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cover photo
The Chaos Reigns
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that our lives belong to each other." - Mother Teresa

Friday, October 9, 2015

You Know You Have a Child in an Immersion Program When...

The Keyboard Struggle
You get on the computer and start typing. Your document is suddenly full of Mandarin characters. Your 6th grader can never remember to turn the Mandarin keyboard off.  Grrr.

The "I Can Count to 100 Game."
This is when your kindergartner wants to demonstrate for you repeatedly that they can count to 100 in this new language. They want your full attention. And, if they get to number 86 and you suddenly lose eye contact because some other child has just seriously injured themselves ..... well, you just lost 86 seconds of your life because they are starting over again from number one. And, guess what? The demonstration of this new language counting talent never gets old.

The "Mom, What is this Word in Chinese Game?"
If you don't know the language, you are never going to win this game. And, it is no fun to play. Your kindergartner states, "Mom, do you know what Yan means?" You have to start guessing. Um. Dinner. No. Apple. No. Light. No. Car. No.  OK. Now they are frustrated. You patiently remind them you do not know Mandarin. They yell back "YES you do" (The concept of you knowing less than them in anything completely frightens them. They refuse to believe it.). So, they start yelling, "WHAT DOES YAN MEAN?" Your 3rd grader sees you are struggling. She starts jumping up and down behind your kindergartner in a game of charades to help you out. She is now blinking her eyes vigorously. You start guessing again. "Blink. No. Eyelashes. No. Crazed lunatic. No. Eyes. Yes Mom, Eye." Sigh of relief, you are in the clear. All is better. But, now it is time for round 2. "Mom, do you know what Ma means?" This game is exhausting.

The Older Sibling Helper. 
I always thought this was going to be awesome. The older sibling who knows the language who can finally help. Oh boy. Nope. Not. At. All. Correction of the language by an older sibling is never appreciated or welcome. Especially Mandarin tones. Ouch. Never taken well.
In the car driving, your son whines, "Mom, I don't want to use the restroom at school. Big sister, "Is it because you don't know how to say, I need to use the restroom in Chinese. I can teach you." She starts saying it in Mandarin. Interrupted by a screaming fit by her brother, "I KNOW HOW TO SAY IT. YOU DON'T HAVE TO TELL MEEEEE." Yes. Help in the language is never welcome by any sibling.

The Ravenous Child. 
They come into the kitchen after you put them to bed and state they are starving. Your children are ravenous. They won't stop eating. You are not imagining the uptake in food consumption. Research shows children burn more calories in immersion programs because their brains are working harder through-out the school day.

The Atrocious Speller. 
Your 3rd grader who just started English spells every 3rd word in her sentences incorrectly. You try to remain patient with the constant spelling errors.You proofread her homework, and you get to the word CUNCLOOSHUN. You ask her what this word is. She responds with "conclusion." Oh. You are impressed with her phonic skills. But, you don't panic because your 6th grader's English is just fine.

The Homework Help. 
"Mom, I don't know what this says." You look down at a paper full of Mandarin characters you cannot understand. You point to the first question. "Read this to me." She responds with something in Mandarin which sounds like this....  "Chi, something, something (something is for the character they don't know), ba, gu, something, something, san. Oh, now I know." They right down Mandarin characters. Next question,"Read this to me." You get through the whole document this way. It ends with "Thanks Mom." You respond with, "Oh, I am so glad I could be of help."

The Personal Translator.
You are in China. You ask the hotel receptionist if they speak English because your children are mortified if you even attempt to speak Mandarin. The receptionist responds with "Yes." But, quickly into the conversation you realize they do not speak English. You run and get your personal translator. You tell them your child speaks Mandarin and can help. They smile humoring you. Your child begins to speak perfect Mandarin. They fall over in their chair.

That my friend is Priceless.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


So it turns out, it is hard to find time to blog these days managing my crew of seven.

Operating in pure survival mode here.

But, it is time to dust off the old blog and get back to it.

So, number 7 is here. Craziness. 

How did this happen? A little over two years ago, we only had 4 kids. Now we are up to seven. I've barely had time to keep up with all the changes.

Growing up I thought maybe 3 kids ...4 max.  Never 5. I grew up with 5 siblings. I knew better. Lol

Seven. Not even on the radar,

But, here we are. Beautiful, messy, nutty of a family of 9.

I get asked so many times when people find out how many kids I have...
"Wow, you must really like children?"  Hmm.

Actually no.

I really prefer the company of adults.

