Archive for September, 2013

Video of Laelia

Monday, September 16th, 2013

I created this video of Laelia learning to walk as a present for her 6th birthday. I used all of the videos I had of her where she is moving her lower limbs. And let me just say that there were not many videos of her even moving her lower half for the whole first year there, despite daily physical therapy and stretching. Wow, it’s amazing how far she’s come and how hard she worked. Laelia’s birthday party isn’t for a couple of weeks yet, but tonight she caught me editing, saw it was videos of her and then squealed and demanded to see it. (By the way this is my first video editing job EVER and it was really hard and I cussed a lot and now I hate technology.) So the cat’s out of the bag and I’m just going to make it public.


Perfect bodies in Heaven

Monday, September 16th, 2013


Beautiful, but the wrong kind of hope.

A nice family of four came to my door the other day. They were dressed too nicely for the San Diego weather and had big smiles plastered across their faces. I could see all their teeth. They introduced themselves, the faith they represented, and then got down to business. After some prompting by the mom the young boy handed me a booklet. “Here’s some information about Heaven,” he said. Inside was an illustrated picture of a man and a woman in flowing white robes. “This is what we will be like in Heaven,” his mom told me, “perfect, with no disease or disability or flaws.”

Sure, great. But then I found myself shooing them away quickly. Because my daughter had come up behind me, shyly peeking around my leg. And their looks and words held so much pity that I was afraid she would see them. Hear them. Think it had anything to do with her.

When it had everything to do with them.

Because there’s nothing sad about my daughter. And everything wrong with the way they viewed her.

Once inside the house, with the door thankfully closed, I stared at the drawing in the booklet of the two ambassadors of heavenly perfection–Caucasian, light-skinned, small noses, blonde–swimming above the skyline in flowing robes. I assume the author of this booklet got his or her idea of “perfection” by studying the bathroom mirror. But that was not the only thing that bothered me. Consider the image of these two Heaven-dwellers. They were both in human bodies that had obvious limitations as evidenced by the length of their limbs, the visible small bulges of muscles, the range of motion of their joints, etc. In other words, these two representations of perfection were not taller than a basketball player, stronger than a wrestler, or as limber as a gymnast. They had obvious limitations. They were Hollywood-ready but they were also, to make a point, disabled.

Disabled:  1. (of a person) having a physical or mental condition that limits movements, senses, or activities.

I think it’s important to realize how disabled we all are. We all have limitations. This booklet could just as easily have shown my two beautiful children—contractured limbs, missing muscles—in all their glory, flying through the clouds. It would be an improvement over what they had in the booklet and just as accurate.

So what is our baseline of heavenly perfection then if it’s not our own bodies made more attractive? This is a question I imagine this family struggling with. Because maybe they just don’t know that these fleshy bags we carry over our precious souls are not the end-all of life and perfection. Maybe they don’t know that any deviation from a majority body type or shape or color is not evidence of the Fall. No. We’re ALL evidence of the Fall! We’re not perfect! I, for one, can’t whistle or ride a skateboard. And you better believe that kid me would have had a booklet of robed skateboarding whistlers had I been in a family who went door to door! My version of glorified.

We have this human response to difference. When our children are born different we grieve, then we accept them, and sometimes we repeat that cycle perpetually. My feelings are, my grief is, normal. Natural. At times even healthy. But it’s not truth. You follow me? Human beings are beautiful. They are unique. They are priceless. And they are different from each other and there is nothing inherently sad or bad or grief-worthy about that. God takes pride in his work because he damn well knows he’s good at making people. “You formed me in my mother’s womb,” writes the psalmist, “I praise you for I am wonderfully made!” And when those with disabilities are pointed out God responds with ownership, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11)

The Hebrew word bara is used when humankind is made and it implies a special creation of God, outside of using materials already there. In other words he didn’t just use the forces of physics he had already set up in Genesis 1:1 to let humans just slide onto the scene, no, he intervenes and breaths life and gets his hands into the work. Much of the world he set into motion, but for us (for us!) he takes his image, which is not a physical thing, and molds us into it. He spun out a physical being from his own character and emotions and energy and then personally knits together each of that first being’s children inside their mothers. If the Bible is to be believed.

People are gifts, priceless and precious gifts—not something we can bottle into cookie-cutter images on religious booklets! Oh we are so much more! And if this family had recognized that, realized the importance of each of us, they would have gasped at the beauty that is my daughter, suddenly on the scene in all her wonder, and cried and clapped at the workmanship evident in her. On. Their. Knees.

And I’m telling you, our glorified heavenly bodies will look more like our souls and less like our skins. Mark my words. My children do not wait to be like the rest of us; we all wait together to be something new, something indescribably better.

