Friday, January 31, 2014

What Would Happen...

...if I only came up with 9 blog entries in a month?

I guess we'll never know.

Once again, my inner obsession has reared it's head.

Year of the Horse

Gong xi fa cai!

Happy New Year!

Here we are, in the year of the Horse. It's hard to believe that at this time last year, we were anxiously waiting for the CNY festivities to end so we could hear from the Chinese government and get on a plane for our sweet Annie!

It's almost a year later, and we're curious to see how she enjoys celebrating her first Chinese New Year with us. We have a party tomorrow where the Lion Dancers will come. We have no idea how she'll respond, but we've been watching YouTube videos to help prepare her.

Tonight, I made jiaozi (dumplings) and Dayna had a friend eat dinner with us.

Dayna gave lucky red envelopes to her class filled with chocolate coins, and later tonight, she and Annie will receive their own envelopes with "real" money.

I know we're a poor substitute for authentic Chinese culture for the girls, but it has been so much fun to learn more about their heritage as we've walked through life together with them.

Happy New Year to you all!

First Haircut

Last night, we took the girls for their Chinese New Year haircuts. It's a tradition to start the year with a fresh, clean look. For Annie, this was her first haircut with us. (We know that her head was shaved at least once in China.)

Because I'm not ready for her cute little curls to go away, we just got a little trimmed to help with the morning frizz. (Seriously...this girl wakes up with an Afro every day! Or in Dayna's terms, an Alfredo.)

She didn't exactly sit still, so some of the pictures show what a blur she is! And it's a good thing you're all looking at her cute little face, because apparently mine wasn't looking so awake.

Thanks, Tanna for another great haircut!

Chinese New Year Book List

I was just sharing with a friend some of my favorite Chinese New Year books for the girls. So to put all of these in one place:

My First Chinese New Year
This is a cute beginner's book to CNY. It clearly spells out some of the traditions surrounding the holiday.

D Is for Dragon Dance
C Is for China
These are good books with pictures and illustrations of things related to China.

Red Is a Dragon
This one was a gift - a fun book using Chinese ideas to teach colors.

The Dancing Dragon
This is one of my favorite books to use in the classroom. When you reach the end of the first half, you turn the book around and it folds out into a long dragon. 

Not CNY related, but other great books about China:

Kindergarten Day USA and China
I bought this as a gift for Dayna's Kindergarten teacher and class. When you go through the book one way, it walks you through a typical school day in the USA. Flip the book around, and you see a typical school day in China.

Tikki Tikki Tembo
A fun Chinese folk tale about two brothers.

Seven Chinese Sisters
Another fun folk tale.

And Dayna has become a huge fan of anything by Grace Lin.

If your family embraces Chinese culture, what books do you enjoy?


We bought Annie tickets to see Sesame Street Live for Christmas. What a fun night!

Brought back great memories of another little girl from 7 years ago who loved Elmo:

When I Thought She Wasn't Paying Attention

Discipline has been a little tough for our tiny sweetie. We've been working hard on building her trust so that discipline can be effective. When we've had to discipline, we're often rewarded with a little smirk, direct eye contact and a hysterical laugh. Not quite the penitent reaction we were hoping to receive.

The other night, the girls were playing, and we were able to catch this on video:

I guess she has been paying attention!

Dayna - 1 Month Post-Op

(Warning...some descriptions are rather gross.)

It's been an up and down month as Dayna has recovered from surgery. Her pain has been manageable the whole time. Her swelling went down after about a week, and she came out of it with speech that was much more clear than before.

But in the meantime, the surgery site around her teeth has opened. We were told the biggest thing to avoid is anything that would open the surgery site. So this has left us extremely concerned. We have been irrigating the site after every meal to keep it free of debris. She also developed a nasty infection about a week out from surgery. Between the infection, inability to brush her teeth, collection of glue holding the incision together, and debris...she had developed some bad odors in her mouth. Fortunately, her classmates were wonderful, and nobody has said anything negative to her.

