Sunday, December 28, 2008

FB: A New Adventure

Okay, so I am a bit slow to most technological things, as in I still don't own an IPOD, although my phone would serve as one if I ever downloaded anything. Let's face it, for me to be blogging is all about the ability to write and not about my being tech savvy.

So, a while ago I joined FaceB*ok, and well, it is a totally new adventure. I thought it was primarily for the younger crowd, but really there are so many people on there. It is like a high school, college, friends you have not heard from forever reunion all rolled into one. I see it as a way to get more connected in the day-to-day life of those you rarely get to see, catch up with some old friends, and just have that new link to others you care to know more about. So, am I alone, have any of my internet friends joined?? If so, let me know so I can look you up!

The CC clan is heading east for a few days and will be celebrating a 14th wedding anniversary as well as New Year's while we are gone. Wish us FUN, little behavior modification, and some rest and relaxation!

See you all soon!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas is here, it has snuck up on me yet again. I am struggling this year between trying to get everything done (including homework...11 hours on Sunday...don't even get me started) and taking time to make it fun and memorable with the kids. Yesterday I ran and did errands until noon, and then I came home and baked and let the kids create a total mess making and decorating sugar cookies. And I loved that they could do that, they had a ball and it really was not that bad of a mess. I used to have that tradition with my Grandma, but things are very strained between my Grandma and the rest of our family due to her choice and decisions...choosing to be a martar for the black sheep of the family, continuing to let him walk all over her, take all of her money, and yet stand up for him time and time again...after a while, it has just worn everyone thin, and I obviously digress. So, wishing it could be different but realizing it is what it is, I invited my mom over and we all did the holiday baking thing and it was a nice time. It hit me very clearly yesterday just how much D and I are in control of making traditions, etc. with our kids. Sometimes it is just hard to realize how much authority you have over their little lives.

Doodle was telling Shenzy the other day, now, on Christmas Eve, we get to open 1 present, and it is always pjs. I love how this has become a tradition that she knows and looks forward to. Most of all, I want them to feel loved and to remember the reason we celebrate Christmas at all. We even make Baby Jesus cupcakes each year for Santa Claus when he comes, we figured years ago that he had way too many cookies. So, that was part of our baking marathon yesterday, Baby Jesus Cupcakes, and we went with the chocolate-candy cane cupcake...pretty tasty!

Well, Merry Christmas and Blessings to all my internet friends. I wish you a stress-free holiday with memories being made with your loved ones.

Life is so very good,


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Digital Photo Hell

The concept of the digital camera is amazing, but in actuality they stress me out. We have several, because I will just get irritated and buy another one when the one we have stops working properly (see debt issue...). This summer, with D being gone, I wanted to have one and for him to have one, so another camera was added to the mix...and then I bought the cool Flip. The problem with all of these devices, is that you must upload the photos for them to do any good...and that is where I fail miserably.

So this evening, I have been trying to upload photos and have many more hours' worth to do before all is said and done. I am rushing because we always make calendars with Shutterfly for Christmas and well, time is ticking and their offer of free shipping expires at 11:59 Sunday evening, and that is my needed pressure. I also try to upload photos from my computer (hence the need to get them at least to that point) up to Shutterfly so that if my computer ever dies, they are at least 1 other place, and I know...I know, I should have them backed up and put in a safe as well. Overwhelming is my point.

On another aside, I am trying to shake the woes of corporate life, I have a job and the week ended on a good note and was very incredibly productive. Not everyone is going to like me 100% of the time and I need to get over that fantasy.

The Saturday morning schedule is filled with basketball and dance and today was no exception, but I love that the kids are active and engaged. Afterwards, D took the kids home and I had a fabulous time this afternoon at Half-Pric* Books, man I love going there, I could spend DAYS, literally, in any book store, but that one is such a treasure trove and you are never exactly sure what you will find, so much fun! Then, I came home to yummy homemade potato soup and then we watched a family movie (Elf) and had a marvelous evening.

All for now,

Thursday, December 11, 2008


That's how I feel right now, blah. The corporate world is not for everyone and this week it picked me up with its teeth, tossed me around a bit, chewed on me, then spit me back out. Dramatic? Perhaps. But how I feel? Yes.

I feel blah and am irritated that I am letting it have an impact on the rest of my life. I have so many blessings and things to be thankful for and I need to shake this week off and get moving, but am having a hard time doing so. I am so very ready for the Christmas break, not only to celebrate Christmas but to also slow my world down a little bit.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Road of Lost Innocence

