July 2016

Busy, busy, busy….July came and went like a blur.  School starts in 2 weeks which I think is crazy.  I feel a little bad because I didn’t get any post out to show Assie’s family what he was doing in the states.  The sad thing….I don’t think I even got my camera out to take pictures.  I feel we were running from one thing to the next with time at home only to clean and do laundry….but my kids had a blast.  They badly miss having their Spanish brother with them.  Here are a few pictures I found off of my phone.

A few that were sent to me.  (we did a 5k color run fundraiser for orphans with our church)

I didn’t get any pictures of all the frisbee golf we played because I was trying really hard to beat Assie…..I never did so I guess I should have concentrated on taking pictures.  I want a rematch.

Then as fast as he came, it was time for him to leave.  IMG_0158

And that was July.

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Our 9 year old boy

A few weeks ago someone had a birthday.  I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere for his birthday and he said, “No.  I just want to stay at home with a few friends.”  I asked him if he wanted me to buy him a cake but he said, “No.  I want you to make me one.”  So I asked him why…his response was “I like our special time decorating the cake with you.” So the night before he and I spend an hour decorating marshmallows to make them look like storm troopers.  The flavor this year was lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting and chocolate cupcakes with cookies and cream frosting.  IMG_6709The kids had fun training to be a Jedi and eating the cupcakes.  After everyone left I did Luke’s birthday interview and here are this years answers.

How old are you today? 9
Describe what type of person you are.  Funny, happy, and exciting.
What’s your favorite color and why?  Yellow because it is bright
Who is your favorite person in the whole world?  Asier, friend from Spain.  (He just so happens to be here right now visiting us.  Sorry for the bad picture but I forgot my camera and had to take it with my phone.)  assieWhat do you want to be when you grow up?  An engineer.
What’s the hardest thing in your life right now?  Jax because I have to chase him down.
What is your favorite thing to do?  Play with legos.  IMG_6720
What are your favorite foods and drinks?  Sausage pizza and Orange Crush
What is your favorite books/movies?  Star Wars, Cars 2 and for books Homework Machine.
What do you not like?  Ranch dressing and a lot of other food.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Spain to see Asier.  IMG_6724
What do you want for your birthday?  Legos and more legos.
What are you most looking forward to in the next couple of years:  fun.  IMG_6729You can find last years answers here. 8 years old
Our birthday boy

And the year before here.  7 years old
Birthday Boy

Anyways, back to this year, notice the long hair, well, right after his party he said he was ready to cut his hair so off it went.  His new summer hair-do.  IMG_6732Two days later, on his actual birthday Luke took off with my mom and did a 12 day trip through the Midwest to Idaho to see the mountains.  His first trip without either parent but he had a blast.  Makes me think my little boy is growing up.   PART95146738808372895.IMG952016070195094722 (1)

 

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Last 2 Months in Pictures

IMG_6438All the kids tested and passed in Taekwondo.  We were a little nervous about the girls because they had a lot of temper tantrums during practice testing but they did great at the actual test.  Luke had to spar this time.  He did pretty good considering I didn’t have him practice this.  IMG_6443Jenna lost her first tooth.  Luke loves to pull teeth and has done all of Ryan’s so he was pretty excited to start on the girls’ teeth; however, the girls would cry before we even touched their teeth so he gave up and I had to do it.  As of right now Jenna and Quinn have lost 2 bottom teeth with a lot of tears and screaming. IMG_6427 The kids decorated their first birthday cake for me with Ted’s help of coarse. IMG_6496Jenna started riding bike without training wheels.  She did great and loved every minute of it.  Quinn would throw temper tantrums when we tried taking away her training wheels and she would throw temper tantrums when we wouldn’t let her try.  There was no way out so finally one day about 2 weeks ago I told Quinn she doesn’t get training wheels any more.  It took 2 days and at least 1 major temper tantrum that lasted over 1 hour (started because I made her do it and ended with me giving up because of the screaming and would not help her anymore).  Now they are both training wheel free and riding proudly.  IMG_6509The girls graduated from preschool.  They are on their way to Kindergarten both a little scared and a little excited.  We will see how they are like in August.  IMG_6538Soccer season came and went.  The girls did soccer this year.  There were a few temper tantrums and a few days they just went home early because they couldn’t handle it but towards the end of the season they were doing great.  And yes, they are wearing tutus as part of their uniform.  The girls did better that way.  Ryan and Luke had a blast as always.IMG_6549We headed off to Seattle to visit my brother.  We traveled through the airport with 6 kids and 5 adults.  Surprisingly everything went smoothly, only one exploding diaper in the security line from the 4 month old.  We went hiking where it snowed on out, went to playgrounds, played on the beaches.

