Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tucker turned 16's hard for me to believe that my little boy is that old. He's about to complete his freshman year and then it's on to Lakota West High School~no more Freshman School~Hallelujah!

The Celebration was small...just the girls, me and Steve. Matthew is on his Senior trip to Chicago with some friends. We spent the weekend sprucing up the house for Matthew's open house this weekend.

Take a look at the photos...the last one is a video that I shot of Tucker while he was "babysitting" the girls so we could finish painting. WOW! is all I can say!

Click to play Tucker is 16 years old

November 1992

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Sunday, May 25, 2008


Losing a child would have to be the most devastating thing that could happen to a family. I don't know how I would cope~only by the Grace of God could I survive.

This week, Steven Curtis Chapman lost his youngest child, Maria, to a tragic accident at their home. This is a video of Maria. It just breaks my heart.

Maria was also adopted from China and just turned 5 years old. She is sitting on her daddy's lap in the photo. Her adoption story is inspiring...she was a waiting child that Steven met during a visit to China. The Chapman's had no intention of adopting again, but God had another plan. I believe that Mary Beth rushed to China during the SARS epidemic before they closed the country to bring Maria home before it was too late and they would have had to wait months to travel.

To say that Steven Curtis Chapman and his family have inspired thousands to adopt is an understatement. I was privileged to see him in concert during an reunion picnic with AHH adoption agency. That was three years ago this summer and I captured several photos of all of his girls. It was a very special concert and he sang a very special song that he wrote for his wife, Mary Beth, that he will only sing at his concerts. I'll have to see if I can't download it since I did video it.

Steven's newest song "I'll Dance with Cinderella" is below. I'm sure it's even more poignant for many people during this sad time.

My thoughts are constantly going to this family and another family in our area that lost their very young daughters in the same way. Then my thoughts turn to my father who lost his brother in a tragic auto accident when Dad was only sixteen and his brother was even younger than him. Dad was driving the car. He never speaks of the accident and I never ask. But my heart aches even more for him right now. His brother was named Charles Christopher and they called him Tucker.
We have one young driver, soon to be two, in our home. One new rule will be that no vehicle can be started unless the girls are sitting on the porch or the deck before they can leave the area. That's good advice for anyone of any age.
Dance with Jesus, Maria Sue Chapman! We'll see you soon!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Out of Order?

This is not something that the mother of four wants to see on her washing machine. Since this particular washing machine is just around five years wouldn't expect to see this.

Alas, I reside with a few young men that believe that "heavy duty" washing machine means that three weeks of dirty laundry can fit into ONE load. It doesn't matter what color, forget sorting~one load is the way to go according to these two. I won't go into the fact that they BOTH carry over a 4.2 GPA, one is a presidential scholar nominee (scored 35/36 on his ACT~scored a full tuition scholarship to Case and OSU), both have ALWAYS been on the honor roll and ALWAYS been High Honors (not JUST Honors). So imagine my disdain at the fact that they can not follow simple instructions on sorting laundry and loading the washing machine.

After a week of no washer, waiting for a part to arrive that never arrived and having the repair man leave my house not once, but twice for parts~the washing machine is running. Steve suggested that I go to the laundry mat...Are you feeling what I'm thinking? If you are, it ain't pretty!!!! There was more to the saga...the service call to Sears requesting the status of the parts that I ordered over a week ago and getting the answer, "We don't know where the pump is. It should have shipped. We'll have to research it." Holy Moly! The part never did arrive and when I tried to cancel the order, they told me I couldn't cancel it. I would have to wait until the part arrived and then ship it back for credit. Again, are you feeling what I'm thinking????

Finally, the repair charge was the equivalent of 1/2 the original cost of the washer. Another very sad part of the story. I won't repair it again~next time, new washer.

On top of the repair, the service guy informed me that my hot & cold water was not installed "to code" and was backwards. The entire time I've lived in this hours 10+ years, I have had the hot and cold water hooked up incorrectly!!!!!

My repair guy is very nice and accommodating. He mentioned that I may want to have my dryer serviced since lint can accumulate on the motor and cause fires. I smiled and said thanks, but not today. I'll let you know on that.

Being the "DIY" kind of gal that I am, I decided to clean the dryer myself. Imagine my surprise when I removed the front panel and this is what I found....

That is lint my friends!!!! Yes, lint~more than I care to really admit to, but I am.

After all was said and done this is what I found:
$3.68 in change
2 paper clips
1 safety pin
1 button
1 rubber band &
1 hair band
That's a clean swiffer next to the dirty swiffer!
This is a picture of the amount of lint I found INSIDE the dryer~not in the lint catcher! That's a 12 inch ruler beside that pile. Very nice!

