By His own hand He leadeth me.

The decisions we have been making over the past weeks haven’t been easy.  Ironically, the hymn our family has been working at memorizing together is “He Leadeth Me” by Dr. Joseph H. Gilmore.  As we move forward one step at a time, we feel blessed to serve a good Father, who even had our homeschool curriculum present us with a hymn that reminds us that His hand is leading us even when life feels out of control.

He leadeth me. O bless-ed thought! O Words with heavenly comfort fraught!

I need that reminder as I pack up the youngest three members of our family preparing for a journey to the States that will not include their dad or siblings.  For sure, a two month separation would never be what we would choose (especially right after an adoption) but as we have pr@yed and talked to Little Man’s doctors we feel confident that this is what we need to do.

Little Man, Little Monkey, Moe and I will leave for the States May 8th.  We will land in Tampa, Florida where Little Man will have a bone reduction surgery on May 11th.  He then will have follow-up appointments over the next month.  6-8 weeks post-op they should be able to start making our guy a new leg.  He is looking forward to that.  He hasn’t been able to walk for three weeks and he already is tired of us pushing him around in the stroller.  He asked me to pack his old leg so that he would have it when he came out of surgery.  It wasn’t fun to explain to him that surgery wasn’t the only step towards getting him walking again.  The awesome thing about our Little Man – He has a joyful spirit and doesn’t let much get him down.  He has been telling everyone that he is excited to have surgery because the hospital has a great playground and the food in the cafeteria is wonderful!  That’s our boy.

Hubby and the oldest two kids will join us in the States as soon as the semester is complete – sometime the end of June.  We haven’t even left yet and I am already counting down the days. We then will all return to our Asian home the end of August.

Surgery isn’t the only thing that will keep us busy while Stateside.  We will be working at getting Mo’s immigration paperwork filed, will apply for his new American passport and be getting him a visa to return with our family to Asia.

We would truly appreciate you lifting up our family through this season.  So many transitions, goodbyes, and emotions will fill the weeks ahead.  Please specifically lift up:

  1. Me as I travel with an immobile kiddo and a two year old who has never done this world wide travel thing.  So thankful for Little Monkey who is one of my biggest helpers!  I know she will make the task much easier and more fun as she chats with me along the way.
  2. our new little guy…may Moe handle all of the transitions and continue to feel safe and loved in our family.
  3. for Little Man’s surgery and healing process.
  4. think of Hubby as he continues to teach his classes, finish homeschooling Soccer Dude and Roo, and keeps our home running while I am away.
  5. and last but not least, for our family dynamics and relationships.  Two months is a long time.

I know we travel a lot and our lives seem a bit on the crazy side….but really we are a family who enjoys pizza and movie/game night every Friday, shopping at the same veggie stand, and sipping hot chocolate and reading a good book equals an exciting night. Can I say routine?  The next four months are going to shake us up a bit – pr@y for us.

Miracle Soup

My mother-in-law has shared stories with me on how she managed a home with four kids on a budget. One thing she did – freezing left overs in a carton.  Once the carton was full she would pull it out and make soup.  You never knew what fun soup creation would result.

I kinda feel like this blog post is a bunch of tid-bits from the month of September.  Not really sure what the end result of this post will be, but want to save these precious moments and share them.  Mostly so I won’t forget.

We have celebrated an anniversary this month, Little Man’s 6th birthday, family day for both of our youngest kiddos and some milestones for our upcoming adoption.  It has been a big month.

 

My baby is 6 years old!  We had fun celebrating him with gifts, chocolate cupcakes, and his first ever birthday party.  So much fun to plan a Dragon Training Camp that ended with a piñata (created and painted with much love by two older sisters) that was fought with a sword.  Nothing like watching a bunch of kids swinging a wooden sword while your husband holds a piñata from a broom handle in the living room.  Fun times.  We may also have launched stuffed sheep across our living room at the book shelves and made our own version of corn hole…or feed the dragons.  The whole thing was a hoot.