IMG_6553IMG_6583IMG_6643On our long hike of 1.6 miles one way and a 700 ft elevation climb most people got cold or tired so they headed back early.  Only one kid made it to the top to see the view.  IMG_6665It was so cloudy we didn’t see anything at the top but that did not dampen Ryan’s spirits.  IMG_6685We also took our kids to the second germyist tourist attraction in the world….the gum wall at Pikes place.  And why not we only had 8 kids 8 and under.  My kids all had fun adding their gum to the wall.IMG_6563  The summer has been very busy with swim lessons, camping, the boys first trip to a camp without any family adult (they had a blast) and Luke’s birthday party (which will come next post) but at least I am sort of caught up.

 

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China

I have been home from China for almost a month now.  I have sat down to write about my experiences a few times but I get stuck because of mixed emotions about things.  It also didn’t help that I got a head cold on my flight home that lasted for 2 weeks.  Life with 4 young kids doesn’t slow down when you are sick, it just seems to go that much faster around you.  I think being sick just made the jet lag that much worse then it normally is when you have to switch by 13 hours but I have recovered and trying to get caught up on things around the house. 20160414-9N4A7534I found some interesting things out while in China.  When we adopted, all the children’s files went on this large shared list where agencies would try and match you with a child.  On days that they added children to the list, it was a fast pace race to try and click on files to reserve children for their clients.  It didn’t give the agency much time to really work on matching families and children for the best fit.  20160414-9N4A7697Apparently they are switching the system.  Agencies are getting matched with different orphanages in country.  That means that agencies can go over there, see the children interact, report back to families and really work on finding a match that would work.  I think there are a lot of good things that can come from this but some bad too.  A few good things…..I traveled with a group of doctors and physical therapists.  They are going over there and training the caregivers on how best to care for the children there.  Because agencies are matched to orphanages, they have a sense of responsibility to help those future children before they get matched to families that are in the process of adopting.  The earlier you can get treatment or some sort of intervention, the better.  Also, agencies are able to meet and interact with the children there.   I think it gives harder to place kids (kids with higher special needs) a better chance because you start seeing who that child really is instead of just a face with a medical need attached to it.  Like this one, a 13 year old who is very sweet and fun to talk but is confined to a wheelchair.  20160414-9N4A7832The agencies can also start advocating for some of these children.  A lot of this is done on the Superkids website.  Right now they are trying really hard to find a family for Jack, a 6 year old boy who has vision problems but is very smart, he can speak Mandarin and English.  His info is here http://superkidscharity.blogspot.com/2016/05/because-you-can-never-have-too-many.html

It was a lot of fun to meet these children, to hang out with them and play with them like legos and play-doh but knowing they don’t have a mom or a dad to do those things with made I think everyone on the trip a little sad because they are such wonderful kids.  One day we took about 10 kids out on a field trip.  After lunch we took them to a kitchen and made cookies and muffins with them.  To teach them how to cook was a lot of fun, something that I do with my own children all the time.  The simple act of helping them beat an egg can bring such joy.20160411-9N4A6644

At a different orphanage, I spent the better of 2 afternoons talking to a 13 year old boy who is about to age out of the system; meaning once he turns 14 he can not be adopted ever.  There is a family interested in him but he is scared, scared to leave his culture, leave his “family” (other kids in the orphanage that he has grown up with),  leave behind everything that he has come to count on for an unknown….a new culture, a new family, a new language, new foods, new lifestyle, a new everything.  They only have until June because then he turns 14 and adoption will no longer be an option for his future.  He will grow up with never having a family to come home to which makes me sad.   Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great workers in the orphanages that care for him and others like him but I don’t think that is the family unit that God intended him to be in. 20160414-9N4A7841I am talking about the boy in blue; however the boy in the wheelchair, the one I was talking about earlier in the post, he will be in the same situation in a few more months but he doesn’t even have a family considering him.  These two boys, they act like they are brothers and in a way they are because they have spend their whole life together and now 1 may leave and the other will stay.

