Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Four of Us

Where to start to wrap up such an interesting year!!??

First let's start with the photo of four lights.  Part of PandaPop's Christmas gifts was to get gift cards from the home improvement his request.  He happily purchased these new glass domes for our living room ceiling fan and a new brushed bronze light fixture for over our dining table.  Love them both!

Next, the four lights represent the four members of the PandaFamily.  What an incredibly challenging and draining road this had been to build this family!! Must be something amazing lurking around the corner for us since the enemy has fought us every.step.of.the.way in our construction!

We still don't have any word on the legal stuff that was taking place on the 29th of this month, but we are excited to move forward and hopefully adopt this baby girl in February.  We'll see.  So many prayers have been said on behalf of her and for us.  I feel so humbled by the out-pouring of care and concern over our little team.

This past year has been filled with so many blessings and so many stressful moments.  Yesterday, I said sarcastically that the dog had aged me and then I moaned.  (Yes.....he completely wears me out, yet I do love the crazy deaf thing.) PandaGirl asked, "you mean you're getting OLDER?!!" I said, "No, aging is worse."  It was very sardonic, but true.  Aging is what brings stress lines, dull skin and a sad countenance.  Getting older can be beautiful.

I have learned a lot over the course of the year. Here are just a few:

*I can heal from decades of pain
*Living out Eucharisteo is life-changing
*Nothing, absolutely nothing is in my control
*I have to make choices to be better
*A perfect weekend with my college friends revived my soul
*Disciplining from a place of love & safety is much more effective than using fear
*Eating for comfort causes 20 lbs to pack on an already overweight body.....and no amount of food is enough
*Photography truly is my passion
*Face*book takes up way too much time, but is so fun
*I have beloved, soul-sister friends that will last a lifetime
*My man has strength that continues to blow my mind.  He was placed in my life with divine purposes.
*I have been blessed with physically gorgeous daughters who can tan!!
*I've never had a panic attack as badly as when I couldn't find my license just before having to board the plane.
*I ♥ NY
*I can totally ride the subway to Brooklyn Bridge...& sit beside a night.
*Central Park is more beautiful than I ever imagined.....the hot dogs are less than stellar
*To keep breathing when everything falls apart from home to vehicles
*The foster system is not for us
*Sitting in a court room with liars on the stand makes me want to scream and my insides burst out
*Waiting on the foster system, judges, caseworkers, lawyers and the like is one of my least favorite things on the planet
*Not having a consistent time with God only leaves me empty, longing and miserable
*I'm truly addicted to music.  It's my escape.
*I love the beauty around me that God so graciously lavishes and I clap for God's handiwork
*I love my church
*The numbers 11:11 have haunted me countless times in the past year. Countless!!!!!!!!!
*I knew that having my own iPhone* would make me smile
*Working from home is harder than it seems
*Having a deaf dog is a
*Angry birds is just a blast
*Getting a gazillion Clean*Eating magazines and books.....doesn't actually make me eat clean..I must choose it.
*I am unbelievably blessed

There's so much more, but let's end here.  I am glad to see 2011 go and for 2012 to be full, FULL of blessings and new exciting things!!! More to come later about my photography ventures that lie ahead.  I will certainly keep you up to date on PandaJoy's case as we know things.

Though I loved my 365 blog of pictures, I'm forgoing it this next year due to time constraints.  It was fun, but took way too much time on a daily basis.

My new header reflects my heart and desire with the scripture from Deut. that tells us to impress on our children the truths of God.  I intend to do just that.  Been kinda lacks on it this past year.  Must do better. Thanks for hanging around for another year of Pandaleidscope!!

Happy New Year, friends!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Scurrying Like Mice!

So very much TO DO this week!!!!!!!!!!!! Can easily get crazy and forget all about Jesus, but I'm praying not to.  I don't want to skip over the mysterious way He came to us and how He daily saves me from myself.  Be a blessing to someone this Christmas Week. Remember to be loving and kind. Stop to breathe every now & then and focus on why we even celebrate!! I'll try to post again before Christmas, but with so much to do......I might miss it.  Just in case: Merry Christmas, friends!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Fast & the Friendly

Whew! What a whirlwind of this month of December!! Christmas is just a few short days away! 2012 is looming right around the corner and I can't even believe this year is almost done and over.  Crazy fast, but at the same time.....mind-numbingly slow! Depends on what perspective I'm taking on any given day.

This week was filled with lots of prayers from loved ones, friends and sometimes just mere acquaintances who've held us up to the Lord in hopes of hearing something wonderful about PandaJoy's case.  Wednesday was the day that three judges read the appeal and determined that they would uphold the decision made back in May of this year to terminate the birth father's rights of PJ.