I was having so much fun celebrating our big, 6 year old, funny, first grade guy…not one tear.  Then a couple of days later he lost his first tooth!  I must admit, that is when I lost it.  He is six.  He is missing a tooth.  My baby is all grown up.  Sniff.  Sniff.

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Maybe that is why I was savoring our “Family Day Celebration” with more vigor and focus.  Little Monkey has been in our family for 6 years this month – Little Man for 4 years.  On the outside it seemed that we celebrated by going to a huge ball pit/playground.  We then ate our favorite Chinese meal out – Hot Pot.  Fun times. Good food.  But, as I watched Soccer Dude carry little Man to the top point of the playground, I delighted.  When I had a little in my arms for a few moments of rest, I savored the warmth of my space in time.  I felt the joy and the miracle of my family that afternoon.  I wanted to hold on and take in the moment. Not to keep the kids from growing up, I have longed since learned there is no trick for that.  I just wanted to remember – never forget – our family that was brought together through pain, sorrow, redemption, joy and a lot of paperwork.

I felt the miracle of it.

I truly feel that every adoption is a miracle and as I watch our children grow and blossom, shaped by adoption (not just my younger two, but all four of my children…heck, me too) I am filled with awe and thankfulness.

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We are on a journey that will take another miracle.  I see the miracles our first two adoption were and I expect nothing less this time around.

We have completed all of our paperwork to submit to China for our next miracle.  It is being authenticated and soon will be on its way from our adoption agency in the US to our side of the ocean.  The next step….to be matched with the child God has for us.

Would you pray with us?  We know that Father has a child in mind for us….and He will confirm who the next Williams will be during this next step.  This will be part of the story of the miracle of our family.  It will be miraculous, life changing, and we are praying hard.

Thank you for standing with us, following our journey and praying. Can’t wait to share our next miracle with you.

that is a wrap.

The day that seemed so far away last August….it has arrived.  We have wrapped up our school year and celebrated with some of our favorite Chinese food, hot pot.  We survived.  Another year of homeschooling in the books and I do believe that we all are a bit smarter.  At least, I am smarter.  That is something to celebrate! (My 5th time through Kindergarten was the charm.  I think I might have passed this time!)

Here is a peek at what we accomplished and how much our kiddos have grown.

 

IMG_0272-2Little Man: Our Kindergarten graduate (kinda)

Age: 5

We started Kindergarten with this kiddo because he was dying to do school with the other kids and frankly we homeschool so we have the freedom to start when the kids want to learn.  Another layer of honesty, he is a busy kid.  Giving him things to learn keeps him busy with the rest of us.  Win.  Win.  Now – what to do next fall?  My grand plan had been two years of Kindergarten, then he informed me that he had passed kindergarten and sure hoped 1st grade would be more of a challenge.  HA!  Now, if he could just learn to sit still in a chair.  Hmmm.

Favorite subject: Geography.  This kid knows crazy facts about the States and can put together a State puzzle faster than I can.  Need to know a capital or in what order a State entered the union?  Ask Little Man.  I am not joking.

What he wants to be when he grows up: A baker or a dragon trainer.

Favorite food: Noodles

Biggest accomplishment: He is well on his way toward reading and knows his basic math facts.  He claims knowing how to add and subtract is not an accomplishment – “You just use your fingers.  Everyone knows that.”

 

 

IMG_0226Little Monkey: Our 3rd Grade Graduate

Age: 9

Favorite subject: Reading and art.  Little Monkey also added piano to her list of studies this year.  She is whizzing through the first book, but isn’t so sure about playing in front of people for the recital coming in a few weeks.

What she wants to be when she grows up: A baker or a teacher (Not sure what is up with my kids all wanting to bake.  I told them I would hire them now!)

Favorite food: Rice

Biggest accomplishment: Learning to read music and completing a special science course that she chose.  If I was giving out end of the year awards, “most diligent” would be hers.  She is so good about staying focused, going down her list of daily work.  She is becoming more and more independent in her work.  Maybe that is what I should have put for biggest accomplishment; she is growing in confidence and character.

