Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: {Trick or Treat!}

We engaged in a little pre-arranged Saturday trick-or-treating since we cannot go on a Sunday evening.

Three little cowpokes, patiently waiting...

while their parents make many pictures of them in their costumes.

Cowboy M

"OK, I'm done with the hat and the pictures now!"

MJ's Close-Up

Cowgirl MJ

Cowgirl K

And then it was candy time!

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Doll Dilemma

I’m having a doll dilemma. Neither of my girls has said, “I want xyz for Christmas this year.” In some ways, that is really nice because we won’t be scrambling around looking for something that just won’t be found (like the guitar MJ wanted for Christmas when she was 3...ended up with the most annoying toy guitar a catalog yesterday with exactly what I was looking for 2 years ago in it...).

So, anyway, I was browsing in Tar-jay earlier today and saw the “Our Generation” dolls. They are basically an affordable alternative to American Girl dolls. Since there is no way we can afford AG, I really do like the idea of the other dolls. Problem is, they do not seem to make an Asian version. The advantage is, though, that our local store carries the dolls and the accessories, so I wouldn’t have to order online, and I can see what I am actually getting. Wally-World, on the other hand, has a similar line of dolls (BFC, Ink.), and they do have an Asian doll. The problem with these is our local store does not carry them, meaning I would have to go from a photo online to make a decision. Just looking at the picture, it looks like the T store dolls are of better quality than the WM store dolls, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

Also, MJ is not necessarily drawn to her Asian dolls, except her Ling doll on occasion and one baby doll, so she would probably be fine with it, whether her doll is Asian or not.

So, does anyone have any experience with any of these dolls or any opinions on which way you would go?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Sweet Encounter

We live in a retirement area, so there are always an abundance of grandparent-types around, no matter where we, grocery store, out to eat, park, wherever. This afternoon I needed to make a run to the grocery store for some odds and ends, and mostly because when I did our shopping for the week, I forgot that tomorrow night is potluck supper at the church, so I needed to get supplies for that. So, I did something I rarely do. I went to the grocery store by myself with all 3 kids. Usually, I either just have one child with me, or if all 3 kids are along, I have my husband, too. I will have to say that this (taking all 3 of them by myself) is much easier now that M is walking. So, back to the grandparent-types...

As we were walking up to the front door of the store, M was holding my left hand, K was holding my right hand, and MJ was holding K’s other hand. So here we walk, our own little family red-rover team. An elderly couple was leaving the store at the same time as we were getting there. The lady’s first question was, “Are they all yours?” Valid question, considering the number of times I’ve assumed I’ve met a kindred spirit with several small children, only to learn that one is a nephew, niece, friend’s child, etc. I said that they were all ours. She then told me that they were adorable, and that she had 2 girls and a boy as well, and 2 of them were 13 months apart (all grown up now, of course). She also told me this, “Enjoy every minute of it!” Such a sweet encounter, and such a reminder to me as a mom that the time flies, and even when things are tough and I’m having a rotten day to seek out how God has blessed me in so many ways by allowing me to be the mother of these 3 children. What a big, special responsibility!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Geography Lesson

Does anyone know what it is like to be from a part of a state that is not the part that everyone knows about? When people hear that I am originally from Louisiana, unless they are also from the area, they usually assume that I am from south Louisiana or even more specifically, from the New Orleans area. (The latter being complicated by the fact that my husband, who isn’t even from Louisiana, went to seminary in New Orleans and did live there for a couple of years, but this was before we met.)

Every time a hurricane comes up on the Gulf Coast, we field questions about how my parents are weathering the storm. While they may get residual rain from the big storms, their area is more known as the area where the hotels fill to capacity with people evacuating from the Gulf Coast.

Louisiana, for most people, immediately conjures up images of zydeco music, Cajun food, and the French Quarter. While I enjoy visiting the French Quarter, love spicy Cajun food, and have been a Saints fan since long before last year’s amazing Super Bowl winning season, that is not the Louisiana of my childhood.

North Louisiana is actually a very normal place to grow up. My hometown is your standard southern mid-sized city in the Bible Belt. People speak with regular southern accents. The timber and paper industry is a big one in that area, and hunting, fishing, and high school football are a way of life. It was a great place to grow up, and we look forward to going back as often as we are able.

So the next time you meet someone from Louisiana, ask them “North or South”? If they are from northern Louisiana, they will appreciate the distinction. People from south Louisiana think that north Louisiana is a different state anyway. :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: {Pumpkins!}

Friday evening, we made our annual trek to the "pumpkin patch." Read: "Lawn of a local church with a random assortment of pumpkins and fall decorations." It was around 6 in the evening, and in October in Florida, that is a perfect time of day for this kind of outing...

Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, October 22, 2010

Randomness and Restaurants

I’m having one of those days where I feel like I need to write a blog post, but I’m not too into deep thinking nor am I feeling very philosophical. In fact, I have no idea what this post will be about. Those multiple blog posts running around in my head that I have mentioned a time or two...this isn’t one of them. In fact, this is probably going to be pretty random.

This evening, we went on a family outing. We went to one of those pumpkin patches set up in a local church parking lot. It was actually fun, and we got some cute pictures. Sorry, you have to wait. I’m saving those for “Sunday Snapshot.” But we also went out to eat. When your first child is adopted from China, and you spend your first two weeks as parents eating out in restaurants by necessity (and in a foreign country, at that), you just don’t get as intimidated by the idea of taking kids out to eat as you might otherwise. People see us coming in with our 3 little children, and you can see some of them cringe because they know that this is going to be a noisy evening. Our children have been taught how to behave in a restaurant. They have to sit at the random wandering around, and generally, they stay fairly quiet. They entertain themselves with the crayons and kids’ menus until the food arrives. They wait for the blessing before they eat. When we are at a fast food place with a playground, they know they have to finish eating before they go and play. Of course, they are kids. Their table manners are by no means perfect, and they always have to go potty right in the middle of the meal (because you must explore all public restrooms...), but overall, they do very well. Funny thing is, there is almost always a table of all adults around that is much noisier than we are. And it gets noticed. People often stop to tell us how well behaved our kids are. And it makes us feel like we are doing a good job as parents...sometimes it really helps to hear that from an objective outside observer. (And of course, since I’m putting this in writing, our next restaurant experience will be a disaster.) I’m thankful that God puts people in our paths to say, “Good job!”, especially since some days don’t feel that way.

Oh, and just to keep with the idea that this is a random post, a funny from yesterday...It was very foggy when I was taking the girls to preschool. K hasn’t seen much fog, and we live in Florida, so her take on it was, “It’s snowing!” (Did I mention she’s never seen actual snow?)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On Turning 38...

On Saturday, I turned 38. I’m okay with that. Life is good right now...if 38 is anything like 37, this will be a good year.

I can’t say that I ever (back in my teen and college years) thought that I would be in this phase of my life at this age. I thought I would have married sooner, had children sooner... But God knows best. I lived life as a single adult for awhile after college. That is a time in my life that I now value. Looking back, even though I wondered when I would ever get married, I see that God’s timing is better than mine ever could be. I was 27, approaching 28, when we got married, and my husband was 30. There’s something to be said for marrying a little enter into things with a totally different perspective. And for us, it has been excellent.

Then, once I was finally married, the next logical step would be kids. That didn’t come quickly, either. I was one month shy of my 34th birthday when I became a mother for the first time (and that was via international adoption from China, which is another story in itself). Again, I think I am a better parent for all of the waiting. Again, God’s timing is better than mine...

And since then, I had a baby at age 34, and another at 36. Nothing like the whole “advanced maternal age” thing on your chart...I didn’t feel “advanced.” Still don’t, actually. Every once in awhile, like when we’ve been playing in the floor with the kids and don’t bounce up like we used to, hubby and I will say, “And this is why young people have kids this age!” But we say it in a joking way, knowing that we wouldn’t have it any other way.

And then there’s when your 4 year old asks you, “How old will you be on your birthday?” and when you tell her 38, she says, “Wow! That’s a lot!” It’s all a matter of perspective. Someone told me on FB the other day that “40 is the new 30.” I think I like that.

And I still have 2 more years before I get there...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Snapshot {A Beautiful Day at the Park}

We had our church picnic yesterday, and it was a beautiful day at the park...

for balancing...

for mugging for the camera at the top of the slide...

for just hanging around...

for playing in the dirt...

for spending time with friends...

for climbing to new heights...

for playing ball...

And when you come home after all that playing, it's time for...

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, October 14, 2010

One of "Those" Conversations

We had one of “those” conversations the other day. You adoptive parents will know what I mean. One of those awkward, sends-you-into-stuttering-and-utter-amazement-at-people kind of conversations.

We were shopping, and all 5 of us were together, which isn’t a common occurrence nowadays because M and I usually do most of the shopping/errand running while MJ and K are at preschool. But anyway, here we are in the check-out line at Target, and our cashier first tells us how cute our kids are and asks how old they are. I told her that they were 4 1/2, 3, and 17 months. Fairly normal discourse so far...