One catch, though.

Isn't there always a catch with us?  So seems like it.

We have to wait until December 29 because some blah, blah, blah happened back in the summer and it's a legal thing that gives the birth father ONE.MORE.WAY to delay this adoption.  He can't change the decision that was upheld, but he can make us keep waiting.  Crazy, crazy system. Crazy.

Meanwhile in the real world where we are raising the child in question, life is moving so quickly through all the hustle & bustle of the Christmas season. Yes, I totally said hustle & bustle.  That's exactly the right wording for it. Every day is filled with a huge to do list and lots of it has nothing to do with Christmas.

We've made a point to really show the girls that Christmas really, really is about Jesus and all the other fluff & stuff is just that.....superfluous.

This Sunday our little foursome gets to light the advent candle, PandaPop talks a minute or two about the way to be social with our faith in the Christmas season and I'm reading a Scripture from the Holy Bible.  Not the kind of social that's just more of that fluff & stuff, but really meeting people eye-to-eye at the check-out line and making a real live person contact.  Real people stuff. Jesus was like that.  He liked for people to know he cared and that they mattered.

Stop and talk to someone who is clearly working diligently through the madness of the commercial side of Christmas.  BE Jesus to them even in a small moment.  God sees you doing it no matter how the other person reacts.  Be friendly and alert and aware and observant and present. Be Jesus for someone who needs him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Whew!!! Our internet has been out for three days and I feel like I'm LOST FROM THE WORLD!! I cannot believe HOW attached I am to cyberspace!  We found ourselves going crazy from not being able to just clickety-click our way to any answer we wanted.  No checking or updating Face**Book. No checking emails.  No running in really fast to check an actor's bio from a movie....which we frequently do in the middle of a movie or just after it's done.

I had to take my iMac to PP's office just so I could work on some photo editing and get the pics online for clients. AHH!!! I'd have no photography business if not for the internet!  We are so used to checking the weather, getting news, reading emails several times a day, popping on and off blogs, sites, ebay*, Pinterest*, our adoption agency info.....just endless things we do.....on-line.

How attached are you?  How long can you go without having to just check something online?  It is what it is and this is our world. Hmph.

Hi, my name is PandaMom and I'm addicted to the internet.

I'll be back later with more to tell and more updates on the 365 pics. I've almost made the whole YEAR in pictures! That has been a blast.  Time consuming, but oh so worth it.

Have a great Friday!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eucharisteo---Thankful in All Things

I started reading One Thousand Gifts* by Ann Voskamp* last week and was so moved by her poetic writing.  This book has been out for a year or so, but just made it's way to my knowledge through several different ways in the past couple of weeks.  It's a must read.  It is purposefully making sure we thank God for ALL the things in our life.  All.

I took lots of photos of random things around PandaPop's parents' land.  They just moved into their stunning new home they had built this summer on their retirement land.  Three acres covered in a canopy of trees. It's so beautiful to be in the woods!! Seeing groups of leaves float down from the trees in a feather-like fall just stirs my soul!!!

We have been under a burn ban for the entire summer, but it rained a couple of days allowing the ban to be lifted, trash & brush to be burned (this is common out in the country!!) and making trekking through the area very muddy.  Our cutie-patootie boots came in very handy.

Remember back in the summer when PP started his collection of root beer bottles?  Well, he now has TWENTY different bottles in his man cave.  It's been fun to have taste tests of all the flavors that have come through our door.

PP has two helpers for his task of dwindling down the brush waiting to be burned.  The burn ban was lifted that very morning and there was a TON of brush to be burned.  Took him the entire day, but he loved every second of him a sense of accomplishment when seeing things happen since in ministry he doesn't always get to see the result of his hard work. The little one was especially in awe since this was her first time to experience such a sight!

The next door neighbors have this emu that continually checks us out on the other side of the fence line making low drum beat sounds down in his (her??) chest.  Quite an eery sound.

Love the capture of this pic!! I can even see the heat waves!

See....this is just a smidgen of the mud we tracked around. Made us feel so earthy.

This girl was amazing in her big sister role this week.  Both girls were so great and an actual delight to be around!  They are growing and really learning how to be sisters.  We are STILL waiting on the appeal process to finish for PandaJOY, but in the meantime we live life like a family of four.