This is what the dryer SHOULD look like.
Both washer and dryer are running great as I type this. Thank the Lord! The only remaining problem is the smell that is emanating from somewhere in the laundry room~probably from the stagnant water that set in the washer for a week. I have yet to find the source of the smell, much to my dismay!
After all of this, my stress level is a little high. So I headed to the frig for some chocolate or ice cream or something. But alas, I opened the door to find nothing on my comfort list of foods. What I did find was an EXPLODED Diet Coke!
It's 5 o'clock somewhere...right?????
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Monday, May 19, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

We spent a quiet mother's day at home with three of the four kids. It was peaceful, I took a nap and just did a whole lot of nothing. We attempted to go out to dinner~big mistake! Did you know that Mother's Day is the biggest grossing sales day for restaurants? Well I sure didn't, but I do know now. Needless to say, we got take-out and came right back home. A two hour wait is just not in the cards with two toddlers. Steve and I did head out later and Tuck watched the girls for me. I'll know better next year! Here's a few pictures of the weekend...

Click to play Mother's Day 2008

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Earthquake in China

As many of you know, there has been a horrific earthquake in China. I have watched so many devastating stories....right now watching a young boy that has lost both of his arms. He is probably 8 or 9 years old. His parents are unemployed farmers and all of their hope rested on their young son. I imagine that there will be many more stories like this in the days to come.

I have been getting daily updates from Half the Sky. This is the organization that did so much for Amelia when she was in Chengdu Children's Welfare Institute. I encourage you to check out their website and see the photos. This is the update that I received today:

Dear Friends,

It’s Monday afternoon here in China. As I write this, the entire country just held 3 minutes of silence to commence a 3 day period of national mourning. It began at 2:28 pm, marking the very moment the massive quakestruck in Wenchuan County, Sichuan. Flags flew at half-staff, the people wore white flowers and, heads bowed, held hands. Across the country, horns and sirens wailed in grief.
There are 32,477 people confirmed dead, more than 35,000 still missing.

Sadly and predictably, we are getting more information about children newly orphaned. We are now bringing together people and resources to prepare and train caregivers to help children through the next difficult phase of recovery. Unlike emergency relief (not our specialty but we're learning fast!), this is an area where HTS does have great expertise to offer. We will give all we can to these children who have many hard of them. I will be sharing our plans as they evolve. Meanwhile, we continue to focus our attention on the most urgent needs ofaffected children – children in institutions and children orphaned or displaced by the disaster. What follows is our most recent news. I’ve posted a few photos on ourwebsite: and will update asmore arrive

Ziyang Social Welfare Institution – Building sustained severe damage. They care for 48 children, 20 of them under four years-old. They request 50 cribs and cots, bandages, 10 milk pots, children’s clothes, 100 sets of bedding, bowls, spoons, chopsticks, toys and stationary supplies.

Deyang and Nanchong Social Welfare Institutions both have received notification that they should prepare immediately to receive newly orphaned children. All the children are living in tents. HTS will provide additional tents, beds and other requested items.

Guangyuan SWI – The children remain in tents. They were notified that they will be receiving several newly orphaned children (perhaps 50-60)very soon. Shifang saw many of its schools destroyed, hundreds of children and their teachers buried. They sent us this heartbreaking story during the at Hongbai Primary School:

“‘We found him!’ Teacher Zhang Huibing’s body was finally discovered, frozen in a posture of pushing against the door frame. According to the students saved by him, when the earthquake happened, Teacher Zhang was on the platform of the classroom on the second floor, which was very near the door. He yelled to the students, ‘Run outside! Hurry!’ And he somehow held the door frame up with both arms as the children ran out, one by one. Just as all the students were safely evacuated, the building collapsed on him. Teacher Zhang, who was only 30 years-old, had a four-year-old childof his own.”

As I mentioned in my last note, Mianyang has become a major refugee center. Of the more than 20,000 refugees in the city’s Jiuzhou Stadium,“scores” of them are young children. We are told, but this is not confirmed, that the entire center area of the stadium is reserved for toddlers and infants. Most are said to be from Dujiangyang, Beichuan and Mianzhu. Ma Lang is on her way to Mianyang now, so we will learn more soon.

Many children who have lost or become separated from their families are being brought to Chengdu, but not yet to the Chengdu Children’s Welfare Institution. Some have been taken to the Sichuan Children’s Center (an after-school and weekend activity center for children.)

About 30 children, from Yingxiu and Dujiangyang, were taken a Chengdu city park, the Qingyang Sports Center, which has been converted to a refugee camp. Some children have been united with family members. We’re told that some from the media are actively trying to reunite families. Most of the children in this camp who survived were in their teens. They told us that many younger children in their town did not survive because those in the primary schools and kindergartens were napping when the quake hit and could not run.

