Sunday, December 28, 2008

A little diversion from the usual posts about the two-legged kids...

So - for you that share my love for animals and have them in your lives, this should crack you up... some of you know Libby, my princess of a dog. For those of you who do not know her, she is an almost-2-year-old Australian Shepherd who literally picked me when I thought I wanted her littermate. Anyway, she crawled into my lap that day and has never really left. She jumped right into the top dog spot in our house.

Anyway, she recently learned to climb trees (I think you've all heard that story) and has also been getting out of the fence alot. She goes under no matter what we try. We've put hotwire around the bottom, boards, cinderblocks, etc, etc. But she finds a way. Initially this worked well for her because she would get out, come to the front door and then come in for some quiet family time without the other dogs interfering with her attention. This worked great for about a month. We just got a little routine down: she would get out, the boys would bark, I would open the front door and in she would come.

Well, the past week or two, she has been driving us insane. Sometimes when she gets out, we can't get her to come in. She doesn't leave the yard (mostly, she stares intently at the cat, daring Estelle to move). But she also wants no part of coming inside. Yesterday she spent 6 hours outside, just staring at the cat in various locations of the yard and refusing to let me within touching distance. I was SO mad at her. I was ready to send her away! (And Libby is my favorite dog on the planet! But who can spend that much time chasing a dog around? And we have tried every containment trick that we know.)

So, I finally decided that I would just take her out on a flexi-lead in the front yard and walk her myself. Well, gee, she has now taken this princess thing to a whole new level... I think this was her plan all along. She gets to stay in the living room, she gets human company everytime she goes out and she never has to wallow in the mudpit that sometimes is our backyard. I wonder if she thought I was a little slow since it took me so long to figure out this very simple solution!

I just started laughing yesterday after all of my frustration (and bad words) and then I had this super-simple plan. She's laying beside me on the couch, grinning as I write this. :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas everyone!
We hope this Christmas season finds everyone well and blessed! Our year has just flown by. The kids are all four now. (Daniel will be five in February!) Where does the time go?
The kids are all excited to start school next year. They will start full-day kindergarten in August and they would all go tomorrow if anyone would let them. We toured their school recently and were very impressed with all of the staff and the general positive atmosphere of the building. One of our close neighbors will be their bus driver, so that will be very handy.
Maja goes to speech therapy once a week to work on her pronunciation and she’s doing well. As she’s been there for a couple of months now, she’s letting her “true colors” show and she’s not always the sweet, demure girl that her therapist met that first day! She knows most of her letters and all of her numbers. She loves to draw, but it’s hard to get her to concentrate on writing. She would rather just make a shape and call it whatever letter she thinks it should be that day. She’s a “color outside the lines” kind of girl!
Daniel was not prescribed any speech therapy despite his cleft. Everyone at the school that tested them could not believe that he’d only been speaking English for one year. His vocabulary and pronunciation were as good as any American-born four year old. He isn’t quite as excited about reading and writing as the girls, but he’s making progress.
Mali is the ring-leader of the group and always keeps the other two in line…of course, she doesn’t always follow her own rules so well!  She can write all of her letters and knows most of her numbers. She can recognize a few written words and is starting to learn some phonics.
Tony is still working at Harvey/McPherson County Community Corrections and loves it. The State of Kansas has made huge budget cuts this year (including cutting the funding for three prisons and Tony’s job is paid from the same budget as they were), so we are a little worried about that, but we continue to pray that the legislators understand the increased importance of probation, particularly when they are closing minimum security prisons.
Alyssa continues in her position as Admin Lt. at Saline County Sheriff’s Office. This year one of the grants she wrote resulted in the shared Communications Center (dispatch) receiving $210,000 for much needed new E911 equipment, so that was very exciting. Our county’s budget is very tight (whose isn’t?), so the grants are very important to us right now.
This summer we lost our 13-year old Airedale Terrier, Sammy. He is now in doggie heaven, chasing all the bunnies he can find. He had bad hips for many years and had been on medication for a number of years. Medication was no longer enough and we decided to let him rest peacefully. We miss him everyday.
Shortly after that, Alyssa surprised Tony with an early 10th Anniversary present… his name is Kegan and at the writing of this letter, he is a 6 month old, 65 pound German Shepherd. Our vet estimates that he will be a 110 pound adult! Hard to imagine how big that will be … he has already outgrown our other dogs. Tony plans on training him for volunteer search and rescue work.
We didn’t manage to get a Christmas picture done this year, but you can check out the kiddos at if you are online.
Enjoy your holiday season and remember to celebrate the reason for the season – Christ, our Lord!
Love to all of you!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year we are reminded to be thankful for all that we have -- our beautiful children, our marriage, our home, our family and friends. It's so easy in this hectic life we lead to lose sight of what's really important. We all tend to get caught up in the little stuff that doesn't matter: complaining about the lines at the store, the new scratch in our car, the silly headaches at work, the forgotten pumpkin pie at dinner (oops). But none of those things matter. In a week, we won't remember most of those inconveniences (we will still probably remember that there was no pumpkin pie...). What is important is that we show love and appreciation to those who matter to us. (Even to the one who didn't make any pumpkin pie -- hee hee! You know who you are!)

