Thursday, December 29, 2011

A second call

We had our second call with the kids last night and again, it went amazingly well. We heard how they spent their Christmas (it was too cold to do much as it was... 78 degrees!) and what they got for Christmas (some really cool things!) and we told them we got a Wii and a trampoline they were very excited to hear about both of them.  They also told us about their sailing lessons and how well they are doing in school.  It was so fun  to hear the two oldest argue good-naturedly back and forth about who is the better swimmer. "You just wait, Mom and Dad," said the oldest boy, R, "I will show you next week when you come here that I can swim like a racing fish!" Now of course we can't wait to see our boy swimming in the Caribbean sea! It was endearing to see how excited our youngest boy, T, is that we will land in country on his 8th birthday. He has asked for fried chicken and noodles and "black" cake for his birthday dessert. I guess we'll have to wait to see if we have permission to take them out of their children's home before we promise him that! Otherwise, next year buddy you can have whatever your heart desires for your meal!

Now, for our journey in-country, sigh...I am sorry for the confusion and extra work, but I guess we will need to reuse our old website A Quiver Full and Then Some as it has password protection available. I need to be updating and posting pictures for our family and friends while we're gone and I still need to keep these posts and pictures more on the down low...for now anyway. If you want the new password , inbox me and I'll send it to you. Otherwise you can still check in here as I will still (hope I will)  post updates here, just  less detailed, and picture-less.
Six more sleeps till we're on that plane...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Getting to know you ~

~ getting to know all about you." 

Last night, we had  our first "meeting" phone call with the Fantastic Five and it went amazingly well..miraculously well in fact. They really are a fantastic group of five kids and  we are shaking our heads once again in astonishment of God's grace and goodness over all this. We directly attribute how well it went to the many people who have been and continue to be praying for our family. Words are insufficient to express how grateful we are for the prayers of the Saints. We love you!

The phone call lasted about 45 minutes and we broke away only because it was past their dinnertime and they were hungry! Now  I am always nervous meeting people for the first time...always...but I was especially nervous last night because of how much I felt was riding on making a good first  impression. But David...and Sarah who is home for Christmas and sat in on the call... said the only way you could really tell was by my body language, so thankfully it was not a video call!

After ALL this time, it was SO amazing to hear their beautiful voices. They speak English, but with a musical Kriol accent  that is just enchanting to listen to. Without having the benefit of video plus them being being on a speaker phone, it was sometimes difficult to understand what they were saying and who was talking especially when they would get excited and all start talking over top of each other (SEE OUR BIG GRINS HERE!!)  but by the end of the call we were getting pretty good at able to distinguish who was who. I recorded part of the conversation so we could share it with our other kids and also re-listen to it to pick up what we missed in the initial call and it just makes our hearts sing every time we hit "play."

The kids all started out by calling us Miss Reginia and Mr. David and after about 20 minutes they asked if they could start calling us "Mom and Dad" (hmmm...let me think about that... YES!!!) and would respond to our questions with "Yes,  Mahder or Yes, Fahder" was totally heart-grabbing adorable and we were on cloud nine! It was a great time of getting to know each other ...they all have nicknames...we have a "Runner" "Firefly" "Grandpa", "Trouble"  and "Kah Fah" ...a Kriol word they didn't translate and of course I have no clue  how to spell. They shared their favorite foods (PIZZA!) and colors ( pink, blue, and gold) and  hearing their laughter just sealed the deal that these kids were truly meant to be in our family. They are all very excited that we will be coming down to visit them in January and we set up another appointment to call them again next Wednesday, same time. This time, we'll include our Youngers in on the conversation. We didn't want to overwhelm them too much at first!
When it was time to end the call, they all started shouting..."I love you Mom and Dad" and they were blowing kisses to us...BLOWING KISSES!!! Is that not the hand of God or what?

Now, we're no stranger to the fact that this is the "honeymoon stage." And most definitely the care and upbringing that these kids have had so far in this amazing , unprecedented Liberty Children's Home  AND being loved-up on so well by the incredible Director of Liberty, Delfena Mitchell has had the most impact on how well the children are doing. They have been preparing them for this adoption for quite some time, so their hearts are more open and ready to receive a family. And not just any family, but Because of His is OUR family. Thank you, Lord  for entrusting this wonderful blessing and opportunity to be the family for these precious children You love so much. We stand in awe of Your grace and mercy to us all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The yellow blanket story...

