Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's all about the money. Oh, and the baby.

So, one guide picked us up from the airport in Guangzhou.  She was very nice, but she explained that our guide would be Becky, a.k.a. CAB.  She said CAB couldn't pick us up from the airport but that she would be calling that evening with details about meeting to pick Sammy up in the morning.  JR and I stayed up as late as we could and right as we were falling asleep CAB called.  I could barely understand what she was saying and she was talking so fast that I could not keep up.  Well, apparently when I wrote down the amount of Yuan we would need the next day, I was off.  Like I really needed to bring 36,000 Yuan and I wrote down 3,600 Yuan.  I mean I was exhausted and nervous and English was her second language. OK?  You would think someone could have put it in writing for me.

The next morning JR and I bebop down to some sort money changer and get our 4,000 Yuan so we have a little extra. 

CAB and a driver pick us up and we all to go pick up Sam from a government office.  At some point during the drive, I realize that I am way off on the money.  I go ahead and confess that we don't have the money and that it is back in the hotel. CAB goes seven shades of crazy.  I start to apologize profusely and tear up, cause you know, I am fixing to meet my baby that have I waited three years for. CAB and JR eventually work out some sort of deal where we will wire the money the next day. 

We arrive at the government office.  We are there with dozens of other families that are waiting to meet their children.  You meet your child in a big open room with all the other families watching.  It is really awkward.  Poor Sam took a five hour bus ride to get to us, he was not accustomed to riding and threw up multiple times from motion sickness on the trip and had not had lunch or a nap.  Then they just handed him off to me.  Here is a picture of us.  I have a very emotional video but it seems a little too personal to share here. 

One thing that I will say about Sammy is that he may not have known that he needed a family but he knew from the moment that we saw each other that he wanted a mama.

You can't tell from this picture but was wearing a ridiculous amount of clothes. There were five layers of fleeces and sweaters and then this coat.  We headed over to the Chinese version of a Wal-Mart to buy him formula and a stroller.  Then we went back to the hotel so CAB could help us sort out our money situation.

When we got our money out, we had a little over $9,000 in case in crisp $100 bills because that is what we were told to bring.  The Chinese were very clear that old money would not do.  Money with creases would not do.  Only crisp new money.  Whatever.  Well, once you took our
"donation" away, we would have had about $3,000 left.  CAB goes bat crap crazy about how this will never be enough money for the rest of our stay that we must call home and have family western union us more money immediately.  She kept talking about souvenirs.  Damn, CAB. We don't need souvenirs, we have a baby!!!   I finally I had to tell her that the only person we could call would be my mother or father.  Neither of which had ever been to a western union to my knowledge and I had no intention of making them go now.  And besides, we were all out of money.  That was the sum of our liquidated assets laying on that Marriott bed. That was it.  Short of a loan, there was no more money to send. We would just have to eat a lot at the free breakfast and no one would get souvenirs. They would get over it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sammy Eve

Ok, so I will tell a couple of stories on myself. 

We were in a travel group with a family who brought their two precious well behaved children with them to adopt a toddler.  Their son was two or three and their daughter was four or five.  We were all riding in a very tiny van discussing what brought us to adoption when they made the statement that their other two children were so easy that they thought this would be a good time to adopt.  I about fell out of the seat and the bus because I was laughing so hard.

Those of you who know me (and I can't imagine why you come here if you don't really know us) know that I have been madly in love with John Hinton since the moment he was plucked from me via C-section.  That little detail becomes important later.  However, loving him is the only thing about this kid that has ever been easy.  Here is a little laundry list of things that were less than easy with him: breast feeding, formula, reflux, all formulas, all cereals, extra fluid on the frontal lobes of his brain (this requires multiple specialists), RSV, breathing treatments (multiple times a day, every day for years since he was six months old) (this requires a specialist), ear infections (this requires a specialist), tubes by five months (this requires a specialist), tubes again (this requires a specialist), Kawasaki's disease and hospitalization (this requires a specialist and multiple echocardiograms), horribly rotten teeth (this requires a specialist), allergies and asthma (this requires multiple specialists), allergy shots every week for over a year, one pupil is bigger than the other (this requires a specialist),  the croup which because of the asthma, requires an ER visit, the staph infection that required surgery and a hospital stay, adult doses of asthma medicines and steroids that make him crazy, not to mention his generally depressed immunoglobulin numbers which require multiple blood draws, and a double dose of sassy from his mama.  Oh, and he has always woken up for the day between 4:30 and 5:30.  I don't know why.

