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Hey Working Moms!
Do you - like me - want to order a wife
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Lisa's Boys
Ah So - Allie's Cats
Always Wanted Four
A Twist of Kate
From Russia With Love
Family Reunion
The Bryants
One Day More
Long and Winding Road

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Great Moments in Sports

Here's a clip from Saturday- our #22 sinking a basket:

And another from Christmas Eve.

We're sticking with balls that bounce, I think.

Posted at 04:08 pm by beckyww
Comments (2)  

Saturday, January 24, 2009
The Answer Woman

Hannah and I represented our agency at an adoption fair today.  Our family has worked several since Julia came home at age six in May, 2006.  I love 'em!  Love sensing people's hearts and mentally meshing those desires with the questions that either tumble - or fumble - out of their mouths. 
We've gotten lots of good use out of Julia's kindergarten "Star Student" board, which Rachel creatively and meticiously prepared for class display in early 2007.   It tells so much of her adoption story visually - it's a great prop for tabling events.

In case you miss the adoption events in which we participate, here are handy (real life) question and answer pairs to savor.  No, I didn't make them up.  I couldn't.
Why Russia?  Why didn't you adopt children from this country? 

The short answer is, "God led us to adopt from Russia."  The raise-my-eyebrows answer is, "We're leaving those kids for you!"

Aren't you a little old to have an eight-year-old?

Sure am!  Thanks for reminding me.  I'm always the grayest mom at the Brownie meetings.  Do the math - there's 44 years between Julia and me.  But I'm going to be doing something.  Something is going to fill my hours.  Why not something that matters?  When I'm on my death bed, I don't want to be gasping, "I wish I had...."

What does Julia call you?   (Yes, I have been asked this)

"Mommy."  Which is good, since I don't keep maintenance items that don't call me "Mommy."

You already had three girls.  Why didn't you adopt a boy?  Didn't your husband want a boy?

Because we had three girls and for a boy to fit, he would have had to have been a "pet" - really, really young.  We didn't feel led to adopt a really young child who had a much better chance at a forever family  If one of the original three had been a boy, that would have been just fine - but we knew #4 had to be a girl to fit in.   My (wonderful) husband wants what he has.  That's one of the reasons I love him.

Honestly - wouldn't you really rather have gotten a baby?  (Usually half-whispered in a conspirital tone)

Honestly - no.  (Usually stated quite loudly.)  I have the patience of a gnat and expended my last nerve shepherding three toddlers.  Plus I don't like the visual of Similac on the same kitchen counter with my menopause meds.

Did you speak Russian when you got her?   Did she speak English?

Keith learned several Russian phrases before we traveled.  I learned a few words including "da," "nyet" and "ya-ta-la-le-blue," which means "I love you."  Julia knew, "Mama" and "Papa."  This sounds harsh and has gotten me flamed for saying so on user boards, but reality is that Julia was moving here and had to learn English,  I was not moving to Russia.  I kept some Russian/English cheat sheets around the house for about three weeks after she came home, then I tossed them because hand gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice communicate sans language.  At three months home, she started regular kindergarten and is performing at grade level in school.  So I'm thinking my failure to speaka da Rusky didn't traumatize her too heavily.

How long did it take to adopt her?

Way too long.  We were caught in an accreditation mess.  We submitted our dossier in November, 2004 and brought her home May, 2006.  Judging by user board posts, it's faster now, though the rules have changed.  It's very tough and very rare to bring home a Russian child less than 18 months old.  If you're in a hurry for an infant, Ethiopia is the place now.

How does she get along with her sisters?

Our three original girls were every bit as much responsible for Julia's assimilation as were Keith and I.  I couldn't have been more proud of how they prepared for and welcomed a new sister.  She's now Hannah's pest, Lois' sidekick and Rachel's treasure.  Understand that Hannah, Lois and Rachel are teenagers now, or, as I like to call them, "hormones with hair."  Because of the age split, they're more likely to fight with each other than they are with Julia.  Their fusses with Julia are commonly over her refusal to or tardiness in completing an assigned task ("Pick up your shoes") as opposed to interpersonal peer friction ("That's my shirt!")  Keith and I had three girls in four and a half years that are now teens.  We are awash in hair brushes, straighteners and conditioner.  What were we thinking?!

