Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bahamas SeaBase Tall Ship Adventure - part 1

Well, the boys had a blast on their high seas adventure last week. As we've looked through pictures and talked about their week, these are some of the highlights/lowlights as I understand them. I may ask Daddy to guest blog later this week, so as not to totally mess up the story....

American Airlines lost the one checked bag they had for three days. It contained all of their bedding. For three nights, they slept on nasty old bedding that the captain found stored deep in the hold.

On Monday, Daddy slipped on the deck and conked his head pretty hard. Concussion?...maybe. He's okay now.

The tall ship was nothing like the picture on the Seabase website. But that was okay, because it was a catamaran, which means it has two side-by-side hulls. She's a beauty.

They had a captain, who owns the boat, and 18 Scouts and dads as the crew. The first day, (Saturday) they spent learning the ropes.

They set sail on Sunday. It was rainy all that day.

Better weather.

Hoisting the sail.

Exploring island caves.

Exploring an abandoned lighthouse.

Hopetown Lighthouse. This has a cool story.

Relaxation. Ahhhh.

Blessings to you,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my happy birthday! The boys are back from their to come.

For your information, I am NOT 46 years old! Look carefully. You can plainly see that I am 46-1 years old. My daughter, Sugar, had to get creative with the candles. After TE's birthday, I purged our pitiful half-used birthday candle collection and never bought replacements. She had very little to work with.

And a big thank you to my best friend, who brought me the triple chocolate decadence cake. It was super rich and delicious.

Blessings to you,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spanglish and Other Language Issues

Cupcake has a very good mastery of English. Isn't that crazy? And wonderful?

In one year, she has really grasped the language structure. I am amazed...especially with her hearing loss. We still misunderstand much of what she is saying, but it is almost exclusively mispronounciation or speed-talking.

The other day, we noticed that she has started talking really fast. She speaks English with a Spanish cadence - especially when she is chewing us out. ;-)

A couple of months ago, we took her to the Special School District here in town to have her evaluated for speech therapy. She needs to get her speech as mature as possible as soon as possible, in case she ever loses her hearing all together. So after several tests, they discovered that she was really only missing three sounds that normal 5-year-olds should have - if they were born here and English was their native language. She is not eligible for benefits even though she has documented hearing loss and English is a second language. Go figure. Why do we pay taxes anyway?

We do not speak Spanish at our house. We tried to do the best we could when Cupcake was first home, but after several weeks, she knew the English words for all the Spanish words I know. So, we gradually phased out most of the Spanish, since I was butchering the language anyway. But somehow, some Spanish words have hung around. Most because they are easy and we still use them...bano (Arg! I can't do a tilda!), leche, huevos, and pijamas. But I have no idea why she still says trabajo for "work".

It's so cute when she says "use" because she pronounces it "ooze", as in "Mommy, can I ooze your hairbrush?"

"Umm...I'm not sure, Honey."

Cupcake does not want to hear Spanish AT ALL. Friends at church will try to talk with her. She turns her head and walks away. She hears people at Walmart talking, and frowns. When she first came home, we had translators for various doctors appointments. She would completely shut down and go to her own little world when they began to speak to her. I don't know if she grieves all she has lost or if she wants no reminder of the past. I hate for her to lose her ability to be bilingual, but I know it is too much for her right now, so we are letting the Spanish go until later. I have known other adopted kids that completely lost their native language, to the point of flunking basic high school classes, even though they came home as older kids (6-10 years old).

Cupcake has been working on pronouns for quite a while now. Several months ago, puppy was licking her face and she was having a fit. When I asked what the matter was, she answered...

"Him eat him own poop!"

I'll leave you with that.

Blessings to you,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My friend, ManyBlessings put this out the other day. It is very troubling....

There is a horror slasher film being released July 24 (Orphan) about a family who adopts an older girl who “is not what she appears to be. Warnings about her go unheeded until it is too late…for everyone”. The film is being promoted now ( and the adoption message being sent is extremely negative. There is actually a line in the trailer that says “it must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own”.

Without having seen the movie or read the script, it is hard to know if the entire movie is sending a ghastly adoption message, but the trailer certainly leads us to believe it is. This feeds the notion that older adoptees are very troubled and you should beware.... that's not an image any of us want the general public to have of our kids. It plays into people's deepest fears.