 

 

IMG_0316Roo: Our 6th Grade Graduate

Age: 12

Of all of our children, Roo loves homeschooling the most.  I often find her sitting in a corner of her room working away on a school assignment with headphones tuning out the rest of the world.

Favorite subject: Art and piano

Biggest accomplishment: Roo has learned how to use iMovie and is using this new platform to extend her creativity.  Many afternoons, you will find her along with her two best friends dressing up for roles in the latest film they are producing.  She might be creative, but she also is rock’n sentence diagraming.  She can tell you the difference between an IO, DO, OPN and PN faster than any kid I know.  Helps to have a daddy who is a whiz at languages.  (Have I mentioned that my kids are smarter than I am?  Makes homeschooling more and more challenging!)

What she wants to be when she grows up: An artist, film maker, or a beautician.

Favorite food: Broccoli soup and French bread

 

 

IMG_0321Soccer Dude: Our 8th grade graduate

Age: 14

This kid will be in High School this fall.  What?!#  He started his school career going to a Chinese emersion preschool in Michigan.  It seems like yesterday…kinda.  We have all come a long way since then.

Favorite subject: History

Biggest accomplishment: Surviving online classes with North Star Academy.  He took two online classes this year – Math and Language Arts.  It was a huge learning curve, but by the end of the year we were getting in the swing of things.  We are leaning towards him taking a full course load at NSA next year.  It has its pros and cons, for sure, but they offer classes he wants like Latin and advanced science classes.

What I love about homeschooling at this age…the great conversations.  There is nothing like sitting down with your teen and hearing their perspective on what went wrong during the Civil War.  I love hearing his passion for equality, human rights and what he would do differently if he were in leadership.  Add that to his volunteer work with the disabled children at the orphanage….he is going to be a world changer.  Okay, I am a proud mom.  A proud mom who is struggling thru the teen years, but seeing the beauty of them too.

Favorite food: Coke and candy (Keep’n it real, folks!)

What he wants to be when he grows up: He isn’t sure. Actually, that helps this momma’s heart.  He might be entering High School in the fall, but he isn’t ready to launch into the world yet.  We still have some time!

 

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Homeschooling four kids at once.  Check.  Makes me think I can handle five.  Just say’n.

 

 

 

 

 

Back at it

IMG_1355If you don’t hear from me for the next 12 years it is because I am now homeschooling 4 children and it is kicking my tail!  I have now done Kindergarten several times and really thought it would be no big deal to add it to our daily school business.   Well reality has hit but we haven’t hit our stride.

All joking aside, we are working hard to get into a rhythm for the semester.  Hubby has two weeks of classes under his belt (they are mostly literature classes again with a fun grad class to boot) and I have enjoyed two art projects with my special students at the orphanage.  Play-dough and dot markers are a great way to start the fall.

On the home front we are tackling Kindergarten along with 3rd, 6th and 8th grades.  Little Man was thrilled at first to have his own shelf of books and to be a “real” student.  Three days in he was asking how many days we needed to do this school thing!  Reality hits.  The girls and I are digging in a bit deeper this year and exploring some creative elements in art and writing that have been over looked in the past.  Hoping we can keep up the fun.  Soccer Dude is testing the waters with online schooling and enjoying it even though there is a learning curve.  Never a dull moment when a notice is posted on the apartment complex door that we will have no electricity when we were scheduled for a Skype meeting with his teacher and he was to do an online math test.  In the end, we packed all the kids up and took the excuse to explore a newly opened Starbucks in our city.  The kids joked that they felt like they were going to school in the States!  I guess we don’t live in the backwoods any more if we are able to order a frappuccino!