So, while loving him has been easy, keeping him alive and raising him have been a real challenge.  Seriously, everyday I pray for God to give me strength (to stay and not hurt anyone or myself), patience (not to snap), and understanding (so maybe I can be better at this).

If anything, I thought maybe we would get one with some immunity and a laid back disposition if we adopted. I was wrong, but it worked out. 

And he is mischievous on top of it all... 

So back to China.  We had to fly from Beijing to Guangzhou to get Sam.  Here comes the C-section story.  After you have a C-section you have pudge of fat.  Much like a beer gut.  It just is what it is.  So we are going through the security line to fly and I'm wearing tights and a dress.  Well, apparently the Chinese version of TSA is convinced that I am smuggling something in my left over belly fat and continues for what seems like forever to poke it, prod it, and rub it.  If you want to tick a woman off, draw attention to her pudge then ask her about it in a language that she does not understand.  When she cannot respond, start yelling at her to draw more attention.  My mood was sour.   As you can tell, my hopes and dreams of loving China and taking family vacations back to discover Sam's roots may have been dashed.  I don't like people touching the pudge. Period.

You don't want to miss tomorrow's blog.  It is about our guide who I affectionately will call Crazy Ass Becky or CAB.  I added the CA but she really did go by Becky.  I may even let JR guest blog it because it all involves me being off by a magnitude of ten when it came to time to make our orphanage "donation" when they handed Sam to us.  They don't like when you only bring 10% of the money.  Donation makes it seem optional but it is not optional.

While this post is meant to be light hearted and poke fun at myself, this was the night that Sammy laid his head down for the last time in the Shantou Welfare Institute in his steel crib, the only place that he had ever known as home with the only friends and caretakers that he ever had.  He didn't know that he would get up before the sun and travel by bus for five hours to meet strangers who would take him from everything familiar.  What a terrifying experience to lose everything and have no control over it.

On the other hand, it was the last time he would go to sleep without a kiss from someone who hopelessly loves him.  From that point on, he will sleep with his favorite blankets in his bed and in PJs that are his.  He will always wake up knowing who will be there.  There is no schedule for meals. There is always more.  I will always have expensive organic cream for the dry patches of his very sensitive skin.  His hair will be conditioned and soft.  He smells like lavender.  He bathes and brushes his teeth.  He knows that the bath tub is fun and not something to be terrified of. He knows that bobos are meant to be kissed, it's important to tell someone when you are bleeding, that you don't have to make friends or be nice to strangers to get food, and that you don't have eat everything because there is plenty.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Well, hello there.

Hello, Blog. It's been a while. 

What can say?  Life is happening and I'm holding on for dear life.

I'm mentally reliving every moment in China in chronological order as each day of our trip passes again.  The drive to NOLA, the delays to Denver, the layover and flight to Seattle, meeting the Goffs, the flight to Beijing, meeting the Leggs and Davises, Tiananmen Square, freezing temperatures, the great wall, the Peking duck (it was by far the best thing I ate while we were there).  All of this was pre-Sammy. 

Today I went through Sam's files from the orphanage.  I feel melancholy and a little pissy.  It's not a culture that I will ever understand.  I'm angry about every tear I didn't wipe, every moment that I missed, every hug and kiss that I didn't give.  I'm mad that anyone ever called him too naughty or unhealthy for foster care.  I'm mad that babies anywhere at anytime are raised like litters of animals.  When I think back to people staring and pointing at us and actually coming up to him and pointing out his lips, I'm madder now than I was then.

But I'm struggling to understand my own culture and fit in.  If I read one more post about Duck Dynasty, I'm going to scream.  I don't even know what was said because I don't really care.  Here is my take, I believe in the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost, I believe in the Bible, I believe that I am sinner, I believe that two people of the same sex can love each other just as deeply and sincerely as two people of the opposite sex.  Outside of that, I figure God will sort us all out.  Seriously, I'm all about some righteous indignation but instead having twitter and facebook wars about what a guy with a reality show said about the Bible in an interview, be the hands and feet of Jesus and show his love by example or just shut up on both sides.

