Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Friday, January 19, 2018

Blessings that Overflow

I got child #7 today.

She's pretty cool.

She is 13 yrs old.   Street smart as HECK.  And white as the driven snow.

When I asked the caseworker what race she was, she replied, "White?!"  to my, "Ooh, I don't know if I can handle a white girl."

She stared at me for about 4.5 seconds and just bust out laughing.

"Didn't you raise like 3 of them??" 

Oh, yeah.

So, they are in the front room.  I think all sitting on the couch together.  Bundled up in blankets, scrolling through Netflix, arguing over movies.

She was only supposed to come over and see if she liked us.

10 minutes in, on the drive home, she said, "I think I'm going to want to stay"... I'm all (shaking inside),  "Cool."   (I'm such the wordsmith)

I told her, "Let's go home and see how you like it".

10 minutes after meeting the kids,  "Do you think you could call my caseworker and have her bring me the rest of my stuff?"

Sure, hot stuff.   Life's about to be a WHOLE lot different for you.

We are pumped.

But let's back up to earlier in the day.

I have a friend from HS that heads a foundation and he's been following me for awhile.  He emailed me a bit back and said,  "Send me a list of some things you need".   I put some serious thought into it, and said,  "Like lamps and stuff?"    His reply,  "Seriously, what do you need?"

So today I shot off an email with a wish list of three items.  All different prices, different levels, so he could choose ONE.

I told him that I knew zero crap about riding lawnmowers, but I was pretty sure I was going to have to have one, because this yard is freak big.  Then I told him about my 15 year old crap refrigerator, and how Lowe's has them 30% off now.  Lastly, I threw out a play set in the backyard for the kids in the lower region of $, because I'm all about the "Budget" in this house.

About 15 minutes after he received the email, he gives me a call and proceeds to tell me to head to 
Lowe's and get a fridge and a mower, and that he will send me a walmart gift card for the other things.

Well slap my face and call me Shirley.

I told him I DIDN"T ASK FOR THREE THINGS TO GET THREE THINGS and he was all nonchalant, "Well that's why you are getting them".

WHAT? ! THE! ? WHAT ! ?  A HUGE, overwhelming and FALL ON THE FLOOR thank you to Bill Junk at the United Methodist Foundation for this beyond amazing gift.  Methodists have just taken a lead as my most favorite church.  :)

So, that happened today.

God.

Never.

Fails.

Ever.

Thankful for my squad.  Your prayers and faith in me, make all this stuff possible.




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ranch Happenings

Kids have started Guthrie schools.

I do believe they are the only Asian children in the school system, due to all the other kids mistaking them for

-Indian  (hmmm)  or even better
-Mexican.  (do what?)

Gina thinks it's funny and Steven wants to change his name to Jose Jackson and just roll with it.

Anyhoo, we are adapting.  I still haven't slept a full night's sleep because of all my anxiety (self induced, for sure).   Sales at work, would be nice this month (very slow in coming, but I have 8 more selling days and one good one can change the tide) and when I sell my house, I won't have double bills and that will be nice.

But mainly, I'm praying and anticipating my new kids.

We are having our first overnight guest this weekend to let HER  (A GIRL, WHAT?) decide if we will work for her.  :)

I've been praying for this little girl since before Christmas.  I didn't have a bed and in the middle of the move, I didn't want to disrupt her apple cart anymore than it already was, so she is coming on Friday and spending the weekend.  If we pass her test, she will probably just be here with us, until it's time for her next chapter.

Since I can't call her by her real name, I'm going to call her "Annie" not that's she's an Orphan, but I just like it because of Anne with an E on Netflix.  :)    I'm weird that way...because "Lovely and LB and BB" are forever taken.

So I would ask for prayers....mainly for me to have some good sales by the end of the month, and that Annie could see herself hanging out with us, and learning, with time, that childhood should be a sacred, magical time, and that she finds some of that magic, here on the ranch with me and my mexican vietnamese. 


For this child We have prayed.....

