Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year, New House, New Life!

It has been a while since I posted, and with good reason.  This year has been just about the most life-changing one for our family.  Along with the immeasurable joy of finally receiving our daughter from China into our family came anxiety and stress like I've never felt before.  The challenges have been difficult for me, but God has gotten me through them.  If you'd like to read more about our trials and triumphs in the past year, please read my other blogs (links below).  They'll give you some insight into what is involved in overseas adoption, from the paperwork process, to travelling to your child's country and bringing them home, to possible challenges in your family's adjustment:

Just as we are all settled in with our daughter, now we have decided to move (figures)!  Thank goodness we're only moving to another house in our same town, though, only 4 miles away.  The difference is we'll have a little over 2 and a half more times the space than our current house!  I'm not joking; we're going from an 1,183 square foot house to one that's 3,078!  One huge source of stress for all of us has been that we feel like we're constantly on top of each other.  Very little personal space combined with two kids, one of whom is VERY loud and  both of whom are VERY energetic, has turned me into a walking emotional disaster area.  I love my kids to death, no question, but too much is too much! Since we homeschool, I'm pretty much with them 24/7, so you can imagine, and I'm sure many of you don't even have to imagine because you're in a similar situation.  I'm so thankful we'll be outta here in two weeks and one day.  Yes, I'm counting down :)

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas, and are so looking forward to a Happy New Year.  Something tells me it will be.  No, not "something"--someone.  That someone is God.  I have felt his presence so much lately after having a long period of not feeling it.  I know God is there, and He's telling me everything will be alright.  My prayer is that it will be alright for eveyone reading this right now too.  May God bless you and your family in this coming new year.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blowing Up National Treasures

Wow!  It's been over 5 months since I last wrote!  I can't believe how that time has flown!  The reason for my absence is that we brought home our daughter from China back in May, and my life was turned upside down for a while.  I'm now settling in, and will hopefully be able to write more now.  I'll write more about our trip to China and our new, beloved daughter later, but for now, there is something I feel is very important to talk about.  That something is mountaintop removal coal mining. 

Many people have never heard of mountaintop removal coal mining, and even I hadn't until a few months ago, even though I lived near where it was happening as a child.  It started in the 1970's and continues today.  It is the blasting of mountaintops in Appalachia in order to get to the coal under the surface.  Most people are familiar with the traditional way of coal mining, where people blast holes under the mountains and go in and get the coal.  But mountaintop removal literally blows up the top of a mountain, disfiguring it's beauty, while also destroying wildlife and their homes, then waste from the process is dumped into the streams below, poisoning the water for both animals and people. 

I was so disturbed by this when I first found out about it.  Perhaps it hits me harder than a lot of people because I lived in Appalachia as a child, miss it dearly, and am even making plans to move back there.  Also, my family came from there, going back several generations.  So I have a pride in the area and a deep emotional connection to it and its mountains.  This is one reason I found myself so anxious after I learned about mountaintop removal.

Then I learned that even though I live pretty far from where mountaintop removal happens, my local electric company purchases the coal from these mountains, so I'm connected to this horrendous act.  For a while, I felt like every time I turned on a light, I was blowing up a mountain.  I know that seems a little over-dramatic, but it's really not that far from the truth.  I found the website,, and for a long time, I found it very hard to look at the photos of the blasted mountains.  I couldn't believe that anyone could have the heart to destroy their beauty.  I was appalled that anyone could without conscience dump poison into the streams, knowing it would hurt people and animals.  I am now determined to get the word out about this practice and to help end it.

There are bills that have been introduced that if passed, would end mountaintop removal.  Also several states have submitted bills for their own states to ban the use of coal from mountaintop removal.  So many of us are linked to mountaintop removal, whether we realize it or not, and we can all help to stop it. This would never happen to the Rocky Mountains, and it shouldn't be happening to the Appalachian Mountains either. These mountains are national treasures that should be treated with respect.  We can all help.  Please visit, and see how you can contact congress and your local leaders to help stop mountaintop removal.  At the very least, please pass the link to their website on to everyone you know.

If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, you will have a chance to see a commercial about mountaintop removal that will be airing for a few days from September 22-29.  If not, you can see it on the website, or click below.  It really makes you stop and think.