While on a mini walk through the woods I found the perfect walking stick.  I grew up in the country and it was just something we did to go walking forever through the woods and fields that my family all owned.  We go to my grandma's for lunch then anxiously beg to go "the walk". My aunt would always have a fabulous natural walking stick and tell crazy stories while me and my many cousins tagged along dodging cow piles (that's manure, for you city folk!) and keeping a watchful eye out for rattlesnakes.  Some of my most favorite memories of my childhood stem from these walks.

When I found my walking stick I brought it back to PandaPop for whittling and oiling, but alas......I broke the darn thing when playing around with it.  Stupid stick.  Must not have been walking stick worthy to have broken so easily.  Now I just have to find a new one. Smile.

Raise your hand if you love pumpkin pie!!

I think I've watched the Thanksgiving Day Parades (or just had on in the background) every year of my life! PP makes fun of it because it's really just one big gig for showing off Broadway shows and not much of a parade.  I think he's on to 'em.

Lovely fountain making a soothing dreamy sound in the back yard. I love seeing the sun come through the water.  In order to get this pic I had to stand on big rocks in my house shoes while getting splashed with water, but it was worth it for the shot.

Well, whadayaknow? These two CAN get along!

On over at the other grandparents' home who also live in the glorious country....they have neighbors with donkeys, goats and geese.  As soon as the entire crew heard us calling from across the tank (large manmade pond) they all started making their way to the fence. Felt like I was watching the nativity donkey embark on his journey.

The girls delighted in feeding all six (I think there were six) donkeys leaves from a tree and the recipients were just as happy to have something offered other than feed.

We spent some time out with the girls watching them get a bit of the natural world under their belt then went inside.  No sooner had the adults gotten settled doing something, but to see the Little Bitty come inside with huge tears saying the donkey bit her finger.  We took a look and saw that, sure enough, there were teeth indentions, but no broken skin.  Then PG told us that she was scared because another donkey bit her pinky and wouldn't let go! When we realized that they were both OK...we were cracking up with laughter!!!! I think it just sounds so funny to say that both our girls were bitten by donkeys!

No matter how long or short of a time we put PandaDoggie in the doggie hotel....he comes home utterly exhausted.  This is how I found him just an hour of being home.....completely out of it on the couch in the garage (or better known as The Man Cave). Poor baby.

We attempted to take some family photos while out on the land.  I had all our outfits coordinated, but of course, we couldn't get everyone to smile or look at the camera at the same time.  Crazy that we couldn't do it with only four people, but then again one is a three year old the photographer wasn't a pro.  We take what we can get and are happy to have what we have!  It's hard for me to be on the other side of the camera when I know much better how to work the thing and boss people around for their shoots yet can't even get a great pic of my own family! lol!! PandaPop took this one of me and my father-in-law took the one of us below.  I think he did pretty well!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are blessed beyond measure.  We have to find the way to give thanks in ALL things! Read Psalm 100 for a great start on how to praise God for all that he has done for us. Blessings!

Hey....Funderstorm...I didn't put the Pandaleidoscope Pics on the last two pics so you could click & drag. Love you!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

To Be Thankful

PandaPop surprised us three girls with beautiful roses yesterday morning as we entered the rainbow hallway as we do every Sunday morning.  We go in with our freshly made coffees from the downstairs atrium coffee bar and head on down that colorful hall to find Daddy who's been at church since 7:00am. It's our weekly ritual and we love it.  Yesterday was a special celebration for us and the start of a new tradition.

We do adore a good tradition around here.  Makes me feel close-knit and special.  Something to always look forward to, I guess.

November 20 is the day I met my Beloved PandaPop TWENTY YEARS ago!! It is also the first time we saw PandaGirl's breath-taking face on our email that said she was ours and to come get her.  November 20 was also the very day that our precious PandaJOY came into the care of my dear friend who was her foster mother for 15 months.

Do you see that luscious, glowing skin I have on my cheek and nose?  Yeah, me too.  I think I remember that feeling.  Age takes that away. Stress eats it away one wince at a time.  PP has always been so deeply moved by the joy of us getting older together.  I see wrinkles and inevitable aging.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not so shallow as to overlook the fabulous gift of my precious husband and having lived life together.  I just hate that we have no choice, but to lose our physical youth and have nasty wrinkly skin to look forward to no matter how much fancy lotion we apply. Bleh.

By the grace of God alone, we have a great marriage.  We are best friends.  We laugh so much together, play, talk, cry, pray, grieve, long, plan, pursue, love, gripe, cook, read, eat, sit, make fun of, ponder, listen.  All of it.  We do life together.  What a gift.  A rare gift, indeed.