I got the privilege of going to California this past weekend and spent some excellent, quality time with Kip and Brandon (and Brielle!).

The Hall's gave her a baby shower in Paradise (if I ever live anywhere else, how about PARADISE?, I mean can I get a solid AMEN?).

Truth was, I was so slammed over the christmas break when she was here, I didn't get to spend but the drive from the airport and to the airport with just THEM, so this was a needed down time for ole mom and her kids that live WAY too far away from me. 

Brandon and Brielle picked me up in Sacramento, and I had the pleasure of traveling with my very large Grand Daug, and very fun son in law, on the 2 hour drive from Sac to Redding. 


It was glorious. 

Brandon brought me a large Sonic Sweet tea to sip on the way home, and I have to tell you, I used that insulated cup ALL WEEKEND LONG.  This guy GETS his mom-in-law.

I'm so proud of the life they have in California.  They both work ridiculously hard, and Brandon keeps the house and the cars in mint condition and it's all very exciting.  He has a 74
Ford Bronco that he is restoring, and I just am in love with it.  It should be done in 3-4 years (laughing here) since Baby Hall is taking precedence over all things recreational these days.  :)


It's going to be gorgeous when it's done!  I just love the color!   The bronco isn't the only thing getting a makeover, they found a sweet little dresser on facebook marketplace and bought it and finished restoring it this past weekend.   It's just adorable.  They are quite the team.


The baby shower was tons of fun.  Kip's sister in law, Brooke and her mom in law, Pam, threw the shower for her and tons of people came.  The Hall's are "Kind of a Big Deal" in Paradise.  


 Brooke's baby, Rhett made me mildly obsessed, but since I had a pretty gross cough, I kept my distance. 
Nothing about that was easy because he is my favorite age, and a living DOLL and was more interested in his tiny fishing pole than anything all the ladies were doing.  

Which consisted of trying to figure out what kind of candy were in these amazingly realistic looking poop diapers.  


I think the lady that won, actually ended up tasting the diapers, because she got all 5 right.  Either that, or the chick knows her candy.  If it had been cheetos and peach gummies, I would have gotten all of them right, too.


Then we drew Kip's baby on a piece of paper on our foreheads, and...well... I hope my grandson looks better than the drawing I created.  I gave him dimples and they weren't even on his face.  

Then we had a fill in the blank game, and it was BRANDON's answers for the blanks.  My favorite answer was NURSING _______.    My son in law said "Tarp, you know those things ladies use to cover up".    

I ended up with 4 right, even though it should have been 5 because to me a Wash _____ ...CLOTH is the same as a RAG, or at least it is in Oklahoma.....but we ended up with a tie, which led us to have to race across the room with a potato wedged in our nether regions (as not to BREAK OUR WATER) and drop said potato into a rather small bucket.  

I did great until the drop in the bucket shot and overshot my "Water" on the lady sitting on the couch.  Oopsy.

All great fun.  But the best part was watching my sweet daughter open all the cute little gifts.  And she made a stinking haul!  This baby will be well dressed!!




She tried on her "baby wrap" and tucked a small deal of diapers and the cute hat a mom knitted for her, and we decided she looks like a natural.

I tell you what.   This baby has been highly anticipated.  

Very few people know, but Kip and Brandon tried for a couple of years before finally getting pregnant.  It was month after month of let downs, and I just want people to know that, God IS faithful and it's seriously ALL IN HIS TIME.  When you are in the middle of the disappointment and heartache of the WANTING and WAITING, it's hard to be patient and faithful.  Very HARD.  What was so special, they had decided to go ahead and do the fertility stuff, and the VERY MONTH they were getting geared up to start....guess who ended KNOCKED UP?   And then DIDN'T tell her mother for THREE weeks, mind you.  

But those of you that know the airport story and saw the videos and the Hallie videos, now know why there were so many happy tears.  For many months we had prayed and longed for this miracle, and now he is heading this way.  