Seriously, do you understand what insane behavior I deal with on a daily basis from 3 little people? When your 4 year old tries to push his 4 year old sister off the toilet mid stream because he cannot wait 2 minutes for his turn. Blood curdling screams come from the bathroom. When you gently tell him to wait his turn, he then runs to his room, slams his door and screams at the top of his lungs. Then, his sister politely comes to tell him she is done, and he responds with "Oh thanks" and acts like nothing transpired. Hmm. Most adults do not behave this way. I like adults

The other question I get asked often is "You must be a really good Mother?"  Um...No. God always chooses the broken and the incapable to do such things. I would fit that bill.
Trust me, when I only had 2 kids, I thought this parenting gig was really hard. I am absolutely no more capable of Motherhood than any other Mom out there.  Do you learn wisdom with having this many kids?….Sure.  But, this wisdom is more like…

Don't ever attempt a Pinterest inspired birthday party unless you want to spend days stressed and yelling at your children
Keep food in the kitchen
Make kids clean up their messes.
And, yes...four year olds are capable of chores. You just have to really lower your standards.

Sorry, no magic "fix your kids" wisdom here. I do damage control.

One thing I have learned is we definitely don't live in a society that is accepting of big families. Dealing with people's negative reactions is always a cross you bear when you have say more than 3 kids. Even 3 kids makes people uncomfortable these days. Especially, the overpopulation people. Those people are just plain angry at you. The best response is to just confirm their suspicion and tell them that these children really are part of my plan to take over the world.

Sometimes after you get over the shock and awe, sometimes you hear confessions that are very heart wrenching and you just want to give the person a hug. The "I really wished we had more kids type confession." Like you are finally a safe person to understand why they would have wanted to have more. You are the one person who wouldn't have judged them if they went for three. BTW, these confessions come mostly from men.

There are also those lovely people who make beautiful comments about our family. They lift you up. Thank you for what you are doing. Those people rock. 

But don't go thinking we have things beautifully under control.

So, how are we adjusting to life with seven? Well, baby Michael has made quite the impact on our family.

While I was bracing myself for a big negative reaction from Jude and Gia...due to obvious loss of Mommy time. I have been in shock and awe with their unexpected transformation. After Michael's arrival, people would ask me how they were doing and I would answer "good." But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized, "No actually, they are doing better....much better."

Who knew having a baby sibling would be exactly what they needed?

I have a few theories about why this is. It could be one, all, or none of the following...

Theory 1: They are now a big brother and a big sister to a new baby in the family. This gives them a new title and role...solidifying their place in the family.
Theory 2: The mere presence of a baby has had a healing affect on them. Mickey's presence is calming.
Theory 3: Watching me take care of Michael is allowing them to attach to me. It makes my role as Mother more approachable. 
Theory 4: All that oxytocin from breastfeeding is making me solfter. Lol. However, I think the lack of sleep and inability to drink coffee (makes Michael colicky) negates any benefit of oxytocin.
Theory 5: They both have a warped sense of what the beginning stages of infant care looks like from living in an institution (in their subconscious), and watching me with Michael has reversed that.

I do know that all my kids embrace the big family. They are already asking for more...just like after the adoption. 

The whole pregnancy and birth of Michael has brought up many questions from Jude and Gia and has opened the doors for talks about their birth parents.

One day at lunch Molly was talking about how she also grew in my tummy like Michael. Jude responded with, "And, I grew in Mom's tummy too."  Molly corrected, "Jude you grew in your birth Mom's tummy in China." Jude wanted verification right away....Moomm, is that right, did I grow in my birth mom's tummy not yours."

"Yes Jude, you grew in her tummy."

Jude:"But, what happened to me. Where did I live?" 

"You lived in the orphanage and then with a foster mom until we were able to bring you and Gia home."

Jude:"But, mom. If you weren't there, who protected us? Who protected me?"

This of course broke my heart. Hearing the concern in his voice, and I could really sense he understood how vulnerable he once was.

Although we talk frankly about their birth parents the kids still make up stories with me as the birth Mom. Right after we discussed how to Gia was born from her birth Mom in China. Literally, five minutes later, Gia then proclaimed, "When I was a baby, I  grew in your tummy and when I was ready to come out, Daddy went to the hospital to help get me out. When I came home from the hospital, I was so little and so cute and everyone was so happy to meet baby Gia." 

So, we keep trying.

Joel had the sweetest reaction to his new brother. At the hospital, he had tears in his eyes when he saw Michael for the first time. When I asked him if he wanted to hold him, he said no. He was the only one who did not want a turn holding the baby,  Then, when we brought him home for the first time, he told me he was ready. I asked him why he didn't want to hold him in the hospital. He explained it was because he was a afraid he would hurt him.... which is very sweet coming from rough and tumble Joel.

While he was holding Michael he asked me ... "Mom, when I get older, will I have a baby like Michael... Except the girl I will marry will have the baby?"

"Yes Joel, you can be a Dad one day."

"Mom, having a baby like Michael would make me really happy."

Michael is our little angel.... mending all these hearts.

But, honestly, after such a hard adoption, the heart I believe he is mending the most is mine.