40 Things

As I enter my fortieth year, the year I set as my goal to become a best seller, and as I can’t sleep, I thought it would be fun to list forty random things from my life that make me me.  I’m hoping number 41 will be New York Times Bestselling Author.

It’s good to remember.  The Bible tells me so.  God had the Israelites make a stack of rocks to remember the important events in their journey.  Here’s my stack of rocks.

1.  I was born on an Air Force Base.  The same base where the space monkeys were born and raised.  There used to be jokes about this, but they died out with the space program.

2.  I think coffee is disgusting.  I’ve never had a single sip.

3.  I asked two girls to the same prom.

4.  I made $4.35 an hour at my first job at Knott’s Berry Farm.

5.  I had a conversation with President Bill Clinton on December 9, 1998…  the same day the House Judiciary Committee issued articles of impeachment against him.

6.  I have been in attendance at over three thousand funerals

7.  I got stitches in my head when I was two.  And again two days later.  And several more times after that.  I forget when.  What’s my name again?

8.  I grew up loving and playing baseball.  So it made perfect sense that I was MVP and 1st Team all San Gabriel Valley League at Warren High in 1991..  in Water Polo.  Not sure what this says about water polo at Warren or in the SGVL, but it was the most fun I ever had playing sports.

9.  I wrote an award winning essay in 4th grade and fudged every word of it.  Then I was invited to read it at a Downey City Council meeting.

10.  I once peed on an electrical outlet to see what would happen.  I think I was still in the single digit age range.  They sizzle and smoke in case you were wondering.  At least back then they did.

11.  I won the drawing to take home the classroom rabbit at the end of my second grade year.  I named him Thumper.  I didn’t feed him.  He died.

12.  When I was in high school, I was told by a doctor that there was a good chance I would not be able to have kids.  Wish I knew where that doctor was now.

13.  I was baptized at Downey First Christian Church in 1985.  I gave my life to God in a lonely house in Arnold, MD in 1999.

14.  I have attended five colleges and graduated from none.  Azusa Pacific University, Cerritos College, Central Texas College, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Bakersfield College.

15.  I became Dad to three new children in a 29-month period.

16.  The first movie I remember seeing in the theater was The Black Stallion.  I love stories, on screen or in print.

17.  I got my first book contract in 2002.  I got the call as I got out of the shower.  I danced in my living room and lost my towel.  I didn’t care that the windows were open.

18.  I’ve been married twice.  There is an unborn child from my first marriage that I am excited to meet in Heaven.

19.  Jill and I didn’t want to meet or go out with each other, but we did it at the urging of friends.

20.  I mastered the unicycle in middle school.  I made the mistake one year of telling Santa to surprise me.  He did.

21.  I scored a 99 on the ASVAB entering the military.  The Air Force job counselor told me I could do anything I wanted then flipped the page to my medical and said “Oh sh–, you’re color blind.  Nevermind.  Choose one of these.”  I went from limitless to hog-tied in a single breath.

22.  My plan out of high school was to be the next Rick Reilly.

23.  Jill told me as we were walking up to her house where I would meet her parents for the first time that she already told her parents I was the one she was going to marry.  No pressure.

24.  I still like Lance Armstrong

25.  Francine Rivers’ “Mark of the Lion” series changed my writing career and my faith.

26.  So did Stephen King’s It when I read it in middle school.

27.  I once ate two and a half “Big Ed” burritos at the old Green Burrito (when it was good).  I just couldn’t finish three like that skinny girl with her picture on the wall.

28.  I can name the girl I had a crush on in every grade from 1st on up.  I was always a ladies’ man.  The ladies just didn’t know it.

29.  I have two tattoos.

30.  I won my first rifle competition in 6th grade, qualified as an expert marksman with the M-16 in Basic Training and fired the M-1 for four years in the Air Force.

31.  I once drank a 24 oz cup of jalapeno juice to earn a free 24 0z cup of Coke on a bet.  I couldn’t taste the Coke or anything else for several days.