November 20th is a special day in the life of our PandaFamily.  We call it Team "Panda" Day (insert our last name in place of Panda).  These are the moments to hold closely to my heart.

Everyday battles still ensue, but there are moments every single day that are worth stopping for and boasting in the Lord that He alone is good and worthy of our praise.  He IS the giver of all good gifts.  James tells us that.

Late last night I spent some carefree moments in the company of three other women who "get" the whole Twilight* Saga.


That cracks me up.

So serious.

I've read the books and have seen the movies.  Fun escapism.

I don't drink blood and realize the Bible prohibits it. Whew.  I'm not a werewolf either, but I do love me some Jacob*Black.  He's so warm. (Wild & Precious....that was just for you.)  I like Edward*Cullen, too. So noble is he. Bella* gets on my nerves.  Fun times!!

This book.  This book is moving.  It is real and not escapism in any form.  It is facing head-on the realities of this dank, dark horrible life we have to live through to get to heaven, but doing it in a state of thankfulness.  That thankfulness is the turning point of our perspective.  Once truly thankful for everything....the good and the bad.....we are freed to live......freely, peacefully.

Once we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord....we are free.  Galatians 5:1 says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." I have been a person who thanks God for most everything.  Even the tiniest of details doesn't escape me.  I give credit where it's due: God.  Check out my sidebar blurb that I've had up says that I like the small details in life.  I do.

I love cheering for God and the gifts He gives.  I also lose my perspective sometimes and this very poignant, extremely beautiful poetic book is blessing my heart deeply.  I am changed because of its words.  Ann Voskamp*s writing is a true breath of fresh air.  Go buy it today.

And what exactly is this, you ask? Why the pretty pictures and then end with a white dog speckled with pink spots?  

Well this is what happens with the girls are off from school and PG puts bright red lipstick on PJs mouth getting very much outside the lines and then PJ decides to KISS PandaDoggie.

It went in my thankful journal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Prepping for Thanksgiving

Busting at the seams with gratitude.

That's how I want to feel tomorrow.

Tomorrow holds yet another biological visit with PandaJoy's birth mother.

For reasons yet unseen, maybe never seen, we continue this charade.

My daughter doesn't understand why she has to be left in the muraled room with cast off toys for an eternity to play with another grown-up who calls her "mommy".

Maybe that's just my own interpretation of the visit, but I do know that confusion will assuredly set in tomorrow as we pack up to head down the crowed highway an hour and a half one way to walk into the very bleak, very beige, very long hallway to fulfill the state required biological visit in the tiny room for an hour.  Minus me.

This whole reality of ours does nothing of benefit for my daughter. It only sets to delay her healing.

It challenges my own motherhood.

However, today I bought a book.  One that is seemingly popular right now and has made it's presence known to me through several veins this week alone.  I thought it worthy of purchasing.  Clearly, it was a perfect buy.

I'll share it with you when I'm done.

I am so thankful for this gut-wrenching process we are living out with our PandaJoy.  She is truly worth the pain, struggle, confusion and unending wait.  Being thankful for all of those things will make the completion that much sweeter.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Around These Here Parts

PandaKitty has a psychosis. He has had it for as long as we've had him which is about 5 years now.   No matter how full his food bowl is he comes to find one of us and yells at us trying desperately to lure us into the kitchen to put food in his bowl.  I end up having to tap-tap his food bowl so he hears the kibbles & bits rattle around and all of a sudden he thinks I put new food in the bowl.  Doesn't matter if he SAW me put the food in the bowl......1/2 hour later he comes a-yellin' for more food. I know, crazy.

PandaDoggie is sitting on the back of our couch.  Yep.  That's a way to welcome guests to our home.  "The children can't walk on the couch, but the dog can. Help yourself up on the perch, too if you wish." Also, Mr. Deafy didn't seem to hear we had a time change on Saturday so he's been perky, wide awake and raring to go at 5:00 am every day since. He is precious, though.....if you can stand his high maintenance lifestyle.

The collage below is a tiny peek at the preteen retreat that PandaPop and I put together for our 5th & 6th graders at church. FUN TIMES!!!!  Do see PandaJOY hula-hooping?!!!!!! What three year old can do THAT?! That little bitty toot was cracking us up with the shakity-shake of her booty and hips until she actually GOT IT! PandaGirl mastered her feat of hula-hooping while reading.  Love these precious gifts of mine!!! (They still drive me absolutely crazy on a daily basis, but that's what make parenting fun, right? Smile. )

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Beautiful Baby!!!