Here is a picture of one of many moments that I missed.    You can come back later for funnier posts. I do have some.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

two moms

This is probably all over the place, but that is how I feel this week.  I am overjoyed to celebrate Sam's third birthday (and first with his family) starting tomorrow at preschool, Saturday (his actual birthday) and his party with family on Sunday. On the other hand, I am so grief stricken for his other family that I can hardly breath.

I love talking about Sam and adoption. I welcome your questions when they come from a place of love.  One of the most common comments and questions we get: what do we know about Sam's other family or the reason he was available for adoption.  I don't say given up or abandoned or placed for adoption because none of those fit in my mind.

I have been very protective of Sam's story because I felt it was his to share when he was ready, but I feel that educating my friends and loved ones is more important.  It is a story Sam needs to know and appreciate too.

Sam was found at the gates of his orphanage on October 27th.

Based upon the condition of his umbilical cord he was estimated to be one day old.  There is no legal way to relinquish a child in China.  So, when your child is born with a cleft palate, cleft lip, and lower lip deformity, if you are not wealthy enough to get cleft bottles, then your baby will not survive unless you take drastic action.  For many in China, this is the choice they are faced with, will they keep their child knowing that they cannot provide the nutrition this child needs to survive much less afford the laundry list of surgeries this child will need to be able to eat and speak or will they let them go in hopes that the government or an adoptive family will meet their needs?

Back to my precious baby waiting at the gate, as close as he could possibly get to the much needed salvation.  There was an extensive police search to find and punish his parents, but they were not found.   People often ask about his other parents in a way that implies they did not love or want him.  Even though I don't know them, I know that you don't risk your own life and liberty for someone that you don't love.  They placed Sammy as close to his lifeline and help as they could.  I wonder if they waited around the corner, hiding the in shadows so they could watch over him.

Sometimes the decision to let something or someone go is the most loving and brave thing you can do.  So, if you ask me about his other parents, please ask with respect and love or do not ask at all.

If I could, I would wrap my arms around their necks and kiss their cheeks and thank them.  I would tell them that his palate and lips are repaired.  Their boy is such a fine boy.  A helper.  Mischievous. A total mama's boy.  His dimples are the first thing everyone notices.  He a ladies man.  His eyes are so dark and gorgeous.  You can't tell where the pupil ends and iris begins.  He loves to sing. He is night owl and not a morning person.  He loves ice cream and string cheese.  He will be superman for halloween.  He loves the beach.  He carries around little giraffe blankets like Linus.

There is so much I want them to know.

We are so very thankful that they were brave and loving enough to chose life and hope for Sammy.

Monday, September 30, 2013

four years, really?

Tonight, I kissed a three year old good night.

In the morning, I will kiss a four year old good morning. 

Where has the time gone?  How can I make it slow down?

Me: How did you get so big?
Him: Because I wanted to.
Me: But I want you to always stay my baby.
Him: I'll always be your baby. 

Be still my heart and time.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dear (part 2)

Dear Friends,

If you let your child eat the "true lemon" packet straight at Rusty's, he will throw up all over the table in front of God and everybody.

-Been there, done that

Dear Sammy,

You are flat footed and have some gross motor delays.  Stop running everywhere.  You eat dirt and concrete constantly and currently look like we beat the hell out of you.



Dear folks who say that God doesn't give you more than you can handle,

Are you sure of this?  I mean Biblically positive?

Sometimes life deals you a loss that is so great that you see black.  You can no longer find oxygen in the room.  Your heart breaks.  Your spirit is crushed. Your will to live has died.

I think the most you can hope for is that by God's grace you are surrounded by people who hold you so tight that your pieces don't fall to the ground when you break.  They feed you.  They tell you when to breath.


Dear children of mine,

Y'all have seriously acted like you have no home training.  You are not wild banshees.  You are Methodist.  Knock it off before I lock y'all in the house and drive away.  Seriously.

-A lady who means it

Dear Brandi,

John Hinton ask me at least three times a week if we are going to Myrtle Beach (like driving there in that moment).  When I say no, he starts to pout and says, "but I love Macy and Faith."

Much Love!

Friday, August 23, 2013


Sam is a dirty little pincher.  Always has been.  He pinches you when he thinks no one else is looking.  Then, he laughs.

He really loves to do this to John Hinton.  When I tell him "NO! No pinching!!!" He just laughs and laughs.  It's maddening.  John Hinton seems incapable of retaliating even though I've given him permission.  He is lover, not a fighter.