First day of school!

Friday, September 6th, 2013


First day of 1st grade and first day of preschool WITH bus service!!!

(How dare this girl be in 1st grade!!! She was in newborn diapers yesterday! And didn’t we just bring home Roland from the orphanage ten minutes ago??? Not right!!!)


After so many weeks of wanting to ride the bus, little Rolly was doubtful this would happen.


When the first bus arrived they started cheering!


It was for Laelia. This marks the very first time our bus service has worked out correctly on the first day of school. For preschool the bus never came and we ended up fighting them for a while until they realized we were NOT backing down and gave us a bus. For kindergarten the bus took Laelia to the wrong school while both Charley and I drove to the correct school and then went crazy looking for her.

But today with the same bus service nothing went wrong! Well except for Roland cried when Laelia left. I should have known that would happen. He wanted to ride the bus with her. “No bus! Ba back! (Come back) No! Waywe-a! (Laelia) Ba back Waywe-a! Bus! Boo (school) bus! Boo bus!! No mama no!”

Yeah after 15 minutes of that, his own bus showed up.


Roland’s bus driver strapped his car seat in. (Yes still pink. By the time he’s in college we’ll get him a blue one.)


Actually I was really worried. Roland went blank. I asked if he liked his school bus that he’d been begging for all summer and he didn’t say anything or give eye contact. He did not understand when I got off the bus without him and I watched his blank expression as he drove away. I was getting flashbacks of his trauma coming out of the orphanage.

But his daddy was waiting for him when the bus pulled into his school. Charley called me right away and reported that Roland saw him and was all smiles and happy to be back in his classroom. Then he chittered endlessly about his school bus adventure in Rolly language. He gets bus service two days a week and he has school for only three hours in the morning so it’s not too much for him.

After I put Roland on the bus I shot over to Laelia’s school for orientation. I met her teacher and aide and gave them all the usual warnings. ;) Laelia clung to me doing her “fake shy” thing. But two seconds later she was in the swing of things. We even decided not to bring her walking sticks this year and see how it goes!

The only sad part was when Roland came back home on his bus all smiles and then went through the whole house looking for his sister who has three or so more hours of school a day. He asked maybe three thousand times, “Waywe-a where?”

When Laelia finally got home she was sound asleep on the bus (as usual) and Roland screamed his hellows so forcefully and so jubilantly that she woke up. Then they hugged a lot and two minutes later they were fighting over something. 0_O

Love these kids.

And these kids love school.


Summer 2013!

Friday, September 6th, 2013



Let’s see what the sweet, precious and totally not insane children have been up to all summer shall we?


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In July Laelia lost her first tooth. I took a picture with the Tooth Fairy app while Laelia was asleep. The next morning she was so onto me. “You said faeries were pretend. So you made that fairy in the picture. So I want to make a fairy!” And that led to the second picture where she pretended the fairy was stealing all her teeth as she screamed, “NOoooo Fairy! Not my TEEF!!!!”

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All summer we tired these kids out! Sometimes they even made it to their beds!

Thanks to Lauren and Ryan the kids had access to a swimming pool this summer!

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And of course we live next to the beach so lots of beach time!



Then we met up with family from Tennessee and Utah at Newport Beach!

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And that night had dinner in Downtown Disney!


Let’s see what else…


Roland waited for school to start again. He wore a backpack and asked for a school bus.


All the time.


Every day.

School had not started yet!

Then I have some pictures of these masked children, whoever they are.


Laelie bug


Rolly bug




Mom got slightly better at sugar-free dessert. This is a chocolate “cake” with Greek yogurt “frosting.”


Party time :)

Oh and Grandpa and Grandma came down and took the kids to the zoo!


Watching the monkeys.


Roland actually climbed up that little step all by himself!


Baby flamingo!


Feeding the goat. (Roland called them all “doggie”)


My bugs


She’s nose to nose with this guy.


Balboa park train ride.


Balboa park walk.


Children at fancy restaurant… fail (yes that’s Laelia’s foot.. stinker)



Staying quiet or sitting up is beyond them!


Laelia started making maps this summer. She loved to draw the map and then make a compass for it. Her maps led through forests and tunnels and passed monsters until you reached the X.


“I did this all by myself.” Danielle, Charles’ former coworker, tutored Laelia in reading all summer. Now she loves to write sentences. And the compass has North, South, East and West, mostly backwards but in the right spots. Adorable!


We also collected shoes for Angel Bins.


We collected 530 pairs and all proceeds went to a Southern CA family adopting a special needs little boy in Ukraine.


All in all a good summer. :)