PandaGirl has literally DEVOURED the first four Harry**Potter books and the first two movies.  She is a fabulous reader which is a huge accomplishment for her since at the beginning of first grade she scared me by not picking up on the skill very well then in the last six weeks of first grade she hit her stride and hasn't stopped.  She loves to read!! I can tell you that there was NO WAY I would have EVER read a book as thick as the HP ones in THIRD grade.  NONE.

This pic of her alongside the real ChoChang is brilliant and also shows just how gorgeous this girl is! I am so thankful for not just one beautiful daughter, but TWO.  Both girls are so stinkin' beautiful!!! I drool over their flawless brown skin since I have always struggled with my pasty white, freckled, always-burning-in-the-sun skin.  PandaJOY was a DARLING angel, which was all her own idea and she was to die for, too.  So blessed with these beauties!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This was the 3rd annual Pumpkin Party that my friend throws just for fun! I adore fall so much so this small gathering to carve pumpkins and eat fun fall foods is right up my alley.  Makes me wonder WHY I have never thought of doing before myself! Duh! Well, I'm just glad she does it, because she goes all out with the cute food as you'll see in the last collage. (Reckless, I missed you, greatly. )

I have THE MOST gorgeous and adorable pic of PandaJOY that I want to share, but the whole point of it is her beautiful little face and I just am not allowed to show that yet. Boo. Hopefully soon and very soon this whole appeal process will be over.  You can tell by the extra padding on my face that I've been dealing with all of the stress by eating. Yuck.  GOT TO LOSE WEIGHT! AHHHH!

This is a random side note, but you know how life just happens sometimes and you'd swear that if there were gods....they'd be against you?  Well, our entire summer was filled with that from gobs of money spent on vehicles and house repairs and it hasn't stopped.  It seems like one thing after another that sucks up extra money or just plain drives us crazy is always crashing through our door.  On the way to the party we stopped at a store that starts with W and ends in Mart for some pumpkin carving tools.  As PP was quickly getting into the car (can't go in the Tahoe because the air is still out and the temps were bleh!!!) he grabbed the door handle like any normal person would do and with his Incredible*Hulk strength ripped the metal covering of the door handle OFF.  Love my man's strength.  Really? The DOOR HANDLE?  So I had to crawl over and open the door from the inside.  Great times.  PP's jaw was CLENCHED the whole rest of the way to the party. Yikes.

The kids and a few of the grown-ups went on a hayless hayride....used blankets instead and that threw me back to when I went on real hayrides as a kid in the freezing cold weather.  Made me feel warm inside to think of it. After the ride the hosts put up a movie on their garage door with a projector.  Total fun for the kiddos.  PG & PJ gobbled up popcorn, sodas and more sweets.  They loved it!

My friend sent out on the invitation that we were to dress like lumberjacks and vintage flannel.  I read that about an hour before we were leaving and wanted to punch myself!! I am one to always go for the theme or dress up or something that is extra fun and would have totally gone and gotten a red plaid flannel shirt from the thrift store and been all lumberjack-y, but we had to settle for PandaPop's plaid shirts instead.  I think we still turned out cute, though.  It was hotter than expected. The past two years was a perfect coldness allowing us to wear coats and even a scarf or gloves.  Alas, this party was holding at 75 degrees at 8:30 pm.  Not so fallish, but fun none-the-less.  Happy Fall, Y'all!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

That Unicorn's So Fluffy I'm Gonna DIE!!!!!!!

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?  
So you think I look like a crazed maniac?!! 
Well, have a good belly laugh at my expense.  I don't care!  I have already fallen in the floor laughing at the face of a five year old who just saw Santa Clause come down the chimney with presents.

Go ahead. Laugh.

Our church's mothers of preschoolers group had Lisa Whelchel* as the guest speaker today.  I'm not even in the moms group because PandaJOY goes to public preschool and her schedule doesn't allow me to attend not to mention that 90% of the attendees are so much younger than me and I am at a totally different stage in life.....I just happen to have a preschooler, too.

Anyway....back to the excitement!  I have loved and adored Lisa since I was 10 years old watching The Facts of Life when she played Blair Warner.  When I was an adult I read her autobiography and learned that she is a Believer.  She has since led women in ministry in several different arenas selling numerous books and speaking with Women of Faith conferences.

She actually lives just down the road from me in the two communities over and away from ours, but I've never crossed paths with her in our shopping area as have some of my friends.  I know she's not a superstar to most people, but I have truly adored her since I was a kid.  She was PandaPop's first TV crush when she was a kid on the NEW Mickey Mouse Club in her pre-Facts of Life acting days.  I know he was dying to meet her today, too, but his gutsiness level isn't as high as mine and he had a staff meeting. Poor guy.

