28 February 2008

SLO Down

We're off to SLO-town! Michael and I are taking Ricker away for his 12th birthday trip up to San Luis Obispo/ Pismo Beach. We've been looking forward to this for so long. Lots of fun, lots of hanging out, lots of talking. We've got some fun plans up our sleeves!

Family Pismo trip '04
I'm so sorry that I've not gotten back to many of you. This has been a looney-bins week for me! I promise to catch up when we get home. Please pray for us that we stay well and safe and that the weather cooperates. Also, this is my first time leaving the babies, so pray I'm not too lonely without my twins! (sniff sniff)
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

27 February 2008

Happy Birthday, Poppy!

Happy birthday to our wonderful Poppy! We love you so much, Pops. You are our HERO!

Poppy & me, Balboa Island '71

Me, Poppy, and Buddy, Newport Beach '74

Kapalua, Maui

26 February 2008

I Didn't Mean to Bug Ya

We've been holed up in our cave with the flu bug for the last few days trying not to pass it around. I'm forming a deep, emotional bond with my trusty can of Lysol. I just might write an ode to it.

But, it's not completely fool proof. When I asked Ricker how he was feeling this morning he replied, "I'm totally buggin'!" Poor baby.

I'm buggin' too. Sick babies, housebound for days... We're climbing the walls with cabin fever! At least they're all feeling a little better -- enough to whine and squabble, which is a good sign!

It's a sea of Kleenex, and cough syrup, and thermometers over here, but, don't come over with chicken soup, OK?

We don't want to bug ya!

25 February 2008

Praise the Lord for Two New Referrals

The Thornes are praising the Lord for their new little Ethiopian son, and the Millers are rejoicing over their new son from China! Thank You, Jesus, for these little men and their wonderful Forever Families!

22 February 2008

For Curtis: U2, the Joshua Tree Tour

Yep, I really did meet him, and the Edge in Belfast in '89*. I don't remember meeting the rest of the band, but apparently I did. I was in awe of Bono. Floored.

The Edge told me, "You're lovely." Bono said, "I think you embarrassed her... But, you are lovely, sweetheart." I coulda died!

We sat with them at breakfast and talked about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and what it means to be a Christian. He was extremely interested in what Jesus would think about our world today, what He would say to this generation. Very cool.

Later, I rode up the elevator with him and John Wimber and introduced them. He said, "Oh, John Wimber, Power Healing, Power Evangelism, I've heard of you." John, ever the dry humorist replied, "I've heard of U2." Haha.

We found out later that Bono had left us tickets for their concert in Dublin... The Joshua Tree tour. And, even gave us a shout out pointing to the huge American flag we were waving, "To my brothers and sisters from America!" Unbelievable.

Bono & me (Like the 80's do?) in Belfast, Ireland

Bono, to the lovely Laurie

*Correction: I meant 1987. We saw them at Croke Park, Dublin in June 1987. Dang, I'm old!

Happy Birthday, Ricker!

Happy 12th birthday to my precious son, Ricker! Today we're celebrating this beautiful boy, for all the joy and fun he brings into our lives. Ricker is our comedian. He's forever lighthearted and playful, gregarious and charming. He's our thespian and musician.
I woke up this morning just amazed that it's been twelve years with this wonderful young man. It's gone by far too fast.
I love you so much, Rickerman, and I'm so proud of you! You are such a fine boy. I can hardly wait to see how the Lord uses your life for His Glory. Keep going for Jesus, my son! Your mama is just plain crazy about you!

21 February 2008

Sophia & Elijah are CLARKS!

We've been praying with our friends, Randy & Susan for months and months for the adoptions of Elijah and Sophia to be completed. Yesterday -- a phone call of JOY! My heart is rejoicing with dear Susan who has endured this long wait (almost 8 months since their referral) with precious faithfulness. Here's the email that followed:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord" Psalm 127:3

Dear family and friends,

We have been very blessed and gifted today! As of today, both Elijah and Sophia are officially our children! We are very excited and grateful for God's goodness to us. We will hear from our agency within a week or so when we will travel to Ethiopia to pick them up. Typically, it has been about a month from the sucessful court hearing.