Thank you so much for all of your help!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ye Shall Receive

Wow, I put up a ChipIn box on all my blogs and posted about it on Facebook asking for donations for our expenses while we're in China, and I'm overwhelmed by the response!  In just five days, we got $985 in donations!  I shouldn't be surprised.  Matthew 21:22 says, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

I strongly feel that we are going through this right now for God to teach us to rely fully on Him.  To exercise our faith in Him, to remember that He does care about our troubles and does take care of us when we are in need.  He is showing me that He has surrounded us with people who care about us, people who are willing to help us, and that it's ok to ask for help.  I used to shy away from asking for help.  But in this situation, we have no other choice.  God knows this, and He has provided.

Thank you to those of you have helped so far.  We're not to our goal yet, so please help spread the word for us.  Thank you, and God bless you all.

For more information on our Chinese Adoption and our fundraising efforts, please visit our adoption blog: 
Thank you!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

We Need a Little Help

My husband, Chip and I talked it over, and although we didn't want to ask anyone for money related to the adoption, we've decided we need to. We've already saved (and gotten loans for) everything for the adoption itself, but now we just need funds for expenses while in China. These expenses will include food, transportation (taxis), other miscellaneous expenses, and/or emergency or other unforseen expenses. Also, Chip recently got a paycut, and that combined with saving for the adoption will leave us with very little left when we get back home. Chip will get a paycheck about a week after we get back, so we'll need just enought to get us through that week.

We're unable to take out any more loans, so we have no other option than to ask for the money from our friends.

If you can give anything at all, please do. Just click on the "ChipIn!" box, and it will take you to PayPal to make a donation. It will all add up, and EVERY BIT will help. Thank you so much!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Distracted by a China Doll

I hadn't planned on not posting for this long, but I got such wonderful news last week, news that completely distracted me from writing on this blog.  We got our travel date for China, which is May 6th!!!  We also learned this week that our daughter, although she has unilateral microtia, she has no problem hearing!!!  I was preparing myself for the worst case scenario, that we would be using sign language for a while, until we could get some kind of treatmen for her so she could hear, and that would have been fine.  Of course, I was ready to deal with whatever auditory issues she had.  She's my daughter, I love her, and would do anything for her.  Then when I got the news, suddenly the burden of all that was lifted!  I was happy to carry that burden, but it was still such a relief to know we wouldn't have that burden after all.  Now, there are still possibilities of minor hearing issues because I don't think her hearing has ever been tested, but it appears that what hearing she does have is sufficient for her to live a perfectly normal life.  What a blessing to find out your child is so healthy!

We'll have Hannah tested a little while after we get back home and find out the extent, if any, hearing issues she has.  But for now, I've put aside worrying about her hearing us as we attempt to speak to her in Mandarin for those first few weeks, and as she picks up a little English.  I'm now able to completely concentrate on preparing for our trip.  My husband and I have never even been out of the country.  The longest flight I've ever taken lasted only about and hour and 20 minutes, and now I'm about to take one that could take up to 24 hours!

Also last week, we got new photos of our daughter celebrating her 4th birthday with her foster parents.  Just like the last time I got photos, I sort of dropped everything else I was doing and could think of nothing but my gorgeous daughter.  The house is now a wreck while I've been posting the photos on various Yahoo Groups, facebook and forums, and posting on my adoption blog, printing out the photos, calling people about our travel date and Hannah's hearing, cramming all the reading about adoption I can before we leave, making lists for packing, etc. etc. etc.

So I probably won't be posting nearly as much for a while.  Being thousands of miles from the most beautiful China doll in the world, who also happens to be your daughter, can do that to you.

For more details on our adoption, visit my adoption blog at

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Using a Nose Bidet

I pulled out my nose bidet today for the first time this spring. My son had a stuffy nose yesterday, I believe because of allergens in the spring air, and usually when he starts showing symptoms, I know it won’t be long before I am too. So as soon as I start feeling that slight scratchy feeling in my sinuses when I swallow, I get out my nose bidet. It works wonders!

