I’m Homesick

My mother will be so proud. I’m homesick and not for Hawaii… Shocking, I know. 

So I’m sure you’ve seen this since it’s be shared roughly a bajillion times.

I promise you it doesn’t matter how many times I watch it, my eyes get watery…and I get homesick. I just feel the need to gather my family up on a porch with some rocking chairs and a swing and giant pitcher of sweet tea so I can wave at friends and invite them up for some peanut butter pie. Sigh.

Let it also be known that for the past two minutes I’ve been wearing the awesome parent crown. Don’t worry. The littles aren’t awake yet, I’m sure someone will manage to knock it off before school. I told the big girls to watch it. Before the end, Arleigh said, “Where’s Dolly Parton?” It’s official. I’ve done my job as a parent. I’ll just drop the mic.

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Your Support

Have I mentioned that I remember everything? Well, I don’t remember how to do Algebra or to get eggs and milk from the store but I remember life events like I’ve just watched a movie. It’s a blessing. I hold on to things like dinner at Gus’s. 

This happened to be in my Facebook feed today but I remember… It’s also hard to forget most dinners that involved my brother, especially with Bria. 

So when I post things like how four years ago we adopted Jack, I’m flooded with memories both good and bad. The process to Jack was hard. It was long. It was painful. It was longer than we ever imagined. (It was oh so worth it.) The point is, I remember every trip to 201 Poplar. (If you’re catching up on the blog, you encourage you to read that post about the bowels of hell.) I remember the support we got when we shared our big news with friends. I remember that lack of support too. I remember how excited people were or weren’t. I remember… 

So when I posted about Jack being home four years. I called a friend who is a foster parent. We’ve talked before about people who are also Christians who are supportive and people that are well…not. People that say things like you haven’t thought about what you’ll do to your kids. I promise I have. They wondered why on earth we would have three, much less four. They told us how hard it would be. It is. Let me also say all of my kids are hard for 1,000 different individual reasons. So my first thought because, in case you didn’t remember…I do was not a reaction I’m proud of. I wanted to say, “Where were you when I was in the bowels of hell? Where were you when we said we were considering adoption? Where were you…” Please know I’m not calling anyone out here but myself. Then I realized Jack has changed so many people’s minds. Well, not just their minds, he’s changed their hearts. 

Jack is proof that it can be happy through the hard. He is teaching his sisters and his parents probably more than we are teaching him. 


And my kids… They’re pretty okay. He’s also been able to do some pretty amazing things in the last four years. I think we’ve played catch up pretty well. How many kids have held a giant ball of snow on a hot beach?


20131015-222434.jpg IMG_0799Jack provides us with tons of giggles and some awesome awkward family pictures. He’s survived eye surgery and arm splints. He goes through life like a trooper. 

Instead of being aggravated at people who changed their tune in the last five years. My heart is happy because Jack and God did some big things with their hearts. 

We are thankful, super grateful for every single ounce of support we’ve gotten at any time on this journey. I’m certain I’ll be saying thank you again for your support, your love, your prayers. I wish I could reach you through screen and hug a long, long list of names. I hope you know who you are. Mahalo from the bottom of my heart. I’m sending love and aloha today and always. 


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When Teens Are Fun

My life with teens includes many moments where I embarrass them, mostly purposefully. There are a few when I embarrass myself, mostly not on purpose. There are the pull your hair out miscommunication moments. There are the scheduling nightmare moments. There are the “Let’s watch Stranger Things!” moments. Man, I love those! 

My kids make me crazy. They make me mad. AND boy howdy they make me laugh! I miss those babies in matching outfits but they are so much fun right now. 

As a for instance, I’ll leave this right here.

Yep. Buckle up. A.P. homework will be nothing but fun!

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Four Years Complete

It’s hard to believe but four years ago today, I was standing in China, signing papers, meeting my son. Oh to read that now. How naive I was. How I thought I was making it real but  he wasn’t really talking. We found out later that he was parroting everything. He only repeated us for over a year. He didn’t walk far, only a few steps before he would fall. 

And now… four years later… Well, yesterday Ray made some popcorn to eat while he was watching football. Jack came flying up the stairs saying, “I smell popcorn! I smelled it downstairs. Who has popcorn?” If only you could read the inflection…or hear Arleigh imitate him. 

Four years ago, rain made Jack scream. This morning we walked to the bus stop in the rain. His only reaction was to tell me to put the umbrella over him or the rain would ruin his hair. 

We’ve gone from this…







This was the picture from his finding ad. It’s almost unrecognizable now that this is Jack… 

to his last birthday by himself. I wonder if he actually ate any of that cake.

dang jin chang_1







He finally, reluctantly met us









And here is Sept 19, 2011…









Let’s be honest. Our boy still gives us our fair share of this, especially if we tell him that was enough Xbox.










But mostly we get this…

img_5380.jpg IMG_4150 IMG_3864 IMG_3742 He is one of the happiest most joyful people I’ve ever been around. He mostly goes with the flow. He loves swimming and video games. He loves to be included by Bria and her buddies and happily follows her around. He loves his swing and trampoline. He is hanging out at the cross country races, swim meets, soccer games, football games and band competitions without complaining. He loves going to speech. His favorite subject at school is math. He makes sure his homework is done without me ever having to ask. I certainly can’t say that about his sisters. 

It’s hard to believe about three and half years ago, I wondered if Jack would ever speak, much less read. That boy can put together a full set of legos without batting and eye. He has to show me what to do. His buddy Charles just opened up a whole new world of video games for him. I won’t lie, I worry. I wonder what the next 9 years have in store as we navigate our public school systems. I have to say, we are finding hope. Life would certainly not be the same without him. 

