April 30, 2011

tour de toy

So that someday, when all of this stuff is sold from a card table next to Daniel's pitted-out Tshirts, the boys won't forget what constituted their entire world.

OK, so I won't forget.

April 29, 2011

1 wandering eye, 3 wet kids, and a camera

Pardon me, Zion, but it occurred to me that I had not yet documented your adorable little eye problem.

With glasses:
Without glasses:
Nothing like wet-chested, red-cheeked little boys in hot water with plastic toys. 

April 27, 2011

living the dream

There are two kinds of people in this world:  dreamers and doers.  I am a dreamer.  My mile-long bucket list includes, but is not limited to, me in a tall white chef's hat, me wearing a press badge, and a bio of me in the back of a novel.  Someday, I want to get into the shape of my life.  Someday, I want dread locks.  Someday, I want a beautiful, colorful tattoo on my back. 

I want my children to rise up and called me blessed.

I want to be a grandmother like my mom is turning out to be. 

I want to win a cooking contest.

I want to taste marinara sauce in Italy.  

Like I said, a mile long.

My husband, on the other hand, is a doer.  When I asked him the other day what was on his bucket list, he said, "Nothing.  I'm living my bucket list."  Then today, he was drinking tea in a local tea house, waiting for a friend, facing a back alley that was bustling with merchants on motorbikes pedaling goldfish jars, and he took this picture of himself.  He sent it to me in an email with this message: "Because I'm living my bucket list, baby."
And there you have it.

If, however, doers like Daniel did have a bucket list - a suppressed bucket list, of sorts, that even they themselves were unaware of - perhaps dining at a place like this might be on it.

Or perhaps eating a happy piece of butt would be on it.
And I'll throw this picture in the mix because Daniel sites this moment, in the Tiger Leaping Gorge, captured on camera by a friend, as being the most serene moment of the last 7 years of his life.
 Living the dream.

April 26, 2011

an orphan no more!

Vanya has been chosen by an adoptive family!


Thank you, G0D.

April 25, 2011

gloriously chubby

It looks as if the feeding tube is working.

Oh my WORD!  Does it get any more delicious than this?  What a marshmallow.  Auntie K loves you to pieces, Glory Girl.

The Glory of Easter

Last week we celebrated 9 months of Glory.  Over the weekend, we celebrated the day that sin and death were overcome.  Kerry said it was the best Easter EVER!  In this picture, Kerry and Philip are sitting in the Arkansas Childrens Hospital chapel pew on Easter with their beautiful daughters, Glory and Eliana.

Glory has not left the hospital since her birth 9 months ago.  Yet, in the midst of weariness the likes of which most have never felt, Kerry, Philip and MoMo know the meaning of true rest.  On days that are tougher than most have ever had, there is no mourning in the Morton household!  They have both of their daughters, alive, to hold and love every day.  The doctors are saying that it is only a matter of time now.  Sometime in the future, Glory will sleep in a real bed, and take a bath with her sister, and eat food that will travel down her esophagus into her stomach.  While they wait, Kerry and Philip continue to keep their heads up and their hearts soft before the L0RD, trusting in the G0D who they have come to know so intimately over the last 270-some days.

We are all waiting, if we were honest with ourselves.  We are all waiting for the guy who flew up into the clouds to come back down.  We are waiting for all of this gunk to get cleaned up, and all of this brokenness to be fixed.  While we wait, we can take a lesson from my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  Keep your head up, keep your heart soft, and put your trust in G0D.

Happy Easter!

April 23, 2011

Tonally going for it!

The view from our favorite McDonald's.
Too long have I been mute.  Too long have I stood beside my husband, smiling like an idiot, while he communicates for me.

Announcing:  Kayla has started seeing a language tutor (again)!  This is my 3rd or 4th attempt, I've lost count, but this time I am determined to stick it out.  You might wonder why I haven't just "absorbed" the language after three years of hearing it all around me.  I don't blame you for wondering.  You don't know any better.  You've (probably) never tried to learn a tonal language.

Tonal?  Let me explain.

Lets suppose you learn a new vocab word in Spanish, like "hola."  Great!  Now you know how to say "hello," right?  In Spanish, yes.  In Spanish, that's how it works.  In this language, you learn a new vocab word like "tang" and it means four different things depending on how you say it.  If you say it like you are hitting a soprano note, it means "soup."  If you say it like you are asking a question, it means "sugar."  If you say it like you are barking an order at someone, it means "hot."  If you say it like you are scooping something up with your voice, it means "swimming pond."

This aint no fiesta, people.  Pray for me.

April 21, 2011

Daddy's got his driver's license!

