Small steps...Taiwan journey

Small steps...Taiwan journey


This is the story of our lives, especially concerning adopting 3 siblings from Taiwan.

Friday, August 16, 2013

family pictures

An old family friend took some pictures for us at one of our favorite spots-Beluga Point...they reflect the current obsession with sticks of all shapes and sizes.  and show some of the beauties of Alaska!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

dipnetting at the kenai in alaska

A HUGE part of summer here is fishing for salmon and this week, it's dipnetting. big huge net, limit of 35 fish, which can happen fairly quickly if you hit it just right.
Tom took Emma, Sam and Zhong-Lin...gorgeous day!

catch the fish, bonk the fish...

play in the water

kiss the fish, thank you fish!

Friday, July 5, 2013

independence day

photo from
It's been cool and a very different experience introducing the kids to American holidays. We've gone to the AK Chinese Association events like the Dragon Festival recently (which, in AK, is nothing like it was in Taiwan), and as with all bicultural "tries," it takes work. It reminds me of being raised by a Swedish mother in the U.S...we all love the colors blue and yellow (colors of the Swedish flag) and Swedish Christmas decorations, but our connection to the country is tenuous at best.

I was so bogged down during the winter holidays that I just couldn't write about our experience with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But July of my very favorites! My dad is an American history lover and passed on that love to me. I hope for them to feel a gratitude for our country, the miracle that it exists, the founders who sacrificed, the God who oversaw its creation.

Begin with food! baked oatmeal with vanilla yogurt and berries...a hit (candles and singing happy birthday helped)

We found some great picture books that introduce Independence Day:

and one on George Washington that includes God's hand in the work of this country:

We made a flag cake for the BBQ planned for later in the day. They loved helping with that.

went to a was blustery and cloudy, but kites were a hit!

For future years, this is another favorite with individual bios on the signers of the Declaration with beautiful woodcut illustrations.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


What do you say after one year?? Easier in some ways, harder in others. In the beginning, feeding and clothing people was enough. Now, emotions and relationships and family function are the priority. For example, our focus for the summer is limited to family work daily and scriptures. That's what will fit on my emotional plate.

I can say that three is WAY different than I anticipated. When I lie on my bed with just one, or take a walk or go to the store, it is a true pleasure. One child doesn’t demand attention, clamor for more or fair or whatever is the flavor of the day. But, I am reassured that it will eventually calm down, so say parents of kids close in age. Is it true??

At the end of the day, I am hopeful that we can have a home that will foster growth and happiness, love and blossoming into who they are meant to be.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

my right arm

i've been without my right arm for a week now...and as i expected, it's been somewhat painful. But hopefully, we can pull ourselves together and function!

Emma left on a six week trip to visit my sister and her family in England and got a bonus trip to France with my parents who met there many years ago. It seemed like a chance we just couldn't pass broaden horizons, practice a teeny bit of french and see some family.

So, she's gone and so is her special brand of care for the littles. She has the ability to calm things down and just make it all right.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

alone time

A few days ago, Zhong-Lin was positively ignoring me pretty much every time I spoke. Some of this feels like normal kid behavior, other times, I wonder what is going on in that little head? I usually read and think things through a bit when I'm trying to figure out what gears need shifting, so I wasn't ready to act quite yet. A few days into this behavior, when everyone else went to Sam's swim practice, Zhong-Lin stayed home with me. We worked on homework and read some stories. He played on the Wii (the impetus behind staying home) and we played a few rounds of Go Fish. It was a warm happy night that doesn't happen often enough. And in the days since, he's listened better. I KNOW to invest in each child individually, but getting through the grind of the day sometimes gets me off track.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

hard adjustments

we're just past nine months since our family almost doubled. Looking back, I try to figure out where the biggest struggles have been...what did we not anticipate? I think without question the adjustment has been toughest on Sam. He was so excited about adopting; even in Taiwan, he was wonderfully attentive and an adorable big brother.

Having 3 little people HOME, day in and day out, though, has proven pretty challenging. Add to the mix that he's hitting adolescence more fiercely than Emma did a few years back and you have a perfect storm of emotion. Of course, the "littles" demand (and get) a lot of time and attention--that's a given. So, there is jealousy. Then, there's the effort he does make to play with them that often ends poorly, with them getting hurt or him feeling offended. I'm sure it's not that different from regular families and sibling rivalry, but it has been mighty painful for us and him.

Thankfully, he is taking an online leadership course through Williamsburg Academy (wacademy) and has been pushed to ask hard questions of himself, and discuss WONDERFUL literature that stretches him mentally and emotionally. It's a positive, but still, we struggle.

One insight I had about a month ago was that I needed to spend GOOD PERSONAL time with him daily...whether to be an audience for violin practice or help with math or a listener. I rarely get the full amount of time that I wish for, but it does feed him.

Another freeing suggestion came from a mentor blog onethankfulmom. She talks about how all of a sudden, because of personalities and needs of specific kids, mornings had to undergo a change. Certain kids stayed in bed til 8, others got ready and left for the day. In other words, instead of everyone happily having breakfast together as a family, they came in specifically planned waves...which, as she said, was completely the opposite of how she wanted her mornings to look. Who thinks that the plan will be to keep family members separated? BUT, as we pass through this first year of adapting and adjusting, we are making whatever changes that will get us through, and hopefully, we progress, bit by bit. I think and hope he is finding his equilibrium.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

tantrums and brain development

Tantrums...a less pleasant part of parenting, and I would say it's only been over the past few months that we've had more issues with them and one child. It usually seems to be about control, ie, if you don't let me be in control, I will scratch and kick and hit for a very long time. And in the adoption world, you have "time in," where you are present, instead of time out (which I am not sure I bought into anyway). But if you are present, you are fair game for a little pain.

In our case, the latest tantrum ended in not being able to go sledding. But even as that consequence became clear, the child cried off and on for another hour saying, "I want to go sledding."

"But, because of your choices (hit, scratch etc), you don't get to go this time." (repeat Many times)

No connection of consequence. It's not always that way, but this particular time, the cause/effect seemed to evade. And so, I read and think and test out what to do next.
Meanwhile, I came across a great adoptive parent blog called onethankfulmom that is a wealth of information. I'm sure the actual solution is somewhere in there, but in the meantime, I am reading a book she reviewed titled The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry.

illustration from:

The author, a psychiatrist, describes through brain research and stories of children, how the brain develops. We always hear that children are so resilient, but he shows how, in fact, when they experience trauma, parts of their brain simply do not make the connections that normal children make. They are stalled, if you will, in a specific developmental place. For example, a neglected child who cries for food but doesn't receive it, does not connect that a cry will bring relief. So patterns of trust and empathy are not established.

a child's brain

It's pretty deep food for thought...and I don't know factually the extent of what our children experienced, but I must behave as though there was trauma and try to understand what will heal them.

Friday, March 29, 2013

why all time sun come out and it still cold?

Spring came with a vengeance last week, 18 inches of snow over a few days just after some beautiful sunshiny spring like days. As I picked Zhong-Lin up from school, he asked, "Why all time sun come out and it still cold?"'s complicated! a globe, the sun, the earth's position.

Sledding is the all time favorite activity, evidenced in this video.

and we can't forget snow angels, but yes, they weary of it, being tricked by the sun to think warmer weather is here.

Emma had the brilliant idea of eating dinner on the mini trampoline on the snowy back porch and they relished that!

So, we wait....for "spring" to come.