Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hurray! It's spring ...

... so since we were home, Jake and Kevin headed outside to play ... IN THE SNOW!

Yep, we had a blizzard hit, a few inches of snow (4 or so) and a wind of 30-40 mph. We only went out for a little bit, because Jake has the sniffles. Can't wait for it really to be spring.

Getting ready...

Throwing a snowball at Daddy.

Piper says, "Hey it was almost 70 degrees Friday. What gives? Whatever it is I don't like it."

Oh well, the high temperature is supposed to be near 60 on Monday and close to 70 on Tuesday. Gotta love Oklahoma weather.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

'They are very happy to hear from you'

We had been talking about doing it for a while and finally sent Jake's orphanage, Jiangzhang SWI in Baoji, an update on our little man. We had heard some less-than-great things about the orphanage while we were waiting to travel, but when we were united with Jake we found him to be a well-cared-for boy. His transition has been great, so we know he was treated well at the orphanage. Because of that, we thought they deserved an update on how he has been since he came home.

We sent a letter to Angela with Lady Bugs 'n Love to translate for us. We just summarized what the last year and a few months have been like, and how Jake has progressed. We also sent along a few photos of Jake and us.

We hadn't heard anything from Angela, so we fired off an e-mail to her and she responded the other day: "I just confirmed with them that they received it on Feb 23. they are very happy to hear from you. :)"

We didn't really expect to receive a reply, but it was nice to know they appreciated the update.

I say Glass, you say Gloss

After church Sunday we headed off to climb in the Glass (or Gloss) Mountains, a chain of mesas not far from where we live.

They aren't mountains in the sense the Rocky Mountains are mountains, but for western Oklahoma they are all we have. Cathedral Mountain, which we climbed, is more than 150 feet high and includes a walking trail at top that is more than 1 mile long. All in all, another fun family outing.

Pick your name. This sign explains why they are called Glass and Gloss.

We have to climb up there?

Climbing. There are steps and hand rails most of the way up, but sometimes you have to rough it.

Rock slide. It's obvious there still is some instability with the rocks on the mountain. We had to climb over these on our way up and down.

The view from the top. Our pickup is on the left. Jake took this photo with our old digital camera, which now is his. He's a pretty good photographer.

The little man composing his next shot.

Another Jake masterpiece. A nice scenic view.

Selenite crystals which reflect sunlight give the Glass (or Gloss) Mountains their name.

Jake and Mommy living on the edge.

Jake and Daddy at the edge of the world.

Hey guys, I think we need to go this way.

Lone Peak. 175 feet tall.

Examining a rock.

Going back down. We all need a little help.

Keep your balance when you walk the plank.

Back down and Jake shows off his balance.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

He is here, and he is loved

The first time I saw this picture was after I knew I was Jake's mom but before we left for China. These are children at my son's orphanage in 2007 (the woman who took them visited around the time Jake would have been 1 year old). We had heard some bad things about his orphanage that had gone on in recent years and not many good, updated things. I remember I couldn't see very clearly the boy in the background lying his head on his walker, and I thought, "Please don't let that be my son." I didn't want him to be sickly or malnourished as some of the children I'd heard of and seen.
Well, we went to China, and Jake was healthy and anything but sickly. We always will be grateful for the care he received in the first two years of his life at Jiangzhang SWI. It wasn't like the love his family gives him, but we know they cared for our boy.
After we had been home for several months, I saw this photo again, and the way the little boy laid his head on his walker struck me as familiar, and this time I was excited in thinking that was my son (albeit a sleepy little Jake). I started looking for other photos with this boy in them and the result can be seen in the previous post.
Thank you all for your responses here and on Facebook. Three different people said picture 3 convinced them it was Jake. We, too, believe it is Jake, but we never will know.

These pictures have taught me a valuable life lesson.
I struggle with my faith from time to time (my personal joke is if the Rapture comes I hope it is on one of my good days). Seriously, though I believe in Jesus and love to study the Gospels and New Testament books, but sometimes the Old Testament brings me down. There are tales that present good life lessons, but they seem, at times, to be just stories, or myths, too fantastical to believe. (I admit I have a lot of studying and learning to do.) Science and technology of today, along with many non-believers' scorn of religion, work to convince me in my weaker moments that maybe there could be no heaven. I fight it, but the devil walks with me at times. I try to find something to convince me that it is all true. I tell myself, as in Job, that who am I to question God? I am like a bug is to humans, and I don't understand.
While sitting in church pondering my obsession with these photos of Jake (sorry Gene, it was a momentary lapse brought on by something you said in your sermon), I suddenly realized it doesn't matter whether or not those photos are Jake (although I still am obsessed with studying them) because he is here now and that's all that matters.
Take it to scripture, and it suddenly doesn't matter I have issues with the Old Testament because Jesus is alive and he is my savior.
Anyway, that's my epiphany, for what it's worth :)
These photos will be saved and discussed in the future. We cannot prove these pictures are Jake, but we will make sure it doesn't matter, because he will know we are real and he is loved.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Never before seen photos?