32.  I was electrocuted swimming alone in a pool in July of 2001.  By all accounts (except God’s), I should have been dead at 27.

33.  I met Walter Kronkite

34.  I am an Air Force veteran and I am afraid to get on a plane.

35.  I once owned a silver 1971 Corvette Stingray.  I now own a white minivan.

36.  I once drove alone from Maryland to California in three days.

37.  I graduated #101 out of 433 from Warren High in 1992.

38.  I fell asleep with my shirt off on top of Half Dome.  I still remember how that sunburn felt.  Twenty-one years later.

39.  I said hello to Bo Jackson once.  He said “Hey.”  Greatest athlete ever.

40.  I have a beautiful wife and a beautiful house.  I ask, “How did I get here?”  (I love ’80s music)


Some are funny.  Some are sad.  There’s no rhyme or reason to why these are the 40 things that popped into my head when I surveyed my life.  They’re all me and I’m happy to have them.  I enjoy getting old, even with the shoulders, elbows and knees that don’t work.  Even now that the hair in my ears grows faster than the hair on my head.  Even now that my bosses are all younger than me.  I like it.  It’s all been good and it’s fun to look back.  As I enter my fortieth year, I thank God for the first 39 and I hope that somewhere along the way He used me to make somebody smile eternally.

Sorry for the unsolicited trip down my memory lane.  I guess it’s my midlife coping mechanism.  Dave Ramsey says I can’t buy another Corvette right now.

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The Writing Parent’s Day

I am a stay-at-home father of five, which often seems like twenty-seven.  I am a writer, which often seems like a stay-at-home father of five.

My day for your consideration.

I wake up (sort of) and lay in bed for a few minutes thinking about my day and the characters of my WIP (work-in-progress for future reference).  I am excited to make P on my WIP.  Then my wife drops our nine-month old on the bed.  Quick kiss, quick “I love you,” quick screeching of tires, quick leave me to the (wolves) kids.

Without opening my eyes, I get a grip on the baby’s ankle so he can’t crawl of the bed.  Without opening my eyes, I am unaware that my three-year old has launched herself from the nightstand toward my person.  She is just the right length to simultaneously hit my chin with her forehead and my uncharted territory with her knee(s).  You reap what you sow.

The blood from my tongue draws less inner attention than other recent injuries, but is still consequential enough to make me sound like a sleestack.  I probably also look and walk like one at this time of day.

“I want ceelo!” (cereal)

“Ok.” (Let me get up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth and get dressed)

“I want ceelo!” (cereal)

“OK.”  (please.  just give me a second)

“I want ceelo!” (still cereal)

“OOOOOK!”  (I am going to chuck you down the stairs)  “I’m coming!”

I walk down the stairs following the human projectile, carrying the baby (possibly still by the ankle–he doesn’t care) and find my 5th and 3rd grader arguing over whose turn it is to pick a Netflix show.  They both like each others shows, so it doesn’t matter, but in the geo-political world of the two-story house on Swift Falls Way, the power-grab is key to happiness.  Or so it is for my two oldest.  I impose sanctions and turn on Sesame street.

My adopted child is usually not arguing with anybody.  He’s new, he’ll learn.  But my problem with him is the lego stuck in the bottom of my foot.  It makes it easier for me to tell him, “No, I’m not making bacon and eggs this morning.  Have a bowl of ceelo.”

While feeding the baby and getting most of the mush into his mouth, I shout question-orders at my two oldest.

“Do you have your homework?”

“Do you own a comb?”

“Is your backpack ready?”

“Seriously, do you have shoes that match?”

Getting them ready to walk out the door for school is strangely like herding cats and earthworms at the same time.  It’s a real head-scratcher.

But it’s a victory of sorts.  I’ve gone from five kids in the house to three.  Writing is in sight.  I long for my messy desk and keyboard with the sticky Kkkkkkkk.