But in all seriousness, we are taking some time to be quietly grateful for all of the joy and wonder in our lives. Hope the holiday season is giving each of you time for the same.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Oh! You want an orange!!!" Elementary, my dear Watson!

So, we had an interesting experience at our local favorite Chinese restaurant.... We were there for our friend Gabe's 5th birthday. We had an enjoyable dinner. One of the restaurant's employees son's came out to eat his supper at a table near ours. He had a plate of chicken and oranges. I didn't make the connection right away, but Maja had been watching him quite intently. Soon after, she began crying something that sounds like "juice", but she made it clear it was not juice she wanted. Those of you who have had conversations with Maja know that she's about 50% understandable and the rest you just get from context. So she was really upset and crying and kept saying "Ju, Ju, Ju!" It kind of sounded like it had a bit of a "p" on the end, so I thought maybe it was "poop", but she didn't want to do that either. I was at my wit's end! She kept looking at the boy as she was crying. So finally I asked her if she wanted an orange. Immediately she quite crying. I said, "You should have just said you wanted an orange!" Again, she said "Ju" and happily ate her orange. So I came home and looked up "orange" in my Chinese/English dictionary and lo & behold, one of the two variations of "orange" in Chinese is "Ju"! She's been home 2 1/2 years and hasn't spoken a lick of Chinese in about 2 1/4 years and there came "Ju" out of the blue! Isn't it amazing what these kiddos retain?

Then last night Tony got home from work about midnight and when he went in to kiss the kids, Daniel was speaking Chinese in his sleep. He hasn't used any Chinese since he's been home either! Too funny!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

September update

First of all, make sure you check out the slideshow below! (And turn your sound on - it even has music!) In this picture to the left, the girlies are wearing new dresses that Grandma made and Daniel's in his new shirt from Grandma. (Mali, of course, has accessorized with a necklace, a headband, AND a few barrettes, while Maja stays simpler with only a headband!)

We've been busy, as usual. The slideshow in the post below is from our Labor Day picnic in the park with friends of ours. (That's Tim & Shelley's son Gabe in some of the pics.) Everyone had a great time -- watch that slideshow carefully and you might even see a pic of Tony!

It's a dreary, cloudy day here at home today and was a great day for updating our blog. I changed the background (Thanks Julie!) and made that slideshow. What fun! I suppose I should really be doing something constructive, like laundry, but this is so much more fun!

Daniel and Maja went for a preschool evaluation the other day to see if they will need special services (primarily speech) before school next year. They had such a good time at the eval - Maja even played with all the strangers there, which is quite unusual for her. Maja needs to have further speech evaluation and some hearing evaluation. Their hearing test showed that she is deaf in her right ear. There has been ongoing differences of opinion about her hearing since she was born, so we'll probably continue this until she is able to explain better to us what exactly she can and can't hear. (Those of you that have been with us from the beginning of Maja's entry into our family will remember that China insisted she was deaf, despite the fact that she could sing and dance to music.) As far as being on-target educationally, they said she was doing great and will have no problems with kindergarten.

Daniel got glowing reviews. The speech therapists couldn't believe he's only been home one year. They were very impressed with his speech and said he does not need any speech therapy right now (which is interesting because his cleft issues at birth were more severe than Maja's and both of his repairs were done in China. So, those of you considering a cleft child, don't let China repairs or severe clefts scare you away!) The educational evaluator said in a nutshell she would term him "amazing". He was putting together puzzles designed for the 7-10 year age group in just minutes. Plus he demonstrated his writing and drawing skills for them... and you know he turned on the charm and told them all a million stories! They wanted to be able to keep him in the program as a model for other students! HA! I told them they should live with him for a month before they decided that! :-)

Mali didn't need an eval and of course continues to do great! She works on her "homework" everyday quite voluntarily. Let's hope this continues for the next 20 years or so. She told me today that she wants to be a doctor for babies and big kids so she can help them. "Dr. Mali to the rescue!" she said. Good deal -- someone to pay for my bill at the old folks home someday! ha ha!

