Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Tooth Fairy

Emily lost her first tooth. 
The family tooth fairy handed her 50 cents.
(Teeth are cheap in a family with six kids.)

I think Alex was seriously considering knocking out a few teeth 
so he could collect.

He settled for $2.50 in back pay.  

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Catching Up with Alex

Just like this picture, life's a bit out of kilter.
Adjusting to a new family member takes time and energy.
And it's so worth it all.
Children are never a mistake!

Those that God calls, he enables...

  The language barrier has been harder than we expected.
Thanks to google translator, however, I've been able to say in a CALM Chinese voice
(that sounds just like me, especially the calm part),
"Quit being a pest."

On the other hand, Alex said his first sentence.  The other night Kenton told him to go brush his teeth but Megan was in the bathroom.  When Alex went back to the living room and Kenton again told him to brush his teeth,  He protested, "Megan bathroom, okay?"
Not bad for only hearing English for a little over a month.

One night in the barn he told Kenton, "Baobao, NO!  Alex, YES!"
So we're working on switching just to his English name.

Alex loves his baba.  It's a little hard to take a backseat but I love that he wants to be with his dad and brothers.  Since the girls bonded first with me, I guess it's only fair.  He squeals with delight when dad pulls in the yard.  The other day he walked all the way around the pasture fence while Kenton was checking it.  

Alex is a normal 7-year-old boy.  When he's bored, he is a pest!
Most of the time the kids are pretty tolerant but several times he's crossed the line with them.
This morning Jamison asked to be in our room with the door LOCKED.
He'd had enough.

Alex eats almost everything.   I don't necessarily know that he likes it, 
but he eats it. 
We are also doing lots of Ramen noodles.
His paperwork said he doesn't like sweets.  It lied.

It's always amazing to us how fast our kids our kids get used to the idea of grandparents.  I think some of their first words have been grandma and grandpa.  Alex enjoyed helping my mom in the kitchen and wanted seconds of Martha's vegetable soup.
Birthday presents help too.

The last couple of days things seem to be jelling more.  Yesterday they all played a game of penguins, waddling around with blankets around their feet and making more noise than seems humanly possible. Blind man is another current favorite...something like Blind Man's Bluff.  Hide the thimble...Bender style...Hide the tractor-trailer.  

The kids dug all sorts of dips and notches into my freshly plowed garden.
Grandpa wasn't the most popular fellow when he came through with the culli-mulcher.
Alex is learning to join in with their fun.

Alex turned 8 on Sunday.
We had dinner and birthday cake.

Then he dragged us all out to the living room for presents.
It was nice to see our self-contained son get a little excited about something.

He got a bank, remote control car (thanks for the idea Rebecca Gallo) and pocky.
The grandparents got him a toolbox with a couple of tools and a ball with handles.

One day Emily and Alex spent quite awhile pounding dog food to smithereens on the porch. They had blast but powdered dog food isn't all that appetizing to dogs so I suggested they go pound dirt clods in the garden.
I received a five-gallon pail of powdered dirt.
 Call me if you want some.

Alex refuses to speak Mandarin.  He barely responded to Mandarin speakers in China and totally ignores them now.  He tolerates the translator but will NOT respond in Chinese no matter how much pretty-please-with-pink-sugar-and-a-cherry-on-top I try.

(Alex and Pearl)

Alex has been with us for over 5 weeks now.  We have never seen him shed a tear.
We have discovered that he tends to smile when he is hurt or scared.
This is scary and makes it harder to know what he is thinking 
and how to help him.

We have never seen him be sneaky or underhanded.  I gave him all the Chinese money that was discovered in pockets or the washing machine or elsewhere.  He was thrilled. When he got a dollar from a new friend and Mexican pesos from his cousins for his birthday, he was delighted.
When Kenton left cash sitting on the table, guess who found it and brought it straight to me?

