry that lies beneath her surface.

I could go on about how trust takes time.  How she’s been let down before by those who should’ve been able to protect her from the leaving abandonment.  There I said it.

But what really hits home is the contrast.

She goes about her days happy as a clam.  Flitting from fairy to pixie.  And underneath lie the questions.

Am I safe?

Am I worthy?

Am I loved?

I don’t have the magic truth that will be the balm to her soul.

And so we dance the dance.  Parry the questions.  Again and again and again.

And maybe the best I have to offer is in my willingness to waltz when she asks.  Meeting her toe to toe.  Looking deep in her eyes.  Letting her read my very soul.

Being a truth teller.

And again and again and again.

I love this girl.

She is my heart.

And she is so very, very worth it.



Ahhh the memories

Just now as I was walking past Grace’s room on my way to bed, I had a sudden urge to check in on her.  You see, she hasn’t been sleeping well for the past couple weeks and normally we hear from her every so often in the couple hours between her bedtime and ours.  So, walking past I suddenly wondered if she was actually asleep.

I opened the door and saw a quick movement of the blanket, followed by a very still and motionless form lying there.  Hmmmm this looks familiar.  🙂

I quickly threw off her blanket only to find her buried underneath with her new Leap Pad from Christmas.

I hear her intake a deep breath, “Okay.  I was doing this.”

Good for you, I think to myself.  You admitted you did wrong.  (Little proud moment there.  Trust me, if you lived in this house, you’d understand.)

I took the Leap Pad.  Told her I’d be keeping it for tonight, that I loved her and good night.  And down the hall to my bedroom I go.

Once there, I explained to Stephen what had happened.  Then I followed it up with a chuckle and asked him to reminisce.

“Sooo I remember reading under the covers and hiding books, what did you do secretly in your room after bedtime?  Did you ever get caught?”

He shakes his head no and then breaks into a blush and a grin…

“Actually, my parents bought an old used black and white tv one time.  I carted it into my room and put it in the closet  where I could see it from my bed.  That night I rigged a couple of skipping ropes that I could pull from my bed in order to shut my closet doors in a hurry if they suddenly came in after it was lights out time.

Sure enough, long after bedtime, my folks came in – my room was across from theirs.  I quickly shut the closet doors and suddenly I saw the flaw in my plan.  There was a bright glow emitted from the TV screen in the closet.  The volume didn’t hurt either!”

We had a good laugh over that!  Sometimes it’s so nice when our kids just plain old behave like, well, kids!