So tonight, through the laughing and scremaing, I reached into the bathtub, and I pinched the dirty little pincher back in what little arm fat he has and told him "NO PINCH!!!"

I am a genius and logic is infallible.

At least now he will have something to tell his therapist about when he is older.

By the way, he stopped laughing and started crying.

Forget the adoption goal of connecting while correcting.  We are going savage.

Here is his cuteness.  I swear we really do love each other.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

if you don't have something nice to say...

I love my children, really, I do.

But, sometimes-like now, I am struggling to like my children.

God gave me two boys that are full of fire.  I thought if we shook up the DNA on the second one, that I might get one that is laid back and easy going.  Nope.  I already had one who was high maintenance,  emotional, possessive, and all kids of rambunctious.   Now, I have another that is jealous, high strung, anxious, and struggling to communicate and despartely frustrated.  Together they are loud, disobedient, defiant and all around impossible.  And they are always crying and/or screaming.

They are also my light and joy (even if they have driven me to drink straight out of a Jack Daniels bottle while trying to get them in the bath).  They both love their mama to the exclusion of others.  They are my heart's desire and a gift from God.

So, since I don't have anything nice to say about them, I'll share some of our pictures from the beach.  I have some other cute ones of Sam and both boys, but they are cute enough that they are in contention for the Christmas card.

Well, since I've revealed my dirty little secret that adoption is hard, language and speech delays can feel hopeless for all involved, and I am struggling to find joy in this season, I'm going back planning a long vacation with J.R. without children somewhere like the Virgin Islands.  That and upcoming trips to see the Bibbs/Davises and to the beach are what are getting me through the days.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I may never have a daughter but I've got a queen

We had a good Saturday morning.  The kids enjoyed story time at Lemuria.  John Hinton and Mo enjoyed petting the iguana.   Sam wanted no part of this experience. 

He did get in on the ferret action though.

I love all of these kids.  They are so stinking sweet together.

This was before good times went bad and John Hinton woke up screaming from his nap and I'm quoting, "I can't take it anymore!" over. and. over. and. over.

He had a bite under his arm late last week and when he woke up the area was the size of a baseball.  As mentioned, this was accompanied by much much screaming that woke Sam up for his nap.  So then they were both screaming.  I managed to get out of my PJs.  Call my mama to come watch Sam.  Leave Sam with the neighbor and take John Hinton to the ER.

More screaming and whining occurred at the ER and since we got home.  Like at 3:30 this morning.

This from a kid that can wipe out repeatedly by speeding down our driveway (see below), but let an ant bite him and you should be prepared for the wrath of the drama queen.  As he told me today, "nothing can ever make me feel better."  Well, alrighty then.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Here is a little public service announcement.  Sometimes when you go to the Christian chicken, you have to be prepared to take names.  If you know my Aunt Susan or my mamaw then you know that I am genetically predisposed to have zero shame when it comes to making a scene in public.

Dear Punk,

You were too tall to be in the play place.  I don't know how you did not see the sign that said you must be shorter than this (54 inches) to play but whatever.  I saw the way you talked to your mama earlier.  She may be afraid of you, but I am not.  So when John Hinton is trying to talk to you (come to find out, he was trying to ask you your name) and you knock him down by bumping him with your crotch and stepping on him, I am going to make sure that I put the fear of God into you if your parents or guardian will not.

I was unmoved by your "I didn't mean to do it."

You just think that I am two shades to crazy at this point.  You so much as look side ways at the Asian invasion and I will unleash the beast.  I will make you regret that you are not vegan, that you ever dared to consider eating chicken.

Yes, I'm fully aware that most of the patrons were watching me when I came out of the play place including your mother.  No, I am not ashamed.  Don't mess with my children.  

And as John Hinton kept telling me tonight, you are not his best friend.

-The Crazy Lady

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Dear Mike Patrick,  I think you are a condescending tool.  I care about your commentary on my team and our fans about as much as I care about your thoughts on Brittany Spears.  By the way, our name is Mississippi State, not Mississippi.

Dear Sammy,  Mama loves you bunches but it ticks me off when you pull out most of your stitches on the way home from surgery.  Also, happy 6 months adoption day!  Parts of it have been amazing and parts have knocked on the door of miserable.  We are a work in progress, and I have no regrets.