I finish feeding the baby and take him to the kitchen sink to wash his feeding off his face and hands and hair (and somehow my eyebrow).  With baby still under arm, Heisman style, I get my three and four-year old situated in front of Netflix and ask what they want to watch.  (Seriously, I don’t know HOW my 3rd and 5th grader got into fighting over Netflix).  I can usually get them settled on Dora, Diego, or for some reason, Johnny Test.

I step into my office (the endzone) and spike the ball (err, gently put the baby on the floor with a random collection of toddler and dog-safe toys).  It’s time to write.

“Naked Barbie, Naked Barbie, Naked Barbie….”

I curiously get back up, baby-gate the baby in my office and go into the other room to find my four-year old (boy) chanting “Naked Barbie,” and holding the object of his desire in a very adult position of desire.

“Dude!  Go play legos!”

(I’ll admit here, that most of this post is a compilation of several real events over the course of several real days, but the Naked Barbie affair happened five minutes ago)

Back to writing.  HA!

My son is now crying over his legos.  In our unique house, we have a unique boy who is missing some fingers and dealing with deformities in the fingers he does have.  Like a good father, I tell him to go play with legos.  Now, he actually loves legos.  It’s not a cruel joke on him, but he often needs help and as is evidently customary in this house, the way to ask for help is to cry and throw things.

But at least he’s crying over frustration with legos and not sexual frustration with Naked Barbie.  Take your victories where you can.

So we build an “airplane” (I’m not the greatest with legos either) and he is happy.

Back to writing.  Remove computer speaker wire from baby’s mouth, remove baby from under desk and sit down.

“Daddy, Dora is over.”


“Daddy, I want another Dora.  I want the one with Diego and dinosaurs.”

“You want a Diego?”

“No, I want the Dora that has Diego and dinosaurs.”

I used to fight the specificity of her requests, but there’s just no productive outcome to that.  It is Season 3, Episode 10 if you’re wondering.  The Dora series, not Diego.  Do NOT try and sneak in the Diego series, which DOES have an episode with dinosaurs, but that’s not good enough for my little princess.  I love her.

My dumbphone reminds me that I have forgotten I have a doctor (shot) appointment for the baby in an hour.  I need to bathe him, dress him, and clothe him so as to appear non-neglected.  I need to do this times three.  Mid-bath, the dumbphone yells at me.  It’s the school calling.  The school gets mad when I don’t answer, so with one hand on the baby (keeping his head above water) and one hand on the phone (keeping my head off the evil school secretary’s chopping block), I discover that my 3rd grade daughter is sick and needs to be picked up.  I hear her oscar-winning cry in the background and know that I need to pick her up, not because she is sick, but because the evil secretary might bake her into a pie if she keeps crying.

I yell at the little ones to get in the car and I rush downstairs with the baby (do not rush downstairs with a baby), his hair and my shirt and shorts still wet.

I toss everyone in the car and (screeching of tires–you should see all the rubber on our driveway), we head off to pick up one “sick” kid and take one non-sick kid to the doctor, where all four kids will find a reason to cry, only one of them legit.

I love our pediatrician for the simple fact that they continue to let us in their office.  Yada, Yada, typical story, the one kid who got shots got no lollipop and the three who were along for the ride got lollipops.  The baby didn’t understand the situation completely, but knew enough to glare at his siblings with contempt.  I actually laughed out loud at that.  He did get one semi-edible treat.  He sucked the band-aid off of his finger where they poked him for a blood test.

We get home and my 3rd grader plops on the couch, turns on an episode of iCarly that I can now quote entirely, and asks what’s for lunch.

“Lollipop, dear.  Enjoy.”

Unfortunately, I realize that I do need to put food in my kids.  Just as unfortunately, all I have in the pantry is diced green chilies and cream of something soup.  I don’t feel like taking my herd to the grocery store, so I make the regretful decision to go through the McDiarrhea drive-thru and get the good deal…  400,000 “chicken” nuggets for $4.99.  And since I’m there anyway, I might as well get a large fry for me.  And an Angus Mushroom Swiss, hold the mayo.  And a diet coke, easy on the ice.