  • There has been no spitting, no biting, no kicking, and only one incidence of hitting...that I know of.
  • He asks for something if he wants it.  He doesn't just take it.
  • He LOVES electronics.  We usually don't let the kids have them until 7:00...and then it's a free-for-all.  One day he kept asking and I kept saying no.  I finally used the translator to tell him that if he asked again, he wouldn't be able to use them until the next day.  He groaned, smiled, and has seldom asked since but does watch the clock like a hawk around 7.
  • He doesn't whine or complain when he doesn't get his way.  Ever.
  • He doesn't like playdough or coloring, etc.
  • He likes math and is very good at it.
  • He likes playing soccer.  He's on Kaitlyn's team and plays just like most other U-8...swarm and kick.

Alex is amazing.
He is doing well.

But it is STILL HARD.

Everyone has had their moments when they'd like to clunk him.  That makes us sound pretty awful, I guess, considering all the changes he's been through and how well he's handling them


Adoption is STILL HARD.
Adjustments are hard on everyone!

It's also worth it!
Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Emily and the Great Physician

I know you're probably thinking...

Forget Emily!


Thank you!  Alex is doing great
And tomorrow...or Saturday I will update about Alex.
Unless I'm still suffering from dishwasher failure
and the kitchen has been condemned.

So Emily's cyclic vomiting specialist decided to retire in spite of our threats!

The ungrateful buzzard!
Part of Alex's middle name is after him!
(The Li in LiBao was kept because of Dr. Li)

The upshot is we're not driving all the way to Milwaukee to see a cyclic vomiting NON-specialist!

We decided to move her back to where her pediatric cardiologist is and our local pediatric GI that knows her situation and suggested Dr. Li in the first place.  He agreed to follow the protocol set up and we were good to go....until insurance!

 Ruby hospital and specialty clinic no longer accepts our insurance.  

Now what?

Because, you know, pediatric cardiologists and gastroenterologists grow on trees!!!

Stupid insurance!

The website was no help.
The first insurance person I spoke with said, "I can't find any!" and hung up.
The second offered me names for an adult cardiologist and a pathologist.
I hung up.

Our next step was to try and see if our local doctor's office would prescribe the meds for her.  She has a protocol and the meds are's doable, right?

Kind of.

She came in with a big smile and said, "You probably don't remember, but I already have seen Emily several times."  No, I'd remember!  She's seen Dr. Porter and Chris Baker and Melinda Stoner.  She continued, "I saw her at Ruby when I was a resident there."  

An unasked, YES answer prayer from God.

A doctor who already knows:
what cyclic vomiting is
Emily's specialists by name and studied under them
that we are crazy in love with our daughter,
but not the crazy-we-should-be-committed type
our Emily

It's been almost three years since Em was at Ruby and this former resident still remembered her!

She also remembered praying with Kenton one dark day in the hospital when the outlook was pretty bleak and we didn't know what to do.

She agreed to help us in any way she safely can.
It can't be everything we hoped for, but we expected that.

We are so thankful that God sent us to a physician that understands and is willing to help!
God has blessed us and Emily SO MUCH!

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Baobao's second word was hungry which should come in handy around our house.  He's communicating pretty well considering our Chinese consists of hello, goodbye, and thank you.  He's beginning to imitate which is great. He's also picked up NO, hey you, and yes.  

Here he is agreeing to be adopted.  

A reminder

Facebook is blocked in China so I can't access it.  I have seen your birthday wishes on my email.  Thank you so much.  It was a pretty special day here!


We had a long ride here yesterday.  It was fascinating to see spring move into the country as we rode from north to south for 10 hours.  Different housing, different farming, etc.  Kenton loved it, but the rest of us had had enough after about 4 hours.  We probably have 500 blurry pictures as we flew along at speeds up to 306 km/hour.  We didn't realize that we should have brought food along and were quite hungry after riding for 10 hours.  A 3-year-old boy fell in love with Jamison and became our companion for 3 hours or so.  He shared his oreos and we shared play dough and electronic games.  He was a super cutie but I don't think Jamison was too sad to see him go.  Kenton roped a Chinese man into a game of Uno with himself and the boys.