Dear MSU baseball team, I love you.  Even though you didn't do so well against UCLA, I just think you are fabulous.  You have character and class, and I'm so proud of you.  I also love the beards and wild hair. 

Dear John Hinton,  You are rapidly becoming a pathological liar.  The "wind" did not cake mud in your brother's eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.  Stop it.  That makes mama sad and pisses your brother off too.

Dear CWS,  I blame you.  I forgot to rinse the shampoo out of Sammy's hair tonight and didn't realize it until I was putting him to bed (early) and my kisses tasted like soap. I'm poorer, more tired and my children have suffered because of you.  I hope to see you again next year. 

Dear UCLA, Congratulations.  You deserve it.



Monday, June 17, 2013

no shoes and cat pee

You know how some days you stop and wonder how you got to this point in your life?  Where did you go wrong?  This isn't how you pictured it. 

Here is a recap of my moment from a couple of weeks ago.

7:40 AM-I absent mindedly put my kids in the car without grabbing their shoes. They went to the sitter's without shoes.  Not the end of the world, except they had hair cut appointments that day.  I still decided against turning around when I realized it a couple of miles from home.

3:20 PM-J.R. picks them up for hair cut appointments, and John Hinton promptly pulls a crown off one of molars with a sticky sucker from the sitters.

3:40-J.R. rushes him to the dentist-without shoes.  Now, at the hair cut place, I figured we were assuming the risk of no shoes.  But at the dentist, I feel like we were dragging the place down with respect to hygiene.  Whatever, both my kids were barefoot at the dentist. 

3:45-So, I run to the dentist to get Sammy so he can get his haircut, and he won't be permanently scarred from anything that may or may not be happening at the dentist. 

3:55-Sam and I head to the hair cut place, where he acts a fool while I get my hair highlighted then had a giant dirty diaper which I have to change on the floor of the bathroom. 

4:25-Then J.R. and John Hinton show still missing the crown.  Whatever.  My children continue to act like banshees until I banish them with their father until I'm finished. 

5:30-I finish and get in my car.  I notice a persistent stench that has been there a couple of days. 

5:40-I got home. I have J.R. come out to smell my car.  He nonchalantly deems it cat pee. I refute. I (in front of a group of party goers at my neighbors) proceed to get on my hands and knees with my butt in the air to smell every inch of my car to find the stench.  Shut. The. Front. Door.  A cat has peed on the floor mat. 

6:00-I pull the mat out and take it around front to wash it where I find both my boys butt-a-naked in front of all the neighbors.  They are playing the water hose. 

What the hell just happened?

The worst part is that they are my dang cats!!!  I rescued both of them.

We are super classy with a k. klassy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My other love

My other little love has been under represented here lately. We can't have that.
This is my Mother's Day brunch at Anchuca. It is my favorite. To quote John Hinton, "it's the best day of my life."

I mean, it is a really good brunch, but we may need to get him out more often. Then again, what can I say, we take our food very seriously!

On that same note, Sam poured sugar into his syrup cup and drank it. But he did it quietly so all's well that ends well.

This kid made me a mother. He rocks my world. If I loved him anymore, it might just kill me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

just a little handicapped

So, we went to a party the other day and I was following Sam around like I do at parties in strange places with strange people that he does not know.  As we passed by a table of four women that I did not know, I overheard a lady say, "they wanted a handicapped one but one that was a just a little handicapped."  I kept following Sam.  Then I heard another one say, "and they are going to get his lip fixed too."  Then, in my head I thought, "Damn, Sam, they are talking about us!!!"  You know you all cuss in your head. 

I had to bust out laughing.  Sure he came from the "special needs" list.  Show me a kid who has spent two and a half years in an institution without a family who doesn't have a special need.  I have never thought of him as handicapped.  I told several friends this story and the first thing each one has said is "I bet you went off on her." 

If you don't know me in real life, then you may not know that I do not take kindly to someone hurting someone that I love.  I will give you the unholy business.  I will scratch your eyes out, rip your head off and then make you apologize for getting my hands dirty. 

You may even fancy yourself some sort of want to be beauty queen, but when you jack with my friend, I will disable you before you can say Miss Congeniality.  I'm not afraid of breaking my nose, and I have 30 pounds on you.  That's just a hypothetical, of course.  My mama tried to make me nice like her, but I have too much of my daddy in me. 