And he LOOKS JUST LIKE HIS STINKING DADDY!  (which isn't a bad thing, because his dad is pretty darn cute)



Anyhow, ole Lols had a great time in California.   We spent most of Sunday going through the Loot and getting her organized. 


All I know is that God is forever faithful, and You just have to let HIM have control, and trust and believe and all  "God may count you worthy of the calling, and may fulfill all the good pleasure of goodness, and the work of the faith in power".  

Those words mean so much more to me now.  Kip will even tell you now that the timing is "Absolutely perfect" and how much more Ready and content she is for this adventure.  

Never doubt God's plan for you.  It is perfect, and the fullness of it will be revealed.  

Just sit in that boat and weather that storm.  Sunshine....it's a coming.  

Or Baby Boy Hall.  

God is so good, all the time.  



Monday, January 8, 2018

Christmas 2017- The Whirlwind that was our Holiday

Christmas 2017 was a whirlwind.  Hallie arrived home (first time since June, when she stepped on the plane to head to West Point), on the 21st, followed in short order by Kip and Brandon, who flew in on Christmas Day.



It was loud, fun and rushing here and there, trying to see everyone in a few days.  During all this visiting chaos, I was readying to move to the ranch in Guthrie.

The plan had been to wait until Saturday, so I could have several men help me move.  When the temps threatened (and DID) drop into the single digits on Saturday, I hurried to move it up on Friday.  My Friday help was AMAZING (Johnelle, Trent and Alli Evans saved my butt), while Steven's friend, Nathan Wilson, brought his mom, Melissa, who was a cleaning, packing machine.

Every time Kip came over to my house during the week, she asked me, "Aren't you moving, don't you need to pack?"

Well, yes, but you and Hallie wanted me to live here while you were home, so NO, I'm not packed on the things we need. 

So Friday I basically threw everything that wasn't tied down in a trash bag and moved it.  It's been SUPER fun unpacking.

Jon Evans joined us for the unpacking portion of the trip, and all of Hallie's former Peak volleyball players came over and helped unload, so it was much easier to take it off the truck than load it on.

We couldn't get the fridge on the Uhaul, so one quick call to my friend, David Woodward, and he supplied the guys and vehicle and bailed my butt out on that deal, and had it set up in Guthrie 3 hours after I called him.   Now that's some support.

Hallie's sister, Sammi, got married on New Years Eve, so Hallie was having fun with her through most of the unpacking process.  Also, Tyler had helped me move some beds up the weekend before, and in one smooth move from  me, I managed to give him a concussion and break my left thumb, so his eye would start to twitch if I even mentioned the word "move" to him.


Lacey, DD and Serenity (their foster 17 year old) came up on Saturday and bless Lacey's heart, she tried as hard as she could to get me organized. She hung a few pictures and took over my pantry.
But the excitement started shortly after we lay DD down for his 1st nap at Lolly's house.

I was cooking us some food and all the smoke detectors went off.  I thought, Glory be to God, welcome to the ranch.   We opened all the doors, immediately making the house a tundra (4 degrees outside), because this is what worked in the house in Norman when I cooked bacon and set off the alarms.   Didn't work.  Meanwhile, all 7 alarms are singing their songs.  Top volume, no stopping them.  You have to understand the two in the front room are about 14 feet in the air on the vaulted ceiling.   I run to my neighbors house, and she tells me hers went off at 4 am in the morning, handed me a long pole and told me to "Hit on the alarm". 

"Hit on the alarm".

Somehow Gina aims true and stops the errant alarm and all is silent.  DD has ventured into the front room with wide eyes and wonders "What is happening with the Kalarms?" and "Is the firetruck coming"?

I call the executive director and question her and she tells me one probably needs a battery, that they are all hard wired, meaning if one goes off, the all do  (Sheep on a cliff, people) and to use compressed air to clean the eye of the alarm.

Compressed air.  I can't even find forks at this point, and I need compressed air.  And 9 volt batteries.  IN large supply, which EVEN in the best of organized times, I had none.