Labor Day Picnic slideshow

Click to play Labor Day 2008
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox slideshow

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Princess Castles and Birthday Parties!

On a cloudy day recently, we went to the "Princess Castle" close to our house (for those of you who live near us, we were at Coronado Heights). It is a "castle" made of sandstone supposedly to commemorate how far Coronado made it in his exploration of what is now America. It's a fairly small castle, but when you are a kid, it's amazingly cool! We got rained on when we got there, so we didn't spend too much time on the "mountain" and Maja was scared of the castle, so we didn't go in.
Then Maja had her 4th birthday. We had a party at NaiNai's farm, complete with weenie roast (this is becoming a birthday tradition!). It was VERY hot that day and we ended up migrated inside for dessert and presents.

I can't think of much news to post... the kids keep us busy all the time! But I figured I'd better at least post a couple of new photos.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Middle of JULY????!!!!

It's been two months since I've posted -- where does the time go???

We've been keeping busy around here. Friday night the Sheriff's Office participated in Relay for Life (an American Cancer Society fundraising event) and I was co-captain and I tried really hard to stay all night, but I pooped out at about 3 a.m. Tony and the kids came for a while at the beginning but headed home around 10. Our county raised over $150,000 this year, which was above our goal, so we were excited. This is the first year the Sheriff's Office had a team and we had a great time while drawing attention (and money) to a great cause.

The kids are doing great! Maja will be four soon and she's quite excited for her party. She wants a purple cake and monkey balloons. :-) She's fairly easy to please!

I don't have any terribly exciting milestones to post about -- we've been busy with daily stuff and the kids are busy growing. Mali is very articulate these days and quite perceptive of others' moods. She can recognize all of her letters and is starting to spell things everywhere we go!

Daniel has been home almost a year now and continues to adjust. His English is excellent and he's making progress in all areas of life. He keeps us on our toes!

Alyssa has been showing her new dog this year and has a few blue ribbons so far. There are a few AKC shows nearby this fall and the three Aussies will go, with hopes of a few new titles and a lot of fun in the process! One of these days, I need to get a picture of the doggies posted up here!

Be on the lookout for pictures next time....

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Wow! How time flies! Mali celebrated her 4th birthday at the end of April. We had a good old-fashioned "weenie roast" at Grandma Dolly's house. Mali learned to climb a tree, Maja ran up and down the bed of the wheat truck for what must have amounted to miles, and Daniel climbed on the tractors. It was a very fun day!

Mali had lots of friends and family at her party. Grandma and Grandpa (Donna & Gene) were there, NaiNai (Grandma Dolly), Grandpa B (Brent), Ward, Jon, our friends Shelley, Tim and Gabe. The kids played all day and sure took good naps later on! Grandpa B is a weenie roast expert - doing them over a real wood fire on a good farm-seasoned pitchfork.

The 16th of May was Maja's 2 year "Gotcha Day" anniversary. Two years?? In 2006 we were in Beijing on Mother's Day and received Maja two days later. What a gift! Yesterday we were at Grandma Dolly's house to catch up with Travis & Melissa and their son Nicholas. Nicholas is 2 1/2 now and he and Daniel chummed around the farm together. Grandpa B gave rides on the old John Deere -- suprisingly Maja was the star of the tractor (Mali wanted nothing to do with it). Daniel thought the tractor was cool, but Maja was driving!!! She made a couple of turns all on her own. She'll be driving the grain cart next summer if Grandpa B has anything to do with it!

Daniel continues to be Mr. Social, making friends everywhere we go. At cousin Jon's graduation party last weekend, Daniel was befriending everyone, especially the girls! Just what will his teenage years be like if he's already such a flirt??
Aunt Helen from Colorado got to come for a short visit a few weeks ago. It was good to see her and catch up a little.
We hope all of you are well!
(P.S. All of these pictures will enlarge if you click on them)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Belated Chinese New Year

As an afterthought, I decided to include this picture of the kids from Chinese New Year. I know it's a little belated, but we don't often get pictures of them all standing (sort of still) together.

