Friday, October 25, 2013


Have you ever been camping?
Primitive camping?

Ever said words and it brought you back to a memory..
Just saying, "Primitive Camping" brought to mind an amazing journey for me that truly changed my life and the lens I viewed life and people from then forward.

Not sure our primitive camping experience as a family did that for our kids BUT it was fun! 
This past weekend was Aili's American Heritage Girl Troop Camp-out and it was primitive style.  What that means is that there was no bath house. Rather, it was more like an outhouse. :)  It wasn't very bad - actually very clean.  Although things like the port a potty in there affirms my belief that squatty potties are more sanitary - no chance of your skin touching anything on them!! lol

Below was 16 years ago in Indonesia - my first camping experience...
We used the bathroom in the river...while doing our business in stream we realized said "toilet" was upstream from where our lunch was caught - protein anyone?  Bad picture but that was my first fish with scales, head and all as well.  

Obviously, our family's "primitive camping" wasn't anything this primitive but for our family of five it was a great start! ;) 

The campout was two nights.
The weather channel said it would be in the 60s.
Being 2 hours north of us, we thought that might be possible.
So, we excitedly packed our sweatshirts and fuzzy pants looking forward to feeling the breeze by the fire.

It was 87 degrees the first night!
Still fun.
Just more smelly than we'd hoped - haha
Sadly, fuzzy pants and sweatshirts remained unused. 

The kids did great!  They continue to amaze me at how well they do in situations I wonder if they'll survive; since they act like it is a death sentence to loose their electronics for a day!  

We were electronic free for an entire weekend!  
I didn't see what time it was the entire weekend!  
Truly, simply living is so much better than this rat race we tend to put ourselves in.

Meisi loved every bit of it.  She loved the dirt, the fire, the tent, hiking on daddy's back (poor daddy, we forgot the backpack carrier) and of course she loved the snacks. :) 

The first night I feared she would wake everyone as she was slap happy.  
She laughed and laughed.  
Bouncing on the air mattress in the tent laughing.
I held her still....she laughed harder.
Until finally, she passed out.
Truly, it was a bit weird and I did check her pulse to make sure she was ok.
Laughing out loud to nothing. ;)  
She and I are so much alike! haha

Some fun pics of our trip :)

It was night when we got there so the kids helped put the tent together. :)
 These are the girls from Aili's AHG troop who made the trip.
 Ian really loves helping little ones out.  He found a temporary little brother on this trip. :)
 Best Daddy ever! ;)

 Can you tell we are hot?  Gotta love hiking in Florida in October...this ain't Kentucky!
 Meisi really liked the endless supply of water the camel back provided.
 For those who think she is always smiling - she does frown occasionally. She was sad that the doors to the Cracker Houses weren't open.  Those Crackers!
 Hard to see this tiny banana spider...but Ian nearly ran face first into it!  Funny because most thought these spiders were HUGE!
This is a REAL banana spider (Indonesia style) - that is an adult male hand next to it...seriously like a sci fi movie!

Now I must give you some happy pics to take your mind off the spider - haha!
 Meisi found the seat that was just right. :)
Did I mention we were hot?

 This became the play tent. :)

Some serious thinkers here...
So nice to be electronic free!


 Aili working hard on her fire.
I was fully expecting them to use twigs to make fire.
Ya' know - like MacGyver.
Then the Eagle Scout pulled out matches!!
 Meisi knows what is important when camping - SNACKS!!

Wanna play peek-a-boo?  
Be ready to smile!!!

Oh how I love her!
Admit it - you are smiling!!!

I would judge our trip a success.
Even if we did drive an hour out of the way coming home.
It was family and marriage enriching ;)

Looking forward to many, many more adventures! :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy 8 months since Gotcha! :)

Eight months ago our lives were made more full of love and laughter.  I never knew how much our family needed this beautiful, sweet new member to our family. :)  She is amazing how she makes light tough situations when siblings are unhappy or frustrated.  She is so empathetic too.  She senses sadness and is quick to ask, "What wrong (fill in blank with name of person )"  Then it is hard not to smile (even if said person is in middle of tantrum) when she hugs you tightly saying, "Awww, you ok?"...  Truly, I think we needed her more. ;)   So thankful, she is ours and we are hers.

Having said all that - not all of life is joyful and cheery.  Having three kids home all the time with hubby gone for so long with no support network has been soooo tough.  Our two older kids have felt it much more than Meisi.  She has been the ray of sunshine we've needed on those cloudy days. :)  Granted she is still a normal two year old and occasionally does the normal "2" year old things - "limp noodle", scratching, saying "no!".  Thankful she is comfortable enough to have the opportunity to be normal!

This month will have to be told in pictures. :)  As we are heading out the door for our first family camping trip (Brian took the older two on their first trip last week, now it is time for all 5)! :)

Our month in a snapshot. ;)

Dress like a pirate and get free Krispy Kreme?  You betcha!!

 Field trip to our Tampa Lowry Zoo

We met a family in our neighborhood from an online advocacy group!  Cool thing - her beautiful daughter was born in same small town Meisi was born in (Dingyuan). :)  Isn't it cool how God allows people's paths to connect.  Red threads here for sure...

Also so blessed to meet a friend from our DTC facebook group in real life!  Cool part is that our three little ones were all loved on and cared for at New Hope in Beijing. :)
What better place to take our 8 kids then to Animal Kingdom! lol

Had to share. :)  Yep, while Brian was away - co-sleeping became the norm!

Fun at homeschool science class :)  Future microbiologists :)

YAY!!!  Praise the Lord - Daddy came home!!!  :)
First fun trip trick or treating at Legoland :)

Daddy helped us pick out Halloween costume too - easy choice because she LOVES Minnie Mouse. :)

 End of Soccer Season. :) Can't say enough how good it is to have Brian home. :)

Such joy you have brought us in the last 8 months our sweet Meis :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mental Illness - Not adoption related.