Then the question, “Did you adopt her or is she yours?” {Ummmm...did I just hear that right?} Thankfully, my husband thinks on his feet better than I do, and said, “She is ours, and yes, we adopted her.” Keep in mind, MJ is very much old enough and intelligent enough to comprehend this conversation. If things had dropped there, then that would have been fine, but the cashier kept going on and on. Hubby displayed extreme amounts of patience in answering her questions succinctly, in a way that gave valid answers without giving out too much overly personal information. I was just ready to pay for our purchases and leave. Then, the part we weren’t really expecting...the cashier told us that she also was adopted. Come to find out, she was adopted at age 15, along with 3 siblings. So, I guess that does give her a different perspective than most people have. I’m still trying to figure out what to make of the whole conversation, but that knowledge did make me more sympathetic. There’s not a lot of profound wisdom to come from this...just needed to vent/share with a sympathetic audience.

If it has been said once, it has been said a thousand times, but I’ll say it again...An adopted child is just as much a parent’s own child as a biological child. The only distinction is in the way they joined the family.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nice to Meet You!

I guess the next logical step in starting this blog is to introduce you to my family. I am Dusty, and I am a (upper) 30-something mom of three very young children. While many of my peers are raising teenagers, we are in the throes of preschool and potty training (well, at the moment we are on a potty training reprieve, but you get the idea). I love it! I think having to wait on becoming parents makes us appreciate things even more.

I am married to an amazing man, Chet, and we recently celebrated our anniversary...ten wonderful years! The years themselves may have had their ups and downs, but our marriage has been consistently great. God has blessed us! (This paragraph edited for extreme overuse of the word "wonderful.")

Let’s see...what else...I have a B.A. and M. Ed., both in Elementary Education, but I am currently a stay-home mom. Although I will likely one day return to the classroom, my husband and I both feel very strongly that at this point in our lives, I need to be home with our children. I value these years...they are very special ones.

That wonderful husband I mentioned earlier? Well, he also happens to be a pastor. That means that we live our lives in something of a “fishbowl.” If you are a ministry family, you will know exactly what I mean. Thankfully, our church here is very supportive, and they love our children. (Lots of honorary grandparents!)

At the age of 10, I made the decision to ask Jesus into my life as Lord and Savior. Being 10, there isn’t a dramatic story or anything...I had godly parents, grandparents, and Sunday School teachers who guided me, and for them and their influence I am grateful. Seem like a big decision for a 10 year old? Every time I have that thought, I go back to this verse:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”--Matthew 19:14

I just pray that my husband and I will be able to provide the same kind of godly counsel for our own children.

(Strangely, the best picture I could find with both my husband and me in it is our Christmas card picture from last year. We need to do better getting pictures with us actually in them!)

And now for the ones that you all want to read about...our three kids!

MJ is 4 1/2, almost 5. She has a birthday coming up in December and will tell anyone about it who wants to listen. She is strong-willed, energetic, vivacious, and full of life. She loooves to talk, and will talk the ear off of anyone who will listen. (Hmmm...I’ve mentioned that twice in 3 sentences. Does that tell you anything?) Unless she is asleep or watching cartoons, she is constantly on the move. (As a little aside, an example: One day I was fixing her hair, and said, “MJ, you need to be still!” She tried for a second and then asked me, “Is it okay if I just move my foot?”) Our oldest joined our family at almost 9 months of age when we adopted her in the Jiangxi province of China. She is now starting to comprehend adoption and is talking more about it...grasping the concept that she grew in her birth mother’s tummy and then lived with her foster mother when she was in China, for example. She is in pre-K this year, and is thriving. She loves school, and even though she has a week to complete her homework assignments, she often asks if she can do them the afternoon she brings them home. (It would be nice if that attitude would last for years, but...) She is also the child who knows how to push all of my “mama buttons.” Her vivacious personality often leads to speaking rashly, before she thinks things through. We’re working on that one. And one other thing...she is hilarious. We laugh a lot with her around. MJ certainly keeps us on our toes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