Do you love her as much as your real kids?

I love all four of my real kids really differently.  Children are added to any family with different temperaments whether by birth or adoption.  They're added at different times in your life when your interests, maturity level and resources (including energy) vary.  So how could you ever say you love each child "the same?"   My eldest reminds me of my mother, whom I miss every day.  My #2 reminds me of how precious life is.  My #3 is passion personified.  And my #4 is the culmination of a 30+ year belief that one day I'd adopt.

I know someone who knows someone who has a child that need a home.  How about yours?

Ummm....how about yours?  Adoption is not a trip to the Quik-E-Mart to grab a loaf of bread, some eggs and oh, yeah, Abbu, throw a child in there too, why doncha?

Don't all kids from Russia have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?  That's what I've heard.

No, they don't.  But you do your homework before you travel - you decide what you can and can't handle (and stick to it) - you engage an international adoption doctor for evaluation - and you pray for guidance.  There are between 700K and 2M kiddos in Russia who need homes.  We played with Julia's friends in Children's Home #47  We saw a few kiddos with evidence of FAS, but mostly what we saw were eager faces trying to catch Keith's eye while their little arms wrapped around his legs.

Is your family from Russia?

Just the one member.

Do you plan to take her back to Russia some time?

Yes, in the vague sort of way that I'd like to take bible classes at a university, or go on an Alaskan cruise.  We'd like to - really we would - but reality is we have four kids with different needs (like college) that supersede wants.  If we can, we will.  But I am not going to pace the floor at night worrying about it. 

My cousin's ex-husband's neighbor's bus driver adopted a child from Russia who turned into a psychopathic ax murderer with dandruff, acne and bad breath.   Aren't you afraid of that?

I'm afraid of lots of things.  I'm more fearful of the influence of a fallen world on my girls than I am of a genetic weakness or early childhood trauma-cum-disaster brewing in them.  Julia was and is a bright, beautiful, smart child.  Like her sisters, I expect her to be a great woman of God some day.  (Note: The only thing worse than being told horror stories when you're pregnant are being told horror stories when you're adopting.)

How do you love someone else's child?  I just don't think I could do that.

Me neither.  Glad I don't have to.

Do you know anything about Julia's real mother?

A lot - I looked in a mirror this morning.  I know the most important thing about Julia's first mother, too - that she loved Julia enough to give birth to her.  I pray every day that she feels a peace about Julia. 

Do you have any children of your own?

Yes.  Four of them.

Would you do it again? 

At the time to get Julia  - yes.  Today to get another child  - no, stick a fork in me, I am done.  Though when I view friends' websites, I sigh and think.....   (Keith's answer to this question is not the same.  He'd be on a plane in a heartbeat if a bucket'o'bucks landed in our laps.)

How much did she cost?

Julia's adoption cost about $32,000.  Lois' premature birth was about seven times that amount.  But my babies themselves - they're priceless.


Posted at 05:57 pm by beckyww
Comments (8)  

Saturday, January 17, 2009
Wild Hair

Every now and again, glimpses of my pre-maternal life pop up and startle me.  Like, I'll find myself car dancing to Bruce Springsteen.  Or I'll buy a can of biscuits without a coupon.  Experiences my mom would call "wild hairs."


Red sequined jacket and The Boss on the boom box - definitely not maternal.  But a great "Jingle Bell Rock" Christmas card picture with Sarah and David in 1986.  Note the bells on David's wheels.  He used to say, "Hair is just entertainment."  You can't see my wild hair here - a 6" pink-bleached rat tail.  My boss Vicki would gulp hard every time I sauntered into the Southwestern Bell Comptrollers building wearing my matching hot pink jelly sandals. 

The girls and Keith will tell you - I'm the mean one who is always trying to balance the paychecks with the mortgage payment, car payment, insurance, etc.  As Keith says, "We'd have more money if you didn't fritter it away on bills."