A family adopted a boy from Jake's orphanage when Jake would have been about 1 year old. They were able to visit the orphanage and take photos. In the background of their photos is a little boy whom I think is Jake, but he is really far back. I'm obsessed with it. I have come to grips that it doesn't matter, as he is here now and that is all that matters, but I still want to know as much about him as I can in the years before I knew of him.
I really, really think this is him, but the fact I am more certain now after I have studied and obsessed over it than I was when I first saw it has me seeking outside opinions.
.... So, what do you guys think?
The first photo is one that is Jake we received while we were in the adoption process. His shirt is the similar (same vest different shirt???), so try not to let it sway you. I will post more on this in the future, as there is more to these photos and this story, but first I'd just like some feedback on if you all see similarities and think it is Jake.

Jake's photo

Other photos (double click to make them bigger)

Thanks for your feedback

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A day of discovery

On a rainy afternoon, we decided we needed some action, so we headed into our local science museum, Leonardo's Discovery Warehouse, for a day of learning and fun. There were several things to do, and while admission comes with the outdoor playground — a huge castle area built by community volunteers — we stayed inside and had a blast.

First, Jake and Daddy climbed into a cockpit of a T-37 for takeoff:

Then it was on to bigger and better things ... Space (Mommy told Jake to stir the oxygen tanks. LOL)

Funny things happen when you are in outer space:

There is a wood shop, where kids can explore with tools, with Mom and Dad right there to assist. This sawing thing's not too hard:


There were animals to pet. Jake got to pet a boa constrictor (the python was adamant about not leaving his cage) and a ferret. He got to see a tarantula (Mom was disappointed we couldn't hold it), chinchilla, hamsters, bearded dragon, turtles, fish and this guy, a hedgehog:

Jake had to put up with Mom and Dad, who got a little carried away with dress-up time. Enough with the boots already:

He had so much fun, but we have to admit he got a little of a big head:

His favorite thing was going through tunnels and having to climb up and down ladders to get out again. This is probably where he'll spend all of our next trip:

There were a couple of sand tables (the water tables are in the outdoor park), one of which was a fossil table. Jake had to get a closer look at one of his finds:

And after all that action, it was good to sit down and relax and make crafts. Jake and Daddy and Mommy made a stick man to take home and Jake settled in to his newest passion of coloring:

Here he is with his final product. He surprised us by resurrecting his portraits (we call them Veggie portraits because they kind of look like the gourds.) Notice his stacked name. He starts to far to the edge of the page and has to stack his letters:

We had a great time. Thanks Leonardo's!

By the way, Leonardo's came about because of a lot of dedicated people, chief among them Owen K. Garriott and his former wife, Helen. Owen is an Enid, Okla., native and former NASA astronaut. He went into space twice, with the Skylab 3 mission in 1973 and aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1983.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

'I do it myself'

That seems to be Jake's favorite phrase as of late.

He wants to be a big boy and show he can do things on his own, like going up stairs.

At work, we have a parking garage in the basement, so he has to walk the stairs. It used to be he would reach his hand out to either one of us for help. Now, we get "I do it myself," and he goes up the stairs by himself. Of course, we keep a good eye on him with one of us in front and one behind, but he really does a good job of stairs.

One of his other favorite phrases is "I help Mommy" or "I help Daddy." He loves to help us do things. Sometimes it's a good thing like today. Kevin was filling holes in the yard from badgers, moles, skunks and armadillos. (Take your pick, we have them all at one time or another). Jake came up to him and said "I help Daddy" and had to help fill the holes. But, when he wants to help fix dinner that can be an issue, especially if knives or the stove are involved. Usually, though, we can find him a safe, easy task to do and he's happy.

If we only can get him to always say "I do it myself" when he eats. LOL He tends to poke along and we have to shovel the food in.