We reached our hotel on Shamian Island (Victory West) around 10:30 and found that it didn't offer much in the way of privacy.  I was exhausted and frustrated and MAD!  All I could do was cry.  This morning we got it worked out and we are staying.  Our room has a balcony and that's kind of fun although the humidity is HIGH and so are the temps.  :)    My online friend is right down the hall with her husband and newly adopted daughter.  For my birthday she introduced me to starbucks which was fun.  :)  It makes me smile that my first visit there was in China.  :D  We also made friends with a couple from Chicago.  

    You know how little kids make instant friends at the park in seconds?  They don't know names but they're friends anyway.  That's a little like adoptive parents here in China.  It's a lot of fun to meet new people who share similar interests and experiences with adoption.  Truly amazing!

Baobao likes to watch tv and play electronic games.  He doesn't like to be out and about.  He can be a bit of a pest when he wants to go back to the room  ALL THE TIME.  It's a bit of a balancing act for us trying to recognize that he's been through a lot of change and needs a lot of understanding while not enthroning an emperor and setting him up for major disappointment when he gets dethroned at home.  Not to mention that the rest of us would go crazy spending 24 hours in a hotel room together.  
The island is beautiful and smells heavenly.  We look forward to being in a place that's a bit more familiar than Taiyuan was.   We'll be sitting for a few days without progress during the Tomb Sweeping holiday.  Tuesday we'll get started again.  


Monday, March 28, 2016

Alex Li Bao Bao

This is Alex and the boys.  He is a happy child.  Holly says he picked them.  I don't know what that means exactly.  He is liking the boys, burger king, soccer, and  the swimming pool.  I'm posting this for her.  She says he is a good fit for their family.  Honeymoon period is on.  Holly's mom.  Sue

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bao Bao

A week from tomorrow, Lord willing, we leave for Beijing
to add this little guy to our family.
He looks up to the challenge, don't you think?

Life will change completely for him.
New: language, food, family, culture, school, smells, 
even a new name,
Alex LiBao, if he chooses to use it.

Alex/BaoBao is described as being self motivated, a good helper, ready smile, clever, energetic, talkative, gets along well with others, sometimes obstinate, loves to look at books and be outside, fond of listening to music, deep sleeper, active, concentrates and participates in school and his favorite toys are balls and stilts.

March 26 - we should get to Beijing.
March 27 - bullet train to Taiyuan, Shanxi
March 28 - Meet Alex
We hope to go to his hometown Yangquan during the week while officials get his passport ready.

April 1 or 2 we take the train to Guangzhou where the US consulate that handles adoptions is located.
We'll be there for around a week getting medical and visa paperwork done. 
April 9 we start the loooooooong flights home.

This will be the weirdest trip for me.  The boys are going along to ease the transition for Alex.  They'll help model relationships between parent and child and between siblings.  Also, kids tend to bond with kids faster than adults.  The girls are here and going with the Minnesota grandparents to see the Florida grandparents and taking in "Dizz -We - World" according to Emily.  So I'll be on a trip with kids...and won't be taking anyone ALONG TO THE BATHROOM!  In the land of squatty potties, I am blessed!  I can't wait to watch Kenton escorting multiple kids to the bathroom as I go solo!  Woohoo!    

I bet Alex will hate this picture when he's a teenager.
But since we have less than a dozen pictures to help him remember the first 7 years of his life, each one is a treasure.  


See the little treasure in the blue shirt and yellow shorts?
He's almost ours!

Lisa told Lena that this is the boy our family is going to adopt.
Lena said, "That's why he looks happy."

We hope she's prophetic.
Please continue to pray for Alex and all the changes that he's going to be experiencing, that God will continue to prepare his heart for a new home.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Thoroughly Chastened

Words of wisdom from James 4

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Lesson #1 for today and many yesterdays.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Trending at our House

Davis has the farming equipment and the train set up in their room

Going into the boys' room after dark is quite the obstacle course.
Steel-toed boots are recommended.