Three times at Sam's this holiday season, I fingered - then replaced - certificates for a local spa entitling the bearer to a hair shampoo and cut, microderm abrasion treatment, facial, massage and make-up application - for $45.  I kept thinking how much fun it would be to do with Rachel, Lois and Hannah.  How we don't have that many more years with all of them at home.  Then I would (responsibly) remind myself of fall expenses not fully paid for.  And sigh.  And walk away to check the clearance corner in the back of the store.  (Remember that when you're shopping there!)

Fast forward to riding the bus home my last day of work before the hoildays.  Only 10 of us - very unusual - and mostly women chattin' it up instead of taking our afternoon naps.   One of my bus buds decribed buying certificates for her mom and sisters, and how much fun they were going to have using them.   That did it.  I told Keith, "I'm going to get them tomorrow."  I surprised the girls on New Year's Day.

We used the first today - for lovely shampoos (with heavenly scalp massages) followed by haircuts.


BEFORE:  Rachel told us, "Frown, like they do in all the 'before'  diet ads."  All we need are numbers under our chins.

AFTER:  Rachel, Lois and Hannah have Keith's thick, shiny hair.  Hannah went for layers which were Texas-big-hair-poofy before we we traipsed through the grocery store.  I just wanted mine shorter.  ("Mom, you've wasted a salon cut.")  Rachel got her hair thinned with side bangs.  Lois got a "semi-dramatic concave bob," which sounds like something you get if you fall off a trampoline - but it looks really cute.


Over the holidays, I (finally!) completed photo albums for each daughter, the first since Julia came home.  I devoted a page in Lois' book to her ever-changing locks. "Am I the only person in this family who will ever do anything different with her hair?"

Rachel had a great idea for using the make-up applications - we'll go get them the afternoon of her high school graduation.  I'd planned to take that day off anyway.   As for the massages, microderm abrasians and facials...well, we're not sure right now.  We'll use them sometime this year when we are just feeling crazy. 

You know - just having a wild hair.


Posted at 12:08 pm by beckyww
Comments (5)  

Sunday, January 11, 2009
Where's the family?

My brilliant niece Sarah, her husband Joe and their two kiddos visited from Houston this weekend.  Laura (5) and Julia (8) are close to the same size and behave like typical cousins - best friends one minute, arch rivals the next.

Beats a slimy bar of Ivory, doesn't it?

Rachel tossed them into the pillow bin at Costco.  I'm sure the store personnel were appreciative.

Laura attached herself to Hannah, to the point of allowing Hannah to feed her, carry her, cuddle her in a blanket, etc.  Julia snorted and rolled her eyes at every display of their mutual affection.

Their McDonalds Happy Meal toy dogs came pre-named "Juliette," which prompted Laura to counter, "Well, I'm naming mine Lauraette."

James - almost two - uses two words constantly - "Snack" and "Ball."  A perfect world would have ball-shaped snacks.  Or snack-flavored balls.

Julia will - from time to time - ask about people she sees in photographs around the house.  I will explain, "That's my mother" or "That's my brother" - people that will never be her grandmother, or her uncle.   And I wonder - as she matures - how will I tell her stories about objects from obscure people with whom she does not share a genetic history?   Will I point to the three scarred, charred china plates in the corner cabinet and say, "Those were pulled from the burned home of my father's grandparents?" Or will I say - as I do to Rachel, Lois and Hannah - "Those were pulled from the burned home of your great-great grandparents?"

Her family now is the people she knows - us, Keith's parents and brothers, my sister's family including Sarah's kiddos.  Not names on a tree, but people she can talk to and touch.  As she said tonight in her prayers, "I love all my family, even my cousins." 

Family is in genetics for sure.  Julia had a "first mother," and there is simply no denying that.  Nor would I want to.

But family is also in other places. 

Like the behind the suds in the tub.  And in the pillow bin at Costco.

Posted at 06:07 pm by beckyww
Comments (5)  

Saturday, January 03, 2009
Episode 8 of "A Man and His Pond"

When last we left "A Man and His Pond," Keith was introducing his koi to their new, watery home.