 ....or how we remember the people of Vietnam. It has been five years now since we spent the entire month of December and first 10 day of January in Vietnam...mostly in the city of HaNoi. It was a month of many memories..some QUITE stressful. The 2-week trip that turned into 6- weeks...missing the opportunity to be home at Christmas, which was our last chance to visit with our son in the Army, who was soon to be deployed to Iraq. Also, 4 year-old Carissa had impending major spinal surgery on January 3rd and the frustrating delays just kept coming. But the hardest part was watching her fade a little and become so sad as she wondered aloud to us everyday, WHY is it taking so long...when are you coming home? It was heartbreaking to watch and know there was very little we could do to comfort her. It was a profoundly emotional time. 
Still those ares not the only memories we have of that trip.  Many were  some of the most unique and beautiful days I have spent on this earth and it was because of the beautiful people of VietNam.  This is a story I wrote four years ago and on this day, the anniversary of "The Yellow Blanket" story, I decided to re-post one of our favorite stories from five years ago in VietNam. Re-reading it again, brings me back to that time and place that has now become so special and dear to us. For us, it is almost like the Christmas story itself...and we never tire reflecting upon this time. Not only were we able to bring home our beloved Benjamin and Isabelle, and meet our Sophie, who would come home in 2008, we were privileged to spend time in a beautiful country, filled with wonderful people. So once again we  reminisce about December, 2006 and say, we miss you, beautiful Vietnam, and your lovely, gracious people

A few weeks ago I began undertaking the massive job of the seasonal change over. In our large household this is rather an unpleasant undertaking, but one that must be done in order to comfortably survive our long, cold winters. I had already finished the worst of it; emptying the drawers of all the warm weather clothes and then sorting thru last years fall/winter clothes to see what would still fit who… then packed up the remaining clothes along with all the summer clothes into the piles of: a) possibly will still fit next year, b) too small for anyone, c) too small for older kids but too large for the younger ones… etc. All that mostly remained was to drag out all the flannel sheets and extra blankets & comforters from our storage in the barn and put them in the laundry room to wash them before removing the all the percale sheets and light cotton blankets from our 9 beds and 2 cribs. It was while I was washing the extra crib blankets that I had another one of those visual memory reminders that stopped me in my tracks. I saw Ben's yellow fleece blanket I had made for him before we went to Vietnam and once again I was transported back to Vietnam to the morning of December 21rst, 2006.

We had been in Vietnam for three weeks and had Ben for one week and yet we still had not had one single forward-moving necessary procedural appointment since his G&R on the 13th. Again the frustration and emotions of those days were really quite intense but they are like labor...they fade and are hard to remember except when a memory comes flooding back and all of a sudden those feelings become tangible again.
That particular morning, our facilitator, Thuy, called to say we could finally apply for Ben's passport that afternoon, but that we needed to have his picture taken again immediately as the ones from his G&R were now sealed and could not be used. Since the address she had given us for the one-hour photo shop was just on the other side of the Hoan Kiem Lake, we decided to bundle Ben up and walk the mile plus distance. And even though it was almost 70 degrees, we brought his yellow fleece blanket to cover him so that we would not be stopped and chided for improper clothing.
Earlier that week David & I had attempted to go for a walk with Benjamin to buy some groceries and the lobby clerk of our hotel didn’t like how cold it was outside or the way he was dressed so she insisted that he stay with her while we went out! Uhmmmm...and we left him with her as she was REALLY quite insistent! Again, only in VietNam would you leave your new baby with a stranger and not be tooooo nervous! When we returned there he was, on her hip enjoying all the attention from clerks and clients alike!!

Benjamin and David with the yellow blanket on his shoulder
But on this morning, while it was a balmy 70 degrees for us Upstate NY folks, we knew by then it still was too cold to the Vietnamese. So since we were in a hurry, we were not about to take any chances. I put Ben in my MaiTai carrier I had made and covered him completely with his yellow blanket! We hustled down to the address Thuy had given us, only to discover there was NO photo shop there. We walked around the block in frustration, searching for some hidden photo studio, but to no avail. We had to meet the other families in less than an hour with pictures in hand to get our children’s passports and yet we could not find the place. Our puzzled looks and searching glances immediately drew the attention of a kind Vietnamese man who asked us if we needed help. He spoke enough English to understand what we were looking for and gave us the correct address. Unfortunately it was still blocks away so we thanked him most kindly and then took off in a hurry.