He studied for hours.  For hours and hours and hours.  He studied the answers to questions like this (and I quote):

After a vehicle falls into water, the wrong method for the driver to rescue himself is to
A.) Close the window to prevent water from flowing into the vehicle
B.) Immediately use hand to open the door
C.) Let the water to fill up the driver's cab so that the water pressure both inside and outside is equal
D.) Use a large plastic bag to cover the head and tight the neck closely

No, the answer is not D.  Apparently "tighting" plastic bags closely around our necks underwater is a good idea.  The wrong method for the driver to rescue himself is A.

This morning, he took the test.  He made a 96%.  The kids ran to greet him at the door, saying, "Good job, Daddy!" and screaming, "DINOSAUR MUSEUM!!!"  (a place we've been promising to take them just as soon as Daddy got his driver's license).

Now he has this:
Now we can move in the direction of acquiring a vehicle of some sort.  Though the "firewall" will be a fire extinguisher attached to the driver's seat (comforting), it will be safer than our three years of strapping our kids to motorized tricycles and bicycles.  We'll be able to take the kids into the countryside, to the dinosaur museum, maybe pay a visit to Xiao Fu's parents' village, maybe even go camping!

We are very excited, and I am very proud of Daniel for studying mumbo-jumbo for so many hours in order to afford his family a greater measure of safety and freedom.  Thanks, Babe.  You're the best.

April 20, 2011

fashion refugee

OK, I know that I am no fashion expert, but...

Seriously?  These are GAP clothes, people, not the stuff at Goodwill from 1984 that we all flipped through on our way to the cool vintage Tshirts when we were in high school.  Is America really wearing this stuff now?  I guess I chose the biggest fashion...um...crisis in American history during which to spend three years out of the country.  I will say this, it is good for my pocket book.  I haven't been tempted to buy a top in over two years.

Does this mean that my vintage Tshirts, bootcut jeans, and clogs are no longer in?  I think I'll just wait it out over here until these things find there way back to Goodwill.

NOTE:  I still plan to wear my new jeggings dancing, CDC, just as soon as I get a hot pair of cowgirl boots.  I am glad, however, that you chose not to send me the red, shiny, cropped variety.  ;)

NOTE #2:  If you are reading this post while wearing any of the above items from GAP, please don't be offended.  I would get devoured by that lady on "What Not to Wear," I am sure (and then she would try to talk me into wearing a Tshirt with gaping arm holes, shoulder pads, and a tiny zipper pocket on the lapel).

April 17, 2011

Where tigers once leaped

You live 15 minutes from Wal-Mart.  We are jealous.  We live 300 miles from this (feel free to be jealous):
Granted, I've never been to Tiger Leaping Gorge.  We women here retreat to nearby hotels, where inconsolable children can be soothed over the telephone.  Our men, however, round themselves up for a 35-minute, $150 flight to a hikers' paradise.  They pack a clean change of underwear and the game "Risk," and a baggie of Advil and band aids, handed to them last minute with a kiss.  They say words like "crap" and "suck" like they used to in college, before little ears were always listening.

Someday I'll walk where tigers once leaped.  Someday I'll venture where my kids cannot reach me by phone.  Until then, we'll let Daniel go and take AMAZING pictures and reconnect with the dirt, and come home a better daddy and hubby for it.

Love, Mom.

My mom said to me a thousand times, "When you're a mother, you'll understand."

Well, Mom, now I understand.

-and here's a note to my little ones, who will someday understand for themselves-

Zion, I hurt your great big heart today.  I heard it in your naturally raspy voice.  I saw it in your tiny, handsome face.

You are going on four years old, and you are loud, and you are whiny, and you are perfectly normal in every way.  A child.  I am going on 31 years old, and I am exhausted.

Absolutely exhausted.

My beautiful, amazing, treasured children, if you are reading this years from now, hear me say this.  It was always my fault, not yours.  I was the adult, and you were the children.  I am sorry I could not be perfect for you.  I would have given everything I had to be a perfect mother for you.  My only comfort is knowing that your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Zion, I just got through cuddling with you in your bed, underneath Bright's bed, underneath the painting of Ruth and Boaz that Sue Sue made for you boys as a parting gift when we moved to East Asia in 2008.  It was late when I sneaked into your room.  Daddy was not yet home from a weekend men's retreat in the nearby mountains.  I had been crying for the better part of the day, because I wasn't invited to something again, and because I'm so far away from my mom and dad, and because I hurt your great big heart.  Cuddled up next to you as you slept, I stroked your tiny forearm, and told you I was sorry.  You murmured, "I fo-give you" and I could smell your breath, and feel the warmth of your cheek and the set of your itty bitty jaw.  Someday, my son, you will be a wiry, happy man, and you will, L0RD willing, love your incredibly flawed mama.