He's made major progress since March, including replacing the back fence, which looked like this yesterday (yawn):


But now today - wow!  Finally!  These whimsical terracotta creatures have been buried in blankets in our cedar chest for four years.

Parrots, frogs, lizards, a dragonfly, a moon and sun - and a huge snake that I personally carried across the border at Laredo, when it was still safe to go there.

My favorites - the turtles.  But watch the video.  You'll see we both have a thing for turtles.

Three months - we all heard it!  So the backyard should be ready for prime time around Easter. 

What's up, Doc?  A beautiful backyard!

In addition to all the pond work, Keith is also (again) coaching Julia's church basketball team.  So we have to work on the dribbling.  But still - pretty good!

We went to a lovely wedding tonight of a friend at church.  As I watched our girls enjoy the service and reception, I thought for about the millionth time:  I hope they each marry somebody every bit as good as their daddy.  Maybe we'll have the ceremonies by the pond?!

Posted at 06:27 pm by beckyww
Comments (6)  

Thursday, January 01, 2009
You Do What You Have To Do

I've always liked hanging out with people better than myself.  Fortunately, they're easy people to find.  Smarter - happier - more godly - prettier - quicker - better organized - deeply generous - people.   

I marvel at many of my friends who make such differences at food banks, hurricane shelters, free clinics, Sunday Schools, student mentoring, etc.  And now I have friends online who absolutely blow me away.  They work in Russian orphanages, or create crafts to benefit orphans, or raise money to provide clean drinking water in Africa.  These are regular women.  No big red "S" on their camis.  They are not infused with super powers, or great wealth.  They just decided to do something that mattered.

My mother also did much that mattered.  The older I got, the more I marveled at what she'd managed to do.  And when I would question or recount an incident or accomplishment to her, she'd simply say, "You do what you have to do." 


Mom with David - a big part of what she had to do

What we decide we have to do is a choice, of course.  My friends whom I admire so much have defined their choices.   They teach and preach and reach deep into souls and far out to the world because they choose to do so.   If you try to discourage them, or they hit roadblocks, they'll still find ways to do what they have to do.

I'm not big on new year's resolutions.  But at this start of 2009, I feel the need to really consider what I have to do.  Because as my mom said, "You do what you have to do." 

And it's all about how you define that "have."

Posted at 04:40 pm by beckyww
Comments (4)  

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Almost Happy New Year

Because a city worker opened the hydrant in our cul-de-sac just now.  And this is Texas.  So we can.

Currently listening to:
WOW Hits 2009
By Various Artists
    Read Review

Posted at 12:38 pm by beckyww
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008
From A Upstairs Lair

A gift.  For tonight.

From two of these.


Including this one sparkly one.

Merry Christmas!


Posted at 07:13 pm by beckyww
Comments (3)  

Sunday, December 21, 2008
Now showing on our kitchen table....

Julia's has always wanted to make a gingerbread house.  So we are.  Right now. 


Costco had these kits out in September, so you know it's freeessssh!

Hannah's peppermint-flavored icing is really pretty good.  She's learned cookie and cake-making/decorating from the best - her daddy. 

Highlights last night at Fiesta Texas' "Holiday in the Park," which is always a lot of fun.

Rachel and Lois on Goliath.  "Mom, it was rad."  There's not enough blood pressure medicine made to get me on this monster.

Lois and Julia on Boomerang.  Julia has ridden this gut-twister by herself. 

Rachel and Julia sledding down the "hill." 

I have this entire week off.  I am just loving it.  Every single minute of it.


Posted at 06:17 pm by beckyww
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Saturday, December 20, 2008
Our Sweet Rides

Dashing.  Rachel and me. 


All of the other drivers laugh but none call us names - we hope.  And if the weather holds, it will be a foggy Christmas Eve.  C'mon over for a reindeer game of Trivial Pursuit.  I broke down and bought a new table-top edition, replacing my original 1983 version.  Maybe I can memorize the Sports and Leisure questions before I have to play Keith, who tromps me on those. 

Posted at 11:48 am by beckyww
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