We had just crossed a major 4-way intersection...with no traffic lights or signs ~ traffic just goes with the flow in VietNam...when I noticed that somewhere along the way I had dropped Ben'’s blanket. Now this blanket is BRIGHT yellow, not easy to miss, so I stopped in my tracks and started looking around for it. So while I knew we didn't have time to look for it ~ we really needed to get the passport photo done, I started to cry. Why? I really am not sure as the blanket wasn’'t anything special, but my emotions were very thin due to exhaustion & frustration, mostly due to the recent disappointment of knowing that we would not be home for that Christmas, and I started weeping.

Just then, a very old, I mean VERY OLD, Vietnamese man stopped when he saw my tears and asked in broken English & sign language what he could do to help. I tried to tell him it was ok...I had just dropped my son'’s yellow blanket somewhere, and that I really didn’t need it, when he spotted the blanket in the road on the opposite side of the very busy intersection. Undaunted, he motioned for us to wait there with Ben and was just about to cross the street to retrieve it, when a young woman on a motorbike stopped to pick it up.
This moment in time was such a paradigm shift for me I can hardly type for the tears.

Notice how many layers Ben is dressed in?
And then David's bare arm? It was 70^ that day!
I was quite sure that the young woman's intentions were to ride off with it so again I tried to tell him it was ok...the woman could have the blanket. Nonetheless he would not relent. He shouted at the top of his lungs to her in Vietnamese, but she was unable to hear him over the noise of the traffic. Then, this elderly man, in a panic plunged headlong and  in a hurry right into the 4-way traffic, dodging motorbikes in every direction. Meanwhile, the young woman who had picked up the blanket had no intention of riding off with it and she merely carefully shook the dirt out of it and handed the blanket to the nearest street vendor for safe keeping and went on her way.
Now THANK GOD the older gentleman was not hurt running across the street! He retrieved the blanket from the vendor and carried it gently back and handed it to us with the air of a prized trophy! I hugged him in gratitude for his kindness and then he went his way, smiling.

One more clothing check before we departed...
THIS is the way we remember the Vietnamese people. Not solely because of this incident, but because nearly every single encounter we had the citizens of this beautiful country was just the same ~ unexpectedly warm, friendly and very helpful. From the entire hotel staff of the Hoa Binh Palace...from the doorman to the front desk clerks, to the waitresses in the restaurant who held Ben and then Isabelle, for EVERY ONE of our meals, to the teenaged boy who brought us our fresh fruit every afternoon and would come in and sit on our bed for ten minutes to play with Benjamin...(TRUTH!) to the wonderful hotel manager, Tuan, who we still keep in email contact with and came to visit us at our house last fall, to the all shopkeepers and restaurant staff in Hanoi,  to the travel agency/airline employees who worked SO hard to find us a way home, to EVERY ONE associated with the adoption process...all of them..every single one of them  were all very friendly, gracious, kindhearted, hard working and accommodating. Rarely did we meet someone who did not smile first...or then return a ready one. And this is a country that the United States had a devastating war with just 40 years ago ~ it seems incredible to believe!

Tuan, our hotel manager...and friend

So today, five years later, we are still missing this wonderful place and people (and the food!) and fervently hoping that we can return to visit once again soon!
The Marvelous Madame Chau

Our favorite doorman
The young man who brought us our fresh fruit every afternoon
A local silk merchant
The adoption notary...he was also there at Sophie's G&R!
This is what the wait staff does while you are eating...they play with your babies! of the most friendly waitresses we ever met. She would meet us at the elevator to take Ben as soon as the door opened...
This is the lovely Thuoc...we'd have taken her home with us as well if we could!
Christmas Eve, 2006
Need I say more...?

Saturday, December 17, 2011


WAHOO!!We are going to Bel.IzE!!! (Yes, I did that on purpose so the name doesn't show up on an internet search. Can't be blabbing too much yet!)
Anyway, we have been waiting since September when we found out this adoption was put on hold until we could meet the children and spend some time getting to know each other to make sure everyone was still a "go." Everyday I would wake and wonder...maybe today we hear from them. And the days and weeks and even months went by with nothing. It gets