Catching up...

First of all - here's the "Gotcha Day" pic I promised back on Mali's Gotcha Day post -- it is the first moment Tony held her. Words don't do it justice -- it speaks for itself.

My laptop is back from HP and seems to be working well again (knock on wood), so I'm getting caught up on all the stuff I haven't been keeping up on. (Blogs, for example!)

All is well in our little part of the world. Maja got her stitches out (I did it myself!) and her scar will be slight. Mali is excited to be turning four soon. She is insistent that she be allowed to dress up as a princess for her birthday. I think we can arrange that! Daniel continues to do well. He's been telling me lately that he misses his Ayi (Auntie in China). In his orphanage, one Ayi was assigned to 6 or so children, so they became close to one person. He told me he does not miss China, just his Ayi. So we need to work on coloring some pictures for her and sending her a letter.

I know this blog is mostly about the kids, but I have to throw in some dog news, too. Libby, our newest addition, went to her first two shows recently. She went to Texas with her breeder at the end of March. Poor Libby didn't know how to function without me and didn't have a good time at all. Then we had a big show in Wichita the first weekend of April. I ended up showing her because Libby was more comfortable with me (even though I'm not at home in the conformation ring) and she did well. She won her class at the specialty on Thursday and earned herself a blue rossette and embroidered towel. On Friday her class was large and she wasn't in the ribbons, but she did well. Saturday she didn 't show because I couldn't be there. Sunday she had a decent class again and earned a 4th place ribbon. But the important thing is that she learned that judges really don't eat cute Aussies for lunch and if she's good, she gets treats... from lots of people. She also learned the fine art of shopping all the doggie vendor booths with me!

Howie will be shown in ASCA altered conformation this summer as well as Rally Advanced and Novice B Obedience. Wylie is on to Open Obedience (if he ever learns to love the dumbbell!) and Agility.

The kids all got to go to the dog show and seem to have "the bug"! Needless to say, I'm excited about that. Mali and Maja always want to help brush and walk the dogs. Daniel is pretty much always along for the ride and game for anything.

Well, not more much news around here. It's starting to look like spring which we are very grateful for -- it's been a long winter around here!



Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Well, we have our first stitches! Maja fell and hit her head while on the slide at daycare yesterday. She now has two stitches by her left eye! Thankfully Tony is the one who took her to the Dr -- he is much more tolerant of medcial prodecures than I. She is doing very well and was quite brave at the Dr. She will tell anyone who will listen about her "owie" and the shot she got. :-)
I realized this morning that Maja likes to be first -- she was our first kiddo to have surgery, our first to break a bone and now our first to have stitches. She can stop these little visits to the Dr anytime! One of our friends saids, "She really is a little China doll. She's so fragile!" Somebody needs to tell Maja so that she would stop acting like she's unbreakable!


Sunday, March 23, 2008


Three years ago today, Mali was placed in our arms in a crowded room full of 13 other families receiving their children. Can you believe it? THREE YEARS? Where does all the time go? I have the cutest picture of her and Tony in their first moments together -- she looked like "Oh my gosh -- you gave me these people???" And Tony was gazing upon her as if she was an angel sent straight from heaven (oh wait -- she is!) I wish I could post that picture for you all to see, but it is on my computer and my computer is on an airplane on its way to HP for motherboard repairs. I'm blogging on a loaner.

Today she is a walking, talking, counting, spelling nearly-4 year old. And in those three short years, she has gained a brother and sister. I am still in awe daily of the plans God has for our lives. We have been blessed with the coolest kids. They are all so full of personality (trying, at times!) and they are so independent and creative. Tonight they were at their NaiNai's house and they were running up and down the stairs (cool stairs w/ multiple entry points - great for childhood adventures) and they were "going to China" to see Mulan and their Ayi's. Mali is definitely the ring leader and I'm sure we'll never convince her that Daniel is actually the oldest child.

On that day three years ago, we had no idea just how deeply we could love, just how much we could be challenged and how much that tiny little screaming baby would change our lives (inside and out) for the better. I cannot describe to you what an awesome little girl she is! We are grateful everyday for the Lord's hand in placing her in our family. His plan is perfect!


November 2007
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

~~ Helen Keller

Fun at the beach!

Fun at the beach!

Beautiful sunset with our friends at the lake

Beautiful sunset with our friends at the lake