Today this blog which is solely started to focus on our adoption journey is taking a break from its regularly scheduled updates to share something that has been weighing on my heart and affecting my family's life for a few years now (and it has nothing to do with adoption).

I haven't written or publicly talked about this as it truly hasn't been anyone's business... but today I was again shocked, disappointed and openly outraged at how the news media, along with well meaning people, think and speak of Mental Illness...

A CNN report was telling the story of the young mom who tried to drive through a barricade shouting that Obama was monitoring her.  The story ended with her being killed (shot in the head) with baby in car seat in car.  Per the newscast - the one year old in the care is unharmed (physically maybe..but this child just saw her mom killed).  He also said that had the Republicans passed the budget then the lady would've had Obamacare and could've gotten the help she needed for her mental illness. While the Psychologist they interviewed blamed the family and friends for not surrounding and supporting this mom.  They reported that she had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as they found her medications at her home (which means she was likely already insured since these meds are $$$ so Obamacare would've added nothing for her). The psychologist said she may have also had postpartum depression or psychosis.  

I know I ruffled some feathers earlier with my facebook post and like most things in life - there is nothing I can do that will change your perspective until you've walked the journey yourself (which I wouldn't wish on anyone)....

I would just leave it there, but...

Education is important to me.  
Unbiased education that is...which I realize is always difficult to obtain because we all have underlying influences...  

So, I am opening myself up - maybe too much so, but I hope and pray you have a greater understanding about the lack of available care for those with mental illness.  

Maybe somehow this will cause you to advocate more for legislation that will help those in need, instead of pointing fingers....  Trust me, no insurance plan will solve this problem.

Mental Disorder or Illness by definition (per Merriam Webster) is a mental or bodily condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of the individual.

Collins English Dictionary states it much simpler as:  any of various disorders in which a person's thoughts, emotions, or behavior are so abnormal as to cause suffering to himself, herself, or other people.

It can include - bipolar, depression, schizophrenia.....

I have an adult family member who is suffering from bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.  

As a family we have sought help.  
We have encouraged care, even driven her to doctors and counselors, 
talked to her, 
prayed for and with her.  
We've talked with numerous providers.  
We have involved the police, 
We've had court orders to require care and institutionalization....  

Yet, she is untreated and alone (she refuses to stay with family). 
We have fears of horrible things like what happened today happening to her...    

How is it possible that we can't force her to get care?? 

Well, did you know that in the US there is no possible way to get help for adult family members who have mental illness against their will?  

Sure, there is the Baker Act but it is only good for 72 hours.  
SEVENTY -TWO hours...
After this time the patient is then released as long as they state they aren't going to hurt themselves or others.  Even if they are still saying all sorts of other things that confirm their diagnosis.

Reality - the mentally ill patients who don't see themselves as ill, 
those who refuse medicine because they think the medicine itself will harm them, 
those who think it is everyone else who is sick and not them,
those who think that the medical staff are the ones trying to kill them -
they may not realize what harm they are already doing to themselves and others.  

I know it is hard to imagine that people could really believe they are being shot at with magnetic rays 
or being watched by the President 
or being listened to through the TV/phones/radios or even the walls by aliens/FBI/govt...
or operated on while they are sleeping to look at their brains.... 
These people are ill, mentally sick 
and it is as real to them as insane it is to you.  

These individuals, however sick they may be - are NOT dumb.  
They KNOW what they need to say to be released from psych hospitals or police... 
Just the simple statement of "no plans to harm self or others..." 
at that point they MUST be released. 

So...this is why today's newscast hit so close to home for me... 
To say that an insurance plan would solve this...
To imply that the family hasn't tried to get help and weren't supporting...

I am glad no officers were severely injured today.
But my heart breaks for this young mom and her daughter who will forever be scarred by this event and her family who very well may have been supporting her. To me...knowing she has meds means she had support but may have chosen to not take the medications.

We need change.  
We need a way to help those who are so sick they can't see it in themselves.  
...Before they do hurt themselves or someone else. 

Why not allow for treatments to last longer than 72 hours?
Why not require once monthly injections of medication to be monitored by health care personnel like we have done for Tuberculosis treatment in the past?  TB outbreaks are awful...but so are these shootings and loss of life.  
Why not put blame where blame goes?   

In this case...
It is not family, 
It is not insurance or lack there of, 
It is a broken system 
A system that prevents loving families from protecting their family members and getting them the help they need in order to live a more normal life. 

For our family...damage is done..  Marriage torn apart, children are impacted.  
We pray for God to intervene and not allow more harm.  
We've seen how the medications do help (given during short, forced institutionalization's), but wears off before permanent change is seen.  
We've had to make very hard decisions in relation to physical interaction...  
My heart aches and it drives me to my knees in prayer.  
Praying nothing this tragic could happen to her, but I know it is possible, even likely.

Many with severe mental illness only get help when they've hurt/killed someone.  
Why must we wait until then?  

It is painful to watch someone you love have a complete personality change and live in total fear...
then to be helpless...
Completely helpless... 

If I offended you today... I am sorry.  
Maybe I shouldn't have shared my emotion so openly.
I can see your side of the picture too.  
A few years ago - my first thought was the same as yours.  "Thank goodness that crazy person was taken care of before she/he hurt more people."   

Now my response is totally different.
God continues to refine me and though hard, terribly hard,  I am thankful He is walking beside me and my family
and I remain hopeful.

Romans 5:3-5
Not only this, but we rejoice in our sufferings because sufferings produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope; And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.