(have you ever noticed that?  They fill the entire cup with ice and then squirt two ounces of soda over the ice.  Seriously, drive-thru attendant with the diamond lip ring and purple hair, look in my minivan and sympathize with me.  Don’t short me on my caffeine.)

We get home, we eat, we watch a continuous loop of Diego, Dora and iCarly (who, coincidentally, went to my elementary school…  much, much later than I did, though), until everyone is good and loaded with ammunition to be fired later.

Time to pick up my 5th grader and argue about homework, threaten to take away soccer practice, and (I can multi-task) take my “sick” third-grader to her sewing lesson at the same time.  I know I should have kept her home to prove a point, but I already paid for the lesson and, well, let’s be honest.  I can keep my kid count at four for another hour.

I drive everyone, minus my “sick” third grader, home and put the three smallest ones down for a nap.  It’s quiet, minus the clanking of dishes being put improperly into the dishwasher, but I don’t complain.  Choose your battles.  The dishes ARE in the dishwasher, and WILL be exposed to some degree to hot water and soap.  I have learned to live with this.

I open up my WIP to make P and am blocked.  The pre-waking thoughts and ideas are gone.  And right about then, hello again Angus Mushroom Swiss.  At least I’ll get some thinking time.

Then my son, my oldest and longest friend out of the kids in the house, asks if I want to watch a show with him.  He likes cool stuff like History and Discovery channel offerings.  I can’t say no.  I do like the quiet moments with kids, and I like that he and I have common tastes.  I do a lot of bad parenting, but I do take advantage of moments like this.

So after watching Bear Grylls eat a raw squirming trout he just pulled out of a frigid lake (while his cameraman is sucking a Starbucks and eating donuts), the wife gets home and asks what is for dinner.

Shoot.  Dinner.  Why does that keep happening every day?  People are so demanding.

Still have not been to the store, so we have diced green chilies and cream of something soup over freezer-burned chicken.  Hey, it beats raw trout.  My 5th grader, who has soccer practice in seventeen minutes, eats about as fast as a teddy bear.  I yell, he rolls his eyes and takes half a bite.  Lather, rinse, repeat, get in the car.

“Do you have your soccer ball?”


I tap the steering wheel in the running car, listening to the Angels lose on the radio, and start screeching the tires before the mini-van door is even closed with kid and soccer ball inside.

“Do you have your water?”

This is my fault.  I should ask all the questions in one single run-on sentence.

We are late to practice, where I get secret joy in my son having to run laps for being late.  I pop into my camp chair, pop open my netbook to type my first words of the day and the “plug into power source” warning comes up.  Bust.

Luckily there is a B&N across the street and I can go browse and almost-always-silently curse all the authors and all the time they must have to sip coffee and smile, while typing out a novel a month.  Soccer practice ends, as does my cursing of Stephenie Meyer, and we head home.  I send my son to shower, where he will dump his sweaty clothes in the bathroom.  Luckily they won’t land on the floor.  They’ll land on yesterday’s sweaty clothes and an entire unrolled roll of toilet paper that nobody will claim responsibility for.  I make the nite-nite rounds to other kids who are crying for hugs and kisses.  I shut all the bedroom doors, maybe (likely) more forcefully than is appropriate and yell through the bathroom door, “please use soap!”

It’s wife time.  We sit down and flip on Netflix.  We watch an episode of Damages (Glenn Close gives me nightmares) and follow that up with the lighter side, How I Met Your mother (Doogie Howser makes me laugh).  This particular episode involves a contest between Doogie and Ted to see who can “close the deal” with two girls at once.  My wife asks me if I’ve ever done that.  I answer (truthfully) “no,” and chuckle.  She knows this, and she wouldn’t do it either, but she looks at me with a frisky grin, and suddenly my day is looking up and I’m calculating how much time is left in Doogie and Ted’s contest.