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All in all – we might not have hit a stride for the fall, but we are slipping back into routine and slowly recovering from our crazy summer.   Soccer Dude even let me take his picture at Starbucks.  He is looking good (thank you to the plastic surgeon in Detroit!) and all of his stitches have fallen out making eating so much easier.  Now, if only we could find an allergy medication to help him with the hives he’s had since the dog bite.

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Many have also asked how Little Man is doing.  I sometimes forget he had such a major surgery at the beginning of the summer.  He is back to his old self running around so much that there already is a crack forming at the toes of his prosthetic.  I wonder if there has ever been a package shipped internationally with “foot” marked as it contents.  We might ask our team of doctors in Florida to give it a try before we have toes fall off again!

Thanks again for all of your support and prayers as we have transitioned into the fall.  His grace has been so real to us over the last few months and we know it will continue to carry us.

Encounter with a birthmother

A simple encounter at the bus stop that rocked my soul.

I was waiting with three of our kiddos.  Par for the course, they were playing and oblivious to all that was going around them.  Picture a lot of laughter, noise and a bit of running around my legs.  I was enjoying watching them play when I grew self-conscious that we were being watched.

Nothing new about that.

When out and about we are constantly watched.  We hear comments like, “Four kids?  Really?” and “Are they all yours?” and “They don’t all look like you.  Two look like you and two look Chinese.”  Usually I take it in a stride. I understand that for a population where one child is not just the norm but the policy, we are bound to draw out comments and stares.

But I had never heard this one.

A middle-aged couple was standing off to my left and I heard the woman comment to the man, “She could be our child.”

A wave of shock rolled over me and before I could think twice, I was starring into the woman’s eyes.   I am positive she assumed I couldn’t speak Mandarin and wouldn’t understand the comment she made.  To be honest, I wish I hadn’t understood her, looked up or reacted.  When our eyes met – both mothers who understand grief and pain that should not exist in the world – the understanding in our eyes was full and real.  She stepped around behind the bus stop and hid herself from me.  I asked the children to stop playing so as not to make her pain more intense.

There is no possible way this woman was connected to our Little Monkey.  Her birth place is hundreds of miles away.  We were simply a symbol to this woman.  Grief over what could have been?  Wonder over what is?  Hope that her child is in a family playing with siblings?  A memory that had been hidden and now was pulled forward?

The encounter brought forward some emotions that I can forget in the daily routine and joy of life.  My joy is someone else’s loss.  Just because there are so many unanswered questions surrounding the early years of our adopted children doesn’t make them not exist.  There are real people living lives with the memories of children who belonged in their arms.

Weekly, I see the reality of lonely hurting children who live their lives in an institution, and I want to question the people who chose not to care for them.  Daily I am blessed by the love of two children who did not grow in my womb and sometimes I lose sight of the painful reality that the people who could not care for the ones I love now may still be out there wondering about them — wondering what their lives are like.

But it goes even deeper.

In relation to the majority of the world, I am a rich privileged woman.  I have access to resources, health care, community support, and I have a voice.  It stinks that the majority of women…mothers…in the world don’t have all of that…which at times result in some painful realities.  It is injustice.  When my children are playing around my legs and filling my life with laughter, I want to rage against a world where poverty is real and an injustice.

The woman at the bus stop – she brought my privilege up close and personal.

Those of us who are rich and privileged (dare I say that would be everyone reading this blog) we can do one of two things.  Do something with our resources and ease the suffering of the orphans of the world and speak out against the injustice that creates orphans to begin with….or we can pretend.

Pretend.

I have looked into the eyes of orphans living in an institution.  I have looked into the eyes of a suffering mother who can not parent her child.

I no longer can pretend.

 

39

cake“So, old people keep on having birthdays?  Seriously?”

That is the question that my loving four year old threw at me this morning.  That boy.  His timing is just perfect.  At 39 that could sting a bit,  but I have decided that with forty breathing down my neck – old is relative.  On my 29th birthday I went and got my hair all chopped off  thinking short and spiky hair would keep me looking young.  For 39 I have decided to go a different way.