So 5 minutes later, when we heard the dreaded "CHiRp" and knew we had about 60 seconds before chaos rang it's lovely chimes again, I grabbed my keys and headed for the car to go buy batteries.

Where as I used to sit in 7-11's back door in Norman, OK(not kidding), I now live at least 25 minutes from a store with 9 volt batteries, that is 50 glorious minutes  of "Kalarms" ringing in my house.  I head to the closest gas/snack station.  I buy all 7 of their 9 volts for the bargain basement price of $40 and head back to the ranch, about 20 minutes have elapsed.   I walk in to quiet.  Lacey said they are like a dance troupe now, the minute they hear the chirp, they all run to their "Posts" with their "Poles" and start the beating dance on the reset button.

I gather my courage and get my ladder and climb up the ladder to the top rung, where I periously hang for my life while figuring out how to open the perpetrator and take out it's internal power.  It miraculously falls in my hand, and I am able to change the batteries in the front room quickly.  Followed shortly by all 5 of the rest of the loud, obnoxious beasts.  One dares beep at me when I change it, as if to say, "Welcome to the neighborhood, sucker".

Peace reigns in the home over the evening, as we play Giant Uno and eat our weight in chips.  Tyler has joined us now, after getting his Saturday duties done at church.  Hallie is due in from the wedding after midnight, so we have said Happy new Year and headed to bed.

A bit after 3 am, after I hear Hallie crawl in bed, I hear...."Chirp.....Chirp"....I am HORRIFIED and race to the front room, just in time to see Lacey and Tyler come racing in, with DD on their heels, "LOLS?" he says..."LOLS?"  As if I have some magical power surging out of my grandma body to make these beasts from hell stop their beeping.

Tyler is the man, and grabs the ladder and unplugs the blaring psychopaths from their holders.  They are still going off!  I feel like Pheobe from friends, and I find myself yelling, "Let's throw them outside", but once the batteries are removed from their warm place of hiding inside of the traitors, they start to wind down, and then, blessed silence.

They remain on the counter, disabled, as Tyler says, "Anyone smells smoke, Grab a buddy and head outside"  and we all crawl to bed, exhausted, but victorious over machine.

Next day, DD is still having PTSD over the fun of the day before, and we have the traitorous bastards lined up on the counter with their batteries in trying to locate the perpetrator, when we hear CHIRP coming not from one of them, but two.  EVEN WITH new batteries.  and clean lenses.  It's a conspiracy.

 Come to find out, this happens to most everyone.  Several of the houses, have experienced this same dilemma.  And everyone has figured out how to conquer the beast.

All great fun.



I forgot to mention that we were welcomed with a Christmas basket full of towels, movies, popcorn, games, candy....and then Saturday morning our Executive Director popped over (falling getting out her truck, slipping on the icy sidewalks)....bringing us two baskets FULL of food, fun and fabulousness from the neighbors at the ranch.   Then later that afternoon my neighbors on the right brought us pasta and pizza and ANOTHER laundry basket full of goodies, welcoming us!  It was overwhelming and wonderful.


First day of school went great.  Steven said everyone stared at him all day (I'm the only Asian kid in the school), but no one was mean and everyone wanted him to sit with them, and Zachary made "4, no 5" friends.  but Gina had the topper.  She told me, "A boy came up and asked me if I liked to smoke weed.  I stared at him a minute, and said, "No! Do you like to go to church? You should".  Then she dug out her "I am A Christian" tshirt and said "I'm wearing this next week".  Gina suffers No fools, that is for sure.  She calls it like she sees it, and has a pretty amazing discerning eye for a kid of 17.

I woke up to take Hallie to the airport at 2:30 am on the 4th (the same as the kid's first day of school) and drove her two hours to Tulsa, and then drove back two hours, in time to wake up the Vietnamese and get them ready for school.  Took them and got them settled and then worked all day.   By the time I got home and fed them dinner (the minute they walked in from school at 4pm) I was TOAST.  I was in my pjs in bed, watching netflix on my ipad, when the door knocked and in walked a girl for Gina, and a boy for Steven.   FRIENDS, IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD.  IT's a Christmas miracle. 