Here's the thing, don't call my kid handicapped.  Umkay?  You may not be so lucky the next time.   And what the hell does a little handicapped even mean? 

Because I need to round out this PSA with cuteness, here is me and Sammy on mothers day.  The day when their daddy told them that if they made me sad they would all get spankings.  Well, Sam has never had a spanking and it's not that out of the normal routine for John Hinton so it was not that big of a deterrent. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Who's the lucky one?

One of the most frequent comments we get about Sam is how lucky/blessed he is that we adopted him.  We provide Sam with love, food and shelter. Not all biological children get that. Not all orphans leave their institutions.  So I do understand why someone would think that Sam was lucky.

But make no mistake, it is Sam who is the blessing, and we are so proud that he is ours.  

This is Sam three days after his palate repair surgery feeding John Hinton his pudding.  This child is such a special little nugget with a sweet, sweet spirit and a heart of gold.

Sam's recovery is right on track.  Apparently alternating between being happy and acting like a hormonal 13 year old girl at one week post surgery puts him right where he is suppose to be. 

Feel free to stop by with a drink and ear plugs (and enough to share).  You will need both of them...

Monday, April 15, 2013

evil, hate, and despair

There is much evil, hate, and despair in the world, it takes my breath away. Whether it is exploiting children, abusing the defenseless or killing the innocent in the name of a god or government, I cannot comprehend it. 

I thank God for the joy and hope I find in my children. They are pure and good and I believe God will use them for his glory.  Because I know they are not my own but his, we gave Samuel back to him by way of baptism at my home church.  No matter where I go in life, that church will always be home.  I was baptized there 20 years ago and married JR there 10 years ago. 

It was beautiful even if the pictures weren't.  We seriously need  a coach for pictures.

I love this little munchkin.  He is sassy and sweet and a mama's boy to the bone.  He is loved.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


This is what most of life sounds like.  Well, at least my waking non-working hours.


Monday, April 8, 2013

seriously, we need help

We cannot take a decent picture. It's time to call the professional.  Here are our attempts at Easter. This is as good as it got.

John Hinton looks like someone out of children of the corn, but how stinkin cute is Sammy's smile?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter!

T- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, March 24, 2013

3 months together

What better way to celebrate than with Mexican food?

Sammy, Sam the Man, SamSam, Samtastic-
You are something else, buddy.  I can't believe it has been three months since you were placed in my arms.  We love you to the moon and back and can't wait to see what all we learn about you in the next three months.

In other events of the weekend...

We met the Easter Bunny Saturday.  This was before the Bunny.  PawPaw did their hair.  I think they look pretty good. Of course, Mo is bringing them up as always!

Morgan, Sam, and John Hinton

These boys.  I hope they are always best buds.  Five little boys with one poor little girl.  She better bring it. 

Carson, John Hinton, Jacob, Sam, and Nic.

My big baby making his mean face!

Monday, March 18, 2013


We have rules.

House Rules:
1. Be kind
2. Show love
3. Tell the truth

Let's just say one little person is having more trouble with that third one than others. 

We have wrestling rules:
1. No hands to the face
2. No elbows or knees
3. No choking
4. Mom is a safe place

Pawpaw's rule: rocks stay in the driveway. No exceptions.

Nonnie has no rules.

Unc's rule is that underwear must be worn at all times.

Mom's rule:
No one sits on my lap or touches me while I eat. 

Dad has tons of rules.

Dogs' rule: if they can get it, then they can eat it.

John Hinton's rule: If he wants it, then it is his favorite and he will take it by force.

Sam's rule: Wear your opponent down with endless crying, whining, pointing and pinching.

Mom's new rule: The pinchee may pinch the pincher back.  Seriously, he pinches all the time.  I'm all about a little vigilante justice.

But maybe we need more rules:

It is obvious from these pictures and my recent stance on pinching that I have lost control and joined in the madness.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Baby Picture

Couldn't you just eat him up? We received some of Sam's baby pictures from the orphanage and from a great organization that advocates and cares for orphans all over China.  Check them out at

My only regret is that I have missed even one day of his life.  He is something else. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mama's little rockstar

2 months since adoption day

Yes, his nose is black and blue. We still have some room for improvement in gross motor skills.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My boys are lucky

Their grandparents are way more fun than their mother. 

From the sitters today. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

the post I may regret?