My girls set up a “spa” in their bedroom for me today.  They drug in our comfy chair, had a bowl of hot water and marbles waiting for my feet and a display of nail polish ready.  I happened upon them in the kitchen pulling out honey and a ripe banana that they were fix’n to use as a homemade face mask.  These girls.  They know how to be sweet, in very creative ways, to their momma.

I think it was as I was trying to hide my giggles at the thought of being smeared down with honey by my seven year old that I made the decision about 39.  It is going to be the best year ever.  As Little Monkey smeared cream into my face she gently told me, “Mom, if you don’t scrunch your forehead you might not notice those wrinkles.”

It’s unavoidable – isn’t it?  We get old.

My grandma, one of my most favorite people in the whole wide world, once told me that the beauty of getting old is that you stop caring about some things and think about what is important.  Now, the whole story.  She was passing on this bit of wisdom to me as she ate Cheetos out of the bag using a toothpick (so her fingers wouldn’t get cheesy)!

The wisdom stands true.

For 39 I want to care about what is important.  No crazy hair cuts for me this year.  Instead, I am going to be crazy about the important things.  It started with letting my girls smear goo on my face.  Not sure where it will go from here, but I am looking forward to seeing where JC will take it.

Yes, dear son, old people keep having birthdays.   Here’s to another year….the best yet.

 

Homeschool wrap up

It is 10 a.m. and I am sipping a cup of coffee and munching on a cookie.  Ahhh.  Lazy mornings of summer have arrived and I am so thankful.  I think I need the break from homeschooling as much or more than the kiddos do, but I am glad to report that I am not in a place of desperation.  This has been a great year of homeschooling and I think for the first time I have loved it.  It has only taken me five years to hit a stride – a place where the kids are thriving and so am I.

I have begun planning for next year….ordering curriculum and prepping to school four kiddos (yikes!)  Before I can turn to much attention to our next season of school, I want to recap how far the kiddos have come.

 

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Soccer Dude:  my 6th grade graduate!

Favorite subject:  “If I had to choose something besides reading, I guess it would be math.”  (We are loving Teaching Textbooks around here!  He still reads so much that it is difficult keeping him supplied in books.  Praise God for the Kindle!)

Most improved: His Chinese skills have blown me away.  He can sit down and read entire paragraphs of Chinese characters putting me to shame.  He has his daddy’s aptitude for languages.

Hobbies: training his pet birds, learning computer coding

This summer I would like to: go fishing

 

 

 

 

 

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Roo: my 4th grade graduate!

Favorite subject: art and music

Most improved:  She has fallen in love with reading this year!  What a joy to find her hiding in a fort finishing up the last chapter of a book!  Her favorite book is”From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”  She mostly likes reading on the Kindle….”because you can read a long chapter book and not even know it.  On the Kindle you don’t see how thick and scary a book might seem.”

What I want to do this summer: learn to play the piano

What do you want to be when you grow up:  a hair dresser just like Nana used to be.  (The girl knows I need help with haircuts!)

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Monkey: my 1st grade graduate!

Favorite subject:  Everything!

Favorite food: rice

Most improved: She went from sounding out letters to reading chapter books!  (I must admit that homeschooling 1st grade is one of my favorites!  It is so rewarding to teach a child to read!)  Her favorite books are Henry and Mudge.

What I want to do this summer:  eat at Chick-fil-A and go to a water park.

What do you want to be when you grow up:  a gymnasts and ballerina who plays the flute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Man: is graduating to a larger prosthetic leg!

Favorite subject: Disney planes, coloring and reading Cars books

Most improved: He is coloring in the lines, is a verbal dude who now can ride a tricycle without his prosthetic being strapped to the peddle.

What he wants to do this summer: eat ice cream and go for wagon rides.

What do you want to be when you grow up:  “I don’t want to be big.  I will always be your baby.”  (No I didn’t prompt him to say that.  Yes, it made me cry a little and he will now get double dessert!)