Thank you to all of you who have supported us in prayer for this adoption. Attached are the lastest pictures of our children.

Please continue to pray for our precious children and so many more like them without families.

God bless you,
The Clark Family

Aren't they beautiful? PRAISE GOD from whom all blessings flow!

20 February 2008


People ask us all the time if we're "done" having children.

(Just as an aside, isn't it amazing the personal questions people will ask? I want to reply, "Do you have prostate issues?" "How much do you make per year?" "So, are those real?")

Occasionally people really ask that question just so that they can give their opinion about it. And there seems to be two distinct camps over that issue.

Such as, if we respond, "Probably" we hear either "Oh my word, WHY would you want more than five kids?!" or "That's phenomenal! Good for you guys!"

If we say, "Probably not" people say "Yeah, five is already so many! Yeesh!" or "Oh, well, I love large families. The more the merrier."

Some people think of a houseful of kids with all the noise, and mess, and expense, and lack of privacy, and on and on as a burden. Others wouldn't have it any other way.

Some people think of adopting/birthing more kids into a large family is unfair to the kids. They won't get enough attention. Others think it builds a sense of community, teaches kids how to share and relate well with others.

But, the truth for me is that it's really about what the Lord has for our family. What does He say?
The Gospel tells us that

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." James 1:27

Michael and I share a burden for orphans, a passion for adoption, a love of children, a heart for Africa, etc. But, we can't adopt them all (although when you're there looking at all those beautiful motherless faces, your heart breaks that you cannot). On the other hand, we look at our lives and think -- We have room. We have the resources. How can we not?

The answer is... We don't know. And, it isn't really up to us anyway. It's up to the Lord.

Michael thinks we may have another little son out there somewhere. He has a name. Does that mean that he is mine? I don't know yet.


19 February 2008

In Over My Head

Homeschooling and potty training at the same time is a very bad idea. That's all I have to say. If you've got a good joke, now's the time for it, folks. Lay 'em on me!

17 February 2008

She Who Must Be OBEYed

This hat just called out my name in a surf shop while the kids were getting new wetsuits. Let me tell you, it is so convenient. Now I can just snap my fingers at naughty kids and point at the hat!

Today after church we stopped off at the market with all the kids plus a bonus (Ricker's sidekick, Hynek). After filling two carts, we were finally checking out when I caught Elianna Ray flirting and playing peekaboo with a lady from the next aisle. On second glance I realized that -- Good Night, Nurse! -- it was Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel, a childhood development specialist who writes a column in the Orange County Register.


Sandy regularly comments about mothers, fathers, families, and kids that she's observed behaving inappropriately and offers stern advice about how the situation could have been handled better. Frankly, I love her column. She's funny, and smart, and right on the money, in my opinion, about discipline and teaching personal responsibility. BUT... What kind of madness had she witnessed while I corralled seven rambunctious, full-grown goats through the market?!? (See previous post.) I wanted to smile politely, and then run away screaming.

She was very sweet, and we had a nice chat, and later, she even complemented my boys for saying, "Have a happy day!" and I didn't even bribe them with a Wii to get them to do it either! I did a little happy dance right there in the parking lot. I'm NOT a failure as a mother! Dr. McDaniel says so! HOORAY!

When we were leaving she asked what our names were again, and Michael quickly remembered her tendency to parlay other people's poor parenting skills into the next morning's article, and said, "Um... er... yeah... I'm Art Vandelay. I'm in the latex business. And, this is my wife, Sheila." Mr. Funny Man.

And, by the way, if Dr. McDaniel's next column happens to mention having encountered a wild, motley bunch of unruly rapscallions in Villa Park, then I've never met the lady. Never heard of her. What were we talking about?