We love you Jack and we’re so happy to have you in our little ohana. I can’t wait to see the big things God has store for you. I’m so blessed I get to watch. 


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Oh September…Don’t Make Me Hate You Too

When Arleigh and Hanan were in preschool I started to despise that last week of school before Christmas. The programs, the parties, the gift buying… I couldn’t fit it all in. Then as they got older I found myself saying the last weeks of school would kill me. I can’t manage another spelling test in the late weeks of June. The kids are done. I’m done. We’re barely making it to anything but there are thousand of end of year parties and birthdays and programs and awards ceremonies. Then we entered the land of NoVA. Heaven help me, and we hit high school. The week before school means feeling like I could whip an MMA fighter for the last box of Crayola crayons that’s on the teacher’s list. There will be no Roseart for her class! We added band camp, orientations, math camps, high school boot camps. What even is that? I hate the week before school too.

This year, I was looking forward to the start of school. Not because I want time away from my children but WE NEED STRUCTURE. I need a schedule and a plan. Then it started. And y’all… September is the devil. So now, I have the last week of August, the second week of December, the third week of June and ALL OF SEPTEMBER in my bad books? I couldn’t have written this better. Read this article. Go ahead I insist. I’ll wait. 

Now, add one child with special needs which means multiply by two. You’ll have to double it since the high school is under construction making after school activities move within a five mile radius or better have pick up times close to 10 p.m. Make those times 11 after Friday night football with a kid in band. I think we’re actually in exponents now but I’m not great at math. 

Please know some of this is tongue in cheek. This is the last week of back to school, athletic meeting, all you need to know meetings…you get the idea. Bring on Friday! I got this.


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Manic Mondays

I so looked forward to the start of school and the schedule it would provide. Then we made it through our first week. We hit Monday. This was my Monday.

Arleigh stayed home from school. She sort of looked like Gollum from Lord of the Rings when she woke up…or that picture of Bria. Way to start the school year off right! Go Team!

So, I start to tackle Mount Washmore while taking care of her. I started getting texts from teachers about substitute days. I’m trying to remember that means a check is coming instead of more tied up days. We’re working on a compromise for Bria’s birthday. Before I know it, kids are getting home from school. Here’s how that conversation goes.

“Hey guys did you have a good day?”

Bria is mad at the world. “No! It was the worst day ever!”

“Oh no, Boo. I’m sorry. What happened?”

“I got placed in advanced math!” 

“Well, that sounds like a great thing to me. I’m proud of you!” Seriously. This is my child! I’m trying not to smirk.

“It’s not just that. If you aren’t in advanced math it means no homework. I have two sheets. We didn’t know to take some stuff and then I didn’t have something that I didn’t know I needed and I put it in the recycle bin.” (That’s my kid for sure.) “Since I was in the other class, I didn’t have the chance to move my clip up so I was just on good job, not outstanding.” (That would be Ray’s kid.) “Then I was playing soccer at recess and when I was juggling the ball got away from me and this kid kicked it in the woods and they wouldn’t let me get it. I don’t have my ball!” 

And there you have it… it wasn’t advanced math. She was aggravated at her teacher for multiple reasons but especially because her beloved ball had to be left in the woods. It took me the five minute walk home to get it out of her. Let me lay it out for you. 

  • Teacher tells her she’s in advanced math = extra homework.
  • Teacher forgets to tell her what to take to advanced math class, she doesn’t have something she needs = end of the world.
  • Bria doesn’t label something and instead puts the label in the recycle bin. I haven’t put it together but this must also be the teacher’s fault.
  • Teacher tries to protect her from getting a raging case of poison ivy by telling her she can’t retrieve her ball = she is Gollum and her ring is missing. 

Since the world revolves around me let me tell you what it means for me… an extra trip to the school to retrieve the stinking ball that she should have had for soccer practice that was fortunately cancelled because she played so many games over the weekend. It means an extra 25 minutes out of my schedule and rerouting the mom taxi service when I have to pick Hanan up. Clearly my inconvenience means I’m also aggravated but I don’t really blame the teacher. I blame the bully that kicked her ball in the woods that Bria said didn’t receive any discipline from…wait for it… her teacher. So poor Ms. Owens has no idea but she’s inadvertently had an ill effect on the entire Stiff hale. It’s okay. We got over it quickly and put our perspecticles on. (Glasses that alter your perspective. Kids and moms need to to do that from time to time.)

I also received news that my brother’s beloved dog, Gabe isn’t doing well. He will probably have to be put down soon. That news cut straight to my heart. Then I had to tell my mother and my kids. That is not an easy day. It’s not an easy week for crying out loud.

I messed up the grill and had to cook our steak in the oven. Jack lost his hydroflask. I have another link to another fundraiser. I got the note for how much Arleigh’s spring band trip will cost. I found out they added a 7-9:30 pm band practice. I’m not sure but I don’t think Ray’s day at work went much better than ours at home. 

So, to quote Scarlett, “Tomorrow is another day and I’ll never eat a potato again…” or something like that. 

Also… do you need teacher gifts for Christmas, or well just candles for your house? Bria is selling Yankee Candles and we need to see about $70 more to reach her goal. Here’s the link.

Her ID is Bria41 and the group number is 990084570

This will help cut the costs of her travel soccer. 40% of sells go directly to her team…which means directly to Bria. Thanks for any help!


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