The Road of Lost Innocence, is the autobiographical tale of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who has experienced situations and horrors beyond what most of our nightmares take us. She was an orphan whose "grandfather" came for her one day and after using her as a personal slave, he eventually sold her to a violent soldier as a bride and then when he disappeared, he sold her into the sex trade. She has overcome more than one can imagine and now runs the Somaly Mam Foundation whose goal is to get children/women out of the cycle of poverty and provide them not only with safety and security but also with life and job skills so that they are taken out of the circle and so are their children.
Cambodia is a country that has been in our hearts since we started the adoption process for Doodle and Meesta back in 2001. After our first trip there, we knew it would forever be in our hearts and while we donate to a few other organizations and buy things from time to time that are Cambodian, our devotion to the people of Cambodia is mostly exhibited through our work with Tabitha USA. I had heard of Somaly Mam though and once I became aware of her book, I ordered it and this past week I had a chance to sit down and read it, and it only took about 3 hours as I was totally absorbed.
This book is disturbing on so many levels, but in the end, it is a story of hope. Somaly's description of many Cambodian men and their complete and utter lack of concern for women was shocking and her description indicates that it is a pervasive attitude across the country and women are pretty much property and of little value. What is even more disturbing is that she describes women, mothers of precious little children, who knowingly have their daughters working in brothels to bring in money.
Let me share with you a very disturbing paragraph, not to shock you, but to give you a flavor of what happens, what evils some children face:
"From time to time I am engulfed by rage at what I see around me. Recently there was the case of one young girl called Kaseng. Her parents were out one evening, and she was wandering in eh streets when she was captured by a group of sic or seven drunken men in their fifties. She was eight years old. They took her to a house and raped her one by one. Since she was too narrow, they took a knife and cut her vagina. Someone brought her to us. I took the child to the hospital to get her sewn up and then to the police to make a report. She began to recover. Her mother, who was very poor, said that ever since the child had been born she had brought nothing but bad luck, and she refused to take her back."
This story goes on to say that at the trial of these men, they claimed that this 8-year-old child had dressed provocatively and they were set free!! It goes on,
"We have laws in Cambodia, but everyone ignores them. The law of money prevails. With money you can buy a judge, a policeman - whatever you want. There are moments when I want to throw in the towel and stop doing all this. It feels too big for me to fight - the pimps, the corruption, the judges who aren't even for sale because they were bought long ago."
The issues with Cambodian adoptions are many and the fact that they remain closed and that Laurel and Lily will likely never be our daughters and that they very well may be used in a perverse manner is something that I must always block from my head. The psyche of this country was forever altered by the Khmer Rouge and the contrast between the expectations and laws of the US and Cambodia is extreme. How can the gap ever be bridged to allow for children who need safe and loving homes to find them in the US or other countries? This book has given me so much to ponder and I would love to sit down and talk with Somaly, first to share my admiration for her courage, both in surviving and thriving, but in putting her experiences to print so that we all might learn and understand. I would love to know just how pervasive the attitudes are across the country. What are her thoughts on "selling" children for adoption as opposed to "selling" them for sexual slavery?
These are all such contentious topics, but ones that I must ponder. I believe that we are all put on earth to share our gifts and talents, to show compassion and to make the lives of all those we can better because we cared. How much of a role does poverty play in the general mentality of children as property? I truly think that getting people out of the cycle of poverty is KEY to solving so many problems globally. Will is solve everything? Will it make everyone nice? Will is stop the power hungry souls from evil? No. Sadly no. However, I do think that it is a start and so many lives can be changed for the better because of it.
I became a monthly donor to the Somaly Mam Foundation, you don't have to sign up for much, but doing so will help Somaly in her amazing efforts, which have risked her life and that of her family on multiple occasions. I honor her efforts through my donations and know that the children of Cambodia who land in her care will make it. If I can play a role, regardless of how small, into helping her to do that, then it is my privelege to do so.
May God pour blessings out on Somaly and all those children who are experiencing horrors beyond our imagination. It is my prayer that those who are rescued can put it behind them to the best of their abilities and move on to live a life of relative peace.
I hugged my children extra tight when I finished reading the book that day and can't help but look in Doodle's eyes and PRAISE GOD that she is our daughter and safe with us. Her biggest challenge is getting yelled at for not listening and maybe not getting dessert if she doesn't eat any vegetables...but every single night she is put to bed with love, with prayers and her list of things she is thankful for that day, with a kiss, a slathering of vaseline for dry lips, and a "sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite", and a wish that she have sweet dreams.
Being aware of the atrocities that exist in the world is the only way that we can help eradicate them. This book changed me, educated me, terrified me, sickened me, and inspired me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Nut Pie and Other Thanksgiving Bits

For the actual Thanksgiving Day, we hosted both of our mothers as well as a friend of ours from our previous city who is a dear friend. It was a relatively relaxed day although I did most of the cooking for the event. We had already eaten Turkey the previous Saturday and so D and I decided to take the meal a different route and harm a cow instead of a turkey, and we made beef and noodles. They. Were. Spectacular! D had made the noodles from scratch and I cooked the beef in the crockpot overnight and when the two were joined in magnificent unity, the result was beyond yummy. Can you tell I liked them?

Besides the beef and noodles, we had corn casserole, deviled eggs (where did they get this name?), mashed potatoes, and 3 desserts...yes, 3. My mom brought all three, 2 had been purchased through a school drive for her nephew (my cousin - he is only 2 years older than my Doodle and Meesta, we are an unusual brood I know), and 1 she bought at the store. Odd sidenote, my mother owns more cookbooks than anyone I have ever met, and yet she rarely ever cooks....ponder that one. The two from my cousin were rather scrumptious indeed, they were from Eli's Cheesecakes, and the tiramisu one was divine. The pie my mom bought at the store was a pecan pie, but when Doodle saw it, she immediately said, "Grannis brought a nut pie!". I don't know why it cracked (get it, nut) me up so much, but it did. I love the perspective my kids bring to daily life.

We were pretty much slugs over the Thanksgiving Break and besides church and the grocery store Sunday, the only time I went out was to join some friends to go see Bolt. It was rather entertaining and I laughed out loud a few times, worth the astronomical price for the movie AND the popcorn. We then went with said friends over to Chick-Fil-A and had a nice time chatting with other adults and another couple they knew who joined us and our collective 6 children! Odd that 1/2 of those 6 children were ours!

I read most of one book and completely read the other, which I will write more about in another post as it deserves its own. The books upcoming for review are The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam and Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus. Very interesting and worth a post in their own right...

D gave an excellent sermon last night, the man is brilliant but would never admit it. He spoke about how we should always be doing the work and being the people that God has called us to be every day, all day. His sermons are very effective, at least for me, because they hit home without being overbearing. You are wondering where he is going with a thought and then he brings it all together in such a way that you are fully mentally engaged and so the message really is embedded. I know I am biased, but he is the best sermon giver I have ever heard, seriously.

Okay, all for now!