K is 3, as of August. After years of unexplained infertility prior to adopting, K was our surprise baby, and a very pleasant surprise she was. She and MJ are the best of friends, but they are as different as night and day. K is our quiet, reserved child. She will gladly talk to you once she warms up to you and her surroundings, but it takes her awhile to get there. She is a dainty little thing...tiny for her age, and tends to be much more “girly” than her older sister. That said, she is my child who usually has a dirty face; she also loves playing with cars as much as she does dolls, which is a fun thing. K is a child who has to have some personal space at some point during the day, and if she is quiet, she is usually sitting somewhere in the house with a stack of books. She is in her first year of preschool, in the 3 year old class at the same school where MJ attends pre-K, and she loves it. Very often, I hear her singing through their entire morning circle time...adorable. Of course, when I try to get it on video, she gets self-conscious and sings very quietly. We got a note from her teacher the other day that said she is doing great, but what she needs to work on is “using her words.” Needless to say, we weren’t too surprised. K is also our cuddle bug and loves to snuggle up next to us in the chair or on the couch. She is such a sweet spirit!

M is our baby boy, our little man, our third child. He is 17 months hard to believe that we are only a little over 6 months away from having a 2 year old again. He is an observer, taking in the world around him. He finally decided that he would let go of the furniture and actually try walking a little over a month ago. Now, he has his confidence and is walking everywhere. We jokingly refer to him as “Franken-Baby” because of his baby stagger. It is too cute. He has a personality that falls somewhere between his two sisters, but he is very definitely a boy...into everything. M is starting to talk, and has a pretty good number of words for his age. He won’t really sign like the girls did...he’ll do “all done” sometimes, and he occasionally will sign “more.” (As in, he randomly started signing “more” as we were going down the snack aisle in the grocery store, telling me he was ready for a snack. Before then, he never did it unprompted.) He also is in that stage of those babbling baby conversations that make you think he knows exactly what he is saying, even though we have no idea. Love that phase! Currently one of his favorite things is to climb into our laps and have us read him books. Good times!

And that’s our family. Thanks for sticking around and reading this!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Tale Behind the Title

For those that know my family and me, the title of this blog is pretty self-explanatory. I’ve actually had the title floating around in my brain for a month or two while I was trying to decide whether to give this thing a go or not. For those that may not be as familiar with us...

The title, “Bayous, Peaches, Chopsticks, and Beaches,” has to do with the members of our family, our places of origin, and places that we’ve lived.

Bayous = Louisiana

I was born and raised in northern Louisiana, and that is where my husband and I met and married. We lived there for our first few months of married life.

Peaches = Georgia

My husband is a Georgia native, and when he and I left Louisiana, we moved to Georgia. We lived in 3 different places over the years we were there--metro Atlanta area, in my husband’s hometown, and in rural southwestern Georgia.

Chopsticks = China

Our oldest daughter, MJ, is from Jiangxi Province in China. She spent her first nine months there, in the care of her foster mother. In 2006, we traveled to China, where she became a part of our family.

Beaches = Florida

Our younger two children, K and M, are of that rare species known as “Native Floridians.” Three years ago, we moved from south Georgia to the Florida Atlantic Coast where we still live. At the time, I was extremely pregnant with K, who was born 2 months after we moved here.

So, there you go...that’s the story.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Entering Bloggy Land (Again)

I am writing this post in contemplation of starting a second where I actually, you know, blog, instead of just using it as an online photo album. I will keep my original blog around for that purpose. I have all of these posts running around in my head, and I’m thinking it would be a good idea to actually type them out and see if there is anything there worth posting to share with bloggy land. So, I guess this is the “dipping my toes into the bloggy waters and seeing if I want to actually jump in” post.

First, there are all of the questions one must answer...What kind of blog? It could be an Adoption Blog since our oldest daughter was adopted from China, or a Mommy Blog since I am a mommy of 3 small children, or it could be a Christian Blog since my Christianity (I hope) defines who I am, or it could be a Pastor’s Wife Blog, since I am a Pastor’s Wife. I’m guessing that this one will end up being a combination of all of those, likely with a little more tossed in for good measure.

Then there is the whole question of “Do I use our names or try to keep things anonymous?” I have tossed that idea all over the place, and have finally come to a conclusion. I think, since I already have one blog, and since my husband and I have Adoption Voyages, the whole anonymous thing probably won’t work very well for me anyway. I obviously will avoid posting last names or other personal information, but other than that, I’m not going to go the anonymous route. I will, however, most of the times, refer to the kids by their initials, which could get confusing since child #1 and child #3 both have “M” names. Thankfully, though, being the good southerners that we are, child #1 goes by a double name, so she will be “MJ,” child #2 will be “K,” and child #3 will be “M.” Are you totally confused yet?

I also needed to settle on a name for the blog, which you can obviously see. I will explain it in another post.

So, now that all of that is settled, here I go...