Fifteen minutes later, the show is over and my wife is sleeping.  I guess she doesn’t HAVE to be awake, but I’d feel bad if she wasn’t.  So I nudge her and send her upstairs to bed, content (sort of) to finally sit down and write the Great American Novel.

My brain is tired.  Mashed.  It’s the first symptom (for me) of full-blown Igiveupforthedayitis.  To tired to fight it, I decide it’s time to lay in bed and wind down with a chapter or two (or twenty if I get hooked) of whatever fiction series I’m reading.  I plod upstairs with heavy feet and droopy eyes to find my wife laying wide awake in bed, reading.

Nope.  I already am too far into Igiveupforthedayitis.  I lay down, pull the bookmark (a Borders receipt, an antique) from the book and read while silently cursing the author and his endless amounts of time to write.

Tomorrow will be better.  I’ll surely get a chapter or two written.

(there were nine kid interruptions during this vent session)

(and I probably COULD have written a chapter or two in that time)

As the great Comic Book Guy once said, “Once again, my underwear has become caught on a cowcatcher.”

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Just beyond my reach…

Good thing God can bridge the gap.

I’m developing characters for my next project.  I operate under the belief that my characters have to be about 80% developed before I can begin writing.  That way they tell most of the story and make my job easy, and there is still a 20% room for addition and improvement.  But you didn’t click on this for a how-to lesson.

Here’s where I fall short.  One of the characters in my next project is an Angel, maybe the most famous Angel (not baseball, the celestial kind).  How do I transform a character beyond our comprehension into a relatable and believable character?!  Don’t answer that.  I need to find the answer on my own (or with God’s inspirations).  But still!  How am I supposed to successfully present something so mysterious, with some sort of accuracy, that isn’t going to have Biblical scholars sending me you’re-an-idiot mail?

I had an illustrator get angry with me once.  I wasn’t sure if she was kidding or not.  I’m still not sure.  I wrote a children’s book that called for a depiction of Heaven.  She hit me and asked me how on earth she was supposed to do that with any justice.  I don’t know.  But she did it.

I think, if you are trying to write a message from God’s word, if you let him be a part of it, it will come out right.  I know I can’t do it.  Seriously.  So I need some help.  From the guy who wrote the first edition.

What’s God’s cell number….

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Gotta fight for it…

For a week now, I have been waking up in the mornings and saying to myself “Today, I am working on THE PROJECT.”  For a week now, I have been going to sleep at night saying to myself, “Why didn’t I work on THE PROJECT?”

Life.  It gets in the way.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself.  Then Dana will remind me that I have to prioritize and make my writing part of my life instead of the hobby in addition to life.

SO, tonight, I will be working on THE PROJECT.  Yes, it is that important and I have to put it in all caps.  I’ve never been as excited about an idea as I am this one.  It will have an impact on society and be a breakthrough in Christian historical fiction.  I think I have all of my main characters thought up, at least to the point of knowing their roles.  There is a lot of development left to be done, but I’m ready to start a little plot mapping.

It’s like the first rip of the wrapping paper on Christmas morning, and the extremely satisfying sound it makes.  Very exciting.  It’s going to be a fun ride.  It’s going to make some people mad, but EVERYTHING makes SOMEBODY mad.  I already know what their anger will be directed at, and I don’t care.  It’s petty in relationship to the point of the story.

We all need to set goals and say them out loud… so somebody else can hear them.  Accountability.  So here it is.  I am going to be a best seller or at least have the contract in place that leads me there by my 40th birthday.  That’s only two years, five months and one day away.

I better get moving.

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Local Author Review – Christopher McCullah

I know a number of my stalkers/fans like to support local authors, so here’s one to add to your list.  Christopher McCullah is a friend and fellow Bakersfielder, -ian, -ite, or whatever you call people from Bakersfield (just don’t call us rednecks–Jay Leno, I’m talking to you).