There is a growing group pursuing a boycott of the film, sending out emails and posting on online bulletin boards. I urge you to forward this email to others personally involved in adoption, help disseminate the boycott message and write to the producers and distributors expressing your displeasure with the message being sent.

The backers of this movie have deep pockets. It is being released by Dark Castle Entertainment with Warner Bros. set to distribute. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, which developed the material, is also producing.

Here is a sample of the email I sent to Warner Bros....

I recently saw the trailer for the movie "Orphan". I was saddened to see the premise of this movie and the negative message it sends to people about adopting older children. This movie will plant seeds of fear into the hearts of a generation that might otherwise someday adopt these kids.

Your company info says that you are a leader in the entertainment industry. As a leader, you have a responsibility to those you lead. It would be socially irresponsible for Warner Bros. to distribute this film.

As the mother of an older adopted child, I am asking you to pull the plug on this movie. Stand up and be compassionate to the 143 million orphans of the world, instead of fostering fear and maintaining false and negative stereotypes.

Jxxx X. Sxxxxx

PS. Please pass this along to the president and top brass of the company. Thank you.

Feel free to pass this along and post it on your blogs.

Blessings to you,

Sailor Men

I just got back from the airport, where I dropped off my boys (all three of them). Today they are flying to the Bahamas for a tall ship adventure with our Boy Scout Troop. This is not a cruise. They will be the crew. They will have the opportunity to sail around the Bahamas, explore islands, snorkel, and swim. They will sleep out on the deck under the stars. Imagine how phenomenal the stars will be out in the ocean away from all lights.

Meanwhile, the girls and I will be holding down the fort this week.

Blessings to you,

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Promise Day, Cupcake!

One year ago today, we walked over to the US Embassy in Guatemala City and pledged that you would be our daughter forever!!!

I can't believe it's been a year already!

Baby, you know in this family, we keep our promises. Forever means FOREVER, Cupcake.

Happy Promise Day! I'm so glad I'm your mom!

Blessings to you,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stay on Your Knees

If you have been praying with me, I'd like to add another little one to your list....

I have met some amazing people on this adoption journey. On this road, I've met some of the most tenacious, sincere, encouraging, persistent mama-bears. This baby's mom is one of them.

This sweet little girl is waiting for her embassy appointment in Guatemala City.


And she now looks like this...

Three and a half years of a nightmare adoption is almost over, but they are still waiting for the US Embassy to give them an appointment date. Even these last steps on the US side have been fraught with setbacks. They were approved way back in January, and here it is the end of May. For a reference point, we were approved April 15 and had our appointment May 22 (...and we had setbacks).

They are expecting to hear something in the next few days --- of course, they've been waiting to hear something in the next few days for the last 5 months!

Please pray for this precious child to come home with no more delays.

Thank you in advance, and I will let you know whenever I hear something.

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Please Join With Me...

May 18, 2005

Four years ago, yesterday, my friend ManyBlessings made a commitment to these two beautiful kids. We'll call them Soccerboy and Princess.

ManyBlessings and her husband hoped and dreamed of bringing these kids home in a few months. Four years later, they are still waiting.

ManyBlessings was a gift from God to me when Cupcake's case went to abandonment. She had gone before me and knew firsthand the very real dangers that abandonment held. She cheered me up and cheered me on. I honestly don't know if I could have survived without this sister-in-Christ who understood my heart and the very deep waters we walked through.

Soccerboy and Princess grabbed my heart from the very first time I saw them. They are precious and deserve to have a family - this family. ManyBlessings has had the hardest roller-coaster ride of anyone I know. I can't tell you how many times the rug was pulled out and all hope was lost.

And yet, hope lived.

Even though adoptions are closed in Guatemala, ManyBlessings and her husband proved to the new government that they loved these kids and had already bonded with them. The adoption was allowed to proceed under new rules (which are probably still being ironed out). They are currently waiting to be called to Guatemala where they will spend time with the kids and the government will do something like a homestudy on them while in country.

Please join with me in praying for Soccerboy and Princess, as well as ManyBlessings, her husband, and the four sisters and a brother waiting at home.

I can't wait to announce the homecoming someday. All heaven will be rejoicing - and a whole bunch of us here on earth, too!

Blessings to you,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fun at the Capitol

Here we are with famous Missourian Edwin Hubble (of the Hubble telescope fame).

And here we are giving Mr Hubble a drink.

Thank you, Kim, for taking our pictures.

And thank you, Sunshine, for giving us a good laugh (again).