I woke up this morning with hives and my eyes were almost swollen shut.  I got a steroid shot so I now I can't sleep.  Hence the midnight blogging.

I have hesitated to blog about this.  The last thing I ever want to do is say anything on here that will one day hurt my babies feelings.  However, another adoptive mom, that I blog stalk, shared her difficulty in attaching with one of her three adopted children after an instant attachment with the first two.  Suddenly, I felt like I could breathe a little deeper like we weren't adoptive failures.  We are just a work in progress. 

Now, I don't think we are having any attaching "problems" with Sam, and I think Sam is right on track with his attachment for us.  However, I could not say, as many adoptive moms do, that it is no different than with your biological children.  That is their reality, and I think I let that set me up for some unrealistic expectations about how I would feel about Sam when we met.  My only mother/son experience is my experience with John Hinton.  I thought about him for a decade. I carried him for nine months.  When I laid eyes on him for the first time, the world stopped turning.  When he cries or wheezes, I feel it in my bones and get a rush of adrenalin to protect him.  When he lays his head on my chest and I breathe him in, my heart skips a beat. 

I prayed for Sam since at least Christmas 2009 when I tearfully asked JR what he thought happened when you knew God's will but did not follow.  I told him that I thought God was breaking my heart for orphans and that I knew I was called to act, but that I did not want to adopt.  I wanted more babies just like the one we had.  Ha, what a joke now.  John Hinton is one of a kind.  JR was not thinking about adopting babies or any other babies for that matter. 

I have prayed on my knees for Sam since we saw his picture in January 2010.  I have begged God to show me his way and give me the courage to follow it while carrying JR, because that is the only way we were both going to get there.  I got on my knees at work and prayed for Sam's health, happiness and broken heart.  I also got on my knees to pray for him in my bedroom and even on the bathroom floor at beagle bagel.  I just assumed that after all of this, the world would stop turning when I laid eyes on him and hugged him, that nothing he would do would gross me out, and that I would suddenly have a reservoir of patience previously untapped.  For the record, I got some additional patience, plenty for Sam on his own, but just not enough for the two of them together.

While there were overwhelming emotions and plenty of love at "gotcha day" (I can't fake that smile in the picture), it was not a repeat of John Hinton's birth and why should it have been.  In a perfect world, all parents would be willing, ready and able to parent.  But this is an imperfect situation with imperfect people.  Sam came to us from places that John Hinton had never been.  He faced challenges that we all guard our children against.  He did this for two years and had learned to all but thrive in an orphanage where many do not.  He is a fighter and survivor.  He is superficially charming as a coping mechanism.  He has opinions and can hit and bite. He can lay out in the floor.  And I don't care who you are, having boiled egg yolk sneezed on you by someone you met less than 24 hours ago is disconcerting or an all out crisis if you are JR.  No one told us that because of his cleft, food will get packed into his nose and he will sneeze. These are things you need to know. 

These are challenges.

We are lucky, Sam is an easy kid to love. Everyday I learn something new about him that I love.  He is hilarious.  When he is displeased, he furls his brow, waves his right hand in a hail Hitler way and shouts.  This is now known as the "angry Asian."  He hates for the sun to be in his eyes and does the angry Asian at the sun.  He dances very slowly and purposefully like a ballerina.  He will bite my booty while I cook at the stove if I don't acknowledge him fast enough. He loves hugs and kisses now.  He loves baths.  He likes to stroke my hair and put barrettes in it.   He will still eat food that I offer after he refuses it from JR.  He likes his fuzzy blanket.  He tries to get naked every time he sees the bathtub.  He has learned to take his shoes off in the car like John Hinton.  He threw them at me the other day.  He loves Mexican food. He is not afraid of spicy food.  He thinks Sprite is the best thing ever.  He looks adorable with his hair spiked.  He loves his family and fried fish if this weekend is any indication.  He can throw a baseball 15 feet with accuracy.  He cannot walk down stairs without falling.  He MUST under ALL circumstance shut EVERY door he meets and loudly.  He likes to cuddle in the morning.  He doesn't like tv but loves the iphone.  He will do anything for M&Ms.  He claps for himself before we can.  He now snubs puffs.  He is a great kid.

Every day, every week, we draw a little closer together. He learns to love and to trust us a little more and we fall a little deeper in love with him.

