Monday, June 29, 2009

One Year Ago Today.....

On Sunday, June 29, 2008, our family 0f 5 boarded a plane in Beijing heading for Nanchang, Jiangxi. It was our 4th day in China. We toured Beijing and now we were on our way for the purpose of the trip. According to our itinerary, on Monday we would meet The Princess and become a family of 6.

Godzilla and The Queen share a pop-tart while waiting for our flight to be called. The flight was interesting as we were the only non-Mandarin speaking family on the flight. Four hours later we arrived at the Nanchang airport. We were met by our wonderful facilitator/guide, Mary. After we had gathered our bags and as we were heading to the taxi I asked Mary what time on Monday we would receive The Princess. She gave me a quizzical look and replied, "She is coming in a few hours. You will get her this afternoon." My heart jumped into my throat. OMG!
When we got to our hotel I frantically started unpacking and searching for the toys and gifts that I had brought. Every time I heard someone in the hallway I would look to see if it was The Princess.

The Princess and her entourage arrived at 5:45 p.m.

She arrived wearing a ruffled dress with Mickey Mouse on it, pink sandals, and a silver necklace. She also had a death grip on a few snacks and an obnoxiously loud Teletubbie telephone. I think she was trying to dial "911."

She was completely overwhelmed and unsure of what was going on.

But she quickly warmed up to Captain Daddy and the kids.

Look at that smile! I apologize for the blurry photos, but we had just bought the camera and hadn't figured out the settings yet.

It has been a good year! The Princess has grown and thrived in so many ways. We are so blessed to have her in our family.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Imagine a World.....

...where My Little Ponies, Princesses, dinosaurs, dragons, and Bionicles live in harmony. Well, most of the time, anyway.

I think it is so cute how Godzilla tries to play with the girls.

I wonder why my children insist on playing on the steps! I can't tell you how many times I have stepped on a Lego or Princess shoe.

I think Godzilla is calculating his next move. My bet is on the Princesses!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's Your Purse-onality?

According to "In Your Purse: Archeology of the American Handbag" by Kelly Styring, the average woman owns 10 purses and the average purse contains 67 items and weighs 3.4 pounds. For more information on this purse research you can visit
A few years ago, I attended a Women of Faith conference. One of the speakers was Anita Renfroe, a Christian comedienne. She did a hilarious analysis of women's handbags. Here is a modified version of her analysis along with my purse-onality.
There are four purse analogies.

1. More Is More Better
This lady is the one who never really got over carrying the diaper bag and still wishes she had something that large. She normally has like a full snack bar and a working pharmacy down in her bag and is prepared for every situation in life.
The upside: Should you ever find yourself in jail, she'll be the only one in your group of friends with a MacGyver 7-in-1 tool to bust you out.

Example of "More is Better."
2. Basic Tiny Toter
This girl can get the whole contents of her day into seven square inches. I don't really understand this woman, but you can bet if she can do this that she's got some control issues. She probably pays her bills ahead of time and has her sheets tucked in real tight on the corners of her bed.
The upside: Should you ever find yourselves in jail, she'll be the only one with the unlimited AMEX who can bail you out.

Example of "Basic Tiny Toter."

3. Serial Monogamist
This woman gets one purse and sticks with it for 12 years. She's the kind of person for whom you occasionally have to do what we call "a purse intervention." Now she's also loyal and if she'll stay with this purse for 12 years she'll hang with you.
The upside: Should you ever find yourself in jail, she's the only one in your group of friends who'll be out on the sidewalk holding a candlelight vigil with a sign that says, "My friend is innocent."

Example of "Serial Monogamist."

4. Purse Schizophrenic
This woman changes her purses more often than she changes her underwear. Sometimes she doesn't know how she's going to feel after lunch so she'll occasionally carry a purse inside of her purse just in case her mood changes.
The upside: If you find yourself in jail, she's normally the reason why you're there, BUT she's also the one who'll sit right there with you in that jail cell saying, "Honey, isn't that the best fun we ever had?"

Example of "Purse Schizophrenic."

Okay, let's take a look at mine.

Um. It's a boat bag. But wait! Let's take a look inside shall we?