Blessings to you,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gymnastics Performance - Cupcake

Guess what we did Saturday?

Yep! More gymnastics. This time it was Cupcake's big day. She popped out of bed Saturday morning and asked, "Daddy, are you going to see my gymnasta-kicks today?"

Daddy said, "Yes, but your show is after lunch."

Every five minutes for the next 5 hours, we heard, "Is it lunch time yet?"

Finally, 1:30 rolled around and it was time to go to the show.

While Sugar's performance was just the 10 girls in her class, Cupcake's performance was several combined classes with about 30 little girls. The place was a zoo. They didn't have nearly enough seating for all the families. At first, it was loud and chaotic...and pretty intimidating, but then Cupcake realized she was having fun. Then the smiles started and the natural performer showed up.

So without further adieu, I present to you pictures of Cupcake's big performance.

We are very proud of how well she is doing. We were impressed that she performed as well as she did. She's only been working at this level for about a month.

Then our thoughts went back to a year ago. When she came home, Cupcake could not jump with both feet at the same time.

Not only that, but she was able to focus on the task at hand, even with all the people, noise and distractions around her. You have no idea how huge that was for me to see.

Wow! She's come a long ways!

Blessings to you,

Gymnastics Performance - Sugar

Friday afternoon, Sugar had her Spring performance for gymnastics. She is in a homeschool class with several of her friends. She has worked very hard this year to gain new skills and perfect the ones she already knew. She had a setback with her appendectomy, but has recovered well.

Sugar was full of nerves before the big performance, but she did great.

I'm so proud of her.

Here she is (second from the left in the front row)...

Blessings to you,

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jefferson City Homeschool Rally

After the All-Stars Award Ceremony Wednesday night, we came home, got settled, and around 10:30, I checked the email. There was an urgent email from our local homeschool group. I briefly scanned the email, said, "hmmm..." and crawled into bed, exhausted (as usual). The email said something about a rally in Jeff city at 1:00 Thursday afternoon. Our freedoms were threatened by some law that was sneaking through under the radar. Thursday morning, I woke up, had my quiet time, and asked the Lord to make it clear if I was supposed to go to this rally or maybe just stay home and pray for those who would go.

When I checked the computer, emails were flying around frantically. So, like a good citizen, I reread what this was all about. The requirements of the new law were ambiguous. The potential for government micro-management of homeschools was dangerous to our freedom. This was a big deal.

Missouri has been a wonderfully homeschool-friendly state. Our state lawmakers realize that parents have a vested interest in the success of their children. They recognize the outstanding success rates that homeschooled kids have. We have enjoyed the freedom that was won by those who went before us.

It was clear...I needed to go. So, we packed up the van, and road-tripped to Jefferson city. The weather was beautiful. The trip was enjoyable. We arrived in Jeff City at 1:02 and this is what we saw...

About 2000 homeschoolers from all over the state jumped in the car and met on the steps of our Capitol.

By the way, I apologize for the quality of most of these photos. Since I am vertically challenged (short), I just lifted the camera as high as I could and took random shots. If I had looked through the viewfinder, you would get to see pictures of the shoulder of the person in front of me. :-)

Cupcake working on her sign...

After several speeches that I really couldn't hear, we were invited to come in to the capitol building, so the lawmakers could see our presence.

After the entire group walked through the building, we stuck around and took a tour, which fulfilled a merit badge requirement for Scouts. At the end of the day, we were whooped up tired...

The rally turned out to be quite fruitful. The law was amended, and was, in fact, made stronger in it's language to protect homeschooler's freedom. :-) How cool is that? Thank you, God!

Some lawmakers said it was the largest crowd they had ever seen at the Capitol. The police were impressed by the behavior of the protesters. (I won't mention a little Latina stepping over the red velvet ropes in the rotunda to get a better look at the gold relief on the floor...)

Let it also be noted: These pictures are proof that not all homeschoolers wear denim jumpers. :-)

Blessings to you,

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Little All-Star

We had the All-Stars for Jesus Awards Ceremony on Wednesday. All-Stars is very similar to AWANA Clubs, but it works a little better for our small church. I'm so proud of all the Cubbies. They are a great bunch of kids.

Just so you know, Cupcake earned her uniform, but refuses to wear it, because, you know, yellow is so unfashionable. If only the shirts were magenta, or coral, or teal...

So proud of our little Cupcake.

Blessings to you,