I just finished reading A Sense of Gina, McCullah’s first published novel, and he’s definitely got a unique slant in his style that sets him apart from most other authors (I guess that’s the definition of unique.  I’m tired and half my family is sick.  Forgive my redundancy, and then forgive my skewed laziness that lead me to a more labor intensive explanation of my redundancy than it would have been to go back and edit it.  Leave me alone.  I need a shower).

This is the story of Gina Schubert, a small down girl with small town dreams and a gentle spirit.  She is a bright, young and budding teenager gently flowing through life like a mountain stream; until her path is altered, sometimes violently and often surprisingly, by the cruel impositions of selfish world.  We find Gina in places we would never expect to find her, and quite frankly in places she never expected either.

Gina’s life is told in a series of stories, childhood through motherhood, from the point of view of the people closest to her at every stage.  What better way is there to get to know someone?  But there is still a degree of mystery lingering in Gina’s life, even to her until the very end. 

McCullah paints a great picture of Gina, with fast paced action and heartfelt emotion indicative of a writer who has experienced both.  If you like books that aren’t afraid to explore the deep emotions at both extremes, and that give you real and raw portrayals of life, pick up a copy of A Sense of Gina.

And support us starving local authors.  🙂  Click on the cover photo and order it.

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And now back to writing

This blog, hijacked by us in China for the purpose of chronicling our adoption adventures, will now return to normally scheduled programming, sharing the exciting ins and outs of being (trying to be) a successful author.  If you want to follow Irijah’s continued story, as well as the fun antics of raising five kids, check out the new blog, www.parenting501.wordpress.com.

Tonight…  I write.  It’s the greatest story ever told, retold.  You’re going to love it.

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China Journal – Homecoming

We made it, in spite of typhoon conditions in Guangzhou on
the day of our departure.  We spent most of our last day in China in the hotel room, as the sub-tropical climate turned sub-marine.  Raindrops the size of Shaquille O’Neal fell from the sky for most of the day.  At 4:30pm (China Time) the bellhop collected our luggage and we checked out of our room, waiting one last time to meet Simon in the lobby.  He picked us up at 5:00 and we headed for the airport, taking one last drive through Guangzhou.  I will miss being there.  I miss the exploring and the learning.  In the back of my mind I knew; as much as I would like to return one day, the odds are in favor of this trip being the last.  So as much as I wanted to be on that plane heading home, there was a side order of sadness to go along with my desire to leave.

We got to the airport and through security with ease, saying
goodbye and thank you to Simon.  The trip would not have been the same without him and we are so grateful to have had his
service and friendship.  We had an hour and a half to wait until boarding, and the tough dining decision between two over-priced airport cafés.  We chose the second one we came to, simply because we didn’t feel like walking all the way back to the other end of the terminal. We met one of our Nanning families and discovered they were on the same flight to Los Angeles, though they also had a connector to Phoenix after that.  In a plane of 250 people, we would all (the adoption group) end up sitting next to each other.  Boarding began late, which seems to be standard operating procedure for China Southern.  I was happy to be on the plane, but not looking forward to the overnight flight, trying to sleep in a number of awkwardly contorted positions with Irijah in between Jill and me.  But it’s all part of the price to be paid to complete the journey.  I slept
for a few hours (sort of), dreaming of my big soft bed at home.

I happened to wake up as we were flying over Tokyo, and the
sprawl of the city lit up at night was amazing, even from 30,000 feet.  It felt a little weird to realize that the only other time I have seen this particular view was from bombardier sites in World War II movies.  We didn’t drop anything.

After my largest chunk of sleep (about three hours), we were
over the Pacific, somewhere south of Alaska. I know that doesn’t narrow down the location much, but the flight path was a northerly route over the pacific, never straying too far from land.  On our way to China, we could actually SEE Alaska.  I didn’t see land on this return flight until we were passing San Francisco. It was tough to do, but I spotted the Golden Gate Bridge.  As far away as that is from Bakersfield, it was still an amazing sense of “I’m home.” I didn’t remove my face from is position, stuck to the window, until we landed.  I wanted to pick out all the locations and landmarks of home that I could find.  I even got photos of Bakersfield from the air, before flying over the Grapevine, Magic Mountain and Downtown Los Angeles.  We made the U-turn for final approach at LAX, and I finally felt like the five-year journey was actually going to be completed.  We were landing with our son.