The youngest camp resident was 16 days-old. The military police made aspecial effort to bring her and her very young mother down to the camp from Yingxiu. The baby was only 11 days-old when her daddy perished in the earthquake.

Perhaps today's most heartbreaking story was about some of the 70 injured children who’d been carried down from the affected areas to Huaxi Hospital. Most of the children were reunited with parents or relatives; some were even well enough to leave the hospital after treatment. But a few children remained alone and unclaimed. They were required to sign their own consent forms so that the doctors could amputate their limbs to save their lives.

Half the Sky spent much of the weekend purchasing requested supplies and shelter, organizing distribution and continuing to assess needs. In addition to the much-needed and wonderfully generous monetary donations from our amazing community of supporters, we have been flooded with offers of in-country help from from volunteers.

As you can imagine, many requested items are getting harder and harder to come by. Just today we doubled our refugee tent order to 200 – all that was available immediately – and already have requests for more. Shoppers in Chengdu have begun filling a no-longer-habitable room at the Chengdu CWI (Children’s Welfare Institution) with everyday goods destined for hard-hit areas. Others around China are working on fulfilling our giant shopping list. Some are flying in to Chengdu, hand-carrying items from our medical wish-list. Our wonderful friends at Gung-Ho Films, a Beijing-based film production services company, are offering logistics support, including shopping, shipping and door-to-tent delivery!

I can’t really express how moved we are by your generosity and your trust in Half the Sky to ensure that the children benefit from your gifts. Today 3 more HTS Beijing staffers and 2 Gung-Ho staff traveled to Chengdu to help facilitate our relief efforts. We all feel privileged to be able to help.

If you would like to donate to Half the Sky’s Children’s Earthquake Fund,it would be great if you would do so at Global Giving as (even though theytake 10% for processing and we do not (100% to the kids but at cost to ourprograms) it allows HTS staff to focus on relief efforts while keeping our programs going.

If you prefer to donate directly to Half the Sky, of course that’s fine.Here are the various ways: You can donate by calling Half the Sky (+1 510525 3377) or on our website:'s+Earthquake+Fund

Many companies have announced they will match employee gifts forearthquake relief. Please check to see if your company will double your gift!

If you would like a Canadian tax receipt, please donate at

If you would like a Hong Kong tax receipt, please call us at +852 25205266 or online at

Thank you so much for your kindness and concern.
with love,
Jenny Bowen
Executive Director
Half the Sky Foundation

Half the Sky was created in order to enrich the lives and enhance the prospects for orphaned children in China. We establish and operate infant nurture and preschool programs, provide personalized learning for older children and establish loving permanent family care and guidance for children with disabilities. It is our goal to ensure that every orphaned child has a caring adult in her life and a chance at a bright future.

My heart aches for my daughters' birth country. What happens next, is anyone's guess. I'm sure there will be many more dramas in the days to come.
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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Driver's ed and other stuff

Tucker is finishing up driver's education this week. Can you believe it???? He will be a licensed driver before I know it. Don't think I'm quite ready for that. But it's coming sooner rather than later.

He also has an ingrown toenail (TMI) that we had to get cut out today. That was fun stuff, but after over two weeks of antibiotics and still having problems. Something different had to happen.

Matt is almost finished with high school. He graduates at the end of the month~wow how time flies! Thank goodness Jesus is on our side!!!!!

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Down on the farm....

Today I went with Elise's preschool class to Gorman's farm. It's just a few miles from the house and I have never been there (lived here 10 years, never been~I'm up for mother of the year!). I'm always a little apprehensive about "field trips" with toddlers. It is usually more than Elise and I can handle together. But off we went.

I'm thrilled to say that we had a great time. It started off rather rough, Elise was hanging on to my leg like a leech. I almost put her back in the car and left. But we trudged forward. She really came around when we got to the animals. I was totally shocked. I got some great pictures. Unfortunately, I have a "hate relationship" going on with my "rechargeable batteries right now and my camera died right at the end of the trip. I'm really bummed because Elise was chasing bunny rabbits around in their cage trying to catch one. It was a hoot! She was crawling under the hutches and trying to stick her head down in the rabbit hole. Way, way too funny!

The pig was the best. Her name is Queenie and she was HUGE! Elise wasn't even afraid of her. She went right up and started scratching her back. Everyone kept asking me if she's around animals alot~yeh~Gordo (HA!). Anyway, she did great until she dropped her egg in the hen house and made a total mess on the floor. Oops!

What a fun day! I needed it too~it's been a rough couple of days around our house. I tried taking the girls to see "Horton hears a Who". That lasted all of thirty minutes and we left. Thankfully, we were the only ones in the theatre and didn't disturb anyone. I was sad because I wanted to see how it ended. Poor, pitiful me.

Enjoy the slide show~I picked some of the best shots I had.

Click to play Gorman Farm
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