I know before I left, I had a lot of people tell me they were praying for safe travels (which I had), for my health (which was great until the plane ride home) and for many other things on my trip and I wanted to say thank you.  Although I did get a few comments that people were praying for me not to fall in love with one and bring one home with me (which, not going to lie, really frustrated me).  But I think I would love it if you could continue to pray for these kids, that whoever God is calling to adopt them that they listen and are obedient right away, that their extended families are supportive.  And pray for the children who are sitting in orphanages right now, to give them hope as they wait for a family, to give them courage as they go home with a family they don’t know and for strength for those that will never have a family to call their own.  It frustrates me to know kids like these may never have a family.

 

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On my way to China!

Before everyone gets really excited, no, we are not adopting again or at least that is not in the immediate future for us.  But I am going to China in 6 days.  I had a photography friend message me back in February asking me if I wanted to go with her adoption agency on a trip in April.  We will be spending time in a few orphanages, meeting and playing with some kiddos there.  Part of our job is to get some updated pictures and videos, play with them so we get to know their personalities.  All of this information will be used by the agency in hopes that a family will see the information, fall in love with a kiddo, adopt and bring the child home.  My group is working in 2 difference orphanages; one in Shanghai and the other in Changsha, Hunan.  Here is a link you can copy and paste into your browser and it will show you some of the kiddos the team met last September:   http://video214.com/play/UdpIdlgrIEoMUWINBIxsAA/s/dark

Some prayer requests for the trip would be that we all have safe travels, no one gets sick.  That my kids are ok emotionally while I am gone.  Jenna has been struggling in the last week just with the anticipation of me leaving.

Second for the children we are going to meet.  That their immediate needs are met: medically, physically, and emotionally.  That somehow in their difficult situation they keep their hopes up that one day a family will come for them.  That when that family comes for them, they can let go of all the pain, all of the hurt, all of the anger they have inside of them and learn to love, to enjoy life, to be a kid.

And third that families step up and adopt these children who desperately need a family.  Even though it will be difficult, extended family members might question them, they might question themselves too but that these families learn to rely on God and say “YES” to a child.

I don’t know if I will post while there but my group will be posting about the children we meet on this blog:  http://superkidscharity.blogspot.com  Please follow along and meet some of the kids I will be meeting.  They also have a facebook page at Gladney’s superkids.  And there is another option but I have never heard of it so I am copying and pasting from an email.

And then there is Periscope. We will be streaming live videos on Periscope like we did on our last trip! If you aren’t familiar with Periscope you can download the free app on Apple or Android devices then search for Superkids. If they follow us there they will get a notification when we are live! The videos are available for 24 hours so even if they miss the live stream they can still watch the video! 

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Celebrating Holidays

We have been celebrating holidays left and right around here.  And with Easter this weekend I realized I have pictures from a few other holidays I have not posted so its time to get caught up.

In February we celebrated Chinese New Year.  It is the year of the monkey so I figured a banana cake was in order.  Besides making all of our favorite Chinese dishes I spent quite a bit of time in the schools talking about Chinese culture.  Luke and I worked together and memorized a small conversation in Mandarin to do at the presentation.  I thought we did pretty good when someone who actually spoke Mandarin understood us.  She said not all the words were pronounced correctly but she could understand what we were saying so I think that it was a success.