In case you’re not familiar with a nose bidet (pronounced “bih-dey”), it’s a small, usually ceramic pitcher-type container that actually looks like a miniature watering can for plants, and even kind of like Aladdin's magic lamp. It is used to flush out your sinuses with warm water, ridding them of any foreign particles that might cause allergic reactions that lead to sinus infections. How do you use a nose bidet? It’s really very simple. Put warm, distilled water and pharmaceutical-grade, non-iodized salt in it, then pour the solution into one nostril with your head tipped to one side. The water should flow into your nostril, up through your sinuses, then out the other sinus. Blow your nose, then repeat on the other side. It’s that easy!

It might sound strange to you if you’ve never heard of it, but nose bidets have been used in yoga practice since ancient times, and washing the nasal passages has been a practice in many cultures for many years as well. Even though it’s a new concept in the U.S., it works extremely well. What it does is to physically remove the allergens from your sinuses before they have a chance to react defensively. Without using a nose bidet, your sinuses start to produce a lot of mucus, in an attempt to trap the allergens, making your nose run and sometimes get stopped up. When your nose gets stopped up and you can’t even blow your nose to get it all out, bacteria begins to build up in the mucus, causing an infection. When you use a nose bidet at the first sign of a problem, you get rid of the allergens before they can cause a problem, reducing or even completely preventing allergy symptoms.

I got my father a nose bidet this past Christmas. Ever since I can remember, he’s had problems with his sinuses, always getting infections that would spread to his ears. One memory of him when I was growing up was the constant clearing of his throat, that I now know was an attempt to get allergen junk out of his sinuses. I talked to him the other day, and to my delight, he said he no longer takes any sinus or allergy medications at all! He uses the nose bidet 3 times a week, and it has completely wiped out his sinus problems!

I first heard about nose bidets a few years ago on an episode of Oprah, in which Dr. Oz introduced me to the idea. I knew I had to try it, and I’m so happy I did! I used to get one or two sinus infections every year, and now I get zero! It’s wonderful!

So if you’ve been thinking about getting a nose bidet (sometimes referred to as a “Neti Pot,” which is one of may brands of nose bidets), GET ONE. Not having to take medication, or even reducing the amount you have to take, is such a wonderful, and in some cases, life-changing experience! Abandon your skepticism and give it a try. I think you’ll be so glad you did!

Here are some tips for your first few times using a nose bidet, that might help you as you get used to using it:
  • Use only pure, distilled water. You don’t want to use tap water, putting chlorine, and who knows what else in your nose.
  • Use only pure salt. You can get pharmaceutical-grade salt at a health food store, and I’ve also heard you can use “canning” salt. It’s important to make sure it’s non-iodized, and that it’s pure, without any additives that regular table salt has.
  • If you have a hard time with water flowing through your sinuses, feeling like you’re drowning, try this: You want to make sure you’re breathing slowly while your doing this process. Breathe slowing and deeply through your mouth, not your nose. If you try to breathe through your nose while water is flowing through your sinuses, it will be very unpleasant, like when you accidently got water in your nose in the swimming pool as a child. Just take it slowly, calm down and breathe through your mouth.
  • Don’t give up if you can’t get the hang of it the first time. It’s a new concept and a new sensation for a lot of us, so it may take some time to get used to. Practice until it comes easily. 

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Chinese Adoption

Although I briefly mentioned in the "About Me" section of my blog that we are in the adoption process, I haven't actually posted about it yet.  Our story started about a year and nine months ago, when I was about as far away from thinking about another child as I could be.  In fact, I had been after my husband for quite a while to get a vascectomy, to no avail.  I don't remember when the exact moment was that adoption came into my mind, but I do know that I was just sitting there, and what I can only describe as God's still, small voice, said to me, "Your daughter is in China. You will go there and get her."  No, it wasn't an actual voice with words like you would hear with your physical ear, but more of a subtle, yet undeniable, wave of feeling that came over me.  So that night while my husband, Chip, was playing on the couch with our then 4-year-old son, I asked him, "How would you feel about adopting a baby girl from China?"  He instantly responded with, "Sure!"  We rarely agree that quickly on things, especially something of this magnitude, so I knew we were heading toward something that was meant to be.

We talked about more that night, and to my surprise, Chip revealed to me that he'd always known we would adopt; he was just waiting for me to bring it up.  He knows me well enough that if something like that is not my idea, I won't go for it.  Go figure!