How to Prepare for Becoming a Parent

Borrowed this little bit wisdom and humor from Tish.

Lesson 1: Go to the grocery store. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2: Find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience and parenting style in general. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's feeding schedule, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it, because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3: To discover how nights will be...Walk around the livingroom from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound)playing loudly. At 10PM, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12 and walk around the livingroom again, with the bag, until 1AM. Set the alarm for 3AM. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink. Go to bed at2:45AM. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark until 4AM. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

Lesson 4: Can you stand the mess children make? To find out... Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flower bed. Then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5: Dressing a toddler is not as easy as it seems. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6: Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars have a certain look. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There. Perfect.

Lesson 7: Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full- grown goat is excellent). If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8: Hollow out a melon. Make a small hole in the side. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air. You are now ready to feed a nine- month old baby.

Lesson 9: Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy'repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 10: Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your pant leg, shirt sleeve, or elbow while playing the mommy' tape made from Lesson 9 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

And, what's really funny is that it's the best job in the world! Happy Sunday, everyone!

16 February 2008

Danni & Tommy are HOME with Baby Judah!

HOORAY! Check out how sweet he is here!

Calvary Church's New Orphan Care Ministry is Launched!

This is a link to a video is about the orphan ministry that Randy & Susan Clark and the Yateses have begun at Calvary Church in Santa Ana. Susan and Karen are a page straight out of my heart. Five minutes with these women leaves you encouraged, uplifted, emboldened, and blessed (and laughing until your sides ache, too). And, I know that the Lord is rejoicing over this new ministry!

15 February 2008

It's TRUE LOVE in the Mail!

Michael got a box from Mike Redman today in the mail...

Aster Bunna coffee!!! Hooray!

and this hysterical note:
Your pain was too much for me to bear.
You're welcome,
Big Red

Big Red, will you be his BFF?

14 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

"For God so lo V ed the world,
That He g A ve
His on L y
Begott E n
So N
T hat whosever
Believeth I n Him
Should N ot perish,
But have E verlasting life."

John 3:16

As you can tell, I've been organizing photo albums, so here are a few old shots of me and my sweetie!

Feb '89 in Balboa Park, San Diego

Westmont Valentines Dance

Newlyweds at Graduation '91

Have a wonderful Valentines Day! XOXO

13 February 2008

It's Potty Time

Evangeline & Sleepy Bear sitting on the pot

Pray for me in this hour of need!
We're potty training.
So far, it's not a wild success, but this morning Evangeline was supposed to be sitting on her little plastic throne patiently waiting for me to finish changing Elianna Ray, and when I turned around there was a little poo pile right next to the potty. Evangeline looked at me with shrugged shoulders and said, "Oh well, al-mo!" (almost).
Off I go to sing the pee-pee song again and lead some potty cheers (L-e-t-s-g-o! Let's go! Let's go! L-e-t-s-g-o! Go potty!) ... Wish us luck!

12 February 2008

Party Time!

We had such a fun party for Mother's 60th and Ray Ray's 1st at the folks' house!

For all of you people living in the frozen tundra right now, like our cousins Eric & Erin in Saskatchwan where it's something like -24 degrees, take heart. Yes, it's warm here (California IS a desert), but it's also bone dry (eczema weather that makes you want to rub lotion on your skin all day) and the sky's been filled with sludgy smog the last few days. Bleck! It's warm (79 today), but yicky. The kids could care less, because it's pool weather, too! Here are a few fun photos of our birthday party on Sunday for Mother & Elianna Ray!
Papa & Ray Ray having a ball in the pool!
Evangeline's turn!
Becky & Charlotte, Buddy & Lincoln, and me
Poppy & Evangeline
Kids & Nana
Poppy & Ricker
Evangeline wants to wade in the fountain
Ray Ray & Mama

Lisa & Wills

Poppy & me

Evangeline snuggling with Nana

Little Miss Cake Face

Wanna bite?