Their mom text me shortly and said, "I have bigs at your house, hope it's ok" to which I replied, "Do you have an 8 year old boy?" and she said, 'Coming your way".    Two minutes later,  knock knock knock.   It's kid heaven in this neighborhood.

It's the community my kids have never had, since living with me.  I am SO thrilled to be able to give that to them.

We are settling into a routine.  I have to sell my house in Norman (anyone know anyone that needs a good deal on a house in Norman?) and we will be set.

God is oh so Good, people.  Even in blaring Kalarm situations....All the time.

                                                    our view from our living room.  Not a bad life. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Baby Boys and Plebe Update

I was so good in keeping everyone in the loop on all things Hallie during Beast.

Then the school year started and she really got busy.

She's taking like 19 hours and playing volleyball and traveling practically every week.


Plus inspections, learning random knowledge (that she has to know at any given moment), different personalities all around her, clean uniforms, and maintaining grades.

Nothing about this school is easy.

Not.One.Thing.

She is so homesick and for some reason (I can't even recall why) we made the decision that she would stay in NYC for Thanksgiving and come home for Christmas.  Don't even ask me why we thought that was a good idea.  FOR. THE. LOVE.

It will have been 6 months when that girl finally steps back on Oklahoma soil.  6. Six. Months.  (that's too long)

She's embracing the suck, and getting it done.  For the last two years, she has multi-tasked as hard as she could with volleyball, work, high school, vo-tech and concurrent college, so they say the hardest thing about being a plebe is learning time management.  She had that down to a science before she went, so she has really just embraced it, and trying not to be a procrastinator (which is our middle name).

I will just be super glad to have her home in 6 weeks.  Cannot wait.




On the other coast of the USA, you will find my pregnant daughter, Kip.   I was CERTAIN this baby was a GIRL.  I just KNEW IT.

WRONG.  They called me and yelled "It's got a PENIS" and I almost dropped the phone.  Then I was sooooo OVERJOYED because I LOVE me some grandsons!





The only one NOT thrilled with the news is my diva granddaug, Brielle, who believes she is a human.


I'm pretty sure, she will come around.  She liked DD, ok, even when he tried to eat her tags on her collar.



I love me some little boy humans,  and big old diva granddaugs.

Deaton is getting so big.  He's 2 1/2 now, and calls me "Lols" instead of Lolly.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  Just pretty big for his britches.  Told him we were going to a party last weekend and he piped up, "What kind of party?"  He's so sweet and funny and ornery and rambunctious, just the perfect blend of all of it.   He's a great negotiator ("DD, it's time for bed"  "Just four more minutes, lols?"  or  "Ok, last book, then time for sleepy",  "Wait, just two more books")  and becoming a pretty picky eater  ("No eat that, my no like that, lols")


So, life is pretty fun with grandsons.  I'm looking so forward to meeting the newest one in April.

But first, let's get that Plebe home for Christmas, and get that Kip and Brandon here, and move to the ranch, (oh, did I tell you we GOT IN and are FOR SURE MOVING!?)  Yeah, that too.

SO, 2017 has turned out to be a pretty good year for the family.   2018 is just going to be over the top.

I Mean, fo' reals.

God is certainly good,  all the TIME.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Day That You said Yes

I'm cleaning drawers like a cleaning fool.

And I stumbled on this today, and cried in my floor.

Some may not even get it, but I'm adding it to my blog, because there is not One Day that goes by that I am not proud of my Lacey.  (or all my kids, but today it's Lacey)

I helped her with an event for her non profit that she heads as Executive Director... Legacy Parenting Center.  She had a "Trivia and Tapas" event in Shawnee, and basically put the entire evening together, with the help of some Junior Service League girls, and several volunteers, and our favorite hostest with the mostest, Nona Merriman.