Bright, Zion, Brave, and Jubilee, I will always love you more than it appears, no matter how hard I try to show it.  And for every tear I will ever cause your eyes to shed, I am truly sorry.

With All My Love Forever,

April 16, 2011

save this child

This is Vanya.  I heard about him from a friend.  He is a sweet, happy, healthy orphan boy in the Ukraine who has reached that magic age (8 years old).  Because of his age, he will be moved into a mental institution simply to make room for younger orphans.  After he is moved, he can never to be adopted, and he will never be heard from again.

The Eli Project is trying desperately to get him adopted.  He is days away from being moved.  His life hangs in the balance.  If you know ANYONE who is paper-ready to adopt (who has already done their home study and has USCIS approval), please contact Chris at the Eli Project at this email address: chris@eliproject.org.  If you don't know anyone, please at least pass this story along.  Time is very limited and this is urgent.

Thanks, folks.

April 13, 2011

crown down

Xiao Fu made this crown of leaves for Brave the other day, from the materials that a shrub provided. Growing up in a village yields many interesting talents, apparently!

As you know, I have been feeling caged-in lately (see blog post in which I refer to male genitalia).  Early this morning, I was reading this from the gospel of John, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture" (v9). What hope flooded my soul then. I have a gate! I am not in a prison of motherhood, waiting it out until "freedom" returns to my lifestyle. I am free to come in and go out, through my savior, my shepherd, and in him I find pasture.



Then I re-read this, also from the gospel of John, "[He] knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from G0D and was returning to G0D; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist" (v3).

Because J-sus knew who he was, he could humble himself before the ones he loved and (in this case) wash their feet.  So it is with me, perhaps.  Because I know who I am (a sheep with a gate and a pasture, not to mention a shepherd who cares for me), I can humble myself day in and day out and day in and day out and day in and day out, for the next 17 years, serving these little goobers of mine.

Somebody, hand me a towel.  It's time to act like CHR1ST.

April 11, 2011

Birthday Problems

Adjunct to Bright's birthday post, I will post this poem that he wrote out loud over his breakfast cereal on his 6th birthday.  We have been studying and writing poetry in class lately, and he is on a bit of poetry kick.

This one he titled, "Birthday Problems."

If you had your birthday in the sky
what good would it do for your remote control car?
But you could fly your remote control helicopter.

If you had your birthday under ground
what good would it do to fly your remote control helicopter?
But you could drive your remote control car.

If you had your birthday under water
what good would it do to use the power?
But you could use your remote control submarine.
It has waterproof power.

If you had your birthday above ground
it would be good to use the remote control helicopter
and the remote control car,
but not the remote control submarine.

April 10, 2011

as Bright as the moon

Named for paternal forefathers.  Named to be a source of light.  Bright Eugene.  Born 6 years ago in rural Kentucky.  Rocked to sleep in a porch swing.  Walked to soothe beneath open skies, up and down main street, past the soda fountain, the country cafe, and the rundown church campground where we met every Sunday morning to stamp our feet on the concrete floor and fan our worshiping faces.

You were born to poor parents.  We once pushed you to the IGA in a stroller for a can opener that we went home without because our bank note showed less than $2 to our name.  We lived in a bed-and-breakfast, with one meager red room to call our "own."  I got up early every morning, breastfed you under the stairs, then tied on a white apron and cooked breakfast for 10-20 people.  Your daddy was busy learning about the L0RD and how much he loves us and what he has planned for the world. 

Now, my son, you are 6, and you dream of flying helicopters and reforming governments and traveling to distant galaxies.  You get lost in books. You laugh uproariously at the antics of Winnie the Pooh, and Tom and Jerry.  You love to eat salad and mashed potatoes with large cuts of juicy meat.  You are a real gentleman, my son, and the makings of a hero.  Shoot for the moon, I tell you!

And now here is the birthday party we threw for you.  Only boys and men were invited. The theme was "Man on the Moon," in honor of your love for space and all things related.

I made a moon cake,
a moon pinata,
and I distributed moon pies (actually they were "Lotte" pies, but everyone knew what I was getting at).
I dressed the table, and Daddy hung the streamers and balloons.  Your dad is the world's best streamer-er.  In his words, "Three years on student council paid off."
After presents 
and cake, 
and some visitors from outer space,
I took my leave so the machismo could flow.  Apparently you had a lot of fun.

HAPPY 6TH BIRTHDAY BRIGHT!  We love you so much.

April 06, 2011

Father Time

We have now been here long enough for Brave to be conceived (too much information), born, and kiss his first girl.
And we have been here long enough for Zion to go from this
to writing his name for the first time two days ago.
Father Time.  He don't stop for no one.

p.s.  The lucky girl is Ellie Bicksler.  Good choice, Brave!