I went in the meeting and saw that she was sitting at the same table as our pastor's wife and lo & behold there was an open chair right in the middle of them that was screaming my name!! I sat down with my heart beating about 1000 times a second and feeling so completely stupid that it was doing so.  I took a deep breath and introduced myself, small talk, blah-blah, smile-smile, shake hands and NICE TO MEET YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I thanked her for her ministry and couldn't help but tell her that my hubs had a crush on her in his wee years of boyhood.  She laughed.

I flew back to PandaPop's office on my magic carpet and could hardly breathe!!!

He was laughing at me. I so wanted a picture, but felt stupid going BACK in there for it.  I certainly did not want to distract or take away from the actual moms meeting. Heck most of the girls in there had NO IDEA who they were in the presence of!! lol!! I knew I'd regret it forever if I didn't get a picture and PP said the same thing, so I went back in and asked if I could be so crazy as to have a picture taken with her.  Of course, she obliged and a friend took the picture.  Apparently, I was so overwhelmed with bubbles of giddy elation that they overflowed through the picture.  I even laughed and told her I was acting like she was Elvis or something to which she replied, "Well, thank you very much" (only oldies will read that with the correct intonation and "get it").  She must have some kind of system as to where she memorizes people's names because she remembered my name from the earlier meeting and said, "nice to meet you today, Jana".

WHAT????????? She remembered my name?  I think I fell on the floor.

No I didn't, but I so wanted to be invited to her home for coffee, or tea or a sleepover.

As for the title of this post?  You have to have seen Despicable Me* to fully understand the intensity of it.  The smallest little girl of a trio of sisters goes to an amusement park, sees a very fluffy stuffed unicorn and wants it sooooo badly that upon seeing it she squeals in delight with teeth clenched and body tense yelling, "That unicorn's so fluffy I'm gonna DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" And she says it in the EXACT tone that I do when I come upon something that I really, really like.  I know.  I should probably be too old to act like that, but I can't help it.  I'm very passionate about things that I like and in the moment that I see it or realize that I super-uber love it I jump up & down, squeal and thrill in delight and feel it to my bones......that I like it.  Whatever "it" is.  I like that I have that much passion.  And I love that I got to meet a lifelong idol today.

I know she is just a regular person.  But she is a beautiful godly woman who has impacted my life and God allowed me to meet her today.  I am thankful.  I'm not one for autographs. I think those are so stupid.  No offense to anyone who does like them, but a person's signature does diddly-squat for me.  A photo taken with Lisa Whelchel* or Beth Moore* (which I did in 2001!!!!!!!!!!) makes my millenium.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tea Anyone?

When PandaGirl was three I started the tradition of going to a tearoom for her birthday and then purchasing a teacup so she could have her own collection of teacups when she got out on her own in the big world since one of her Chinese names means, tea.

The picture below is the cup PG chose today.  She is very dainty and loves girly, elegant, old world kinds of things.  The ones just below that are her collection so far.  The small blue one with the lid is actually from China (not the "made in china" kind, either.....I know that ran through your head!) and was a gift from my BFF to represent her first birthday since we didn't get to celebrate it with her. We are missing one year, though.  Last year our special guest (we have a special guest each year) was her Aunt Gi and we wasted time and didn't make it to an actual tearoom, but rather to the Cheesecake*Factory......then we never bought a cup for her 8th birthday, so that is still an adventure waiting to happen in search of that cup. I love her collection and want one of my own!

I started going to tea rooms around 1997-ish when my friends and I (and PandaPop!!!) discovered how fun it was to eat great food, drink out of beautiful or cute teacups and then go around the antique mall or store just browsing since most of the tea rooms I've been in are in such places.  PP and I have millions of memories going antiquing.  That was one of our pre-children past-times and I deeply miss it sometimes.  We never bought any fancy antiques, but we both love browsing through the old stuff and new junky stuff to see what we can see.  Those just are not the kind of places to take children.....and have fun.  It's mostly "don't touch that!" or "hang on, we'll be done in a minute.....". I even have a charm on my bracelet that is of an antique cash register just for the memories.

Though PG's birthday was a couple of weeks ago, we all set out today for a tearoom in our very own backyard, basically.  FABULOUS antique mall, too!!!! I have no idea who that little child with the pink hat on is. She just sat down with us.  However, when we were all looking around the store for PG's annual teacup purchase, that little one kept following us. Hmmm.