But then last Sunday, my just-over-the-one-year warranty (figures) fancy-schmancy iron stopped working...just refused to turn on AND our vacuum cleaner started up with an ear-piercing scream and bit the dust as well. Our dryer started making this roaring noise like it was ready to blast off into outer space and our washing machine started leaking. Now for most people this would be devastating news and of course we're not happy about this, except that in our home, this usually means we will be getting some good news on the adoption front. Happens every single time. Starting in 2005 with Carissa'a adoption from China proceeding through 2006 with Ben and Bella and finishing up in 2008 with Sophia we have replaced nearly every single major appliance and several small appliances as well every time we had some significant movement on the adoption front. True story! I guess if Satan can't stop us from this journey he will try and steal our joy whenever/however possible and make us pay out for things when we really don't have the resources to do while shelling out big buck for the adoption fees. That is why we covet your prayers of protection for our family and our home during this time.
So last Sunday's broken-down appliances were no exception to the rule as yesterday. our agency contact, Allison, got great news from the DHS in country. She knew how excited we would be and tried to call me with the great news but I was at my Mom's house and didn't hear the phone ring in my purse (no surprise there...) I did however, hear the "missed call alert", and when I saw who's call I missed I called back right away. Not only has DHS extended the official invitation to come and visit the kids, they gave us contact information for the home they are in so that we can call them this weekend and begin the "getting to know you" process immediately. This is HUGE and amazing step!

Now unfortunately, even though I grew up in an age where the ONLY means of instant communication was talking on the telephone, (which BTW was connected to the wall with a long curled cord that was forever kinked up from being stretched as far as it could possibly go so you didn't have to stand by the wall the whole kids can't even picture that) I never really got the hang of that social skill. I have thus managed to avoid using a telephone for most of my life. I just hate talking on that thing. For me, the greatest invention in my lifetime was email. Instant communication... but with wordsmithing!! I am a lousy typer and it does take me forever to get an something written BUT the advantage is it makes sticking your foot in your mouth a lot harder....than usual. Still wish there was a sarcasm font though...

Thankfully David is nonplussed about this awkward way of meeting our kids and of this being their first impression of us (no pressure though) and he has promised to practice with me the art of making small talk on the phone. PRAYERS ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED!!

Plus this week we got 4 new pictures of the kids...I can't wait to share them as soon as they give us the the green light to do so. As with our other children, we really keep winning the lottery as they are all incredibly beautiful. Just you wait and see if you don't agree that they are gorgeous!

On the housing front...well as long as you are praying, offer up one for that situation as well. We still have not found a house that meets our needs and we are seriously running out of time. We feel rather like the Israelites did standing in front of the Red Sea...Can't go clue where to go from here. While we are now looking at rental options David and I both have a gut feeling that just in the nick of time (and doesn't the Lord just love to do that?) the "Red Sea" will part and we will see the home He has intended for us all along. It is stretching our faith to say the least, but we are hanging on to this hope that we sold our house because we heard God said it was time to leave the city. We do not believe (yet) that it was just to wander aimlessly in the desert. No...we are hoping for the straight road to the Promised Land! Like all that Exodus analogy? ;)

So because we only have a few more weeks in this home, Christmas decorating is being kept to a bare minimum this year. Not unpacking all my Christmas stuff (and I have an entire storage room with just Christmas decorations)while I am in the middle of packing up the rest of the house! Nope...makes no sense. Instead of the family tradition of all going out and cutting a HUGE tree down, (they always look smaller in the field...) this year's 3' tree came out of a box... from the Dollar General Store. It came with lights, but I am not breaking out any more ornaments this year. Carissa decided she would cut a few paper snowflakes to decorate it a little and Benjamin who ever since he saw a picture of a two-headed snake is now obsessed with all snakes and decided the tree could use his plastic one for a decoration. (We think this is a very funny obsession as Benjamin will quickly and honestly tell you that he is not even " brave enough to pick up a worm") Thankfully, he likes to play with his snake more than decorate with it as it is more than creepy with that thing on our tree! Ok, I'll end this here, but I am gonna try to add a pictures after this in this new blog environment...
I did it! Yippee!

Just a boy...and his snake.

Isn't he cute...?

Isn't that creepy...?

Our lovely Chinese Princess, just out of bed adding the number of the day to our countdown calendar...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hello there!

If you have popped over from our family website, A Quiverfull and Then Some hoping to find our new home you have succeeded! As I mentioned in the last post, we have changed our journal name to Because of His Grace for the reasons listed in that last entry. In case you missed it, I will add all that to a page here. I will also be copying some of our pages from You Belong  over to here as how we got here is essential to understanding this journey of His Grace.   

Now I am still trying to navigate this new don't be surprised if you pop back in and don't recognize the design. I'm still playing with which one I like best! If you are one of our former You Belong subscribers, you can still get new posts automatically sent to you by signing up over there on the top of the right hand column. 
Looking forward to talking with my old friends and meeting some new ones 
Be Blessed ~ Regina