Her school came up with a care plan including alternative PE activities and indoor recess to avoid any possible blows to her face.

Once the infection cleared and the glue and stitches were removed, Dayna is left with another opening at the back of her palate. It's about the size of a pencil eraser, and is open to the bone. The doctor is sharing our concern about this opening, but is encouraged that she's not getting any liquid in her nose. The hole is beyond where her teeth will need to be, so if it's weaker there, it shouldn't be a problem.

She does have some bleeding if she gets bumped (I turned around last week and didn't know she was right at my elbow.) The doctor tells us that when that happens, the body is trying to expel dead bone, so she has small fragments coming out. The doctor did the graft in 2 layers. It appears the layer closer to the nose is intact, and would have failed by now if it was going to fail. The layer closer to the mouth is what is giving us problems (the bone fragments coming loose, etc.)

We were told that it should take about 6-8 weeks for the soft tissue to close and protect the bone that is currently exposed. In the meantime, she can eat regular food again, as long as we continue to irrigate after every meal. She can brush her teeth as well. We were asked to wait a few months before taking her to the dentist, as he would have to clean around those seems a waste to pay for a full visit to clean half of her teeth, so wait we will.

She's back to full activity (although I've asked her PE teacher if she can do something else if they play dodge ball...that one just scares me...and IF we ever get snow around here, I will try to keep her away from snowball fights. I also think we'll refrain from ice skating for the time being...just in case.)

So the healing process hasn't gone as smoothly as we had hoped, but she's been a trouper with the modified diet and activity. We go back in one more month for (hopefully) our last post-op until her CAT scan this summer. At that point, we'll know how successful the graft was.


A week before my birthday, Dan & I discovered something almost too good to be true. I have been a HUGE fan of Rich Mullins since I was sixteen and bought his album (cassette tape, really) for my best friend Carrie. The two of us were instantly hooked and spent the next several years moving heaven and earth to listen to his music and see him live. I will confess to having missed a final (rescheduled, actually) in college, as well as a band concert to see him. I remember camping out with Carrie outside G.I. Joe's to buy tickets to that concert. After a few hours, we reached the front of the line, convinced we'd missed the best seats. When we asked for 2 tickets to see Rich Mullins, the ticket agent was puzzled. Had never heard of him. We asked who all the other people were buying tickets to see...turns out Elton John tickets went on sale the same day. Silly us! We even had the privilege of meeting him once at a concert in Salem. His interchange with Carrie was unforgettable. (And if you know her, you'll have to ask her about it!)

When Rich died in 1997, it really shook me. It took a long time for me to work through that loss and be able to listen to his music again. It felt as though I lost a close friend, and my faith definitely went through some transitions. Funny how someone's music can make that much of an impact on a person.

For the last six months, I have been following the process of a new movie about Rich's life. It's called Ragamuffin, and is being released in limited venues. Unfortunately, there were no showings in Lincoln or fact, none anywhere close to where we live.

Until a week before my birthday...when they added a showing in Kansas City...THAT WEEKEND. So Dan jumped on things and bought tickets for my birthday, found a hotel for us to stay at in the area, and arranged for my sweet cousin Melinda to watch the girls while we were at the movie. A fabulous getaway weekend with an incredible movie, to boot.

If you are able to catch this movie while it's showing, I strongly recommend it. It's not a pretty movie. It doesn't have a happy ending. But if you want to see a man's journey to discover Christ...not the neatly packaged Sunday School version...not the Christian pop version...but the Savior who loves us so much He relentlessly pursues us...this is a movie you need to see.

Rich's music challenged my faith when he was living, and it continues to challenge me today. I'm so grateful for his raw honesty as he wrestled with his faith, and I'm encouraged to know it's okay as I continue to wrestle with mine.