The food was delectable! PG & PP shared a turkey melt sandwich and tomato basil soup while I had the chicken salad on croissant with the same yummy tomato basil soup and that little pink hat girl asked if they'd make her own special noodles with butter.  They must have known her, because they complied.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Dose of Reality

UPDATE: just by claiming the scripture mentioned below and changing my entire mindset from all about my loss as a mother and her dreams to a true ministry to my girls and making it all about their needs I can say that today ROCKED & I totally tried to do everything emotionless and FOR them with out reacting in defense!! One day at a time is what it takes.  ; )

What do you think about my life?  You probably don't sit around all day pondering about PandaMom, but in some teeny-tiny way you think about me for a second or else you wouldn't visit this blog and read my ramblings or peek at my photos.

Are you curious as to how real I am or what it's like being a minister's wife?  Do you think I have it all together? HA. Those who know me in real life know better than that.  But with just pictures on a screen and text on a page that can be read in the way I intended them to or completely misinterpreted and come across different that my original thoughts, do you think you know me?

I do try and be real on here.  One of my better qualities is that I am a transparent person.  I don't like hiding things and I feel an urge to spill my guts just so that someone doesn't think I'm being fake about something.  I'd rather come across as one who lays it all out there and risks being made fun of rather than be pretentious in any way.  My transparency has bitten me in the behind before so I am much more aware of what I hang on the laundry line.

Though part of me wants to, I do not feel released to type out all there is to know about PandaMom. I am married to a minister and I'd never want to bring any negative light to my Man, our precious church or anything that would hinder the beauty of God. Some things are meant to be kept private no matter if I want to blather on about them in cyber space.

Why did I ask your opinion of my life?  I often visit other's blogs and sum them up in about a five second scan of the blog.  How shallow of me. I do the same when people watching.  As horrible as it is, I can't seem to stop.  I see someone and have their whole life pegged in an instant.  Stupid me.  How many times have I been 100% wrong??? Probably 99% of the time.

Do you think that I have such a great story to tell with the beautiful girls with whom we've been entrusted?  Well, I do.

Do you sometimes wish that you could have been infertile and have adopted outside your race? maybe it's glamorous to have gone through the pain of years of infertility, millions of tears, disappointment after countless disappointment in trying to build a family, entering the tragic foster system and have your world rocked?  What about having your dreams of how your family would look and act be utterly shattered?

Like I look at Beth*Moore and see her precious self being all cute and beautiful and spunky.  She has two grown daughters who adore her, do ministry with her and they all three seem to have THE BEST relationship ever.  She has this unbelievable gift of making God's Word understandable to everyday-janes like me and she's totally hip & cool, too.  However, her testimony is hard, hard, hard. Hard.  Why would I be jealous of her when she's lived through so much heartache?  You know she raised a son for seven years (from age 4-11) and he was taken from their lives for some loophole reason.  That's some serious heart-break right there, that I'd never, ever want to go through.

I'm writing this all out tonight because I have been struggling so very much with raising these girls.  We are still in the appeal process with PandaJOY so I battle feelings of "raising someone else's kid" while we wait out this crazy, useless legal process.  PJ is quite a handful because she isn't just a typical (whatever that is) 3 year old.  She comes with many emotional issues from her tiny past.  With each discipline she needs, which is multiple times daily just like an other kid this age, I have to instantaneously   make the mental shift from my own way of doing things to what is going to be best for her.  I fail miserably most days. There is some high drama in our home and I don't mean the funny kind. On the times that I actually DO get it right and she is successful and I am successful I wish there was someone there clapping and handing out stickers or something to recognize that I DID IT!! I actually DID IT and I made a great mark of improvement on this child's life!!! YAY ME!!!!

Then there's PandaGirl who has her own past experiences.  I forget that she, too comes with a load of issues that stem from being abandoned as a baby, living in an orphanage and then the trauma of being ripped from her loving nannies at the orphanage and put in our foreign arms.  We moved on as if this darling little toddler was a newborn and we were starting fresh.  No way.  She had 15 months of who knows what under her belt before she ever set foot on American soil.

So I have two daughters (let's just call PJ that for the sake of ease) who have unhealthy, non-Americana backgrounds.  I have my own issues that I deal with adding more stress to the day and before you know it.......sometimes I want to SCREAM!!!!!!!!! Sometimes I do.