Inside of the boat bag are: my "purse", change of clothes for the Royal Duo, dirty socks found in our vehicle, tap shoes, my unfinished Bible study, snacks, toy binoculars, a princess ring, and used Kleenexes.

My "purse" is actually a small diaper bag that I have used for 5 years. See.

Compartment for a bottle. Note: None of my children drink a bottle.

Slot for diapers. Note: All of my children are potty trained! And yes, there is a Swiss army knife in my "purse."

So what does this say about me?

Apparently, I encompass ALL of the purse-onality analogies. I am a "More-is-Better-Basic-Tiny-Toter-Serial-Monogamist-Purse-Schizophrenic! You'd be blessed to have me as a friend should you land in jail:).
Apparently, I have passed along this trait to my girls.

The Princess with her princess purse And Dora backpack. There is probably another handbag stuffed in the backpack.

The Queen is no exception!
We are good to go!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Through the Eyes of Godzilla

Godzilla decided to take some photos the other day. I thought I would post a few of them as it is fun to see things through his eyes! When he was about 7 years old, he made a home movie that he wrote the screen-play, created the action figures, and acted all of the parts. He has a great imagination that tends to get lost in public school. I try to encourage him as much as I can because I love that spark in him.
First, there were many Self-Portrait photos:

Look at those angel-kisses (freckles)! I always ask him if his MeMe in heaven is kissing him in his sleep.

I think this is his "cool" look.

Even "cooler."

This is actually one of the better photos of The Queen.

I wonder what is going through her mind....Probably calculating how to get her way.

The Princess.

Hair-in-motion! Love it!

Surfer Girl that freaks out if a drop of water gets in her face.
I think I will get him his own camera. He does a pretty good job!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Goodbye, Bond

I received this plaque one Christmas from a friend. Included was this description of the plaque:

"A century ago, people down on their luck rode the rails. Known as hobos, they developed a system of simple pictures to communicate with each other, carving or chalking them on trees, fence posts, and pavements. A smiling cat meant “A kind-hearted woman lives here”–someone likely to give a weary traveler a meal."

Over the past 17 years, there have been probably 2 dozen cats that have made their residence here at the Sand Castle. Some have stayed a short time, others longer. Some became pets, others just tolerated. There is never a shortage of cats around the house. Currently, we have 3 that we claim as pets, two that belong to a neighbor (but pretty much live here), and then there was Bond.

Bond appeared about 4 months ago, maybe even longer. With 2 black and white cats already hanging around, a third doesn't get noticed as quickly. He looked as though he didn't belong to a family. He was thin and bore the marks of many fights. Though I believe that he did have a family at one time as he was not feral. His initial appearances were brief, only stopping by long enough to eat. Occasionally, I would find him sleeping on one of my porches or up in the tree house. For the most part he was tolerated by the other cats, as much as any of the others.

I looked forward to his visits. He seemed to appreciate the food offered to him.

He was very vocal! He would talk to me as I talked to him.

He was never aggressive towards the other cats like tomcats tend to be.
I hadn't seen him for a few days, which wasn't unusual. Sometimes he would not appear for a week or more. Today we found that he had passed away near our garden shed. I don't know what he died from; he could have been hit by a car, or attacked by another animal.

I'm sure going to miss him.