I'm specializing in surgery today.
I reattached one leg to a bear,
I sewed up a neck wound on a cow,
And I reattached a foot to a leg.

All my patients lived to be loved and hugged for awhile longer. 

The little girls are ready for Disney when we finally leave for China.
(The grandparents are taking the girls to Disneyworld 
while the boys are going to China to help the transition with their brother.)

Megan was a bit alarmed when she saw me making these and informed me that
I wish I had it on tape that she once requested 
matching mother-daughter dresses.

Imagine the horror!  

Sunday, February 28, 2016

On the Rollercoaster

You know that whole opposites attract thing?

We are living proof.  

 He's calm, I shriek
I'm on time (usually), he prefers 5 minutes late (or more)
He likes animals, I detest them.
I'm a planner (kind of), other than farming he doesn't plan.
I would far rather have way more than I need, he prefers to run out rather than have extra.

These are just a few of the ways we are refining each other.
We'll either end up in matching straight-jackets (or behind bars)
or become lovely people.

Then there's the whole adoption waiting issue and that throws everything out of whack!

Tonight Mr. Calm-and-Reasonable-Just-Put-It-Out-Of-Your Mind asked,

"Do you think tonight's our night?"
(that's my line!)

"It might be, because all of a sudden I was attacked with panic and thought of the million and one things I need to do or should do before we leave the country. (And failed completely to mention that I could have been doing these things during the eternity we've been waiting!),"
responded the spouse whose motto is If In Trouble Or In Doubt, Run In Circles, Scream and Shout.
(It's Sunday and in the panic mode I had started the washer and dishwasher, cleaned up the disaster I call my kitchen, made a list of the 1,000,001 things to do, was heading out to fold a basket of clothes, and thought about {really briefly!} sweeping the kitchen floor.)

"Me, too," 
said Mr. It-Will-Happen-When-It-Happens
"That's why I didn't work here on Saturday."

And so the rollercoaster starts down the hill again.  

I realized the stress is getting to Mr. Patience when I called him one morning and he answered with, "Did we get it?"  After my negative response he added, "This would be so much easier if you could just put it out of your head and forget planning about it until it happens."  Turns out that "you" was a reference to himself.  I only realized that when he repeated it a couple of days later.  It's getting to us.  Both of us.  Which is kind of nice because I hate to think of going completely crazy alone. 

I haven't blown up with our agency - except when the executive director told me last week on the phone that it "will happen eventually and in the meantime you should just try to forget about it."  That made me pretty mad.  We've busted our butts for the last year trying to get everything done promptly and paid for overnight postage to keep things moving as quickly as possible and NOW, right before we leave for China, we're supposed to just forget about it until we get THE CALL.  Come here and say that to my face, lady! 

And I want to remember this:

 I had a dream the other night of Alex. I pretty much only remember a dream once a year or so and then it's usually a nightmare.  In the dream Alex was about 14 with the name Queue Home (Go figure!  I never realized that my subconscious was into symbolism.) and he was SO NICE and KIND and everything we would pray for.  I went to introduce him to someone and blanked on his name.  Completely. Then I remembered Queue and he smiled gently and filled in, "Home" and my heart broke.  How could I forget?  What I remember best was that gentle smile.  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Still Here and Random Thoughts About It

We got this message from our adoption agency today.  Our wait for TA (which is averaging 3 - 10 days) is now at 49 days.

"Our Beijing office personally visited CCCWA today China time and pushed further on the delay.  Our people were told that the delay remains the fallout of the computer glitch that I discussed with you in January, when the accounting department was having some problem accessing their computer records to confirm your dossier and translation fees were paid, a confirmation the matching department requires in order to issue the TI for any family.  Of course, we were told at an earlier point that this glitch had been fixed and obviously has been since families with A5 approvals issued in February are getting their TIs.  Our staff was told the financial section was “too busy”, which I take to mean to get to the backlogged families right now, and that we were to wait while they caught up.  It’s illogical why the financial department would not deal with backlogged families before more recent ones, but we as adoption professionals learned that logic rarely applies in international adoption. "


Because some things are worth waiting for.