I felt like I needed to write this in case there are any other mama's out there that feel like there is no one else like them out there.  Like the only love is love at first sight, all pictures are cute and glossy, all the houses are clean and siblings are kind.   

I mean I knew JR for five years before we started dating and dated him for five years before we were engaged and waited two more years before we got married and seven more years for John Hinton.  John Hinton is really an anomaly for my love style. 

The best advice anyone gave me is just feel the emotions that you are having.  They may not be what you expected but that doesn't mean they will last.

Here is our gotcha day picture. 

We've come a long way, baby, and we are not done yet.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Last week by the numbers

Number of times this week that...

I had to clean poo out of the bathtub compliments of Sam-twice
I had to clean poo out of the potty chair-five
I took a shower without interruption-once
Sam sneezed bits of food through his nose on me-I stopped counting at 12
I got out of the shower with razor in one hand and shaving cream in the other to find out what the hell was going on in the living room-once (as John Hinton so calmly explained, he was hammering the table)
John Hinton threw up in my hands at the kitchen table after JR told him to swallow his string cheese-once
I had to clean Sam's PJ bottoms in the toilet because that seemed like the most reasonable place to wash poo out of pants-once

Here's to hoping that this week's stats are better and looking forward to the day that everyone can manage their own poo.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Adoption is hard

I felt like I needed to disclose that in case anyone reads this blog and thinks that I am trying to make bringing a two year old who does not know English, has never been part of a family and is non-verbal seem easy.  It is messy.  It is messier with a three year old who thinks he is the center of universe.  But very few things worth doing are easy.  Striving to serve God is never easy for me.  Mothering in a loving, firm, unconditional way with patience is work for me.

So along those lines, I show the face that I see regularly.  I get this face when Sam is not the center of my undivided attention which is sometimes necessitated by the fact that is not an only child.  Other times, I have no explanation for this face.  This face represents progress for me.  It means he is sharing his feelings the good, the bad and ugly.  It is a step change for him in that he only cried a couple of times in the first week we were together.  He now believes that someone cares when he is upset so there is purpose in crying.  He also cries now at bedtime and when he wakes up.

Other times are fun times.  Learning to play with a box.

Learning to play at the park.

John Hinton four wheeling.  

Hanging out in the dryer. 

Don't call DHS. I've never cut it on.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Latest

We are over jet lag and just got back from a two day trip to UAB to meet with specialist and surgeons for Sam.  Both days were over four hours with no lunch or nap.  We were only suppose to be there one day but the International Clinic was able to get us in to see the doctors at the Cleft Clinic the following day. We got lots of great information and will be moving forward with some of Sam's surgeries soon. We found out that he isn't hearing very well, likely due to years worth of untreated ear infections. Hopefully, that will all be resolved with tubes during his first surgery. We don't expect him to be able to verbalize much until he can hear us. Since we stayed an unexpected day, we were able to visit Jessica! That led to this cuteness. Jessica bought Sam some adorable clothes and James had the same outfit.

Lest you think that my days are filled with only cuteness, I started my day off today spooning through Sam's poo with a small shovel so we can send it off to see if he has parasites. There is no reason to think that he does. It is just standard for kids adopted from overseas. The bad news is that I have let John Hinton and Sam bathe together and Sam pooed in the tub. It will now add insult to John Hinton's injury if he gets the parasites. It's all very glamorous. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013


We are home.  We are jet lagged, but we are surviving.
John Hinton has only asked to send Sam back to China once.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Almost home!

Just a few more days and our family will be together. Everyone says enjoy your time China. I think being separated from our family at Christmas and cutting short our traditions made our trip a little more difficult for me to enjoy this trip. But more so than that, one of the biggest parts of my heart is half way around the world. While we have added Sam to our family, my family is not complete until all four of us are together. John Hinton is doing great and has been such a trooper. I think nonnie and pawpaw will be glad when we get home. I've never said he wasn't an exhausting handful. Just that he was my love.

I'm pretty sure trig may be the happiest to see us come home. I understand John Hinton has gone all Caesar Milan on he and piggy.

Here is pictorial evidence of Sam's communication. This was right before the waitress came over pointing and fussing and both us. And then examined his deformity on his lower lip and kept pointing it out to me and fussing at me like maybe i had missed it.

Sam has had a good day. We can't wait to take him home. We are still getting to know each other but he is not sobbing when he wakes up anymore. This is us in a nice park across from the hotel.

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