So I started researching adoption agencies that deal with Chinese adoption, and very soon found Great Wall, ordered the free informational packet with DVD, we watched it and were ready to get started.  We attended an informational workshop conducted by a family who had adopted a two year old from China a few years ago through Great Wall.  We submitted our application, and were officially in the dossier phase in October of 2008.  We drug our feet quite a bit with all the paperwork, so we could have been done a lot sooner, but ended up submitting our dossier in October of 2009.  At this point, we were requesting a healthy infant, as young as possible.  Then we began to consider an older child, around 2 years younger than our son, wanting them to be close in age growing up.  But our social worker talked us out of it with stories of how older children who have been institutionalized can have a harder time adjusting to their new lives and bonding with their new families.  So we continued on the path toward a baby, knowing the wait at that point was about 4 years.  

But something just kept eating at me, like we were not doing what was in our hearts.  Chip and I talked it over and we decided that we did want an older child, and we would take whatever risks we had to.  We called up our social worker and let her know, and against her advice, we submitted a new request for an older child, and also that we would consider some mild special needs.  So we began to look at the "Waiting Child" list from our agency, which is a list of the children with special needs that are available.  We considered things like club feet, cleft lip and palate, and other minor, "correctable" needs.  Then one day I read the description of a little girl with a condition called "microtia."  I had never heard of this condition, so I did some research. Microtia is a deformity of the ear, meaning literally, "little ear."  There are four grades of microtia, with grade I being the mildest, where the child's ear looks mostly normal, but is slightly smaller than their other ear, and grade IV being the most severe, where there is no external ear at all.  With grade I, there is an ear canal, but with the other grades, there many times is an ear canal, but it is closed off.  In this case, the child may have hearing, and sometimes the canal can be opened up with surgery.  As far as the appearance of the external ear, many surgeries and treatments are available to make the ear appear more "normal" if the child and/or parents choose to.  Usually children with microtia in only one ear have normal hearing in their unaffected ear.

After doing some quick research on microtia, it seemed like such a minor special need, and one that we could totally handle.  So I requested information about the little girl, who, on the list was called "Shaylynn."  I talked about this little girl and her condition that night with Chip, and he said he was comfortable with her special need to.  We got the information on her the next day, and from all the reports, she seemed to be a healthy 3 and a half year old.  So we quickly contacted our agency and asked her to lock Shaylynn's file, which means that no other prospective parents would be able to see it, and proceeded with the paperwork.

From the one picture we have of our daughter's affected ear, it seems that she has grade II microtia.  Although the paperwork we have on her says her hearing is poor, we are hopeful that this simply means that her hearing is not normal because of her left ear and that the hearing in her right ear is good.

We found our little girl exactly one month to the day after we started looking at the Waiting Child list.  We know God was in this.  I had actually requested information on two girls that day, both with microtia, and only two months apart in age.  But the other little girl's, whom they were calling "Hannah," was already being looked at by another family and her file was locked by the time I contacted our agency.  I had thought that this little girl might be ours, because we are naming our daughter Hannah, but God had other plans.  I was actually drawn more to the description of the little girl, "Shaylynn," (we later found out her name is "Shi Lin"):
Shaylynn was born 2/2006 and has microtia of her left ear. She is shy and afraid of strangers. She can speak some simple words and can understand orders from adults. She knows the meanings of adult’s facial expression (for instance be angry, be happy). She likes watching advertisements, listening to music and outdoor activities. She loves to be held.

It was that last line that really got me.  Even though we wanted an older child, it was so important that she know how to be affectionate and bond with us, and this seemed to be a little girl who could do that.  The fact that is shy of strangers is good, because it means she can be close to some and can distinguish between those she's close to and those she is not.  So, even though the other girl was named Hannah, God knew "Shaylynn's" real name.  He knew she was ours, and blocked anyone else from locking her file until we did. 

Although we are still in the beginning stages of adoption, and the real experience won't start until about 5 weeks from now when we travel to China and meet our daughter, I still know we have so many blessings ahead, and highly recommend adoption.  If you've never even considered adoption, consider it now.  Whether international or domestic, there are so many children out there who need families.  And there are so many different ways to adopt a child, there's bound to be a way for you if you want to do it.  Pray about it and see if there is a child out there waiting for you.

To read more details about our adoption journey, visit our adoption blog at  What are your thoughts on adoption?  Please let me know by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

Our precious daughter, Hannah Claire Shi Lin

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