Next up was Valentines day.  We have a tradition of making truffles with the kids.  This year when it came time to decorate them, only 2 kids wanted to help.  I think it’s because I started making whoever is in the kitchen help clean the kitchen.  But when it came to eating them…..every body came running.  IMG_6164

We then celebrated Pi day with Pie…..March 14 (3.14).  I didn’t take any pictures but we had fun eating pie.  A few days later we celebrated St. Patrick’s day.  I don’t have an ounce of Irish in me but I like to cook so it was fun to learn about some traditional foods from Ireland.  The menu was corned beef, cabbage and boxty (potato patties).  I loved the cabbage…I might have been the only one but roasted cabbage was amazing.  IMG_6247

For dessert I made a cake that was suppose to look like a pile of gold.  Inside I had cut a hole in the cake to hide some M&Ms.  If I was on top of everything I could have special ordered the M&Ms to be all gold, you know like little gold coins falling out of your cake; however, I am not that good and we had just plain colored M&Ms.  After I cut the cake and surprised all of the kids, I explained they were suppose to be gold.  Luke then tells us that the leprechauns must have stolen all of the golden M&Ms and left behind their colored poop inside our cake.  IMG_6251Interesting idea…. but the funny thing is that it made Ryan and the girls spend the next hour making leprechaun traps to catch the guilty ones.  We let them leave 2 traps up over night.  Meanwhile, Luke was at the table drawing and coloring leprechauns on paper to put in their traps.  In the morning Ryan found his traps full of guilty leprechauns…well done Luke.  I didn’t even think of that.
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Which brings us to Easter….every Good Friday it’s egg coloring time!  Guess who turns into a goof when I get the camera out…no surprise here.

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Trip to Florida

While we were in Florida in January Luke had to fill out a vacation journal for school.  I was waiting to get his journal back from his teacher so that he could write about our trip.  So today we have a guest blog post from Luke….his first one.  I added a few comment in parentheses to explain extra things.

by Luke

My Vacation Journal

IMG_5706Saturday 1-9-16:  We went to a Shell Factory and went into a store.  Then, we looked around.  There was a lot of shells.  When we came out of the store there was an iguana.  Our mom asked the owner if we could pet the iguana.  The owner said, “Yes” so I pet the iguana.  Then, we went out to eat.  When we were done eating we drove home through a hailstorm.  When we got home, there was a real tornado warning.  IMG_5745Sunday 1-10-16:  We went to Sanibel and Captiva Islands and went to the beaches where I jumped over the waves but sometimes I jumped too early and landed in the waves.  I got soaked but I only got salt water in my mouth two times.  It was disgusting.  IMG_5759Finally we went to a different side of the beach and collected shells.  Two of the names are slippers and jingles.  My favorite shells are cockles.IMG_5818Monday 1-11-16:  We went to Edison and Ford’s winter estates and learned that Edison and Ford were friends.  I also learned that Edison was a great inventor and Ford came along and asked Edison lots of questions.  Ford invented the car. IMG_5834

Finally, we went to a manatee park and learned lots of facts about manatees.  My favorite fact was that the child only stays with their mom for only 2 years.IMG_5858

Tuesday 1-12-16: We went to a state park and saw a real alligator and her babies.  Then, we went on a boardwalk.  We walked on a boardwalk because it was swampy.  Next, we went to the Everglades and went up an observation tower.  From the observation tower I could see the Everglades.  It was mostly water. IMG_5889Wednesday 1-13-16: We went on a board walk.  Once in a while we saw animal tracks.  I learned that a raccoon has it’s bigger paws in front and smaller paws behind the other paws.  Then we went to the Imaginarium.  I moved a ball around.  I learned about batteries (The Imaginarium is a Science/Children’s Museum.)IMG_5862Thursday 1-14-16:  We went to Siesta Key.  The sand was as white as snow.  IMG_5917There was a restaurant named Yoder’s but it was full so we ate at Der Dutchmen.  After we were done we got whoopie pies from Yoder’s.  IMG_5948

(We came home on Friday which was an adventure.  There were more tornadoes that took out electricity in the airport so everything was a mess.  On top of all the cancellations and delays, our airplane had a hydraulic leak so it was delayed for 14 hours.  We quickly got on a different flight and made it home only 4 hours later then our original flight.  We did much better then others.)

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