Like I stated earlier, I feel like a complete and utter failure to these two girls on a daily basis. That's what I'm getting at with all the questions and comparisons.  I don't want for one minute for anyone reading this blog to think that I have it all together just because I'm sometimes funny and have a quick wit or that I take some pretty pictures.  I was at my wit's end today and begged God for a Scripture to help ease my wonky unsettled, un-peaceful feelings and He gave me this:

"Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; 
may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, 
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." 
Psalm 19:12-14

It might not make any sense to you, but it does to me.  I took it personally and fully believe He blessed me with this peace at just the moment I needed it.  He also led me to Face**book.  Yes, God led me to Face**book.  A friend posted a link to a pastor who wrote an article from his new book coming out and the title of the article was "Don't Adopt!".  That's an attention getter.  I clicked on the link and read what he had to say.

I totally agreed with him.

I even signed on to make a comment.

Here's the link.  "Don't Adopt!" Let me know your thoughts if you have an opinion on this.

I am posting because I do want some other thoughts.  Until I had experienced what I have with my girls and until I read his post I would talk til I was blue in the face with PandaPop about this issue and he & I disagreed.  We rarely all out disagree on much, but this was one such issue: are all Christians called to adopt to fulfill the scripture that says to take care of widows and orphans?  I've stood my ground saying that there's no way that God wouldn't want every Christian to adopt, meaning you don't have to wait on "God's will" or permission to adopt.  Just do it!!  PP's take is that, NO, not everyone is called to adopt.  It baffled my mind......until I read this article and I like how he stated it.  PP knows that I now agree with him.  He just rolled his eyes when I told him.  That was a kind gesture to me suggesting, "You drive me crazy, Blondie.  I've been trying to tell you this forever."

After the gift of the scripture verse and after reading this, I felt empowered to minister to these two girls in a different way.  To be their mom, but to stop trying to make them into the American dream family that I thought I'd have.  I will never have been pregnant.  I will never have carried life in me nor have known my children from birth.  I don't have the privilege of having bonded to my daughters in their infancy making them feel safe & secure deep down in their core. I will never even remotely look like my girls.  I will never be the first mother they knew.  I can't ever rest in the sacredness of birthing them. They absolutely have issues.  I have issues. I have to parent them differently than what might seem normal.  If you 've followed at least since January you know that my word for this year has been ENTRUSTED.  I got a new vision of that today and am renewed.

PandaPop and I have been entrusted with these beauties.  They need extra love & care.  They need to be disciplined differently.  They need Jesus. They are such a gift and I lost sight of that for a while.

I'm praying the battle for these two will find me faithful to the calling on my life.  It's not about me.  It's about them.

Thanks for sticking around with me, friends.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

When The Cat's Away....

....the naughty little girls will play!!

How blessed I am to have PandaPop and his ability to work all day and then come home to care for the girls when I need to do a photo shoot.  I have quite a few to do in October and November and can't wait for them!! I had a few in September just to get the creative shutter-bug juices flowing (that sounds funny to say bug juices flowing).

For several years I wore nail polish that was a metallic cappuccino color that I purchased for 99¢. Of course, any time we girls find something that just "fits" us the company stops making it.  Has that happened to you?  I loved this color and wore it for a long time.  I got in the mood to try and find something like it and this is what I came up with.  Though it says copper penny, it really looks more gold than anything.  It's fun for a fall treat and change of pace.

The girls LOVED it, especially PG since GOLD, not yellow, but shiny g-o-l-d is her favorite color.  Right before I left for my shoot I painted their nails and toenails (kinda hard to do on PG since she gnaws each to the bone basically meaning that I painted her skin).

Yay.....we're all happy and bouncy because we look cute in our gold polish.

I leave for my shoot.

I come home to the dog spinning in the living room floor, PandaPop chasing him with the look of rage on his face, one child (the little bitty one) is crying in time-out and the bigger guilty party is crouched in a chair staring straight ahead.

I hate that this happened while I was gone, but it helps PP see how quickly it can go from the hills are alive with the sound of music to honey, I blew up the kids in nothin' flat.

He is a great Mr. Mom, but after he told me what happened I had to giggle.  Well, after I read the girls their Miranda Rights.

Apparently, PandaGirl wanted to repaint her own nails so she

You can see where this is going.

Who copies everything PG does?


That child will certainly be the death of me.

PandaJOY fears nothing and thinks that if there is something to be experienced then, she too, will experience.  If no one helps her.....she will take care of that herself.

She got the polish, too.

The counter was covered, I was told and her ladybug pajamas now sparkle with metallic gold splotches.

The bathroom reeked of nail polish remover.

All was cleaned up by the time I made it home but the kicker is that this all happened after PP got them out of the bath, dried, fresh clothes, etc.

Then she tee-teed in her panties...right in front of the potty.

God bless my Man.