It may not be the desire or the dream that God has given to you, and you may not understand it from an earthly perspective, but we believe that it is God's plan for us and His plan B for Alex.  Thank you to those who have prayed for us and encouraged us. Please keep praying for Alex.  This is from Love Without Boundaries and addresses the possibilities of why he may or may not know that we are coming: 

A few years ago we had a beautiful little girl in one of our programs who wanted a family very much. She was chosen off of an agency list, and I was actually the one who told her in person that she would be getting her own mom “very soon.” She was overjoyed, and I know she started counting the days until she would have a family of her own. Unfortunately her family-to-be didn’t seem to have the same burning desire to get the adoption completed. Months went by without home study visits being done; each time the agency would call to ask if they were still continuing, then the family would do one more minimum piece. Six months turned into a year, and then two, and the little girl was still no closer to having this family actually come get her. The older children in the orphanage, who were no longer eligible for adoption, began taunting the little girl to release some of the anger they had in their own hearts over never being chosen. They began telling her daily that of course no family was coming, as who would want HER. Despite the nannies’ best assurances, of course the little girl slipped into a deep sadness. After the family finally backed out, I discussed what had happened with the orphanage director, who told me he would never again tell a child a family was coming “until we are walking into the doors of the government office to meet them.”
Of course that was an extreme response, but adoptive parents in the West need to understand that orphanage directors and nannies regularly see families who stop adoptions. Whether it is from divorce, or money issues, the loss of a job, or a death in the family, sometimes adoptions fall through. Many orphanage officials feel in their minds that they are protecting a child from future heartache by withholding information about a family until that family actually arrives in China. They also might feel like they are protecting the child from hearing taunts or even threats from other children in the orphanage who are dealing with their own feelings of not being chosen. 

On the other hand, Alex may have been told and given our album back when we received LOA back in October.  And now it's February.  That's a long time for a 7-year-old to face an unknown future.  Please keep his little heart in your prayers.

God is building patience (although it feels like we are just working toward official straight-jacket status).  

Again, someone else's words are better than mine, so from Sandra Zimmerman at Tales From Our House: 

After I wrote yesterdays post I was listening to a radio program and what I heard felt like God was prodding me, giving me a reminder. In my own words this is what I heard, "Patience, we ask God for it, desire for Him to pour it upon us, to give it to us a gift of sorts, if you will. But God usually doesn't answer our prayer by filling us with patience. He often leads us through hard times and let's us earn patience because like most things, we will value it much more if we have to earn it."       The speaker then gave the illustration of someone learning to water ski, again my own words, "You are in your living room with your new ski's and an instruction manual. Even though you follow the instructions, you will have a difficult time learning to ski because you are missing the key ingredient, water. Learning patience is similar. We have an instruction book and we know what we wish to attain, but without trial's, we will have a difficult time learning patience."

I'm sorry, Lord, but I HATE PATIENCE.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


The neighbors have lambs.

Everyone enjoyed them and tried to persuade dad that our farm needs some.

I'm afraid that my pet Q-tip permanently spoiled owning a lamb for Kenton.

However, you know the old adage - if at first you don't succeed...

Kids in the van.

This is an old mill between the farms.

As long as I don't have to touch them, chickens are so much fun.
(Especially when they roost on my husband's skid loader at night.)

Graffiti - generally best done with something other than your own name.

Oakview Ridge Farm parlor

Sebastian during milking.

Hello, ladies!

Milk house with milk tank

More barns and silos

Emily dressed up for Chinese New Year.

We've been expecting TA since early January. We've had rough days and good days
and put our lives on hold as we waited to hear that we are cleared to travel.

Yesterday was not a good day.
Despair hit the fan and it wasn't pretty.

We need to quit waiting and planning and just focus on living. 

So our family of seven - five wonderful kids - went to a museum.

It was good to get away for the day and just enjoy what we have.