It was outstanding.  Her heart is so open for helping families, and babies, and families with babies...it's just amazing to watch her go.

And it all started because she said Yes to the unknown, the journey with her baby, Laynie.  When all the medical world told her No......she said Yes.

And I found this poem I wrote her in my stuff today as I was cleaning drawers.....


When You Said Yes


A whole new world was coming our way
Everything clearer day by day

Not our control, but One much higher,
And surrendered we'd become, our belief on fire. 

Born to our family, a tiny gift
and in her presence,
our hearts would lift.

God knew what He as doing when He picked
you from the rest,
God Knew what He was doing,
Because you said Yes.

A life created to teach us all,
to make our walks, more loving, more tall
of a tiny gift that made Prayer a call...

The day that you Said Yes. 

Thank you Lacey DeeAnn for saying Yes to Jesus, everyday, in every way.  It's such a blessing to not only call you my daughter, but my best friend, too.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Must be Something in the Water

I've been reading back through my blogs from five years ago (5 years ago!) when the kids came to live with us.

Whoa, those were some interesting times. 

So, what is my family up to, you ask?

Every time one of those ads come up with kids needing homes, I always try to reconfigure my house in a way that I can stick more kids in here.  Because at the end of the day, it ain't about me.  It's about helping people.  And people to me, are kids. 

SO.

God Willing, and the creek don't rise, and the community votes me in, The Take-outs and I are moving north.  To Guthrie.   To Peppers Ranch.

Read about Peppers Ranch Here

I drive almost every day to Guthrie anyway to work, so it makes total sense to move 10 minutes away from work.  (5 if they ever get the bridge built)

My kids will have a built in community of kids just like them, going through the same thing, living life on a RANCH, with horses, golf carts, fishing, community, tutoring ON SITE, and most of all, a big enough house we can live in and actually not sit on top of each other, whilst we are doing a netflix binge. 

And I will be able to take in a few more kids and help them, and love them, and show them life is more than their circumstances. 

We still have to go through an interview or two more, but I would appreciate your prayers and good wishes going forward.  My prayer warriors move mountains for me, and looks like we will be moving a few more over the next ten years. 


Now I'm not sure that "Sound Mind" part really applies here.  Pretty sure I'm not of sound mind right now.   I'm overloaded on Supernatural peace and power that comes from above. 



What I've learned from this journey on earth, is this, you don't have to be equipped with all the education, all the extra room, the extra time, etc, etc... God equips the called. 

If you have a desire to foster, I promise there is a kid out there needing to be living with you.  If you have a stirring in your heart for something more than your currently living....to truly being the hands and feet of Jesus, answer the call. 

DHS Website to get more information about fostering

If you can't take kids full time, you might consider Emergency Placements, Respite (YES PLEASE, and MESSAGE ME DIRECTLY FOR THAT NUGGET OF INFORMATION, FOR YOU SHALL BE MINE) or even simply as Donating to Peppers Ranch, so they can find more crazy people of sound mind to live in the three new houses they are currently building.   Over 100 children live on this ranch.  That's 100 kids that are being given a chance of seeing what life looks like without neglect, abuse, drugs, etc.  That's 12 houses of foster/adoptive parents that are CALLED and EQUIPPED to love kids.  (Yeah that averages out to about 8-10 kids a house)  (Don't let me do the math for my house).    Sound mind, Sound mind, Sound mind. 

It's all good, so we are taking this party north.   I have 10 years of accumulation I have to pack in the next 7 weeks.  Boxes, boxes and boxes are needed.  If you have these things, let me know.   I've decided if I haven't touched something in a year, it's probably going to be donated, or sent to our local dump.  Can't move it all. 

Prayers and more prayers, people.  Prayers for the doors to fly open and my house to sell, and let the adventure continue.



Living the Dream, baby.  And boy, are we going to have some fun blogs over the next few years.  WWHHHEEEEEE, let's DO IT.