40. It's the New 40.

Yup...I hit that milestone this month. The birthday where my age begins with a new digit and ends in a zero. And somehow, this one was WAY easier than 30. As I recall, the week I turned 30, there had already been 2 family deaths that year (only 14 days in.) Dan was at a night class and I was alone. Sick. And discouraged because I hit 30 and still wasn't a mom. I begged a friend to take me out to dinner so I wouldn't be alone.

But 40...this was so much better. I had a completely lazy day at home. Three of us went to Dayna's school and we all had lunch together. I accomplished pretty much nothing at all. Dayna made me a red velvet cake for dessert. (Oops...we forgot to get a picture until after we cut it.)

And I was able to spend some birthday money (I saved from last year) and buy myself a new toy.

Surrounded by family...what a way to ring in a new decade! Excited to see what the next ten years bring.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Seahawks, Sherman and My Savior

It seems I'm having the same conversation over and over with a variety of people, so these thoughts have been rumbling around for a couple of days. I figure I might as well hash them out here and see if I can't start making any sense.

I love me some good football. I'm definitely more of a college fan than the NFL, but I've got to say...while I don't religiously follow the Seattle Seahawks, I definitely consider them "my" team. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, they're the only team that represents that part of the country.

So imagine my delight when I saw last summer that Sports Illustrated called Seattle for a win over San Francisco in the NFC finals, going on to the Super Bowl. That caught my attention, and I've been following a little more closely this year. Sunday's game was pretty exciting. One of those games that you didn't really know who would win until the end. And what an ending it was! Two really good teams fought it out until the end, and it just happens that "my" team came out on top.

Fast forward to the post-game interview. It seems most of the country asks "Seattle Who?" The nation (well, those who watch football, anyway) was waiting to hear what the team had to say for itself. A camera was thrust into the face of a passionate (okay, I'll admit hot-headed) player who made a complete fool of himself. It was embarrassing. It has overshadowed the incredible victory of a team who has only reached this point one other time in history.

I'm not going to make excuses for Richard Sherman. I know very little about the man off the field. I don't know if this is par for the course in his life or if it was a one-time complete lapse in judgment.

But I do know that suddenly, people across the country are sharing things about how this one man (and one unfortunate interview) represents an entire program. And that is where my thoughts start turning.

1.) Actions have consequences. A few months ago, I did something publicly that I completely regret. It was intended to be private...silly me. (And I've learned.) It was taken out of context. But the fact is, I said it and there were consequences.

Now, will Sherman be penalized for his embarrassing comments. Probably not. But he now has a stigma that will follow him forever. He has lost a lot of respect in the eyes of a lot of people, and I'm guessing that includes his teammates.

2.) Football teams (or any organizations for that matter) are made up of truly classy people (side note...I believe Peyton Manning is one of them, and I'm really excited to see that the Seahawks will be playing the Broncos.) They also have some big-mouth hotshots. It's everywhere.

It bothers me that an entire program is being disregarded because of the actions of one person. A lot of people who are so vocal against Seattle because of this one player are die-hard Husker fans. Can you think of someone who represents the Huskers who is overly passionate and often embarrasses the program with his outbursts? (I recall a live post-game interview with the head coach where I had to change the channel because his language was completely inappropriate for the little ears that were in the room.)

3.) And this is the point I'm ruminating on the most....what about Christianity? How am I representing the Savior I love with my entire being? How many people have been completely turned off to Jesus because of the way some of his followers behave? Do I represent Christ like a loud-mouth hotshot, spewing unintelligible anger to the world? Or am I part of a larger team, deflecting glory from myself and pointing it upward?

What happened after the game on Sunday was truly unfortunate. And it's easy to throw out the old cliche "haters are gonna hate." I just pray that by God's grace, I'm not one of those people who will give others cause to hate. (And I'm pretty sure that at some point in time, I have been...and give thanks that God can work in spite of me and my intentions.)

So if you don't like football...thanks for slogging this far through the post. And if you do...cheer loud for your team on February 2. I think you know who has my loyalty.