Happy 60th Birthday, Mother!

As a beautiful bride in 1967

With my sister, Lisa, and me (right) c. 1971

Mama & me 1972ish

At the San Diego Zoo with all three kids -- me (left), Lisa & Buddy c. 1973

Family Christmas photo c. 1986

Happy 60th birthday to our dear, wonderful Mama! The Lord blessed us so much with a Mother like you!

09 February 2008

Photo Op

Just a few pix to cheer your day...

Ray Ray with "new walker" bruises on her forehead

She couldn't look more like Papa if she tried!

Rockin out to Baby Einstein

Uptight and Outa Sight

The Lord must be trying to get through to me about my need for things to go the right way (otherwise known as MY way). Yesterday was such a Jonah day. Absolutely nothing went right. You know those days -- fantastic plan to get everything on the list done and it all goes out the window, or in a handbasket, or up a foul-smelling creek, or otherwise ruined, and it's so stressful. Uptight!

Here's what I always pray: Lord, help me "get it". I want the A-ha! moment as quickly as possible so that I don't have to keep learning over and over. Such as, if He wants me to grow in humility, I'd rather learn it after the first episode of tripping and falling down spectacularly and publicly. (I have some experience in the matter. Actually, I thought of going Pro, but the money's no good.) I'd rather not have to go through years of the same exercise. If He wants me to learn kindness in the face of cruelty, I'd rather grasp that at my first encounter with Mean Lady, rather than have to endure a new version of her the very next day. (I did and I have to say that I didn't exactly scratch her, but I didn't really handle myself in a way that might be called gracefully either.)

Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

Everything goes wrong, people are mean, kids are fighting, what was just sparklingly clean is now a total junkyard, school time is crazy, cats and dogs living together in practical anarchy. I need to learn not to get so uptight on those Jonah days... So, dear Lord, if You'd like to get the issue of control over "my" day through my thick skull, please help me to learn it quickly! Serenity now!

Moving on. And now, for some outa sight news: WE HAVE WALKING! In the last few days Ray Ray's gone from 3 or 4 steps, to 10, to across the room this morning! I'll post a video as soon as I get it figured out. Last night at our OCEAN We Heart Ethiopia dinner, she got to show off her new trick. It absolutely astounds me that almost 6 months ago, when we first met Elianna Ray we were 100% sure that she'd need physical therapy, which isn't that uncommon for babies coming from orphan care. The International pediatrician told me at the time that she'd catch up, but WOW, we didn't realize how quick that would be! Hooray!

More outa sight news: The OCEAN dinner was such a great night! Kids included, we had more than 30 people this time, and three new families (Alipurias, Goachers, and Rabers). We got to meet the gorgeous Kidus Sherrell who came home from Ethiopia just three weeks ago and he's such a charmer. We got caught up with where the other families are in their adoption processes. The Jack-Zack-Attack duo staged a murder scene in the front hall. (I thought I could squeeze that in here, but it doesn't really flow with this paragraph.) And, we ate delicious Ethiopian cuisine, too! So fun! Here are a few photos:

Our new Ethiopian friend who cooked the incredibly delicious food for us!

Introducing Kidus Sherrell, with his Forever Family!

Carrie, Ray Ray & me

Jesi & Joe playing peekaboo with Elianna Ray

Super YUM!

Manoj & Alexis Alipuria, Amanda Mastrella,
and Mark & Robin Raber who just got a referral for a gorgeous little daughter!

Cutie pies Ellie & Reagan

The Goachers, who are awaiting the news of when they can travel
to bring home their six-week old twins Olivia & Ezra!

Randy is soaking up little Kidus.
We're all praying and praying that Sophia & Elijah get to come home SOON!

Michael, Curtis, Randy & Danny

Karen, me & Susan

Thank you, everyone, for a fantastic night! We are so glad to be sharing this amazing journey with you all! Who's up for a St. Pat's corned beef and cabbage dinner next month?