Goodbye, Bond.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Visit

Soon we will reach our one year anniversary of the day that The Princess became part of our family. For those unfamiliar with China adoptions, China requires that two post-placement visits be conducted by your social worker to document how the child/family has adapted, etc. The visits are performed at 6 months and 12 months following completion of your adoption. We received a letter from our agency back in April reminding us that our 12 month post-placement report was due by the end of June. After a few emails and phone calls, our social worker scheduled our final meeting during the first week of June, henceforth referred to as The Visit.
A little background here. I grew up in a military family. My father was a career-man in the U.S. Air Force Back in those days, the military was a lot different than it is now. When you lived in Base housing for example, you were subjected to random, white-glove inspections to ensure you were properly taking care of the residence assigned to you. My mother was a clean-freak. I say this most lovingly. Her life revolved around cleaning and making sure everything stayed clean. You never knew when an inspection would occur or where that white-glove would check for dust/dirt! Not an easy task with 4 children, but seldom did we cross her on this! So when I started living on my own, I continued the "clean" experience of living. My Mother elevated the "clean" bar to "High" and i tried to reach it.
Fast forward to now. I have 4 children as well. We live in our house. I mean LIVE in our house. We use every room. At my parents house we had a formal living room and dining room that was closed off for everyday family use. You didn't even set foot in there unless it was to clean. And then you had to vacuum your way out of the room so as not to leave any footprints on the carpet as though someone actually walked on it! The level of my "clean" bar is set pretty low. In addition to not really liking to fight the non-ending battle, I'd rather do other things. My house gets really livcd in from January until the end of the school year, with Tax Season, all of the school and sports activities, etc. So now with The Visit scheduled, I was ready (forced) to give my house a good spring cleaning!
My first plan (Plan A) for our meeting was to go into town and meet the social worker at her convenience. A home visit is not required with the 12-month placement. But, no she didn't mind driving all the way out to the sand castle from town! Ok, with the date of The Visit on the calendar, I set about my "Plan B" for tackling the project before me. Now this is the tricky part, how far in advance do you clean? Too far ahead and you'll have to do it again. Too late and you drive yourself and everyone else crazy. Cleaning to me is a lot like weeding. If you don't stay on top of it the weeds (toys/clutter) will start taking over every inch of floor space. But by the time you get the weeds (toys/clutter) cleared, a new patch springs up in another spot. You get so bogged down in the weeding process that you don't want to do it again for a while, or get to enjoy the results. Anyway, I digress.
My plan included cleaning room by room everyday for 2 weeks before The Visit. The first few days I just mentally prepared myself for the task (I had allotted myself plenty of time), now I had only 1.5 weeks left. I managed to get the kitchen, dining room , and most of the living room de-cluttered/"cleaned" after a week. The weekend I do the bedrooms followed by touching up the downstairs rooms right up to The Visit. That would give me time. Right.
The weekend came and "other" more pressing issues came into play, getting supplies for my Sunday school class, going to a cookout, church, scouring the Internet for vacation rentals, reading blogs, etc. I felt confident in my plan and what I had accomplished. I only needed to tweak my plan a little. Why not take a little break?

Besides, the gardenias are in bloom. This only happens for a short period of time. They are my favorite flower. Can you smell the delicious scent?
Back to reality. Now I was feeling a little pressure with what was laying before me. I looked at the "Trail of Forgotten Laundry" on the stairs leading up to the "Caves of Squallor" (Big Tuna's and Godzilla's rooms). I would keep my nose to the grindstone over the next few days.

We interrupt this post to show you my young-uns playing Musical Rock (Rock Band). Isn't it sweet the way Big Tuna includes the girls? Don't look at his messy room.

Then Captain Daddy suggested a trip to the beach. How could I resist this?

We even caught fish!

How can you deny a child the chance to go fishing?

Just don't let it get too close!
Ta Da!

How cute!

I wonder what she is making?

Ok, this is way more fun than cleaning!

Look what we made? I'm not sure what it is. A dragon? A dinosaur? Combination of the two?

Ok, now I had 24 hours left. Time to switch from Plan B to Plan C. I mean, it is better if the house looks like children live here, right? The social worker should expect lots of toys/clutter, right? So I decided I would just shut the doors to the rooms I didn't want the social worker to see. But now I had to re-do the downstairs rooms. Why do you ask? The Twister Sisters, that's why!
It was now time for The Visit. My last cleaning task was to scrape the strategically placed cat vomit off the walkway before the social worker stepped, slipped, and fell when getting out of her car.
I have to admit, out of 3 different social workers, Mrs. M is the best! She joined me in the breezeway while the kiddos played, and zipped around on their scooters/bikes. We had a great visit. I was trying not to get paranoid over the fact that my children were ignoring all of the bike safety rules by not wearing their helemts which were readily available (laying around all over the floor). I hope (don't think) Mrs.M really noticed. She is such a wonderful lady. She never once set foot into the house.

I think I will take a break over the next few days and relax in my clean house. Maybe I will let my children back in:).