Like a cattle drive, we were ushered to the customs and
immigration counters, where the Customs officers treated us very well.  I think it’s because they were tired of telling the Chinese visitors to wait their turn, and they appreciated that we
followed easy instructions.  Maybe it was just this tired group of Chinese people, but they didn’t seem to care much for “be patient and wait until I call the next in line.”  After the first officer reviewed our arrival card and passports, we were directed to the “New Immigrants” line.  There was nobody in it, which was a welcome sight.  The officer at that window took
our paperwork and said “go collect your luggage and come back.”  We expected some sort of sit-down and go through the paperwork process, but when we returned he handed us our papers and said, “You’re done!”  Irijah was now the newest American.

We headed up the ramp to the excited cheers of fourteen
family members who made the welcoming trip to LAX.  It was nice to be home and back in the embrace of family.  After a quick round of pictures and everyone’s initial introduction to Irijah, we were ready to head out for some food and catch-up time. We congregated at a Shakey’s in Inglewood.  I never thought I would type that sentence, but there it is.  When everyone was seated and together, I made the announcement. “God has been writing this story of our family from the beginning, and though he has added several plot twists and turns, they have all worked out for
the best.  The latest very, very, VERY surprising addition to our family’s story… is due December 29th.”

I enjoyed the collective gasp and shocked expression as everyone turned to Jill to confirm what they thought I was saying.  She was in tears, either from pregnancy hormones or the relief of not hiding it anymore, and then the rounds of hugs and congratulations began.  Our families all smiled and hugged us, overtly happy and semi-covertly thinking we’re crazy.  And we are.  Just to clear that up.  But God uses crazy people, so we’re in it for the long haul.

We got in the car with my parents and introduced Irijah to the concept of a car seat.  They don’t even sell them in China and we went two weeks without even wearing our own seatbelts.  I was nervous at first, but soon realized that there are so many people in China, there isn’t enough room to speed.  Any collisions that happen (and I only saw one the entire trip) are less violent and destructive that the crowded collisions inside any American store on Black Friday.  The new experience of the car seat was an
unwelcomed introduction, but after a lot of tears and protests, Irijah fell asleep and we drove to Bakersfield, arriving at midnight on California time and 3:00pm China time.  Our bodies and minds were completely out of tune.

And they still are.

It’s been a blurry couple of days at home so far; still trying to figure out which end is up, dealing with the police and our
broken-into home, and trying to help Irijah adjust to his new home and family.  It’s a slow process, but he is doing as well as can be expected.  He and Giahnna have already established their rivalry, competing for our attention and unleashing brutal stares at each other. It hasn’t come to blows yet, but I’m not ruling it out.  Layton and Holly are trying to play catch-up with a sibling they’ve been hearing about for five years and I think it is a
bit overwhelming to Irijah.  He’s running a fever, and I don’t know if that is because of all the emotional trauma or something else.  His first pediatrician appointment is Monday.

We lived for quite a while with three kids, and we lived for
two weeks in China with one kid.  I am still trying to wrap my tired brain around the fact of having four kids, oh and one on the way.  It’s crazy, but it’s all blessing.  It will make for a great
lifetime of stories, as we try to figure out how to make it all work.  I’ll let you know when I get it all figured out.  Don’t sit by the phone.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support in this
journey.  There’s just no way around it…  we could not have gotten this far without you, and I’m guessing we’ll continue to need your support in the form of prayer and a listening ear now and then. I know Irijah has a great story ahead of him, as all my kids do.  Thank you all for being a part of that.  This is not the end of the journaling.  Not even close.  There’s a book in the works.  Maybe two. Or twenty.  A stay-at-home dad of
five has to be a wealth of writing resource.
I plan to take full advantage.

See You Soon.

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