Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Fourteen years ago yesterday our little Hawkeye made her entrance into the world.  We were at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City.   Lyle was in his prosthodontics rotation during his junior year of dental school, and we wondered if he'd even make it for her birth.  Thankfully he did.  At that time of our lives, I was watching other people's children in our '70's era condo during the day and in the wee hours of the morning Lyle was cleaning the dental lab.  Our toddler boy was a chubby little package of endless energy.  We were poor and busy and tired, and on October 25, 1996, we were blessed with our sweet and confident Lucy Loo.

When he met her at the hospital, her brother leaned down and whispered loudly in her ear, "I've loved you from the day you were born."  Obviously not long, but a sweet sentiment still the same.

Last night she was gifted with an I-Pod that she finds adorable.  My guess is that I'll find it in the washer.  The shirt she was wearing was picked out by Cholita and bought with her very own money.  When I asked her what she thought Lucy would want for her birthday, she said, "I think she'd like to see me in a white dress."  When she saw my look of disapproval, she quickly said,  "Just kidding.  What I meant to say is that she'd like to see me in a white skirt."  She's a sly one.

Rose also labored over a present and also used her own money.  Lucy absolutely loved her ring.

And Bruder's present?   In the card he'd taped to the box, he wote, "I'll have you know that I had to summon up all my courage to go up to the cashier and actually buy this item......".  What could it possibly be?

Taylor Swift piano music.  

That's a truly sweet brother.

Happy birthday to our wonderful fourteen year-old.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sweet Pea Spa

Or I also could have titled this post, 
"The Best Big Sister EVER"!

Here are the "under twelves" enjoying a relaxing drink before beginning their spa experience.  
Notice the massage center in the background.  

Normally I'm not too keen on the kids using my bathroom, but anything that keeps the littles entertained for literally hours, is a good thing in my book.

And if a foot soak is what it takes to get these two calm, cool, and collected, then so be it.

Lucy took these photos and I just love them.  
And toddler feet?  Well, I love those too.

From the foot station, they moved onto the hands.

Lotions, ointments, and nail polish.

And now, introducing one of my favorite pictures of all time....

I give you......

Spa Cho!
AKA Queen Cucumber

Poor little brother will wonder what fate has befallen him.
Lyle grew up with six sisters and lived to tell the tale. 
 Let's hope Xi Xi can handle three.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Since when did this become a democracy?

And who gave 5 year-olds the right to vote?

In case you can't decipher, it's a subtle message from Cholita:  
"Mom I vot Owen"

See what I'm talking about? 

Coming soon: The Disney wrap-up

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The girls are snoring.....

...in our hotel room.  In Orlando.  While Dad takes classes at the ADA convention.

Lucy has known about it for a long time.  The little ones knew only about 2 hours before we left for the airport.  Rose, with shaking hands, opened a parchment postmarked from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy granting her early admission.  Cholita had an invitation to a royal princess ball.  Bruder is home with friends, which makes us all sad, but it's hard to take time off during his junior year.

The Harry Potter park at Islands of Adventure is amazing.  And amazingly crowded.  The hour wait to get into the castle was surprisingly worth it though, just to see Rose's face.

Poor Cholita, who simply could not wait to go on Small World, found that Small World was closed for renovations.   Cholita is a very cautious park-goer.  She refused to ride "Snow White's Scary Adventure" because of the word "scary" and anything that looks even slightly fast is a no-go.  The carousel is her type of ride.  I was getting tired of waiting with Cholita while Rose and Lucy had all the fun, so I told her that The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was just a choo choo train.  She said, "Oh, I like trains!" and on we went.  She's wasn't happy with me afterward but did puff up with pride as she told her dad that she rode on a roller coaster just like a teenager.

We have two more Disney days and one more Islands of Adventure day and Lyle has about a zillion more classes on teeth.  Glad I'm not him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Prayer Answered

As I struggled this week with the realization that our son has always been in the orphanage, I prayed that he was being cared for and that the idea of love and family wouldn't be a completely foreign to him.

Through a Yahoo group, I received a message from a woman who brought home a teenage daughter just recently from Yun Xi's orphanage.  She reassured me that her daughter is kind and loving and very well-adjusted.  Her daughter reported that the children were arranged into "families" and that she was very close to her "siblings".

I sent her a picture of Yun Xi, hoping that possibly she might have known him.  Her mother wrote back saying that her daughter saw his picture and yelled, "Xi Xi!!! Xi Xi!!!  He was my little brother!"

I wrote the mother back immediately.  I had so many questions for her daughter!  With the use of a translator, she gave me such a precious glimpse into Xi Xi's life.  She said they lived in a dorm-style room and that each child had a locker and that there was a large window into a beautiful garden.  She said that she'd known Xi Xi (what an adorable nickname) from his infancy and can remember him taking his first steps!  She told her mother that we shouldn't worry because he's "a very obedient boy" with "a bright and smiling face" and "a very loveable personality."

Coincidentally, at the very same time that this sweet young woman was meeting her family in China, we were praying over her little brother's file.  I told this girl's mother to tell her that she'll always have a special place in our hearts for loving our little boy before we could.

What a delightful and immediate answer to prayer.  Xi Xi has been loved and even in the orphanage has had a "family" where he's been cherished and where a big sister cheered on his milestones, like learning to walk.  And in this family, he's watched his siblings leave to forever homes with mommys and daddys of their own.
Soon it will be Xi Xi's turn.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Prayer For Our Littlest One

It's been a difficult few days.  New information on Yun Xi has brought me to tears and brought me to my knees many times.  He's not in foster care, as we'd assumed.  He's in the orphanage and most likely has been his whole life.

The other night, I was sent a link to a blog where a woman had documented her 2009 trip to Kunming.  She was on a heritage tour with her two boys, both of whom had both been adopted from Kunming.  She had an album of pictures from the foster village and I eagerly looked through each one, hoping to catch a glimpse of Yun Xi.  I didn't see him, but with hundreds of children living there, I wasn't surprised.  Then, I went over to the photos of the orphanage.  Knowing that Yun Xi had spent his first months there, I was curious.   As I clicked through the photos of adorable babies, suddenly my screen was filled with the face of a chubby two year-old.  He was a year younger than in the photos we have of him, but it was obviously our Yun Xi.

I was able to contact the woman who took the picture and also had a long phone conversation with another woman who was also on the tour.  She met our son and remembered him and shared several more photos.   He seems to be a favorite amongst the nannies.

In this photo, he's on the left, helping in one of the baby rooms.

This woman said that he seemed very happy and for that, I am so thankful.  She did say however, that the children only leave the orphanage when they have medical check-ups.  Yun Xi's whole world has been this compound of buildings.  Admittedly, it's a gorgeous facility, unlike any orphanage I've ever seen.

  But it's so obviously not a home.

I can't imagine a little boy wandering these huge rooms.

Under this photo of Yun Xi and one of the nannies, the woman had written, 
"I want to bring this one home."


Please keep Yun Xi in your prayers.
That he's being loved and cared for in the orphanage.
That his spirit is being prepared for the great change that will happen in his life.
That we'll be prepared to teach him what it means to have a family.